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Monday, December 28, 2009

Does the Friday congregational prayer benefit us?

This is a question that I have been asking myself for many months. Each Friday goes past and it still seems like there was a missed opportunity. 

The real point that I am getting at is how we can benefit from the prayer and most of all, the rest of the day.

Speaking for myself, I seem not to use the day to attain maximum reward. We seem to dither about with trivial matters instead of going to masjid on time (we are not talking about going early!) then we get there in time for the prayer and the final supplication, then we run away like the build is on fire!

Many of us try to squeeze the prayer in our lunch times and leaving early is not possible. One of the real problems of the Jumma’ prayer is the sermon, the khutba. There are very few people giving sermons that help people.

Most sermons fall into these categories:

1) Repeat information - The same info delivered as last week, the week before...

2) Irrelevant information - Disputes that have no relevance in our time.

3) Unqualified instructors - this can occur almost everywhere.

4) Complex information - Information given is too complicated to be understood.

5) Offensive information – people or groups are attacked unnecessarily.

I know of people who attend the prayer and miss the sermon deliberately, so they do not have to hear it. This is really upsetting and depressing to know all these are going on. The sermon should be uplifting and full of glad tidings for the believers. Instead, the opposite is true.

In some Masjids we have endless set of names that have given monies and request supplication. This is part of the times we live but can the amounts be omitted to save time?

One of the best sermons that I heard was from an Imam who has now passed away. Even though it was seven ago, I still remember the words that he said. He talked about how the media were attacking Muslims by accusing them of forcing a way of life into western lands. He spoke very passionately and eloquently about how this was the same refrain that the pagan Meccans used. He spoke mainly in Urdu but gave the meanings in English and Arabic. As the people in the masjid were either Pakistani or Arab. So no one was left out and everyone got something. We were praying in the spaces inbetween the feet of those infront of us. But never since that time I  have heard a better sermon. 

Allah (the Exalted) sent every Prophet on the tongue of the people. But masjid committees are not bothered about the Quran so they suffice with their native language which excludes everyone who does not understand.

One of the things that I find really strange, after prayer, is when you see people supplicating to Allah (Ta'ala) and they are looking around at the people moving about. I wonder if we were talking to someone directly and we kept moving our heads looking side to side, would they not get annoyed? I would and this is Allah (ta'ala) who we are asking for forgiveness. It seems so insincere to me.

What is the cure?

The sermon should be uplifting, eloquent and concise. Full of inspiring information that infuses the attendant. There should be no attacks on people or on groups unless it is about a tribulation that becomes common knowledge and not an issue that only a few of the audience can understand.

The time of the prayer should be when the most people can attend as sometimes 2pm is a little late! The speaker needs to be able to speak English (or the common language of the area) if he cannot then other Imams should assist him on a rota basis. It should contain some practical information that the attendant can take away with them.

Concerning the individual

We should try to bathe on Friday this means after true dawn, clean ourselves up by trimming and shaving. Imam Ghazali recommends that people begin preparing for the Friday prayer on Thursday. One of the amazing habits of the Moroccans was that they attend the masjid early and recite the Quran together for over two hours before the sermon. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recommended reading Surah the Cave (Surah eighteen).

We should be attentive when listening to the sermon and be silent. No one should be speaking or causing some sort of distraction that can draw the attention to him and not the speaker. I used to get annoyed when I saw  this but now it does not bother me. Why? because no one is listening. It is disliked to say anything when the Imam is speaking and its disliked to tell people to be quiet. When are we going to change?

We hope this benefits people and provides food for thought.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Turning of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

Anis Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with) stated, "If the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) shook a mans hand he would not take his hand away until they took their hand; he would turn away from someone until they turned away and I did not see him forward his knees infront of me, when sat with him." (Ibn Majah 3816, Ibn Saad At-Tabaqat 1/387)

His turning was not partial it was with his whole being. One of the reasons that this was so great was because he was able to direct himself powerfully in prayer to his Lord. He did not just turn his body he turned his mind, his soul and his heart towards Allah (mighty and majestic) in complete devotion.

How amazing would this be to witness this, even just once? How would it make you feel if you saw him and wanted to speak to him (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then he turned to you? All his beauty would be manifest and you would see the most beautiful creation of Allah (mighty and majestic). This was part of his character (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), part of his being. When he talked to people he turn his whole being towards them. Isn't amazing that each one of the companions all thought they were his favourite person.

How many of us talk to people and do not face them? Or turn to them halfway or just turn our heads? How many of us shake hands with each other but our faces and bodies are facing a totally different direction? I can only understood what a positive effect the shaking hands of someone can have when one of my Arab friends shook mine. He turned to me, looked me in the eyes, greeted and asked how about my condition. He is a simple man but the way he greeted me left me pondering.

This is with people what about our turning toward Allah (mighty and majestic)? We have our bodies directed to the Qibla (prayer direction) but where are our hearts, our minds and our souls? Are we engrossed with worldly matters? What am I going to be eating, doing, saying or what I shall do with whom.

Our souls are busy with desires that are like plays being performed in our hearts. Are we actually present in the prayer? It is rude to be speaking to someone and to turn away from them and how many of us do this in prayer? Is this not turning away, in the prayer, a greater sin? How many of us are us are making dua’ or supplication and are looking around us at other people. Is my friend here?

We need to direct ourselves in prayer correctly. Stop for a moment before praying then direct your whole being then begin your prayer. According to hadith the first pillar of Islam that would be destoryed would be khusha'/ being aware in the prayer and the last was the prayer itself.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is a teacher and this is something we must try to emulate, being present in our prayer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sheikh Atabek Shukurov

Ahl Al-Bayt – the family of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

We are living in troubled times.

According to hadith the first thing that will destroyed is presence of heart in prayer and the last is prayer.

One of those things that has been destroyed a long time ago is the respect for Ahl Al-Bayt.

Allah states in the Quran, “Allah was to remove filth from the Ahl Al-Bayt and purify you.”

Not one single member of Ahl Al-Bayt will enter the hellfire according to a hadith that states so; this was because of the piety of Fatimah (Allah be pleased with her). Tabarani

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) , “Are you not happy that you will be with your sons their descendants, their partners and those who follow us on our right and left.” Imam Ahmed

The Ahl Al-Bayt is similar to the ark of Nuh (upon him peace) according to another hadith. Mustaraq Al-Hakim.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The stars are the security of the skies and if the stars go so do the inhabitants of the sky; The Ahl Al-Bayt are the security of the earth and if they go so will the inhabitants of the earth.” Imam Ahmed

So many Ahl Al-Bayt are not married or do not have children and if this happens then await the day of judgement.

Anyone who hates Ahl Al-Bayt will thrown into the hellfire.

In Surah Kahf (18) the treasure was given to the descendants of a righteous man to his great grandchildren and he was either seven or eight generations away.

Who is the grandfather of Ahl Al-Bayt?

There is no one better than him.

Look at his descendants and you will see so many perfect people.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “What is wrong with some people who hurt my family; whoever hurts them hurts me and whoever hurts me hurts Allah.” He said this after Sabiah ibn Abu Lahab daughter came to him said that people were calling her daughter of the wood of hellfire. Tabarani

We are strange people - we claim to love Ahl Al-Bayt but what we mean are those who are famous or on television.

What about the poor Ahl al-Bayt?

Are they not Ahl Al-Bayt?

Some of them are sinful but are they not Ahl Al-Bayt?

As long they are alive then there is small piece of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in them.

This does not decrease.

There is a hadith state states six categories of people are cursed by The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) all the prophets and the angels and one of those is someone who does something haram/prohibited to one of the Ahl Al-Bayt. Reported by Al-Hakim who stated it is authentic according to Muslims stipulations.

Backbiting a normal Muslim is haram but to backbite a member of Ahl Al-Bayt means that you have are cursed by all the Prophets as well as the major sin.

Do you think that you'll accept someone that you cursed? Never.

Unless they leave what made them curse them.

If the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) curses you then is there any hope for you?

To visit any member of Ahl Al-Bayt when they are ill is highly desired.

Abdullah ibn Mubarak (may Allah be pleased with him) used to Hajj every year and he was travelling in Kufa and saw a woman (she was one of the descendants of Ali) slicing a dead dog and taking the meat. He saw it and was shocked then followed her home. He heard her calling her children to eat the meat. He knocked the door and spoke to her to find out what was wrong. He found out that her husband had died and she had four starving daughters at home. He had six thousand golden coins with him and gave it all to her. Then said that he wasn’t going to hajj and said when the money runs out ask about me. (so she could get some more) When the people came back from hajj he asked Allah to accept their pilgrimage. They said may Allah accept your hajj and thanked him for narrating hadith, at every station. It was said and angel took his form and performed hajj for him.

This is the great reward for helping Ahl Al-Bayt.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Islam in Spain and the Moriscos

"Now, what I want is facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to the facts, Sir!"

The Islamic period of Spain is stated as 711 to 1492 as we are lead to believe by various reports. This does not explain the whole story of Islam in Spain. This is the period of Islamic rule but this is not the full story. Islamic Spain began in 711but it did not end officially until 1610 when the Muslims were expelled from Spain after being oppressed since the fall of the khaliphate in Granada in 1492. This period was something that I was totally unaware of and I felt that some study in this area was needed.

The period after the fall of the khaliphate makes for grim reading. Many a time we have read the blood soaked pages of history but nothing we had read previously could prepare us for what we read. All of the knowledge I knew about Christianity was about to be confirmed and it made the Crusades look like a minor skirmish. In fact the pacifying of the Iberian Peninsula from Islam to Christianity was the most brutal and unforgiving ethnic cleansing that Europe had seen, up until that point. Within less than one hundred and twenty years, Islam was taken off the map in Spain and was replaced with a cross covered in the blood of men, women and children. Many accuse the Muslims of converting by force. This is a normal argument of Orientalists and it is about as unfounded an argument that there could ever be. Forced conversion into Islam is not accepted as is forced apostasy from Islam not accepted. You see forced conversion happens within a very short period of time and actual conversion takes time. It took several hundred years for Muslims to reach fifty percent in many countries of the Middle East. As it did in Spain, Egypt, Syria and other places that you can read about in Thomas Arnold's book "The Spread of Islam."

The Spanish inquisition was one of the world's first organisation of terror who tortured and killed without prejudice of gender or age. This was with the total acceptance of the pope at the time approved of their methods. Anyone with a sound mind can only look back and see that these are nothing but a wretched organisation who fed on the extortion and murder of people. Just because someone is of another faith than what you follow does not mean that they should be killed just because they do not follow your religion. Leave them alone, you force something into someone's heart and claim that they have accepted it! Their methods were brutally over the top and would make you weep if you read what they did. Islam was removed from the public spaces with the 'Reconquista' and then they sought to remove it from the private domain. Spain was not reconquered by the Christians straight away, it was done over centuries and it took many rulers. The real sad part of these conquests was that the Christians did not see any reason why they should not massacre the civilians of the cities and the places they defeated. This included men, women and children; if the latter two were lucky they would be killed or sold into slavery where they would face more humiliation. For me this leaves as indelible stain on Christendom similar to that of the Crusades. If you do not believe me then pick up any book about Muslim Spain by English writers and read. I really find it odd when people slander Islam and make claims that Christianity is a less violent religion, when anyone with sound intellect who has read history can read the most horrific tales of murder, massacre and torture.

For something like five hundred years, Islam was banned as a religion and it was until 1975 when Islam became legal. People who were Muslims who had kept their faith secret came out; it was something that they had hidden from everyone. So you could say Islam began in 711 but did not end in 1492 or 1610 it kept going until today and it will keep going; until an appointed time will come.

We really wanted to write more about this but because of the amount of detail and the time needed to write something to do the subject justice. We hope that we have done the subject some justice. We have read several books about the subject and it is not always comfortable reading.

The Beginning

There are two reports that relate to the coming of the Muslims to the Iberian Peninsula. The first report is in Moorish Spain by Richard Fletcher(2):

"A king of Spain in ancient time built a tower in which he deposited a secret. He sealed the tower with a mighty padlock, and laid upon his successors the obligation each by turns to add an extra padlock so as to preserve ever more inviolable whatever was concealed within. Twenty-six kings came and went, respecting his wishes. Then there succeeded a rash and headstrong young king named Roderick. Resolved to penetrate the tower's secret, and against the advice of all his counsellors, he had the twenty-seven padlocks opened. Then he entered the chamber within. On its walls were painted Arab horsemen, scimitars at their belts, spears brandished in their right hands. In the middle of the room stood a table made of gold and silver set with precious stones, upon it carved the words: 'This is the table of King Soloman, son of David, upon whom be peace.' There was an urn on the table, which was found to contain a scroll of parchment. When this was unrolled, the following words were revealed: 'Whenever this chamber is violated, and the spell contained in this urn is broken, the people painted on these walls will invade Spain, overthrow its kings, and subdue the entire lands.'

Fletcher states that this is recorded in both Christian and Muslim sources but the author does not state where. Although a similar story is reported in Stanley lane-Poole's Muslims in Spain.

There is the more factual report which comes in addition to this report and compliments it. The count of Ceuta (In Northern Morocco but is still part of Spain) Julian sent his daughter to Roderick's court to be educated among the queen's waiting women; instead Roderick put her to shame. (3) Julian desired revenge and met with Musa ibn Nosayr, the Governor of North Africa, and said that they are comrades now and that he would assist him conquering Spain. (4) After sending out an investigatory party the governor then sent out Tariq ibn Zayd who with seven thousand troops crossed the land between Africa and Europe. He landed on a lion's rock that has bore his name ever since Jebal Tariq, Gibraltar or the mountain of Tariq. (5) Roderick had an army of one thousand men (6) and Tariq had his army reinforced by five thousand to a total of twelve thousand. After a fierce battle, the battle of Rio Brante, lasting one week the Muslims triumphed and slowly the Iberian Peninsula was assimilated into Islamic territory. The year was seven hundred and eleven, 28th Ramadan ninety two Islamic years;(7) this was the beginning of the story of Islam in Europe. There is a report in Islam in Andalus that there were exploratory forays during the khaliphate of Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), (8) although it wasn't until the above events that any headway was made.

A Summary of the major events

Muslim advancement continued further into Spain and into Southern France where it was halted after the Muslims were defeated at the battle of the Tours. This is seen as a turning point for Europe because if the Muslims had defeated the Christian forces then there would have been little resistance left in Europe. This did not occur and in the year seven hundred and thirty two the advancement stopped. What occurred after was one of the glorious times in Spanish history that the world has ever seen and even now so few have yet to comprehend. I would just like to say that it is great that Muslims look back at the amazing achievements of the past and rightly so but we must ask ourselves one question. What are we doing, right now, that we could be remembered? Right now it seems that we can be remembered for very little.

Initially, governors came and went (9) until an exiled leader came, Abdurrahman ibn Mu'awiya who had fled the killing of his family after the collapse of the Ummayyad dynasty at the hands of Abbasids. He would become the leader that would establish Islam in Spain. (10)

Subsequently, began a new era of the Ummayyad dynasty in the West after its fall in the East. Leader after leader would come and go, none more so than his namesakes such as Abdurrahman the second and Abdurrahman the third. Abdurrahman the third in particular was one of the just and well remembered of the Muslim rulers of Al-Andulas.

One of the greatest leaders of Al-Andalus was Al-Mansur. During his lifetime was the pinnacle of the Spanish khaliphate and after his death began the decline of the Islamic rule in Spain. After the death of Al-Mansur's son Al-Muzaffar who heralded the beginning of what is known as the "party kings" they were rulers of their own provinces who did not accept or follow a centralised authority. There were many factors that lead to most of the civil wars that broke out between rulers.

There were at least thirty five small kingships (11) which rivalled and competed with each other but the most shocking fact was that they allied themselves with other Christian rulers which made their dream of taking the land back from the Muslims all the more simple. It would have been virtually impossible for them to fight the combined armies of all the forces of Muslim Spain but it would be much simpler to fight small kingships and defeat the Muslims gradually. (12)

Without the ruling of a centralised authority coupled with the rulers to busy indulging themselves in the worldly desires, the ranks of Muslims were easily picked off one by one. Thus the wheel for the conquest of Spain was set in motion and this started with the massacre and murder of Muslim civilians. This was precursor to the event of the Crusades (13) in the Middle East and begin in the East before similar bloodshed it reached the areas around Palestine.

Barbastro, at the foot of the Pyrenees, was taken in 1064 and after a long siege the surviving civilians were massacred, numbering into the thousands and most shocking of all was the rape of women in front of their families. (14) And other atrocities that there is no pen eloquent enough to describe. (15) This was also going to be a glimpse into the horror that the Muslims and to a certain extent Jews would face as the Christians gained more area.

After a seven year siege Toledo fell into the hands of Alfonso VI and from here proclaimed himself 'Emperor of Spain' (16) and from here he would extract tributes from all the Muslims kingships in the land. (17)

"The fall of Toledo was the beginning of the end of Islam's long sojourn in Europe. Toledo was the first domino." (18) As it was the major city of central Spain and this proved to be an ideal base from which the remainder of Spain would return into the hands of the Christians. Almost as suddenly as the sun of Islam rose upon the Iberian Peninsula it was now fast declining.

Following these events the reformists movement of the Almoravids came, who came with religious zeal aimed at reinvigorating Islam in Spain. (19) They made a concerted effort to realign the kingship rulers to their way of governance which unfortunately it was set to be ruled from North Africa and not Spain. From 1145 they defeated various rulers; Algerciras was conquered then they occupied Seville and Malaga. (20) The Muwahidun were next to follow up the Almoravids with a similar zeal to defeat the Christians. The Muwahidun pinnacle was under their leader Abu Yusuf Yaqub, he became the leader in 1184 and his greatest victory was at the battle of Alarcos (21)in 1195. Against the forces organised by Pope Innocent the third. (22) It was said that the Christians lost 146,000 and more than 30,000 were taken prisoner. Unfortunately, this victory was not taken advantage of because at this point Toledo was open to attack but there was no attack and this gave the Christians chance to re-group. Sun Tzu would have approved of taking advantage of their forces that were in disarray. It wasn't until nearly 16 years later did his son Muhammad An-Nasir would try to belatedly take advantage but the advantage was lost. An-Nasir gathered a huge army of 600,000 and subsequently ignored the advices of his generals (23) and it was stated that less than one thousand soldiers escaped the slaughter. (24)

This defeat meant that the Muslims could no longer muster a force needed to fight the Christians because many soldiers were North African. This defeat meant that Muslims could not re-take the land that was lost to the Christians over two hundred years of reversal. Cordoba fell in 1236 followed by Valencia in 1238 and Seville in 1248. (25) The Kingdom of Granada remained and this was the final standing of the Spanish Khaliphate left. Bani Nasr were descendants of the companion Sa'ad ibn Ubaydah and their chief was Muhammad Ibn Yusuf Al-Ahmar; it would be known as Nasrid Kingdom which would rule until 1492.

This was the point that we would see the Muslims who were not in Muslim controlled areas face torture, death and or various other demeaning punishments metered out to them by the Christians. This would begin the punishments that would lead to the gradual expulsion of the Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula.

In 1329 Don Pedro would attempt to finally remove Muslim influence from Spain by conquering Granada. After breaking a pledge to accept a tribute and leave the Muslims alone, (26) he decided to attack the forces of Abu l'Walid Ismail ibn Faraj. The Muslims had only five thousand warriors to call upon compared to the fifty thousand solders that the Christians contained. (27) Some reports as little as ten or thirteen Muslims soldiers were killed. (28) This victory was later reversed when Abu I'Hassan's forces were defeated in the battle of Rio Salado this loss allowed the Christians to make inroads to Granada. (29)

As the decay continued so did the re-taking of land by the Christians. Malaga and its surrounding areas were taken by 1487 and only the citadel of Granada remained by 1489. (30) The prince at the time Abu Abdullah or Boabdil surrendered the citadel after a siege of seven months. Musa, one of the military commanders, refused to capitulate and rode out to meet the Christians; he died the death of a martyr. The treaty was signed on the 25th November 1491 and the gates were opened on the 2nd January 1492. Boabdil was allowed to leave with whatever he could and just before he left he gave Granada once last glance. He sighed and began to cry, his mother's response was withering, and it became known as the 'el ultimo suspiro del Moro' (31) or the Moors last sigh, she said, "Do not weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man." (32)

This was the end of Islamic rule at one end of Europe and the beginning on the other side; The Ottomans would conquer Constantinople in a few years. What follows was the main reason for writing this essay. The next chapter of Islam in Europe was brutal history of torture and punishment that was ever to be documented. The Muslim leadership had gone but the Muslims were still present in large numbers and this is the subject of the next section.

The Moriscos

"You have built here what you, or anyone else, might have built anywhere; to do so you have destroyed what was unique in the world." Said Charles the fifth after he entered in the masjid of Cordoba, which had been converted into a church. (33) It is also a summary of the damage that the Christians had done when they regained political power.

After the fall of the last khaliphate in Spain, the Christians did not cease their conquest; they wanted to retake the hearts of Muslims back to their faith. The physical battle had been lost over four hundred or so years and now the spiritual battle was about to be fought and the victory could not be measured in the same way.

Although in many ways the battle for the hearts had already started. In 1216 the Lateran Council ordered that all Muslims and Jews to wear what became known as the 'san benito.' This distinguished them from the Christians and made them open to humiliation and attack with recourse in some cases. (34) In 1248 Pope Innocent IV ordered the king of Aragon to only allow Muslims as slaves in his kingdom. (35) In 1250 no one could buy or sell from a Muslim without a licence. (36) In 1312 the Council of Vienna ordered that the princes of Spain to suppress Islamic worship and offer Christian worship or else endure a 'terrible punishment.' (37) Worse was to follow, in 1385 and 1387 more slavery was introduced. 1388 saw a law pass that all Muslims had to kneel when Christian 'sacraments' were being paraded in the streets and the Friday was made obligatory for them to work. (38) In 1412 there was further legislation preventing Muslims and Jews from holding office, taking up certain professions and worse. (39) This is the real beginning of the punishment that anyone other than the Christians would face in that time and it really is shocking but it wasn't until 1483 that the Spanish inquisition was established even though the Holy office of the inquisition existed in Europe from 1184.

Systematically anything that was Muslim was removed from the public space and replaced by something Christian. There was destruction of people, masjids, books, public baths, libraries and worst of all was the history of forced conversion en masse. Anyone who wants to read about forced conversion should read Henry Charles Lea's book the Moriscos of Spain and they will see that the forced conversion is almost strictly a Christian phenomenon in Spain. For further information of how Islam spread see T. Arnold's work 'How Islam spread in the world' or 'The Preaching of Islam' they are both the same book.

The treaty of Granada, which was agreed to by Ferdinand and Isabella, was broken within seven years of it being ratified in November 1492. (40) The treaty contained articles that protected Muslims in fields of their religion and many other aspects. The breaking of this treaty paved the way for the Spanish inquisition.

Pope Innocent the 3rd commanded that all heretics be punished (41) what they meant was anyone who was not Christian should be punished and this would be a century for it. There was an incident in Granada that led to a riot because of a claim of a Muslim girl that she was being taken to be forced into Christianity. The Cardinal Ximenes denounced the uprising as a rebellion and said that there were only two choices left for the Muslim: expulsion or conversion. (42) Thousands were forcibly converted but in name only and because of this, they were given the insulting title Moriscos which means little Moor.

The Grand Mufti of Oran, Ahmad ibn Abu Juma'a, issued an edict in 1504 that allowed Muslims act like Christians and accept the Christian faith on their tongues as long as they rejected it in their hearts. (43) Faith in Islam is defined as belief in the heart with affirmation on the tongue (also performing actions by the limbs) so the affirmation of the Christian faith did not mean anything as long as they did not believe it in their hearts. Also note that this was in a situation of life and death, this was a dispensation given to Muslims in such times.

Armies of Christian militia randomly attacked Muslim areas, in Andarax a masjid was burned down, in it were women and children and in Belfrique all the men were killed and the women were taken as slaves. (44) The children were taken from their parents, sold into slavery never to be seen again. Copies of the Quran were burnt as were any Arabic books. (45) If the Muslims wanted to leave they had to pay a sum of money but people who had converted were not allowed to leave. (46) There was also the massacre of the Muslim population of Lisbon which lasted three days and three nights. (47) The Muslims were told to keep their doors open during wedding and feast celebrations, (48) and a Christian midwife had to be present during birth of a child thus preventing the call to prayer being announced into the newborns ear.

The Spanish inquisition would confiscate the land of anyone they suspected as not being a true Christian and anyone else they suspected of being dangerous. They used many different methods of torture and the most famous was the 'auto de fe' which was the burning at the stake of the accused. The Spanish inquisition did not discriminate women from men, even if the women were pregnant this did not matter, they would torture them for days, weeks and sometimes months. Majids were changed into churches, some were demolished totally and people were preventing from bathing! (49)

Part of the reason why they called them Moriscos was they were for all intents and purposes Christians in the public space but in the private space they acted as Muslims. This caused resentment from the Christians and thus this name was insulting because their forefathers adoption of Islam, before them.

Charles the fifth addressed notables in early September 1525 informing them of his determination not to allow a Muslim or other infidel to remain in his dominions except as slaves; he recognised that expulsion would affect their revenues and leave their lands 'depopulated.' (50) He followed this with an edict that stated that no other faith but Christianity would be allowed to be present in Spain. (51)

These false 'converts' had their lands confiscated by the Spanish Inquisition (52) so in some bizarre way the Inquisition funded itself on the misery of these illegal acts. The Moriscos were disarmed during Ximenes mass baptism thus leaving them defenceless (53) and open to attack from Christians who saw it as their religious duty to kill the moors.

The edict issued by Phillip II in 1567 that forbade the customs, language of the Moors namely Arabic and Moorish clothes were forbidden. (54) The public baths were finally all closed and destroyed; and the people forgot the custom of washing themselves in Spain well into the 19th century. (55) This is very strange for us to understand, the Christians were happy with being dirty and unclean. If we look at the Quran it describes polytheism/Shirk as filth from the devil. Moorish names and surnames were not used because of the harm that they would receive for it. Silk clothes were all forbidden (56) all of these prohibitions make for difficult reading for anyone living in a time when these things are normal in most western societies. So this was an active and deliberate intention to bring forth the Spain that they knew and remove any Spain that made it anew. They wanted to bring everything back the clothes, landscape basically everything.

Many other stories can be related and some contain the saddest stories of human suffering that you could ever read. Amid various rebellions that were lead by the Muslims was the one of the brutal massacres on Spanish soil. Phillip Don John put down the rebellion in 1569 by force; he and his forces massacred the three thousand men, women and children in Gelera. As he did in the villages of Alpuxarras, butchered the inhabitants and raised them to the ground. (57) For this, the Pope, at the time, called him 'a champion of Christianity.' (58) The survivors were sold into slavery and exiled but there were few. (59) Twenty thousand were massacred and a further seventy thousand were butchered during the celebrations of All Saints day in 1570. (60)

These massacres that occurred are some of the worst acts of religious intolerance that could ever fill the pages of the books of history. A reader of history will find it difficult to really look at these events and not feel a sense of great grief over the loss of life. Did it matter that the people had a different religion? Why did they feel it their religious duty to murder thousands if not millions of people just because they saw them as heretics? The Muslims did not do this to them, there was no mass massacres of the people carried by the Muslims in Spain when they came into the country in 711. Any act of genocide and violence on this scale and to this grandiose scale was rarely repeated in Europe. As the crusaders were sent home during the 13th century this internal crusade continued until there was no one left to kill! (61)

After these events there no more cause for 'rebellion' by the Moriscos because it was impossible as there was not enough people to even speak up now never mind to organise forces.

Families were broken up further with children separated from their families, some were sent to Priests to learn texts, (62) and most were sold as slaves. (63)

In the Early period of Islam in Spain the ratio of Muslim to others was 1 to 8, in the ninth century the number was 1 to 4 and by the tenth Century the Muslims began to outnumber the other groups. (64) This also proves that this was gradual and not sudden which was like the massacre of the Muslims was, sudden. The converts to Islam were gradual, in number, and occurred over a number of years. The population who they were killing were Muslims who were genetically of Spanish stock. This may have been strange for the Christian Spaniards to see the Muslim Spaniards. People who had taken on this 'foreign' religion as their own and they did whatever they could to remove it from the Iberian Peninsula. Worse was to come for the Moriscos and it came with the brutality that they had come to know under the rule of the Christians.

Another edict issued on the 6th October 1572 meant that they were under perpetual surveillance. (65) It meant that the Moriscos could be punished with various punishments depending on the extent of the 'crime.'

From 1591 to 1593 two inquisitors collected all weapons that the Moriscos held in their possession. (66) This effectively meant that any proposed rebellion did not have the means to occur. The Christians were afraid that the Ottomans would attack and seek assistance from the Moriscos which never occurred and their fears were unfounded.

By 1595 the numbers of the Moriscos began to increase as did their wealth. (67) This was also seen as a danger by the Christian rulers and because these reports came from a Vatican envoy. They lived an existence outside the influence of the ruling elite and stayed away from entering the army or engaging in religious education. Despite all the massacres, killings and the brutal force of the Spanish Inquisition the Moriscos clung to their faith in the darkest moments of their time. Even at this late juncture all was not lost.

King Phillip II, who had engineered the massacres and killings of Moriscos, lay on his death bed for two months. (68) Covered in tumours and abscesses he died a painful death. The power shifted from him to his son Phillip III then to Duke of Lerma.

There was a supposed 'plot' that was uncovered that somehow the Moriscos and Henry IV of France were about to conspire. This lead to a decree that stated that all the Moriscos had to leave Spain, within one month. The deportation continued until 1610 when half a million Moriscos were expelled from Spain. (69) Other books state that the deportation started on 6th October 1609 and finished in 1614. (70) Also the number of people deported ranged from half a million to three million. (71)

The expelled fled with virtually nothing and spread across parts of Northern Africa and other areas of the Islamic world.

The revenue that the Muslims brought in because of their trades and farming was lost. This caused problems because many work practices for farming were only known to Moriscos. (72)

Final remarks

Islam remained banned until 1975 when it was 'allowed' again. Many families who had hid their faith for centuries came out as Muslims. Today around one million (2.3%) Muslims live in Spain (73) according to National statistics. Many are from migrant communities living and working in Spain.

With this essay we wanted to primarily highlight the suffering of the Moriscos. It was something that I was in total ignorance of and I decided to read about it until my ignorance was removed. At the beginning of the essay I stated Islam in Spain is wrongly understood to be from 711 to 1492 and that it should read 711 to 1614 but the real date should be 711 to date, because Islam is still there. The first set of dates was the Islam as the political power, the second was Islam as an active force and the third is Islam's survival as a religion.

When we look back at history we normally feel sadness at the loss of Spain but really all that was lost was the political power. It also behoves us that we look at history using eyes that do not concentrate on a single event or events but look at the whole period.

Islam as a religion survives in modern day Spain. The blood of the martyrs who fought and the Moriscos, who died needlessly, was not in vain. And despite all the centuries of effort by the Christians of the time, Islam was never removed from the hearts of the people. It remained there like a flag blowing in the storms but never coming down. People do not realise that land can be conquered very easily but hearts are not conquered completely except by the truth.

With thanks to Adnan for proofreading.

1. P.1 Dickens C 1854 Hard times Penguin popular classics
2. P. 15 Fletcher Richard 1992 Moorish Spain Weidenfeld and Nicolson London
3. P.10 Lane-Poole Stanley 1901 Muslims in Spain Goodword press
4. P.11 Ibid
5. P.13 Ibid
6. P.14 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
7. P.22 Azizurrahman Syed 2002 The Story of Islamic Spain Goodword Press
8. P.10 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
9. P.31 Ibid
10. Ibid
11. P.216 Azizurrahman Syed 2002 The Story of Islamic Spain Goodword Press
12. P.79 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
13. P.81Ibid
14. Ibid
15. Ibid
16. P.82 Ibid
17. Ibid
18. P.357 Lewis D.L God’s Crucible Norton
19. P.247 Azizurrahman Syed 2002 The Story of Islamic Spain Goodword Press
20. P189 Lane-Poole Stanley 1901 Muslims in Spain Goodword press
21. P.105 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
22. Ibid
23. P.106 Ibid
24. P.106 Ibid
25. P.107 Ibid
26. P.161 Ibid
27. Ibid
28. Ibid
29. Ibid
30. P.163 Ibid
31. P.305 Azizurrahman Syed 2002 The Story of Islamic Spain Goodword Press
32. Ibid
33. P.3 Fletcher Richard 1992 Moorish Spain Weidenfeld and Nicolson London
34. P.114-5 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha publishers
35. P.115 Ibid
36. Ibid
37. Ibid
38. Ibid
39. Ibid
40. P.166 Ibid
41. P.16 Plaidy J 1959 the Spanish Inquisition Robert Hale London
42. P.167 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
43. P.281-303 1966 Monroe James, ‘A Curious Morisco Appeal to the Ottoman Empire,’ Al-Andalus, 31.
44. P.169 Ibid
45. Ibid
46. Ibid
47. P.218 Plaidy J 1959 the Spanish Inquisition Robert Hale London
48. P.280 Ibid
49. P.239 Lane-Poole Stanley 1901 Muslims in Spain Goodword press
50. P.83 Lea H. C. 2001 The Moriscos of Spain Goodword press
51. Ibid
52. P.190 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
53. P.199 Ibid
54. P. 234 Plaidy J 1959 the Spanish Inquisition Robert Hale London
55. P.200 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
56. P.201 ibid
57. P.231 Lea H. C. 2001 The Moriscos of Spain Goodword publishers
58. P.244 Lane-Poole Stanley 1901 Muslims in Spain Goodword press
59. P.411 Plaidy J 1959 the Spanish Inquisition Robert Hale London
60. P.244 Lane-Poole Stanley 1901 Muslims in Spain Goodword press
61. Ibid
62. P.204 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
64. P.205 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
65. P.49 Fletcher Richard 1992 Moorish Spain Weidenfeld and Nicolson London
66. P.205 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers
67. P.215 Ibid
68. P.209 Ibid
69. P.217 Ibid
70. P.245 Lane-Poole Stanley 1901 Muslims in Spain Goodword press
71. P.351 Azizurrahman Syed 2002 The Story of Islamic Spain Goodword Press
72. Ibid
73. P.248 Thomson Ahmad and Muhammad Ata Ur Rahim 1996 Islam in Andulus Ta ha Publishers

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Do we know how to live in the West?

Do we know how to live in the UK?

We were talking to a friend the other day who was shocked at local events which lead to many problems. There seem to be real deep seated social problems with second generation immigrants. Then he said something that I could not disagree with. He claimed that the second generation and third generation did not know how to live in the UK. He had a good point. Is this our problem? Do we not know how to live into this land in which we have been born? There seemed to be more questions and not answers that would occur to me after hearing what he said.

Many immigrant communities come to the UK with the promise of a better life. They escaped the poverty that they were born into, of their countries. As we know the Maliki School of law does not allow someone to live in an area were Islam is not practiced over one where Islam is not. Yet we came over in significant numbers to work as cheap labour and then we were disguarded when situations changed.

So for the first time in Islamic history we have many Muslims who have left their countries and sought to achieve other goals outside their homelands. Not just in small numbers, like in previous centuries, but in large and significant numbers. The other only other historical example that we can think of are those Muslims who remained in Spain after the last caliphate ended in 1492. They remained there in large numbers but suffered for their beliefs as the Christians sought to ‘cleanse’ Spanish soil of Islam. The bitter fruits of this were mass murder and eventually expulsion of all the Muslims by 1610.

We now live in a secular society which does not hold any religion superior but the roots of Christianity can be clearly visible in every town and city. There could be a valid argument that could claim that if the UK was a Christian country then it would not allow other races of other religions to live in such large numbers on its land.

Although at the same time we do benefit greatly, living in the UK, from the places and the communities we live in. Sometimes I feel that this is taken from granted. Local governments do a great deal to assist their minorities. Sometimes they fail but they do a lot.

Going back to the question; do we really know to live in the UK? As children growing up we really need to understand our environment, this is something that we really lack. We give our children two almost polar opposite environments to live in, side by side. The first is our home environment which can be harsh and doctorial; the second is our work or education environment which seems to have the attitude that anything goes! So how can we understand this? How can we live with these contradicting environments?

The way our minds work is that we incline to ease and thus so many Muslims incline to the world. Then we incline to what others are doing and this is about following the machinations of the self. Now we are on the downward spiral to ruin.

If we look at many Asian youngsters they seem bereft of any manners at all. This thought alone should scare everyone half to death! How can we as Muslims not know good manners? Is this down the fact many of our houses have parents who do not understand the world and thus their children do not? We know that we have to make lots of money but are we taught how or does that not concern us?

We bring our children up as we were brought up but hang on a moment; we are not in the same environment or country. So many we should do some things differently.

The solution

The education of children is something that we have to take great care in and we cannot leave our children to the public education system. What a parent can do at home with a child is more than what a teacher can do given the same amount of time. The second generation parents must take their roles seriously and set examples of ways in which they educate and support their children.

The parents have to know exactly where the child’s weaknesses are and try to develop them but at the same time the children should be allowed to play because they develop whilst playing as well.

This type of mob mentality really needs to be erased is it not needed and not welcome. Drugs and alcohol are things that should never be part of any Muslim community and these need to be erased from our areas.

We really need to look at the role that Masjid committees play in our societies. They should be at the forefront of the good work that comes out of our communities. Rather than the forefront of local petty politics, rivalry and family politics which is what are great deal of them are.

People should be honest and step down and allow people who are willing to work and build a better future for their children through correctly applying Islamic teachings. How many a masjid fails to do this?

We need to give children the balance of religious and non-religious teachings because they will need both to succeed. A good level of English is needed as well as understanding the language of their ancestors. Many first generation parents totally neglected the religious education of their children which caused the children problems later on in life; there needs to be a balance. We need to guide our children through the jungle of this world.

Their free time should not be filled with games consoles or endlessly watching television because children with too much visual stimulus are unable to concentrate for long. As the games have already done their damage. We need to know that education is the sound grounding of all children and then we must encourage them to follow a profession; a profession that is not illegal or harmful to people. We must encourage honesty and truthfulness in our children.

Parents have a massive role to play to solve these problems. I have seen some parents do wonderful things with their children but this needs effort and time, on behalf of the parent.

As for those who are older then we have to try to support them and assist them securing honest professions for their future. Even if they do not follow our career choice for them.

We as a community must learn from the mistakes of our past and move forward. We have to learn to live in the West because were else would we able to live?

See other posts about the rights that Muslims have over each other

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf

Families and Individuals parts one to five

Sheikh Atabek Shukurov


If you have to pay Zakah then you have to arrange for a sacrifice.

Everyone is responsible for themselves (to sort their own out)

A person should not be a traveller during the days of 10, 11 and 12 of Dhullhijjah.

You have to meet all the conditions before sunset the 12 (so if you are travelling and return before sunset 12 then a person has to do the sacrifice)

The sacrifice must be done after the eid prayer and if done before then he has to be repeated

You can pay for Qurbani in another country but they have to apply conditions in their area.

The sheep has to be one year old (it can be 6 months if it's large)

The cow has to be two years old

The flesh has to be free from defect (any branding is ok)

It is Sunna to split the meat into three:
1) For hospitality, 2) The poor and 3) For yourself.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reflections on the events of Ta'if


We were reflecting on the events of Ta'if; the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went to the leaders of the city to call them to Islam. The leaders rejected him and commanded the people to stone him. He was chased out of Ta'if to a garden; in which he found shelter from the people.

Sheikh Atabek informed us that the distance between Ta’if and the garden was three miles. The average runner takes between 8-12 minutes to run a mile. So to run three miles it could have taken anywhere from 24 to 36 minutes to cross.

We know, from hadith, that he fell and was picked up by these people who threw him out of their city. Anyone who knows the sport of boxing, a round of boxing is three minutes, three minutes which can break or make a boxer, three minutes is a long time in the ring. If we say that it was 3 minutes than that’s twelve rounds with a break; which is 24 minutes. No boxing association would ever allow a fight to last that long without breaks inbetween rounds.

It would take the average person twenty minutes to walk a mile, at a pace of three miles an hour. So to walk three miles it would've taken one hour. One hour of people throwing stones, shoes, throwing punches, kicks at you, could you take it?

Also, we know that he did not run all the way and his blessed blood reached his feet; due to the intenseness of the wounds and the bleeding. Zayd ibn Harith (may Allah be pleased with him) was there and tired to shield him as best as he could but he could not prevent this.

Of course these are estimates we could never know the true extent of the wounds and the distance that they chased him over. Of course we know that the angel Gabriel came with the angel of the mountains who wanted his say so to destroy the village. He refused, he actually prayed for their guidance, they stoned him and he did not return their evil. They had beaten someone calling to Allah, which is the worst evil you can do, and returned it with good. This is one of greatest attributes of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he never returned evil with evil, he returned it with good. A fire is never put out with fire; it is put out by water.

What would you do in the same situation? He prayed for their offspring, from something evil, good came; many scholars would come from Ta’if but look at what he did. He had mercy on polytheists, think about it, people who are in the depths of ignorance, who have their hands red from stoning a Prophet, he does not curse them, they are not destroyed rather they are prayed for. This is the supplication the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made:

اللهم إني أشكوإليك ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس يا أرحم الرحمين أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي إلى من تكلني؟ إلى بعيد يتجهمني أم إلى عدو مكلته إمري إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخرة من أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك
O’ Allah, I complain to you of my insufficient strength; my deficiency of stratagem; my debasement before people; O’ most merciful of the merciful; you are the Lord of the subjugated and you are my Lord; there is no deity except you; to whom have you left me? To a stranger who attacks me? Or to an enemy who refrains this affair? If you are not angry with me then I am not concerned; although your well being upon me is vast. I seek refuge in the light of your countenance which lightens the heavens and the earth and illuminates the darkness; by it the affairs of the world and afterlife are correct; lest your anger befall me or your cause your wrath to return until pleased; there is no might or power except by you.”

Sources: Tabaqat ibn Saad 1/196 from p. 103 Fiqh us-Sira by Shiekh Ramadan Al-Bouti and Nur Al-Yaqin p.72

He desired good for them not just good but guidance. How many non Muslims do we know who have stoned our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)?

Can we not wish good for all of them?

Why don’t we pray for them?

Instead we treat them with contempt and even worse we abuse them. How can we claim to follow him? The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spent his life calling people to Islam; if we have spent even a moment? He called people who harmed him could we call people to Islam who have harmed us? Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not go through hardship so we could make ourselves a tribulation for those who do not believe. Please ponder over the points of this lesson...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Asian culture stuff?

A few years ago I was standing in front of an Islamic stall, outside a masjid, before me were books, perfume, posters and all manner of religious material. We have a specific interest in books and that is where I was. The owner had some books about Sira (the life story of the Prophet (May Allah send him peace and blessings)). These books had caught my eye at the time.

Then I saw two non Muslim Englishmen who were passing by at the time. One asked the other about the contents of the stall. He replied, “It's Asian culture stuff.” In a manner that suggesting that he was brushing off the question.

They passed by and I looked again at the contents of the stall, bemused. As it was religiously related, the posters contained calligraphy, the perfumes smelt fresh; to me it was all Islamic and had little to do with ‘Asian culture.’

Maybe he meant that the Muslims were all from the Indo-Pak culture; I was not sure. It was at a time that a far right party had penetrated local councils unlike ever before and maybe they were influenced by them. Or maybe that this was their limit or experience of the religion.

After some reflection I realised what they meant; he meant that our religion was our culture. He meant that the culture had a place in our lives that our religion did not. Not all Asians are Muslim some are Christians, Hindus and other traditions so his statement was false. Islam is not specifically allocated to one particular group it is for people of all races and all religions. Islam is not anyone’s property anyone can come and take their share of the religion without diminishing anyone else’s reward. Anyone claiming that it is theirs or just for their race or nationality has claimed something which they have no right to claim. This is a very dangerous game so don’t play it.

The problem with seeing Islam as a culture is that we leave that which is difficult and do whatever is easy. Islam is our religion and it transcends all negative practices of any people. At the same time positive practices of a people do have a place in Islam, as long as it does not contradict the religion.

We should try to distance ourselves from displaying a type of Islam that is only for one set of people. Our Masjids should be open for people to come and ask questions but what we find in many communities is that the masjid is for one set of people and one only. No people of different Muslim groups intermingle and these groups remain strangers. Each Nationality sticking to its own people which is really sad.

We have much work to do in order to really explain Islam to our own communities; they need this now more than ever. What I mean is people who are Muslim and those who are not because they all need help, we all need some sort of help. Who will stand now and really try to explain our religion correctly to the people we live around? If we did this correctly then when people would go past they would say, “That is Islamic stuff.”

Adherence to our culture will not allow us to enter paradise only adherence to religion will allow us to do that. So make your choice.