Thursday, 21 May 2015

Anachronism & Fiction in the ISIS Letter

I have to be blunt – I could not force myself to read beyond page 2 of the ISIS letter sent to South African scholars. It pains me to read something written by an adult in the style of a 6 year old.Yet, as a lover of history and the truth, I thought I should share some facts in regards two of the statements made. 

They claim that the scholars of the era opposed alāḥuddīn, and issued rulings against joining his army, because those worldly scholars feared for the loss of their luxuries.
I have read biography after biography of alāḥuddīn. They were written in three different languages, from his immediate era, up until recent years, and are from the pens of both Muslims and non-Muslims. I have NEVER heard such an allegation before. If there is any substance to the allegation, why do they not produce at least ONE name? 

There may possibly have been rulings from the Shīʿah side, but if that is what they are referring to, why are they so misleading with something which is utterly irrelevant to us anyway? Another possibility is that there may theoretically have been Sunnī scholars who did not recognise his initial claim over Syria, but that again is utterly irrelevant to the ISIS letter claim that the scholars opposed joining his anti-Crusade army. 

The closest I can think of, is the historian, Ibn ʾAthīr (no, that is not a typo for Ibn Kathīr). He was not a fan of alāḥuddīn, but his not liking alāḥuddīn is a far cry from scholars issuing rulings against him.

Rather than being opposed by the scholars, alāḥuddīn, was surrounded by scholars who served the cause by serving him as their ruler and general, or those who guided him when he went to them. And unlike the nameless fictional scholars of the letter, the scholars I speak of have names. Off-the- cuff I can mention Qāḍī Yūsuf of Mosul, Qāḍī Ibn Zakī of Aleppo and the great traditionalist, Ibn Asākir. 

ISIS makes Barbarossa into the king of France. I wonder what would the German Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa and Philip, the actual King of France at the time, feel about such a change of thrones?

Barbarossa only marched against Ṣalāḥuddīn after the liberation of Baytul Muqaddas, which was visited by the all the major scholars of the region by the invitation of the victorious Sulṭān. What Fatwā would they then have given against the Emperor or King or whatever, who drowned along the way and never fought against the great liberator?

Sheer utter nonsense.

In writing this brief article, I have not opened a single book, nor internet-searched a single sentence, fact or word. Idiocy does not deserve such respect.  

 سليمان الكندي
Twitter: @sulayman_Kindi

Monday, 18 May 2015

interview on Jewish Radio - commonalities between Islam and Judaism

Will be interviewed on Jewish Radio (101.9 FM) Wednesday 20 May 7am (GMT+2) - commonalities between Islam and Judaism
Pray that I can maintain balance between courtesy to non-Muslims and maintaining dignity of Islam 
سليمان الكندي
 Twitter: @sulayman_Kindi

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Craving to “Spice-Up” Our Religion

ʾAbū arr, may Allāh be pleased with him narrated, “Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said to me, ‘Speak the truth, even if it be bitter.’” [Ibn ibbān]

I have noticed a disturbing tendency of some Muslims in displaying dissatisfaction with the truth which Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم had preached. They instead disseminate falsehoods and “glamorous” distortions which they find more appealing to their agendas, even if such agendas are supposedly for the greater glory of Allāh and His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم . These statements range from emails that Pope Benedict resigned due to him embracing Islām, to world famous orators tweaking facts to suit a given situation. I even had my ears polluted by a “Muftī”, who twice declared that on the Day of Resurrection, some people will be entering Paradise, when the angels will accost them for entering without having first rendered their accounting. Allāh will then say to leave them that it is He who should give them a reckoning for having sacrificed a certain amount of time for His religion every day!

I wonder at the motivations and mentality of such people. Whether they are sincere or not, there are some points I would like to draw our attention to:

·         When the Qurʾān does not permit narrating of tales without verification, how much more severe is the situation of those who concoct these tales?
·         Is it not that truth is such an ideal, that a Name of Allāh is ʾal-aqq (the Truth)? Is your intellect not enough to understand that falsehood pushes you away from Allāh, not nearer? Do we really have to reproduce the injunctions against lying mentioned in the Qurʾān and adīth?
·         If the facts of Islām, as it is, does not please you, and you have to innovate additions, you imply that you are more capable than Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم in conveying the message.
·         When the idiocy of your claims are revealed, e.g. Benedict is still very much a Catholic, it makes Islām and the Muslims seem foolish in the eyes of the world. I sometimes wonder if these lies are perhaps hoaxes from non-Muslims to deliberately embarrass Islām. Sadly, interaction with Muslims reveal otherwise. Muslims are well capable of embarrassing their religion without outside assistance.
·         Even if your ultimate point is correct, the way of the early scholars was to present a cogent valid argument, they never tweaked the facts to reach that conclusion. They examined the facts and reached a conclusion. Conversely, there are those today who first decide on the conclusion, which might in fact be correct, but only then do they seek the facts to back up the already decided upon conclusion. 

The Pope-becoming-Muslim kind of emails are way too numerous and downright ridiculous to spend further energy on. I shall instead mention two examples of the orators. The examples are not of major import in and by themselves, I merely mention and discuss them as instances where Muslims can take better care of what they say, hear and narrate.

Example 1 – the Spiced-Up udaybiyah

The orator stated that the Quraysh sent ambassador after ambassador to Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم at udaybiyah. They were at a loss at what to do, because each time they sent an ambassador, the sacred personality of Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم and the conduct of the Muslims drove the ambassador to embrace Islām, i.e. on the spot. The point of the orator cannot be argued against – remove obstacles of hostility, create an atmosphere of peace and show good conduct in order to win the hearts of the non-Muslims amongst whom we live. In fact, ʾal-ʾImām ʾaz-Zuhrī mentioned that more people embraced Islām during the two-odd years of the peace of Ḥudaybiyah, than during the previous 18-odd years of hostility. Although the end argument is correct and attested to by the likes of ʾaz-Zuhrī, the tweaking of the facts and having the ambassadors embrace Islām is not correct.

The Quraysh sent four ambassadors:
1.       Budayl bin Warqāʾ, may Allāh be pleased with him, who embraced Islām at the Conquest of Makkah, i.e. two years after his supposed instant Islām.
2.       Al-ulays bin ʿAlqamah about whom there is no substantiation that he ever embraced Islām, let alone at glancing upon Allāh’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم.
3.       ʿUrwah bin Masʿūd, may Allāh be pleased with him, who still resisted Islām after the Conquest of Makkah and fought against Allāh’s Messenger at the Battle of ʾa-Ṭāʿif. Thereafter he embraced Islām and his people martyred him.
4.       Suhayl bin ʿAmr, may Allāh be pleased with him, who embraced Islām at the Conquest of Makkah, i.e. two years after his supposed instant Islām.

So of the four, two embraced Islām after two years, one even longer than that, and one probably never embraced Islām. Not one of them embraced Islām at the time, as claimed for the purpose of better oratory. 

The issue is not of me being technical and lambasting a servant of the religion. The issue is that of verifying our facts before moving our tongues and pens in regards the religion of Allāh. Is our religion so weak that it cannot stand up to facts and needs these tweaks and fictions?

Example 2 – The Hollywood Version of Muslim Spain

A lifetime can be spent in addressing issues arising from the topic of the Muslim rule, decline and disappearance in Iberia. However, for the purpose of this article, attention is drawn to a claim originating from one habitually liberal with facts. The orator makes three claims:

1.       The Spanish welcomed the Muslim invaders.
2.       The welcome was due to Muslims combatting oppression, which he then defined as the rape of a Christian princess.
3.       Once the Muslims no longer showed concern for the oppressed, the Christians evicted the Muslims whom they had previously welcomed. 

Before commenting on the three claims, I would have to state that the ultimate argument of the orator, that the welfare of Muslim minorities is intertwined with the concern that they show to their non-Muslim hosts and neighbours, is not in dispute. What should be disputed is the tendency to first decide on a cause of action and then concoct “proofs”. If we rather cling to the Sunnah and draw our inspiration and proofs from it, there would be no need to tweak “facts” to suit our agenda. Again, let me emphasise, the agenda is not in question, rather my target is the attitude of a need to spice up our religion, instead of finding guidance where it rightfully is. Ultimately we should question ourselves when we perpetrate falsehoods in the name of religion – are we serving religion or massaging our own ego? 

Knowledge of some background facts is needed. The Muslims invasion was facilitated by Count Julian of Ceuta, in Africa. The Spanish King, Roderick, had either raped Julian’s daughter according to some narrations, or had been seduced by her according to others. The King was facing dissent from the family of the previous King, Wittiza. They saw the Muslims as mere raiders and deserted Roderick, thinking that the Muslim raiders would depart after the major battle.

1.    The Spanish welcomed the Muslims

In the context of the era, the relatively small resources allocated to the Muslim forces and the infrastructure of the time, the conquest of Spain was indeed a rapid and magnificent feat. However, to morph those 5 years of war, battles, and sieges into 5 years of welcome festivities really baffles the mind. Bear in mind that “the walkover” was of a similar duration as the Second World War. Where is the evidence of the Spanish welcoming the Muslims to take what they would perceive to be their sovereign lands? At best, three parties could be identified. 

·         Jews assisting any outsider against their overlords do not constitute the Spanish population welcoming the Muslims.
·         The family of Wittiza thinking they could use what they saw as Muslim “raiders” to overthrow King Roderick, makes even less of an argument for the case of a Spain which with open arms welcomed the Muslims as the new rulers.
·         If we concede for the sake of argument, that Count Julian of Ceuta foresaw that his support for the Muslims would result in permanent Muslim rule, rather than merely an attack against his enemy, the King, and that he actually welcomed this, how does the welcome of one man, who was not Spanish, did not reside in Spain and did not rule anywhere in Spain, translate into the Spanish, as a people, welcoming the Muslims? 

Is five years of war a welcome? Is the historical record of the Spanish fleeing to the hills a welcome? Is Pelagius setting up a separate kingdom right from the beginning and fighting the Muslims a welcome?

If your religion is true and pure, what need is there to adulterate it with romance and Hollywood style fictions?

2.    The Welcome was due to Muslims Combatting Oppression

This depends on accepting that there was a welcome in the first place, which there was not. That many Spanish fled to the hills, is understandable from their point of view. In those days a captured city would face looting, rape and massacre. The Spanish did not know of the true nobility of the new conquerors, so they took precautions. Where is there legitimate scope to paint the Spanish as seeing the Muslims as liberators from oppression, when they in fact clearly displayed understandable ignorance about Islām and Muslims? 

Then clutching at straws, and claiming that the possible rape of a Byzantine woman from Africa, equates to the national oppression of Spain, which the Muslims came to avenge, is really the product of a fantastic imagination.

Why is there this need to concoct a justification for the invasion of Spain in a manner appealing to a western audience? Is it an inferiority complex? Are we not convinced of the truth of Islām? Are we now going to rewrite our histories and pretend that the early Muslims did never aimed to establish the law of Allāh over every inch of the earth? Of course, such ideals and theology is not understandable to most Muslims today, let alone when discussing with non-Muslims, but there is still no need to lie. A simple depiction of the state of the world at that time, would suffice, without having to resort to lies. The simple truth is that every country at that time conquered whichever country it could. At the very moment of the Muslim invasion of Spain, Spain itself was occupying the south of France. Less than a century later, France invaded Germany and forcibly converted the Germans to Catholicism. The Germans in turn would later wipe out their pagan neighbours, the Prussians and resettle Prussia. So why do we have to be the only people to apologise for what was the norm then? And why do the weak-hearted amongst us have to lie about it?

3.    The Christians only Evicted the Muslims when the Muslims showed no Concern for the Oppressed.

Spain dates the beginning of the Reconquest to 718 when Pelagius defeated a Muslim detachment. The battle against the Muslims was from the very beginning. It was continuous. It never ceased. To claim it to have materialised seven centuries later due to a change in Muslim attitude is simply not true.
Spanish propaganda against the Muslims focuses on three complaints, all of which existed from day one, not seven centuries later:

1.       That the Muslims invaded them in the first place.
2.       That the Muslims insisted on Jizyah.
3.       That the Muslims were of darker races in origin. The Spanish reacted by instituting Apartheid policies called Limpieza de sangre, or Purity of Blood.


I may have digressed into details more than what I had intended, but these details should show how some people adjust facts to suit their agendas. 

It is important that we realise the importance of speaking the truth, however bitter it may be. Our point of reference is the guidance of Allāh and His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم. Once we cast them aside and spew western thoughts as substitutes, we slide down a slippery slope, down which some have been already sliding for 200 years and have not reached an end.

Let us recommit ourselves to Allāh and His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم as our primary focus, and emphasise their teachings of honesty and verification.  

سليمان الكندي
 Twitter: @sulayman_Kindi