Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Radio Programme on the Saudi Regime

Brother Inayet Wadi will be interviewing me inshallah in regards the Saudi regime on Channel Islam. The programme will on Wednesday 26 March 2014 at 8:30 pm (GMT +2). Hopefully there will be a podcast... maybe I should learn how to upload to You-tube?

سليمان الكندي

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Ever heard of Muslim Crimea?

وَإِذَا جَاءهُمْ أَمْرٌ مِّنَ الأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُواْ بِهِ وَلَوْ رَدُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّسُولِ وَإِلَى أُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ وَلَوْلاَ فَضْلُ اللّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ لاَتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً 

If a matter regarding [the community’s] safety or fear comes to their knowledge they spread it. If they would rather refer it to the Messenger and those in command amongst them, those who are capable of discerning [the news] would know it…. [an-Nisā: 83]

This Verse indicates that manipulation of the news media in order to demoralise Muslims, is nothing new. Such psychological warfare was waged against Islām from the very beginning. What I wish to address is not the menace from without, but how Muslims allow themselves to be manipulated.

Why do we allow their media to set the agenda?

As Muslims we should have concern over our brethren wherever they may be. However, have you noticed how CNN and her sisters have greater sway in dictating where our concern should lie rather than an educated and informed Muslim leadership? The fact of the matter is that an educated, informed and sincere Muslim leadership is rarely to be found. Our leaders are steered by outside news agencies no less than the general public.

For example, the Muslims of Myanmar have been facing oppression and genocide for decades. When did our leaders appeal to our consciences and remind us of these Muslims? Only when they appeared in the western media! Our leaders have gone back into silence on the issue. Are the Muslims there in peace and security? Or have the leaders returned to silent mode simply because the media is silent on them?

Another example, an influential “Islāmic” organisation issued a statement condemning the pagan Tunisian custom of forcing a woman to marry her rapist. Fine, shouldn’t they be commended for such a statement? Not at all. They should be taken to task for only mentioning it after Tunisia had outlawed the practice. Why could they have not defended our sisters before that? Why only mention it when it was highlighted by the media in the wake of the Arab revolutions. When Morocco outlawed its similar practice a while later, there was much less media attention. Not surprisingly, the said organisation issued nary a word, neither before the outlawing nor after. I have yet to hear a squeak in regards the victimisation of Pakistani sisters. See my article Shattering the glass vessels of the Nabi.

How many places and issues are there which should concern us, but only receive mention when our mental colonial masters allow us to wag our tails in that direction? We even use the words our masters tell us to use, since our mental surrender is complete.

The Crimean Khanate

So Russia and Ukraine are squabbling over Crimea, and those are the only parameters within which Muslims might mention this news. Why should it concern only me that they squabble over a land of empty Masājid, an Islāmic land from which the Muslims were driven from? Am I the only Muslim with access to books and the internet? Was history written solely for my reading pleasure?

Why are the following facts not mentioned our discussions?

·         Crimea was an Islāmic state from 1441 until its destruction at the hands of Russia in 1783.
·         The very name Crimea comes the Tartar language of these Muslims, from the word Qirim, meaning, “My Hill.”
·         The Muslim Tartars made up 4 fifths of population at the time of the Russian invasion.
·         They had built close to 1600 Masājid and Madāris [Islāmic houses of worship and learning].
·         One Khān built the entrance of the Zincirli Madrasah in such a way that the one entering would have to lower his head out of respect to Islāmic knowledge.  Today the Muslims do not know of this Muslim nation at all.
·         On 18th May 1944, Stalin deported the entire Tatar population from Crimea. Have you looked at a map of Ukraine and asked how it is that so far south, cut off from Russia, there is a Russian majority? The answer lies in 1944.

How terrible that we do not know our Islāmic history. Note that 18th  May 1944 was not that long before 14th May 1948. What makes the exile of one Muslim population of less significance than that of another? I do not belittle Palestinian suffering in any way, nor do I deny the sacred rank of Palestine over other lands such as Crimea, but it seems that Muslims tend “glamorise” and “romanticise” certain lands and people over the other. Part of the problem is how we allow the media to dictate the agenda. How else to we explain the attention given to Iberia and Palestine whilst other nations are treated with complete silence?

 It is the need of the hour that Muslim journalists contribute more than copy and paste from the west. Our dialogue must not be controlled by the colonialists. We are indeed slaves, but slaves of Allāh, not the west.

سليمان الكندي

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Companions of the Cave – language, chauvinism & Quraan commentary

سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَجْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ قُلْ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِمْ مَا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ فَلَا تُمَارِ فِيهِمْ إِلَّا مِرَاءً  ظَاهِرًا وَلَا تَسْتَفْتِ فِيهِمْ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا
وَلَبِثُوا فِي كَهْفِهِمْ ثَلَاثَ مِائَةٍ سِنِينَ وَازْدَادُوا تِسْعًا
قُلِ اللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا لَبِثُوا لَهُ غَيْبُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَبْصِرْ بِهِ وَأَسْمِعْ مَا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا يُشْرِكُ فِي حُكْمِهِ أَحَدًا
They will say [that there were] three [companions] the fourth being their dog. Others will five and their dog being their sixth. They but guess at the unknown. Others say seven and their eighth being their dog. Say, “My Cherishing Lord knows their number best.” None but a few knows them. So do dispute about them except for what is plain and apparent and do not enquire about them from any of them [unbelievers]….. [al-Kahf : 22]
They stayed in their cave for 300 years and increased 9. Say, “Allāh knows best how long they stayed…” [al-Kahf : 25-6]

Listening to the Jumu‘ah [Friday] talk, some thoughts which I had pondered on before, came to the fore. I wish to share some words on language issues and their broader context, and discuss some aspects which our attitude to knowledge reveal.

Respecting languages should work both ways

Having heard the desecration of Muḥammad into MO-HA-MID for the umpteenth time on a famous talk-radio station, I wrote to express my disappointment. When it comes to Italian or French names, the presenters take care to correctly pronounce the foreign name. Yet when it comes to Arabic names, which are far more numerous than those named in any single European language, any haphazard pronunciation will do. I did not mention that the presenter in question whom I was addressing is African, at least in terms of DNA, not Caucasian.  The station replied that they would note this for the future. Ha! Don’t hold your breath.
Conversely I find it symptomatic of the tribal chauvinism of some Muslims, as well as their academic laziness, that the entire history and geography of mankind magically conforms to their traditional language, whichever it may be. This may unfortunately include Arabic in itself for an Arab chauvinist, or Arabic vocabulary where an Arabic word is used by a non-Arab.

Someone told me that he had listened to a speech of a world famous scholar. He spoke on how Muslim explorers had apparently named a host of countries in the world. The examples cited seemed sensible enough, but I objected to Madagascar being al-Madīnah al-Aṣghar in origin. The grammar is incorrect. Had it been the case, it would have been al-Madīnah aṣ-Ṣughrā. The look of horror on the brother’s face, that I could DARE to have a different opinion, as well as his pious exclamation, “But that is what so-and-so said!” speaks volumes on the mentality of a good proportion of Muslims. By the way, you are welcome to do your own research on the etymology of Madagascar.   

Getting back to Friday, the classical commentators of the Qurān were generally monolingual. Based on their time and place, and when Arabic was the world language in terms of academia, trade, politics, literature etc, it was only practical and obvious that they would record the Greek names of the Companions of the Cave [“Seven Sleepers,” as the Christians call them] in an Arabicised form, amenable to their audience.

I would ask, why is it that a millennium later, Muslim scholars who are born in western lands would still not have the aptitude to pronounce the tyrant Emperor’s name as Decius instead of Diqyānūs? Is it really practical to give the name of one of the Sleepers as Miksalmīnā to a western Muslim, or would Maximillian make more sense? Are we lazy and chauvinistic, or is it just that we have as yet not worked on the balance of holding firmly onto our religion, whilst according our host countries and their cultures their respect?

Majority commentary, Qataadah and Greek records

The Qurān is a book of guidance, not a story book. It does not discuss historical details. I would not dare comment on Allāh’s Word based on my unsubstantiated opinion, but fail to see the validity of the extremism amongst Muslims. On the one hand, there are those who expect the Qurān to comply with their theories. These people lose sight of the Qurān being the absolute truth, and worship sciences whose absolutes today is discredited the next generation. If Allāh wills, I shall write one day on my discussion with a Muslim physicist in regards infinite parallel universes.

 On the other hand, some confine their minds to a single tradition. Findings from science, history, geography etc are of less than zero relevance to them, even when these fields are used as mere supporting evidence to an existing orthodox view in Islām, NOT primary proof. Any deviation from a school’s thought is disrespect to the instructors and pious predecessors. That is the problem of holding the middle ground amongst extremists. To the former, I am Neanderthal idiot, to the latter a disrespectful rebel verging on heresy.

 The commentary of Qatādah – Allāh’s mercy be upon him – appealed far more to me than the majority opinion when we studied the story of the Companions of the Cave as students.  

The majority view is that, “They stayed in their cave for 300 years and increased 9” means that they stayed for 300 solar equivalent to 309 lunar years in the cave. Qatādah however opined that the Verse is actually quoting the speculation of the unbelievers, just as they were quoted in regards their number speculation. Both the numbers and years are guesses in the unknown, hence the next Verse, Say, “Allāh knows best how long they stayed…”

Why I prefer Qataadah

·         Decius ruled 249 -251. So there is no harm with the Greek dating of 250.
·         If 300 is absolute, they awoke in 550.
·         This is a mere 2 decades before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
·         The Commentators explain that the story had been revealed in response to the unbelievers testing the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam with an incident so ancient, that the time and place had been lost to history. How is 20 years ancient lost history?
·         The way Qatādah explains the speculation and that Allāh knows best, has a better logical flow that appeals to me.
All that being said, I can be wrong and 309 is clear and correct!
What then, is my point?

Deterioration in Muslim thinking

The point of this article is not to espouse my acceptance of Qataadah’s commentary, but to ask the reader to ponder over some points:

·         The early commentators disagreed with Qatādah but mentioned his view with equal respect.
·         Today it is not mentioned at all. 309 is mentioned as an absolute, with no difference.
·         To me this but an example of the narrowing of Muslim thinking and inability to be open to differing opinions. A single monolithic narrative is the imperative and the diversity of the earliest Muslims is null and void.
·         The above Verses clarify that the unbelievers should not be our point of reference. “…do not enquire about them from any of them.” Thus the Greek period of 180 years for them having slept is not a fact which can be used to interpret the Qurān. However, when the Greeks have a complete historical record of when the pagan Decius and believer Theodosius II ruled, can the historical Greek record not be utilised as supporting evidence for an existing view within Islām?

·         My aim is to point out the forgotten middle path. Do we keep being in two groups, one worshipping science, the other living in an intellectual vacuum? Think about it. 

سليمان الكندي