Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Hajj - The Fifth Pillar of Islam

Hajj: The Fifth Pillar of Islam

Dr. Mozammel Haque

ISLAM IS A PRACTICAL RELIGION which lays down a complete code of life. Its training starts from childhood. The final pillar of Islam or the Fifth Pillar of Islam comes after the successful completion of the first four pillars of Islam. The training of five times prayer every day started from the local Masjid, meeting with local people, with neighbours five times every day.

But the ultimate objective or the summum bonum of Islam is establishing peace and harmony in the whole universe, and for that reason, it makes various provisions for creating peace and harmony in the lives of mankind as well as in the universe. Peace and harmony can be achieved only when there is solidarity and universal brotherhood among human beings. Islam preaches this concept and puts it into practice through the unique annual assemblage of the pilgrims during Hajj.

The institution of Hajj in Islam is quite extraordinary and unparalleled. It is only Islam that has made the annual assemblage at one place, Makkah, an obligation for the capable Muslims from all corners of the world. In other words, it may be called the World Muslim Congress. This assembly has many distinctive features which no other gathering has and no other religion stipulates. The concept of unity and brotherhood is embedded in Islam in such a way that one is truly amazed to see millions of Muslims dressed in two white sheets of cloth gathered at one particular place, i.e. in Arafat during a fixed time on certain fixed days in the year. All human and man-made barriers and distinctions are demolished during that assembly.

We shall deal here with the aspects of unity and universal brotherhood which, besides others, are quintessential among the concepts of Hajj. First, let us take universal brotherhood. This universal brotherhood emanates from the following basic concepts and is demonstrated in a most authentic and brilliant manner here on this occasion:

Adam is the first man from whom all human beings have sprung up;
Abraham is the father of monotheistic religion;
Acceptance of all prophets as prophets of God;
Belief in all revealed books of Allah.

Thus, this acceptance of Abraham as the patriarch of the concept of Tawheed and recognition of the continuity of Prophethood from Prophet Adam to the Last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him all) and having faith in all revealed books keeps up a chain of faith known as Islam throughout the world. This binds the whole humankind into a bond of brotherhood whose genealogical father is Adam and the spiritual father Abraham. Thus Muslims believe in the continuation of the human race on earth. There are no conflicts and controversies in the monotheistic religion decreed by God. All Muslims (those who consciously and willingly surrender to the Will of the Creator) belong to this Ummah and therefore constitute a fraternity of faith. This is one way the Hajj conveys the message of universal brotherhood.

This aspect of universal brotherhood can also be noticed during Hajj when Muslims come from remote corners of the world and congregate in Makkah in the vicinity of the House of God, i.e. Baitullah. Though they might have come from the east or west, north or south, and all differences in colour, language, race and nationality notwithstanding, they find their oneness on the basis of their faith in One God, One Qiblah, One Book and One Prophet.

The practical training for this universal brotherhood starts from the local or neighbourhood level with the five times daily prayers in the mosque, which gets enlarged with the Friday prayers once a week. The circle is again made substantially larger during the Eid prayer, and it becomes internationalised transforming into a global gathering once in a lifetime. So, as I mentioned at the beginning, the concept and training in universal brotherhood, which reaches its peak, starts from the very childhood at the local level.

As regards unity, Islam, first of all, removed all man-made bonds and barriers bringing all human beings into one global family tracing their genealogical origin to common parents and biological chemistry to one element, i.e. clay. Almighty God has laid down in the Holy Qur’an, “O Mankind, We have created you from a male and a female.” (49: 13) This establishment of absolute equality on the basis of their ancestral origin and biological composition removes all artificial differences between man and man.

The enforcement of the concept of Muslim brotherhood is the greatest social ideal of Islam. Islam places emphasis on unity and unifies mankind on the basis of one God, one Book - the Qur’an, one Qibla - the Ka’aba and one leader - the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Noble Prophet’s mission was to establish unity and peace throughout the world. The Islamic concept of unity transcends all other forms of unity based on territory, geographical boundary, linguistic and ethnic affinity. He united Muslims on the basis of faith, which is the Oneness of God, Islam.

On this vital concept was based the Prophet’s sermon in his last pilgrimage, which shows that Islam cannot be completely practiced until this ideal is achieved. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) unified and cemented the Muslim Ummah under the banner of La ilaha illallah Muhammadur-Rasoolullah by establishing the first-ever Islamic state in Madina, which later on took the shape of a grand Caliphate. Under the Caliphate the Muslim Ummah was unified and integrated. Thus the first concept of universal and worldwide unity was demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad more than fourteen hundred years ago having been guided and inspired by God for establishing unity and peace in the world.

Islam is essentially a community and group-oriented religion. So, the practical lesson in unity and equality first starts within the family, then in the neighbourhood, especially through the institution of five daily prayers in the mosque and still on a larger scale in the locality, during weekly Friday prayers, and then in much larger gatherings in the two Eid prayers and ultimately in the international or global gathering during Hajj. This very characteristic and feature of Islam demonstrates the universality of this religion and its heavenly origin which transcends all worldly barriers of race, colour, class and nationality.

Pilgrimage is the best occasion to bind again the loose threads, tighten them on the basis of belief and in the presence of God and frustrate the nefarious machinations of the enemies of the Ummah’s unity.

Another aspect of Hajj is making sacrifice in the way of God for the cause of Islam. As Islam itself is a religion of sacrifice, its different pillars also contain the same features and characteristics. It is a known fact that the Islamic or Hijra calendar starts with the month of Muharram and ends with the month of Hajj. The first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram, is the month of sacrifice – a sacrifice made by the grandson of Muhammad, Hussain ibn Ali, who laid down his life at Kufa in the cause of Islam and its ideals. Similarly, the 12 months of the Hijra calendar, the month of Hajj, marks the remembrance of the sacrifice made by the Prophet Ibrahim for the sake of God and His Pleasure.

The Patriarch, the first Prophet of monotheistic religion, Islam, the Prophet Ibrahim was ready to sacrifice his most loved one for the sake of God. He loved his only son, Ismail, more than anything else. God asked him to sacrifice Ismail. Ibrahim was going to sacrifice Ismail, in the way of God by His Order. The Holy Qur’an explains the story of Ibrahim and his son Ismail thus:

Then when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son; I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice. Now say what is your view.” (The son) said: “O my father; do as you are commanded; you will find me, if God so wills, one practising patience and constancy.” So when they had both submitted their wills (to God), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We called out to him, “O Ibrahim; you have already fulfilled the vision; thus indeed do We reward those who do right.” (37:102-105) The Qur’an says: “And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice.” (37:107)

The sacrifices made by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail for the love of God left an indelible imprint on the history of mankind. This sacrifice is still remembered and re-enacted during Hajj. Ibrahim left a glorious record of sacrifice to please God.

In modern times, sacrifice is symbolised by an act of slaughtering a camel, cow or lamb for the sake of God during the days of Eid-al Adha, i.e. starting after the Eid prayer till the sunset on the third day of Eid. Sacrifice is a strongly recommended Sunnah of the Prophet and was introduced in the second year after Hijra. The purpose of sacrifice is to remind oneself of the great sacrifice of Ibrahim.

The sacrifice of life and wealth in the way of God is the zenith of a man’s belief. God says: “By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you give (freely) of that which you love; and whatever you give, of a truth God knows it well.” (Al-Qur’an 3:92) This means that when something, which has been held so dear, is sacrificed in the way of God one may hope to secure God’s Pleasure. The verse tells us that to attain righteousness one has to sacrifice things, but to attain it in perfection one has to sacrifice things, dearer to one.

Every sacrifice and every effort is to be aimed at seeking God’s Pleasure. That God be pleased with us is the real capital of our lives and it is to win this pleasure that everything should be sacrificed. In the words of the Qur’an: “Surely my prayers and my sacrifice, my life and my death is for God alone, the Lord of the Universe.”

In the modern age, the pilgrims, when they start their journey to Makkah for performing Hajj with only two white sheets on their bodies leaving behind their wives, children, kith and kin and their wealth and properties, they practically exemplify their act of sacrifice for the love of God.

Hajj is the greatest training and practical demonstration of the spirit of sacrifice and the spirit of Jihad in the way of God. It shows that Islam does not end with giving some utopian ideals for the human life. It is not only a religion; it is the guidance for the whole mankind to shape their lives in this world and hereafter. That’s why God makes provision for the teaching and training of humankind in every quality through practical implementation.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Threat to Minorities in India

India’s Hindutva Agenda:
Threat to Minorities in India

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Amid the increasing  rise of Hindutva threat to minorities in India, politicians, academics, religious leaders and national representatives as well as leading diaspora organisations came together to call for international intervention to counter the threat posed by Hindutva agenda in India. A major international conference was held, chaired by Lord Ahmed, chair of Parliamentarians for National Self-determination (PNSD), at the main chamber of the Birmingham Council House, Birmingham, on 29 April, 2017. The Conference unanimously adopted Resolutions (enclosed below).

On 20 June, 2017, a delegation of Sikhs and Kashmiris delivered a Memorandum to the UK Prime Minister Rt. Honourable Theresa May at 10 Downing Street calling for intervention to protect religious freedoms and fundamental human rights of minorities, Christians, Dalits, Muslims and Sikhs alike in India.

In this connection, I would like to mention the hugely authoritative report issued recently in February by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) entitled “Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India” which details the numerous constitutional and legal restrictions on minority religious freedoms in India, as well as this week’s open letter by 65 senior Indian civil servants which condemned the rampant ‘majoritarianism’ of the establishment.

The followings are the reports on the international conference at Birmingham Council House and its Resolutions. Draft Memorandum to the UK Prime Minister is also included along with the report below.

Conference on
India’s Hindutva Agenda: A Challenge
to International Law and Civilised Norms
A major international conference was held on 29 April 2017 in the main Chamber of the Birmingham Council House, Birmingham attended by politicians, academics, religious and national representatives as well as leading diaspora organisations. The conference was chaired by Lord Ahmed, Chair of Parliamentarians for National Self-determination (PNSD), who had earlier in the week raised formal questions in the House of Lords seeking the UK government action based on the recommendations of a report issued last month by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom.

The conference was addressed by Dr Mukul Hazarika (Assam Watch), Prof Dr Mohammed Arif Khan (Kashmir based educationalist and author), Amrik Singh Sahota (President, Council of Khalistan), Nazir Qureshi (President, All Parties Kashmir Coordination Committee), Dr Gurnam Singh (academic and TV presenter), Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Doris Jones from the Sabah region of Malaysia, Joga Singh (Babbar Akali Organisation), Raja Amjad Khan (Kashmir Iqbalistan Movement) and Ranjit Singh Srai (PNSD).

They came together to call for international intervention to counter the threat posed by an increasingly rabid extremist Hindutva agenda in India. That agenda has denied not only the rights of nations to self-determination in their homelands but even the free practice of other faiths without intimidation and violence.

After the conference a press release under the above caption was issued along with the resolution of the conference. Followings are the details of the press release:
“The key, according to the resolutions adopted at the conference was to require Indian compliance with international legal obligations and, in case of default, to punish defiance with targeted sanctions, including the banning of fascist group that are responsible for almost daily attacks on minorities.

Dr Iqtidar Cheema, who authored that report; US Commission for International Religious Freedom, presented to the conference the array of legal and constitutional measures by which religious minorities in India were being targeted, such as Sikhs Buddists and Jains being deemed to be Hindus for the purposes of personal laws.

His namesake, Harpal Singh Cheema, president of Dal Khalsa, participated by video link from Punjab, along with senior human rights lawyer Amar Singh Chahal. They castigated the Indian state for the genocide of the Sikhs, the denial of freedom and the illegal appropriation of Punjab’s river waters in breach of riparian law. On the anniversary of the 1986 Declaration of Khalistan they said the Sikh nation will pursue its right of self-determination in a peaceful and democratic manner, in accordance with international law. There was, they said, no option other than an independent and sovereign Punjab to bring to an end the decades-old conflict there.

Professor Shawl, chairman of Kashmir Concern, said the people of Kashmir alone must decide their destiny and India’s posting of 800,000 troops in the region will never alter that fact, despite the atrocities being committed by them. Mehmoob Makhdoomi, a Kashmiri author and columnist, urged the international policy and decision makers to facilitate efforts for true conflict resolution in the troubled region, based on the will of the people. India’s vision, which he characterised as the “peace of the graveyard” was no solution – the rise of a new generation of Kashmiri freedom supporters witnessed in recent months has amply demonstrated that.

Reverend Joshva Raja John, Church of England Priest and Queens Foundation research scholar expressed dismay at the rampant minority bashing being tolerated by the Indian authorities. Christians have been targeted by violence and intimidation under the guise of the repugnant ‘ghar vapsi’ mantra of Hindu extremists. He called for the Bajrang Dal and VHP offshoots of the BJP’s RSS mentor to be internationally banned as terrorist organisations.

Christina McKelvie, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, said other nations should aspire to self-determination just as the proud people of Scotland are doing and that the pursuance of national self determination through peace and democracy is a noble cause. Phil Bennion, former Member of the European Parliament, of the Liberal Democrats spoke of the paramount need for the right of self determination to be respected in disputed territories like Kashmir and called on India to drop its threat to execute Sikhs prisoners.

John Burn of the Green Party called on India honour its international obligations and to show zero tolerance to attacks on minorities. He also called on the UK government to stand up for human rights and the right of self-determination, rather than allow trade interests to override those “most basic and important” vales. Graham Williamson, chair of Nations without States, spoke of the need to allow self-determinists to operate peaceably within conflict zones, without the threat of sedition and treason laws, in order to unlock peaceful and democratic solutions to intractable.”

Resolutions Adopted At The Conference
At the end of the Conference following resolutions were unanimously adopted at the Conference:
“This Conference calls on the international community to fully recognise the role that self-determination can play as a means of peaceful conflict resolution; this is a democratic mechanism underpinned by international law. Whilst nations and peoples must be left to decide their own destiny, the global community must do what it can to hold non-compliant states to account when they refuse, overtly or covertly, to respect the right of self-determination. In the case of India, which officially rejects Articles 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights, this non-compliance has led directly to the unresolved and hugely destructive conflicts in Kashmir, Punjab, Assam and Nagalim over sovereignty, territory and riparian rights.

“The denial of religious freedoms, attacks on religious minorities in the name of chauvinistic ‘majoritarianism’, as being currently witnessed in the Hindutva extremism sweeping across India, is condemned as a breach of international law as well as basic moral standards of behaviour adopted by the civilised world. This Conference fully endorses the recommendations of the recent report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom entitled “Constitutional and Legal Challenges Faced by Religious Minorities in India”.

“This Conference calls on the international community to identify and impose targeted sanctions against Hindutva organisations, including the RSS and all its affiliates across the world, to force a change in the cowardly tactics that are being adopted to intimidate Dalits, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and others.

“This Conference urges all UK based political parties to address the concerns of the diaspora communities so that UK political representatives, including the UK Government, responds to the threats caused by blatant breaches of international law by the Indian state.”

Sikhs and Kashmiris call on UK Prime Minister
to tackle India’s Hindutva Agenda
On 20 June 2017 a Memorandum was delivered by a delegation of Sikhs and Kashmiris to 10 Downing Street calling for Intervention to protect Religious Freedoms and Fundamental Human Rights. A press release was issued along with the draft Memorandum to the UK Prime Minister Rt. Honourable Theresa May. Followings are the press release and the Draft Memorandum to the UK Prime Minister. 

Following press release was issued. A delegation of Sikhs and Kashmiris delivered an appeal on 20 June 2017 to 10 Downing Street calling for a re-set in the UK’s foreign policy towards India.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Chair of Parliamentarians for National Self-determination, and Lord Qurban Hussain both endorsed the memorandum and joined Sikh and Kashmiri representatives in delivering it to the UK Prime Minister’s official residence. They urged the UK Government to listen to the UK’s massive diaspora communities which want their political representatives to act on their concerns.

They characterised the Hindutva surge in India as a fascist threat to Christians, Dalits, Muslims and Sikhs alike – a threat which breaches India’s international legal obligations. Compelling India to comply with universally accepted legal and humanitarian norms was, they said, the key to bringing India back in to line.

They cited the hugely authoritative report issued in February by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which details the numerous constitutional and legal restrictions on minority religious freedoms in India, as well as this week’s open letter by 65 senior Indian civil servants which condemned the rampant ‘majoritarianism’ of the establishment. 

The delegation called for the implementation of the USCIRF report’s recommendations which include changes to the Indian Constitution (such as the removal of outrageous provisions that deem Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains to be Hindus for the purposes of personal and religious law) and operationalizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

The memorandum also heighted the atrocities committed by state and non-state actors aimed at crushing the self-determination movements in Punjab and Kashmir. It called for genocide perpetrators to be punished by UN established tribunals and for peaceable conflict resolution by holding plebiscites so that the people of those regions could freely determine their own destinies. An unchecked Hindutva agenda in India makes resolution of those conflicts impossible; hence the international community must, according to the memorandum, require India to formally accept and comply with the right of self-determination as enshrined in Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights. India has formally rejected that right – something which the UN and leading member states have said is unacceptable.

The memorandum was signed by Amar Singh Chahal (official spokesman of Jagtar Singh Hawara, the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs), Prof Nazir Shawl (Chair, Kashmir Concern), Amrik Singh Sahota OBE (President, Council of Khalistan), Gurdev Singh Chohan (President, Akali Dal, UK) and Joga Singh (Babbar Akali Organisation). Importantly, it was also countersigned by Dr Iqtidar Cheema, the author of the USCIRF report which was also formally handed over at the same time.

An International Law Response to the Hindutva
Majoritarianism Threat to Minorities in India:
an Appeal to the new UK Government to hold India to account

The followings are the Memorandum prepared, signed and delivered on 20 June 2017 to 10 Downing Street calling for intervention to protect Religious Freedoms and Fundamental Human Rights.

“Rt Honourable Theresa May,
Prime Minister,
10 Downing Street,
20 June 2017
Dear Prime Minister,
“Following your re-election in this month’s General Election, we write to you in connection with an aspect of UK foreign policy which is a great concern to hundreds of thousands of Sikhs, Muslims and Christians from the large diaspora communities settled here that have roots in India. We believe there is an urgent need to re-set the UK’s foreign policy toward India so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated, especially in light of the appalling right wing Hindutva surge that is alarming those communities.

“The Manchester and London atrocities over recent weeks have disgusted all right-thinking people across the world.  Apart from the clear determination to defeat the evil ideology of hate and the cowardly targeting of innocents and non-combatants, there has though been another remarkable feature of the response from ordinary people here in the UK. That has been the impressive show of defiance and unity – whatever peoples’ backgrounds – grounded on core humanitarian values such as mutual respect for all our fellow citizens and a sense of common humanity. Those values will ultimately play the crucial role in defeating the narrative of chauvinism and belligerence being espoused by cowards who despite their claims, in truth, have no religion at all.

“During the month in which Sikhs commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the infamous Indian army attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984, in which thousands of innocents and non-combatants were deliberately targeted to quell a legitimate movement for self-determination by the people of Punjab, it is timely to remind the new UK Government of the clandestine connivance, for the sake of trade, of the then British and other governments with the Government of India, and the subsequent genocide of the Sikhs. You will of course be aware of the need to fully disclose the level of that unfortunate British involvement and, we hope, the need to redress that wrong by taking suitable action now to protect the very nation that was then so inhumanely targeted.

“Even today, there is a growing threat to minority groups in India who are facing a right-wing extremist ‘majoritarian’ onslaught. Christians, Sikhs and Muslims have been covertly targeted by discriminatory laws, sectarian policies as well as by state and mob violence for decades, but there is now a more overt threat to them.

“This week sixty-five (retired) senior Indian civil servants wrote an open letter to Indian authorities saying: “In the face of a rising authoritarianism and majoritarianism, which do not allow for reasoned debate, discussion and dissent, we appeal to all public authorities, public institutions and constitutional bodies to take heed of these disturbing trends and take corrective action”. They cited, by way of example, the right-wing extremist Hindu thugs who roam the streets in the name of ‘cow protection’ - “Gau-rakshaks function with impunity and seem to be doing so with the tacit complicity or active encouragement of state machinery”.  See:

“More significantly, we attach a copy of the recent report issued by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom which sets out clearly why international pressure is needed make Indian authorities comply with their obligations under international law. The report details the ways in which – quite apart from the thuggery on the ground – the very constitution, laws and administrative machinery in India formalises discrimination and restrictions on (minority) religious freedoms. The report sets out how these practices contravene international law; it also includes recommendations for what India needs to do in order to comply with those universally agreed basic standards of conduct. We would draw your attention in particular to the recommendations it sets out for US Government action – all of which we urge the UK Government to adopt.

“Apart from the increasing use of ‘Hindutva’ to crush religious freedoms, there is (unsurprisingly) a hardening of the stance to deny self-determination and riparian rights in Punjab, Kashmir and the North East which are non-Hindu majority regions.

“A number of us wrote to you last year (memorandum handed in to 10 Downing Street on 15 August 2016) in connection with the India’s genocidal response to the Sikh struggle for national self-determination in their homeland in Indian-controlled Punjab and were disappointed to receive a response (dated 9th September 2016) from Duncan Johns at the South Asia Department of the Foreign Office. The response characterises the conflict as an internal matter for the Indian Government which should be resolved through dialogue. It is, with all due respect, simply not credible for genocide to be viewed as an internal matter and to expect the perpetrators to engage in ‘dialogue’ willingly. The Foreign Office will surely have noted that the Ontario Canadian state parliament passing a resolution in April of this year recognising those systematic mass killings of Sikhs as genocide – an act which the Indian Government’s spokesman quickly dismissed. We urge you to raise with the Indians the pressing issues of Sikh political prisoners, the punishment of the those guilty of genocide at a UN established tribunal and the need for a democratic solution to the Indo-Sikh conflict.

“In Kashmir you will have noted the unrelenting brute force being used by Indian security forces over recent months to crush mass public protests calling for the right of self-determination to be exercised in that region.  Kashmir, a disputed territory according to the UN itself, cannot be left to the brutalities of the Hindutva agenda. The oppression was epitomised when troops tied an innocent Kashmiri to their jeep as a human shield to protect them – something that Human Rights Watch has soundly condemned. See: The officer who ordered that obscene action has since been awarded an honour by the Indian army! Quite apart from the humanitarian need to intervene in Kashmir, there is a real need to resolve the Kashmir conflict, in accordance with the wishes of the people, given the increasingly dangerous proximity of Chinese, Pakistani and Indian forces in the context of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which India seems bent on disrupting.

“As such, we appeal to you to call on the Indian Government to withdraw its reservation against Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights, pull back from military occupation of those regions and allow the international community to oversee free and fair democratic plebiscites to determine the destiny of those traumatised regions.

“These concerns were raised by Kashmiri, Sikh and Christian Diaspora communities at a Conference held at the Council House in Birmingham on 29 April 2017, which was addressed by UK politicians, academics as well as speakers from those regions.” The Diaspora communities want the UK government to raise these issues as set out in the Resolutions adopted at the Conference.” (mentioned above).

Lord Nazir Ahmed, Chair, Parliamentarians for National Self-Determination; Amar Singh Chahal, spokesman for Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Jagtar Singh Hawara,  Dr. Iqtidar Cheema, Author of the USCIRF Report; Amrik Singh Sahota OBE,  President, Council of Khalistan; Prof Nazir Shawl, Chair, Kashmir Concern, Ranjit Singh Srai, Admin. Sec. PNSD; Gurdev Singh Chohan, President, Akali Dal, UK and Joga Singh, Babbar Akali Organisation.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Muslims World Over Pray for Peace During Eid -Ul- Fitr

Eid al-Fitr on Sunday, 25th of June 2017
Muslims all over the world pray
For peace during the Eid-ul-Fitr

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid Al-Fitr on Sunday, 25th of June 2017 with prayers for peace as they marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia announced the start of Eid Al-Fitr on Sunday, 25th of June, 2017 the first day of Eid Al-Fitr in Saudi Arabia after reported sightings of the new moon. Several countries also announced that Eid will be on Sunday, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia and Japan. Astronomer Khalid Al-Zaaq, a member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences confirmed in his Twitter account that “Eid begins Sunday astronomically.” He added that “the astronomical calculations based on followed criteria suggest that Sunday is first day of Eid Al-Fitr.”

More than 3 million worshipers witnessed the final recitation of the Holy Qur’an on the last night of Ramadan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. In Makkah, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque, led more than 2 million worshippers during Isha prayer and asked Allah for forgiveness and release from hell, and to keep Muslim countries from all evils, it is reported by SPA.

Eid is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Thus, the joyous Islamic festival Eid-ul-Fitr came at the end of the month of Ramadan and it came this year 2017 on Sunday, the 258th of June, throughout most of the countries. The American continent, the European Continent, South Africa and the Middle East almost all declared Sunday, the 25th of June as the Eid day. Muslim brothers and sisters are enjoying and celebrating their Eid on the same day in Saudi Arabia, America, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and other places.

It’s my pleasure to extend my Eid Mubarak and good wishes to all my Muslim brothers and sisters all over the world on the occasion of the celebration of the Eid after the conclusion of fasting in the blessed month of Ramadan. I pray to Almighty Allah for all the benefits and the rewards.  I would like to pray to Allah the Almighty for myself and for you all, May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala accept our fasting, our prayers, our worship and all our good deeds in the blessed month of Ramadan.

After a month-long fasting comes the most auspicious and happy occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr when Eid messages are sent all over the world from the leaders and heads of states of the Muslim world as well as the Muslim minority countries, especially from the Asian, European, American and the African continents.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received revelation from Allah the Almighty, at the very first day only two members from his family, one woman, his wife Khadijah and a young boy, Ali, believed him and immediately embraced the religion, Islam and now there are more than 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world and all over the continents believed in the Oneness of God (Tawheed) and followed Islam. This year, over three million Muslim worshippers beseeched Allah the Almighty to pardon their sins, ensure paradise for them, prosperity and global peace. Taking part in the Khatmul Qur’an, completion of the recitation of the Holy Qur’an in Taraweeh (late night prayers), in the 29th night of Ramadan, the devout thronged the Two Holy Mosques hours before the beginning of the prayer. In Madinah, over 0ne million worshippers thronged the Prophet’s mosque. The roofs and courtyards of the Mosque were full of worshippers. 

Eid Messages from all over the continent
After the month-long fasting comes the Eid-ul-Fitr and leaders and heads of states from all over the continents sent Eid Messages, the messages of peace and happiness and prosperity.

More than 3 million worshipers witnessed the final 
recitation of the Holy Qur’an @Arab News photo by Ahmad Hashad

Islam, being the universal world religion practised by more than 1.6 billion Muslims the world over, it is now celebrated by the Muslims as well as their leaders all over the world. Leaders of the world sent Eid messages to the people of their countries as well as to the Muslims of the world.

Eid Messages from the Haramain
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has addressed citizens and Muslims everywhere on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr. A speech was delivered on Saturday by Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad.

The speech highlighted joy and happiness for all after the completion of the month of Ramadan and the subsequent Eid holiday.

The king said that the world is suffering from terrorism, which is the scourge of this era, adding that he pays great attention to bolstering security and stability in the world.

The king underlined Saudi efforts to serve pilgrims, the holy places, Islam and Muslims. In keeping with the royal custom of communicating with the leaders of Islamic countries, King Salman has sent cables of congratulation to leaders of the Islamic countries on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.

The Muslims in the United Kingdom also celebrated Eid Al-Fitr on Sunday, 24th of June, 2017 after completion of a long one-month Fasting of Ramadan. I send my warmest good wishes to Muslims in the UK and around the world, who are celebrating the festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Eid Messages from the European continent
British Prime Minister Theresa May issued an Eid Message on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr sending “her best wishes to Muslims across the country and around the world celebrating Eid”.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May send her warmest good wishes to Muslims in the United Kingdom, and right around the world, who are celebrating the festival of Eid al-Fitr.

She said, “For more than three million British Muslims, who make a huge and valued contribution to our national life, Eid is a truly special time. Coming after the prayer and deep reflection of the holy month of Ramadan, Eid is a joyous occasion, to be celebrated with family and friends. In the UK, we rightly take pride in being an open and diverse multi-ethnic and multi-faith democracy.”

The British Prime Minister also mentioned, “Over the last month, many British Muslims have shared with neighbours of all faiths and of none the holy practices of Ramadan – from doing charitable work to help in the local community, to coming together to break fast at the end of the day. This spirit of fellowship and service lies at the heart of every great faith, and it is something around which we can all unite.”

She also said, “Sadly this month has also seen some dark and tragic events, including the truly appalling attack outside the Finsbury Park mosque. It was the second terrorist attack on the streets of our capital city this month, and it was every bit as sickening as those which came before it.”

Muslims offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in Surabaya, Indonesia, on Sunday. @AFP / JUNI KRISWANTO

“Attacks like that seek to drive us apart, and our response to them must be to stand even closer together, united, to affirm that hatred and evil will never succeed, Theresa May said.

British Prime Minister concluded by saying, “So in that spirit of unity – and on behalf of the whole British people – let me wish you a happy a peaceful celebration.
Eid Mubarak.”

Eid Messages from the American continent
The President of the United States of America Donald Trump wishes Muslims 'warm greetings' for Eid. US President Donald Trump on Saturday sent warm greetings" to Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, after his administration broke with the tradition of hosting a White House event to recognize the holy month.

"On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr," US President Donald Trump said in a statement.

He said, “Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.”

“During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill,” said US President Trump.

Concluding his Eid Message, US President Trump said, “With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honor these values. Eid Mubarak.”
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Orange County speaks to Muslims gathered for the celebration of Eid al-Fitr in Anaheim, California, US on Sunday. @Photo REUTERS/ Patrick T. Fallon.  

US Secretary of State’s Eid Messages
US Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson issued a statement wishing Eid al-Fitr to Muslims. He said, “On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, I convey our warmest wishes to our Muslim friends around the world. This holiday marks the culmination of Ramadan, a holy month in which many experience meaning and inspiration in acts of fasting, prayer, and charity.”

He also mentioned, “On Eid al-Fitr I Muslims in the United States and around the world celebrate the completion of their fast and commitment to compassion and goodwill. At our embassies and consulates around the globe, we recognize this occasion as an opportunity to work with one another to build peaceful and prosperous communities.”

Concluding his Eid message, Rex Tillerson said, “I wish you all a blessed holiday. Eid Mubarak.”

Prime Minister of Canada’s Eid Message
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, issued on 24 June 2017 the following statement on Eid al-Fitr:
"Tonight at sunset, Muslims in Canada and around the world will celebrate Eid al-Fitr, also known as the festival of breaking of the fast.

He said, "Eid al-Fitr is one of the most important religious holidays for the Muslim community, and marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. It is a time to give thanks for the spiritual growth and the blessings received throughout the holy month.”

"On this occasion, family and friends gather to attend special morning prayers, exchange greetings and gifts, share a celebratory meal, and give generously to others, especially those less fortunate,” said Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

He also mentioned, "Canada's cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths and sources of pride. This year, as we mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we recognize the invaluable contributions the Muslim community makes to our national fabric.”

Canadian Prime Minister concluded his Eid Message by saying, "On behalf of our family, Sophie and I extend our best wishes to all those celebrating Eid al-Fitr. "Eid Mubarak!"

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

MWL's Conference on Tolerance in Islam At SOAS London

MWL’s One-day Conference on Tolerance
in Islam At Brunei Gallery, SOAS London

Dr. Mozammel Haque

One-day Conference on Tolerance in Islam, organised by Muslim World League, was held at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, on Monday, the 15th of May, 2017.

The Conference has three sessions besides the Opening and Welcome session and the closing sessions. After the recitation from the Holy Qur’an and Translation, Professor Dr. Muhammad A.S. Abdel Haleem, Professor of Islamic Studies at SOAS, delivered the welcome address followed by the Keynote address by His Excellency, Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia.

The First session was on Tolerance in Islam … A Method and a Message, chaired by Hajj Ahmad Thomson, Bar-at-Law. There were three papers: Shaykh Haytham Tamim presented a paper on ‘Compassion and Brotherhood in Islam’; the second paper on ‘Aspects of Tolerance in Islam’ was presented by Professor Muhammad A.S. Abdel Haleem, OBE and the third paper on ‘Qur’anic Justice and Shared Social Ethics’ was presented by Dr. Ramon Harvey.

The Second session was on Muslims and the Tolerance …Scene and Objectives, chaired by Dr. Ahmed Meliebary. There were three papers; the first paper on ‘The Madinah Charter (The First Islamic Constitution dealing with a Treaty on Tolerance and its Global Impact)’ was presented by Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London. The second paper was on ‘Islamic Tolerance through the eyes of other Religions and Cultures’ presented by Shafi Fazaluddin and the third paper on ‘Islam’s Contribution to World Peace’ was presented by Dr. Hashim Mahdi.

After the lunch break and prayer, there was third session on Tolerance and Homeland and Communities Security chaired by Dr. Salman Al-Saad. There were three speakers; the First speaker Peter Clark presented a paper on ‘Marmaduke Pickthall and Tolerance in Islam’. Dr. Suhaib Abdul Gaffar Hasan presented a paper on ‘Harmony between Islam and Homeland and Communities’ Security’. Mr. Ajmal Masroor also spoke on this topic. Dr. Fatima Rajina spoke on the ‘Role of the Institutions in Promoting Peace in the societies’.
At the end, there was Questions & Answers session; Award Giving Ceremony and photo session.

The Keynote speech of the
MWL’s Secretary General 
In the Opening Session, The Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Muhammad Bin Abdulkarim Alissa, delivered the keynote speech in which he has affirmed the MWL’s keenness to promote a culture of peace and tolerance; constructive dialogue of understanding between the different components of the society. He mentioned the moderate approach championed by the Muslim World League.  “Tolerance is an integral part of Islam’s lofty values; ever-present in many religious texts, and abound in the Prophetic Seerah (Biography of the Prophet); the latter is considered to be the top of moral values that Islam has commended their application in all areas of life.”

He underlined the incompatibility of these lofty values with the approach of extremism based on fanaticism, incitement and confrontation. This radical phenomenon interprets the texts erroneously seeking to distort its accurate and true meanings.

He also explained that the classification of extremism often suggests a perverted behavioural nature. The extremist is intolerant, vulnerable and easily swayed and quickly overwhelmed by the collective thought, for which it falls easily prey to its harmful spell. Extremism is denuded of comfortable nature, and finds itself on either opposite pole.

“The extremist neither knows nor understands the doctrine of priorities and judgement (Jurisprudence of comparison between interests and malevolence). Neither does he recognise the purposes of Shari’ah, the change of Fatwa, and the provisions of necessity. He does not know the possibility of the change in times, places, situations, customs, intentions and people,” Dr. Alissa said and added, “And you will find the extremist conceited in accepting evidence and facts, glorifying trivial matters, violating major sins; led by encouraging division, sowing the seeds of subversion as well as accusing others of apostasy (takfir) and permitting bloodshed.”

Dr. Alissa also said You’ll find him an estranged individual to the Fiqh of agreement, congruence and rapprochement. He will be as far away as possible from being compassionate, accommodating to people and a herald of glad tidings.

He continued, “You will never find all these great meanings except in religious consciousness, which has refined behaviour and generated wisdom. These meanings have also produced the global scholar within the context of his religion’s universality.”

Secretary General of the Muslim World League concluded: “We say in brief: The outcome – and God knows best – a pledge based on the defeat the terrorist thought. The terrorist entity is established on an extremist ideology, rather than a military entity and an overwhelming political power. It was able to spread in all countries of the world, attract followers from one hundred and one countries and influence some minds, taking advantage of every available opportunity.”

Proceedings of the Conference
I am going to report briefly each session, i.e. from the Second session, the Madinah Charter by Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan and from the Third session on Marmaduke Pickthall and Tolerance in Islam and Homeland and Communities’ Security by Dr. Suhaib Abdul Gaffar Hasan.

From the Second Session
The Madinah Charter by Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan
In the Second Session, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, the Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London was programmed to give a lecture on The Madinah Charter. Dr. Al-Dubayan started by saying: The Charter was one of the most important developments of the Charter which was really signed and dictated by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). But this was not the first one.

He said, The first one was made about the year 620, that was one year or two years before the immigration of the Prophet (PBUH) from Makkah to Madinah. He continued, “The first treaty was not written, it was verbal, as far as we know, agreed between the Prophet (PBUH) himself and the people from the Madinah (as it was called Yathrib in those days). And when the Prophet himself (peace be upon him) came from Makkah to Madinah now we have this treaty charter which some people called it was signed by the Prophet himself and the representatives of the population of Madinah. The time when this charter was written is about 624, i.e. the first year of the Hijrah of the Islamic calendar or in the Gregorian or western calendar, the 624AD.”

After this, Dr. Al-Dubayan said there was another treaty, not charter; that is the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, in the year 629. These were the main very important treaties, documents in the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  This one is in writing; the one of Hudaibiyah in the text; the first one we don’t have the text we just have it in reading.

Dr. Al-Dubayan then jumped and did not go deep about the authenticity of the text. About the authenticity of the text, He said, “Really lot of scholars, or some scholars have argued about the authenticity as a whole or one text, some scholars argued about the authenticity of some part of it and some scholars have not accepted and there were many who accepted as really authentic text written and narrated by many of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Then Dr. Al-Dubayan mentioned about the historian who first mentioned about this. He said, “The first one who mentioned about this is Ibn Ishaq Muhammad bin Ishaq, the most famous historian of the period of the Prophet (PBUH). Bin Ishaq died in 768 which is about 150 years after the immigration of the Prophet (peace be upon him), i.e. one and a half century after the immigration of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The ICC Chief also mentioned, “We had actually chain of narrators, from bin Ishaq to the course of the charter and what is really very amazing; the last person in this chain was Othman bin Mugira. Bin Mugira said he found the Treaty was written in a book with the family of Umar bin Khattab himself. That means it was in writing; it was not just their belief, they say and then somebody memorised or memorises it but it was found with the family of Umar al-Khattab.  Dr al-Dubayan maintained I think the authenticity is very very strong.

Speaking about the importance and significance of the Charter Dr. al-Dubayan said, “To understand how important this one is we have to go back to Madinah itself to know who were there; when the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, there were Jewish community in Madinah; there were Arabs who were non-Muslims yet and, of course, early strongly there were some Christians in Madinah, may be individuals, not very big community but there were some Christian Arabs who followed their religion before Islam; there was a big community of Jews in Madinah itself when the Prophet came.

So there were different people of different religions of different tribes - all of them living in Madinah. It means it was multicultural multi-religious and multi-ethnic communities living in the city. It is interesting to know the type of life and the relations among these people and communities and here lies the importance of the Charter, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Going into the details of the Charter, the Director General of the Centre mentioned “The first thing we see in this Charter is the tolerance. The subject tolerance is really very very important in this document. The Charter has 52 items, 25 of these items are really about the lives of Muslims and 27 of these items related to the relations within Muslims and between other faiths, Jews and Christians in Madinah in those days.”

First of all, the Madinah Charter removed any kind of racism. Dr. Al-Dubyan mentioned, “If we examine first the Charter removed any kind of racism among the relations in Madinah. No racism among the people; they were one nation; they were whole one nation. That means they were sharing the same rights; sharing the same duties; and which actually later on about the duties to help each other when the Madinah the city was attacked. The duties to help each other were like a financial crisis; everybody must share and must contribute something.”

Then Dr. Al-Dubyan mentioned about the social justice aspect of the Charter. He said, “Social justice means when there is some issues it must be dealt with the law itself and it must be taken and considered by the head of the city. It is really, may be, the first political charter or constitution written. One of the aspects is respecting the rights of the neighbours, respecting the rights of properties. These are all in the document which show what is called in the modern terminology or in modern times the rights and the same written in the same charter.”

Then Dr. al-Dubyan mentioned about the economic aspects about it. For example, the economic independence among the communities is written in the charter. He said, “There was economic independence; that means Jews were responsible for their own properties; Muslims were responsible for their own properties; and everybody knows what he had and they must all contribute in the case of poor or in the case of need. This is what is written in the charter.”

These are some of the aspects of the charter which are very very important. Dr. Al-Dubyan also mentioned another important aspect is that there are some books now really examining the document itself.

He said, just about five days ago there was a conference in Bahrain talking only about this subject of this document the Charter of Madinah and studies and many scholars presented different papers about the economic sides of it. Another one is about the political side in it. I think, in the modern time or in the modern history of Arabs, they did not argue of the different form of the state.

“How is the state in Islam? How is the state written in Arab history? -That is the big argument in the Islamic studies; Arab studies in the 21st century. and I think if this charter is re-examined and studied it will lead us to a kind of or a form of state; said Dr. Al-Dubyan and added, “It will show us how there were respect among people of different faiths; how independence they have of their faiths; how independence they have of their economic issues; how also they must work together whenever there is any threat to the state or for the state itself and how much they have relations to each other and they respect each other. And how much of the justice was there. For example, in item no 40 in the charter it says that everybody is independent of the crime and nobody will be responsible for the mistake of another person, even if he is from the same family or his friend or something.”

Another aspect which Dr. al-Dubyan mentioned is the tribal culture. He said, “Because of tribal culture, if somebody is killed in the tribe the other tribe will try to kill anybody from that tribe, even if he is innocent; not committed by the person who committed the crime. That was stopped in this charter. To make the responsibility really is individual only; the person himself; and nobody can be responsible for the crime of other people.”

Dr. al-Dubayan finally emphasized the tolerance aspect of the Charter. He said, “Supporting each other; working together; respecting neighbour and neighbourhood and everything. Actually two items they are all going about tolerance. It is really a model. I think we really trying to implement again the idea and then bring them into life that will help for better understanding of Islam.”

The Third Session
Marmaduke Pickthall  and Tolerance
by Dr. Peter Clark OBE
Dr. Peter Clark OBE is a consultant, writer and translator. One of his books is Marmaduke Pickthall, British Muslim. Dr. Clark first spoke about the life and work of Marmaduke Pickthall, a novelist who embraced Islam in 1917 and translated the Holy Qur’an, the first translation by a believing Muslim who was also a native speaker of English. He said, “My study of Pickthall, first published in 1986, has been reissued and translated into Arabic. Two other volumes, dedicated to his work, have been published. I think there are two reasons for this interest. First, he was a British Muslim; his life demonstrates that there is nothing alien about Muslims in Britain. Secondly, his writings emphasised the openness and liberal traditions of Islam, in contrast to some of the statements made in the name of Islam today.”

Dr. Peter Clark talked about Pickthall’s intimate familiarity with three or four areas of Islam. He said, “Pickthall was remarkable in having an intimate familiarity with three or four areas of the world of Islam. In his youth in the 1890s he spent two years wandering round Syria and Palestine, mastering colloquial Levantine Arabic. He spent prolonged periods in Egypt. Before the First World War he was for several months in Istanbul where he learnt Turkish and became a champion of the Young Turks. Then from 1920 to 1935 he was in India, the last ten years in the service of the Nizam of Hyderabad under whose auspices he undertook his great work of translation and was founder-editor of the remarkable journal, Islamic Culture.”

Speaking about Pickthall’s conception of Tolerance in Islam, Dr. Clark mentioned his lecture entitled “Tolerance”. He said, “In addition to his novels and short stories that articulate the attitudes of ordinary Turks, Syrians and Egyptians, he wrote extensively about Islam. In 1917 he moved to a position of leadership of the British Muslim community and gave addresses and khutbas in which he proclaimed that Islam was a religion of tolerance. The summation of his Muslim faith was expressed in a series of lectures he gave in Chennai/Madras in 1925. They have been published as The Cultural Side of Islam and many times reprinted.”

“One lecture was entitled “Tolerance”. In this lecture he quotes from the Holy Qur’an in support of his own liberal views. He argues that Muslims were at their strongest when they were open and tolerant. He recalls the tradition of plurality in places where there were mixed communities of Muslims, Jews and Christians. Places of worship were shared. I could point to a dozen buildings in Syria, he said, which tradition says were thus jointly used; and I have seen at Lud (Lydda), in the plain of Sharon, a Church of St. George and a mosque under the same roof with only a partition wall between.” Dr. Clark mentioned.  

Talking about the Ottoman Empire as tolerant Empire, Dr. Clark mentioned, “He (Pickthall) was in Syria at the end of the Ottoman Empire and saw it, at its best, as a tolerant Empire. Christians and Jews flourished. When Jews (and Muslims) were expelled from Spain at the end of the fifteenth century, they were given a warm welcome in the Ottoman Empire. Until nationalism undermined relationships, there was a balance of communities. Of course practice was never always in line with precept but, as Pickthall said, The poor Muslims and poor Christians were on an equality, and were still good friends and neighbours. The Muslims never interfered with the religion of the subject Christians. There was never anything like the inquisition or the fires of Smithfield.”

“Tolerance is a negative quality. It is the refraining from persecution or oppression. To turn tolerance into something positive is to celebrate the other,” said Dr. Clark. But while speaking about Pickthall’s works and life in Hyderabad under its Nizam, Dr. Clark said, “He (Pickthall) was happiest in Hyderabad which was effectively a benevolent autocracy. Hyderabad, like the Syria of his youth, was a multi-ethnic community but the Nizam saw himself as the patron of all. He funded the buildings of buildings, not exclusively Islamic, as well as providing extensive social services. One of Pickthall’s tasks in Hyderabad was to negotiate a marriage alliance between the son of the Nizam and the daughter of the last Ottoman Khalifa, Abdulmecid, a man of great culture, a musician and a painter, at home in the cultures of Turkey, Arabia and Persia as well as of western Europe.”

“Until the Ottoman Empire imploded the Sultans were often the patrons of Christian and Jewish endeavours, In Haydarpasha Istanbul there is a synagogue today named after Sultan Abdulhamid II,” he mentioned.

Speaking about the Sixteenth Century Mughal Emperor Akbar, Dr. Clark mentioned, “He (Pickthall) respected the sixteenth century Mughal Emperor, Akbar, who was open to all religious influences. He established the Ibadatkhana that was open to people of all religions and of none, where there were discussions of everything. In the following century the Persian Shah Abbas enjoyed talking with European Christians about their faith to such an extent that there were rumours that he was about to become a Christian. But it was simply unbounded intellectual curiosity. A believer, Pickthall thought, strong in his faith, should have no anxiety about open and searching enquiry. Any scientific enquiry is simplify an exploration of the divinely created world.”

Dr. Clark also said, “Akbar and Abbas and the Ottoman Empire at its best implemented this policy of tolerance, acceptance and even celebration.”

Dr. Clark would like to end this with some words Pickthall spoke in his last Madras lecture. “Muslims cannot adopt the institutions of other communities, but it is their duty to respect the customs and institutions of other communities, and to live with them on terms of neighbourly regard and tolerance. Intolerance and what is called fanaticism have nothing to do with the religion of Islam. . . . There is nothing in the teaching of Islam to justify hatred of any man for his opinions or for seeking to win others to his opinions. God forbid that I should have to say it: There is nothing in the teaching of Islam to justify murder. Islam preaches equal justice to all men, tolerance for all sincere opinions, respect for all good men, wherever found. Islam is not against the rest of the world, but for the rest of the world, striving for right wherever found against wrong wherever found. I would urge most strongly on your notice the need to preach and Suhaib the wine of the non-Muslim. We are forbidden to speak anything concerning his religion which could hurt his feelings. The tolerance of Islam in history is our great claim to the consideration of the world.”

Harmony between Islam and Homeland
and Communities’ Security – Dr. Suhaib Hasan
The topic of the third session Harmony Between Islam and Homeland and Communities Security. Dr. Suhaib Hasan presented a paper on this subject. In his paper Dr. Hasan said, “As Muslims, we claim that the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was a messenger of peace, who established peace practically. To prove this claim, let us look into it through these three criteria:

*To establish internal peace of mind.
*To establish peace in society at large where people can live without fear and coercion.
*To establish peace internationally in a way the wars are no more than a necessary evil, and exist only to eradicate oppression and bring tyranny to an end.”

Dr. Hasan said, “The Prophet (SAW) has established all these three criteria. Arabs in his times had some extraordinary characters which eventually made them capable of carrying out the great task of turning the Arabian Peninsula into the seat of Islam and a source of global inspiration. They were known for bravery, generosity, sense of dignity and gallantry and trustworthiness. But these highly merited characters were marked with excessiveness which caused them sometimes to appear negatively.”

“The valour was turned into plunder and smouldering the flames of war on petty issues. The generosity was turned into gambling, even for charitable purposes. The dignity and gallantry, of family and tribal pride led them to create havoc and massacre in the ranks of enemies in the name of vengeance and racial supremacy. The Prophet (SAW) was very successful in moulding these characters in a positive direction, to a productive and to a peaceful way of life,” Dr. Hasan mentioned.
Dr. Hasan also said, “So let us take the three criteria, first to establish internal peace of mind internally: Islam is peace and one of Allah’s attributes is Al-Salam and our greetings in The Muslim greeting is “Assalamu-u-Alaikum” (peace be upon you). And Darul Salam means the House of peace.” “

Then the second criteria is to establish peace in society. Dr. Hasan said, “Secondly, establishing peace in society. Society itself is composed of small units: a house or a family. There are a number of institutions that help create a peaceful society. Let us consider each one of them.

He also mentioned, “The House of the Family ‘Sakinah’ or tranquillity is declared as one of the most important factors in creating a successful dwelling. In the Qur’an Allah said, “And (also) of His signs is that He created for you mates of your own kind so that you acquire peace from them, and He created between you love and mercy. Verily, in this (system of creation) there are signs for those who meditate.” (Surah 30:21)

Dr. Hasan then said, “Next to the house comes one’s neighbours. Then The institution of Al-Hisbah (Ombudsman) and then the The institution of Bait-ul-Mal: the wealth to be distributed to the poor and the needy. After this there was very most important thing is the The institution of Qazar (importing justice) and this has been mentioned by some of our speakers as well. Allah said in the Qur’an:  “Verily, We sent Our Messengers with clear signs, and We sent down with them the Book and the balance of justice so that people might grow firm and stable in justice. And (of minerals) We brought forth iron in which there is a fierce force (for weapons and defence) and which has (multiple other) benefits for people (in industrial development). And (the purpose is) that Allah may bring to light the one who helps Him and His Messengers (i.e., the Din [Religion of Islam]) without seeing. Surely, Allah is (Himself) the All-Powerful, the Almighty.” (57:25) So wherever there is justice, it is a peaceful country.”

In this connection, Dr. Hasan mentioned, “Once Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, was asked about the fate of England in the face of constant attack by the enemy during the last days of the Second World War. He replied that as long as the courts of this country were functioning well and providing justice to the people, there was no reason for anyone to fear or despair.” Then Dr. Hasan mentioned the institution of Mirath (the distribution of the inheritance).

And then the third criterion is to establish peace internationally. About this criterion Dr. Hasan mentioned: “Though the Prophet (peace be upon him) was constantly forced to engage in fighting, seeking peace was his primary objective in life and that is why the Qur’an certified that: “And if they (the combatant or hostile disbelievers) incline to peace and reconciliation, you also incline to it and put your trust in Allah. Surely, He alone is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”(8:61)”

Then he mentioned about the The Treaty of Hudaibiya in the 6th year of Hijrah.

Dr. Hasan said, “The legacy which was left by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as for peace and war could be summarised as follows:
*The objective of a State is to provide peace on all levels, individual, social and nationally.
*War is a necessary evil which serves the purpose of defence and eradicates tyranny and injustice.”

Dr. Hasan also mentioned, The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself participated in 23 battles (Ghazwat) during which only one person was killed by his own hand because he confronted him directly.”
  • Killing involved the combatants only. He prohibited the killing of non-combatants especially women, children, old people, persons confined to the houses of worship. Beneficial objects, whether cattles or trees were treated as sanctuary.
Peace is the preferred option over even if it is accomplished on the expenses of one’s own interest. That was the lesson of the Treaty of Hudaibiya in the 6th year of Hijrah.” Mentioned Dr. Hasan.

Closing Statement: Recommendations
After that, the participants started the conference’s topics, led by scholars of Dawa activists, leaders in areas of science, advocacy and cultural work in a number of Islamic countries. The conference was also attended by leaders of Islamic centres and offices in the United Kingdom. At the end of the session discussions, the participants proposed the following recommendations:
  • To praise the efforts made by the Muslims in the United Kingdom to promote the real image of Islam; to appreciate their cultural contributions and positive engagement with everybody.
  • They salute their efforts in spreading the culture of accepting others in their midst due to the firm belief in the difference between people while promoting the concepts of positive communication among followers of religions and cultures to serve humanitarian work and maintain human dignity and preserve human rights.
  • To sustain the positive spirit that Muslims have had over the past centuries in their fair dealings with others and co-existing with them side by side. They call upon the various components of society to exert efforts to promote citizenship and expand constructive dialogue among them.
  • The consolidation of common human values and solidarity in protecting national public interests, and to overcome difficulties that hinder coexistence in a happy safe way.
  • Respect symbols and national traditions, including greeting, peace and national protocol, according to the priorities of the concept of citizenship, and accept what some might see from his point of view as reservation or doubt on some of its contexts. Hence, the Muslim has to work on the procedure between the pros and cons within priorities and comparison. One might sustain a greater harm as a result of objection than the original provisions he may consider; as long as – by consensus – it won‘t cast a Muslim outside the fold of Islam. To bring Muslims together and reject doubts, and the consequences of objection; there are important considerations which have a great weight on the provisions of the law. However, if a Muslim deliberately commits greater evil to avoid a lesser one, then he has breached the basis of Sharia. This will be based on the assumption of accepting what he sees as the correctness towards what he considers a lesser evil.
  • To promote noble moral values, encourage lofty social practices, and the necessity to cooperate in addressing ethical, environmental and family challenges. To endorse cooperation in the development of sustainable progress that will benefit everybody involved.
  • Denounce the phenomenon of “Islamophobia” which is the result of misunderstanding the reality of Islam, its cultural creativity and lofty objectives. Imparting objectivity and rejecting prejudices must be promoted. Learning about Islam must be acquired through its origins and principles, not through the horrors committed by perpetrators falsely attributed to Islam.
  • To invite religious and educational institutions to promote a culture of cooperation and understanding, and encourage religious values that would establish tolerance and positive coexistence.
  • To inviting Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries to demand their religious rights through peaceful and legal means; including the Hijab, halal slaughter, Islamic schools and the adoption of Islamic holidays.
  • Muslims must be alert of being dragged behind the religious rebel rousers’ passion against the decisions of those States. Moreover, anyone unable to remain in his adoptive country must leave it; God’s earth is far and wide; the way it is mentioned in the verse of Sura An-Nissa. Everyone must be careful to preserve his moderate religious belief and his national consciousness from the incursion of extremist ideas.
  • The need to cooperate on what will benefit the entire humanity. Communities are called to form a universal alliance to reform the civilisational disorder, which considers terrorism one of its branches, and one of its consequences. The beginning of humanity was founded on cooperation among all people based on our common origin and creation.
  • The participants praised the efforts of the Muslim world League and expressed their thanks for holding the conference. They commended its efforts in the service of Islam and Muslims around the world. They appreciate the Rabita’s (MWL’s) assistance, awareness to them and interception of extremist messages to reach them. They also cherish the religious advices provided to the communities along with its great support to their demands. They praise the MWL’s position in accordance with its new vision based on its weight and trust thanks to its religious wisdom and insight.
  • They also noted the support provided by the University of London in facilitating the organization of the conference. The Muslim World League along with the Muslim community appreciates the presence of scholars, preachers and intellectuals. These are a reflection of the finest case of a civilized example of coexistence and positive communication. This academic appreciation carries a prestigious dimension of interest and graciousness.
Earlier, on Sunday, the 14th of May; the Islamic Cultural Centre, London invited His Excellency, Dr. Muhammad bin Abdulkarim Al Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia to a reception at the Library  Conference Hall of the Centre where he met and addressed an audience of ambassadors, representatives of different Embassies in London, religious leaders, imams, leaders of the Islamic centres and senior members of the Muslim communities and spoke on integration.