Friday, May 20, 2011
Nato yashambulia meli za kivita za Libya
Mashambulio ya anga kwenye meli za kivita za Libya
Majeshi ya umoja wa nchi za kujihami za Ulaya Nato yameshambulia kwa anga meli za kivita nane zinazomilikiwa na jeshi la Kanali Muammar Gaddafi katika uvamizi uliofanywa mjini Tripoli, Al Khums na Sirte.
Katika taarifa iliyotolewa, msemaji alisema Nato lazima ichukue "hatua madhubuti" kuzingatia kuongezeka kwa matumizi ya meli za kijeshi kushambulia raia.
Moto na moshi ulikuwa ukishuhudiwa kutoka kwenye meli zilizoshambuliwa kwenye bandari iliyopo kwenye mji mkuu.
Wakati huo huo, kiongozi wa waasi wa Libya ameomba msaada wa kimataifa kwenye miji iliyo milimani magharibi mwa Tripoli.
Taarifa iliyotolewa na muungano huo wa kijeshi ilisema mashambulio yaliyofanywa siku ya Ijumaa yameonyesha kuwa Nato " ina nia ya kuwalinda raia wa Libya, kwa kutumia nguvu zinazostahili na kwa kiwango kinachofaa."
Naibu kamanda wa Nato nchini Libya, Admeri Russel Harding alisema, "Meli zote zilizolengwa jana usiku zilikuwa za kivita bila kifaa chochote cha raia kushambuliwa."
Haijafahamika kama kuna yeyote aliyeuawa.
Libya, the ICC and America’s aggressive wars
Libyan memorial to the 1986 U.S. bombing of Tripoli
Almost like clockwork, as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, announced yesterday that he would seek an arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S./NATO alliance intensified its bombing campaign against the beleaguered North African nation.
As CNN reports today,
Crowds in Tripoli gathered Tuesday morning outside two burning buildings, the aftermath of what a Libyan official said were NATO airstrikes on government facilities. Spokesman Musa Ibrahim said the buildings housed the Ministry of Popular Inspection and Oversight – a government anti-corruption body – and the head of the police force in Tripoli.
“Is this NATO’s protection of civilians or terrifying civilians,” a Gaddafi loyalist asked CNN reporters. “This is a civilian neighborhood. … Residents are terrified.”
The attack coincides with a Russian-led initiative in which Libyan authorities have demonstrated willingness to reach a peaceful conclusion to the hostilities.
Following a meeting today with Libyan officials, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Libya was prepared to meet all the conditions of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in the country’s civil war.
“Tripoli has promised to meet in full all conditions set out by the United Nations,” Lavrov said. “We were told that Tripoli is ready to consider all means … to end the conflict.”
Lavrov restated Russia’s calls for a ceasefire. “Russia is very keen to see a rapid end to the bloodshed in Libya,” Lavrov said yesterday. “We have made it clear that we are ready to support any regional and international efforts that can achieve this.”
Yet, despite the Libyan government’s reiteration of its calls for a ceasefire in line with the African Union’s roadmap for peace, which calls for cooperation in opening channels for humanitarian aid and starting a dialogue between the rebels and the government, the U.S./NATO forces appear uninterested in a political compromise.
As RIA Novosti reported yesterday,
Colonel Milad Hussein al-Fiqhi, spokesman for the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, was killed on Sunday in a NATO raid that targeted an intelligence headquarters in the capital Tripoli, Al Arabiya television reported. …
The Libyan state news agency said on Sunday that the recent NATO airstrikes again led to civilian casualties.
The uncompromising stance the U.S. is taking against Libya, may – ironically – have its roots in an institution that just a few years ago was considered by the United States a grave threat to its global hegemony, the International Criminal Court.
Despite U.S. opposition, on April 11, 2002, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was ratified by enough countries to make the court a reality. “In refusing to sign the ICC treaty at the Rome Conference,” FindLaw wrote in 2002, “the U.S. found itself quite isolated.”
Only China, Iraq, Qatar, Yemen, Israel, and Libya joined in boycotting the court, while 120 nations voted in its favor.
Reacting hostilely to the Rome Statute’s ratification, President George W. Bush reiterated his opposition to the ICC and repudiated President Clinton’s decision to sign the accord.
“The United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on Dec. 31, 2000,” the Bush administration said in a May 6, 2002 letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. “The United States requests that its intention not to become a party … be reflected in the depositary’s status lists relating to this treaty.”
With strong administration support, House Republicans promoted a bill that would allow U.S. armed forces to invade the Hague, Netherlands, where the court would be located, to rescue U.S. soldiers if they are ever prosecuted for war crimes.
But now, a decade later, it appears that the U.S. is utilizing the court that it once disparaged to help legitimize its intensifying attacks against Libya.
As the Christian Science Monitor reports today,
The potential that the International Criminal Court (ICC) could issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi … could give NATO more latitude to target the dictator directly.
So far, NATO airstrikes have focused on military targets – this morning they hit two government buildings in Tripoli, including the Interior Ministry. However, the head of Britain‘s military said on Sunday that NATO needed authorization to also strike infrastructure targets. There is speculation that the ICC warrants could justify NATO efforts to target Qaddafi, rather than simply to ‘protect Libyan civilians under threat of attack.’
So, how did the United States’ vociferous opposition to the ICC metamorphose into a whole-hearted endorsement of its prosecution of an officially designated U.S. enemy, in this case Muammar Gaddafi? How could the U.S. possibly use this international institution that it has opposed over the past decade towards its own ends, namely bombing Libya into submission?
The answer lies in the fact that under President Barack Obama, the U.S. took a new approach to the ICC. Rather than shunning it outright, the United States decided that it would be more effective to manipulate the Court towards its own ends.
When asked last year, following the ICC’s Kampala Review Conference, whether the United States would join the ICC, Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State, faltered, saying:
I think our basic conviction is a strategy of engagement is good for the court and good for U.S. interests. We might as well start that process and make a serious effort at it, which is what we did. And as I said, the reaction was favorable. On the last day, they said, ‘We’re delighted to see a situation in which the U.S. is part of the solution for the court and not part of the problem.’
Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, followed up by saying:
It’s clear that joining the court is not on the table, as far as a U.S. decision at this time. But as you know, the United States takes a very long time to adopt international conventions and treaties, and sometimes doesn’t. I mean, it took us 40 years to ratify the Genocide Convention.
I think what we’re looking at here is how this court develops. We want to see it develop responsibly, to focus on crimes that involve truly massive intentional attacks on civilians, both in terms of the decisions made by its prosecutor on where to open investigations and also by its chambers, its trial chambers that have to decide whether, sometimes, to authorize those investigations or to issue arrest warrants.
What the U.S. delegation was primarily concerned about in this Review Conference was how the ICC might define the crime of “aggression.” In a statement to the conference, Rapp said:
The Eighth Session of the Assembly of States Parties ended without bringing its members close to resolving [the conditions that must be satisfied before the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression]. Instead the session ended on a note that highlighted wide divisions, and this is not surprising. The questions the Special Working Group could not resolve after years of effort are inherently difficult and touch upon matters that have long elicited divergent answers.
And while the Special Working Group did produce a definition of the crime of aggression, key aspects of the definition are still uncertain. For example, what impact might the proposed definition, if adopted, have on the use of force that is undertaken to end the very crimes the ICC is now charged with prosecuting?
In other words, what the U.S. was asking last year, was, essentially, what if we decide to “enforce” these ICC principles – would we be subject to prosecution for war crimes?
Evidently, the answer was “no,” and so now the ICC is America’s new best friend.
◊ What is Islam?
Muslims praying in Jerusalem A Moroccan in prayer
Muslims praying in Jerusalem outside the Dome of the Rock.
A Moroccan in prayer.
Islam is not a new religion, but the same truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every people. For a fifth of the world's population, Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness, and the majority have nothing to do with the extremely grave events which have come to be associated with their faith
◊ Who are the Muslims?
One billion people from a vast range of races, nationalities and cultures across the globe - from the southern Philippines to Nigeria - are united by their common Islamic faith. About 18% live in the Arab world; the world's largest Muslim community is in Indonesia; substantial parts of Asia and most of Africa are Muslim, while significant minorities are to be found in the Soviet Union, China, North and South America, and Europe. top
◊ What do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in One, Unique, Incomparable God; in the Angels created by Him; in the prophets through whom His revelations were brought to mankind; in the Day of Judgement and individual accountability for actions; in God's complete authority over human destiny and in life after death. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets starting with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Elias, Jonah, John the Baptist, and Jesus, peace be upon them. But God's final message to man, a reconfirmation of the eternal message and a summing-up of all that has gone before was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel. top
◊ How does someone become a Muslim?
Simply by saying 'there is no god apart from God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.' By this declaration the believer announces his or her faith in all God's messengers, and the scriptures they brought. top
◊ What does 'Islam' mean?
The Arabic word 'Islam' simply means 'submission', and derives from a word meaning 'peace'. In a religious context it means complete submission to the will of God. 'Mohammedanism' is thus a misnomer because it suggests that Muslims worship Muhammad rather than God. 'Allah' is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Arab Muslims and Christians alike. top
◊ Why does Islam often seem strange?
Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that the Divine Law, the Shari'a, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important. top
◊ Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?
No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons Muhammad from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses and Jesus from Isaac. Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray. top
◊ What is the Ka'ba?
The Ka'ba is the place of worship which God commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four thousand years ago. The building was constructed of stone on what many believe was the original site of a sanctuary established by Adam. God commanded Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place, and when pilgrims go there today they say 'At Thy service, O Lord', in response to Abraham's summons. top
Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Makkah, Saudi Arabia
◊ Who is Muhammad?
Muhammad, was born in Makkah in the year 570, at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. Since his father died before his birth, and his mother shortly afterwards, he was raised by his uncle from the respected tribe of Quraysh. As he grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. The historians describe him as calm and meditative.
Muhammad was of a deeply religious nature, and had long detested the decadence of his society. It became his habit to meditate from time to time in the Cave of Hira near the summit of Jabal al-Nur, the 'Mountain of Light' near Makkah.
◊ How did Muhammad become a prophet and a messenger of God?
The Mountain of Light
The Mountain of Light where Gabriel came to Prophet Muhammad.
At the age of 40, while engaged in a meditative retreat, Muhammad received his first revelation from God through the Angel Gabriel. This revelation, which continued for twenty-three years, is known as the Quran.
As soon as he began to recite the words he heard from Gabriel, and to preach the truth which God had revealed to him, he and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution, which grew so fierce that in the year 622 God gave them the command to emigrate. This event, the Hijra, 'migration', in which they left Makkah for the city of Madinah some 260 miles to the north, marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar.
After several years, the Prophet and his followers were able to return to Makkah, where they forgave their enemies and established Islam definitively. Before the Prophet died at the age of 63, the greater part of Arabia was Muslim, and within a century of his death Islam had spread to Spain in the West and as far East as China. top
◊ How did the spread of Islam affect the world?
Taj Mahal, India
Taj Mahal, India.
Among the reasons for the rapid and peaceful spread of Islam was the simplicity of its doctrine - Islam calls for faith in only One God worthy of worship. It also repeatedly instructs man to use his powers of intelligence and observation.
Hui Shen Mosque, China
Hui Shen Mosque, China.
Built in the 7th Century.
Within a few years, great civilizations and universities were flourishing, for according to the Prophet, 'seeking knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim man and woman'. The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and of new thought with old, brought about great advances in medicine, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, architecture, art, literature, and history. Many crucial systems such as algebra, the Arabic numerals, and also the concept of the zero (vital to the advancement of mathematics), were transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam. Sophisticated instruments which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.
◊ What is the Quran?
This opening chapter of The Quran, the Fatiha, is central in Islamic prayer. It contains the essence of The Quran and is recited during every prayer.
The Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Suras, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago. top
◊ What is the Quran about?
The Quran, the last revealed Word of God, is the prime source of every Muslim's faith and practice. It deals with all the subjects which concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system. top
◊ Are there any other sacred sources?
Yes, the sunna, the practice and example of the Prophet, is the second authority for Muslims. A hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet said, did, or approved. Belief in the sunna is part of the Islamic faith.
Examples of the Prophet's sayings
The Prophet said:
'God has no mercy on one who has no mercy for others.'
'None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.'
'He who eats his fill while his neighbor goes without food is not a believer.'
'The truthful and trusty businessman is associated with the prophets the saints, and the martyrs.'
'Powerful is not he who knocks the other down, indeed powerful is he who controls himself in a fit of anger.'
'God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances but He scans your hearts and looks into your deeds.'
'A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well he descended into it, drank his fill and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man saw that the dog was feeling the same thirst as he had felt so he went down into the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave the dog a drink. God forgave his sins for this action.' The Prophet was asked: 'Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?' He said, 'There is a reward for kindness to every living thing.'
From the hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi. top
◊ What are the 'Five Pillars' of Islam?
They are the framework of the Muslim life: faith, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able.
Ottoman Topkapi Palace
The Shahada inscribed over entrance to Ottoman Topkapi Palace (the museum contains a mantle worn by the Prophet, among other treasures), Istanbul.
"There is no god worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is His messenger."
This declaration of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which all the faithful pronounce. In Arabic, the first part is: La ilaha illa Llah - 'there is no god except God'; ilaha (god) can refer to anything which we may be tempted to put in place of God - wealth, power, and the like. Then comes illa Llah: 'except God', the source of all Creation.
The second part of the Shahada is Muhammadun rasulu'Llah: 'Muhammad is the messenger of God.' A message of guidance has come through a man like ourselves.
Prayer call from Abiquiu Mosque
Salat is the name for the obligatory prayers which are performed five times a day, and are a direct link between the worshipper and God. There is no hierarchical authority in Islam, and no priests, so the prayers are led by a learned person who knows the Quran, chosen by the congregation. These five prayers contain verses from the Quran, and are said in Arabic, the language of the Revelation, but personal supplication can be offered in one's own language.
New Mexico, U.S.A.
Prayer call from Abiquiu Mosque.
Prayers are said at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and nightfall, and thus determine the rhythm of the entire day. Although it is preferable to worship together in a mosque, a Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories and universities. Visitors to the Muslim world are struck by the centrality of prayers in daily life.
A translation of the Call to Prayer is:
God is most great. God is most great.
God is most great. God is most great.
I testify that there is no god except God.
I testify that there is no god except God.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
Come to prayer! Come to prayer!
Come to success (in this life and the Hereafter)!
Come to success!
God is most great. God is most great.
There is no god except God.
3. THE 'ZAKAT'
The Great Mosque in Herat, Afgahnistan
Courtyard of Great Mosque, Herat, Afghanistan.
Zakat keeps the money flowing within a society, Cairo.
One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God, and that wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The word zakat means both 'purification' and 'growth'. Our possessions are purified by setting aside a proportion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.
Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. For most purposes this involves the payment each year of two and a half percent of one's capital.
A pious person may also give as much as he or she pleases as sadaqa, and does so preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as 'voluntary charity' it has a wider meaning. The Prophet said 'even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.'
The Prophet said: 'Charity is a necessity for every Muslim.' He was asked: 'What if a person has nothing?' The Prophet replied: 'He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity.' The Companions asked: 'What if he is not able to work?' The Prophet said: 'He should help poor and needy persons.' The Companions further asked 'What if he cannot do even that?' The Prophet said 'He should urge others to do good.' The Companions said 'What if he lacks that also?' The Prophet said 'He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.'
4. THE FAST
Every year in the month of Ramadan, all Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year. If they are physically unable to do this, they must feed a needy person for every day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayer) from puberty, although many start earlier.
Although the fast is most beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life.
5. PILGRIMAGE (Hajj)
The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, over two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
Pilgrim tents during Hajj.
The rites of the Hajj, which are of Abrahamic origin, include circling the Ka'ba seven times, and going seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar during her search for water. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafa and join in prayers for God's forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment.
In previous centuries the Hajj was an arduous undertaking. Today, however, Saudi Arabia provides millions of people with water, modern transport, and the most up-to-date health facilities.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This, and the Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the main festivals of the Muslim calendar. top
◊ Does Islam tolerate other beliefs?
The Quran says: God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God loveth those who are just. (Quran 60:8)
It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. History provides many examples of Muslim tolerance towards other faiths: when the caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in the year 634, Islam granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city.
Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. top
◊ What do Muslims think about Jesus?
Muslims respect and revere Jesus, and await his Second Coming. They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. A Muslim never refers to him simply as 'Jesus', but always adds the phrase 'upon him be peace'. The Quran confirms his virgin birth (a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Mary'), and Mary is considered the purest woman in all creation. The Quran describes the Annunciation as follows:
'Behold!' the Angel said, 'God has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He shall speak to the people from his cradle and in maturity, and shall be of the righteous.'
She said: 'O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me?' He said: 'Even so; God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing, He says to it, "Be!" and it is.' (Quran 3:42-47)
Jesus was born miraculously through the same power which had brought Adam into being without a father:
Truly, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, 'Be!' and he was. (Quran 3:59)
During his prophetic mission Jesus performed many miracles. The Quran tells us that he said:
I have come to you with a sign from your Lord: I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it and it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind, and the lepers and I raise the dead by God's leave. (Quran 3:49)
Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in One God, brought by earlier prophets, but to confirm and renew it. In the Quran Jesus is reported as saying that he came:
To attest the law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you; I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and obey Me. (Quran 3:5O)
The Prophet Muhammad said:
Whoever believes there is no god but God, alone without partner, that Muhammad is His messenger, that Jesus is the servant and messenger of God, His word breathed into Mary and a spirit emanating from Him, and that Paradise and Hell are true, shall be received by God into Heaven. (Hadith from Bukhari) top
◊ Why is the family so important to Muslims?
The family is the foundation of Islamic society. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued, and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families; children are treasured, and rarely leave home until the time they marry. top
◊ What about Muslim women?
Islam sees a woman, whether single or married, as an individual in her own right, with the right to own and dispose of her property and earnings. A marriage dowry is given by the groom to the bride for her own personal use, and she keeps her own family name rather than taking her husband's.
Both men and women are expected to dress in a way which is modest and dignified; the traditions of female dress found in some Muslim countries are often the expression of local customs.
The Messenger of God said:
'The most perfect in faith amongst believers is he who is best in manner and kindest to his wife.' top
◊ Can a Muslim have more than one wife?
The religion of Islam was revealed for all societies and all times and so accommodates widely differing social requirements. Circumstances may warrant the taking of another wife but the right is granted, according to the Quran, only on condition that the husband is scrupulously fair. top
◊ Is Islamic marriage like Christian marriage?
A Muslim marriage is not a 'sacrament', but a simple, legal agreement in which either partner is free to include conditions. Marriage customs thus vary widely from country to country. As a result, divorce is not common, although it is not forbidden as a last resort. According to Islam, no Muslim girl can be forced to marry against her will: her parents will simply suggest young men they think may be suitable. top
◊ How do Muslims treat the elderly?
In the Islamic world there are no old people's homes. The strain of caring for one's parents in this most difficult time of their lives is considered an honor and blessing, and an opportunity for great spiritual growth. God asks that we not only pray for our parents, but act with limitless compassion, remembering that when we were helpless children they preferred us to themselves. Mothers are particularly honored: the Prophet taught that 'Paradise lies at the feet of mothers'. When they reach old age, Muslim parents are treated mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness.
In Islam, serving one's parents is a duty second only to prayer, and it is their right to expect it. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the old become difficult.
The Quran says: 'Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say 'uff to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, 'My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little'. (17:23-4) top
◊ How do Muslims view death?
Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that the present life is only a trial preparation for the next realm of existence. Basic articles of faith include: the Day of Judgment, resurrection, Heaven and Hell. When a Muslim dies, he or she is washed, usually by a family member, wrapped in a clean white cloth, and buried with a simple prayer preferably the same day. Muslims consider this one of the final services they can do for their relatives, and an opportunity to remember their own brief existence here on earth. The Prophet taught that three things can continue to help a person even after death; charity which he had given, knowledge which he had taught and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child. top
◊ What does Islam say about war?
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defense, in defense of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. As Muslims see it, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good men were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause. The Quran says:
Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors. (2:190)
If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things. (8:61)
War, therefore, is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law. The term jihad literally means 'struggle', and Muslims believe that there are two kinds of jihad. The other 'jihad' is the inner struggle which everyone wages against egotistic desires, for the sake of attaining inner peace. top
◊ What about food?
Although much simpler than the dietary law followed by Jews and the early Christians, the code which Muslims observe forbids the consumption of pig meat or any kind of intoxicating drink. The Prophet taught that 'your body has rights over you', and the consumption of wholesome food and the leading of a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations.
The Prophet said: 'Ask God for certainty [of faith] and well-being; for after certainty, no one is given any gift better than health!' top
◊ How does Islam guarantee human rights?
Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Quran itself: 'There is no compulsion in religion'. (2:256)
The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are considered sacred whether a person is Muslim or not.
Racism is incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Quran speaks of human equality in the following terms:
O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All Aware (49:13)
◊ Islam in the United States
Muslims were early arrivals in North America. By the eighteenth century there were many thousands of them, working as slaves on plantations. These early communities, cut off from their heritage and families, inevitably lost their Islamic identity as time went by. Today many Afro-American Muslims play an important role in the Islamic community.
The nineteenth century, however, saw the beginnings of an influx of Arab Muslims, most of whom settled in the major industrial centers where they worshipped in hired rooms. The early twentieth century witnessed the arrival of several hundred thousand Muslims from Eastern Europe: the first Albanian mosque was opened in Maine in 1915; others soon followed, and a group of Polish Muslims opened a mosque in Brooklyn in 1928.
In 1947 the Washington Islamic Center was founded during the term of President Truman, and several nationwide organizations were set up in the fifties. The same period saw the establishment of other communities whose lives were in many ways modeled after Islam. More recently, numerous members of these groups have entered the fold of Muslim orthodoxy. Today there are about five million Muslims in America. top
◊ The Muslim World
The Muslim population of the world is around one billion. 30% of Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent, 20% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 17% in Southeast Asia, 18% in the Arab World, 10% in the Soviet Union and China. Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan comprise 10% of the non-Arab Middle East. Although there are Muslim minorities in almost every area, including Latin America and Australia, they are most numerous in the Soviet Union, India, and central Africa. There are 5 million Muslims in the United States.
O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God's sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran 49:13)
What is the Quran ..?
The Qur’ân is the name given to Allah’s speech that He revealed to His Servant and Messenger Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); speech that is recited as an act of worship, is miraculous, and cannot be imitated by man. It is the name of Allah’s Book, and no other book is called by this name. The most common names for Allah’s Book are al-Qur’ân (the Recital) and al-Kitâb (the Book). This is an indication of how much care has been taken in its preservation, both in the memories of people as well as in written form, each way of preserving it reinforcing the other.
The Qur'an comprehends the complete code for the Muslims to live a good, chaste, abundant and rewarding life in obedience to the commandments of Allah, in this life and to gain salvation in the next. It is the "chart of life" for every Muslim, and it is the "constitution" of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
The Qur'an is the eternal contemporary of the Muslims. Each generation of Muslims has found new sources of strength, courage and inspiration in it. It is also, for them, a "compass" in the turbulent voyage of life, as it has explained itself in the following verses:
. . . Indeed, there has come to you light and a clear book from Allah; With it Allah guides him who fill follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by his will and guides them to the right path. (V: 15-16)
It has created an all but new phase of human thought and a fresh type of character. It deserves the highest praise for its conceptions of Divine nature in reference to the attributes of Power, Knowledge, and Universal Providence and Unity--that its belief and trust is one God, creator of Heaven and Earth is deep and fervent, and that it embodies much of a noble and moral earnestness. It is Qur'an which transformed the simple shepherds and wandering Bedouins of Arabia into the founders of empires, the builders of cities, the collectors of libraries. If a system of religious teachings is evaluated by the changes which it introduces into the way of life, the customs and beliefs of its follower, then Qur'an as a code of life is second to none. It is not strange then, that more translations and more commentaries of the Holy Qur'an have been published than that of any other book claimed to be the Divine Revelation.
The meaning of revelation:
Revelation is where Allah gives whatever knowledge He wills to those whom He chooses to receive it. Allah gives this knowledge to them in order for them to convey it to whomever else He wishes.
All the Messengers of Allah experienced revelation. Allah says:
Verily, We have sent Revelation to you (O Muhammad) as We have sent Revelation to Nûh (Noah) and the prophets who came after him. We had sent revelation to Ibrâhîm (Abraham), Ismâ`îl (Ishmael), Ishâq (Isaac), Ya`qûb (Jacob), the Tribes, `Isâ (Jesus), Ayyûb (Job), Yûnus (Jonah), Hârûn (Aaron), and Sulaymân (Solomon). And to Dâwûd (David) We gave the Psalms. And Messengers We have told you about before, and Messengers We have not told you about – and to Mûsâ (Moses) We spoke directly.
The Occurrence of Revelation:
Revelation is a fact that cannot be denied by anyone who believes in the existence of Allah and His absolute Power. The Creator and Sustainer maintains His creation in any manner that pleases Him. The connection between the Creator and his Creation is by way of His Messengers, and these Messengers only know what Allah wants from them by way of revelation, either directly or indirectly. The rational mind cannot dismiss the possibility of revelation, since nothing is difficult for the All-Powerful Creator.