The compassionate face of Islam

1281136-326978879MUSLIMS should welcome the announcement by Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, that it will be the government’s policy to promote compassionate Islam.

Actually, I believe there is only an “Islam” whose teachings are primarily compassionate, a blessing and merciful. Anyone who reads the Quran will know that it describes itself as a “healing and a mercy to those who believe” (Al Isra (17) verse 82).

In fact, the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself is described in the Quran as rahmatan lil Alamiin for the whole world and the creations (Al Anbiya (21): verse 107).

Essentially, rahmah means love or affection and is often understood to mean the love of God for mankind and His creations where He has provided everything they need to develop and live on this earth. In other words, the Quran guides mankind to understand and appreciate this rahmah through its guidance.

One who reads the Quran will also appreciate that it beseeches mankind to ponder and think about life and the laws of nature to further appreciate the rahmah of God.

Dr Mujahid also pointed out the use of state resources to confront “public sins” and “private sins” to show, I believe, that any use of religious enforcement powers must be tampered with common sense and compassion.

I believe real scholars of Islam know that there is an abundance of literature that discourages the deliberate attempt to expose private sins.

For reasons which I cannot understand, Dr Mujahid has been exposed to irrelevant criticisms by some Muslim religious experts implicit within which is the assumption that he is ignorant of the discourse in these matters.

I would have thought that this would have been an opportunity for religious experts to exercise husnuzan (benefit of the doubt) and to embrace the idea of promoting the compassionate face of Islam.




‘We’re all children of Abraham’: The patriarch that unites Jews, Christians and Muslims

588e7b72a77c8.imageIn preparation for Sunday’s sermon, the Rev. Cress Darwin reviews the biblical book of Genesis.

He finds the story where God orders Abraham to leave his home and promises him numerous descendants comparable to the sand on the seashore and stars in the sky.

Darwin, who leads Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, admires Abraham for his obedience and faithfulness.

“The hope that I take is that if God can use some of these characters, he can certainly use us,” Darwin said.

Abraham isn’t only revered by Christians. He’s a central figure in Judaism and Islam as well.

While the faiths are unique in their religious beliefs, customs and practices, Abraham is the common forefather that shows the religions have a lot more in common than what some may think.

Abraham is considered the patriarch of monotheism. According to the story recorded in Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts, he was instructed by God to leave his native land where his family worshipped pagan gods.

Texts say that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. The former founded the Arab people from which the Prophet Muhammad came and founded the Islamic faith. From the latter, Judaism manifested and Jesus Christ is eventually born thousands of years later to initiate Christianity.

The faiths draw spiritual lessons from their elder who endured tests that challenged his commitment to God, including his willingness to sacrifice his son.

For Jews, he’s revered for his obedience. Christians say he was faithful like Jesus Christ. Muslims honor him for his submissiveness.


Muslims defied the Islamic State to save two ancient Christian manuscripts in Mosul

IRAQ_-_don_paolo_e_manoscrittiMosul (AsiaNews) – A Muslim family hid for three years two ancient Syriac Orthodox books in Mosul during the city’s occupation by the Islamic State (IS) group to prevent their destruction at the latter’s hands. They did so, putting their own lives at risk. Their courage and action show that Mosul and Iraq can be rebuilt and reborn on the basis of unity and coexistence of its various groups, above all Christians and Muslims.

Upon the city’s liberation, the manuscripts’ protectors handed them over to a representative of the Chaldean community in Erbil but asked that their identity be protected because “sleeper cells” still exist in the city, ready to exact vengeance.

Fr Paulos Thabit Mekko spoke to AsiaNews about this story. He is now the repository of the two precious manuscripts (pictured) until they can be returned to their rightful owners.

“Recently a Chaldean from Mosul contacted me saying that he had a Muslim neighbour from the time he lived in the city 20 years ago,” said the priest. The family of the Muslim man, who can trace his ancestry back to ancient Mesopotamia, and his “have been friends for a long time” despite the distance and the violence by IS.

In 2015, when the city was under the latter’s control, the Muslim man, who is the head of the family, went with a relative to an area near the Chaldean monastery of St Michael.

“One day the man saw a lorry dump some rubbish. He was in the area looking for some wood to cook and heat his home. Among the refuse, he found a couple of manuscripts in ancient Syriac script and thought they might be of some value.”

Despite the danger, he took them and hid them in his home. “He was scared because he knew he could be killed if he were found out,” said the Chaldean priest.

After the liberation of Mosul, he decided to visit his friend and former Christian neighbor in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, where the latter had sought refuge to escape IS.

“He told him that he had some ancient Christian manuscripts at his home and if he knew a priest or a trusted man to whom he could hand them over. Someone who would not try to make money from them.”

“I went to Mosul a few days ago where I met the two former neighbours, the Christian and the Muslim. The latter entrusted me with the two tomes. They contain the offices of the morning and evening prayers in Syriac Antiochene Orthodox rite.”


Catholic College in Detroit is Offering Classes to an All-Muslim Group

3a507f4ccb3aa3e94a93Steve Mustapha Elturk is getting his Master of Arts in Social Justiceat Marygrove College, a small Catholic liberal arts school located in Detroit. During a class break, he walks down a hallway to a sparse room with a chalk board on the wall.

This is an interfaith prayer room at Marygrove College,” says Elturk. “We have rugs in the basket for those who would like to pray during our times of prayer.”

As a practicing Muslim, Elturk prays five times a day. A few years back, the college converted the room to offer a space for everyone to pray, but particularly to accommodate its growing Muslim student population. Not long after that, Marygrove created a special social justice cohort exclusively for Muslim students like Elturk.

Even at a Catholic college, there you go!” says Dr. Brenda Bryant, chair of Marygrove’s Social Justice Program.  Bryant says the master’s program trains “scholar activists.” It was started after the September 11th attacks. This is the first time the school has had an all Muslim cohort.


The group is diverse. It’s made up of students who have been living in and around Detroit, but who originally came from the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Europe. They have professional backgrounds in media, art, education and more. Some are Sunni, some are “Shia.”

The idea for the program came from, Achmat Salie, a local Islamic faith leader who thought the program would be popular with Muslims who held high-level degrees from foreign countries that are sometimes less valued in the U.S. Bryant says the college was on board from the start. But she says some community members were a little confused as to why the group was segregated.


How Muslims Became The Enemy

<> on June 26, 2018 in Washington, DC.The new Islamophobia looks like the old McCarthyism.

These days, our global political alliances seem to shift with remarkable rapidity, as if we were actually living in George Orwell’s 1984. Are we at war this month with Oceania? Or is it Eastasia? In that novel, the Party is able to erase history, sending old newspaper articles down the Ministry of Truth’s “memory hole” and so ensuring that, in the public mind, the enemy of the moment was always the enemy. Today, there is one constant, though. The Trump administration has made Muslims our enemy of the first order and, in its Islamophobia, is reinforced by an ugly resurgence of fascism in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and other European countries.

It’s hard today even to imagine that, in the late 1980s, the rightwing Christian Voice Magazine published a “candidate’s biblical scoreboard,” urging its readers (and potential voters) to rate their politicians by how “biblically” they cast their ballots in Congress. One key measure of this: Did that legislator support the anti-Communist Muslim jihadis in Afghanistan, a cause warmly supported by evangelist Pat Robertson in his 1988 presidential campaign? Now, attempting to appeal to twenty-first-century evangelicals, President Trump has announced that “Islam hates us.”


The kaleidoscope of geopolitics and Islamophobia is now spinning so fast that it should make our heads spin, too. At times, it seems as if Donald Trump is the anti-Ronald Reagan of the twenty-first century, idolizing former KGB operative Vladimir Putin, but seeing former U.S. allies in the Muslim world like Pakistan as purveyors of “nothing but lies and deceit” ― until, that is, with bewildering rapidity, he suddenly gives us the “good” (that is, oil-rich) Muslims again, willingly performing a sword dance with the Saudi royals, seemingly entirely comfortable with the scimitar of the Saracen.


Author shines light on women of colour’s role in shaping Islam in US


Ahead of Ahmadiyya community leader’s US visit, author Sylvia Chan-Malik says Islam has rich history in the country

As the Ahmadiyya community in the US prepares to receive its caliph, or spiritual leader, from the UK, a spotlight is being shed on Ahmadi Muslims, who make up one of the fastest-growing denominations in the world.

On 15 October, Mirza Masroor Ahmad will visit the US for the fourth time, inaugurating mosques in various states, giving a keynote speech and meeting with members of the 20,000-strong Ahmadiyya community.

For some Muslims, Ahmadis are heretics, who idolise their caliph, and they believe the community’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is a false prophet. But Ahmadiyya Islam is one of the oldest faiths in the US, a fact lost on many who see Islam as having existed in the country for a few decades at most.

That’s a misconception Sylvia Chan-Malik is seeking to change – while also shining a light on the lives of Muslim women in the US, beginning with those from the Ahmaddiya community.

“This is not a new phenomenon,” says Chan-Malik, 44, a scholar of American and women and gender studies at Rutgers University, referring to Islam. “This did not just happen after 9/11. Muslims haven’t been practising their religion for the past ten years in this country. It’s something that’s a legacy, that’s very much a part of who we are as a nation.”

This is the backdrop for Chan-Malik’s first book, Being Muslim: A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam, which focuses on the lives of Muslim women of colour in the US.

Muslims haven’t been practising their religion for the past ten years in this country. It’s something that’s a legacy, that’s very much a part of who we are as a nation

– Sylvia Chan-Malik

In the first chapter, she tells the story of a black working-class woman who immigrated to Chicago named Florence Watts. Through the teachings of Mufti Muhammad Sadiq and the Ahmadiyya movement, she converted to Islam in 1922 and became known as Sister Zeineb.


Muslims in the US Fear Worse Repression If Kavanaugh Joins the Court

GettyImages-547165632-1200x801Amid the ongoing protests against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, there is yet another reason for upset and outrage about this nominee: the threat Kavanaugh poses to the Muslim American community. If his record is any indication, Kavanaugh would support legal rulings that further marginalize Muslim Americans and other oppressed communities in the US and abroad.

Attorney Madihha Ahussain, who provides special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy and educational organization, is troubled by Kavanaugh’s nomination. “A lot of the mobilizing we have seen from allies and partners has been in the space of health care and women’s rights issues, given Kavanaugh’s record on some of these issues specifically,” Ahussain said. “However, when it comes to issues related to the American Muslim community, much of the concern stems from his views on presidential power and national security/detention issues.”

For starters, Judge Kavanaugh played an important role in craftingPresident George W. Bush’s ludicrous detention and interrogation policies.

In Omar v. McHugh, Kavanaugh supported rejecting the habeas petition of a Muslim US citizen who was in US military custody and facing transfer to potential torture in Iraqi custody. Similarly, in Saleh v. Titan Corp, Judge Kavanaugh decided to support barring of state law tort claims against a private military contractor despite the fact that there are no federal statutes required for such an outcome. A review of Kavanaugh’s rulings on national security showed an unwillingness to protect detainees from a “risk of torture and other abuse in a receiving country.” He has also shielded military contractors from lawsuits and defended the bulk collection of citizens’ phone records by the NSA.