Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On the Syrian Quagmire

‘And when the Fire is caused to blaze up’---[Holy Qur’an, 81:13

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (sa) as saying: ‘The last Hour will not come unless there is ‘Harj’. They asked: ‘What is ‘Harj’, O Messenger of Allah?’ Thereupon, the Holy Prophet (sa) said: “Bloodshed, Bloodshed, Bloodshed”.--- (Sahih Al Bukhari/Muslim)

The Civil War in Syria

In less than a month, Syria’s horrific ‘civil’ war will enter into its eighth year. Having already lasted more than the Second World War, the internecine conflict in Syria has profoundly impacted the nation and its people in unimaginable ways. The conflict and its aftereffects has virtually reduced the country to rubble. Entire cities and villages remain abandoned, people having no choice but to flee the mindless violence and mayhem, altering the everyday life-world of the common people forever. Even as hundreds of thousands lost their lives, millions of others had to flee their homes and hearths, seeking refuge elsewhere in the country or beyond the borders, in nations near and far. Thanks to the many actors on the conflict scene and their varying  political interests and strategic calculations, the bloodletting in Syria continues unabated with no end in sight till this day. Indeed, the humanitarian catastrophe that has engulfed this already suffering, impoverished nation shakes the conscience of our common humanity.

How do we explain the extraordinarily mind-numbing shift in the fortunes of the Syrian people in recent times? What are the prospects for peace in the land, especially  in view of its complex regional environment? How does the present situation relate to Divine revelations vouchsafed to the Promised Massih (as)? Can we look at the Syrian quagmire as a Divine Sign of our times? These are some of the few questions and concerns explored in the following article.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

On Faith and Parental Bonds


The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the perfect model for the universe. He came in a time when people were barbarians and had little respect for family relationships. For today, I chose to speak to you about the importance he brought to the status of the father.

Good character, good behaviour and good advice are qualities that please the Creator. According to a Hadith, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said that he who pleases his father, pleases Allah. When the father (who follows the Shariah) is happy, it greatly pleases the Creator. On the other hand, if the father is not happy, it does not please the Almighty. This is the status granted to each father. If such a status has been granted to our father, (then imagine) what is (i.e. how grand is) the status granted to the father of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), Hazrat Abdullah (ra)?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Future of Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem holds profound significance to the spiritual imagination of billions of people around the world. For the city and its precincts are intimately connected to the sacred memory of a long chain of Divine servants and events mentioned in the Holy Scriptures of three great religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

For the Jewish people, Jerusalem is the heart of the Promised Land blessed and gifted to their pious ancestors by the Lord Almighty. The grand prophecy in the Qur'an reads: "And after him We said to the children of Israel, ‘Dwell ye in the land; and when the time of the promise of the latter days comes, We shall bring you together out of various peoples. [17:105] 

For the Christians, the city is sacred for being the venue of all the major events in the life and preaching of Jesus Christ (as). For the Muslims, the city holds spiritual significance for a variety of reasons, including one of the most important events in the spiritual life of the Holy Prophet (sa), ie., the Isra’ Mi’raj- the Night Journey and Ascent to the Heavens: when Allah (swt) caused the Prophet (sa), in the space of a single night, to journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there to heaven and back again. The Qur’an states: “Glory to Him who made His servant travel by night from the sacred place of worship to the furthest place of worship, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him some of Our signs: He alone is the All Hearing, the All Seeing”. (17:02)

It was during the Holy Prophet’s journey from the site of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem through the seven heavens that he encountered many Judeo-Christian prophets and finally came before the Exalted Presence: “until he was two bow-lengths away or even closer” (53:10). This mystical vision of the Holy Prophet (sa) clearly pointed to the deep connections of Islam to the Jewish and Christian prophetic heritage and Jerusalem came to be the first Quibla, direction of prayer for the Muslim community for many years- contributing to its sacred status in Islam. Through Divine revelation (2: 144-45), later of course, the Sacred Mosque in Makkah became the permanent direction of prayer for the Muslims.    

Friday, February 9, 2018

'Keep Your Compassion Alive'

The Divine Quality of Mercy/Compassion

In Islam, mercy implies the fear of Allah the Almighty. For it is with this fear of Allah the Almighty that the highest degrees (of faith etc.) are reached, torments are dispelled, the evil influence of Satan is repulsed. According to the Quranic verses and various Hadiths, it is clear that life on earth is built on foundations and principles that engender happiness and encourage creatures to help one another with mercy foremost.

Indeed, mercy is a great quality that Allah the Almighty has given to the blessed and deprived the unfortunate. Mercy is implanted in the heart of every creature but it is up to this one to know how to keep this mercy alive for the sake of Allah the Almighty.

According to Abu Huraira (ra) the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, as reported through the pages of Sahih Al-Bukhari: “Truly Allah possesses a hundred mercies and of them there is one mercy through which all creation show mercy to one another and ninety nine are for the day of resurrection... Alhamdulillah!

Mercy is one of the beautiful qualities of Allah the Almighty. For us, the creatures of Allah the Almighty, mercy is a quality of perfection. With mercy, creatures feel tenderness towards one another. He who is strong has pity/ compassion on him who is weak. That's mercy. The rich man never hesitates to help the poor, the destitute and the needy. That's mercy. For us (Muslims) in the Ummah, mercy is even an obligation at the level of the family as well as of society. And that pleases Allah the Almighty Who then sends His blessings on those who grant mercy (to others) in their daily occupations. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mauritius: Freedom from Slavery

Every year, Mauritius observes a national holiday on February 1st. For, this day marks a defining moment in the collective memory of the Mauritian people's struggle for dignity and human rights. Almost two centuries ago, it was on this day in 1835 that the abominable practice of Slavery was formally abolished in the Island State, liberating a mass of humanity from the clutches of an oppressive social order. 

The story of how Mauritius- once a virtually uninhabited Island off the southeast coast of Africa, became home to close to 1.5 million people today; professing various faiths- including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam- and speaking different languages, including Creole, French, English, Tamil, Urdu, Hindi and Bhojpuri and Chinese- is a fascinating chapter in the making of the modern world. There is little doubt that the modern identity of Mauritius as ‘a rainbow nation’ is a tribute to the cultural confluences it inherited from its complex past. 

Originally discovered by the Arabs in the 9th century; successively colonized by the different European powers from the 17th century- the Deutch, the French and the British- in the last four centuries; modern Mauritius is, in many ways, shaped by this Island nation's encounter with the different phases of global capitalism and the trajectories of the European imperial forays into Africa and Asia, including the strategic control of the Indian Ocean region for safeguarding their vital, commercial interests. The detachment of a part of the Mauritian territory- the Chagos Archipelago and offering the same on a virtual, perpetual lease to the United States by the last colonial power- Britain- before the granting of national independence to Mauritius in 1968, continue to remind all of us in the global South about the long shadows of imperial hubris that permanently scar the psyche of nations and peoples. (For a review of the continuing Mauritius-UK dispute over the Chagos Archipelago, click here).

Even as the colonial masters sought to subjugate the nations they conquered through military means, they found it politically convenient to stake the moral high ground of good governance, rule of law and human rights in the shaping of national policies. Hence, the colonial, administrative practices in the Indian Ocean region, including in relation to questions of slavery and ‘rule of law’ in the conquered territories vis-a vis the subjugated peoples, can be seen as a partial concession to the tectonic shifts in the global thinking around questions of human dignity and basic rights. The abolition of slavery in the British colonies and the introduction of the system of ‘contract labour’ with a semblance of rights and privileges for the migrant working class can only be seen against this backdrop.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Inner Peace in A Troubled World

The State of Man in Our Times

The world is developing at breakneck speed. It is constantly modernizing, becoming smaller and less life-size, becoming closer to people like a round table where the whole world can reunite and communicate and share their ideas and lives. But with the race for power and wealth, the rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. And the world continues to exist until the One Creator decides otherwise.

Rich or poor, everyone tries to live in their own way. But how many of us ponder over what health, recreation, food, and tranquillity cost to the inhabitants of a country? But above all, how much of their precious time do they devote in remembrance of the Creator through prayer. The rich have almost no problem in living their lives quietly. The poor, on the other hand, have to work harder to try to make ends meet. This class of population of any country will always remain in poverty with its multiple problems - famine, sickness, housing, unemployment.

However, people, whatever their situation, live. They try to live. Maybe some people want death because they are crushed by poverty and misery. But life or death does not depend on us. It is the exclusive prerogative of Allah Ta’ala.

But then why so much worries, so many misfortunes? ... Does Allah Ta’ala, the Unique Creator, Who knows and controls everything, not love us? Does He not appreciate our way of life, our way of doing things? Not really, according to a Hadith of our beloved prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). It is rather that we humans, especially those of the Ummah forget too quickly our obligations to the Creator. So everything turns upside down. When the situation changes, life becomes destabilized. Stress, anxiety, anger, worry, doubt take place.

A World of Dizzying Inequality 

So why the vast majority of the world’s population lives in poverty and a very small percentage, being extremely rich controls everything in this temporal world? Some who feel that they are so powerful because of their fortune, think they are half-gods. But let it be clear. Rich or poor we always live in the same fear, the same anguish, the same anxiety.

We live today in the 21st century, a time of confusion where materialism (i.e. people with materialistic minds) prevails everywhere, including within the Ummah. Material comfort is only useful to us here on earth. What have we prepared for the afterlife? Are we preparing enough for it? Here on earth, it is total confusion leading to wounded hearts, broken with the weakened soul.

We only have to follow the medical news - to get information about the world of medicines (pharmaceutical drugs). Scientists only produce drugs of all kinds to combat stress - the disease of the modern world, to combat anxiety, anger, nervousness, etc. The medications prescribed which are used in high doses sometimes have side effects. The situation gets complicated. Whether he is rich or poor, whether he gets treatment at the private clinic or the public hospital, the patient does not find the desired happiness or if he gets it, it is very precarious. He then turn to diabolical, satanic treatments that only worsen the situation, while there is only an effective remedy, very effective indeed, freely offered but neglected, forgotten, cast aside: a CALL TO ALLAH TA’ALA.

Turn to Your Creator

Yes, turn to HIM, The Saviour, The Healer, The Protector, The Merciful. He offers all the remedies. Without fees. Without an appointment. He only asks us one thing: to think of HIM at all times. He is here to listen to us. All we sick people have to do is to have unreserved faith and piety. Believe in Him, in His remedies, in His miracles. Are we ready for this?

Saturday, February 3, 2018

On the 'Super Blue Blood Moon' 2018

'Super Blue Blood Moon', an extraordinary lunar event, dazzled millions of sky-watchers around the world on the night of Wednesday, 31 January 2018. Extracted below are the special remarks on this Heavenly Sign by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius

A Rare Heavenly Sign

"The world has witnessed an extraordinary celestial sign Wednesday, 31 January 2018. This sign is a Super Blue Blood Moon. What exactly is this super blue blood moon? It is the conjunction of three lunar peculiarities. 

To give a simplified explanation of this phenomenon (or rather divine sign), it is when the natural satellite is at the same time relatively close to the Earth (which gives us a Super Moon), it is also the 2nd full Moon in a month (a Blue Moon) and there is at the same time an eclipse of the moon (a Blood Moon). So it's a super-moon combined with a blue moon and with an eclipse of the moon that was total in some parts of the world and that we call, a blood moon. 

All three phenomena were visible only in certain parts of the earth, in this case in America (after 152 years) and in the countries of Asia and Australia and so on. But for the countries of Europe, like France etc., this phenomenon, this celestial sign was not visible (but was visible in 1982). But here in Mauritius after 152 years, we witnessed this, but only with a partial eclipse of the moon that lasted only a few minutes. (Inset: Seagulls and the blue moon in Portobello, Edinburgh, taken by Matthew Corney, (c) BBC).

Heavenly Signs in the Later Days

This phenomenon/ sign became subject of conversations, with everyone speculating on its meaning. There are those who say that it is an indicator of the approach of the end of the world and that the Saviour will appear soon. But the truth is that we are living the days of the end of the world and the Saviour that everyone is waiting for is already among you. When you see such divine heavenly signs, these are signs in support of the coming of a Messenger of Allah. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Life @ 40: A Spiritual Gaze

I am your Lord. Take off your sandals: you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa.
I have chosen you, so listen to what is being revealed. 
I am Allah; there is no god but Me, so worship Me and keep up the prayer so that you remember Me'. (20: 12-15)

These verses in the Holy Qur’an allude to a time when Allah (swt) directly spoke to a servant of His, intimating him about the great Divine Mission that lies ahead of him; urging him to be detached from the personal relations that come in the way of  remaining engrossed in Divine Remembrance through fervent prayers and other devote supplications. In mystical commentaries of the aforesaid verses, the idea of "taking off the sandals" certainly points to the same: in being asked to remove his sandals, Hadhrat Musa (as) was being asked to cast aside this world by turning his face towards the Ocean of Divine Presence alone, dedicating oneself solely to Allah (swt). In a famous poem by  that medieval polymath Sheikh-ul-Akbar Muhyi-ud-Din Ibn Arabi, the imagery is explained eloquently: 

"Take off the sandals if you come
to this valley, for therein is Our Holiness.
Of the two worlds divest yourself,
and lift the veils of in-betweenness"

It is indeed a perennial practice of the Divine, a Sunnat Allah-according to the Qur’an- that He raises His Elects at places and times of His choice. Allah knows best where to place His Message’. (6:125)  One of the interesting facts about the present Divine Manifestation in Mauritius is this. When Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) began to be a recipient of Divine communications and other messages of an exquisite spiritual variety, the messages from the Unseen reminded him about the need for holding a lot of patience and to ‘forget’ this world and to devote his time in much remembrance of the Divine through prayer and other supplications: the same kind of Divine messages that were revealed to Hadhrat Musa (as) in that sacred valley of Tuwa almost three millennium ago and preserved in the Holy Qur’an for all times! Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar.