Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Mahdi Al Muntazer or The Antichrist? : Flip The Coin.

Before Jesus second coming, both Muslims and Christians through interpreting the prophecies of their religions, believe of the coming of a world leader to stay for about 7 years or so. See how amazingly the prophecies are the opposite in both religions:
1- For Muslims he is the Mahdi (The Awaited Divinely-Guided One) and for Christians the Anti-Christ.
2- For the Muslims he will pave the way to Jesus. For Christians he is the enemy of Jesus.
3- There is time of tribulation during part of this period Christians think it is done by the Antichrist but Muslims believe it is due to people are going afar from God and undermining his invitation to come back to him.
4- Both agree he is a Political leader. For Muslims he will bring peace and Justice to the world. For Christians he would bring a false peace and chaos to earth.
5- The rupture that would occur as he comes to world politics is thought to happen where Christians will meet Jesus in the air (interpretation of the sudden absence of the church in the book of revelation). Muslims interpret that as Christians will voluntarily convert to Islam ( God Knows better).
So who is right.
1- A simple way to know that is to flip the coin.
2- However , to know with a much higher probability is to examine the Quran. If it is from God the Muslims are right , if it is false and not truly from God Christians are right.
3-The other way is to examine his message if it is like that of Jesus he is pro-Christ if the opposite he is the anti-Christ.
Make the thinking yourself no one will take your place in heaven or will give you his.
4- The third way is to go through the prophecies of both religions and compare it by the current geopolitics of the world.

If you still feel lazy just flip the coin and see what he turns to be.

Transforming Concept Of One God.

We find that the universe is like a superbly written, fascinating book - can it be without an author?


By: Khurshid Ahmad

Tawhid is a transforming concept that constitutes the essence of the teachings of Islam. It means that there is only one supreme Lord of the universe. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and the sustainer of the world and of mankind. Now can one observe the inexhaustible creativity of nature, its purposefulness, its preservation of that which is morally useful and destruction of that which is socially injurious, and yet fail to draw the conclusion that behind nature there is an all-pervading mind of whose incessant creative activity the processes of nature are but outward manifestations? The stars scattered through infinite space, the vast panorama of nature with its charm and beauty, the regular waxing and waning of the moon, the astonishing harmony of the seasons - all of these point towards one fact: there is a God. We witness a superbly flawless plan in the universe - can it be without a planner? We see great enchanting beauty and harmony in its working can they be without a creator? We observe wonderful design in nature can't be without a designer? We feel a lofty purpose in physical and human existence - can it be without a will working behind it? We find that the universe is like a superbly written, fascinating book - can it be without an author? Truly, God said: O, Mankind: worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may ward off evil; Who has made the earth a resting place for you, the sky a canopy and Who causes water to pour down from the heavens, thereby producing fruits as food for you. So do not set up rivals to God, when you know better. (Quran 2:21-22) This is the basic tenet to which Muhammad asked humanity to adhere. It is an important metaphysical concept and answers the riddles of the universe. It points to the supremacy of law in the cosmos and the all-pervading unity behind the manifest diversity. It presents a unified view of the world and offers the vision of an integrated universe. It is a mighty contrast to the piecemeal views of the scientists and the philosophers and unveils the truth before the human eye. After centuries of groping in the dark, man is now coming to realize the truth of this concept, and modern scientific thought is moving in this direction. But it is not merely a metaphysical concept: it is a dynamic belief and a revolutionary doctrine. It means that all men are the creatures of one God and that they are therefore all equal. Any discrimination based on color, class, race, or territory is unfounded and illusory. It is a remnant of the days of ignorance that chained men down to servitude. Humanity is one single family under God, and there can be no sanction for those barriers. Men are one - and not bourgeois or proletarian, white or black, Aryan or non-Aryan, westerner or easterner. Islam gives us a revolutionary concept of the unity of mankind. The Prophet came to unite humanity on the word of God, which says: Cling firmly together by means of God's rope, and do not be divided. Remember God's favor towards you when you were enemies; He united your hearts so that you became brothers because of His favor. (Quran 3:103) This concept also defines the true position of man in the universe. It says that God is the Creator and the Sovereign, while man is His vicegerent on the earth. This exalts man to the noble and dignified position of being God's deputy on earth and endows his life with a lofty purpose: to fulfill the will of God on earth. This will solve all the perplexing problems of human society and establish a new order wherein equity and justice, as well as peace and prosperity, will reign supreme. The starting point of Islam is the belief in the oneness of God (tawhid).

Excerpted from Islam Basic Principles & Characteristics by Professor Khurshid Ahmad

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Why I Can Not Be The President Of USA?

By: Maged Taman

When I made Taman Health Plan which takes care of all the Americans main problems for generations to come : health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social security and Pensions I teased the American politicians by sending this plan to over 70 main organizations in USA in health care, long term care, economics and politics.

I knew at that time it will reach them and indirectly I let them know that is my reward is to have a large plan to restructure the Arab and Muslims world as I did to them with my Taman Health Plan. I was hoping to see a plan that fight dictatorship, corruption and eradicate extremism. That was few months prior to the 2004 presidential election when this happened. People at that time were wandering if I am a presidential candidate, dropped from the sky or sent by God. The last one was my choice.

The attention I got allowed me to express to them my ideas through the newspapers. Since they felt that I am going strongly against the Arab tyrants they kept my name secret as one of the last kept secrets in America. They were tape wiring my phones even before I realize that which allowed them to be certain that I have no connection to any political organization what so ever.

Through this and this website I continued to communicate with them politicians, media and intellectuals. I think some people believe I am guided by God others think I should be seeing a psychiatrist. If you are following my story from day one you will believe the first if you are just jumping in you will assume the second. If you go through my Taman Health Plan ( ) you will now that God talks to me or I am a real genius. I believe the first. If you ask many well known American politicians or media commentators about me they will not be able to give you a straight answer.

Others may even thought or felt I may have a political ambitions to be the president of USA one day. These are the reasons that I can not be:
1- No one asked me, thank you.
2- I would create millions of enemies to me inside America and outside.
3- If I belong to one party about 25% of the other party will hate me even if I dance for them the Samba, the Rumba or the Lebanese Debka. If I am independent I may even get more hate votes.
4- I would be likely paralysed from making major decisions by the interest groups, the competing party or the people who would like to keep the status quo of the world.
5- The media will find stories to attack me and will pick on everything I say or do.
6- I forgot I am not even an American and I just got my green card.

So what is my ambitions? , please read again this article it is the same to spread democracy and eradicate corruption and terrorism from the Arab and Muslims world.
Who do I give Taman Health Plan to? the American people.
Who would get the credit for the plan? the American politician who would make major positive changes in the Arab and Muslims world.
What I get for myself? the same thing God gave me the Taman Health Plan for: I would see new Arab and Muslim generations living in prosperity, democracy and peace.

Who will be this American Politician? the one who will be the next Ronald Reagan.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Post 9/11, Islam flourishes among US blacks


Reuters Monday, 26 February 2007

ATLANTA: Islam is growing fast among African Americans, who are undeterred by increased scrutiny of Muslims in the United States since the September 11 attacks, according to imams and experts.
Converts within the black community say they are attracted to the disciplines of prayer, the emphasis within Islam on submission to God and the religion's affinity with people who are oppressed.
Some blacks are also suspicious of US government warnings about the emergence of new enemies since the 2001 attacks because of memories of how the establishment demonised civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
As a result, they are willing to view Islam as a legitimate alternative to Christianity, the majority religion among US blacks.
"It is one of the fastest-growing religions in America," said Lawrence Mamiya, professor of religion at Vassar College, speaking of Islam among black Americans.
He said there were up to 2 million black US Muslims but acknowledged there are no precise figures.
"It's not viewed (by authorities) as a threat because the numbers are small and once we get past the war on terror and all the negative images then it will continue to spread."
Black Americans typically attend mosques separate from Muslims from immigrant backgrounds despite sharing common beliefs, according to Aminah McCloud, religious studies professor at DePaul University in Chicago.
But imams in Atlanta, a US centre for black Muslims, said they were subjected to less scrutiny than Muslims from the Middle East and Indian sub-continent.
Many blacks converted during the civil rights era, when Malcolm X helped popularise the Nation of Islam, attracting boxer Muhammad Ali among others. Islam still attracts prominent blacks such as rapper Scarface, a recent convert.
But the Nation of Islam has declined as a force at the expense of an association of mosques led by Warith Deen Muhammad, the son of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who died in 1975.
At a street-corner mosque in one of Atlanta's oldest and poorest neighbourhoods, a recent Friday sermon illustrated the power of the history of Islam in the United States for blacks.
Men and women sat separately on the mosque floor, heads covered, as cleric Nadim Ali recounted stories from history of Muslim slaves brought from Africa who struggled to uphold their faith in the face of slaveholders' opposition.
If Muslims could remain true to Islam under slavery, the audience should follow their example, Ali said at the Community Masjid of Atlanta in the city's West End district.
"You are talking about a people who were cut off from their roots . . .. Islam reconnects you with Africa and with other parts of the world so your peoplehood transcends race," Ali said later in an interview.
The mosque has a direct link to a slice of black history. It was founded by H. Rap Brown, a one-time member of the 1960s Black Panthers group. Brown became a Muslim in prison in the 1970s and changed his name to Jamil al-Amin.
He was convicted for killing a sheriff's deputy in Georgia in March 2000 and is serving a sentence of life without parole, but in his absence the mosque has continued what Ali said was the low-profile work of building a local Muslim community.
The mosque teaches there was no distinction between Sunni and Shi'ite within Islam, according to people who attend regularly. Sermons urged Muslims to find work, stay free from crime and drugs and maintain stable family lives.
Ali said he assumed the mosque was bugged and infiltrated by informers, in part because its leaders remained skeptical about US policies since Sept. 11.
"They (the government) unplug black people and plug in Arabs or Muslims. They unplug Arabs and plug in communists. America needs war to maintain its economic status," he said.
The larger Masjid of al-Islam mosque in another mainly black neighbourhood of Atlanta is part of Warith Deen Muhammad's group. Its imam, Plemon el-Amin, said he was involved with local interfaith work as well as with a local Islamic school.
One recent Friday, Mark King, a new convert, and hundreds of others at the mosque listened to a preacher urge Muslims to seek God through the Koran. Followers of other faiths should seek God through their own holy books, the preacher said.
King, who wears his hair in dreadlocks, converted after visiting Africa for the first time and in Gambia read the Koran and realised its teaching chimed with his own beliefs, not least in fighting injustice.
"For young African Americans, there is some attraction to learning about traditions that have been associated with resistance to European imperialism," said King, who has adopted the name Bilal Mansa since his conversion.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Women "Surge for Peace"

Omnibus Peace Bill Needs House Sponsors to "Bring Our Troops Home"

It's time for Congress to exercise their oversight authority and pass BINDING legislation to deal with the costly and deadly situation in Iraq. After last week's pros-and-cons marathon in the House, they finally passed the "non-binding" resolution opposing the troop surge by a vote of 246 to 182. Now it's time to get serious. We must urge, no demand, that our Representatives co-sponsor H.R. 508, introduced by Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), a comprehensive plan to disengage from Iraq within 6 months after enactment and make reparations for the damages that our invasion and occupation have caused to Iraq's people and infrastructure.
Take Action NOW
NOW members and millions of others have voiced their opposition to the war and the occupation of Iraq, both in the streets and at the ballot box. Yet President Bush affirmed his plans to send over 20,000 additional troops to Iraq in his State of the Union address. Last month, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus fought back by introducing the binding Bring Our Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Act, H.R. 508. Others have introduced similar bills, including Reps. McGovern and Nadler and Senator Feingold, but NOW supports H.R. 508, the most comprehensive of these measures.
Our cumulative voices and support must be heard in order to win our women's "surge for peace".
Take Action NOW
This comprehensive bill not only ends the occupation of Iraq and repeals the now infamous vote that allowed us to invade Iraq, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. It also puts U.S.-trained security forces and military operations into the hands of the elected Iraqi government within 6 months of the date of enactment. H.R. 508 supports U.S. soldiers by funding health care commitments to returning veterans. To prevent future abuses of power by the president, this bill prohibits funding for any more troops in Iraq, and bans permanent U.S. bases there.
So far the Iraq invasion and occupation has cost U.S. taxpayers almost 400 billion dollars, plus the unknown cost of rebuilding Iraq and the future physical and mental health services needed for returning troops. This enormous outlay of public funds not only racks up debt for future generations, but also re-allocates money that should be used for domestic human needs programs, including expanding education, healthcare, and support for Katrina victims to name a few.
By continuing his ill-advised war, Bush is prolonging the physical, psychological and economic suffering of women and their families. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of women, men and children -- both soldiers and civilians -- have been killed, injured, and sexually abused in Iraq. Rape and abduction of women and girls increases significantly under military occupation and perpetrators are rarely apprehended and prosecuted in such a violent and hostile environment. Families are destroyed, and women and children are left as refugees.
Bring Them Home and Help Rebuild Iraq: Take Action NOW

Blogger Comment:
I was one of the supporters of the war before it was started, in my bedroom watching my little TV. I was hoping for democracy in this area and punshing Saddam for crimes against humanity. President Bush and the Neocons had good intentions when they launched the war. However, they did not predict how tough it could be. Though many in the Arab and Muslims world doubted the intentions of Americans given the chronic wrong policies in the area I trusted their intentions at least some of them. To know how much it is complicated the Saudi and other regimes who secretly supported the war or was helping anyway did not want it to be an easy walk. The Muslim and Arab world should have taken the lead to stop this sectarian violence. Going out of Iraq although has its problems it looks a must do now. I think we made it a part of war in terror and it was not and should not be. I do think the war on terror should not be personalized. I think we should not negotiate with jihadis/terrorists and meantime we should drastically change our policies in the area. I was watching a conference recently about Jihahdis we are playing into their plans. They want the major part of Islamic pyramid to engage in the war against the west through provocation of the west to conduct unjust and disgusting acts against Muslims. In my country we have a proverb "pull the rug from under their feet". Violence creates counter violence and hardliners invite hardliners. Playing nice and calling for peace is not embarrassing it is the message of Jesus if we to read the bible. It is like a good and strong cop, bad guys fear him and he keeps peace while smiling to the children in the streets.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Land of Canaan should be a Place of Peace and Reconciliation for all True Religions


The place referred to in historical sources as "the land of Canaan" is where currently Palestine and Israel reside in. This is a blessed land of many holy sites, a land where many prophets have lived and called on their peoples to believe in God's existence and unity. For this reason, the land of Canaan is sacred to the peoples of the three divine religions, in other words, Muslims, Jews, and Christians. This sacred place which brings together representatives of the three religions of the book is extremely important in terms of knowing the common elements of their religions and their faith in one God, whereby they love and respect each other.
In the Qur'an, God presents Jews and Christians as People of the Book, as well as explaining to Muslims in detail what their responsibilities towards them are. People of the Book are aware of the sacred and the profane, and base their moral practices on divine inspiration from God. According to the morality preached by the Qur'an, and the practices of our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), it is required that Muslims treat Jewish people and Christians with love, care, tolerance, and respect. The call of Muslims to Jews and Christians is revealed thus in the Qur'an:
"We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and we submit to Him." (Qur'an, 29:46)
This call makes it very clear what Muslims' point of view towards the People of the Book is: We live according to the moral principles professed by our holy books by respecting the limits made clear by God, by loving and respecting the messengers sent by our Lord, and by having faith in one God. Which is why we are beholden to treat each other with care, understanding, respect, and love.
We All Love and Respect the Same Prophets
Muslims have faith in all of the prophets which have been sent. They believe in the holy books sent to people by prophets in the past. One verse of the Qur'an explains this as follows:
Say, "We believe in God and what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and what Moses and Jesus and all the prophets were given by their Lord. We do not differentiate between any of them. We are Muslims submitted to Him." (Qur'an, 3:84)
Prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Aaron, David, Solomon, John, Jesus, and Moses (peace be upon them all) are as important to Muslims as they are to Jews and Christians.
The respect of Jews for Moses (pbuh) who is also a prophet of ours and their close bonds with him over thousands of years are very important to sincere Muslims. The great love of Christians for Jesus (pbuh) and their heartfelt attachment to him is of similar importance to Muslims. Of course those who feel love and respect for Prophets Jacob, Isaac, Ishmael, Abraham, Lot, Ayyub, Moses, Jesus, John and other prophets (peace be upon them all) are highly valued people for whom naturally Muslims will feel love and affection and approach with understanding and compassion. Anything opposing this is not possible.
We Should All Live in Peace in Canaan, the Land of Prophets
All believers desire in their hearts, and reap great joy from this, that the people who believe in the same prophets should live in security, love and peace in the land of Canaan - and in fact throughout the entire world. The children of the three divine religions - Prophet Ishmael's (pbuh) children, the Muslim Arabs, Prophet Moses' (pbuh) children, the Jews, and Prophet Jesus' (pbuh) children, the Christians - should be able to live as they desire in the land of Canaan. Jews, Christians and Muslims should be able to practice their religions as they want there, and should be able to live their lives in peace and comfort there, without any fear. It should be the common ideal for all believers.
The land of Canaan is the land of the ancestors of Christians, Jews and Muslims, the descendants of Prophet Abraham (pbuh). Their ancestors have lived and died on this land. Just as their ancestors did, they have the right to worship, live life, and reside in these lands. In these lands - as in the rest of the world - nobody can interfere with them or their worship, limit their movements or place restrictions on them. This is an order from God to all believers in the Qu'ran. All the sacred places and the homes in which the name of God is remembered are under the protection of our Lord. The obligation of the believers is to protect these places where God's name is remembered and believers worship to gain the pleasure of God. God tells us in the Qu'ran:
Those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, "Our Lord is God" (if God had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God's name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. God will certainly help those who help Him - God is All-Strong, Almighty). (Qur'an, 22:40)
But the reality is that because of some radical elements among these three religions, attempts to spread clash and chaos, instead of peace and security, in these sacred lands are common and believers are being dismayed. This is not, however, an acceptable situation. Killing people or trying to remove them forceably from their land are actions anathema to the beliefs of Jewish and Muslim people. It is such an attack on the lineage of the prophets that any true person of faith, either Muslim or Jewish, could not accept it. An attempt to wipe out Prophet Jacob's (pbuh) line is a kind of wrongdoing every truly faithful Muslim would be against. At the same time, attacks whose aim is to wipe out the line of Prophet Ishmael (pbuh) can clearly not be allowed. All true believers must make their attitude known clearly regarding this Dajjal-like (Antichrist-like) game constructed on violence and aggressiveness. It must not be forgotten that Muslims, Jews and Christians should not be fighting against each other, but should be engaged in an intellectual struggle against the threat to all of our societies, irreligion and atheism. All Muslims, Christians and Jews who love God and the prophets should guard against this danger.
With so much strong threat of atheism, materialism and Darwinism in the world today, Jews, with their ties to Prophets Abraham and Moses (peace be upon them), and their faith which has lasted thousands of years, are very precious to Muslims. In the same way, Christians all over the world expressing their faith in God, and their love for Prophets Jesus and John (peace be upon them), are very precious to Muslims. It is a thing of joy for Muslims to see their faith and ties to Jesus (pbuh) over two thousand years. Which is why true Muslims should want from their hearts for Jews and Christians to have stronger faith, and to love God more. Conclusion
The land of Canaan should not be one where Jews and Palestinian Muslims live in fear and terror. Muslims and Jews should immediately put an end to the cruelty, the politics of terror, the oppression, in short the violence. All believers in the religions of the book should be able to live on these lands in comfort, tranquility, safety and peace and lead prosperous lives. There is no place for enmity in the morality prescribed by God. The answer is to be individually determined on friendship, affection and compassion, seeking God's good pleasure without any expectation of reward. In the Qu'ran God tells us that superior morality will destroy enmity:
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. None will obtain it but those who are truly steadfast. None will obtain it but those who have great good fortune. (Qur'an, 41:34-35)
The example of the history shows us that in these lands it is possible to re-establish a system open to respect and affection in which every group can live in safety and in freedom such as the one which operated through the vision of the Ottomans. As Muslims, it is one of our greatest desires that the Jews should live and trade freely in the land of their forefathers, cooperate freely with other nations in the political, commercial and artistic fields and be free to worship wherever they wish. In the same way, it is extremely important to provide all the means that the Palestinian Muslims should have freedom of movement in the lands of Israel, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and be able to worship in peace and that they should live in brotherhood with the Jews.
God willing, within a very short time better and brighter days will come when all Christians, Muslims and Jews will live in brotherhood. With the power of sincere faith it will be possible to achieve a world in which peace, security, goodwill and affection hold sway. This is a promise from God to all true believers. Our Lord gives the good news to the faithful in the Qur'an thus:
God has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land as He made those before them successors, and will firmly establish for them their religion with which He is pleased and give them, in place of their fear, security. They worship Me, not associating anything with Me. Any who disbelieve after that, such people are deviators. (Qur'an, 24:55)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Corruption: an evil Arab governments are sticking to


By Sufyan Alissa
Commentary by Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Are economic and political reforms an effective way to combat corruption, or do changes such as privatizing state industries actually increase opportunities for corruption? There is not a single answer to the question, but a closer look at the types of corruption that are endemic in various Arab states and the nature of current reform policies can help explain how reform and corruption interact.
There are three main types of corruption in the Arab world. The first is petty corruption such as that of a policeman in a country such as Syria taking a bribe to forgive a traffic offence. The second is massive corruption, which plagues the economies of many countries in the region, especially in the Gulf. This type of corruption takes place during multi-million-dollar contract negotiations between state officials and business leaders to secure business deals. A good example of such corruption is arrangements by BAE Systems PLC, Britain's biggest and most influential arms company, during the Al-Yamamah arms deals in the 1980s with Saudi Arabia. British Prime Minster Tony Blair intervened directly to stop a probe under the pretext of protecting British national interest - an example of how Western powers reinforce corruption in the Arab world.
The third type is political corruption, which is difficult to pin down but plagues the economic health of most countries in the Arab world. Political corruption is the use of economic deals and benefits to reward political allies, which invariably leads to massive diversion of public resources to unproductive activities. It also leads to elite resistance to reform programs that would level the business playing field.
The causes of corruption vary across Arab countries, but are often linked in one way or another to state intervention and the structure of economies and public sectors. In the Gulf countries, much of the corruption stems from the lack of transparency and procedures to guarantee competition in government procurement and contracts. Another problem is the absence of strong enforcement mechanisms for anti-corruption laws, which allows corrupt senior officials to escape any real punishment. The best example of such failure is Bahrain, which has useful anti-corruption laws but weak state enforcement. A similar problem exists in Iraq.
In the Levant and North Africa, large-scale bribery, embezzlement, and fraud are linked to the structure of the public sector and the nature of relations between the government and the economy. The Khelifa Bank case, the largest corruption probe in Algeria's history, involving some $2 billion, is an excellent example of corruption in state institutions. Corruption in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon is also caused by the lack of proper standards of good governance, low salaries for civil servants, and the failure to introduce substantial institutional reform in the executive and legislative branches of government.
Ultimately it is the nature of reform efforts that determines whether they will inhibit or facilitate corruption. Thus far, many governments have opted for uncontroversial programs that aim to promote regime stability rather than transform economies or polities. Within such limited reforms programs one cannot expect that corruption will be significantly reduced; rather, corruption may increase and hinder the effectiveness of reforms.
Fighting corruption requires a real change in the distribution and disposition of institutional power to prevent the people who benefit from the current economic and political arrangements from using their political power to gain privileges at the expense of the public interest. As yet there is little evidence that Arab governments are willing to go that far.
Sufyan Alissa is an associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. This commentary is reprinted with permission from the Arab Reform Bulletin, Vol. 5, issue 1 (February 2007) (c) 2007, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Bloger Comment:
That is why the Arab governments would resist major changes. To combat corruption as Sufyan mentioned we would need real change. These are some of the measures:
1- Real free elections.
2- Strong free and responsible media that is not under the oppressive hands of government, parties or interest groups. We need real independent media that is honest and responsible that allow the ordinary people to get all the facts even the hidden one.
3- Get the hierarchy of government built well from the top with the honest guys in the top of governments.
4- To have fewer but more well paid jobs within the government.
5- Good banking system that allow financial aids to go directly to the hands of people and not through governments.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How Can We Convert Muslims To Islam?

By: Maged Taman

It sounds funny, but believe me I am serious. If we are eager as Muslims to spread Islam we have first to convert ourselves to Islam. Someone would tell me who in hell are you to say that. I would say I am chosen to say that and if I am chosen to say that, it means you are guys very bad (just kidding). Sorry can not resist not to crack a joke even when I am serious, that is me. Let me first tell you what diseases we have in Muslim world:

1- Selfishness: everyone is running in his own direction caring only about himself or his close family member. This worked well for the tyrants since we are not willing to get together to oppose them.
2- Envoy: we are rather see each other fall rather than we see all of us climb high together. This is a human disease since God created man but is particularly common now. Even you can find it in religious leaders that why we are not one heart.
3- Isolated or inward spirituality: this what usually Arab governments want us to have a spirituality isolated from real life. They do not care about morals or religious awakening they are interested to protect their kingdoms. A lot of Muslims have good spirituality and spent a lot of time in worshipping God, but they do not take it a step further to get Islam applied in out daily relations and have our leaders abide by the justice of Islam and fear corruption.
4- Extremism: I can understand the anger and resentment of Muslims. The thing I do not understand is how extreme measures would solve our problems.
5- Street Morals: the morals of Islam is replaced in daily life of Muslims in many places by street morals. Sayings of these street morals: look for your interest, the kind people spit on him, divide and you prevail, the world is like a sea a big fish eat the little ones, the thing you win with play with and so forth.
6- Hopelessness: In my country when I used to express my frustrations about what state we are in people would say the common proverb "are you the one who will change the world".
7- Blaming America and Israel: there were wrong policies from America and we took Israel an enemy and they did the same in return.
8-Competition: people still in the Arab and Muslim worlds do not realize that there is a difference between ambition, competition and envy. The first two are healthy the last one is detrimental not only for others but for ourselves. You find in a lot of work places people make one another life miserable though their real interest is to have each of them happy and successful. Our GDP (gross domestic product an economic measure is the collective input of all of our productions) similarly our real GDP is happiness is a collective one. If each of us is happy the world will be full of happiness. When people watch a play many times they laugh more for sharing their laughs than the actual jokes of the play.
9- Shia and Sunni against one another: In Islam there is only one sect at time of the prophet: Muslims and it should remain the same. The family of Muhammad (PBUH) are great but he would never accepted that we divide in two sects because of them.
10- Anti-Christians or Anti-Jews: it has no place in Islam. Satan want us to be all enemies.

Thus to Convert Muslims back to Islam:
1- We become less selfish and look after the others and our collective welfare.
2- Overcome envy that make us too selfish to see others succeed and destroy our big dreams.
3- To have outward spirituality means that you decide to live with God not only in your isolated self but as he want you to do it in our daily and political lives.
4-Moderation: Islam is the religion of moderation. As the west opens the dialogue to us we would be able to change the world for better.
5- Islamic morals: the Islam we inherited from the prophet and his first companions gave us the straight path and the real morals that were displaced by street morals.
6- Hopefulness: yes we can change the world. There is no single person that can change the world the most he can do is to call our minds and hearts to the lost message of God for the real understanding of his message, justice and peace. He is not necessarily better than us but he cared enough to make the call.
7- Reconciling with America and Israel: not from a stand of the weak or oppressed but from the stand of the wise and free.
8- Coalition: we should not compete to destroy ourselves but we should work together to improve the cause of Islam, humanity, justice and peace.
9- We should be one sect again Muslims. How we can unite the world if we are dividing ourselves.
10- Christians and Jews are not the enemies but the enemy is within. We can be a great nation again we can win America and secure Israel. If there is Caliphate it is not which city it will be in but what it would do for humanity.

Prophets: Perfect Model for Humanity.


By: Saiyid Sulaiman Nadwi IslamiCity* -

History has preserved the life-stories of men, thousands in number, who had achieved eminence in one field or the other. All of them have left their imprints on the pages of history. There are amongst them emperors surrounded by the splendor of royal courts, an array of military commanders and generals, philosophers lost in their thoughts, mighty conquerors intoxicated with power, poets singing to cheer their own solitude with sweet songs and the affluent rolling in riches . All of them have attraction of their own for the sons of Adam. Whether it be Hannibal of Carthage, or Alexander of Macedonia, or Caesar of Rome, or Darius of Iran, or yet Napoleon of France, the life of each has a fascination for the posterity. Similarly alluring are the lives of all philosophers from Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Diogenes of the ancients to Spencer of England. Even the lives of Nimrod and Pharaoh, Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab and Korah depict yet another trait of human nature and character; but the question is, who amongst these, can be deemed as a model of goodness and virtue fit to be followed by other human beings? Great generals and conquerors, indeed were they, who swept everything before them by their sword, but did they also succeed in leaving an ennobling example of their lives to be followed by others? They had won brilliant victories, but were they able to cut the shackles of superstition and credulous beliefs? Did they solve any social problem besetting equality and brotherhood of human beings? Did they succeed in restoring our moral and spiritual health and happiness or in eradicating the faults and failings of our desires? Did they present any model of moral rectitude and decorous behavior for the posterity?World has given birth to great poets. But, these were painters of fantasy, merely starry-eyed utopians unfit to be assigned any place in the Republic of Plato.There have been sages and philosophers who have plumbed the secrets of nature beyond the limits of perception and changed the concept of things and materials. They have, nevertheless, failed to produce any blueprint for the practical guidance of humanity. For their flight of imagination lacked practical wisdom, they could never provide man with any guidance in the discharge of his obligations. Aristotle was the precursor of ethical philosophy now studied in every university. His brilliant exposition of ethical impulsions is esteemed highly both by the learned and the learners, but how many of them have been able to betake the path of virtue by reading his dissertations? Teachers well-versed in ethical philosophy can be found almost in every institution of higher learning, who know all about its premises and principles, but has their impact been ever felt beyond their class-rooms? On the contrary, we find that very often their conduct and behavior are no better than those of the man on the street. To walk in the right path one has not to hear the sermons but to see the living examples of cardinal virtues.Powerful kings and emperors have also appeared on the stage of this world. They have extended their dominions, played with the life and property of their fellow beings, extracted wealth through taxes and tithes from some and bestowed their bounties on others. They have demeaned on to exalt the other. The Book of God presents, in the words of the Queen of Sheba, this rare picture of their doings on the earth:"Lo! kings, when they enter a township, ruin it and make the honor of its people shame." (Quran, 27:34)The swords of mighty kings have hanged over the heads of criminals in thoroughfares and market places, but they have failed to reach the guilt concealed in the minds and hearts of men. They have enforced law and order in the habitations and townships, but the kingdom of spirit has ever been beyond their reach, or, rather, their own courts and castles have been the breeding dens of moral confusion and spiritual anarchy. What else have the kings like Alexanders and Caesars left for us? How many lawgivers has the world seen from Solon to this day? Their laws were not only short-lived but also failed to cleanse the hearts and purify the morals. Subsequent rulers always placed a new set of laws on the statute book, albeit more often to further their own interests than to enforce the rules of equity. The world has not changed even today. Still, the legislatures in every country make and unmake laws endlessly, but seldom their labors are for the benefit of the people whom they profess to represent. It is more the interest of the powers that be which they seek to promote.
The prophets adorn and illuminate the soul of man: the zealous preachings of Noah, the unshakable principle of God's oneness upheld by Abraham, the patrimony of resignation to Divine will bequeathed by Isaac, the self-sacrifice of Ishmael, the indefatigable efforts of Moses, the faithfulness of Aaron, the self-resignation of Jacob, the lamentations of David, the wisdom of Solomon, the litanies of Zachariah, the chastity of John, the piety of Jesus, the penitence of Jonah, the strenuous exertion of Lot and the endurance of Job have made the life of man winsome and bright
These are, broadly, the higher sections of society which could be expected to work for the welfare of humanity. If you give further thoughts to the matter you would see that whatever light of goodness and virtue you find in the world today, it owes its existence to the pure-hearted souls whom you know by the name of prophets and messengers of God. Wherever you come across compassion and justice and a sincere desire to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the downtrodden, no matter whether these are found in the cave of a mountain or a dense forest or a populous city, they are due to the call given by one of these men of God. The Quran tells us:"There is not a nation but a warner hath passed among them." (Quran, 35:24)"For every folk a guide." (Quran, 13:7)The lustre of their teachings is to be found today in every country and nation; savages and the civilized people of the world are both equally indebted to them for edification of their souls. Of all the groups of men we have mentioned afore, the most august are they, for they rule not over the bodies of men like the kings, but their authority is enshrined in the hearts of the people. Their kingdom is not of lands and countries, but of hearts and spirits: they do now wield the sword, yet they obliterate the stains of guilt and iniquity at one stroke; they are not dreamy-eyed songsmiths, yet the sweetness of their speech delights the soul; they are neither senators nor law-makers, yet the laws given by them regulate the conduct of statesmen and judges, kings and subjects from age to age. This is not a question of faith or conviction but a matter of fact and history. One has to see whether it has actually been so or not. The edicts of Patliputra's Ashoka are engraved on the pillars of stones, but those of the Buddha are inscribed in the hearts of people. The decrees of the rulers of Ujjain, Hastinapur, Delhi and Kannauj are no more to be found today, but the Dharma Shastra of Manu still prevails. The statutes of Hamurabbi, the King of Babel, have long been buried under the dust, but Abraham's teachings are still alive! Pharaoh's imprudent demand to pay divine honors to him was a transient as the clouds, but Moses still lives in his teachings. How long did the laws of Solon remain in force, but the laws of Torah are still the measure of justice! The Roman Law which persecuted Jesus Christ became extinct long ago, but the doctrines of love that flowed from the lips of Jesus still redeem the wrongdoers and wash them of their sins. The Abu Jahls of Mecca, the Chosroes of Iran and the Caesars of Rome are all dead and gone, but the Lord of Madina still rules over the hearts of people in every part of the world.If these facts are correct, one would have to concede, not on grounds of faith, but through reason and logic of stubborn facts, that no other class of people except the prophets has worked for the welfare and happiness of mankind in its truest sense; theirs was the endeavor consisting of virtue and goodness, purity of heart, moderation and temperance. They all came to this world as messengers of God to preach the gospel of Truth and Faith, and they left their footsteps of righteousness to be followed by the coming generations. It is from their teachings alone that the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor and the learned and the illiterate can derive equal benefit."That is Our argument. We gave it unto Abraham against the folk. We raise unto degrees of wisdom whom We will. Lo! thy Lord is Wise, Aware. And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob; each of them We guided; and Noah did We guide aforetime; and of his seed (We guided) David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do we reward the good. And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them) was of the righteous. And Ishmael and Elisa and Jonah and Lot. Each one (of them) did We prefer above (Our) creatures, With some of their forefathers and their off-spring and their brethren; and We chose them and guided them unto a straight path. Such is the guidance of Allah wherewith He guideth whom he will of His bondmen. But if they had set up (for worship) aught beside Him, (all) that they did would have been vain. Those are they unto whom We gave the Scripture and command and prophethood. But if these disbelieve therein, then indeed We shall entrust it to a people who will not be disbelievers therein. Those are they whom Allah guideth, so follow their guidance." (Quran 6:84-91)These luminous verses of the Quran speak of a particular group among men, some of whom have been mentioned by name, who had been sent to cure the spiritual ailments of mankind and restore its moral health. They were men, holy and angelic in spirit, who preached the word of God in different times and climes and in every land. Whatever of moral rectitude and righteousness, purity and chastity man possesses today, it is all their legacy, and in following their footsteps alone lies the salvation and well-being of humanity. The prophets adorn and illuminate the soul of man: the zealous preachings of Noah, the unshakable principle of God's oneness upheld by Abraham, the patrimony of resignation to Divine will bequeathed by Isaac, the self-sacrifice of Ishmael, the indefatigable efforts of Moses, the faithfulness of Aaron, the self-resignation of Jacob, the lamentations of David, the wisdom of Solomon, the litanies of Zachariah, the chastity of John, the piety of Jesus, the penitence of Jonah, the strenuous exertion of Lot and the endurance of Job have made the life of man winsome and bright. To these consecrated souls can be traced every virtue and goodness found in the world today.There is, however, no denying the fact that culture and civilization, progress and improvement, in short, everything that has contributed towards the welfare and material progress of mankind and helped man to raise himself to the level of vicegerent of God on earth, has been brought about by the combined effort of all men. Astronomers have discovered the movements of heavenly bodies, chemists have found out the properties of substances, physicians have searched the medicines for curing diseases, architects have developed the science and designs of structures and artisans have give birth to useful crafts and fine arts, and all of them have thus a share in the making of our world. We ought to be thankful to all of them. Nevertheless, we are even more obliged to offer our thanks to those who have decorated the world within us. They are the physicians who have cured us of our greed and envy, diagnosed the ailments of our souls and refurbished its lost energy and vigor. They elaborated our behavior patterns and aptitudes, ideas and intentions and showed us the way of attaining purity of heart and sublimity of spirit. It was through the efforts of these God moved souls that the cultural attainments were refined and embellished, the link between man and God, the slave and the Lord, was established. How could the world have attained its excellence if we had been denied the knowledge received through prophetic teachings? We are, verily, indebted more to these men of God than to any other class or group of person. This is the compliment due to the prophets of God and it ought to be paid by all of us whenever their name comes on the lips of anyone. And, this is the benediction taught by Islam to be offered for them: "O God! Have mercy and peace on all of them."

Excerpted from the book "Muhammed, the Ideal Prophet" by Saiyid Sulaiman Nadwi. He was a student of Allama Shibli Nu'mani whose masterpiece, Sirat-Un-Nabi, he edited and presented to the world after his teacher's death. Book can be ordered from

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pilgrimage to Islam.


By Michael David Shapiro

I am ethnically a Russian Jew. My quest began when I was 19 years old. I was recovering from my stint with Scientology (yes I was brainwashed into it). My belief in God was uncertain. My goals in life were to be a rock star. I was living in my Pasadena apartment and working as a secretary. Funny, I know. One night I was walking to the kitchen, and encountered a dark fellow. I remembered asking him: “Can I keep this vodka in the fridge tonight?” We shook hands and went to sleep. After that point, my life changed drastically…This dark fellow, a Muslim, was the first Muslim I had ever met. Extremely curious, I conversed with him about his faith. What’s this stuff I hear about praying 5 times a day? And about Holy War? Who is this Mohammed guy? Our talks were accompanied by our Christian roommate, Wade. Together, we created “The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim dialogue sessions”. In it, we discovered many differences, and many commonalities. My interest had then shifted from sex, drugs, and parties, to a massive search for the truth. A search that I had to complete. A search for God. And a search for how to follow him.In my quest for the truth, I asked myself: “Ok let’s start simple, how many God’s do I think are out there?” I figured only one; knowing that a divided God is weaker than One God; figuring that if one God didn’t agree with the other, there might be arguments and feuds. One God was my choice. Once I opened up mind to the possibility of existence God, I analyzed both atheist and theist beliefs. The thing that directed me to the latter was the quote “Every design has a designer”. With that in mind, eventually I woke up with certainty that God exists. I can’t explain why, I just felt it somehow. This newfound excitement was accompanied by a sense of responsibility to follow the Creator. The world of religion was my next frontier. Then I asked myself, “Where do I start?” There are literally thousands of them. I need a way to narrow them down to a just a few. How do I accomplish such a task? “Find the ones that are monotheistic” entered my mind. “Hey that makes sense, since I believe in only One God.” Ok, then. This ruled out Buddhism and Hinduism, both being polytheistic faiths. The major religions I encountered that fell under the title of Monotheistic, where Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Well since I’m a Jew, I started with Judaism. One God, some prophets, 10 commandments, Torah, Jewish souls…uh, what: “Jewish souls?” While doing research this idea was brought to my attention. The story goes, “if a person is born Jewish, then they have a Jewish soul, and they must follow Judaism.” Hold on a sec…that’s discrimination, isn’t it? That’s not universal. So God makes Jewish souls, and Christian souls, and Muslim souls, and Hindu souls? I thought all men are created equal? So because one is born into a religion that means by the decree of God he must remain in it…even if the person believes it to be false? Hmm…I don’t agree with that. Another thing really bothered me…there is no strict concept of hell in Judaism…then why be good? Why not sin? If I don’t have fear of strict punishment, then why should I be moral? Moving on, I discovered Christianity. Ok, one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost…one more time: one God, a father, a son, and a holy ghost. Uhhh, please explain. How can all those things be one God? 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 right? So how can you say you believe in only one God? Explanation after explanation, equation after equation, comparison after comparison, analogy after analogy, I couldn’t grasp this concept. Ok let’s keep looking here. Ok, next major doctrine: Jesus died for our sins and he did this because we all are polluted with “Original Sin”. So, Jesus Christ, the “son of God”, had to be murdered to save everyone from Hell and cure us of our sin “given” to us by Adam. Ok then, so are you saying that we are all born as sinners? And to sin is to do something wrong right? Then you’re telling me that a one-year old baby is guilty of sin or doing something wrong? Ok that’s strange, so based on the actions of one man, all of mankind must suffer? What’s the moral of that story? Punish the whole group if one deviates? Why would God create such a rule? That’s just not in agreement with my logic. So Jesus died because he “loves mankind”. Hold on, it says in the Bible that Jesus said “father, why have you forsaken me?” So, apparently, Jesus didn’t understand why he was being brutally murdered. But you just said he “volunteered” to be sacrificed. Anyway, I couldn’t accept this belief. Ok, what’s the next religion?Islam. Islam means submission. The main beliefs are as follows: One God, worship God five times a day, give 2.5% annual charity, fast during Ramadan (to be closer to God and appreciate life…among other reasons) and finally journey to Mecca for Hajj if you are able financially. Ok, nothing hard to understand so far. There’s nothing that conflicts with my logic here. The Qur’an is a book with all of these interesting miracles and timeless wisdom. Many scientific facts only discovered recently where proclaimed 1400 years ago in this book. Ok, Islam had passed my initial religious prerequisites. But I wanted to ask some deep questions about it. Is this religion universal? Yes, anyone can understand these basic beliefs…no analogy or equation are needed. Does it agree with science? Yes, dozens of verses in the Qur’an agree with modern science and technology. As I sifted through the countless logical facts that I read through and researched, one thing took my attention the most. “Islam”. The name of this religion. I noticed it is written many times in this Qur’an. However, recalling my prior studies, I didn’t remember once seeing the word “Judaism” in the Old Testament or “Christianity” in the New Testament. This was BIG. Why couldn’t I find the very name of the religions in those two books? Because, there is no name in these books! Thinking…I noticed that “Judaism” could be broken down to “Juda- ism” and “Christianity” could be respectively “Christ-ianity”. So who is Juda? Or Judah, rather. He was the tribe leader of the Hebrews when God revealed his message to mankind. So this religion was named after…a person. Ok let’s look at who Christ is. He was the person who delivered the message of God to the Jews. So this religion was named after…a person. So in recollection, we can deduct that the names of these religions are people’s proper names attached to “ism” and “ianity”. Regardless of that fact, the very names of those religions are not mentioned in their scriptures. I thought that was very odd. If I went door to door selling a product, and I said “Would you like to buy this _______”? Wouldn’t the logical question be: “What is this _____ called?” I would make no money off of a product without a name. Naming is the very basis which humans identify with objects, both physical and non-physical. If religion is supposed to be practiced and spread to every person on earth, shouldn’t there be a NAME for it? Moreover, shouldn’t the name be given to us from God Almighty? YES, my point exactly. The names “Christianity” and “Judaism” were not written in the Holy Scriptures. Humans named them, not God. The notion that God would ordain a religion for mankind to follow with out a name is impossible for my mind to accept. At that point, both Christianity and Judaism lost their credibility as pure, logical, and complete religions, at least from my perspective. Islam is the ONLY of these religions to include the NAME of the religion in its scriptures. This is so huge for me. I realized I would follow Islam at that point. I then became a Muslim. I knew the truth. I was out of the darkness. I came into the light…
Michael's Website

Women In Islam: Tips.


Islam recognizes and fosters the natural differences between men and women despite the natural equality. Some types of work are more suitable for men and other types for women. This in no way diminishes their efforts or its benefit. Islam considers that the reward for the value of work of both sexes should be equal.
Muslim women and Muslim men have the right and obligation to seek for knowledge. They both have the capacity for learning and understanding.
In Islam, a woman has the basic freedom of choice and expression, based on her individual personality.
In Islam, a woman has freedom of choice; she is free to choose her religion also.
Women in Islam are encouraged to contribute their opinions and ideas. Women would pose questions directly to the Prophet and offer their opinions on religion, economics and social matters.
A Muslim woman's testimony is valid in legal disputes. In fact, in areas in which women are more familiar, the evidence is conclusive.
In Islam women are required to acquire appropriate education. Since it is also their obligation to promote good behaviour and condemn bad behaviour in all spheres of life, they have to be well educated to perform this duty in accordance with their own natural talents and interests.
A Muslim woman chooses her husband and keeps her name after marriage.
Concerning motherhood, the Prophet Muhammad said: 'Heaven lies under the feet of mothers.' This implies that the success of a society can be traced to the mothers that raised it.
Islam recognizes that the first and greatest influence on a person comes from the sense of security, affection and training received from the mother. Therefore, a woman having children must be educated and conscientious in order to be a skilful parent.
The right to vote has been given to all Muslim women 1400 years ago (when the Quran was revealed). A woman can voice her opinion on any public matter and participate in politics.
In Islam, men and women are considered equal but different, with unique roles, functions and skills; in society and in the family each member has different responsibilities; Generally, Islam considers that women are entrusted with the nurturing role and men, with the guarding role. Therefore, women are given the right of financial support.
In Islam men and women are equal with different roles and responsibilities. Men are entrusted with guardianship and great financial support. They are required to provide women with not only monetary support but also physical protection and kind and respectful treatment.
The Muslim woman has the privilege to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets in any way she pleases. She can run her own business and no one has any claim on her earnings, including her husband.
In Islam women are granted untouchable economic rights, among which is the right to inherit from their relatives. Both men and women in Islam inherit their legal share from their relatives, a right granted to women 1400 years ago, when the Quran was revealed.
Mary, the mother of Jesus is very highly respected and referred to as a pious and virtuous woman, model for the women in the entire world.
Islam establishes a woman's equality with men in her humanity. Women and men are considered to have both come from the same essence; hence they are equal in their humanity. Neither gender can be superior, because it would be contradiction of equality.
While in Islam the maintenance of a home, providing support to her husband, and bearing, raising and teaching of children are among the first and very highly regarded roles for a woman, if she has the skills to work outside the home for the good of the community, she may do so as long as her family obligations are met.

A Call for Shia Sunni Dialog.


By Abdul Malik Mujahid.

Shia-Sunni violence has been on the rise in the last few years, particularly in Iraq and Pakistan. Every month, it seems, scores of Shias and Sunnis are killed in a vicious tit-for-tat between extremists on both sides. Many of the victims are killed as they pray or are in mosques. These incidents belie the reality of Shia-Sunni coexistence and cooperation. In Iraq, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of marriages are between Shias and Sunnis; victims of violence between the two groups frequently attend each other's funeral prayers; one group often helps the other's victims after an incident. This silent majority must come together through dialog to defeat the terrorists who have been responsible for these killings.Seven reasons why a dialog between Shia and Sunni is needed:
Theological differences between Shia and Sunni are old and are better left for God to judge, as He knows best and has said in the Quran that He is the final judge of religious disagreements. The killing of Shias or Sunnis will not resolve these disputes.
The principle of "no compulsion in matters of faith" (Quran 2:256) is not just limited to Muslim-non-Muslim relations. It applies to Muslim interpretations of Islam as well. This instruction of God serves as a guideline for the Muslim community to not impose one's interpretation on others. That is why throughout history, not only have Hanafis and Shafis worked with each other despite differences, but Shias and Sunnis have lived and worked side by side with each other as well.
When human beings sit down and talk to each other, they learn to respect each other.
Dialog allows parties to understand each other better by allowing participants to acquire direct knowledge about beliefs instead of relying on propaganda and stereotypical images. (Quran 49:6-12)
Dialog will isolate the extremist fringe. It is a major sin to kill a human being. Killing a human being is like killing the whole of humanity. By talking to each other, Shias and Sunnis will be able to save lives, which is like saving the whole of humanity. (Quran 5:32)
Revenge is not justice. Killing in revenge is unjust, inhuman, and un-Islamic. Retribution through the state, which the Quran sanctions via capital punishment does not amount to individuals taking the law in their hands or killing an innocent person in revenge. The call for, "an eye for an eye," does not mean an innocent eye for an innocent eye.
Even if some Shias and Sunnis consider each other enemies, the Quran asks us to be just even toward one's enemy "O you who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do." [Quran 5:8]
Some considerations for dialog:The Shia community like Sunnis is diverse. There are many differences between one Shia group and another. This is why it is important that dialog between Sunnis and Shias becomes a movement and a process throughout society instead of everyone waiting for one high powered dialog to yield some results at the leadership level. Here are some preliminary thoughts on how a dialog between Shias and Sunnis can be beneficial for each side.Goals of dialogAlthough I consider dialog a process that is beneficial to all, it is necessary that everyone involved recognize some of its tangible benefits. The following are a set of achievable goals for Shia-Sunni dialog.
Developing an agenda of common concerns
Identifying issues of conflict
Issuing joint Fatwas against the killings
Isolating extremists on each side
Preventing a potential conflict or mediating an existing conflict
Education to clarify stereotypes about each other
Setting up joint task forces to deal with outstanding issues
Who should participate in the dialog
Imams and caretakers of Masjids
Students of Madrassas
University students
National level religious leadership
Shia and Sunni media persons
Shia and Sunni businesspersons
Mechanism of dialogDialog is a process that should occur at all levels of society. In the 1960s in Pakistan, when Shia- Sunni fights were far less significant, city officers used to convene joint meetings of Shia and Sunni leaders to chalk out Muharram plans so no confusion would result in rioting. These government-arranged dialogs helped keep conflicts at a minimum. Considering the current level of mistrust, it will be beneficial if civil society takes initiatives for dialog at all levels of society.
Private Dialog: Host roundtable discussions initially at the top leadership level that should later expand to include
thers working on different committees.
Public Dialog: Shia and Sunni both use public forums and media to speak to each other's audiences
Visiting each other's Masjids to enhance confidence and to demonstrate that they are not supportive of the extremists who isolate each other.
Shia-Sunni Dinners: Masjids and social associations should invite Shia and Sunni friends to eat with each other publicly.
Publicity of dialogPublicity of the dialog will generate hope and confidence in it and will empower those in dialog vis-a-vis the extremists.
Media should facilitate self-criticism and introspection by the religious leadership
Those leaders who participate in dialog should be recognized through interviews, reports, and documentaries
Investigative reports should be aired and published about the truth behind sectarian propaganda
It is important for society to honor those Shia and Sunni leaders who take initiative and demonstrate leadership in participating in dialog. Sunnis, being members of the majority community, have the higher level of responsibility towards initiating and participating in dialog
Sponsors of DialogFunding always facilitates the beginning of a process in civil society. Every task requires time and money. While participating organizations and individuals can take care of their own costs, it would be very rewarding if some individuals and businesses came forward with funds to sponsor and host these dialogs. American Muslims can start a dialog in North America where there is no conflict in the Shia-Sunni community and then inspire and sponsor dialogs where it is needed the most.Beyond DialogConsidering that Shias and Sunnis live side by side in the Muslim world, they are not unknown to each other, and considering that most of them have nothing to do with the current extremism which is responsible for the killings and violence, it is important for the moderate majority to come up with a few initiatives which are beneficial for Shia- Sunni harmony. These could be communicated in the print form or in any other media. They should discuss the following themes and/or use the methods outlined here:
Khutba points which can help harmony
What type of talk can hurt at personal level
What is common between Shias and Sunnis
Common Hadith between Shias and Sunnis
What is hate speech
Islamic teachings of tolerance
A Shia-Sunni security force, jointly safeguarding each otherĂ¢s houses of worship will be a significant blow to the extremist agenda.
ConclusionShia-Sunni conflict and sectarian terrorism is tearing our community apart. The Quran, the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, the Kaba and the five pillars of Islam are common to Shias and Sunnis. That is why no one in Islamic history has stopped Shias from performing Hajj, although the Kaba has always been in the control of Sunnis. Even today, when those currently in charge of the Kaba are part of a predominantly Salafi establishment, which maintains extremely negative views of Shias, Shias like other Muslims are free to perform Hajj. Shias, by the same token, since the 1979 Iranian revolution, are ordered by Imam Khomeini to pray behind these same Salafi imams instead of praying separately.

Understanding faiths will ‘reduce’ conflicts.

Gulf times.

By: Ramesh Mathew

BETTER understanding among the people of different faiths and cultures will lead to a decrease in the number of conflicts that the world witnesses today, said a representative of the Church of Resurrection, an American Christian denomination working for the residents of Illinois.Mark Galli, who is managing editor of Christianity Today, a magazine published by Christianity Today International, has come to Doha to attend the US-Islamic World Forum 2007, the fourth edition of which began at the Ritz-Carlton yesterday.Sharing his views on the importance of having frequent exchanges of ideas, opinions and thoughts among members of different faiths living in the US and their “Islamic brethren” in the rest of the world, Galli feels that the root cause of all problems that the world confronts today is the lack of faith among people of different faiths.“We are still in the process of learning more about Islam, its teachings and its wider applications in various issues,” said Galli.“My advice to Muslims is to understand the good teachings of other faiths and draw a lesson or two from them,” he said.While acknowledging that the West is slow in understanding the Islam, the editor feels that regular participation in conferences like this and exchanges of opinions would help create better understanding about each other’s religion. “There should be regular interactions among people of different faiths,” he stressed.Noting that there is a higher level of ecumenism of late among followers of different Christian sects in the West, particularly in the US, Galli said it had resulted in a better understanding of the religion among its followers and also has taught the members of the necessity of studying good points of other’s faiths.Dr Joel C Hunter, a senior pastor of the Northland church, a protestant denomination, also echoed similar views. The world is passing through a turbulent phase and there is a greater necessity for talks among not only leaders but common people of different nations themselves, said Hunter.“What one requires most in a society is freedom of expression and hence the right to talk. There is no freedom of religion where there is little scope for freedom of speech,” said the pastor, who is attached to one of the growing Evangelist sects in the US. His church, he said, has more than 3mn followers. Hailing from Chicago, Hunter feels that Muslims face absolutely no problem in practising their religion in a world society as the US. Conceding that his knowledge of Islam is very limited, the pastor said one of his Orlando-based Saudi friends is helping him these days to understand the religion better.Hunter appreciated the freedom granted to non-Muslims in Qatar. Bob Roberts Jr of the Northwood church of Texas said he was honoured to be invited to the forum.“It is an opportunity to not only meeting representatives of various Islamic states and forums, but also a rare occasion to exchange our views on Islam.”Author of a book, Glocalisation, which he said has an element of Japanese in its name, Roberts said he believed in action more than words. “After all, the talks here should in any way be translated into action.” said. He said his church members were actively involved in community service in a predominantly Islamic society like Afghanistan and has set up a number of medical centres, schools and rehabilitation units for the people of the war-shattered Central Asian nation. “The best way to take others into confidence is by doing community service among its people,” feels Roberts Jr.Attributing the problems confronting the world to lack of faith, Roberts said while the West viewed Islam with a lot of suspicion, non-Muslims in most Islamic countries feared the faith. Talks being held in Doha, he said, should help change both the suspicion and fear.Lauding Qatar for hosting an event of this magnitude for the fourth successive year, Roberts said the country’s association with such events would eventually lead the West change some of its perceptions in the long-run.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Best way to live and die.


By: (Yahya) Donald W. Flood.

The Qur'an: The Last Revelation
I comprehended that it was found imperative due to innovations attributed to Divine revelation that the need arose for another Prophet after Eesa (alaihissalam) with another revelation after the Gospel. This is why Allah sent Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) with the last Message, (i.e., the Qur'an), to bring all of mankind back to the belief in and worship of One Allah, without partners or intermediaries. According to Muslims, the Holy Qur'an, the permanent ultimate source of guidance for mankind, offers a rational and historical elucidation of the magnificent role of Eesa (alaihissalam). The name Eesa (alaihissalam) is cited twenty-five times in the Qur'an, which contains a chapter called Maryam (Mary), named after the mother of Eesa (alaihissalam). Regarding the Divine authenticity of this revelation, I found the following Qur'anic verses very compelling: "And it was not [possible] for this Qur'an to be produced by other than Allah, but [it is] a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of the [former] Scripture, about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the Worlds." (10:37) And "And indeed, it is the truth of certainty." (69:51) Similarly, I was concerned about the adulteration of the Qur'an since this was a major problem with the previous revelations. I read that the Qur'an will never change or be abrogated: "Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [i.e., the Qur'an], and indeed, We will be its guardian." (15:9)I was also informed about some of the scientific phenomena mentioned in the Qur'an, which give credence to the belief that the Qur'an is the literal word of Allah. There are verses describing human embryonic development, mountains, the origin of the universe, the cerebrum, seas, deep seas, and internal waves and clouds. It is beyond explanation that anyone, more than fourteen hundred years ago, could have known the facts, which were found or confirmed recently by advanced mechanisms and sophisticated scientific procedures.

Islam: The Essence and Culmination of Revealed Religions
Muslims believe that the essential purpose for which mankind was created is the worship of Allah. As He said in the Qur'an, "And I did not create the jinn [i.e., a type of creation, created by Allah from fire] and mankind except to worship Me" (51:56) Related to this, a well known Islamic scholar from the West says, "The most complete system of worship available to humans today is the system found in the religion of Islam, The very name 'Islam' means 'submission to the Will of Allah'. Although it commonly referred to as 'the third of the three monotheistic faiths, it is not a new religion at all. It is the religion brought by all the Prophets of Allah for humankind. Islam was the religion of Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.'' In addition he states, "Since there is only One Allah, and humankind is one species, the religion that Allah has ordained for humans is [essentially] one... Human spiritual and social needs are uniform and human nature has not changed since the first man and woman were created”.
Uncovering the fact that the message of Allah has always been the same, I realised it is the duty of all human beings to seek the truth and not just blindly accept the religion that their society or parents follow, According to the Qur'an, "You worship besides Him not except [mere] names you have named, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority..." (12:40) Regarding fitrah [i.e., the inherent nature of man to worship Allah prior to the corruption of his nature by external influences], Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho aliahi wasallam) said, "Every child is born on Al-Fitrah, and his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity or Magianism. As an animal delivers a perfect baby animal, do you find it mutilated?" Furthermore, Allah says, 'So direct your face [i.e., self] toward the religion, inclining toward truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. " (30:30) Moreover, I learned there is no other religion acceptable to Allah besides Islam, as He clearly states in the Qur'an: "And whoever desires other than Islam as a religion, never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers. " (3:85). I deduced that man might neglect the guidance of Allah and establish his own standards of living. Ultimately, however, he will discover it is only a mirage that alluded him.

A Traveller
As I continued to read the Qur'an and learn about the sayings and doings of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho aliahi wasallam) [the Sunnah], I noticed Islam views man as a traveller in this life and the 'Home' is in the next life for eternity. We are here for a short period and we cannot take anything with us from this life except our belief in Allah and our deeds. Thus, man should be like a traveller who passes through the land and does not become attached to it. As travellers on this journey, we must understand that the meaning of being alive is to be tested. Hence, there is suffering, joy, pain and elation. These tests of good and evil are intended to evoke our higher spiritual qualities. Yet, we are incapable of benefiting from these tests unless we do our best, have complete trust in Allah and patiently accept what He has destined for us.

The Road to Paradise
It was very meaningful to learn about Paradise since this must certainly be the ultimate goal of every individual. Regarding this eternal home, Allah says, "And no soul knows what has been hidden for it of comfort for eyes [i.e., satisfaction] as a reward for what it used to do. " (32:17) 1 also became aware of a pleasure that is beyond all imagination, which is to be in the Presence of the Creator Himself. I wondered who are the souls worthy of such a reward? This reward of Paradise is too great to have a price. I was told the price is true faith, which is proven by obedience to Allah and following the Sunnah (way) of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho aliahi wasallam).I grasped that mankind must worship Allah to attain righteousness and the spiritual status necessary to enter Paradise. This means human beings have to comprehend that worship is as indispensable as eating and breathing and not a favour they are doing for Allah. Likewise, I found out that we need to read the Qur’an to find out what kind of people Allah wants us to be and then try to become as such. This is the road to Paradise. Overcoming an Obstacle At this point, I felt about 80% sure I wanted to become a Muslim, but something was holding me back. I was concerned about the reaction of my family and friends if they knew that I had become a Muslim. Shortly thereafter, I expressed this concern to a Muslim who told me that on Judgement Day, no one will be able to help you, not your father, mother nor any of your friends. Therefore, if you believe Islam is the true religion, you should embrace it and live your life to please the One who created you. Thus, it became very lucid to me that we are all in the same boat; every soul shall taste death and then we'll be liable for our particular belief in Allah and for our deeds.

A Meaningful Videotape
By this stage in my search for the truth, I was on the verge of embracing Islam. I watched an Islamic lecture on videotape about the purpose of life. The main theme of this lecture was that the purpose of life may be summed up in one word, i.e., Islam (peaceful submission to the Will of Allah). An additional point was that, unlike other religions or beliefs, the term 'Islam' is not associated with any particular person or place. Allah has named the religion in the following Qur'anic verse: "Indeed, the Religion in the sight of Allah is Islam..." (3:19) Anyone who embraces Islam is called a Muslim regardless of that person's race, sex or nationality. This is one of the reasons why Islam is a universal religion.Prior to my search for the truth, I had never seriously considered Islam as an option because of the constant negative portrayal of Muslims in the media. Similarly, it was disclosed in this videotape that although Islam is characterised by high moral standards, not all Muslims uphold these standards. I learned the same can be said about adherents of other religions. I finally understood that we cannot judge a religion by the actions of its followers alone, as I had done, because all humans are fallible. On that account, we should not judge Islam by the actions of its proponents, but by its revelation (the Holy Qur'an) and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho aliahi wasallam). The last point I picked up from this lecture concerned the importance of gratitude. Allah mentions in the Qur'an that we should be grateful for the fact that He created us: "And Allah has extracted you from the wombs of your mothers not knowing a thing, and He made for you hearing and vision and hearts [i.e., intellect that perhaps you would be grateful. " (16:78) Allah Almighty has also cited gratitude along with belief, and has made it clear that He gains nothing from punishing His people when they give thanks to Him and believe in Him. He says in the Qur'an, "What would Allah do with [i.e., gain from] your punishment if you are grateful and believe? ..." (4:147) The Truth Unveils Itself As soon as the videotape had finished, I experienced the truth being unveiled to my spirit. I felt a huge burden of sins flying off my back. Moreover, it felt like my soul was rising above the earth, refusing the makeshift delights of this world in favour of the eternal joys of the Hereafter. This experience, coupled with the long process of reasoning, solved the 'purpose of life puzzle'. It revealed Islam as the truth, thereby replenishing my 'spiritual landscape' with belief, purpose, direction and action. I therefore entered the gate of Islam by saying the declaration of faith required to become a Muslim: Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah. (I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger). I was informed that this formal testimony confirms one's belief in all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, along with all of His Divine revelations in their original form, thereby updating and completing one's religion to the last of the Prophets [Muhammad (sallallaho aliahi wasallam)] and to the final revelation of Allah [the Qur'an]. The following point became overwhelmingly clear to me: Had Eesa (alaihissalam) been the last Prophet of Allah and had the Gospel been the final book of revelation, I would have attested to that. As a result, I have naturally chosen to follow the final revelation from the Creator as exemplified by the Seal of the Prophets (sallallaho alaihi wasallam).

Impressions of a New Muslim
During my search to find the truth, the lesson, which, transcended all lessons, was that all objects of worship other than Allah are mere delusions. To anyone who sees this clearly, the only possible course is to bring one's own will and actions into complete unison with that of Allah. Acquiescing to the Will of Allah has enabled me to feel peace with the Creator, with others and finally, with myself. Consequently, I feel very grateful, that by the Mercy of Allah, I have been rescued from the depths of ignorance and have stepped into the light of truth. Islam, the true religion of all times, places and peoples, is a complete code of life which guides man to fulfil the purpose of his existence on earth, and prepares him for the Day when he will return to his Creator. Following this path in a devout manner enables one to gain the pleasure of Allah and be closer to Him amid the endless delights of Paradise while escaping from the punishment of Hellfire. Another bonus is that our present life will be much happier when we make such a choice.

A Deceptive Enjoyment
Embracing Islam has given me more of an insight into the illusive nature of this life. For instance, one basic object of Islam is the liberation of man. This is why a Muslim calls himself 'Abdullah', the slave or servant of Allah because enslavement to Allah signifies liberation from all other forms of servitude, and although modern man may think that he is liberated, he is in fact a slave to his desires. He is generally deceived by this worldly life. He is 'addicted' to hoarding wealth, sex, violence, intoxicants, etc. But above all, he is often seduced by the capitalist system that tends to work through the invention of false needs, which he feels must be satisfied instantly, As Allah says in the Qur'an, "Have you seen the one who takes as his Allah his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except as cattle. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way. )” (25: 43-44) Correspondingly, we should not let our zeal to enjoy the pleasures of this fleeting life and jeopardise our opportunity to enjoy the ecstasy of Paradise. As Allah says in the Qur'an, "Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return [i.e. Paradise]. Say, "Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who fear Allah will be in gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allah..." (3:14-15) Therefore, the real competition in this life is not the accumulation of wealth or the desire for fame; it is facing with one another to perform good deeds to please Allah, while having our lawful portion of enjoyment in this life.

The Right Path to Allah
There are many religious alternatives available to man and it is up to him to choose the one he wishes to follow. He is like a merchant with many goods in front of him, and it is his choice which one to trade in. He will obviously select the one he thinks will be the most lucrative. However, the merchant is unsure and has no guarantee of prosperity; his product may have a market and he may make handsome returns, but he could just as easily lose all of his money. In contrast, the believer in the Oneness of Allah who submits to His Will (a Muslim), is completely sure that if he follows the path of guidance [the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam)], there will undoubtedly be success and reward waiting for him at the end of this path. Fortunately, this success also starts at the beginning of the path. Narrated by Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri (radhiallaho unho) - Allah's Messenger (sallallaho aliahi wasallam) said, "If a person embraces Islam sincerely, then Allah shall forgive all his past sins, and after that starts the settlement of accounts: the reward of his good deeds will be ten times to seven hundred times for each good deed, and an evil deed will be recorded as it is unless Allah forgives it.

Based on my search for the truth, I concluded that the precise way we believe in Allah and the deeds we perform determine our future condition for eternity. Our Creator is giving us all an equal chance, regardless of our circumstances, to earn His pleasure in preparation for Judgement Day, as in the following Qur'anic verses: "And obey Allah and His Messenger that you may obtain mercy. And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden [i.e., Paradise] as wide as the Heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous. " (3:132-133)If we sincerely seek the truth of this life, which is Islam (peaceful submission to the Will of Allah), Allah will guide us there, Insha Allah. He directs us to examine the life and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaho aliahi wasallam), as he represents the best role model for mankind to follow. Furthermore, Allah directs us to investigate and ponder what He says in the Qur'an. One will see that the Qur'an is indeed like a persistent and strong knocking on a door, or loud shouts seeking to awaken those who are fast asleep because they are just completely absorbed by this life on earth. The knocks and shouts appear one after the other: Wake up! Look around you! Think! Reflect! Allah is there! There is planning, trial, accountability, reckoning, reward, severe punishment and lasting bliss!Clearly and unequivocally, the best way to live and die in this world is as a righteous Muslim! When one comes to the conclusion that Islam is the truth, he should not delay in becoming a Muslim because he may die first, and then it will be too late.
A few months after embracing Islam, I found two verses in the Qur'an that mirror what the American Muslim told me regarding how we should live and die: "And Ibrahim (alaihissalam) instructed his sons and [so did] Yaqoob (alaihissalam), [saying], “O my sons! Indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims." (2:132) And “O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him]." (3:102)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Spread Of Islam In America.


By Harun Yahya.

In the previous chapter, we related that people were beginning to reject atheism and turn toward religion, and asked for what religion they were searching. The growing number of people turning to Islam in the last few years shows that the true answer to this question is starting to be discovered. Every day, interest in Islam is increasing throughout the world, and many people are converting after reading the Qur'an and studying the Prophet Muhammad's life. In addition, there are people who may have not started to practice Islam yet but who are very influenced by the Qur'an's moral teachings and say that the best way of life for human beings is the one described in the Qur'an.
Thirty or forty years ago, the great majority of people knew almost nothing about Islam; now, Islam has become the most talked about, written about, and researched religion in the world, as well as the religion about which the most programs have been prepared. Of course, this state of affairs has contributed to society's learning about Islam. On the one hand, those involved in such activities have expanded their knowledge about Islam; on the other hand, those to whom this information is directed may have taken the opportunity for the first time in their lives to gain knowledge about Islam. So, it is from the lack of information or wrong information that people who have had little contact with Islam are coming to this religion in droves.
This movement is quite noticeable in the United States, a country founded on religious values. When Americans speak about their country, one of the things they stress is that people from every religious background are free to live together in peace and security. This situation has given Muslims immigrants a place to practice their religion freely and to talk about their faith. As a result, the number of Muslims increases daily. In spite of this, for years Muslims have remained small in numbers and economically and politically weak.
But over the past 10 years, these economic, social, and political difficulties have begun to disappear. In some states, existing mosques are filled to overflowing and new ones have been built. Hundreds of Islamic schools, both full-time and weekend, have opened and have had to expand to meet enrollment figures. Many companies have begun to set aside rooms for their Muslim employees, many banks have begun to open departments that operate according to Islamic law, and many state institutions have begun to hire Muslims for high-level positions.
A recent issue of Christianity Today, one of America's best-known magazines, contained an article entitled "Are Christians Prepared for Muslims in the Mainstream?" It gives this account of Islam's rise in America:
Islam could be the second-largest religion in America by 2015, surpassing Judaism, according to some estimates. By other estimates, Islam has achieved that rank already.
(Above) The voice of Islam rises, with 7 million muslims living in America, islam has become the country's third largest religion. It is estimated that within the next 10 years, there will be more Muslims than Jews in America.
Muslims moving to the West are changing the cultural and religious landscape. A hospital in Detroit offers Muslim patients copies of the Qur'an; Denver International Airport includes a chapel for Muslim prayers; the U.S. Senate has invited a Muslim cleric to open its session in prayer; the military has hired four Muslim chaplains; the White House sends greetings (like its Christmas cards) on Id al-Fitr, the feast that ends Ramadan; the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington D.C. sends 100 Qur'ans a month to prisons while imams (spiritual leaders) send volunteers to teach Arabic. "On Capitol Hill … weekly Muslim prayer services and forums to expose congressional staffers to Muslim viewpoints have become regular fare," notes Ira Rifkin of Religion News Service (Nov. 30, 1999), "and a bill has been introduced in Congress to issue a postage stamp commemorating Ramadan."38
These striking developments have attracted the interest of many sociologists. One of the most important names associated with this issue is Professor Dianne Eck, known for coining the name "Pluralism Project" for an enterprise in interfaith dialogue. In her book, A New Religious America, she gives an account of what she has determined about Islam's rapid rise:
As Muslims become more numerous and visible in American society, public officials have begun to shift from speaking of "churches and synagogues" to "churches, synagogues, and mosques." The annual observance of the Ramadan month of Muslim fasting now receives public notice and becomes the occasion for portraits of the Muslims next door in the Dallas Morning News or the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The fast-breaking meals called "iftar" at the close of each day have become moments of recognition. In the late 1990s there were iftar observances by Muslim staffers on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, and in the State Department. In 1996 the White House hosted the first observance of the celebration of Eid al-Fitr at the end of the month of Ramadan, a practice that has continued. The same year also saw the U.S. Navy commission its first Muslim chaplain, Lieutenant M. Malak Abd al-Muta' Ali Noel, and in 1998 the U.S. Navy's first mosque was opened on the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, where Lieutenant Noel was stationed. When 50 sailors attend Friday prayers at this facility, they signal to all of us a new era of American religious life.39
Professor Diana Eck, who has done important work with The Pluralism Project and in the field of interfaith dialogue, has attracted attention with her book A New Religious America. (Right) The Internet site of the Project.
Eck considers these developments a sign of the beginning of a new age, one in which Islam will spread quickly, not only throughout America but throughout the world.