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September 2014 eGazette – Hajj: The Best Symbol for Our Universal Brotherhood!

Al Islam eGazette

Hajj: The Best Symbol for Our Universal Brotherhood!

By Zia Shah

Epigraph: And remember the time when We assigned to Abraham the site of the House and said, ‘Associate not anything with Me, and keep My House clean for those who perform the circuits, and those who stand up and those who bow down and fall prostrate in Prayers; And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage. They will come to thee on foot, and on every lean camel, coming by every distant track.’ (Al Quran 22:27-28)

Kaaba: The very First House of God

Millions of pilgrims arrived this week in Mecca, called in the past as Becca, for Islam’s annual Hajj (pilgrimage), which officially started on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. Around four million were heading to Mina, where they will spend their night before heading to the Mount of Arafat in the early hours of Thursday. The dates of Hajj are determined by lunar calendar and therefore move by approximately ten days against the solar calendar, every year.

Many pilgrims began leaving for Mina on Tuesday night after circumambulating the Holy Kaaba, the first house of worship on Earth, built by the Prophet Adam. The Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael rebuilt it some 4,000 years ago. Most Hajj rituals are related to the Prophet Abraham, his wife Hager and his son the Prophet Ishmael, and thus reflect the unity of humanity. Just by focusing on the Prophet Abraham, the Hajj symbolizes the unity and common origin of all the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. When the Holy Quran talked about Kaaba, it did not label it as a blessing for the Muslims alone, but, called it a great blessing and a boon for the whole of mankind, thus symbolizing our Universal Brotherhood & Sisterhood. The Quran announced more than 1400 years ago:

“Surely, the first House founded for mankind is that at Becca, abounding in blessings and a guidance for all peoples. (Al Quran 3:97)”

As four million have converged on Mecca for the annual rituals of Hajj, this year, let us remember that Hajj is a very powerful symbol of Universal Brotherhood & Sisterhood. The Muslims and mankind at large, not only have to profess our common human heritage, but, live it in our daily lives. Remembering that actions speak much louder than words.

To read more click here

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Islam!‏

By Zia Shah

Epigraph: “If we could view Muhammad as we do any other important historical figure we would surely consider him to be one of the greatest geniuses the world has known.” (Karen Armstrong in Muhammad – A Biography of the Prophet)

This article was originally published in Winter, 2009 volume of Muslim Sunrise, it examines the philosophical and historical basis of human rights.

With the election of a son of a Kenyan man to the highest office in USA we see gradual perfection of the vision expressed in the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” But at the same time, suicidal bombings by terrorist, the outrageous violations of human rights in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, the indifference to the so called collateral damage in air bombings, have again rekindled the question as to what are the human rights and where do they come from. The events since September 11, 2001 have jolted every citizen of the planet earth with renewed quaking and put them on a quest to look for answers. Is life of an American more sacred than a non-American? What if he or she is a Muslim? Are all humans truly created equal? Where did the words, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal;’ come from? To one exposed to Western media only these noble words came from the pen of President Thomas Jefferson, as he authored United States Declaration of Independence in 1776. But a more cultured Westerner may know what Wikipedia mentions, under the heading all men are created equal, “Many of the ideas in the Declaration were borrowed from the English liberal political philosopher John Locke.” But that is where Western scholarship ends. Locke lived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Such is the dissociation of the Western writers in terms of ignoring the beauties of Islam, that they can attribute all such liberal ideas with a straight face to Western philosophers, despite the fact the Muslim literature has been replete with mention of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, saying to a crowd of more than a hundred thousand people, at the time of the final pilgrimage, an event that itself symbolizes human equality, “All of you are equal. All men, whatever nation or tribe they may belong to, and whatever station in life they may hold, are equal. Allah has made you brethren one to another, so be not divided. An Arab has no preference over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one.” The whole of his sermon is recorded in history and has been more famous and cherished than President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, in the Muslim world, over the centuries. This is where human equality began, not only for the Muslims but for the whole of humanity!

Fast forward to World War II. Dr. Andrew Conway Ivy was appointed by the American Medical Association as its representative at the 1946 Nuremberg Medical Trial for Nazi doctors. By 1945 he was probably ‘the most famous doctor in the country.’ He wrote, “Only in a moral world, a world of responsibility, can man be free and live as a human being should. Men are truly equal and free only as creatures of God, because only as the children of God and only in the sight of God and ultimate moral law are men truly equal.” In the Nuremberg trial he struggled with the question that if man-made law is the sole source of basic human rights, why condemn the Nazi assault on Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and political enemies; and having shaken by this perplexing trial he concluded:

“If God and the ultimate moral law are denied, there can be no absolute argument against slavery, against ‘might makes right’ and man’s greedy exploitation of man. If human beings have no absolute intrinsic value, no absolute intrinsic freedom of decision, no absolute liberty, no absolute duties, they possess only extrinsic value and may be used as chattels, slaves or serfs by those who have the intelligence and power.

To read more click here

The painful truths parents tell their black sons in USA

By Michael Martinez, Stephanie Elam and Erica Henry, CNN

From parent to son, uncle to nephew, grandparent to grandson, there’s a raw, private conversation being re-energized in America in the wake of violence in Ferguson, Missouri.

It’s an intimate lecture that most Americans won’t know, but parents like Kelli Knox of Southern California know it too well because it begins the loss of their children’s innocence and exposes them to a painful national truth that’s increasingly become a matter of life or death.

As challenging as parenting is, black families in particular are assuming more burdens: At kitchen tables and in living rooms, they hold honest talks with their boys about how life can be different for them and what they ought – and ought not – to do in public, especially near police.

Think twice about wearing a hoodie. Pull up your pants. Shut your mouth around police. Swallow your pride. Don’t drive with more than three friends. And keep your hands where they can be seen.

To read more click here

Jimmy Carter: Southern White Men Turn To The GOP Because Of ‘Race’

Race is the primary reason white Southern men support the Republican Party, former President Jimmy Carter told Salon in an interview posted Thursday. Carter also pushed back against using the Bible to trample human rights.

President Jimmy Carter

When asked why white male Southerners have turned to the GOP, Carter said: “It’s race. That’s been prevalent in the South… . Ever since Nixon ran – and ever since Johnson didn’t campaign in the deep South, the Republicans have solidified their hold there.”

Republican proposals, such as cutting food stamps and assuming the guilt of minorities and the mentally ill who are in jail, appeal to the rich, he said.

“Those kind of things just exalt the higher class, which is the whites, and they draw a subtle, but very effective racial line throughout the South,” Carter said.

Carter also rejected interpretations of the Bible that are used to oppress women. He said individuals can find verses that belittle women but also many that pronounce the equality of all people.

To read more click here

The Last Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad: The Beginning of Universal Brotherhood

Source: Arab News

Epigraph: O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware. (Al Quran 49:14)

Pilgrims on Mount Arafat

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered his last sermon (Khutbah) on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah (12th and last month of the Islamic year), 10 years after Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah) in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat. His words were quite clear and concise and were directed to the entire humanity.

After praising, and thanking Allah he said:

"O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O people, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abd Al-Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…"

To read more click here

September 2014

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Alislam-eGazette Archives regarding Universal Brotherhood and Hajj

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