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NOV 2003 | RAMADAN 1424 | NO. 351 UK£.2.50 | US$5.00 | RM10.00

YAHYA BIRT

BRITISH IMAMS HASNA FATEH

DAVID BLAINE’S ILLUSIONS HAMZA YUSUF

NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE NAZIM BAKSH

THE GOAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY KHALIDA KHAN

MEETING THE NEEDS OF A COMMUNITY IN CRISIS PLUS RAMADAN PORTFOLIO WIN SHUKR CLOTHING WORTH $200 WIN THE LATEST SAMI YUSUF CD

REMEMBERING DEDO

ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC 1925-2003


EDITORIAL

FROM THE PULPIT T

he movement is dead! Long live the movement! It is too late in the day to meander around certain issues. One of them is what kind of modus operandi we as Muslims living in the West adopt in order to ensure our survival, prosperity and relevancy. Two years after the traumatic events of 9/11 and decades of existence in a state of limbo it is time we made a critical assessment of our situation: the condition we are in, how we got here and where we need to go. This process has to begin with an honest appraisal. We have to start with an understanding that we, as a community, are in a mess. And that unless things change fundamentally it will continue to get messier. Our story so far has been one of missed and squandered opportunities. Over the years we have allowed ourselves to be victims of our own narrow understanding of Islam and our role in society. If anything we have done an amazing job of reducing the great teachings of this faith to suit our own idiosyncrasies. We have projected so much of our neuroses onto Islam that for the majority of people the deen has little context out of discussions on beards, scarves, khilafah and halal meat. But perhaps the worst crime we have committed is turn Islam, this great gift to mankind, into some kind of tribal emblem that assembles all those who are angry, violent and consumed with hatred to justify equally inhuman, barbaric and un-Islamic behaviour and actions. Our young people lack role models other than those provided by the hostile media surrounding us. They are brought up on shallow textbook understandings of Islam that teach them neither humility nor love. Caught in the dialectics of the race industry and attracted by the blame culture behind most of the reasoning behind Islamophobia, they are loudest when it comes to rights but negligent when it comes to responsibilities. We turn a blind eye to those among us who cheat the welfare system and yet expect to be taken seriously when we condemn corrupt rulers in our countries; we demand pluralism and transparency overseas while we run our organisations like family heirlooms with no sense of accountability or responsibility to both man or God. Our young are adept at shouting cheap political slogans but struggle with simple dhikr. Most have hardly mastered the art of performing ghusl properly yet feel qualified in discussing complex religious matters that are of no immediate benefit to anybody. Hundreds turn out to demonstrate outside an embassy or government building in the cold but few are prepared to man soup kitchens for the homeless or offer their services to orphanages or the elderly. We lack original thinking and most of our ‘writers’ and ‘intellectuals’ are pastiche artists. Others attain greatness by writing introductions and prefaces to old political tracts. Nothing is more sad than seeing our young people pumping themselves up with ideas and understandings forged in 30’s Egypt, 40’s Subcontinent and 50’s Lebanon. Our organisations are structured like medieval clubs; our ‘leaders’ don’t even represent their shadows. We suppress and resent diversity and dissent within our own ranks yet are champions for them everywhere else. Merit is never a consideration when choosing our leaders but subservience and mediocrity seem to be. We are gender fascists: we patronise women and give them little value other than tokenism. We hate the rebellious young, the intelligent other and those who refuse to be part of the herd. We must change, or face the consequences. Whether we want it or not this revolution is already taking place. We must understand that the future lies with those institutions and individuals who are relevant to the struggle to establish Islam here in the UK. And that our success in this world will be measured by the state of Islam we can inject in our lives and those of our relatives, friends and neighbours and not in the creation of some utopian Islamic state. Finally, it is wise in our modern times that we don’t indulge in doublespeak: we must say in public what we say in private. And that we all know that it is a lie for any group of people to suggest that they have a strategy for our salvation that is ‘secret’ and in the custodian of only a few chosen ones. If anybody has a magic formula to get us out of the abyss we are in it is their duty, nay, their obligatory duty [fard] not only to make it public but accessible to all. Out there at the moment, believe us, there is no movement: only signs to a cul de sac. FUAD NAHDI Q - NEWS

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CONTENTS

contents contents contents co contents contents contents co contents contents contents co contents contents contents co contents contents contents co

REGULARS

7 classic q The languid nights of Ramadan bring out the storytellers. Our correspondent reports on Cairo’s dusk to dawn traditions.

8 scrutiny The British Imam. YAHYA BIRT BNP falters up north. SHAMIM MIAH Language, power and honour killings. ROMANA MAJID AND SABBIA HANIF Hassan Turabi is released. IQBAL SIDDIQUI Courage to refuse. YAHYA ABDUL RAHMAN

Editor-in-Chief FUAD NAHDI Managing Editor FAREENA ALAM International Editor SIDEK AHMAD Contributing Editors FOZIA BORA ABDUL-REHMAN MALIK NABILA MUNAWAR Designer AIYSHA MALIK Events Coordinator WAHEED MALIK, SABA ZAMAN & THE CREW

14 correspondence The abstention of one Muslim MP has made prostitution legal in New Zealand. FRESHTA HASSAN reports on the furore.

34 portfolio

FEATURING Saleyha Ahsan Habib Ali Al-Jifri Nazim Baksh Hasna Fateh Freshta Hassan Shiraz Khan Romana Majid Shamim Miah Iqbal Siddiqui Nur Elmessiri

George Bush is coming to town and thousands are set to take to the streets. NAZIM BAKSH considers taqwa and civil society in an age of protest.

Yahya Abdul Rahman Md ibn Adam Yahya Birt Sabbia Hanif Humera Khan Khalida Khan Arzu Merali Faraz Rabbani Hamza Yusuf Radhia Tarafder

42 fashion SHUKR clothing talks to Q-News about fashion, identity and ethnical business.

Head Office Q-NEWS MEDIA LTD PO Box 4295 London W1A 7YH United Kingdom International Office Q-NEWS MEDIA SDN BHD 173b, Jalan Aminubdin Baki Taban Tun Dr Ismail 60000 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia www.q-news.com

54 write mind Is the fact that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to a Muslim woman any cause for celebration? ARZU MERALI wonders.

PLUS CONTRIBUTORS 6 MUSIC 44

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SUBSCRIPTIONS 17

REVIEWS 46

GLEANINGS 51

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FIQH 38

INVOCATIONS 50 POPULI 52

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INSIDE

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COVER

FEATURES

15 frontline medics Denied medical access, Palestinians turn to a committed group of doctors who heal under fire. SALEYHA AHSAN reports from the occupied territories.

18 sleight of hand or faith? HASNA FATEH explores the neo-magic

phenomenon of David Blaine.

20 Where are we heading?

Meeting the needs of a community in crisis. KHALIDA KHAN comments.

29 portfolio: ramadan Sayyids, sultans and supplications: making the most of the holy month

40 exclusive A visionary address on a Night of Remembrance, by SHAYKH HAMZA YUSUF

“The world is pushing things forward in Bosnia... but it’s doing it at the expense of Muslims. These are the things that l cannot live with.�

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WHO’S WHO

CONTRIBUTORS SHAMIM MIAH

ROMANA MAJID

HAS A BACKGROUND IN TEACHING, SOCIAL

IS A RESEARCHER AT IHRC WITH A BACK-

POLICY AND RESEARCH WORK. HE MANAGES A VOLUNTARY YOUTH GROUP IN OLDHAM.

NAZIM BAKSH

GROUND IN POLITICAL SCIENCE.

SHE

WORKS

contributors contributors contributors contributors contributors contributors contributors contributors contributors

SALEYHA AHSAN

IS A MEDICAL STUDENT IN SCOTLAND. HER FIRST FILM ‘ARTICLE 17

-

DOCTORS IN PALES-

ON ISSUES LIKE ANTI-MUSLIM BACKLASH AND

TINE’ DEBUTED ON 2ND NOVEMBER 2003 AT

ISLAMOPHOBIA IN THE MEDIA.

THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

IS A JOURNALIST AND PRODUCER WITH THE

IS A CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY ALUMNI. SHE IS

ARZU MERALI

HABIB ALI AL-JIFRI

CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION. HE

CO-FOUNDER OF THE ISLAMIC HUMAN

IS A TEACHER IN DAR AL-MUSTAFA IN TARIM,

LIVES IN TORONTO WITH HIS FAMILY.

RIGHTS COMMISSION.

HADHRAMOUT, YEMEN.

YAHYA BIRT

IQBAL SIDDIQUI

RADHIA TARAFDER

IS THE COORDINATOR FOR THE MUSLIM

IS EDITOR OF CRESCENT INTERNATIONAL AND

IS A BROADCAST JOURNALIST AND PRODUCER

WORLD BOOK REVIEW AT THE ISLAMIC

A RESEARCHER AT THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEM-

FOR BRADFORD COMMUNITY BROADCASTING,

FOUNDATION, LEICESTER

PORARY ISLAMIC THOUGHT (ICIT).

AND IS A FREELANCE TRAINER AND CONSULTANT ON MEDIA AND ISSUES OF DIVERSITY.

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CLASSIC Q

EGYPTIAN RAMADAN TALES EGYPT CAN BOAST SOME OF THE BEST QARIS AND ULEMA IN THE WORLD BUT DURING RAMADAN THE MAJORITY OF EGYPTIANS PREFER TO LISTEN TO RADIO DRAMAS AND SPECULATE ON HOW THEY WILL END RATHER THAN ON LAILAT-UL-QADER. FROM CAIRO A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT REPORTS. here is a old Arabic superstition that warns that whoever tells stories during the day will grow horns and see his gold turn into iron. The night therefore, is the time for stories. And the best stories, as has been true for generations in the Muslim world, are saved for the languid evenings during the holy month of Ramadan. At dusk during the holy month Muslims break their daylong fast with iftar, the breakfast meal. They feast on dates and figs, on qatayif - small pancakes filled with raisins and nuts and on bamia - a beef stew with okra and onions. And while families gather around the table, many turn on the radio to follow the special serials that start on the first day of Ramadan and culminate on the last. These stories of love, intrigue and adventure help envelope this country of nearly 60 million in a unity of purpose that briefly shuts out the widespread poverty, political unrest and misery. And these serials carry on the ancient art of storytelling that the Arabs have nurtured since before the ‘Thousand and One Nights’. But the politically charged climate of modern Egypt, radio serials are also a important part of the governments drive against Islamic activists, when they appear, are usually depraved and misguided. And

T

Egypt is shown as a land of hope and opportunity for those who work. The activists, who denounce the serials, have threatened many of the writers, actors and directors involved, and some of them now have bodyguards. “In the last couple of years, the government has increased its use of the radio serials to transmit its propaganda,” said Fahmi Howadi, a writer on Islamic affairs. “The serials are now a powerful weapon in the government’s war against the Islamic trend, although I find the government’s message naive and unconvincing.” The serials are nevertheless very popular. “The lower classes listen faithfully to these programmes”, according Samya Saatyk, Head of the Sociology Department at Ein Shams University. “The programmes portray the problems many people face, from marital difficulties and poverty to drug addiction. People look to the drama for solutions. There are four main radio stations and each mounts serials for a month. The station broadcasts their programmes at different times so listeners can switch from one to the next until suhur, the meal eaten just before dawn. Egypt’s television and cinema stars spent most of January in recording studios in Cairo’s radio and television building, producing the 15min episodes. “When I was a young girl my friends and I would sit up nights and listen to the dramas during Ramadan,” said Salwa Mohammed Ali, an actress who is playing in a radio serial. “I could barely wait until the next episode.”

The writers, actors and actresses often save their best scripts and performances for Ramadan. Many have also developed a fondness for radio drama, an art form that has died out in many other parts of the world. “Radio invites people to imagine, to participate in the production,” said Mrs Mohammed. “It gives almost as much pleasure as reading.” The hottest serial this years called “Rice with the Angels”. The show, taken from the Arabian proverb about dreamers that says ‘they are eating rice with the angels’, features some of the biggest names in Egyptian show business. The serial tells the story of a beautiful Shams, a poor boy who loves her, Menadi, whose schemes to make are thwarted by his lack of education and poverty. “The message of this story is that those who dream must dream realistically,” said the serial script writer Osama Anwar Okasha. “If our dreams are unrealistic they can be destructive. People must dream within their limitations and capabilities.” There are numerous scenes that hammer home this point. “Shams doesn’t want just love,” the character Menadi tells his friend Essam. “She wants someone who will snatch her away from this life, someone who will take her higher and higher. This is her dream. It is my dream too.” “But you cannot hold down your jobs,” Essam points out. “You have no weight. You do not take responsibility.” “This is not a time for people to crawl up a ladder rung by rung,” Menadi replies, “It is a time for people to jump.” In the story, Menadi is falsely accused and arrested in the killing of a German, who first appears as a kindly old man who lives in Menadi’s alleyway. The German, it turns out late, was a former Nazi who persecuted Jews. In the end, the police will discover that the assassination was carried out by the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. Shams and Menadi will get married when he is freed from prison, chastened and realistic about life “This is just entertainment” said Naglaa Fathi, a movie star who appears in the serial. “The whole country fasts at the same time , eats at the same time and listens to the radio same time. We all come together for Ramadan. The only problem for us comes from all the people who keep asking us how the story will end.” Q - NEWS

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SCRUTINY

SUBVERSIVE OR SAINT? FOR DECADES, BRITISH-TRAINED IMAMS HAVE STRUGGLED TO FIND EMPLOYMENT THANKS TO THE HIGH NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS INVITED TO LEAD OUR MOSQUES. THIS, INCLUDING THE VERY WAY MOSQUES ARE RUN, IS ABOUT TO CHANGE.

I

t has become commonplace to question Muslim religious leadership today, not only because of Western fears about violent radicalism, but more broadly because of the sharp internal critique of the ulema by the reform and Islamist movements over the last two centuries. These stereotypes belie the simple truth that the imam is still the first port of call for ordinary Muslims seeking religious guidance and good counsel; yet there is a worrying disconnection between imams and British Muslim youth. In Britain, the government, perhaps inspired by recent developments in France, Holland and Scandinavia to institute the official training of imams, has now focused its attention on the hitherto disregarded figure of the imam and his central role in the formation of Islam in Britain. The more often than not ill-paid, overworked and under appreciated position of the imamate has proved attractive mainly to those brought from abroad, who usually lack the linguistic and pastoral skills to connect to an overwhelming young population (52% under the age of 25, 46 % born in the UK). The continued salience of the foreign imam is strange given the fact that Britain has easily the largest number of hometrained imams in Western Europe. With some 25 seminaries, Britain currently produces around 140 graduates a year. But when they graduate, it is difficult for them to find employment, not least because many

8 | Q - NEWS

mosques already have incumbent foreign imams. In response, some dynamic young imams have had to set up independent Islamic academies to reach out to the youth, effectively disassociating themselves from mosques indifferent to this need. As such self-regarding conservative mosque committees, allied with insecure and poor working conditions, have effectively forced many British-trained ulema into alternative nonreligious employment, which is a huge waste of their training and talents. Sadly, in too many communities, the mosque imamate has become largely irrelevant to the future formation of Islam in Britain; most of the ‘action’ takes place outside the mosques. In recent years a small number of imams have been employed in education and in paid pastoral roles in prisons and hospitals, but it is with the implementation of a new European Union directive in December on religious discrimination in employment that will have the greatest impact upon the professionalisation of the mosque imamate.

All ministers of religion, including imams, will be able to claim decent wages and to contest unfair treatment or dismissal like any other British employee. However, the Home Office has no plans to raise awareness of these new protections among British imams whose potential ignorance of these changes could be exploited by unscrupulous mosque committees unless there is a concerted effort to spread the good news. The Home Office is also due to shortly announce tightened restrictions on bringing foreign ministers of religion over to the UK. The expected pre-entry English language requirement is likely to gain broad acceptance among British Muslims, although there should be regard for the special spiritual needs of recent asylum communities. There is justified anxiety that a government which has put internal security against terrorism at the top of its agenda will be more interested in screening for radicals rather than positively encouraging the best and brightest imams to come to Britain. If checks are to be made on the Islamic credentials of foreign imamate applicants, and, more tendentiously, on their sectarian or political orientation then the government would be well advised to institute an advisory board of the British Muslim great and the good, with a cross-denominational selection of senior imams, to work with the Immigration Service, as has been the case with the Jewish community for some years. Without the safeguard of the community’s inside knowledge and tacit consent embodied in such an Advisory Board, the government could almost certainly lay itself open to the charge of discriminatory treatment. YAHYA BIRT


SCRUTINY

BNP FALTERS UP NORTH BEFORE THE RECENT BY-ELECTION THE BNP WAS THE MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY IN BURNLEY BUT HAS THE PARTY REALLY BEEN EFFECTIVE? Q-NEWS FINDS OUT. Burnley’s industrial past is evident as soon as you drive the motorway with its rows of back to back housing and its distinctive chimneys which once attracted migrant workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Burnley is typical of the economic principle of boom and boost. The recent closure of the Michelin Tyre factory with the loss of 1,000 workers together with the closure of T.R.W a company which used to supply car parts is a testimony to this claim. In truth, one does not need to look at Indices of Deprivation or the recent findings from the Census findings to understand the level of poverty in Burnley. The empty boarded up and ransacked houses in Stoneyholme or Stoops wards are a stark reminder of the economic troubles. Could the recent success of the far right British Nationalist Party (BNP) be attributed to high unemployment, poverty and disaffected white youth in council estates? Not entirely. A drive through the leafy suburbia of Cliviger and Lanehead in Burnley which elected its BNP councilors is far from poverty and squalor, its spacious semidetached houses can easily fetch house prices up-to £200K. Before the recent by-election the BNP was the main opposition party in Burnley. Many have since wondered about the effectiveness of the party. What controversial policies or motions have they passed? More importantly what changes have they brought about for the wards that they represent? One of the senior officers working for the Burnley Council told Q-News, “Ever since the BNP got elected very little has happened. Despite all the media hype the BNP have yet to put forward any policy. I don’t even think a major speech has been made. All of this is very ironic given the fact that the BNP is the main opposition party

against Labour.” In order to understand the situation, one needs to understand the events that led to the recent by-election in the middle class ward of Lanehead. 21 year old Luke Smith started his career with a utopian vision for his electorates. “White indigenous people in Burnley will be given its far share,” he said. Smith’s true colours started to show when after having too much to drink he smashed a larger bottle on a fellow Leeds BNP activist at the Red, White and Blue (RWB) summer festival held in Swanley in East Lancashire. It has since been revealed, this wasn’t the only embarrassment for the BNP leadership at the summer festival. The resignation of BNP chief steward, Warren Bennett, over the selection of a Muslim candidate together with an anti-Nick Griffin campaign gave an indication of the faltering unity and leadership within BNP. A local Muslim accountant in Burnley reinforced the above observation, “Since the BNP have been elected there has been very little inward investment and businesses have very little confidence. In fact, there is evidence to show that large business are moving out of Burnley because big business know that far right ideas are bad for business. I believe the pro-BNP support is part of a phase that Burnley is going through. They will soon be able to see through their sound bites and vicious rumors about Muslims.” Q-News was informed of two recent rumors that were causing racial tension in Burnley. The first myth, which attracted a number of complaints to the Council, was around the bizarre idea that Muslims can claim exemption from paying council tax if they could demonstrate they used a prayer mat for worship in their own homes. The second prank involved the idea that Housing Officials were going to force householders to accommodate families of asylum seekers in their spare room. The second prank is in the process of being investigated by police after “official looking” letters were distributed in pubs this summer. Needless to say, myths - no matter how far-fetched, create prejudice, which in return breeds hatred. For now, the BNP has

“Since the BNP have been elected there has been very little inward investment, businesses have very little confidence. In fact there is evidence to show that large business are moving out of Burnley because they know that far right ideas are bad for business. I believe the pro-BNP support is part of a phase that people in Burnley are going through.They will soon be able to see through their sound bites and viscous rumors about Muslims.” lost its council seat to the Liberal Democrats in the recent by-election. Could this be the start of BNP downward spiral in the North? Only time will tell.

SHAMIM MIAH Q - NEWS

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SCRUTINY

LANGUAGE, POWER AND HONOUR KILLINGS THE SENSATIONAL

“HONOUR

KILLINGS” OF

TWO MUSLIM GIRLS SENT SHOCK WAVES THROUGH BRITAIN. HERE, WE EXAMINE HOW THE BBC AND THE TELEGRAPH USED MURDER TO DEMONISE MUSLIMS

T

he killing of women, and sometimes men, in response to behaviour that clashes with cultural norms has been termed as ‘honour killings’. Here the murder of a family member is usually committed by or with the collusion and consent of the victim’s relatives. This exacerbates the horrific nature of the crime by virtue of the fact that the murder is committed by those the victim trusts most. It is both unfortunate and tragic that honour killings - clearly a misnomer, continue today. In the last few weeks alone three highly publicised cases of so called ‘honour killings’ have been reported in the media. The coverage of these crimes has however, caused many Muslims to question both the journalists who report the news as well as editorial policy involved in choosing what to cover and how to cover it. In the cases that were widely reported, stereotypes were reaffirmed as the distinction between ‘honour killings’ and ‘Muslims’ were blurred. The Islamic Human Rights Commission has produced a briefing on the problematic use of language regarding these incidents. In trying to illustrate the problematic styles and stances taken by various media, four articles have been selected and analysed. Closer examination of these articles makes apparent the underlying themes harnessed or unknowingly harboured in the minds of journalists and editors. Unfortunately, opinions dressed as reporting made available to hundreds of

10 | Q - NEWS

thousands of people perpetuates deep rooted prejudices beyond repair. In other words once an association is made between a group of people and a ‘personality trait’ or characteristic, it becomes imbedded in the minds of society at large. The articles to be examined were featured in both the BBC News Online and The Telegraph. However they are by no means the worst. In addition, two specific cases were chosen to reflect the clear difference in reporting styles within each media. The first case reported on 30th September 2003 is that of Abdalla Yones who was recently sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his daughter, Heshu Yones.

“Hey for an

older man you have a good punch and kick. I hope you enjoyed testing your strength on me. It was fun being on the receiving end. Well done.’ The Telegraph banner, provocative and disturbing in its crudeness and reads: ‘Muslim cuts his daughter’s throat for taking a Christian boyfriend’ Though the BBC’s headline is not as sensationalist, the teaser describes the case in a similar manner: ‘A Muslim man is beginning a life sentence for murdering his daughter because he disapproved of her Christian boyfriend.’ Here Mr Yones is identified specifically as ‘Muslim’ and the boyfriend of the victim is identified only by his ‘Christianity’. This polarisation is presented to be the central

motivation that caused the brutal murder of a 16 year old girl. By using the term ‘Muslim’ the implications contribute to an existing negative stereotype as the depiction of barbarity is placed under that heading. The Islamic identity is portrayed to be a major factor related to the crime. It misdirects attention to a non-existent Muslim - Christian conflict, through the terrible actions of one individual. The remnants of previous stereotypes against other Black and ethnic minority communities are still alive today. The link between the Afro-Caribbean community and crime is a case in point, where many people still feel fearful of being mugged when walking past ‘black’ men. This should give an indication of the seriousness and impact the use of ill thought and loose wording has on any given community. In both the articles by the BBC and the Telegraph, a referral is made to the ‘westernisation’ of the Heshu Yones, the victim, as another point of contention with her father. The BBC however does not make explicit what exactly is meant by Mr Yones’s fear that his daughter “was becoming westernised”. The Telegraph on the other hand states plainly what they mean by the term: “Heshu used a mobile phone, preferred to spend time with her friends rather than at home and wore make-up - always applying it at college or a friend’s house.” By enclosing the term western by boundaries drawn up by the use of mobile phones and make-up and then positioning Muslims against it is particularly irresponsible. If it is these qualities that define ‘westernisation’ then more or less everyone is prey to Muslim or Islamic wrath. The Islamic identity has been painted as something not just alien and barbaric but frankly, ridiculous in the extreme. The articles being analysed in this instance root the Islamic faith into a story containing violence with large doses of irrationality, and by this it appears that violence is the only language that Muslims understand. By the fact that Abdalla Yones requested the death penalty and had also tried to commit suicide (another loaded concept), the articles argue that Muslims have no regard for life whatsoever, not


SCRUTINY even their own. Islam must be violent and oppressive, goes the argument as here is living proof: “Yones attacked her with a kitchen knife, stabbing her 11 times and slitting her throat. He then attempted to cut his own throat and threw himself from the third floor balcony of the family’s flat in Acton.” The references made and reported in both articles by the victim of longstanding physical abuse before her death further add to this impression, again because her father is identified as a Muslim rather than simply ‘Abdalla Yones’: “Hey for an older man you have a good punch and kick. I hope you enjoyed testing your strength on me, it was fun being on the receiving end. Well done.” Most ironically Mr Yones himself acknowledged the negative perceptions already in existence with regards to Muslims by the fact he tried to blame ‘Islamic extremists’ or ‘Al Qaeda members’ in trying to explain away the dead body of his daughter; “He said they had been attacked by Islamic extremists who burst into their home.” This is proof enough that the existing perception that Islam is violent and irrational is so widespread that it was used by the perpetrator of a horrific crime as a way of trying to rationalise the murder to investigators. Gender issues in relation to Islam are driven once more into the forefront by the implicit boost given by these articles. Here a ‘Muslim’ man kills his daughter because she is having a relationship with a ‘Christian’. In essence, this translates that the value placed on the life of a woman by this so called patriarchal religious system enables the acceptability of such crime within its culture. This is certified by comments made by the investigators with regard to those ‘members of the community, or his friends’ who ‘tried to assist him in that cover up.’ According to The Telegraph who claim this includes the mother, whom officers believe ‘has more information about the case than she has disclosed to them so far.’ This suggested collusion further denigrates Islam and Muslims insofar as it depicts Muslim women themselves as voluntarily contributing to their own oppression. The second case to be examined is that of Tafarak Hussain who killed his cousin on the day of her wedding and Rafaqat Hussain who helped him escape. The

report featured in the BBC on the 15th October 2003 and The Telegraph on the 16th October 2003. Neither the BBC nor The Telegraph refer to the religion of the perpetrators or their ethnic origin. Other than relating the names of the individuals concerned, both reports give no indication of the origin of either the victim or the perpetrator except when it is mentioned that: “Tafarak, from Bordesley Green, Birmingham, took Rafaqat to meet a taxi driver who drove him to Heathrow Airport, from where he fled to Pakistan.” And again in the BBC, “Tafarak Hussain then helped his cousin to escape to Pakistan.” This however still does not conclusively state the origin of either Tafarak or Rafaqat Hussain though it can be

There have been twelve cases of so called ‘honour killings’ in the United Kingdom carried out by those belonging to a multitude of faiths with two more currently pending in the system. However, the only ones to receive this type of publicity are where the perpetrators are Muslim.

inferred. Crucially through the method of reporting which focuses on factors other than origin and religion, ensures that origin and religion become completely irrelevant and rightly so. There is no mention of any incompatible values by the reporters of either Pakistanis or Muslims with the west. Further, the reason attributed to the murder of the young woman has been related to the breaking of ‘family custom’ in The Telegraph and the fact that the mur-

dered woman was to marry a man “who was not a blood relative” in the BBC. The description cited is very specific to the incident in question, as opposed to the previous article where the motivations were described as being the hate of all that is western in the perpetrator’s daughter as being generic to Muslim culture. The reporting of this case does not cause the readers to believe that Muslims are either violent or oppressive to women. This was simply a tragic crime. Both the BBC and The Telegraph have testified through the second article being examined that details such as race and religion are not necessary in trying to accurately convey information. Although the specifics of the cases were different, there is evidently a lack of consistency in the portrayal of crimes that have are deemed by the police and thus the media to be generically similar. The terms used in one article demonise an entire community whilst on the other hand where specific terms and words are chosen more carefully a more accurate report results free from repercussions that make Muslims feel they have to make loud statements condemning something that everyone should already know is contrary to Islam. As a separate dimension from the quality of journalism being discussed another disturbing aspect with specific regards to the reporting of the case of Abdalla Yones becomes apparent. The language as used by practitioners in law enforcement agencies and the court system draws questions with regards to prejudices and preconceived notions held within government institutions. It was reported both in the BBC and The Telegraph that the judge himself cites ‘irreconcilable cultural differences’. The Telegraph further adds: “Scotland Yard described the Heshu’s death as an “honour killing” brought about by a “clash of cultures”. It is worrying that this belief that Islam in all its cultural manifestations is permanent in its incompatibility with the west, has permeated into all facets of civil life. This is also borne out by the fact that there have been twelve cases of so called ‘honour killings’ in the UK carried out by those belonging to a multitude of faiths with two more currently pending in the system. However, the only ones to receive this type of publicity are where the perpetrators are Muslim.

ROMANA MAJID AND SABBIA HANIF THE FULL BRIEFING WITH TEXTS CAN BE READ AT WWW.IHRC.ORG.UK Q - NEWS

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SCRUTINY

HASSAN TURABI RELEASED WHAT NOW FOR THE SUDANESE AS ONE OF ITS MOST INFLUENTIAL MUSLIMS LEADERS IS RELEASED FROM HOUSE ARREST?

H

undreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslims took to the streets in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities on 13 October, to celebrate the release from house arrest of Shaikh Hasan al-Turabi, the leader of Sudan’s Islamic movement and of the Popular National Congress (PNC) party. He had been the country’s senior most political prisoner since his arrest in May 2001. Seven other PNC prisoners were also released by the same decree from president Omar alBashir, and the bans on PNC political activities and on its official newspaper were also lifted. Human-rights organizations say that Turabi and his aides were the last political prisoners in the country. Speaking to reporters after arriving home later the same day, Hasan al-Turabi, who is now 69, said: “I will continue working for the same principles for which I was arrested: democracy, freedom of expression and human rights.” He also told the press that his release had been the result of domestic and international pressure on Khartoum, something the government denies. Dr Qutbi Mahdi, a government minister, said that the real reason for his release was that ‘there was no reason to continue detaining him.’ In August, the Sudanese government had pledged to release all political prisoners as part of the peace deal with the southern separatist rebels that is currently being negotiated in Kenya. In a press conference on 16 October, Turabi gave the first clues to how he might use the political freedom that he and his party now appear to enjoy, warning Bashir’s government against any attempt to form a political partnership with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) after a peace deal, while excluding other Sudanese political parties. He developed the same theme in the first interview he gave after his release, published

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in the Al-Khartoum newspaper on 19 October. In it, he called for early elections to bolster the peace deal, saying that it is important that power not be concentrated in central government and that local regions deserve to be given extensive powers, including on matters of Islam and shariah. “Elections should be held as soon as possible,” he said. “Sudan is too big to be governed from one centre.” “Family laws, personal laws... what you drink, the way you dress, the way you associate with people... these laws have to be personalised. Other laws have to be local. Each federated state parliament should develop its own laws,” he said, adding that he had opened communication with other Sudanese political parties and leaders to discuss the country’s current situation. He also criticised the US’s war on terrorism, saying that it was responsible for the anti-American feeling in the Muslim world. “The worst thing is happening now because the whole Muslim world is announcing that American is the devil,” he said. “Americans are anti-Islam. The world terrorism is used simply as a cover-up for the war on Islam.” How these ideas will translate themselves into PNC policy remains to be seen. Much will depend on the political situation that emerges from the talks currently being held in Naivasha (Kenya) between the Sudanese government and leaders of the SPLA, to end the 20-year civil war in the south of the country. This war, which is thought to have killed up to two million people and displaced four million others, has long been maintained by assistance to the rebels from neighbouring African countries, supported by Western governments. However, recently the US appears to have put its support behind efforts to find a negotiated settlement, which, combined with a desire on the part of Khartoum to improve relations with the West and have itself removed from Washington’s blacklist of

states which “support terrorism”, have moved the negotiations forward. As this article is written, US secretary of state Colin Powell is expected to join the talks in Naivasha on 22 October, adding to the expectations of a breakthrough. Any final settlement is expected to allow for powersharing in Khartoum, and a referendum for secession in the south of the country in six years’ time. Turabi’s arrest in 2001 came after a falling out with Omar al-Bashir, the military general who became president in 1989, in a military coup supported by Turabi and Sudan’s Islamic movement. Turabi himself had become speaker of Sudan’s parliament and was widely regarded as the regime’s ideologue and de facto leader. He was criticised, however, by some Islamic movement commentators, notably the late Kalim Siddiqui, who argued that a regime that came to power by means of a military coup, instead of popular support, and in which the head of the military remained head of state while the leader of the Islamic movement occupied a junior position, could not be an Islamic state. These worries were confirmed when relations between Bashir and Turabi gradually deteriorated in the late 1990s, resulting in Turabi’s arrest and imprisonment, thus confirming the relative positions of the military and the Islamic movement in Sudan’s government. Turabi had earlier also lent his support to the regime of Jaffer al-Numeiri from 1977 to 1985, and also made strategic political alliances with other political figures at various times. All this led many to regard his willingness to engage with non-Islamic political forces as a serious weakness of his political understanding. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that he remains a major figure in the contemporary Islamic movement, with progressive and forward-looking political and social ideas. During his house arrest he worked on writings on Islamic political thought, including a major book on Islamic democracy, launched in London earlier this year. He also retains considerable political support in Sudan. At a time of some uncertainty in Sudanese political affairs, his contribution will undoubtedly be welcomed by many Sudanese Muslims, and have an impact that the Sudanese government and other political forces cannot afford to ignore. IQBAL SIDDIQUI


SCRUTINY

“THE COURAGE TO REFUSE” BENJAMIN NETANYAHU’S NEPHEWS LEAD INTERNATIONAL REFUSENIK CAMPAIGN

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t was a cool autumn night in downtown Montreal as Eric Ben Artzi took the stage at Concordia University, the unofficial capital of Canada’s passionate and outspoken Palestinian solidarity movement. Ben Artzi represents the new face of Israeli dissent. Not only does he champion the case of his brother, Yoni, who now has been in Israeli prison for the past 14 months, he has also called for a bi-national state of Jews and Palestinians with equal rights. Yoni was jailed on 8 August 2002 for refusing to serve the Israeli army and insisting on alternative civil service. He remains imprisoned for what he has referred to as “my beliefs as a pacifist.” Yoni is joined by nine others Israeli youths, ranging from ages 18 to 20, who are also in prison for refusing to serve in the Israeli army. All are in the process of being tried in Israeli military courts. “I did not take the decision to refuse in one day. For years, I pondered what I was going to do. I read a lot and spoke with many people and had sleepless nights of debating with myself. I came to the conclusion that the army’s acts in the Occupied Territories are flagrantly immoral and in violation of international law,” said one of the men in his cross examination. There are 27 Israeli pilots, and hundreds of reservists, who are currently refusing to serve in the occupied territories. Yoni and Eric also happen to be the nephews (by marriage) of former Israeli Prime Minister and current Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Referring to the Palestinian people, Ben Artzi stated in his speech that “for almost two generations, three and half million people have had their rights taken away from them. This is not about nationalism or about two countries fighting one another, because the Palestinians do not have a country or an army,” he said. “These are not my rights or our rights as Jews to take away. The Palestinians were born with these rights. This is not an issue

for negotiation. This has to be the starting point,” he said. He added, “The Palestinian people’s rights are not ours to give and they are not ours to bargain with for security or anything else.” He cited Israeli scholar Dr. Meron Benvenisti who recently stated that Israel is in fact, already a bi-national state, but in reality “one nation is a nation of masters and the other, I am sorry to say it, is a nation of slaves.”

Ben Artzi said that he was sceptical of any proposals for a two state solution where Palestinians would be given a small piece of land for a state in the territories, as he felt this idea was no longer workable. “It is not a question of Jews against Palestinians, as extremists in both camps would like to portray it, but it is a struggle between those who are pro-democracy and anti-apartheid and those who are not.” Yoni, 20, is a founding member of Shministim - Hebrew for “high-school” the Israeli youth refusal movement. On 19 August 2001 they wrote a letter, signed by 62 students, to Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon in which they declared they would not serve in the army. “We protest before you against the aggressive and racist policy pursued by the

Israeli government and its army,” they wrote, and further stated that they “resist Israel’s pounding of human rights. Land expropriation, arrests, executions without a trial, house demolition, closure, torture, and the prevention of health care are only some of the crimes the state of Israel carries out, in blunt violation of international conventions it has ratified. Therefore we will obey our conscience and refuse to take part in acts of oppression against the Palestinian people.” One year later the same group sent another letter to Sharon in which the number of signatures had quadrupled. There are other refusenik organisations within Israel, such as OmetzLe’sarev (“Courage to Refuse”), Yesh Gvul (“There is a Limit!”) and IDF Air Force Pilot Refusers. Yoni has remained steadfast in his decision. In February 2003, six months after his first imprisonment, Yoni sent a message to all those who had supported him in this ordeal. In the letter he stated that “my commitment to the cause of peace remains unwavering and my resolve to continue this vital endeavour grows in me.” “With every day that passes, I gain new strength, which even those closest to me never thought I’d have,” he further wrote. Earlier this year, Amnesty International once again expressed its concern “about the number of Israeli soldiers and reservists detained because of their refusal to perform their military service.” “My brother has learned the right lessons from the holocaust and the atrocities that took place in the second World War. He learned that human rights and individual rights come first before all else - certainly before nationalism and national rights,” Ben Artzi said during his Concordia address, part of a series of similar presentations being made across Canada. He also stated that many Israelis supported his views and that he is in fact part of the mainstream, not the fringe elements. “The majority of people are good and they can be brought to see the light. It is just a matter of gaining critical mass so that people will not be afraid to speak their mind,” he stated. “I am optimistic that our way is going to win.” YAHYA ABDUL RAHMAN Q - NEWS

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CORRESPONDENCE

LETTER FROM NEW ZEALAND rostitution was decriminalised in New Zealand in June 2003 after an openly gay MP Tim Barnett, supported by a former transsexual prostitute MP Georgina Beyer, led a campaign in favour of the Prostitution Reform Act Bill. The bill passed in a conscience vote by 6059 with the only Muslim parliamentarian, Labour MP Ashraf Choudhary abstaining. News of Choudhary’s role in aiding the passage of the legislation caused uproar in New Zealand’s Muslim community. His name will forever be associated with a bill he chose neither to support nor to oppose. He has since argued that although he is opposed to prostitution, “decriminalising the trade could reduce harm to those involved.” In a press release on 26 June 2003 the Muslim Association of Canterbury (MAC) said, “We refute Dr Ashraf Choudhary’s claims to be this country’s ‘first Muslim MP’. He is clearly a Labour Party stalwart and in abstaining from voting against this piece of legislation has thus demonstrated his complete lack of interest in the genuine concerns of the New Zealand Muslim community.” The International Muslim Association of New Zealand (IMAN) expressed its outrage and condemned Ashraf Choudhary by saying “IMAN condemns the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act in the Parliament decriminalising prostitution. We are dumbfounded as to why Dr. Ashraf Choudhary abstained from a conscience vote particularly when 59 other Members of the Parliament opposed this bill.” Not to be outdone, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), an organisation that was once led by Mr. Choudhary, also condemned his action. At least one mosque has banned him from attending services. Those opposed to the Prostitution Reform Act point to numerous national and international studies that show decriminalising prostitution is simply the wrong way to go. A study done by the psychologist Miriam Saphira in 2001 showed 82 per cent of prostitutes started using drugs after they became prostitutes. Most of them use drugs to “deaden their feelings”. 63 per cent of these were sexually abused when they were children. Some also suffer from mental illnesses. The government should be trying to get the prostitutes out of prostitution by providing them long term counselling, education or training to get a decent job. Studies also show that most of the prostitutes’ clients are older men and married men. Hence, the argument that decriminalising prostitution is against the family. Those opposed to the Bill fear that there could one day be a brothel at the end of every street. The view that some women enter the trade out of poverty or desperation does not fly in a country like New Zealand either. If you are rehabilitating from drugs or have a chronic illness, you receive Sickness Benefit from the government. If someone chooses to study he gets a Student Allowance. The unemployed and those looking for work get Unemployment Benefit. There are also government services that provide employment training for unemployed people. Ashraf Choudhary entered parliament in 2002 and he was recorded as New Zealand’s first Muslim MP and the first MP of

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South Asian descent. Choudhary went to university in Pakistan but did his Masters in England. During this time he also worked in various jobs in Newcastle and Reading. He arrived in New Zealand from Pakistan in 1976 to do his Ph.D. and stayed here. He was the president of the Federation of Islamic Association of New Zealand (FIANZ) in 1984 and is a former associate professor of agricultural engineering at Massey University. When Ashraf Choudhary entered Parliament in 2002 he took an oath on the Quran and afterwards said, “I was proud to take an oath on the Quran when I became an MP”. Maybe he forgot that the Quran that he made an oath on has forbidden prostitution. In an interview with the Magazine Listener, he said: “Religion is a private and personal matter. Being a Muslim is between you and your God. I’m not there [in Parliament] because I’m Muslim. I’m there on my own merit. I just happen to be Muslim.” The fact that there are two openly gay MPs, a transsexual MP and a ‘Muslim’ MP in New Zealand’s Parliament is because of the MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) system. This system of voting allows for a fair representation of minority groups in Parliament. New Zealand switched its parliamentary elections from the AngloAmerican method of plurality voting in single-member districts to a German-style, Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) system in 1993. This has proved a success. There are now more women, indigenous Maoris, Pacific Islanders, Chinese and members of other minorities represented in parliament than ever before. In an interview with The New Zealand Herald, Tim Barnett said, “I never thought I’d ever be in any Parliament, ever. The Labour Party in Britain didn’t work in ways that would allow people like me to get there. There was only one ‘out’ MP out of 600 when I left.” United Future MPs Gordon Copeland and Larry Baldock announced in August 2003 that they will lead a Citizens Initiated Referendum to repeal the Prostitution Reform Act. The United Future Party is New Zealand’s Christian Party. They wished to make clear that they were leading the referendum as individual MPs but it was not a Party issue, that it remained a conscience issue for United Future. Signatures will be sought during 2004 with a view to the question of repeal being on the ballot paper in conjunction with the 2005 general election. They plan to involve churches, mosques, temples, and other religious and community groups who opposed the Prostitution Bill. They began preparation with Parliament’s Clerk’s Office for the referendum in October 2003. Some Muslims have shown their support for this new action. One of them is Jamaal Green, who said, “I am not supporting any political party, just supporting what I feel to be good action in this matter.” It is this kind of principled response that New Zealand’s first Muslim MP was unwilling to give. We can only hope that more Muslims will come to the fore and fill the political gap left by Ashraf Choudhary. He erred on the side of caution and ended up alienated by his own community.


FEATURE

FRONTLINE MEDICS

DENIED MEDICAL ACCESS BY THE ISRAELI ARMY, PALESTINIANS TURN TO A COMMITTED GROUP OF DOCTORS WHO HEAL UNDER FIRE. MEDICAL STUDENT AND FREELANCE JOURNALIST, SALEYHA AHSAN REPORTS FROM THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES.

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ut your camera down, and take this man’s blood pressure”, ordered Dr Sabir, as he thrust a sphygmomanometer into my hands. “Be quick, the soldier’s coming back”. No time for me to explain that my blood pressure taking skills were limited to physiology practicals. The clinical stuff starts next year. Faced with both kit and expectant patient, I recalled last year’s clinical sessions and to my surprise managed to get some useable readings. Great, I thought, it works! Being a journalist with medical tendencies, I had opted to spend my summer break in Palestine, wearing the double hat of filmmaker and medic with the United Palestine Medical Relief Committee. This long running Non-Government Organisation has been supplying medical and humanitarian aid throughout the West Bank since the first Intifada of the eighties, and has branches in every city. During my fourth week out there, I found myself experiencing life close to the edge, as Nablus faced another army invasion. Medically speaking, there was plenty of business, but the problem was getting to it. Sitting between the patients and us, normally was a tank. They always looked so out of place amongst the historical buildings of this once beautiful Roman City. Today the rubble from previous army incursions has left Nablus looking like a tragic building site. The Army re-entered the Old City area in the early hours of 1st August, killing two and injuring at least 15 civilians. Both 27 year old Raed Al-Ahmed and 38 year old Noman Abdul-Ghaffar Hussein had been shot in the back when they had come out of their homes to see what was happening. Due to IDF restrictions on ambulances, Raed’s body lay for

twelve hours on the roof where he had been shot. The bloodstains still remain on the stonework, despite the efforts of some American volunteers to wipe away the visual reminder. The next day, Raed’s brother Muhammed took me up onto the roof to see the bloodied spot where Raed, who was a local carpenter, had died. The account from the traumatised man, who had sat with his dead brother for twelve hours, was barely audible. As I imagined the scene, I did not realise that the shots firing in the background were meant for us. Only when I saw Muhammad dive for cover, and then heard the ricochet did I notice how close the shots were. We held our breaths, waiting for a break in fire. It took a few minutes, but when it came, we crawled on hands and knees towards the stairwell and down to safety. So much for my clearly marked medical jacket, I thought. The IDF eventually allowed the body to be taken to Rafedia Surgical Hospital, conflicting with their claim of him being a wanted man. The bodies of such men are normally held in IDF custody. Getting to those in need was down to breaking the strictly enforced curfew. On one such occasion Dr Sabir along with two Palestinian paramedics, two American International Solidarity Movement volunteers, and myself made our way to an occupied house. Trying to ignore the eerie silence and tension, we spoke loudly and tried to crack jokes. With nervous laughter we approached every street corner with caution. “Are there any soldiers?” we asked locals sitting watching the empty streets from their windows. “They came in the night, and made us all get up and come into one room,” one young mother explained. “They didn’t let me bring Q - NEWS

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FEATURE Essential access to medical care and medanything for my children, and they ication is restricted, even though the rultook my husband. Many of the men ings of politicians and judges back in were taken and beaten.” The sevenJerusalem may suggest otherwise. storey building is normally home to “The real law lies in the hands of the a hundred or so people, but when soldier on the ground, and depends on the army moved in three days earliwhether he feels threatened.” Abed er the civilians were moved into the a Nablus based Reuters joursecond floor. The twelve families “The lies in the hands of Quisani, nalist told me. Just getting his material were distributed between three on the ground, and the out of Nablus on a daily basis depends apartments. In each room there on how the soldier at the checkpoint is were close to 40 people, locked on whether he feels feeling that day. This factor has led to an behind iron barred doors. The sol.” increase in the number of pregnant diers held the keys. More than half women opting for home births, especialof the occupants were children ly within the refugee camps and the surunder the age of ten. A young man rounding villages. The head of UN sat with his frightened teenage menMedical projects in Nablus, Dr Ibrahim, spoke of one recent incitally handicapped, wheel chair bound brother, trying to reassure dent, which seems to have been the impetus. him that the latest commotion was not due to the return of soldiers. “A pregnant woman from the village of Beit Foreeq went into All mobile phones from these people had been confiscated and labour one night, and needed to get to the hospital in Nablus. the phone lines disconnected. When Dr Sabir’s mobile phone rang for Together with her husband they got in their car for the ten-minute the twentieth time that day, a jumpy soldier burst into the room journey. Two minutes outside Nablus along the main road, a tempodemanding to know who still had a mobile phone. rary army checkpoint stopped them. When the husband got out of “Don’t worry - it’s the doctor’s phone,” forty nervous people the car to talk with the soldiers he was shot dead. Then they shot rushed to explain. the expectant mother; she survived but lost the baby,” explained Dr Despite the lack of means of communication, an urgent call for Ibrahim. baby milk had somehow filtered out to the UPMRC. Gaining entry However, supply is not matching demand within the villages to to the house was going to be difficult. It wasn’t clear how many soldeal with the enforced situation. Iraq Boreen is a beautiful cliff top diers were in the house, but the four APCs, two armoured landrovers village seven kilometres outside of Nablus, connected by a single and two tanks parked outside, hinted to at least thirty. With sandroad, cutting through the hills, which is notorious for army tanks bagged windows and barricaded doors, it had the appearance of an and checkpoints. During my stay in the village I learnt of two heavoperational base, but the children waving from the second floor winily pregnant women, who had gone beyond their due date. Pregnant dows made it look surreal. women try to delay giving birth in anyway possible, until they feel As expected, the soldiers were reluctant to let the team in, but its safe to travel to hospital. I tried to approach the families to see if after an hour of negotiation, Aisha, one of the Palestinian paramedics there was a way UPMRC or the international volunteers could help. thrust a bag of nappies into the young sergeant’s rifle laden arms. He The conservative village way of life does not always want the help relented and granted a ten minute visit. of outsiders, and the offer was declined. I learnt later that one of the The sergeant in charge that day was in his early twenties and at women had lost her baby during the home delivery. She had needed first hostile to our presence. The aggressive orders subsided as the a Caesarean Section, which was not possible. The village does not doors to the apartments were unlocked and the children poured out. have a clinic, a doctor, a nurse or a midwife. The overwhelming noise of family chaos, and people scrambling to After a few days, municipality workers were given written perbe seen was overwhelming. A hurried consultation area was set up mission by the IDF allowing them access to the streets to carry out in a living room, and Dr Sabir began his work. The elderly and sickrepairs on the damage incurred by this latest invasion. Ahmed Qreny, est were seen, and those in need of repeat prescriptions dealt with at a 54 year old electrician was driving his municipality truck around warp speed. Hurriedly the volunteers took down notes of what was the city, carry out electrical jobs. An APC had stopped the UPMRC needed, promising delivery on a return visit, if lucky. A large numambulance, which I had been working in ten minutes earlier, for ber of children had chest infections and raised temperature. checks. When Ahmed drove up with his permission displayed on the As the sergeant stood in the doorway watching the team at dashboard, he too stopped. The officer signalled Ahmed, forward on work, children approached him. One five-year-old boy stretched out which point the electrician reached for his door. The next moment a a hand for him to shake. The soldier responded. The men of the round smashed through the windscreen. He had been shot dead by family even opened up a light-hearted conversation with a few of the the same officer who had just signalled. Ahmed leaves behind seven young soldiers hanging around. The sergeant looked hot and tired children, the youngest being a seven year old girl. Their mother died under all military paraphernalia of radio headsets, webbing and last year. This attack led to an apology by the IDF and an inquiry, weapon. The heat was unbearable, even for the acclimatised. which led nowhere. Feraz Bukhari, a thirty-year-old ambulance driv“My wife cries every time we speak on the phone and my eight er with whom I had earlier been travelling with, witnessed the incimonth boy doesn’t know me,” he said to one volunteer before turndent. I asked him how he was. Not so good, he said. The image of ing away. Hurriedly he wiped away the tears, but not before the seeing Ahmed being shot was on continuous replay in his memory. children and myself saw. “If you had been with me for ten minutes more, you would have The children’s expectant faces were hard to deal with. seen another innocent Palestinian man die.” Feraz told me, shaking “Can you stay?” they asked us. “Will you come back?” his head in disbelief. Although life is hard for both city and rural folk in this region, I was thankful to have been spared the horror of witnessing such it’s those living within the outlying villages who face added hardcruelty. ships. Many of these are cut off for weeks at a time by the IDF.

real law soldier depends threatened

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COMMENT

SLEIGHT OF HAND OR FAITH? HASNA FATEH EXPLORES THE NEO-MAGIC PHENOMENON OF DAVID BLAINE

hen two men suffer heart palpitations on the same day, in the same city, and both reports make the national news in the UK, anyone would think there might be a connection - perhaps, there is. On 19 October, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, with no history of heart problems, suffered heart palpitations which required a five-hour admittance in a London hospital, many attributing the deterioration in health to work pressures. For twenty minutes that day, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott led the country. The very same day, magician David Blaine was releasing himself from his 44-day starvation stunt suspended in a box from London’s Tower Bridge. Only the day before, it was Blaine who had been reported to be suffering from heart palpitations as a result of his “human endurance” stunt, whereby the illusionist aimed to survive on only water. Icons of religion abounded in other news items. A special mass was held in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, and to beatify Mother Theresa. Muslims worldwide bereaved the loss of Alija Izbetgovic, the Bosnian Islamic thinker, exPresident and author of the influential Islam and the West. These news items were sidelined on this highly eventful Sunday, but ask yourself this question: if you had turned on the BBC News at 10pm GMT, would you have expected it to be reported that Blaine was suffering from heart palpitations, or Prime Minister Blair, someone seen on camera only weeks before exercising on a rowing machine in his suit? Was this part of the magic, Blaine? Only Allah the Almighty knows. Indeed, the rise of the neo-magic phenomenon worldwide should be of genuine concern to Muslims. Films and books about boy-magician Harry Potter abound, as do television shows like Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all of which are part of this phenomenon. But, whereas this media output merely promotes magic using fiction, it is the bonafide magicians that pose the greatest threat. The most famous magician in the world today is David Blaine, more so now than his predecessor, David Copperfield, was in the 1980s. Largely a product of the 1980s, complete with the crass extravagance and bouffant hair of that decade, David Copperfield’s stunts have included making the Statues of Liberty vanish, travelling through the Great Wall of China, retrieving a ship from the Bermuda Triangle, as well as having his body dismembered in half on stage. His television specials over the past twenty years have

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reached more than three billion people, but lately his press coverage had been for failed engagement to nineties fashion supermodel Claudia Schiffer rather than his magic. Under the motto, “Nothing is Impossible”, Copperfield’s latest illusion is titled Portal where Copperfield attempts to instantaneously transport himself and an audience member through a portal to various destinations around the world, including Hoover Dam and the beaches of Hawaii. We have Quranic evidence of an ifrit, a type of Jinn, stating that he will be able to do the very same thing with the Throne of Prophet Sulayman (Holy Quran, 27:39), traversing a great distance in the blink of an eye. Whereas Copperfield took the ancient art of magic and combined it with the spectacle of modern theatre, Blaine has taken it out to where it arguably most dangerous: the street and the masses. He is the most visible icon of the neo-magic phenomena, his stunts renowned for being as equally spectacular as they are urban-interactive. Levitating in the street, tearing the head of a chicken, only for it to regenerate and come back to life, burying himself in a glass coffin for a week, encasing himself in a block of ice for public consumption, standing on a 83 feet pillar in the centre of Manhattan for 35 hours, and starving himself for forty-four days suspended in a Perspex box from London Bridge. What is the purpose of these stunts? To amaze and enthrall? To show the limits of human endurance? Blaine has set out to be the “the greatest showman of all time”, calling the starvation stunt “the one true test”, stating like a pseudo-mystic that he feels “commanded to do it.” He has insisted his acts are all about self-exploration and art, and have little to do with money - although his fee for this Channel 4-Sky TV collaboration was estimated at $5 million. The British, renowned for being more cynical than their transatlantic cousins, tormented Blaine for perceived self-aggrandisement, pelting him with eggs, golf balls and paint-bombs and banging drums to keep him awake at night. A reported 250,000 people visited the site, and millions viewed its progress on the television and internet worldwide. Jeremy Ward, Professor of Respiratory Cell Physiology at Kings College, London, on Blaine’s stunt said, “I think he is a complete idiot. There are enough starving people in the world. For someone to starve himself as a publicity stunt - I don’t think this is something which you should do for glamour or glory or money.” But the real idiots seem to be those who were genuinely enthralled by this stunt, and thought


COMMENT Holy Quran. The second type is called karamat, charismata or a of it as nothing but mere entertainment. miracle of divine favour which appears at the hands of the Muslim Once Blaine had said that he was “an artist - nothing more, saints of Allah called awliya, such as the saint who brought the nothing less”, but his aspirations have soared to now wishing to be Throne of Sulayman by the Permission of Allah: “But he who had described as a mystic rather than as a magician. What is most conknowledge of the Book, said: ‘I will bring it to you before your cerning about Blaine’s acts are these increasing references to mystiglance comes back to you.’” (HQ, 27:40) Whereas these miracles cism, spirituality and to Prophet Jesus. It appears Blaine is trying to invite to Allah, the black magic distances from Allah, and it is here not only mimic the miracles of Jesus, but to exceed them. By his own we would find the likes of Blaine. His act of starvation could be peradmission, Blaine has paralleled himself with Jesus stating “Jesus was ceived as istidraj, a miracle which consists of supernatural events a magician, and so am I”, and believing that “what Jesus did was the that appear at the hands of an unrighteous person (read Blaine) as a ultimate magic. He would appear out of nowhere and show people manifestation of Allah’s desire to deceive him and lead him further things that would make them re-evaluate their lives.” He once told astray. In addition to all those who found the stunt offensive, the Israeli spoon-bender, Uri Geller, that he had three heroes in his Muslims would perceive starving for forty-four days as a publicity life, and they were Jesus Christ, Orson Welles and Uri Geller. To stunt to be an affront to all the millions of servants of Allah who speak so disparagingly about Prophet Jesus by equating him with a survive on less than the staple diet their entire lifetime and a futile film director and a spoon-bender is outrageous. attempt to belittle the forty days fasted by Prophet Jesus, especially Undoubtedly, the starvation stunt was specifically designed in the dawning of the month of Ramadan. to evoke comparisons with Prophet Jesus’ fasting. It is recorded in But the neo-magic phenomena is only a step down into an the New Testament that after receiving his baptism in the river abyss of the larger project of disbelief. There are prophetic tradiJordan, Jesus went out into the desert and fasted there for forty tions about the magical feats of the Anti-Christ, al-Massih al-Dajjal, days. At the end of the fast, he was hungry and the Devil visited him. who will appear before the Day of Judgment. He will appear to disThe Devil suggested he turn the stones into bread and thereby promember a young man in half and bring him back to life, give a comvide an instant solution to his hunger. Jesus resisted this first of the mand to the sky and it will start raining, eventually claiming divinthree temptations he would face in the encounter. His ability to ity through the credence of his magical manifestations. Like Blaine resist temptation, especially in his hungry state, remained strong - a said before his stunt, “Everything I have done before is irrelevant”, valuable lesson for Ramadan. Man does not, after all, live by bread meaning that each stunt must commit more disbelief and on a largalone but “by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” er scale than the last; the Dajjal will conjure the largest magical trick (New Testament, MT 4:4.). Instead of the River Jordan, Blaine of disbelief. And in relation to the Dajjal, Blaine himself has the chose the River Thames; instead of the isolation of the desert, Blaine notorious Freemasonic ‘All-Seeing Eye’ tattooed on his palm, citing chose the isolation of a Perspex box hoisted in the air; and finally, it as a “protection” but the real question is, against whom? As such, for duration, whereas Prophet Jesus stayed forty days, Blaine went Muslims should perceive the neo-magic phenomenon legitimately as further and completed forty-four days. This, in Islam, is called a part of the perpetual consilidation of the Masonic New World istidraj, the magic of a disbeliever which mimics, in the same vein of Order as much as they would the ‘War on Terror’. the chief mimicking disbeliever, Iblis. After all, Iblis the Accursed is Where does the defense of the Muslims lie? To not only a Jinn, and his greatest trick appears to be to convincing the world warn others of the dangers of this phenomenon, but also direct them that he does not exist - cue the New Secular World Order. In conto reading the greatest mujiza ever, the Holy Quran. In salah, trast, it is the believers who are aware that the Iblis’ plot is weak. Muslims worldwide read the two surahs, al-Falaq (The Daybreak, (Holy Quran, 4:76) HQ, 113) and al-Nas (Mankind, HQ, 114), which are paired Allah Most High mentions magic in the Holy Quran on together as the Mu’awwidhat, the two surahs for seeking refuge in many occasions, especially when speaking about the Prophet the Lord against all evil. About these two surahs, Ibn Kathir in his Sulayman, in whose kingdom “the devils disbelieved, teaching peoTafsir states a hadith where the Prophet Muhammad said to his ple sorcery” (Holy Quran, 2:102). Sorcery is a enormity (kaba’ir) uncle ‘Abbas, “Let me tell you that there is no surah superior to because the sorcerer must necessarily disbelieve, and the accursed these two Surah for those who seek refuge.” It is in Surah al-Falaq Devil has no other motive for teaching a person witchcraft than that where seeking refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak is sought “from he might thereby ascribe associates to Allah (shirk). According to the evil of those who practice witchcraft when they blow in the Islamic tradition, magicians like Copperfield and Blaine can be said knots” (Holy Quran, 113:5), and though the methods of magic may to have sought assistance from the Jinn, some of whom, like the have changed from the time of the revelation of this surah, the evil Ifrit, have the ability to traverse vast distances in the blink of an eye, of the magic has not. The holistic nature of the Holy Qu’ran and the as evidenced in the Holy Qu’ran (HQ, 27:39). By seeking this assisWay of the Prophet Muhammad tance beside Allah, they commit allow Muslims to see what may inishirk, which is why the Prophet What is most about tially appear to be a harmless street said: “The prescribed punishment act for what it genuinely is. They for the magician is that he be exeBlaine’s acts are these increasing represent the best way for Muslims cuted by the sword” (al-Tirmidhi). references to mysticism, to seek refuge in Allah against this In order to understand virulent, mass-media kufr of magic, magic in Islam, it is necessary to and to . It appears and what better way to start than analyse three main types of mirathe by re-acquainting ourselves with Blaine is trying to not only cles in the Islamic tradition. The the greatest of miracles, the Holy first is a mujiza, a inimitable miraof Jesus, but to Quran, in the month of its revelacle by a Prophet of Allah, and for them. tion, Ramadan. the Prophet Muhammad, it is Hasna Fateh is a writer with unanimously accepted that his Alpha1 Media. greatest mujiza is the inimitable

concerning spirituality Prophet Jesus mimic miracles

exceed

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FLAG FEATURE

WHERE ARE WE HEADING? BRITISH MUSLIMS ARE IN A BAD STATE.WE ARE A CASE STUDY OF SOCIAL DISINTEGRATION:THE MUSLIM FAMILY IS FAST BECOMING A MYTH. WE ARE THE NEW SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC UNDERCLASS AND EVERYDAY OUR CONDITION CONTINUES TO DETERIORATE, ARGUES KHALIDA KHAN.

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FEATURE

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orget about the wretched situation of the global ummah for the moment. Be concerned about what is happening down your neighbourhood. Be very concerned for it is - according to Prophetic tradition - what you are going to be accountable for in the Hereafter. And it is what is determining our here and now. Everywhere we are surrounded by disaster. The bedrock of our community, the Muslim family is now almost non-existent: recent statistics indicate that we as a community might now have a larger than the national average of divorces. What remains ‘intact’ is largely dysfunctional - a thin veneer to cover the deep social evils that are eating at the very fibre of our communities. Statistics are there for those who need ‘evidence’ pointing to the fact that we are now the new and acknowledged underclass. We are over-represented in the prisons, in the numbers of those living below the poverty level, among those who are homeless, unemployed and socially excluded. In short, we are a community caught in a vicious downward spiral into social disintegration. Everyday we are becoming dangerous to ourselves and to the society in which we live. Disenchanted, disfranchised and disabled, our young people are being traumatised and scarred by the evil forces of Islamophobia and racism. The result is the growth of despair, frustration and extremism. Rapidly we have been converted from being a community proud of its historical abilities to be the source of inspiration and solutions to being one epitomising crisis and frustration. But this does not need to be so. For the revolution to take place we need to ask some basic questions. Like why are we in these conditions in the first place and what are the possibilities of getting out of the rut? What is our role and what is the role of society at large? Before we go on it is crucial to first understand the nature and features of what we broadly call the British Muslim community. For our purposes two things are critical to grasp: one is the fact that migration to this country by Muslim people has taken place in waves and, secondly, that for a long time Muslims have been treated and behaved as an ‘invisible’ community. The mass migration of Muslims in the 50s, 60s and 70s consisted mostly of people from the subcontinent needed to help re-build Britain’s post-war economy. Most were manual workers, men and from rural areas. Initially few thought their migration was going to be permanent. But slowly they came to terms with their situation in an ad hoc way. When they were enough in number they found a praying room, a halal outlet and then a madrassa/school. Over the years the investment in what was seen as a priority, that is, the establishment of places of worship and teaching the holy Book, is amazing and a great tribute to the sacrifice and determination of the common person. Today we can boast of over 1,200 mosques and over 2,000 madrassas nationwide which are worth at least £250m. But this impressive infrastructure - while altering the national skyline through the varieties of minarets built - has remained stagnant in terms of providing relevant and appropriate services vital to nurturing a family. The problem is that while the British Muslim community is now in its third generation our mosques and centres still remain first-generation-oriented. The needs of the communities, particularly the youth, are now not only comprehensive but also sophisticated. What we are sorely lacking are a network of local mosques, community centres and voluntary organisations providing a diverse range of services supporting the community from the cradle to the grave as well as robust national bodies working hard on Muslim issues and concerns. One thing that seems to be forgotten is that the British Muslim community is not static. In the last decade or so it has changed dras-

tically in terms of both composition and attributes. Migrants from the New Commonwealth have come with new issues and added complications. Most of the recent migrants have been either refugees or political asylum seekers. There are also converts from indigenous and

Even if the government wanted to implement a policy that supports faith-based organisations, it would not make much difference because of the lack of a healthy voluntary sector within the British Muslim community capable of taking up the opportunities offered. other backgrounds. Regardless of their ethnic or racial backgrounds these communities expected the inadequate Muslim infrastructures to support them in their efforts to adjust to a new life. This has led to an unbearable strain on existing limited resources and has been a cause of some stress and conflict within the communities. Historically, over the years there has been little funding for Muslim-specific projects. The Race Relations Act 1976, constructed around an understanding of society based on racial categorisation, made it almost impossible for Muslim communities to access any kind of funding that would make any meaningful difference to the quality of their lives. Statistics based on race totally ignored faithbased communities and made the Muslim communities, the largest within the visible minorities, ‘invisible’. The outcome of this has not only been to deny Muslims much needed resources but also to ensure that the community is in a permanent state of social exclusion. As a result there is a conspicuous absence of welfare institutions within the Muslim communities. As a result the most deprived and vulnerable community in the country is dependent on institutions and agencies that are almost totally inadequate or effective in providing it with relevant services. Muslims needs are neglected by mainstream service providers and voluntary sector, including the ethnic agencies. None of these have an adequate understanding of the Muslim community and how services appropriate to religious and cultural needs should be devised. The denial of a faith-based identity for service provision has been going on for almost three decades now. It makes mockery of most ‘equal opportunity initiatives’ aimed at creating a more ‘just and fair’ society. Perhaps the most glaring failure of community relations initiatives in recent times has been the failure - especially by the race industry - to actively encourage and facilitate the development of a healthy Muslim voluntary sector. The lack of a strong Muslim voluntary sector is behind both the status of the Muslim community as the new underclass and its continuing disintegration. This is because the voluntary sector in a country like modern Britain plays a crucial role in the provision of public services, acting as an invaluable supplier of information, advice and guidance to service providers and as a conduit of communication between the community and the service agencies. As part of the community set-up the voluntary sector does not only influence mainstream services but also provides its own services usually aimed at the grassroots. Another key role the voluntary sector plays is that of advocacy campaigning for a better and more effective deal in service provision and in ensuring that the needs and requirements of the community are incorporated into policy and planning at a local and national level. Over the years there has been an increasing awareness in some Q - NEWS

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FEATURE Muslim quarters that there is a need for Muslim voluntary groups to provide and advocate for the needs of the community. However, the few that exist (like the An-Nisa Society, see page 23), are struggling to survive. Most are faced by serious funding crisis, operate on shoe-

The government needs to understand: giving funds to British charities to help in aid work abroad does not preclude the need of equal investment in the needs of British Muslims. The best way of preventing an intifada in Bradford is to invest in Bradford, not in Baghdad. string budgets and lack both the stability and capacity to compete effectively in accessing funding. If we accept that fact that the voluntary sector is critical in the renewal and revival of our communities the question to be answered then is: what needs to be done to combat the issue? How do we go around setting up the structures that would help fight our slide into social disintegration? Obviously our first step needs to be to wake up from our state of complacency and self-delusion. Islam might have the answers to all of humanity problems but at the moment British Muslims are a collection of all possible problems. To get out of the mess we find ourselves in we need understanding and help from the wider society and we need the courage and intelligence to be honest with our wretched situation. Despite various noises made by the authorities - Prime Minister Tony Blair himself promised a bigger role for faith-based voluntary organisations in public service delivery in 2001 - the situation remains essentially unchanged. To a large extent this is because even if the government did honestly want to implement such a policy it would not make much difference because of the lack of a healthy voluntary sector within the British Muslim community capable of taking up the opportunities offered. In the last couple of years different government departments, eager to be seen as ‘faith-sensitive’, have been distributing funds to favoured organisations and bodies. Most of the decisions have been political, devised and implemented by a small faction of ‘inter-faith’ activists. Consisting almost entirely of men from privileged backgrounds they are totally inexperienced with grassroots needs and requirements. Of the Muslims involved, few can boast a history of social activism, grasp of policy issues and hands on experience of the voluntary sector. So under all the rhetoric and volumes of glossy reports on ‘faithbased’ initiatives the majority of authentic Muslim voluntary groups, especially those managed by women or catering for their needs, continue to suffer. Few, if any, have the ability or resources to make competitive applications for any existing funds, even if they come to know of it in the first place. Matters are not helped by a system that by its insistence on subsuming faith within the race categorisation continues to bypass the Muslims - its most vulnerable and under-resourced constituents - in any capacity building initiatives. There is also the serious problem of policy makers operating within a crisis management philosophy instead of a more pro-active, strategic and preventative approach. It is sad and frustrating to be inflicted with regular sensational policies that lack both imagination and good judgement. It is a joke to expect those working with real

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issues and with real people to jump the gun every time a government department or minister issues the same old fatwa on the same boring old issue of forced marriage, domestic violence and imams who can’t speak English. If the intention is to genuinely deal with these important issues then they must be a comprehensive strategy of specifically targeting the capacity building of the voluntary sector within the British Muslim community so that it can take the lead in setting its own agenda and addressing its concerns. And the decision makers need to be more honest in building partnerships based on experience, ability and qualification rather than cronyism, political alliances or appeasing. However, at the end of the day the primary responsibility for the setting up and maintenance of the voluntary sector remains the community’s. The holy month of Ramadan is a good time to pose some serious questions as to where the millions of pounds we collect each year in our mosques and community centres go? Sending the money collected abroad to feed the hungry and starving is, of course, a commendable and necessary action. But when done at the expense of those who need help or assistance here in this country it becomes questionable. Historically, the Islamic understanding of acts of charity was always based on taking care of those close to you. The reality of the situation is that if our first-generation mosques are to undergo a revolution to make themselves relevant to our thirdgeneration community, then those collecting money from our community need also to change in both their attitudes and priorities. There is a serious need for most of our charities to be scrutinised and made accountable as to the use of funds collected in this country. Also, the government needs to understand that giving funds to British charities to help in aid work abroad does not preclude the need of equal investment in the needs of British Muslims. The best way of preventing an intifada in Bradford is to invest in Bradford, not in Baghdad. In the past the community and some organisations and individuals have been extremely generous in investing particularly in mosques. But today British Muslims have, alhamdulillah, more than enough mosque space. What they now need is investment in different kinds of social and cultural institutions that would make their practical existence as Muslims in a hostile and challenging environment more manageable. Single mothers living in a high rise building in an Islamophobic estate might not be faced with the problem of dying because of physical hunger but they are close to spiritual suffocation because of lack of support, human warmth and a feeling of communal belonging. Young people confused by the hostile media environment need mentoring; old lonely people need Muslim day care centres; young mums need mothers and toddlers groups; teenagers need accessible centres where they can get answers to most of the questions in life. We need our own refuges and safe houses for Muslim women and girls in fear of violence. It is a disgrace that Muslim children taken into care by local authorities continue to be routinely placed in non-Muslim homes. Where are the string of Muslim housing associations across the country catering for one of the most basic requirement for a family to exist - shelter? All these point to the need of the emergence of a strong voluntary sector without which our slide into deprivation, disadvantage and marginalization is guaranteed. The continued failure to invest and develop an infrastructure of support for our communities means a disastrous future: a future where our very being would be irrelevant and our marginalization total. KHALIDA KHAN IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE AN-NISA SOCIETY


FEATURE

ONCE UPON AN AN-NISA... BRITAIN’S PREMIER MUSLIM WOMEN ORGANISATION EPITOMISES THE STRUGGLE FOR RELEVANCE AND SURVIVAL IN THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR. BUT DESPITE AN IMPRESSIVE AND UNRIVALLED RECORD IT CONTINUES TO BE MARGINALISED AND UNSUPPORTED, WRITES HUMERA KHAN.

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wo decades is a long time – even in social activism. When An-Nisa Society set shop in the mid-eighties as a women-led voluntary organisation determined to work for the family we found ourselves in a desert. The novelty was not only in our innovative approach towards grassroots work, our audacity to challenge cultural understanding of gender roles or even in the holistic approach towards problem solving but in the realisation that service provision can only be relevant and effective if it is faith-based. At a time when the rage was all about equal opportunities and the Race Relations Act of 1976, the challenge was twofold: to be pro-active and to introduce a new set of agenda that was far from being fashionable at the time. The demand for a faith-based approach to service provision was, to say the least, considered by many to be almost blasphemous. The founding of An-Nisa was a spontaneous event that occurred nearly twenty years ago in May 1985. A group of Muslim women who felt they need to embark on a journey of self-discovery with the aim of instituting change in both our own lives and that of the community. But life at An-Nisa has been anything but a bed or roses. The fact that we are women has not helped. Of course things have progressed over the years but it has always been a challenge to be taken seriously in a male-dominated community and with a society whose institutions thrives on tokenism. However, the hostility we faced because of gender-bias pales when compared to the animosity we encountered because of our conviction of belonging to a faith-based community. The most astonishing thing is that the more ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ the person or agency was in terms of race relations the more antagonistic and resistant they were to our adoption of a Muslim identity. For a long time we remained friendless and lonely: it is sometimes easy to forget how many of our leading Muslim ‘leaders’ found no problem of being perceived as ‘black’ or ‘Asian’. Our refusal to accept and work within the irrelevant and inadequate racial categorisation in place led to discrimination and intimidation. Funds were blatantly denied to us and the pressure was always on to give up our chosen identity which was considered ‘backward’, ‘reactionary’ and ‘dangerous’.

Another mould we had to break was the myth that community work is an exercise in passivity. From the beginning we believed that communities, if facilitated, are the source of the best solutions to any problems. What we have always wanted is to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with service providers in order to ensure effective service delivery. We have consistently refused to succumb to initiatives based on the politics of crisis management as they are inevitably short-term in effect and stereotype the community as problematic. More important we have never allowed ourselves to be involved in any sweetheart deals between local or central authorities and male-led political factions that tend to be sectarian and divisive. So what has been the outcome of all this effort? Nearly twenty years after first setting up we find ourselves once again without funding and with the real possibility of closure by the end of this year if we not able to access ‘realistic’ funds in order to survive. The small pockets of short term funding we were able to access in the past has been through the support of courageous individuals who were prepared to give us the opportunity to prove our point and develop our thinking. But, this funding did not support the capacity of our organisation therefore making it impossible to set up an office or employ key staff to sustain our core activities. Having found ourselves as voluntary sector untouchables in the ‘boom’ period of Black voluntary sector funding we missed out on the massive grants available to those communities who were prepared to play the ‘race game’. More recently, with the opening up of the idea of faith-based communities we find ourselves lacking in the capacity that other communities have been able to develop over the last 25 years in order to be effective in accessing mainstream funding. An-Nisa Society, along with most of the Muslim voluntary sector, suffering from historical marginalisation, beleaguered infrastructures, little or no core funding and ill equipped to wade through the multitude of bureaucracy that is the prerequisite to accessing funding today face a bleak future. The irony is that never before has the possibility of mainstreaming a faith-based perspective been more possible than it is today. At our offices we have daily phone calls from service providers up and down the country looking for advice and support, government departments wanting to contact us for consultations and representation, from journalists looking for our viewpoints on a range of issues, of embassies sending delegations to look at our work as good practice, to individuals and groups from around the world contacting us to send them information about the work that we do. At the moment we have enough money to pay for the rent till the end of the year and have been paying staff a reduced salary when funds are available. It has only been the voluntary commitment of staff and supporters that keeps our spirits up and the work on going. What a sad state of affairs for Britain’s longest surviving, successful premier Muslim women’s organisation. The only way things can change is for the government, policy makers and service providers to actively recognise that the Muslim community is today’s new underclass that has been undermined and actively discriminated against. No more rhetoric and fancy speeches! We need urgent policies to be implemented that target the Muslim community specifically to bring us up to the level of other visible minority organsiations to give us a fair chance in mainstream society. Most importantly, without capacity building our organisations we will be not be able to move from the quagmire we find ourselves in and those organisations like An-Nisa that have survived all these years will have to close and the wealth of experience lost.

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OBITUARY

PHILOSOPHER, WARRIOR AND SAINT FEW CONTEMPORARY LEADERS WILL LEAVE THIS WORLD WITH AS MUCH DIGNITY, AFFECTION AND HONOUR AS ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC, THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA,WHO PASSED AWAY AGED 78 ON 19 OCTOBER.

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he tens of thousands of mourners who attended his funeral in Sarajevo were joined in prayers by millions throughout the Muslim world who loved and admired this exemplary European Muslim leader. The letters of condolences that flooded Bosnia from the leaders of over 80 countries delivered a similar message of veneration and admiration. Sunni and Shi’a, ‘moderate’ and ‘conservative’, all strands of thoughts agreed on the stature of a man whom history will primarily acknowledge as the father of the modern Bosnian state. Alija Izetbegovic was born on 8 August 1925 into a devout Muslim family in the north Bosnian town of Bosanski Samak, in what was then the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes under the rule of the Serb royal house. In the mid-nineteenth century, his ancestors had been banned from Serb-dominated Belgrade after a constitutional clause was introduced banning Muslims, Jews and gipsies from living in the city. Izetbegovic moved to Sarajevo as a youth. During the Second World War, he witnessed Serb massacres of Muslims and in later years liked to contrast the behaviour of the Serbs with that of the invading Germans, who had seized the city and its important facilities, but left the civilian population largely alone. In 1940, at the age of 16, he co-founded the Young Muslims, a social, religious and political group modelled on Egypt’s Ikhwan alMuslimeen. Initially, the teenaged Izetbegovic was involved mainly in humanitarian work helping settle refugees from eastern Bosnia before emerging as the group’s main ideologue. In 1946, when he was 21, Izetbegovic began writing a book called The Islamic Declaration. In it, he said, “There can be no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic societies and political institutions.”

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OBITUARY Before he could get it published, however, the communist government of Josip Broz Tito cut his work short, and Izetbegovic (together with his close friend and confidant, Nedzib Sacirbey) was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for his activities with the Young Muslims. The regime viewed the group’s members as dissidents who were advocating pan-Islamism. The Islamic Declaration was eventually published in 1974 in Belgrade, and again in Sarajevo in 1990. In it Izetbegovic argued that Islam is incompatible with non-Islamic systems and called for political and religious revolution. The book was later cited by Izetbegovic’s ene“The mies as evidence of community is his ‘fundamentalist leanings.’ But symthings forward in Bosnia... pathisers pointed it at the but it is out that it made no reference to Bosnia of the and was more conpeople. cerned with the place of Islam in the ,” I feel it as an modern world, he said. “These are reflecting the plight of a lay religious that l thinker living under a Communist regime. After his release, Izetbegovic made up for lost time by finishing law school, getting married to Halida Repovac, and having three children - Sabina, Bakir and Lejla. He began his career working as a legal advisor in several Sarajevo companies. But he never stopped writing about Islam and the position of Bosniaks in Yugoslavia. He wrote for several magazines in Yugoslavia and a handful of Arab countries always under the pen name S.B.L., the initials of his children’s names. Among those who felt threatened and ‘warned’ of his writings was the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. It is reported that once Nasser, who was close to Tito and with whom he founded the Non-Aligned Movement, warned the Yugoslav leader of Izetbegovic and the core members of the Young Muslims. “What can l do about it?” asked Tito. “Nothing,” said Nasser. “Except to bring them all under one roof and bring it down on them.” It is to the credit of the Communist dictator that he did not take the advice of the Pan-Arabist despot. Izetbegovic’s 1980 book Islam Between East and West was an original work that attempted to define the curious status of Bosnia’s Muslims and to seek reconciliation between Europe’s democratic traditions and Sunni Islamic teachings. But the philosophical tract had enough material to earn him the ire of the communist authorities again. Tito felt that Izetbegovic was fomenting nationalism. And in 1983, Izetbegovic and 12 of his friends from the Young Muslims were sentenced to prison. Izetbegovic, as the movement’s ‘spiritual leader,’ received the longest sentence of 14 years. After numerous appeals, they were released five years later in 1988. When he came out of prison in 1988, both Yugoslavia and Communism were disintegrating. In May 1990, he founded the Muslim-based Party of Democratic Action, which won the most seats in the republic’s first free parliamentary elections in November 1990. He became President a few months later. Within weeks of his taking office, Yugoslavia was being disman-

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tled and war was looming in Croatia. During the conflict, Izetbegovic was disinclined to take sides out of an anxiety to preserve Bosnia Herzegovina’s traditions of co-existence. Ever a thinker and philosopher he compared Bosnia’s mix to a painting by Jackson Pollock, and the choice between the aggressive politicians of Belgrade and Zagreb to that between leukaemia and a brain tumour. But the break up of Yugoslavia convinced him of Bosnia’s destiny as an independent democratic state: “Our home is in Europe and not in a fundamentalist state,” he said. “My aim is to have an independent, democratic republic which conforms to European standards.” But in early 1991, the Bosnian Serbs warned Izetbegovic that they would refuse to accept an independent Bosnia dominated by Muslims. The Serbs boycotted a referendum for independence held in February 1992. In hindsight it seems like Izetbegovic misread the gathering war clouds and insisted peace would prevail. Civil war broke out in April 1992 with clashes between the three main ethnic groups. Izetbegovic appealed for UN help and ordered full mobilisation of territorial and police reservists. In the first month of the war, hundreds of people were killed and nearly half a million lost their homes, as Serb forces, backed by Serbia and armed by the federal army, launched an offensive to carve out a Serb state in Bosnia. At the same time, Croat paramilitary groups responded by attempting to secure Croat-populated regions in the west. During the autumn, relations with the Muslims’ nominal allies in Zagreb became increasingly strained. Mate Boban, chosen by Tudjman to lead the Croats in their heartland in western Herzegovina, declared the region autonomous. In early 1993, during an attempt to take the Muslim enclave of Mostar, thousand of Bosnian Muslim civilians were killed. Izetbegovic pleaded in vain for a relaxation of the arms embargo to allow the Bosnians to fight on an equal footing, with their foes. Instead, foreign ministers of the EU pressed him to accept a deal based on the de facto partition of the country into three areas. In February 1993, Izetbegovic told an angry crowd people from the starving, besieged city of Zepa, eastern Bosnia, “I cannot help you. I have no means to help you. We have found ourselves, we the

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OBITUARY our time who demonstrated real love and understanding for Islam, Bosnian people, between a cruel enemy and a hypocritical friend.” and his career contains lessons on the way the West views Muslims in Even Izetbegovic’s allies advised him to make peace ‘out of the Europe and how it deals with authentic, powerful Muslim leadership. pieces.’ “Take that piece of land and get your people back into the “Do we want the Muslim people to leave their going-around incountry, dear Alija,” advised Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, “or circles, their dependence, backwardness, and poverty?” Izetbegovic else your people will melt away as the snow in the springtime.” In July once wrote. “Then we show clearly which path will take us to that 1993, under pressure from mutinous elements in the Bosnian collecgoal: establishing Islam in every field - in the personal life of the inditive presidency, Izetbegovic accepted for the first time that the counvidual, in family and societry could become an ethnic ty... and the establishment federation if the Serbs and of a unique Islamic commuCroats insisted. But progress ... “Do we want the Muslim people to nity from Morocco to towards an agreement continIndonesia.” ued to be frustrated by dis, and their dependence, For Izetbegovic, these agreements over the map. poverty? Then we show clearly which path will were not just words: they Increasingly, Izetbegovic found were a plan of action that he himself under intense pressure : establishing Islam in take us to that acted upon his entire life. - particularly from the EU - in the personal life of the every It is ironic, but perhaps negotiators, David Owen and the most anti-war leader in Cyrus Vance, who blamed him individual, in family and society... a Europe was forced to lead for making “unreasonable Islamic from Morocco to an army that managed to demands.” beat back vastly superior Things began to look more Indonesia.” forces. But Izetbegovic, the hopeful in March 1994, when devout Muslim, leaves Tudjman, under pressure from another crucial and lasting legacy: for Bosnians, he took the shame the Americans, executed an abrupt volte face and committed himself out of being Muslim. In Yugoslavia, regular visits to the mosque to a Muslim-Croat federation. Peace with Croatia allowed more arms meant being snubbed for jobs in the Communist Party-controlled to flow through to Muslim forces, breaking the pattern of Serbian economy. Islam was demonised in history books, and practicing gains. Muslim students could expect vastly lower grades regardless of how In 1995, Croat-Muslim forces continued to make gains at the much they studied. Even the Arabic and Turkish words and expresexpense of the Bosnian Serbs and, in May, Izetbegovic felt confident sions that enrich the Bosnian language were systematically removed enough to predict that the blockade of Sarajevo would be broken by and derided as “uncultured.” November. The growing seriousness of the fighting -and the increased Today, thanks to this warrior saint, the cultural revolution in possibility of a victory for the Bosnian Muslim forces - prompted a Bosnia Herzegovina continues unabated. Children study their religion renewed American attempt to broker a cessation of hostilities, which in public schools. Government employees, businessmen, soldiers, and culminated in the Dayton Peace Accords of November, bringing the university students can openly practice Islam with a sense of pride and four-year war to an end. dignity. A worshipper in one of Sarajevo’s packed mosque today Historians will have no choice except to consider the Dayton might find a street sweeper praying on his left side and the city’s Accords one of the most unjust “peace plans” in the history, mayor on his right. Izetbegovic is reputed to have said. Drawn up and imposed by the The tragedy of Bosnia is not only that 350,000 men, women and United States and enforced by NATO military occupation it rewardchildren died because their neighbours hated them for their religion, ed Serbs with their own state on half of Bosnia’s territory, while or that thousands of women were raped, or that hundreds of mosques Croats received another twenty-five percent. The US plan left were razed but what it says about our modern “civilisation.” Was Muslims, which make up approximately half of Bosnia’s population, Izetbegovic’s belief that the world would not allow what took place quarantined and landlocked on one quarter of their own country. in Bosnia Herzegovina a flaw in his character or a betrayal of his trust In essence, the Dayton Accord imposed a system of government in our shared humanity? This, surely, was something that he as a on Bosnia that guarantees perpetual economic and political stagnaphilosopher attempted to answer many times. tion and weakens Muslim political power. With it died any dream of Whatever the conclusion Izetbegovic ended life a winner. He led the emergence of a dynamic and viable Muslim state in the heart of his beloved people to freedom from an imperial Yugoslavia. He raised Europe. So many of the problems of the Muslim world that we typian army to defend his people. He led the renaissance of Islam in cally blame on others are fundamentally the fault of Muslims, but not Bosnia Herzegovina, while protecting the rights of Christians in the so in Bosnia Herzegovina. In the face of this internationally organised areas under his control. quagmire designed to paralyse and under-develop Muslim progress in A lawyer by profession, Izetbegovic served two prison terms the country, Alija Izetbegovic decided he didn’t have the strength to totalling nine years in Communist Yugoslavia because of his beliefs. continue. “Somebody must come who can deal with such problems,” He was never, alhamdulillah, a member of the Communist Party he said. which he fought intellectually all his life. In June 2000, the man many Bosnians affectionately called In 1997, he told an Islamic conference in Tehran that “the West is “Dedo”, or Grandpa, announced his decision to step down as presinot rotten. Islam is the best, that is true, but we are not the best. dent. He cited health problems - but tellingly, he said, “The internaInstead of hating the West, let us compete with it. Let’s have a diational community is pushing things forward in Bosnia... but it is doing logue with it.” it at the expense of the Muslim people. I feel it as an injustice,” he Alija Izetbegovic spoke like a warrior, fought like a saint and lived said. “These are the things that l cannot live with.” life a true philosopher. Izetbegovic’s death is an event upon which Muslims around the May God rest his soul in peace. world should reflect. He is one of the few Muslim political leaders of

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R E V I V I N G RESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP A RECEPTION IN HONOUR OF HABIB ALI AL-JIFRI reception was held at the House of Lords on 22nd October in honour of Sheikh Habib Ali al-Jifri who enlightened a select audience about the nature of true religious leadership in today’s world. Introduced as “young in age but old in wisdom”, Habib Ali comes from a long line of august, learned and holy Sayyids, the Ba `Alawi, of the Hadramawt Valley in South Yemen, who have reminded humanity of the Prophetic call and brought faith to millions from Mombasa to Jakarta since the fourth century of the Hijra. Even the famed British Orientalist, R.B. Sargeant, remarked that the Haba’ib of the Hadramawt were the aristocrats of Islamic learning. The Habib began by reminding the audience that the covenant between God and Man is realised through harmonious relations between human beings. This eternal message of the prophets is carried down the ages to the present through the authentic religious leadership of the sages and the saints. They know that bookish learning only reaches its fruition through spiritual realisation and that true religious leadership consists of subduing the ego to the intellect. The constant danger for the caller to God is that he instead calls to his ego, and it is this basic perversion that creates religious fanantics who will expend all at the leader’s whim. In fact, all irresponsible leadership is ego-driven in this way, by means of which all manner of harms arise like political and economic injustice. The single cause of worldly differentiation is the human ego: “In a world of starvation, when we see wheat being dumped into the sea, then we know that there are egos in need of healing. When we see wars being waged that kill millions, then again the cause is the same. When we see parents who cared for their children being abandoned in old people’s homes then again the cause is the same. When great governments cannot cure crime then the answer lies in healing hearts rather than in more sophisticated legislation.” In essence this is why the world needs traditional religious leadership, the Habib explained, to control the egos and therefore to set matters straight. In the Muslim world, standards of high moral conduct had diminished in the last thirty years. During his childhood in Mecca, the Habib recalled, the goldsmiths would merely leave a cloth over their valuables when they went for the prayer; no locks or alarm systems were required in an environment of trust. Traditional leaders can remind humanity of this high conduct and of their proper relationship with God. In both the East and the West, we need a revival of the kind of human being who knows he is answerable to God. In a multi-religious society, the Habib concluded, the religions are often blamed, yet the solution is neither to turn away from them nor to water them down but for each of them to re-examine their original principal foundations. The religions are treasures, full of wisdom that cannot be found elsewhere; we need only to reclaim their eternal spirit. The other invited speakers confirmed and reinforced the Habib’s essential message of the necessity to revive true religious leadership. Maqsood Ahmad of the Home Office’s Faith Communities Unit spoke of the need for today’s imams to address the needs of their communities, to engage with the interfaith movement and to serve wider society. Tom Butler, the Bishop of Southwark, felt moved by the divine conversation of the night, remarking that “faith you die for [but] extremism you kill for” and that all religions had to work together to save the human family from failure. Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet, Principal of the Leo Baeck College, spoke of the spiral of scripture in a changing world by which we apprehend basic tenets anew in each rereading, and that argument for the sake of heaven not for the ego was laudable. Hasan Le-Gai Eaton finished the presentations by musing that the paradox of true leadership was how to grant to those worthy of it precisely because they shunned it for fear of its temptations. The evening ended with the supplication of another prominent personage, Habib Ali Hashami, the Sharia Advisor to Sheikh Khalifa of Dubai. Also in attendance were Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad who both kindly acted as translators on this blessed occasion. The photographer Peter Sanders provided a wonderful slideshow of Hadramawt, and the evening was graciously and humorously hosted by Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi of the Muslim College and Lord Ahmed of Rotherham.

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RAMADAN ADVICE AN ADDRESS BY AS-SAYYID AL-HABIB ALI AL-JIFRI ON THE 20TH OF RAMADAN 1422 INTARIM, YEMEN. CONTINUED FROM LAST ISSUE. CALLING TO ALLAH (DA’WAH) he proper way to obtain the real rank of calling to Allah is to not specify a time for da’wah, by saying, “Now I will begin da’wah,” or “Now I will stop doing da’wah.” Your calling to Allah began the moment you said, “I bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that our master Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.” The end of your outward calling to Allah is when your soul leaves your body. Therefore, the time for da’wah is from the first time you say the Shahadah, to the last time you can possibly say it. The only difference is that in every phase that you move through you will use different means and methods. The phase that you are in right now (the actual seeking of knowledge, acting upon this knowledge, and rectifying your character and inner state) is da’wah. Not one week should pass by except that you weep to Allah, either by night or by day, that Allah alleviates what has befallen the Ummah, and that Allah guides the Ummah back to the best of paths. You must establish amongst yourselves the sunnah of consultation and advice. You must train yourselves so that it is not heavy on your hearts to advise a brother with gentleness and love, if he needs advise and guidance. You should also train yourselves how to readily accept advice from others without the slightest agitation in your hearts, if you are mistaken. Indeed, finding it difficult to advise others and to accept advice is a sign that there is a deficiency in your sincerity in seeking knowledge and drawing closer to Allah. You must establish with every type of person around you a relationship based on da’wah, regardless whether he is the salesman in the market, the taxi driver on the street, the janitor of the building, or the one who sits next to you in the mosque. Your concern for calling them to Allah must be greater than your desire to receive any benefit from them. Then, if the time comes for you go back to your respective countries, or if you go out for da’wah in the local villages, the meanings and methods of da’wah will open ever wider for you. However, the one who is not calling to Allah in this phase will never be a true caller to Allah in the next phase. This is so because if the heart is able to delay the concern for da’wah now, then the heart is empty from the reality of da’wah in the first place, this reality being a deep concern. And this deep concern is an action of the heart, and actions of the heart can never be delayed. It is possible to delay buying a piece of clothing, delay reading a book, delay having lunch till dinner time, and delay the dhuhr payer until asr time (for the traveller). Hence, the outward affairs of the world (like buying and selling) and the afterlife (i.e. prayer) can be delayed, under certain circumstances. However, the acts of the heart, whether they are worldly or of the afterlife, can never be delayed. It is not possible for a person who loves someone, to say, “I will delay my love for you.” Likewise, da’wah is a deep concern, and is an act of the heart. So if you are able to delay the da’wah, then you were capable of delaying this deep concern, and if you are able to delay this, then you are not a true person of da’wah, you only have the outward form of a da’i (a

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person of da’wah). From amongst the innovations of the Arabs was that if a person died, the women of the household would be heard wailing, lamenting, and mourning. If the women of the household were few in number, women would be hired to assist in the wailing and lamenting (nawwahah in Arabic). One time, three of these women were hired and brought to the house of the deceased. When they arrived they began their wailing and crying, and the people of the house told them to delay their wailing until the funeral procession passed in front of their house. So when the funeral procession passed by they were told to begin. This was so because they were hired, however, the mother of the one who passed away can never be told to delay her lamenting and crying, because her crying began the moment her son passed away. This is why the Arabs say, “The one rented to wail and lament is not like the one whose only son perished in her lap.” This is why it is necessary that the one calling to Allah must be more concerned, and cry about the deen more intensely, than the mother whose only child perished in her lap. Without this, you will never become a true da’i (caller to Allah). Our societies and the communities of the Muslims in the West are not lacking people who can give speeches and admonitions. In every masjid you will find those who can give the khutbah and public speeches, yet we do not find the desired results. Societies are not transformed through these admonitions and speeches, because most of these speeches are like the nawwahah (lamentation of the aforementioned hired women), and very, very, very, very few in the Ummah can speak like the mother whose only son perished in her lap. So do not accept to delay the da’wah. This does not mean to neglect your studies, rather, make your studies from your da’wah. JIHAD AND THE MIDDLE WAY Anyone who makes the claim that he wants to serve the Deen yet is not thinking about jihad in the way of Allah, either has no understanding or he is not a truthful and sincere person. However, concerning the issue of jihad, people have gone to two extremes, both of which are mistaken. One group understood from the concept of jihad that it is necessary to view all the kuffar as those whom we must raise the sword or rifle to kill. The other group understands from the concept of jihad that we must be gentle, affectionate, and love all of them, and by doing such we would be “struggling” (i.e. making “jihad”) with them to bring them back to Allah and His Deen. Obviously, both groups have fallen into error. In reality, we are not a people whose mission is to kill the kuffar, nor are we a people who love the kuffar unrestrictedly. When it is time for fighting, we do not fight except those who, by doing so, we would be serving Allah alone (not our passions or personal agendas). Sayyidna Ali (may Allah honour his face) was fighting a kafir in one of the battles. During the battle Sayyidna Ali knocked him down and raised his sword to kill him. As soon as the kafir knew that he was going to be killed he spat in Sayyidna Ali’s face, so immediately Sayyidna Ali left him and went on his way. He was Q - NEWS

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PORTFOLIO later asked, “Why did you leave him when Allah clearly gave you expansive and inclusive of everyone, merciful with everyone, loving power over him?!” Sayyidna Ali replied, “I was fighting him for the and wanting goodness for everyone, from societies to leaders, from sake of Allah, and when he spat in my face I feared that if I killed Muslims to kafirs. Then if a situation arose that calls us to deal with him it would have been out of personal revenge and spite.” stern-ness, even if it reached the level of fighting, then we do not From this we understand that it is obligatory that we differentiallow our previous ways of mercy and gentleness to delay that ate between fighting people who are our own personal enemies and which Allah has commanded. others whom we fight because they are the enemies of Allah. If a One of the sons of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased believer is forced to fight a kafir, he fights him not because the kafir with him, did not become a Muslim while they were in Mecca, and hates him, because the kafir is conspiring against him, because the as you know, the affection of a father to his son is much greater then kafir wants to overcome him, rather, he fights him only because he the affection of a son to his father. In Mecca, Sayyidina Abu Bakr is an enemy to Allah, the time to fight has come, and the command tried with love and gentleness to convince his son as to the veracity from Allah has been given. of Islam. He used the best and loftiest means to try to bring him over On the other hand, we have those who say, “We must love the to Islam, yet Allah had not decreed for him to become a Muslim just kuffar, be kind with them, and esteem them. They are nice people yet. Sayyidina Abu Bakr made hijrah and later went to fight in the and they have a lot of good in them.” People who say this have battle of Badr. This son of his also went out on the day of Badr, yet mixed truth with falsehood, just he was with the kuffar. The son as those who say they want to was trying his best to avoid his “We view all the kuffar as being the kill all the kuffar, without underfather so they would not have to standing or differentiation, have fight each other. Later, when his of Allah. also mixed truth with falsehood. son accepted Islam, he said to his Allah,s creation. father, “Oh my father, on the day And as Muslims, we It is impossible for a true believer to love a kafir: “You will not find of Badr (when I was a kafir) I was Therefore, we do not love the people who believe in Allah and avoiding you so we wouldn’t rather, we love Allah,s creation.” the Last Day having love for anyhave to fight.” Sayyidina Abu one who opposes Allah and His Bakr replied to him, “As for me, Messenger” [Holy Quran, 58:21] if I met you on that day I would With this said, we do love have killed you.” goodness for them. There is a What is the reason behind clear difference between loving them and loving goodness for them. this? This intricate point is necessary for us to understand. When the If you say you love them then you are claiming that you love their action of the son wasn’t based on servitude to Allah, but rather, was essence (thaat) that you interact with in front of you, yet the believbased on compassion (for his father), and his going out to battle was er doesn’t love any essence except the essence of Allah (thaatul-llah), only for glory, honour, and nationalistic goals, this was how he the Mighty and Majestic. If you love the good qualities in them acted. His actions were a slave to his emotions. On the other hand, while desiring that the possessor of these qualities is saved from the the actions of Sayyidina Abu Bakr (in Mecca) and his love and comfire, and uses them in the service of Allah, while looking at them passion were not for himself, but for the sake of his Lord. So when with the eye of mercy and the eye of desiring salvation for them, the time came that he had to serve Allah by fighting against his son, because you know that this pleases Allah, then in this case you have he didn’t waiver, even if it meant his own son’s death. We are in need understood how to interact with them. of this criterion in establishing the correct concept of jihad with the So we view all the kuffar as being, firstly, the creation of Allah. kuffar. And as Muslims, we love Allah’s creation. Therefore, we do not love Therefore, the understanding of jihad is to establish the means the kafir, rather, we love Allah’s creation. We view them as being a for the guidance and salvation of the kuffar, not merely to just fight means for our spiritual transaction with Allah; a means for our them. Fighting them happens in a few cases, and the goal behind it drawing nearer to Allah. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon is to save others from the oppression of the ones who are preventhim, said, “For Allah to guide one person (to Islam) through you is ing the guidance from spreading. We do not fight out of revenge and greater than the whole world and all that is in it.” spite. The Muslim doesn’t fight because the kafir is my (personal) Hence, through this balance do we interact with them upon the enemy, because the kafir is conspiring against me, because the kafir foundation of having mercy for them, compassion for them, and a has killed and slaughtered other Muslims. The Muslim fights the desire to try to save them from the fire. This is the only way we kafir because he has prevented and has become a barrier for the should view our interaction with them. We do not esteem the influguidance to reach others. Again, the Muslim doesn’t fight out of ential one amongst them because he can benefit us in our da’wah (as revenge and only because the enemy has killed other Muslims. a kafir), nor are we generous with the needy amongst them because Think about what is being said deeply. we love them in themselves, rather, we deal with the influential, the The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, poor, the sick, and the young amongst them with mercy, and when he entered Mecca, didn’t avenge for the killings of the through mercy, because this is the way that Allah loves. Muslims on the day of Uhud, even though Allah established him over The way we enter discourse with them should be in ways that the kuffar on that day of the great Conquest. These unbelievers in their intellects can understand, using means that they like and are Mecca were the same ones who killed his companions and members familiar with, as long as it is not prohibited in the Sacred Law. This of his own family. These were the same people who barred the guidis not because those means are the only means, but rather, because ance from reaching others. These were the same people who ripped they are means that Allah loves. So if the time comes that it is more open the chest and stomach of Sayyidina Hamza (the uncle and compleasing to Allah that we use another type of means, with some of panion of the Blessed Prophet, peace be upon him). These were the them, then we do not hesitate for even one second to abandon the same people who ate from the liver of Sayyidina Hamza, may Allah old method and to use the new method. The principle is that we are be blessed with him. And what is more amazing is that those who

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PORTFOLIO FLAG In this incident, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, made actually conspired to kill Hamza (Hind and Wahshi), their Islam was firm in our hearts the understanding that even while fighting, our accepted by the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, and he didgoal is their guidance. So if the enemy shows the signs of being guidn’t kill either of them even after their accepting of the faith. ed, then the fighting between us and them ceases, even if it was an If we were to understand that the purpose of fighting against the outward form without any true reality. That is why the meaning of kuffar is to avenge for spilt Muslim blood then it would have been the statement, “Did you kill him after he said it, Oh Usamah?!” is befitting for the Prophet, peace be upon him, to command the that we should not let our drive to fight blind us from the real cause killing of Wahshi and Hind right when he entered Mecca. But the of fighting, which is their guidance. This is why they mention about issue with the Muslims is not one of revenge, it is an issue of guidour master Al-Hussein, the son of Ali (may Allah be pleased with ance and the spreading of its light. The Muslim is the “letter of guidthem both), when his army met the army of the mistaken and fugiance” sent to humanity from Allah (al-Muslim bareed hidayat-illah tive Muslims who wanted to kill him, he looked at them and began ila al-khalq). So when the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to weep. The number of Al-Hussein’s men, including the women saw that there was hope in them being guided he said, “Go, for ver(non-combatants), did not exceed 80, while the number of the oppoily you are free.” And this is how our interaction must be.” The day sition was greater then 3,000. Remember, Al-Hussein is the son of I meet with an enemy soldier off the battle field, who killed Muslims the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing be upon in Afghanistan, and I sense that he may want guidance, then I will him, the beautiful scent of the treat him with the utmost of Messenger (rayhanat Rasulillah, a mercy. This is what we must The issue with the Muslims is not one of title given to him by the Messenger understand. So our ultimate and peace be upon him), the primary mission in jihad is their , it is an issue of guidance and the himself, master of the youth of paradise, guidance, even while we might be . the muslim is the spreading of its the one whom the Messenger made (physically) fighting them. supplication to Allah for saying, All this is clearly understood sent to “Oh Allah, love the one who loves in the beautiful story where our humanity from Allah. him (Al-Hussein).” Blessed Messenger, peace and The army had risen against Alblessings be upon him, got upset Hussein after pledging allegiance with Usamah ibn Zaid, the to him. They gathered 17,000 sigbeloved, the son of the beloved natures from the people of their (he was named this because the land and called Al-Hussein out to them saying “come and lead us to Prophet, peace be upon him, loved him greatly). Usamah was out on goodness.” So when he went to them they met him with an army of the battle field fighting the enemy. During the heat of the battle one 3,000 men wanting to kill him, most of them being from amongst of the enemies slipped and fell, so Usamah lifted his sword to strike those who signed the allegiance. These were people who wanted to him. commit one of the greatest crimes on the face of the earth: killing a Immediately the enemy shouted out “La ilaha illa Allah, member of the family of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. Muhammad Rasul-lullah,” yet, Usamah struck and killed the man As Al-Hussein stood looking at his deceptive opponents he anyway. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, heard of began to weep. His sister, Zaiynab, saw him weeping so she asked this and began to greatly blame and censure Usamah saying, “Did him, “What is it that makes you weep, Oh Hussein? Are you afraid you kill him after he said it (the Shahadah)!?” Usamah replied, “Oh of death? For verily you are heading for your martyred brother AlMessenger of Allah, he only said it our of fear of the sword.” “Did Hasan, your martyred father Ali, your mother Fatima, and your you look into his heart?! Oh Usamah,” replied the Prophet, peace grandfather the Messenger of Allah!” Al-Hussein turned to her and and blessing be upon him. said “Woe to you, Oh Zaynab! This same kafir may have killed many Muslims on that day, and Al-Hussein is not one to be afraid of death!” “Then what is this he was in the act of fighting against the Muslims, yet, as soon as he that I see upon your face?” she asked. He replied, “Oh Zaynab, I said the Shahadah, even if it was in hypocrisy, and Usamah didn’t looked at these men who were treacherous to the covenant of Allah refrain himself and killed him, the Prophet, peace and blessing be that we made, and I see that they will kill me and enter the fire if upon him, became very upset. The Prophet, peace and blessing be they have no right for doing so, while I wish that they will go to parupon him, continued to blame Usamah about what he did for the adise instead.” rest of the day, until Usamah said, “I wish that I became a Muslim This is the meaning that is incumbent upon you to understand after this day” (meaning that he wished that the event never even concerning jihad. If you understand this while removing from your happened and that he could have a fresh start in Islam). hearts the delusional power of “physical means,” and “people of This incident is not mentioned to put blame on Sayyidina means” (ahlul-asbab), while adding to this the realities of da’wah Usamah, may Allah be pleased with him. Rather, there is an imporand seeking sacred knowledge, and you take these as means to the tant principle that we must understand here. The mishaps of the foundational purpose of your creation, which is your worship of individual companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him, are Allah, you will be from amongst those chosen and elevated by Allah, looked at as a further perfection in the society of the companions. to the levels of closeness, in this age that we live in. And this is the This is so because the goal behind the community of the companmission that you came for, if you but understood. This is what you ions is that we may emulate them, so if no mishaps occurred by indimust ask Allah for in these days that end Ramadan, and for the rest vidual companions, then we would not know how to deal with a of your lives. person who falls into error in our time and the times to come. Therefore, the mishap of one of the companions is in reality a perfection on the societal level. All this was so that the realities of TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY HASAN SIDKY AND KHALIL what it really means to learn may fully manifest themselves for us. ABU ASMAA. THE FIRST PART OF THIS MESSAGE WAS PUBLISHED IN THE OCTOBER 2003 ISSUE OF Q-NEWS.

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PORTFOLIO here has been a severe disturbance in the order of things. From the viewpoint of the Muslims, a disturbance that will not settle down and most definitely will not go away, emphasising with each new incident, the approaching inevitability of a “terrible possibility”. The “terrible possibility” felt but yet unvoiced by a community thrown into confusion and insecurity by the manner in which factors outside the control of and alien to the behaviour of on the whole model citizens, are causing fingers of suspicion to be levelled against it, is that of a widespread backlash from all levels of society. If the very air of Britain is drenched with expectations of imminent hostilities, no matter how far flung from home the region of attack, in equal proportion is the home of each Muslim electric with fear at the consequences. The ignorant collective is a matter for grave concern, for negative reaction by an ignorant collective is potent and today being thoroughly generated. Each new incident floods the airwaves with a tremendous level of information, but not the kind of information that will encourage humane levels of debate and analysis channelling minds to comprehend the wider picture. It is the information of a thousand small details, of dangerous associations, of a veiled theme that places not the criminals but an entire worldview in the dock. And as adherents to this faith all Muslims are by extension possibly the enemy within. An instinctive reaction deep in our psyche, survival, is surfacing on all sides. We are trapped in a cycle of action and reaction and the passion to get things done. All interpretations focus on negative potentialities, the famous clash of civilisations. The Muslims are all too well aware that the balance is dangerously skewed; understanding is weak on one side but disinformation is weighty, complex, and comprehensive on the other. There is a feeling of helplessness against the odds. But, as repetitive as the great cycles of the universe, the machine churns deliberately on, the tenuousness and vulnerability of the Islamic position being made not to fall so much on deaf ears, but onto hearts being engineered to become ever more familiar with the drumbeats of war. What is needed now is not the philosophy of despair or the madness of sloganeering heroics but the development of inner vision. Serious, fast, focused development to reverse the damage we have done to our own souls and to the legacy of the Prophet. Inner vision is to awaken the heart and the senses to a consciousness of God far

WHERE DO T WE STAND IN FRONT OF GOD? SHIRAZ KHAN ON ACHIEVING HAPPINESS, PEACE AND THE ACCEPTANCE OF DU’AS

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PORTFOLIO above that we can possibly conceive of. It is metaphysically speaking the setting into motion of our own personal miraj, soaring not to the most ultimate of destinations, the Throne of God, but to a plane far higher than the miserable low standards we have hitherto set ourselves. In most cases we have yet to leave the ground. For with the growth of deep inner development will come peace, success and joy both in our own lives and in the lives of our communities. Starting point, the Quran. The Quran is the heart and soul of our being yet how arid our relationship to it; we have chosen to cultivate a most cool recognition. It is supreme folly to live in accordance with a fraction of its guidance and for the sake of concentration upon a designated number of ayat ignore the whole. Strange. For living by the whole transforms our reality, taking it to miraculous new dimensions. When the heart awakens, the spirit becomes alive and in certain moments the speech or kalam of the Book also takes form in our outward reality, God communicates by signs and suddenly we begin to comprehend the language. Second, mimicking the universe we should aim to purify the great repetitive cycles requested of us by Allah, of prayer, fasting, recitation of Quran, whole heartedly, body and soul, being regular and dedicated in these habits. The universe contains great secrets for men of understanding. Just as the sun never refuses to rise so should we never decline to stand for prayer once the time for salah has arrived. Third, and as efforts are exerted towards this end, our attention should turn towards the realisation of that which the Quran prizes so highly, the sacredness of relationships. Our goal is to bring peace and barakah into the lives of all who are brought into our orbit; never harshness. If a certain percentage of the Quran discusses the outer observances, or bones, of the religion, a great percentage discusses the great subtleties of human relationships. The Quran reminds us in one verse that paradise lies at the feet of the mother, creating by doing so a powerful archetype whose qualities we are silently invited to observe, given the honour accorded to its essence. The mercy, tenderness, compassion and love qualities of the mother figure should be highly prized and radiate out from within ourselves to the rest of society. It is an ideal but one we can try to achieve largely through inculcating and acting upon the concept of khidmah or service in the need of others, even a smile contains the secrets of a tremendous reward. Arguments are to be settled with forgiveness, and if not, then a gentle withdrawal and

recitation of Surah al-Baqarah, never escalating the fire that has been stoked. Fourth, guard the tongue; a dangerous remover of blessings and a powerful inhibitor of the blessings and joys that could come our way. A negative comment, even if mild in connotation, of which we may think little, can trigger a chain of events whose final outcome Allah only knows. Like the beat of the butterfly wing in the theory of chaos, our little, harmless comment on one side of the planet may trigger a hurricane on the other. The deeper ones fear of Allah the deeper ones fear of the consequences of ones actions, for the consequences if one is a believer, will affect us in this life, as a mercy from Allah, and will or should be, instantly recognisable in the disruption of the harmony of things around us. Great subtleties of happenings which go unnoticed by hearts complacent with the workings of cause and effect; fine tuned to blessings given but oblivious to blessings withdrawn. Understand the unseen. Malevolent forces watch keen and alert for the slightest negligence, and pounce without remorse at the barest of openings. How strange that we do not feel that we should be on our guard, and at the slightest instant of disharmony lift up our swords and go into battle - spiritual battles with unseen forces are fought with recitation of Quran and much dhikr, tawbah and tahajjud. These are testing times for Muslims, forces both seen and unseen are ranged, mighty and blood thirsty against us. Practice of sorcery is widespread, the satisfaction of sensuous desires a positive virtue, and the cancer of materialistic philosophy king of all centres of learning and an unchallenged starting point, raison d’etre and prerequisite for any understanding of the human condition, poisoning even our own minds to think in certain ways. Spiritual guides are perhaps needed now more urgently than ever before. The great anchors or pegs of our spiritual message it is lamentable that having unconsciously imbibed the materialistic philosophical ethic of the importance of the one over the collective or the superiority accorded ones own mind (in reality the ego) as opposed to the deference which should be accorded to a more knowledgable other, has caused many to arrogantly reject the idea of turning for advice to what they imagine to be charlatan shakhs. As with all things there will be men who are hypocrites. But the baby does not get thrown out with the bath water. There is a natural need within us to turn to men of great knowledge and wisdom. There are men who have left the world to spend years study-

ing their deen, the weaknesses of the human condition, the cunning of shaitan, etc. Turning their vision to that which is within us, these great doctors of the soul, then return to teach that which we cannot possibly know having not devoted, the love, or the time, or the study, or the dedication required. The onus is upon us to find them and then learn of their wisdom. Happiness and peace is attainable for all who live lives of great humility, great shukr, great sabr, and great ibadah. If things are not moving it could be that it is we who are static. The servant of Allah should always be in a state of progress escalating in purity, quality and quantity. The dynamics of changing

repetitive

As as the great cycles of the universe, the machine churns on, the and of the Islamic position being made not to fall so , but onto much on being engineered to become ever more familiar with of war. the

tenuousness vulnerability deaf ears hearts drumbeats

our condition lie in our own hands. If we are surrounded by worries, problems needing solutions, prayers needing answers, any disruption to our inner state of peace in fact, then it could be that we are not doing justice to ourselves in the asking or rising to the potential within us. And it would be well to remember that each one of us has a different level and a different degree of knowledge and understanding so that what may be required of one may be different to that required of another. Escalating ibadah to high levels in times of trouble is a powerful key to dramatically changing our lives. Tahajjud, completion of the Quran again and again, dhikr, khushu in prayer, regular sadaqah, memorising verses, itikaf or seclusion, constant supplication, darud (blessings upon the Prophet), tawbah will generate tremendous results. There is nothing that our generous Creator cannot grant, it is all in the asking. Shiraz Khan is a Senior Researcher with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), UK. Q - NEWS

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TAQ ACTIVISTS ARE PREPARING TO ‘UNWELCOME’ GEORGE BUSH ON HIS STATE VISIT TO LONDON. SHOULD FASTING BELIEVERS TAKE TO THE STREETS WITH THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS WHILE RAMADAN CALLS US TO ‘HIGHER ACTIONS’? NAZIM BAKSH REFLECTS. Adbusters www.adbusters.org Alternet www.alternet.org Common Dreams www.commondreams.org Counterpunch www.counterpunch.org George Monbiot www.monbiot.com John Pilger www.johnpilger.com Independent media centre indymedia.org Mother Jones magazine www.motherjones.com The Nation magazine www.thenation.com The Utne Reader www.utne.com Z Communications www.zmag.org Media Monitors www.mediamonitors.net Media WorkersAgainst the War www.mwaw.org Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting www.fair.org

he early scholars of the Islamic tradition were well aware of the balanced relationship between the human soul and the body in which it is lodged. The inhabitants of our cities have apparently lost this balance and the consequence has manifested itself in all sorts of absurdities both at the individual level as well as that of the cityscape. Unlike human beings cities cannot lie. For Muslims, Ramadan is an occasion to rectify the imbalance, to bring the soul and the body back into a state of harmony. Taqwa, awe of God Almighty, the objective of siyam (fasting), is, in its classical definition, obeying the commands and avoiding the prohibitions of Allah both outwardly and inwardly. At an immediate level this is an individual struggle and when in full swing it is an awesome thing to behold, but when absent, the outcome is often deeply troubling. When taqwa becomes a collective aspiration however, it has the ability to turn the tarnished image of our sordid cities into something of beauty, calm and tranquillity. In other words, taqwa can give civil society the moral high ground by which it can resist the combined forces of global corporatism in cahoots with the state that has shackled the inhabitants of our cities to a life of misery, greed, crime, and social injustice. Civil society will not regain the ground it has lost, is losing and will continue to lose, unless it aspires to a higher ideal. Engaging in a series of spirited demonstrations, boycotts, strikes and protests, is useful, perhaps even worthwhile, but imagine how much more effective they can be if combined with a vision that is grounded in truths

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THE GOAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY to which we must all conform. Taqwa is that razor sharp sword that slices through the narrative of consumerism which holds us hostage to meaningless objects and mirages. The splendour of the glorious month of Ramadan is a gift given to the believers but it is also an opportunity to open the doors of its beauty to our fellow citizens. What we are witnessing today is an unprecedented use of state power to suppress civil society. The state has made it clear, whether in Canada, the United States or the United Kingdom, that it joined with the forces of global corporatism which produces what Shaykh Hamza Yusuf notes are the twin industries of ‘distraction’ and ‘destruction.’ In other words, industries that offers you entertainment as seduction which is your distraction, and weapons of death and misery which is your destruction. And so as we lock arms with fellow citizens and march against these ‘Masters of War’ in the month of Ramadan, let us remember what Ibn Mas’ud, the great companion of Our Noble Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said concerning the verse of God Almighty in the Quran “Have awe of God as is deserving of Him Alone” (Al-Imran: 102). He said it means to obey the Creator, not disobey Him, and not to be ungrateful. The companion Abu Huraira narrated that this world is like a thorn-ridden path and that taqwa is that which causes us to take evasive action to avoid getting pricked by the thorns. In the Quran, God says “O You who believe, have awe of Allah and let every soul see what it is acquiring for tomorrow. Have awe of Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.” (Hashr: 18) Not only is taqwa mentioned twice in one verses but “ghadan” here means tomorrow or sometime in the future and most of the Quranic commentators say it means the Day of Judgment. Both meanings are correct in that the Day of Judgment could be anytime; the time is not known to man. Whatever meaning you take from this verse there is no doubt that awe of the Creator is intricately connected to a believer’s assessment of the future impact of his actions. The hesitation among many in our community is whether a person’s actions in this regard are limited to the prayers, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage, or whether it

extends to include our efforts to stem the tide of human suffering and injustice; to make the world a better place, a more comfortable place, for the citizens of this world? The difference between the two is the difference between taqwa as a personal priority and taqwa as a collective commitment. In the first verse of Sura Hajj, God Almighty commands all of humanity: “O Mankind have awe of your Lord, verily the coming to past of the Last Hour will be a serious affair.” Imam As-Sabuni says that this verse means that Your Lord should not find you in a place where He has prohibited you from being nor should He find you absent from a place He has ordered you to be. In a sound narration the blessed Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, said, “Taqwa is here” and he pointed to his chest three times. The heart is located in the chest and the spiritual heart is located in the physical heart. So taqwa is located in the spiritual heart of the human being. When we fast in the month of Ramadan we subdue the lowest of the soul’s inclinations, nafs al-ammaratubi-su so that the highest and noblest of its aspirations might be accentuated. And that causes an increase of one’s awe of God Almighty. When this state is achieved it will hold there for as long as the individual has the capacity to stand against the forces that will most certainly challenge it. But it could hold for much longer if those who aspire to it band together. “Certainly Allah loves those with taqwa.” And his Mercy encompasses everything and He shall allocate His Mercy to those with awe of Him. Their wrong actions will be erased, their affairs in this world will be facilitated and their sustenance increased, and God shall help them against their enemies These are the ones of karam or of nobility. If we are going to be victorious against the harmful forces that seek to rule our lives we have to arm ourselves with more than just cool slogans, loud placards, by aspiring to a higher goal. Ramadan is the month to polish the shield of taqwa. As the late Khurram Murad said: “As flowers blossom in spring, so does taqwa in Ramadan.” Let it blossom to such an extent that those who wish to put order, beauty, love, and tolerance into our cities and our lives will come to see that these things are not possible without a ‘state’ that is pleasing to God. Q - NEWS

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A ROYAL R RAMADAN IN THOSE LONG-LASTING DAYS WAS MORE THEN he present condition of the ummah is one of division, ignorance a strife. Alien elites everywhere hold sway over oppressed populations. Entire Muslims countries can be attacked without provoking any response from other Muslim states. But matters were not ever thus. Only a hundred years ago, the European powers and the alienated elites were kept in check by the sublime Ottoman Caliphate, which ruled a vast and peaceful empire stretching from the Adriatic to the Yemen. In 1895, the ottoman Caliph was Sultan Abdul Hamid II, jannat makan, a man whose extraordinary political and diplomatic brilliance kept his empire intact throughout the thirty years of his reign. Economic development was rapid, as telegraphs and railways linked Kosovo to the imperial capital of Istanbul, and thence to Baghdad, Jerusalem and Medina. But this transformation took place at the hands of a ruler who refused to be alienated from the values of his people. For Sultan Abdul Hamid, reared from an early age by ulema and Naqshbandi Sufi teachers, lived a life of exemplary Islamic piety. Every Friday, when the adhan was heard, he would ride out on a white charger, surrounded by the great men of his state, and attend Friday worship with his people. His Istanbul was legendary. It was considered the most beautiful city in the world. His residence at Yildiz (‘star’) Palace was spectacular with the views out over the Bosphorus and where sumptuous banquets were provided for the European diplomats, kings and ministers, his own lifestyle was austere. He ate sparingly, and often fasted every Monday and Thursday. His days were spent either in worship, or in affairs of state with his pashas and generals: only occasionally did he take the time to indulge in his love of calligraphy, and his fondness for rowing in the lake in the palace grounds. Following an old ottoman tradition by which every sultan had to be trained in a craft, he was a skilled carpenter, and when the affairs of state proved too exhausting for him, he would retire to his workshop where he produced the most exquisite pieces which even today are pointed out to visitors to the Royal Palaces. Ramadan was a time of particular devotion for Sultan Abdul Hamid. The electric lights at Yildiz burned far into the night, as the royal taraweeh and tahajjud devotions were observed. Every afternoon after asar prayers, the Sultan, his advisers and the Muslim ambassadors would sit in the gilded reception hall to hear a sermon from one of the great scholars of the empire. Often the Mufti of Istanbul was in attendance, or even the shaykh of alIslam, the highest religious authority in the sunni world. Old Turkish religious songs were recited, and the daily session concluded with the serene cadences of the Holy Quran. But the high point of the Caliph’s Ramadan came on the fifteenth of the month. By old Turkish custom, the Sultan-Caliph was expected to visit Khirqa-I-Sherif, the mantle of the Holy Prophet, passed on over the centuries from caliph to caliph, and which symbolised the solemn burden of responsibility which the ruler carried on his shoulders. The mantle, ancient and fragile after thirteen hundred years, was conserved in the palace of the early Ottomans sultans - Topkapi, high on seraglio point between the sea of marmara and the golden horn. Together with the mantle other venerable relics were conserved, including the Prophet’s sword, a Quran of Caliph Uthman and the original letters sent by the Prophet to summon the rulers of the world to Islam. On the day of the ceremony, early in the morning, the entire way between the Yildiz Palace and the Topkapi were lined with two rows of policemen. These kept back large crowds of enthusiastic subjects and foreign tourists who had gathered by the roadside and filled the windows in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Caliph. Ranks of his personal bodyguards rode before him, all white-fezzed Albanian, and a spectacular regiment of Zouaves: Arab troops from Ottoman Libya, in their blue tunics with

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L RAMADAN A PRIVATE AFFAIR: IT UNITED THE ENTIRE MUSLIM PEOPLE. red boarders, baggy red trousers, white gaiters and green turbans. The imperial band played military music, beginning with the famous Hamidye march. Everything was perfectly timed and organised, the smallest details arranged each year by the capable hands of Hadji Mahmoud Effendi, the Gisih-Memuru (Director of the Imperial procession). Next came a dozen or so coaches carrying the imperial family; the sultan’s mother having pride of place. Each coach preceded by its own runners in full livery. The generals and statesmen in whose hands lay the wellbeing of the empire followed with their own uniformed suits. The Sultan himself in a open carriage pulled by two magnificently harnessed Arabian horses, rode in the middle of this procession. Opposite to him sat Ghazi Osman Pasha, who had led the heroic defence of the Plevna against the Russian invaders in 1877, and who remained one of the most popular heroes of the empire. One of the royal sons, Prince Burhaneddin Effendi, sat by the sultan. The other imperial princes rode on horses nearby, even the youngest wearing military uniforms and waving to the crowd. Retainers ran before and after the royal carriages, their hands crossed on their chests as a mark of respect. Once over the Galata bridge, the procession moved up towards the ancient palace, entering by the Bab-I-Humayun (Imperial Gate). Drawing up outside the Bab-I-Saaet (Gate of Happiness), the visitors dismounted, and walked through a garden to the domed pavilion where the relics were kept. Inside, in a vast hall scented with a rare incense burning for a dozen censers, the Caliph raised with his own hand the rich clothes which covered the mantle. As he did so, a young imam recited the Holy Quran. Then his majesty would stand aside, and the other dignitaries: the prime minister and the Shaykh al-Islam, the minister of Awqaf, the chief of the Prophet’s descendants, and others would pass before him one by one. Each would receive a scarf embroidered with the verses from the Holy Quran, and which had been sanctified by contact with the mantle of the blessed prophet. After the high ministers of the state came the turn of the imperial princes, the sultan’s mother, and the ladies of the harem. The atmosphere was charged with intense concentration reverence, and a sense of holiness. At the close of the ceremony, the caliph withdrew to the Baghdad Kiosk, built by his predecessor Suleiman the magnificent. There, amid its turquoise tiles and gold calligraphic verses from Al-Busri’s ‘Poem of the Mantle’, with a fresh breeze from the Bosphorus blowing through the open windows, the sultan sat to distribute presents of money to his guards. As the sun set, a 21 gun salute announced the end of the fast. After praying behind the Shaykh al-Islam, the caliph partook of his iftar, and later in the evening returned to Yildiz by the same route. The devotion showed by ordinary Muslims to his pious sovereign was intense. Deposed by the young Turks in 1909, who soon led the country into the disasters of the first world war, he maintained a policy of technical advancement going hand in hand with the promotion of faith. His influence was not confined by his empire’s boundaries: Sunni Muslims everywhere regarded him as their own true sovereign. As servant of the three holy Cities, a pious and vigorous ruler who sincerely longed for the well being of Muslims everywhere, his name was mentioned in sermons throughout India, Sumatra, China - in fact, everywhere Muslims were groaning under foreign rule. Today, the Muslims without a caliph are like orphans. Divided into factions, sects and nations, with no final source of religious and political authority, their condition has worsened everywhere since the demise of the Ottoman authority. There were many challenges facing the Muslim world in 1895. But for as long as the Sultan-Caliph ruled in Istanbul, they always had both a source of guidance, and, if necessary, a refuge. He was God’s shadow on earth, protector of the precincts of Islam - and an heir to the mantle of God’s final Prophet to humanity. Q - NEWS

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COUNSEL WUDU, FASTING, AND RETAINERS FARAZ RABBANI

When I rinse my mouth, no matter how hard I try to spit all the water out, a few drops remain behind the retainers on my teeth. These drops are subsequently swallowed. Will this water break my fast? Should I take my retainer off every time? Would it be sinful for me to skip rinsing my mouth instead? You would have to take your retainer off in such a case. If this is difficult (such as when you are in a hurry or on the run), then you should skip washing your mouth, or do so minimally in a way that you leave you reasonably sure that the water would not remain under the retainer. You should avoid making it a continual habit, however, to skip washing your mouth without excuse. This is because it is sinful to habitually leave a confirmed sunnah, such as washing one’s mouth in wudu, without reasonable excuse. DELAYING BREAKING A FAST FARAZ RABBANI

When keeping an optional fast, must it be opened at maghrib or can it be delayed? What happens if I fall asleep after asar and wake up well after maghrib? Should I remake that fast or will I be forgiven? It is recommended, not obligatory, to break any fast quickly after maghrib has entered. [Ala’ al-Din Abidin, Hadiyya alAla’iyya] As such, you could delay breaking your fast without being sinful. However, doing so unduly without excuse is disliked. Sahl ibn Sa`d (Allah be pleased with him) related that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “People will remain on good as long as they hasten breaking the fasts.” [Bukhari and Muslim] Imam Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy on him) explains “remain on good” to be because they are following the guidance of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and remaining within its limits rather than leaving it for their mere reason instead. [Fath al-Bari, 4.199, Beirut: Dar al-Ma`rifa] MOTHERHOOD DURING RAMADAN FARAZ RABBANI

What are the rules and expiations surrounding the fasting of pregnant or nursing women? It remains obligatory, unless the woman genuinely fears harm, with near surety, or sickness for herself or for the child. “Genuine fear” is that which is based on: previous experience, clear unmistakable signs, or being informed by a qualified Muslim doctor who is not outwardly cor-

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one who leaves it without an excuse accepted by the Shariah is sinful if they do so habitually, and worthy of blame (from Allah) if they leave it even once. The congregation is recommended for men, but not a confirmed sunnah, though some held it to be a confirmed sunnah as well. The sunnah of taraweeh is all twenty rakats. Merely praying eight does not fulfil the sunnah.

KNOW ABOUT

What is the adab of a non-fasting pregnant woman consuming food/beverages in front of those who are fasting, if they are from her family? They should not, if reasonably possible.

FASTING

AFFECTIONATE KISSING AND TOUCHING THAT LED TO EMISSION

rupt. If she finds it necessary to abstain from fasting, makeups are obligatory, but not immediately, though it is superior to make up missed fasts immediately. There is no time-limit for any makeups that are due upon her. Try fasting, after eating and drinking well at night, and minimise unnecessary physical activity. Ask Allah for strength, and it may be easier than you imagined. If a couple is trying to conceive, is it permissible for the wife to abstain from fasting during Ramadan until she finds out for certain about her condition? The first few weeks of gestation are the most vital in foetal development. This is not a valid reason not to fast. Allah has not made anything that is in itself harmful obligatory on us in our worship. Fasting is not harmful to the human body, even when pregnant, except in rare cases. Allah Most High said, “Allah does not make a soul accountable for more than it can bear.” Besides this, the legal maxim is that, “Mere possibilities are of no consequence.” (la `ibrata bi’l wahm) [Ibn Nujaym, al-Ashbah wa’l Nadha’ir; alMajalla ] That is, legal rulings are not based on mere possibilities that are not backed up by reasonable surety or certainty. If a pregnant woman isn’t fasting, does she still obtain the reward for praying the taraweeh prayers? And would this reward be the same as if she were fasting? The taraweeh is unrelated to fasting. However, it is not just something one does for “reward”. It is a confirmed sunnah for both men and women, which means that the

FARAZ RABBANI

If one has involuntary emission while fasting in the course of affectionately kissing and touching ones’ wife, is the fast broken? If so, how can it be made up? I have read in the Hanafi handbook of Fiqh that this falls under kafarra and two continuous months of fast must be done. Is this true or is there any other expiation (such as feeding the poor)? Firstly, unless actual ejaculation took place from the touching or kissing (or if one swallowed one’s spouse’s saliva), then the fast is not broken, and there is no need for a makeup, let alone expiation. One should, however, seek forgiveness for breaching proper conduct in Ramadan. Secondly, if ejaculation took place in such a case, a makeup fast, along with sincere repentance is needed, but not expiatory payments, as this is not a ‘full transgression’ (such as actual intercourse, or deliberate eating or drinking is). [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Haskafi, al-Durr alMukhtar] MAKING UP FASTS BROKEN SINFULLY ANSWERED BY MUFTI MUHAMMAD IBN ADAM ALKAWTHARI, DARUL IFTAA, LEICESTER A number of years ago I was involved in a sin which I later found out also breaks a fast. I have no idea how many fasts were broken - I did not commit it on a daily basis. It is only now that I have thought about making up for these fasts. How many fasts I should keep outside Ramadan in order to make up for the broken fasts? Will my fasts of Ramadan from recent years be affected because I have missed fasts to my name? In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. Acts that nullify the fast are of two kinds. Some nullifying acts not only make one liable to make up for them later, but also make one respon-

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COUNSEL sible to an expiation. These acts are only three: eating, drinking and engaging in sexual intercourse. These three acts make one liable to a kaffara when they are committed deliberately and intentionally, and after one has already started the fast, provided the person committing these acts has the knowledge that they nullify the fast, and that one was not forced into committing this due to some reason, such as illness. (See: Maraqi alFalah, p. 663-664) There are other nullifying acts that only make making up necessary and not kaffara. Examples of such acts are: eating or drinking unintentionally, e.g. water entering into the throat unintentionally whilst performing ablution, smoking, emission of semen whilst touching, kissing or caressing a woman, masturbation, eating or drinking under the wrong impression that the sun has set or the dawn has not yet set in. (Maraqi al-Falah) Keeping the above in mind, if the sin you mentioned is from the first category, then you will have to make up for all of the fasts, plus a kaffara, which is fasting for sixty days continuously. However, if the sin is from the second set of examples, then you only need to make up for the actual fasts that were broken. If you are unaware of how many fasts were broken, then make a precautionary estimation and then start making up for them. Also, repent to Allah Almighty and seek His forgiveness. Finally, the fasts you kept in the recent years after abstaining from the sin will not be affected due to the sin, unless there was something else that nullified them. You don’t need to worry too much. Instead repent to Allah Most High, and then start making up for the missed fasts. And Allah knows best. PASSING WIND DURING PRAYER FARAZ RABBANI

What do I do if I passes wind while performing salat in congregation or alone? One’s prayer is invalidated, so one must perform wudu again, and should then start over. [Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah] CAN WUDU BE LOST THROUGH SIN? FARAZ RABBANI

Would masturbation be allowed in order to avoid committing zina? My friend says he can’t stop himself from looking at pornographic material. Firstly, wudu is not broken by sin, whether small or big, though it is recommended to make wudu (and, ideally, pray two rakats during non-disliked times) as a form of expiation and manifestation of

repentance. Secondly, masturbation and looking at ‘naked pictures’ is forbidden and highly sinful. One must take all means to avoid these. Use Ramadan as a month of ridding oneself of the sins that distance one from God. Be careful of the company you keep, and how you spend your free time. If you don’t keep the company of religious people, and don’t spend your free time in wholesome or worthy pursuits, you will find yourself falling into sin. It is said that if you don’t busy yourself with good, you’ll find yourself busied by the bad.

Allah Most High told us, “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Quran, 13:28) THE BEST TIME TO READ THE QURAN FARAZ RABBANI

When is the best time to read the Quran? Generally, it is best at night and early morning. Specifically, it is best at the time when one can be consistent in reading it daily, and have the best presence of heart. Sayyida A’ishah, Allah be well pleased with her said, “The actions most beloved to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) were those performed consistently” [Bukhari and Muslim] Why? Because such actions transform one’s life. I would highly recommend Shaykh Musa Furber’s translation of Imam Nawawi’s excellent work, Etiquette with the Qur’an. WHAT DO I DO WHEN I AM ATTACKED MUFTI ABDURRAHMAN IBN YUSUF

COMPLETING THE QURAN IN RAMADAN FARAZ RABBANI

Is it compulsory to complete the Quran during Ramadan? Sometimes it is extremely difficult due to being extremely busy. We wouldn’t want to miss the obligatory. Allah Most High said, “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong).” (Quran, 2:185) It is recommended, but not obligatory, for those able to complete the Quran in Ramadan to do so. If this is difficult: a) one should strive to read as much as one can in an effective and moving manner (such that one reads with reflection); b) one should try to listen to as much Quran as one can, while maintaining at least minimum attentiveness to the recitation. There is great merit, reward, and benefit in listening to the Quran.

WWW.WHITETHREADPRESS.COM Recently, I was travelling alone in a taxi in Bangladesh when I was hijacked. My attackers beat me up quite badly, but at one point, I had the opportunity to grab one of their knives. I didn’t know if I was allowed to hurt them or not, so I let go of the knife. I know that it is one the gravest sins to kill another Muslim, but what if in defence, I seriously injure or even kill him? Secondly, are we allowed to steal from thieves and robbers in order to protect oneself or the public. For example, I had the option of throwing the knife out of the window, but would that be Haram since it is not my property to dispose of? In the name of Allah the Inspirer of truth. Islam is a practical religion. It is certainly permissible to defend oneself and ward of one’s aggressors. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “Whoever is killed protecting his wealth is a martyr. Whoever is killed protecting his family is a martyr...” (Ahmed and Tirmidhi). Allama Ibn ‘Abidin states: “If a person is travelling and he came across some dacoits, it is permissible for him to kill them, even if they did not attack him but attacked others, due to reliving the people of their harm” (Radd al-Muhtar 3:180). As such, it would also be permissible to relieve the hijackers of their knives or other weapons and dispose of them. And Allah knows best.

Find the “Essentials of Fasting” course, with online lessons, readings, and answers at www.SunniPath.com Q - NEWS

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SHAYKH HA ON A NIGH n the name of God, most beneficient, most merciful - peace be upon you all. Peace and prayers be upon all of the Prophets of guidance and upon our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. I want to thank Sidi Yusuf Islam for really inspiring us this evening by giving us an evening of beauty and wherever there is beauty there is truth and wherever there is truth there is beauty. If Islam does not appear to you as beautiful then it is not Islam that you are seeing. Our Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “God is beautiful and loves beauty” and therefore anything that is not beautiful is not from God. I would like to share a few concerns with you tonight. One of them that we are facing unprecedented times as a generation and every generation of people since the beginning of humanity has faced difficulties because that is part of the reason why we are here is to face struggle and to face it head on and accept that life is struggle. The Quran reminds us that we were created in struggle and the Arabic word jihad means to struggle. It is to struggle against what is wrong and therefore, anytime that wrong is used in a struggle it is not jihad. That is something that must be understood by the world today. We need to look again at the meaning of jihad because in essence the world needs jihad. It needs to struggle for what is right because we as a people and I am talking about banu Adam, the children of Adam and Eve, because that is who we are first and foremost. We are one tribe. We are of different branches. When I met these beautiful South African Zulu people I said that we are from the children of Adam and Eve. You are from the tribe of Zulu and my background is another tribe but we are from the same tribe and that is the children of Adam and Eve. And then I asked each one of them what their names were. The first one told me “Bongani” and I said, “What does that mean?” And he said: “Be thankful” and I said to the next man, “What is your name?” he said: “Linda” and I said, “What does that mean?” and he said: “Be Patient.” And then I asked the last one “What is your name?” he said: “Sipho” and I said, “What does that mean?” and he said “Gift”. It is amazing but it was clear to me that the names brought a message from us from South Africa: “Be thankful, be patient and recognise that you are a gift from God.” You - all of us - are a gift from God and share that gift with others because that is why we were put here. We were put here to overcome the wrongs. We were put here to strive and struggle - to make it a better world and we are celebrating tonight a school. A school is a place were we teach our children because we are preparing them to inherit what we leave behind and this is something that will unify all of us when we recognise the immense burden that we have in making this a better world for our children. That is why it is our children that need, more than at any other time, adults to wake up to what is happening in this world. We need to recognise that we are being confronted with social disintegration. We are faced with environmental degradation.

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MZA YUSUF T OF REMEMBRANCE We have forgotten these prophetic messages as so many We are being confronted with arms proliferation and each of these Christians have forgotten the prophetic messages of Jesus ‘alayhi ‘scalamitous problems are rooted in a loss of the sense of sanctity, a salam, peace be upon him, who reminded us, Blessed are the peacesense of the sacred, a sense of why we have been put here because makers, not blessed are the war mongers, not we have been put here to be enchanted by the blessed are the arms manufacturers, not world not to be disenchanted. blessed are those who make wealth on the That is the perpetual reminder of our chilOur Prophet dreamed of others. Jesus Christ reminded us to dren. It is to call us back to enchantment, to and I hope that all blood love those who revile us and this is a message call us back to innocence in order that we set aside our cynicism. We set aside our scepti- of you will go out tonight and as valid for the Muslims as it is for the Christians. It is a message that we must learn cism and we begin to recognise that in their dream a dream of a and we must reject the anti-Christic natures light, in their eyes, in their souls shines the . People who dream of our age because the Muslims consider the truth of hope because they are God’s latter days not to be the days of anything reminder to us that as along as there are chilare in their other than the anti-Christ or the anti-Christic dren there is hope. dreamers but people who phenomenon which is the removal of love There is hope that we can overcome the from the world. It is the spread of hatred and trials and tribulations that we are facing. It is dream while they are hatred is only imbedded in the grounds of our children that give us this constant are ignorance and so it is ignorance we must reminder and it is our children that we are celebrating tonight because the desire to instipeople because those are work to remove. Our Prophet dreamed dreams and I hope tute this school came from children coming people that that all you will dream the dream of a better into the world and recognising that we have future for our children that you’ll go out to have a place where, like so many years ago . tonight and dream a dream of a better future. Yusuf Islam asked, “Where do the children People who dream in their sleep are dreamers play? Where do the children play?” but people who dream while they are awake are dangerous people That question which was asked over thirty years ago is more relbecause those are people that change the world. This is the time for evant today in an increasingly complicated world in which they are change. I hope all of you renew your commitment because when you getting digitalised day-by-day. They are becoming so over-wrought were young you dreamed dreams and those of you who have lost with the amount of information and with the amount of confusion your youth, don’t lose your innocence. that they are seeing us perpetuate with our silence and our compliciDon’t lose that spark that God put into your heart to desire a ty. Many today ask “Where is God?” but the question God puts to us better world, to hope for a better world. Hope is from God: it is one in the Quran is “Where are you?” Ma la-kum la tuqatiluna fi sabili of the great spiritual teachings and lessons that were given to us by ‘Llahi wa ‘l-mustad’afina fi ‘l-ard. What is wrong with you that you the Prophets. Hope’s spring’s eternal. Let us hope and keep hope do not struggle to help the weak in the earth? Men, women and chilalive. And tonight as we remember twenty years of Islamiyya, let us dren who are crying for your help. The question is not where is God? hope that a hundred years from now that there will be people who The question is where are we who have been given so many gifts and remember this night of remembrance which is to remember God, talents and been challenged by our Lord to use them for the sake of that we might in remembering God be remembered by God. Let us God, for the sake of the weak and the oppressed, for the sake of our hope that this night is indeed a night of remembrance and finally, children. Yusuf, Sidi Yusuf reminded us also, “Sleepy horses heave away turn One of the words that was told about our Prophet, kana ahlayour back to the golden hay”. Don’t ever look behind at the work ma ‘n-nas, he was the most forbearing of people, the most patient of you’ve done for your work has just begun. There’ll be the evening people but one of the meanings of hilm, which means intellect, is in the end but till that time arrives you can rest your eyes and begin also dream and our Prophet was a Prophet that dreamed big again. Tonight is a resting of the eyes and hearts so that we may dreams. He imagined a different world. A world where women begin again tomorrow. God bless you, God keep you, keep hope would be treated with respect, a world where children would not be alive. As-Salamu ‘alaykum. buried alive out of fear of poverty, a world where vengeance would no longer be perpetuated in cycles of violence that never end and he Official transcript of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s speech at the Night said, “Today the blood of the ages of ignorance, the blood of of Remembrance, Royal Albert Hall on the 20th of October 2003. vengeance is under my foot and from this day forward there is no Photographs by Talat (c) 2003, Mountain of Light. vengeance in my community.”

dreams future

awake

better

sleep

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change the world

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FASHION

GRATEFUL THREADS

AN EXCITING NEW CLOTHNG COMPANY IS REVOLUTIONISING ISLAMIC FASHION. Q-NEWS TALKS TO THE SHUKR TEAM.

Why do you call yourselves “SHUKR”? What is the company’s mission or its guiding principles? The word shukr is an Arabic word found in the Quran. It means gratitude or thanks. Allah Most High says in the Quran, “If you give thanks, I shall certainly increase you” (Quran 14:7). As Muslims, we try our best to give thanks to our Lord for every blessing that He has bestowed upon us, blessings such as Allah’s Being, for the religion of Islam, for the sending of our Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), for having been granted life, health and all the countless other gifts. SHUKR is a means of reminding ourselves and others of this principle. SHUKR is inspired by the injunction of the sacred law that Muslims should dress modestly, by the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty”, and by the practice of generations of Muslims who were characterised by these principles inwardly and outwardly. SHUKR’s mission is to present beautiful, superior quality clothing to a modern Muslim audience. The SHUKR philosophy is also founded upon the concept of itqan, perfection, as exemplified in the hadith: “Verily God loves that when one of you does something, that he perfect it.” This Islamic concept of itqan translates into a concern for quality.

Two Q-News subscribers (one male and one female) stand to win two US$100 SHUKR vouchers!

Simply tell us in no more than 20 words what you are most thankful for in life. Send your entry to Q-News Shukr Promotion, PO Box 4295, London W1A 7YH, UK or shukr@q-news.com with your full contact details, including your subscription name. Free shipping to all worldwide destinations so hurry!

What is the history of the company? The company was founded in the year 2000 by Anas Sillwood, a British convert to Islam, who now lives and works in Damascas. Upon entering Islam, in the UK in the mid-1990’s, Anas tried to find decent Islamic clothing to wear only to be disappointed by either its lack of availability or by the poor quality and styles of what limited selection there was. Most of the Islamic clothing currently available in the West is produced in the Muslim world or in China for the Eastern market and therefore, does not meet the taste that Anas and many other Muslims in the West are accustomed to. Anas began developing a men’s range of clothing. He spent an entire year on the preliminary work and planning. He scoured the Muslim world for the beauty of traditional attire which Muslims have been wearing for centuries. Then he looked at ways in which these items could be made more suitable for Muslims who no longer live in historical Muslim lands, but rather who have settled in the West, where their needs and tastes necessarily differ. Finally, he looked at existing fashion trends in the West to see what was acceptable from an Islamic perspective. He was constantly in consultation with the people who really matter - Muslims in the West who would ultimately be wearing SHUKR clothing. Whilst Anas had an eye for, and was inclined towards design and creative work, he felt that, in order for the company to develop, the company needed someone with business experience to handle other important areas such as finance, sales, marketing and so forth. In 2001, Jaafar Malik, a British Muslim with a business and accounting background, joined the team. Within 3 months, SHUKR was wholesaling a range of men’s Islamic clothing to retailers in the UK, Belgium, USA and Canada. By summer 2002, the first SHUKR women’s range was developed and


FASHION followed by a small children’s range. Whilst many Muslim retailers took an interest in our styles, we found that the number of quality Muslim clothing businesses were far and few between. In summer 2002, Dawood Ya-Sin joined the company to head SHUKR’s USA division. With him on board, SHUKR launched www.ShukrOnline.com, a retail internet store. The website was an immediate hit with customers from all around the world. International sales have been so successful that SHUKR is now launching a UK website in January 2004 with a London store planned in summer 2004. Jehad Shamis, another British Muslim, who joined the company in 2002 working in SHUKR’s production department, is now heading back to the UK to develop the UK division. SHUKR began as a four member team and in just a little over two years has grown to employ over twenty people in six countries. How are you different from other Islamic clothing companies? We design clothing with the western consumer in mind. We want to create clothing of the highest standards, appropriate for the new cultural contexts which Muslims find themselves in. The SHUKR management team are born and raised in the West. They are accustomed to high quality and have instilled these standards of quality control in the production process. Not everyone is comfortable buying clothing online. SHUKR recognises this and this is why we offer our customers a money back guarantee so that they can shop with confidence. SHUKR has a very low returns rate and many of our customers make repeat purchases. How do you hope to change the market for “Islamic” clothing? Traditionally, Muslims wore dignified, beautiful clothing. SHUKR is trying to revive this tradition. The outer flap of the SHUKR sandal bag, for example, is a depiction of the sandal print of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and give him peace). We aim to produce designs which identify ourselves as Muslims, but which are suitable to wear to school, college, and work, as well as to the mosque and Islamic events. We see this as a necessary development in our growing self-identity. Whilst habits of dress are only one aspect of this identity, it is an important aspect, because how one looks on the outside often reflects how one feels on the inside. We aim to produce clothing that Muslims can wear with pride - clothing that even non-Muslims admire, inviting them to learn about Islam. How has the response been so far? We have been inundated with customers telling us how thankful they are that finally someone is producing Islamic clothing that satisfies their tastes and needs. We were astonished to find that many nonMuslims are interested in our clothing range. We have Christian and Jewish customers who are avid fans of SHUKR. It turns out that they have the same problem that Muslims have, in that they too wish to dress modestly but stylishly. Some even ask if it’s okay for them to wear Islamic clothing as they don’t wish to offend Muslims. Tell us more about your consumer demographic. Our customers are from as far away countries as Russia, New Zealand and South America. Most of our customers are Muslim men and women, aged 18 to 50 living in the West. SHUKR will be launching a UK website in January 2004 and a London store in summer 2004. A French website and an Australian website are also being developed and a Paris store is planned for early 2005. The SHUKR mail order catalogue is planned for summer 2005. With a growing concern for “ethical clothing”, tell us where your clothes are produced and who produces them?

SHUKR positively contributes to the local communities in which we operate. Whilst others are moving production to China, SHUKR has deliberately located in Damascas, albeit at a higher cost, in order to give employment to religious Muslim workers. Our factory in Damascus employs 15 people. We pay above-average wages to our employees, enabling them to afford housing and schooling for their children. SHUKR abhors the use of sweatshop labour. SHUKR employs school-leavers and invests time and money into training them with employable skills. We use environmentally friendly materials such as Lyocell, which is both biodegradable and recyclable. Who designs your clothes, what is there background and how do they approach fashion design? SHUKR’s main designer is Anas Sillwood. Like many successful clothing designers such as Ralph Lauren, Anas does not have a background in clothing design. After graduating with first-class honors in a BSc Economics degree from the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE), Anas went on to complete a MSc in Political Theory at the same university. As a new convert, Anas had a desire to further his knowledge of Islam so he left England to study Arabic and Islamic studies in France (Institut Europeen Des Sciences Humaines in Chateau Chinon), then in Jordan (University of Jordan, private studies). During this time, his interest in Islamic fashion slowly grew. In 2000, he began by designing a range of Islamic men’s wear drawing inspiration from existing Islamic garments from around the Muslim world such as the traditional shalwar kameez or the hooded Moroccan cloaks. In 2002, he developed a range of women’s clothing along the same lines but quickly changed his designs, when he realised that Muslim women living in the West want to wear western styles that are produced according to the Shariah injunctions of Islamic clothing. Then, Anas set to work, creating a complete designs of dresses, skirts, tops, outerwear garments using materials such as denim, cotton, linen, wool, rayon and modern fibres such as Tencel (c). The response was tremendous and Anas is having difficulty creating keeping up with customer’s demands for new designs. Are there professional models in your team? Dawood Ya-Sin, CEO of SHUKR LLC and former professional fashion model is playing an active part in SHUKR’s quest to create an Islamic fashion industry. In the early 1990’s, his talents were identified by the prestigious modelling agency Wilhelmina Models of New York City which led to his modelling in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Milan. Dawood has appeared in fashion shows, television commercials and photo-shoots for renowned designers and fashion magazines, such as Dolce Gabbana and GQ. It was during one such modelling campaign that Dawood embraced Islam. At that time, he left the fashion business and, like many other converts determined to further his knowledge of Islam, travelled to the Muslim world where after studying for many years he joined the SHUKR team bringing with him a wealth of knowledge. Currently, Dawood resides in Connecticut, where SHUKR LLC is based. In addition to his work with SHUKR, Dawood teaches Arabic Studies on a part-time basis to students at Yale University and is the Imam of the local New Haven community. Where do you want to be - bi idhnillah - in 5, 10, 15 years? Within 5 years from now, we hope to have SHUKR stores in every major city across the UK. We are also very interested in promoting and marketing modest clothing to the non-Muslim market and believe there is a great deal of potential and inshaAllah, benefit in doing so. Most of all, we aim to please Allah subhana wa ta ‘ala with our actions and so if we are able to serve the Muslims and Islam in any way possible then we consider ourselves to be successful. Q - NEWS

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PROMOTION

MAKING MUSIC SAMI YUSUF, THE UK’S NEWEST MUSLIM VOICE IS TAKING THE NATION BY STORM How does Azeri culture influence your spirituality and your Islamic character? All Praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds, and blessing and peace be upon His final messenger sayyidina Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), his family, companions, and all those who follow him until the Day of Judgement. Peace be upon you. My parents are of Azeri descent but I’ve been brought up in the United Kingdom so I don’t really know that much about Azerbaijan. But, from what little I know, Azeris are very spiritual people, and they are aesthetes with a deep appreciation of art and beauty. My Azeri background has really helped me appreciate the fact that the Muslim world is so diverse and vast. At the same time, Alhamdulillah, because of Islam we are all united in spirit. Unfortunately, I do not speak Azeri, but I can understand quite a bit. I plan to learn it Inshallah. You beautifully synthesise eastern and western music. Where do you draw your inspiration from? Classical music, Persian music, classical Arabic music, Azeri of course, Turkish, and the sub-continent (India, Pakistan) to name a few. Describe your audience. I think our main audience would be Muslim youth living in the West. Alhamdulillah, the response has been phenomenal. I’ve received positive comments from Asians, Arabs, indigenous non-Muslims, young and old, and from countries as far as Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia. It’s amazing how they can all listen and relate to this music. What is the role of music in the shaping of British Muslim identity? What do artists like yourself have to offer? Music, and indeed other artistic fields, will prove to have an imperative role in forming the Muslim identity. The arts create ‘Muslim Personalities’ who young people can associate with a truly great heritage. Many of our youth are struggling with weak faith - all they need is a little bit of morale lifting. Muslims also tend to overlook our artistic contributions to civilisation. We only have to look at the Muslims living in Spain during the Andalusian period to see how music and the other arts flourished. Music is a powerful medium to promote ideas and to establish dialogue within society. The West has used this medium for hundreds of years - since the time of Monteverdi, in promoting Christian morals and beliefs. To a

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large degree they did a good job. Bach is the most prominent composer to have done this. The nasheed initiative is my own personal effort to provide alternative entertainment for Muslims while teaching them different aspects of Islam, and strengthening the bond between us and Allah and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. What are your future projects? Where will Sami Yusuf be in ten and twenty years? I don’t know where I’ll be in ten or twenty years time. If I live then I hope I’m a humble, obedient and steadfast servant of Allah, Inshallah. I hope to have an album ready for next year Inshallah. My long-term goal is to be able to ‘break into’ the non-Muslim audience. My other objective is to help others utilise their talents in the right way and for the right reasons, which is to please Allah by promoting the moral values of justice, kindness, humility, and love. What is the significance of the image used on the cover of your CD? It signifies the light of the prophetic message illuminating the darkness of the night. During the time of the Prophet fathers used to bury their daughters alive; tribal warfare was a daily routine over the most absurd of reasons; slavery was accepted; women were seen as chattel to be bought, sold and used; equality was an unimaginable concept; and injustice and misery reigned. This is still true today - the world is living in darkness. The biotech companies put profit before people’s lives, leaving tens of millions to die of Aids in Africa because the price of medication is so extortionate. People in the West have attained unprecedented levels of affluence yet the rates of suicide and depression are ever rising. People are lost, looking for a purpose or for the meaning of this life. A human being’s daily life is that of a ferret on his wheel, toiling for money. Man’s mad worship of money is destroying our habitat, a manifestation of Allah’s saying - fasaad or corruption - has manifested itself on the land and in the sea due to what man’s hands have wrought. The strong vanquish the weak and materialism reigns. This is our reality. We have to absorb the light of the prophetic message and to reflect that light onto the society in which we live. We need to be agents through whom the darkness can turn into light.

Win

20 copies of Sami’s

new album! Simply tell us:

What does AlMuallim mean? Send your answer and your contact details to Q-News, PO Box 4295, London W1A 7YH or sami@q-news.com by 30 November. Hurry!


REVIEW I FILM

IN CELEBRATION OF LOVE S

everal summers ago, every day after teaching I would go back to my office and work on a book on the 13th century Muslim poet and shaykh Jalaluddin Rumi. After the book - Rumi: The Hidden Treasure - was completed I felt that I wanted to do a film, something which was rather new for me. Last year, I did conclude a half-hour documentary, Rumi: The Wings of Love. When I interviewed Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, for the film, he asked “How did you come up with this idea of doing a film on Rumi?” And then he paused, “But of course you’ve been doing this for the last 25 years.” I’ve been doing documentary photography of the whirling dervishes since I first went to Konya in 1973. At that time, I was working on a book called The Whirling Dervishes; Being an Account of the Mevlevis and their Founder Jalaluddin Rumi. That was published by Macmillan in 1977, and then by SUNY Press in 1992 and I have now re-designed it and it has been re-released by Archetype in 2003. All of the art that I’ve done in my life - photography, painting, design, writing - has been a personal endeavour, but a film has to be done with a team. Even though I wrote, produced and directed the Rumi film, I still didn’t do the sound, lighting, camera work, or editing. Now I’ve understood that the best thing you can have is a good editor. I had 14 hours of footage, looked at all of it several times, and thought “I know there’s a film hidden in there, but how am I going to dig it out?” When you put a good team together you want to keep them. Especially when it’s sensitive material like this. I feel at this time it is important to make this kind of film. I first showed the Rumi film in the Spirit Film Festival in San Francisco in November - right after 9/11. And the very positive, warm reception I got made me feel that all of the drudgery that it takes to make a film is worth it. In the West people love Rumi, but they don’t understand that he spoke of metaphysical love. They think they can leave the Islam part out, and just take the loving poetry part. It doesn’t work that way. Rumi says, “I am dust under the feet of the Prophet Muhammed.” And the main thing I try to get across whenever I speak of Rumi is that, yes, he embraced all religions, all paths, and invited everyone, but he was a Muslim who did that. I don’t feel that, as a non-Arab or non-native of the Middle East, I’m an outsider coming into an alien field. After all, I’ve been going to Istanbul and writing about Islam and Sufism for over 30 years. Also, Rumi said, “I’m neither from the East nor the West, no boundaries exist in my breast.” And therefore we shouldn’t make this distinction; we should try to find some

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u n i t y , w h e t h e r t h r o u g h books, or films, or just talking. I’m also working now on a second film called The Circles of Remembrance. The title comes from a hadith, “When you pass by the meadows of the Garden, graze! They asked: O Messenger of God, What are the meadows of the Garden? And he replied: The circles of remembrance.” All Sufi orders are basically the same; the only difference is in the manner in which they repeat the name of Allah, and make their invocation. The Mevlevis turn in a whirling costume; the Halveti have a heavy, loud dhikr; some orders have a silent dhikr. There are variations, but in essence they are all doing the same thing: remembering God. An 80-year-old shaykh in Istanbul said to me, “I’ve been a shaykh for 50 years, and only now when I make the dhikr invocation do I have way in the back of my throat a taste of honey. And now I want to live.” It’s that taste of honey that I would like somehow to convey in the films I’m working on. I’m attempting to show that there are things that are hidden. There’s the world that every one of us sees if we have eyes to see, the world in which we work, have friends, talk, eat, sleep, whatever. There’s also an inner world into which one can find the road... Based on an interview by Nur Elmessiri. Shems Friedlander is currently senior lecturer in graphics and visual communications at the American University in Cairo. Previously he was based in New York where he worked as designer and art director at numerous magazines and designed, wrote and did the photographs for many books. He has had several photography and painting exhibitions and received over 30 awards, including the Silver Award of the New York Art Directors Club Exhibition. He has recently ventured into the realm of film-making and has been awarded the first Sony Video Filmmaker Award. Rumi: The Wings of Love Director: Shems Friedlander, 34-min Documentary, 1-901383-05-9, £12.95 Distributed by Central Books, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN. www.centralbooks.co.uk


REVIEW I TV

THE LAST WHITE KIDS T here was a time, not so long ago, when there wasn’t much on TV worth watching. Occasionally, pure gems such as The Last White Kids, has me whooping with pure joy. Right away, the reporter announced, “No school in the city would allow filming”. Clearly, racial tensions were bubbling away just below the surface. But there is a long history of distrust in the media or anyone coming to Bradford for a ‘good story’. We know how we might be perceived or misrepresented ultimately lies in the editing room, guided by the producer’s brief. From the Honeyford and the Rushdie affair to the more recent riots and dramatised fiction highlighting the problems of drugs, prostitution and the underclasses, Bradford sends out a bleak picture. Real voices are rarely heard. Sharon Gallagher and her three children, Ashlenne, Jake and Aimee - 13, 11 and 10 years old respectively, live in Manningham and feel they are part of their community. Sharon is relieved at the long-awaited stability that their home provides. Manningham is predominantly Asian and would seem exclusively so, even to many Bradfordians. The Gallaghers are the only white family living in the area but having moved in eighteen months ago they are not quite the “Last White Kids”. The title, however, caught the imagination of the entire the nation. Suzie, Sharon’s sister makes disheartening attempts to move out of the area. “I’m not racist but I like half and half,” she says. Her own prejudices perpetuate the misery which she believes she is in. She is right to want a balanced community. And as it is with most people, there is a need to be near like-minded people. We see the struggles, disappointments and frustrations of the Gallagher family. But ultimately we see a mother who really cares and three very intelligent children who have responded to their environment in a unique way. In one scene, Sharon is cradling a Pakistani baby and cannot pronounce his name. Her daughters attempt to correct her. “I’ll never get the hang of them names. But oooh he’s gorgeous in’t he. I could just keep him.” Now here’s the surprise. Having lived amongst Muslims, Ashlenne and Amie have an impressive understanding and a surprising empathy for Islam. They regularly attend their local mosque, learned to pray and read Quranic Arabic. Their mother accepted this but felt uncomfortable with the girls praying at home. She withdrew them on finding that the mosque had given the girls Muslim names. “That were going too deep”, she said. Her distrust is evident in her facial expression and body language. The Islam there may seem very exclusive but in reality embraces the girls’ enthusiasm. Those who feel excluded naturally react with rejection as have the Muslim community years before them. The tables have turned for these people. In the course of the programme we see Sharon organising a return for the girls to the mosque. At the same time, at his insistence, she lets her son travel to an out of area school where there are far fewer Asians. Her decision proves sound. He becomes more enthusiastic about learning. There is a poignant scene between mother and daughter when Aimee is ready to go to the mosque in her black burka and her mother affectionately ties back the ends of her scarf saying, “Now that looks pretty.” We then see Aimee playfully attacking her mother pretending she is a ninja. You can’t help but warm to the family. Ashlenne, Jake and Amie are comfortably bi-cultural in a

way I never thought was possible for the indigenous white. The girls feel that they are “half Pakistani and half English” but Jake tolerates and resists. He wants to stay as he is born - English. He could never be a Muslim as they “seem to go the Mosque a hundred times a day, read backwards” (the Arabic script is read from right to left and Jake has enough trouble reading English) and he would miss The Simpsons. He can however, give a pretty impressive rendition of the adhaan (call to prayer) which the muezzin calls from the local mosque. We see the girls dancing to AsianFusion music in their bedroom where there is also a Gareth Gates poster and the usual paraphernalia of teenagers regardless of race. Then we see the boys playing derogatorily with a headscarf and saying that they feel like battering all Asians. They have defensively created identities apart from the Muslims. We are introduced to their concept that you’re either a Porky or a Paki. No racial background information required. So why the difference between Sharon’s male and female children? We see another tender scene, this time between brother and sister. While chatting to the reporter, Aimee is leaning in front of and into her brother when Jake wants to ask Aimee a question. He wonders whether she would have still been inclined towards Islam and so comfortable within the community had the Muslim girls been like the Muslim boys. How insightful and precise! There is a vicious circle of racism and rejection going on and the boys on both sides are bearing the brunt of it. Bradford has a long history of immigration. Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians from India and East African countries started arriving in large numbers from the former colonies from the early 1950’s; Poles, Ukrainians and Italians came in the 1940’s; the Irish and Germans came before the Second World War and more recently immigrants from over 60 countries are seeking refuge in this, now, post-industrial ‘multicultural’ city. Asians filled the need for intensive, cheap and relatively lowskilled labour which would maximise profit for the textiles and manufacturing industries. The men worked long, hard and unsociable hours gratefully, fulfiling the immigrant dream to make good money and eventually return to their families. It was the Indian Hindus and Sikhs who changed their earlier intentions and sent for their families in the mid ‘60s, and by the mid ‘70s most of them were living as complete family units. Their decision to do so can partly be explained in terms of their better standard of general education and fluency in English, their intention that their children receive western education, gradually diminishing chances to gain good jobs on their return home, and a taste for western lifestyle and comforts. Q - NEWS

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REVIEW I TV However, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants, predominantly Muslim, delayed their decision to bring over their dependents because of their relatively lower standard of education, stronger commitments to their joint families at home and perhaps, stronger resistance against the exposure of their women and children to more liberal western value systems. The introduction of tighter immigration laws in the 1960’s eroded some of the rights of the dependents of migrants to enter Britain. This brought forward their plans to bring their families over. Their settlement was concentrated heavily in very small inner-city areas, home to the migrants before them and the host community originally. They preferred cheap housing accommodation near their workplaces and added to this was their wish to preserve their cultural identity which was more likely in numbers. As the textiles and manufacturing industries in the city declined, middle-aged workers were squeezed out, but having accumulated some capital, became self-employed mainly in retailing, off-licence shops, taxis and restaurants and newspaper agencies. A substantial number without the skills and opportunities joined the long-term unemployed in the city. The younger and better-qualified sought employment in the expanding service industries in the private sector, local authority services and through further study joined the professions. The economic success of these Asians has been quite remarkable in comparison with their host community, probably due to the strong sense of familial obligations and that strength of will to succeed which had originally spurred them to make the huge impetus of migration. With success came the opportunity to move into better residential areas which were still mainly white. Concentration of Asian communities in inner-city enclaves has had both positive and negative consequences. The social infrastructure in the form of food stores, personal and financial services, places of worship and social centres has developed providing a system that supports and meets their specific needs on the one hand, but also perpetuates ghettoisation and concentration. A further consequence is that once settled in declining, areas of the city with limited access to better residential accommodation, their deprivation and disadvantage is perpetuated. Among the external constraints on the housing choice were white prejudice and discrimination, and the discriminatory practices of the money-lending agencies. The indigenous white population had access to living accommodation in better residential areas. As white flight took place, they were reluctant to share their new neighbourhoods with Asians. There then exists a vicious circle of general deprivation. Those remaining in the inner-city areas display more signs of suffering from high unemployment, under-achievement in education, and a high level of dependence on state benefits. The concentration of Asian communities in inner-city areas had for a long time denied them access to good education under the local policy of catchment areas for secondary school admissions; and poor housing results in poor health. This pattern of settlement is well known to be not conducive to the development of a harmonious multicultural, multiracial and multilingual society. Heavy clustering reduces the interaction and communication vitally needed for change, and reinforces the lack of understanding that exists outside their communities, of the social and economic deprivation which Asians have suffered. For many years Asians were perceived as ‘the inward looking, conservative, self-contained and low profile communities’. How this has changed. The rise in unemployment along with exclusion brought this home more firmly. Asians not only artic-

48 | Q - NEWS

ulated their problems more loudly and effectively, but have demonstrated their determination to fight against discrimination and their demands to be met. This account of the settlement of Asians is not unique to Bradford but does go some way to explain the characteristics of such inner-city areas and the dynamics in play today. What continues to remain most urgent is the Islam we practice and portray. Our communities are filled with disaffected male youth, young girls using hijab as a fashion statement and the oppression of dogmatic interpretations. The fears of the white working-class will have been confirmed by this documentary. Will there ever be a positive outcome? Unless we tackle our own problems we can only expect increasingly difficult times and more hostility from those ‘on the outside’. The documentary gives us an insight into an underclass of British society, which for many remains unknown. It highlights the complexities of urban life and the problems of identity which exist. It points out to us the issues that are most pressing for a group of people and an articulation, struggling unsuccessfully to surface, sometimes destructively. This was a unique story, beautifully told, that surprised and informed as well as entertained. “The Last White Kids” was shown on Channel 4 on Thursday, 30th October 2003 RADHIA TARAFDER


REVIEW I BOOK

THE MYRIAD-MINDED MAN Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-minded man By Krishna Dutta & Andrew Robinson Bloomsbury Press

60

years after Tagore’s death, he is still perceived by many as a towering lighthouse that provides cultural and creative light to many in the Indian subcontinent. This is not surprising, given the fact that he published over one thousand poems, nearly two dozen plays and play-lets, eight novels, eight or more volumes of short stories, more than two thousands songs, of which he wrote both the words and the music and a mass of prose on literary, social, religious, political, and other topics. Add to these his English translations, paintings, travels and lecture-tours, and his activities as educationalist, social and religious reformer and as a politician. There you have, judged by quantity alone, the life-work of a Titan. There are many books on this Bengali poet. They cover a wide variety of themes which dominated his long career. The book under review is a biographical account of Tagore’s life as a poet and a travelling scholar. The book, written in a lucid style and laid out in chronological format of Tagore’s life is a healthy 500 pages with photographs of Tagore with his friends and close associates, including Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw and the French orientalist Sylvian Levi. Rabindranath grew up in Calcutta in a very cultured atmosphere with exposure to religion and arts, with special emphasis on literature, music and painting. His grand father after all was Prince Dwarkanath - a friend of Charles Dickens and Raja Rammohun Roy who was fluent in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Greek, French and not forgetting, Bengali. Due to the wealthy family background, Tagore’s early education was through private tutors. It was in the UK that he translated Gitanjali (Song Offerings), a collection of songs written after the death of his wife and two of his children. The Gitanjali was forwarded by none other than the poet W.B. Yeats. Just one year after its publication (1912), Tagore became the first Asiatic recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature. Two years later, he was knighted but he surrendered it in 1919 by way of protest against the Massacre of Amritsar. After achieving worldwide fame, Tagore travelled and lectured extensively in over 30 countries in Asia, Europe and America. Whilst very busy, he always made time to teach at the school he had established called Shantiniketon. It was later to evolve into an international university in 1921, which was to be known as Viswabharati. The book under review touches on some controversy surrounding Tagore. Take his meeting with the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini - greeting Tagore whilst in Italy commented ‘allow me to tell you that I am one of those who have read every one of your books in Italian’. Like the works of Tagore, Muslims are not part of any central themes in this book. They merely appear occasionally as uneducated subordinate citizens of the Tagore ‘dynasty’. The authors are also silent about Tagore’s view of other Muslim figures such as Jinnah or even Tagore’s fellow countryman Kazi Narul Islam. Given the pro-Tagore bias it is also not surprising the authors claims by the Saad Khairi and others that some of Tagore’s poetry glorified those who fought against Muslim - a claim which is rejected by Tagore diehards in Bangladesh and India. Nevertheless, the book is useful in understanding the western perceptions of Tagore ‘as the renaissance man’. Tagore is a like dal, the wholesome lentils which are essential to any good Indian meal, as one Muslim scholar described. Dal, an important source of protein in India and Bangladesh, is also a major source of intellectual nourishment for generations of Indian and Bengali scholars. Just as dal comes in numerous varieties, so does Tagore but unlike the dal my wife makes, I find him at times hard to digest - including when as a young boy, I was forced to memorise the Bangladeshi National Anthem written by him. SHAMIM MIAH Q - NEWS

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TAKING REFUGE O God, verily I take refuge with You from avarice. I take refuge with You from cowardice. I take refuge with You from being thrown back to the most contemptible life. I take refuge with You from the temptation of this world. I take refuge with You from the punishment of the grave. O God, verily I take refuge with You from covetousness which leads to disgrace and from coveting a thing which is not to be coveted, and from covering a thing for which there is no hope [in attaining]. O God, verily I take refuge with You from knowledge which does not benefit, and from a heart which is not humble, which is not satisfied. I take refuge with You from hunger (for what a bedfellow it is!); from perfidy (for what a bad friend it is!); and from sloth, avarice, cowardice, and decrepitude; from being thrown back to the most contemptible life; from the temptation of the Dajjal and the punishment of the grave; and from the temptation which is in life and in death. O God, verily we ask You for imploring, humble, and penitent hearts in Your cause. O God, I ask You for Your resolutions of forgiveness, and the causes of Your mercy, and for security against any sin, and for the booty which is in every piety, and for attainment unto Heaven and salvation from Hell. O God, verily l take refuge with You from stumbling into destruction, and I take refuge with You from sorrow, drowning, and death [under a crushed house]. I take refuge with You from dying while turning [my] back on Your cause, and I take refuge with You that I should not die in pursuit of the world. O God, verily l take refuge with You from the evil which I know and the evil which I do not know. O God, keep me away from detestable qualities and deeds, diseases and lusts. O God, verily I take refuge with You from harsh trial, affliction, ill luck, and the malicious joy of enemies. O God, I take refuge with You from unbelief, debt, and poverty. I take refuge with You from the punishment of Hell. I take refuge with You from the sedition of the Dajjal. O God, verily I take refuge with You from the evil which is in my ear and my eye, from the evil which is in my tongue and my heart, and from the evil which is in my sperm. O God, verily I take refuge with You from the evil neighbour in the place of residence for the neighbour in the desert moves from place to place. O God, verily I take refuge with You from harshness, heedlessness, poverty, despisedness, and misery. I take refuge with You from unbelief, poverty, disobedience, affliction, hypocrisy, the evil qualities,scarcity of sustenance, vanity, and eyeservice. I take refuge with You from deafness, dumbness, blindness, insanity, black leprosy, white leprosy, and [other] mean diseases. O God, I take refuge with You from the withdrawal of Your grace, and the removal of Your protection, and from Your sudden revenge, and all Your displeasure. O God, verily I take refuge with You from the punishment of Hell and the trial of Hell, and from punishment of the grave and the trial of the grave, and from the evil temptation of wealth and the evil temptation of poverty, from the evil temptation of the Dajjal , the False Messiah. I take refuge with You from debt and sin. O God, I take refuge with You from a soul which is not satisfied, from a heart which is not humble, from a ritual prayer which is not profitable, and from a supplication which goes unheard. I take refuge with You from the evil of grief and the affliction of the heart. O God, verily I take refuge with You from the dominion of debt, the dominion of the foe, and from the malicious joy of enemies. May God send blessings upon Muhammad and upon each chosen bondsman in allteh worlds. Amen! Excerpt from Imam Al-Ghazali’s Invocations and Supplications (Kitab Al-Adhkar Wa’l-Da’wat) from the Revival of the Religious Sciences.


GLEANINGS

ON FASTING ncrease your good works, especially in Ramadan, for the reward of a supererogatory act performed during it equals that of an obligatory act performed at any other time. Ramadan is also a time when good works are rendered easy and one has much more energy for them than during any other month. This is because the soul, lazy when it comes to good works, is then imprisoned by hunger and thirst, the devils who hinder it are shackled, the gates of the Fire are shut, the gates of the Garden are open, and the herald calls every night at God’s command: ‘O you who wish for goodness, hasten! And O you who wish for evil, halt!’ You should work only for the hereafter in this noble month, and embark on something worldly only when absolutely necessary. Arrange your life before Ramadan in a manner which will render you free for worship when it arrives. Be intent on devotions and approach God more surely, especially during the last ten days. If you are able not to leave the mosque, except when strictly necessary, during those last ten days then do so. Be careful to perform the taraweeh prayers during every Ramadan night. In some places it is nowadays the custom to make them so short that sometimes some of the obligatory elements of the prayer are omitted, let alone the sunnas. It is well known that our predecessors read the whole Quran during this prayer, reciting a part each night so as to complete it on one of the last nights of the month. If you are able to follow suit then this is a great gain; if you are not, then the least that you can do is to observe the obligatory elements of the prayer and its proprieties. Watch carefully for the Night of Destiny [Laylat’ulQadr], which is better than a thousand months. It is the blessed night in which all affairs are wisely decided. The one to whom it is unveiled sees the blazing lights, the open doors of heaven, and the angels ascending and descending, and may witness the whole of creation prostrating before God, its Creator. Most scholars are of the opinion that it is in the last ten nights of Ramadan, and is more likely to fall in the odd numbered ones. A certain gnostic witnessed it on the night of the seventeenth, and this was also the opinion of al-Hasan alBasri. Some scholars have said that it is the first night of Ramadan, and a number of great scholars have said that it is not fixed but shifts its position each Ramadan. They have said that the secret wisdom underlying this is that the believer should devote himself completely to God during every night of this month in the hope of coinciding with that night which has been kept obscure from him. And God knows best. Hasten to break your fast as soon as you are certain that the sun has set. Delay suhur long as you do not fear the break of dawn. Feed those who fast at the time when they break it, even if with some dates or a draught of water, for the one

I

who feeds another at the time of breaking the fast receives as much reward as he without this diminishing the other’s reward in any way. Strive never to break your fast nor to feed anyone else at such a time except with lawful food. Do not eat much, take whatever lawful food is present and do not prefer that which is tasty, for the purpose of fasting is to subdue one’s lustful appetite, and eating a large quantity of delicious food will on the contrary arouse and strengthen it. Fast on the days on which the Law encourages you to fast, such as the day of Arafat for those who are not participating n the pilgrimage, the ninth and tenth [‘Ashura] of Muharram, and the six days of Shawwal, starting with the second day of the Feast, for this is the more effective discipline for the soul. Fast three days in each month, for these equal a perpetual fast. It is better if these are the White Days, for the Prophet, may blessings and peace be upon him, never omitted to fast them whether he was at home or traveling. Fast often, especially in times of special merit such as the Inviolable Months, and noble days such as Mondays and Thursdays. Know that fasting is the pillar of discipline and the basis of striving. It has been said that fasting constitutes half of fortitude. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him, said: ‘God the Exalted has said: “All good deeds of the son of Adam are multiplied ten to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for it is Mine, and I shall reward a man for it, for he has left his appetite, his food and drink for My sake!”’ ‘The one who fasts has two joys, one when breaking his fast, the other when meeting his Lord.’ And; ‘The odour of the fasting man’s mouth is more fragrant to God than that of musk.’ God says the truth and He guides to the way. [The Holy Quran 33:4]

BUY THIS BOOK There are many books in English that present Sufi doctrine, but few which can be used as practical travel guides along the path. The Book of Assistance is today in widespread use among Sufi teachers in Arabia, Indonesia and East Africa. Presented here in the readable translation by Dr. Mostafa Badawi, this manual of devotions, prayers and practical ethics will be invaluable to all who love the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Sufi way. The author, Imam Abdallah Al-Haddad (d. 1720), lived in the Hadramut valley between Yemen and Oman, and is widely held to have been the ‘renewer’ of the twelfth Islamic century.

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| 51


LETTERS

VOX POPULI SOLUTION A quick question for your magazine if you will indulge my limited understanding for a moment of your precious time: Israel continues to be a state where Palestinians live in fear, Gaza and the West Bank similarly so. The Peace Process is merely a waste of time and will, in its current form, result in the continued abolishen of freedom for the supressed. If this is true would it not be prudent for the Palestinians to leave Israel at peace both physically and mentally? To make an exodus to the numerous Arab-Muslim states where surely they would be welcome as brethen. Perhaps then the Palestinians can negotiate with the Israeli government for access to the Dome and other sacred areas in Israel. It is just a thought and opinion as the way forward looks like it will paint a picture of more attacks from Israel and more suicide bombings - as ever Allah knows best. Wa Alaykum Salaam Tahir Khan, UK

HIGHLIGHTS I got the latest issue of Q-News in the post this morning. It looks different and it will take some getting used to. I really liked the old format but this was a good issue, Alhamdulillah. The highlight obviously are the words of wisdom by Sayyidi Habib Ali. This is one of the best pieces I have read in this day and age of confusion. It’s not being apologetic at all. It should be given to everyone Muslims and non-Muslims to read and benefit from. Allahu Akhbar. The last bit on Sayyiduna Imam Hussain, may Allah bless him, was very moving. Even though I love all tradi-

52 | Q - NEWS

tional Sunni Scholars accessible to us,” the words of Shaykh Muhammad al Yaqoubi and Habib Ali are from another place. May Allah reward and preserve all our shayukh, ameen. How right was an ashiq from India when he said, “Teri nasl e paak mein hai bachcha bachcha nuur kaa tuu hai `ayn e nuur teraa sab gharaana nuur kaa!”This can be translated as, “Ya Rasulallah (peace and blessings upon him)! Your blessed progeny, every child amongst them is one of nur you are the source of nur and all your clan is that of nur!” Mashaallah and how evident it is in these two great men of Allah from the Ahle Bayth. Keep up the good work! Wassalam, Haroon Qayum, UK

MAGNIFICENT 19 Why do you give a platform to groups like Al-Muhajiroun? People who, in addition to preaching intolerance and violence, have such awful writing and speaking skills (I counted at least two dozen grammatical and sentence structure mistakes in Mr. Choudary’s article), should refrain from speaking on behalf of British Muslims. We have truly stooped to a whole new level if on the anniversary of an event as controversial as September 11, we resort to glorifying murderers! Ayub Zaman, UK

LOVING IT The new design of Q-News is brilliant. It’s fresh, it’s compelling and it’s engaging. It’s very obvious that there is a change in management. My only complaint is that there were too many topics being pushed forward. Maybe you should concentrate on one major topic per issue? Batul Hassan, USA

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Ali Kizilpasha’s expose of “secret marriages” in the latest issue of Q-News is by turns compelling and disturbing. The fact that many young people, driven to the edge of patience by meddling, narrow minded parents and a hyper-sexualised culture, are opting to play fiqh tricks and enter into matrimony through the backdoor is a condemnation of a community completely out of touch with its youth... While Kizilpasha ably paints a portrait of a disaffected generation, he too plays fast and loose with the shariah - a dangerous thing indeed. This cloak and dagger approach to wedlock should be called what it is: a mockery of both the letter and the spirit of the law. I just don’t think Kizilpasha emphasises this enough. The shariah is comprehensive and flexible, yet guards itself against abuse. The nature of marriage is not merely its contractual nature, but that it is a solemn, publicly declared act of faith. It’s not as simple as “wham bam thank you imam” as Kizilpasha puts it and he sends out a dangerous message because he does not clearly condemn this practice in his article. That we have social conditions that do not facilitate the public declaration of marriage does not bring the shariah into question, but rather the state of the community. The shariah is the basic glue that holds us fast to our Lord. It’s not something we can mess with even in Q-News. I also take issue with Kizilpasha’s use of language. Do we have to be so crass even if sometimes the intended act that we are describing might indeed be so base. Let’s just get to the point without the innuendo. Nevertheless, brothers (and dare I say sisters) in the university prayer hall were abuzz after reading the piece. The pressures of balancing a moral Islamic ethos with basic physical needs is a challenge that it seems all young people have. The article was a refreshing, honest look at something that’s on all of our minds. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before someone confessed that they too knew a couple who was married undercover. Q-News has once again opened an important chapter in the ongoing discussion about the state of young British Muslims. Now, don’t just tell us the problems. For Allah’s sake - get a backbone and offer some solutions too. Keep up the blessed work.

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FEELING A BIT CHARLIE BROWN SHIRIN EBADI’S NOBEL PEACE PRIZE SURPRISED THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. IS AWARDING THE PRIZE TO A MUSLIM WOMAN CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION? t’s arguably one of the few positive images of Muslims after September 11, but at least now no one thinks you’re paranoid anymore. Certainly, if I were part of the Iranian parliament, or the office of the presidency, or any other facet of its complex governmental apparatus, I’d be wondering why, as the song goes, everybody was picking on me. Imagine this: you’re a country (Iran) with a nuclear power programme and you’re a signatory to the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state, and you are regularly subjected to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tests. Also in your region is a country (Israel) with a reported illegal arsenal of 400 nuclear warheads. It doesn’t submit to IAEA tests, is not a signatory to (NPT) and is run by a racist war criminal. You wouldn’t, on any reasonable analysis, expect the UN system or the international community to be hounding you on pain of sanctions and military intervention, to submit to more tests whilst Israel stands by not only unaccountable, but internationally funded and mandated to bomb civilians and shoot at and kill children. Imagine further then, that you’re a country (Iran) which has put on trial an intelligence ministry officer charged with murdering a Canadian-Iranian journalist during detention. From the time of the perpetration of the crime (July) until now, you’ve announced and conducted an enquiry, found that a crime has been committed and taken members of the state apparatus to court. Still the president is not convinced that the trial is fair, and is making big noises about impartiality. Bizarrely you’re still being given lectures on human rights by every Tom, Jack and Tony. Bizarre still, when you think, only recently an inquest was held into the death of a black man in police custody in another country (the UK), some four years after his death, and that found he had been unlawfully killed. All this only came after years of campaigning by the bereaved family and activists, and after the Crown Prosecution Service refused to press charges against any police officers involved. To be fair, the CPS are reviewing their decision. But still it sounds a bit pot, kettle, black? Then of course, there’s the Nobel Peace Prize and its award to a human rights activist for her pro-woman and child work, Shirin Ebadi. Let’s leave aside the fact that pro-

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moting human rights usually leads to conflict as opposed to peace (ask any anti-apartheid campaigner from South Africa to Palestine). You’re a bit proud actually - even though Mrs. Ebadi’s a critic - at the end of the day she’s the first Muslim woman to receive the prize. But you’re also a bit confused. Your country is full of talented and brave individuals, as well as pretty adventurous NGOs. As regards to women and children, there’s no shortage of advocates. Imagine the possible candidates…women who’ve stood for the presidency only a few years back, who’ve consistently advocated women’s and children’s rights, who recently staged a sit-in outside the prison where the above-mentioned Canadian journalist was killed. Then there’s the women who struggled against the Shah’s dictatorship, in many cases raped in detention by officers from his secret service SAVAK. In fact you’ve got plenty of women who are veritable thorns in the side of the administration. Imagine then your surprise when the award is given to a woman whose track record isn’t exceptional given the multitude of activists. A woman who at the end of the day was appointed a judge whilst in her twenties by the regime of a nepotistic and croneyistic monarch, who aside from ordering the rape of dissidents and their family members, had several thousands killed. Favoured methods included being thrown into the notorious Lake Namak with their hands tied behind their backs, or being burned alive whilst in prison detention. Mrs. Ebadi might well be the most courageous human rights defender the world has ever seen, but it doesn’t look good on your CV that the regime that appointed you a judge in 1975 was also deemed to be the “world’s worst violator of human rights” that year by no less than Amnesty International. If I were the Iranian president, or part of the Iranian parliament, or the Council of Guardians, or office of the presidency, of the office of the Vali-ul-Faqih or any other facet of its complex governmental apparatus, or an Iranian, I’d be confused if not angry. Still, what’s the worst that can happen to you if the big international players slate you over ‘human rights’ and ‘weapons of mass destruction’? ARZU MERALI


“We live in a rapidly changing, inter-connected world.” That means we can’t separate what happens overseas from what happens at home. And it is no longer possible to make or deliver foreign policy without engaging more broadly and deeply with UK communities,like the British Muslim communities. Better engagement can only lead to better-informed policy. We are committed to reflecting Britain’s diversity in our thinking,in our policies and in our staff. Our long-standing dialogue with the Muslim community and many organisations, is a small reflection of our commitment to diversity and engagement. We are proud to be the only Western government to support a Hajj delegation,in partnership with British Muslims, to Saudi Arabia,to take care of British Hajjis every year.This is just one example of the many joint initiatives between the Foreign Office and the British Muslim communities.

www.fco.gov.uk


Peace be unto you. The Metropolitan Police Service Positive Action Central Team wishes you the best of Ramadhan and a very happy Eid. You can find out more about our work at www.met.police.uk

NOV 2003 | RAMADAN 1424 | NO.351  

NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE THE GOAL OF CIVIL SOCIETY

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