Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 4:23 pm Post subject: Pluralism in Islamic Ummah
The following article describes the current state of the Ummah especially in regard to it's treatment of the minority sects and ethnic groups. It appears to be the case of pluralism at its worst. It is indeed a sad story. No wonder MHI defines Islam in a more universal sense of encompassing the whole humanity!
While the Ummah works itself into a frenzy over the plight of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza (numbering less than four million), it remains silent about the discrimination the large Palestinian communities face in the Arab countries, as well as about the plight of such Muslim ethno-linguistic minorities as the Kurds (20-25 million) within the Ummah
It is not just non-Muslim minorities that get short shrift in Islamic countries, but Muslim ethno-linguistic and sectarian minorities as well.
In 1974, the Pakistan National Assembly declared Ahmadis, who profess to be Muslims, non-Muslims. This must be the only instance in the history of the world where an elected national parliament legislated to excommunicate a religious sect. Powerful mainstream religious parties are now threatening a “worse fate” for the Aga Khani sect. Fringe extremist groups already make no secret of their wish to see Shias expelled from the fold of Islam as well.
Accusing them of rebellion, Pakistan officially unleashed a reign of terror in 1971 against Bengali Muslims inhabiting its eastern province. Despite widespread human rights abuses committed by Pakistani forces in Bangladesh and the recommendations of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report, not a single offender was ever prosecuted.
For its part, Bangladesh, which now likes to advertise its Islamic identity, refuses to grant the 300,000 or so stranded “Bihari” Muslims citizenship rights, although they have now lived there for many generations. Most were born there and know no other country. They are unwelcome in Pakistan, to which they profess allegiance. There is no place for them in the vast Ummah, although some of its member-countries happen to be rich in cash but short of manpower.
The Hazaras of Afghanistan suffered persecution under the Taliban regime on account of their being doubly detestable, an ethnic and a sectarian minority (Shia) at the same time. The Shia minority in Saudi Arabia is banned from building mosques and commemorating Ashura. According to a Shia cleric, “my son studies a syllabus which says he is an infidel.”
In Indonesia, the Free Acehnese Movement (GAM) is fighting a guerrilla war against the government since 1976, seeking independence for the 4.2 million Acehnese. It is believed that GAM had the covert support of both Libya and Iran in the 1980s.
The indigenous Berbers of Morocco and Algeria, who constitute 40 and 30 percent of their respective populations, are struggling to preserve the little that remains of their language and culture. In both countries the Berber language was officially taboo until a few years ago. For the Berbers, centuries of Islamisation has been synonymous with Arabisation, leading to the virtual extinction of their cultural entity.
Iran has so thoroughly been Persianised by the ruling Persian-speaking elite that it should come as a surprise to many readers that only one in two Iranians is ethnically Persian. Among the many Muslim ethnic minorities that suffer discrimination in Iran are the Kurds, Ahwazis, Baloch and Turkmen.
Palestinians constitute more than half of the population of Jordan, but they are by and large excluded from administrative and defence posts, which are held by the native Bedouins. To Jordan’s credit, however, Palestinians there have been granted citizenship rights, denied to them in the other Arab and Gulf states, where many of them were born and most have lived and worked for decades.
But while the Ummah works itself into a frenzy over the plight of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza (numbering less than four million), it remains silent about the discrimination the large Palestinian communities face in the Arab countries, as well as about the plight of such Muslim ethno-linguistic minorities as the Kurds (20-25 million) and Darfuris (over three million) within the Ummah.
Kurds comprise 20 percent of the populations of both Turkey and Iraq and five-eight percent in Iran and Syria. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein bombed and gassed them. In Turkey it was illegal, until a few years ago, even to sing songs in the Kurdish language. In Iran, Kurds survive at the sufferance of the Persian majority. Syria, which perceives them as a security threat, has revoked the citizenship of tens of thousands of Kurds under one pretext or another.
Muslims of the Darfur region of Sudan are presently the victims of a frenetical campaign of murder, rape and eviction organised by the Sudanese government itself. According to some estimates, up to 300,000 people may have died there in the last two years.
It should hardly surprise us that governments which treat their own Muslim ethnic or sectarian minorities so abysmally, are wont to regard expatriate labourers from poorer Muslim countries as only slightly better than slaves.
Usually paid below their contracted salaries and entitlements under one pretext or another and forced to work long hours, they are denied all recourse to legal, professional and personal rights, and virtually kept captives as their passports are taken away from them by their employers. Mass deportations are routine.
In the event of any crisis in relations between two Muslim countries, expatriate workers are usually the first victims. In 1985, according to one report, “for reasons that appeared more political than economic, Libya expelled tens of thousands of workers, including 20,000 Egyptians, 32,000 Tunisians, and several thousand from Mali and Niger. This exodus continued the following year when some 25,000 Moroccans were forced to depart.” Many were given only 48 hours to leave and were forced to camp in and travel through vast stretches of treacherous desert.
After the liberation of Kuwait in 1990, Palestinians settled there for decades were expelled en masse as payback for Yasser Arafat’s support for the Iraqi invasion. The same fate befell Yemenis living in Saudi Arabia and for the same reason. Hitherto allowed to work and settle freely in the Kingdom, over 800,000 Yemenis were suddenly expelled after a royal Saudi decree of 1990 subjected them to the standard rules for immigrants.
Of the million or so illegal immigrants in Malaysia, most are fellow-Muslims from relatively poor Indonesia. Preferred by Malaysian employers as they work for lower wages under dismal conditions as well as for their linguistic affinity, Indonesians constitute about 70 percent of the labour force in the construction and manufacturing industries. It is estimated that over a third of Malaysian prison inmates are Indonesians. Malaysia has gone so far as to implement a “hire Indonesians last” policy, regardless of its pronounced preference for the Ummah in everything else.
Bangladeshis in Malaysia have fared even worse. Following a spate of marriages between Malay women and Bangladeshi migrant workers, in 2001 Malaysia promulgated a law banning such marriages. Later, it altogether stopped further migrant worker intake from the “brotherly Ummah” state of Bangladesh.
Contrast this with the West, where legal immigrants are given full rights as soon as they land and are granted citizenship according to non-discriminatory procedures clearly laid down in law. Inter-racial and inter-religious marriages are the norm rather than the exception. Amnesties are periodically offered to illegal immigrants who satisfy certain criteria and mass deportations are unknown. Millions of erstwhile illegal immigrants, Muslims and non-Muslims, now live in Western countries exercising all the rights and enjoying all the privileges that flow from citizenship.
This is the second in a series of four articles. The first appeared on March 3, 2005. The third episode will look into the issue of succession in Muslim countries. The author is a freelance writer. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are Ahmadis Muslims? As I have heard they do not believe Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] as last Prophet.
MHI in his recent interview granted in Germany stated that Islam encompasses all humanity. In that sense everyone is a Muslim in the broadest sense. I think by making such a statement in public, MHI is hinting at the state of things to come in the decades ahead. Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah stated: " Deens(religions) that are not based on reasons ( intellect) will disappear gradually."
I think based on the above, we may draw interesting conclusions about the role of Imamat in the coming years.
Are Ahmadis Muslims? As I have heard they do not believe Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] as last Prophet.
So far as they recite the Kalima they are Muslim. The Kalima does not say that Mouhammad is the last prophet, it just says that Mohamed is the Prophet of God.
It is not up to anyone to judge who is a Muslim and who is not. Some countries have declared them non-Muslims, like if they have the power to judge. Those who do that are taking the power reserved by God to Himself.
As far as Ismailis are concerned, the Ismaili Constitution makes it clear that we believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet of God.
But definately we are not going to judge other people's beliefs or faith.
Thank you KMaherAli and Nagib. I would like to know more on:Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah stated: " Deens(religions) that are not based on reasons ( intellect) will disappear gradually."
Is this Farman from KIM or other book and what do you understand from it?
Thank you KMaherAli and Nagib. I would like to know more on:Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah stated: " Deens(religions) that are not based on reasons ( intellect) will disappear gradually."
Is this Farman from KIM or other book and what do you understand from it?
This was quoted by Kasamali in another discussion on "Is Hazar Imam God" page 13. He simply mentioned it as being of ISMS.
One of the strengths of pluralism is that a religion or a culture in contact with others is able to evaluate all its practices and beliefs against those of others. What will emerge hopefully from this is the ability of a culture or a religion to discard those aspects which are not reasonable but have been carried forward either due to force of tradition or societal norm. In other words pluralism forces critical evaluation of one's identity. Gradually unreasonable beliefs will die out as a result.
An example of such an evaluation is expressed in the following article. It examines the present pillars of Islam and concludes that they no longer hold the structure of Islam firm. What is needed is rethinking of our foundations and perhaps a fresh ijtihad. But who other than MHI can lead it today.
Five Pillars Or Ruins Of Islam Five Pillars Or Ruins Of Islam
by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
If asked to explain some essentials of Islam, any Muslim would talk about
the five pillars of Islam, namely shahada, salah, zakah, saum and hajj.
This explanation of Islam in terms of pillars is based on a sahih hadith
(found in both Bukhari and Muslim). However, Muslims neither know nor
think about the underlying concepts of five pillars. Pillars cannot stand
by themselves unless they have a foundation. A pillar standing without a
foundation can easily be knocked over by a child. Besides, pillars are a
functional part of a building, i.e. to support the roof of the building. A
complete building would have at least one roof, walls, doors, windows and
interior and exterior decoration. If a Muslim was asked about the
analogical components of a building in Islam he would be at a loss. He
would not know what are you talking about. Therefore, the current
explanation of Islam in terms of five pillars without reference to the
foundation and the rest of the building is a reference to the RUINS OF
ISLAM. This is the reality of life.
In the ancient ruins in Greece, Italy, Egypt, India, Pakistan or any of
the old countries a few broken pillars are found lying on the ground, and
a few broken pillars still standing with or without some signs of a
foundation. That is the analogy of Islam as practiced in our times.
Islam's roof and walls, along with the decorations have fallen away; the
foundation is barely visible and a few broken pillars are lying on the
ground and a few are still standing.
Fallen Five Pillars
The concept of SHAHADA is the declaration of Oneness of God (tawheed) and
messengership of Prophet Muhammad (S) which people pronounce by tongue
without understanding the meanings and its impact on life. The ninety nine
names of Allah are highly regarded and invoked in prayers and du'aa
(supplications); chanted repeatedly with the belief that such activities
will bring blessings and acceptance of du'aa without knowing the meaning
and impact. Muslims are involved in nifaq (hypocrisy) and shirk
(associationism) of all kinds in beliefs and in deeds (or works). The
messengership of Prophet Muhammad (S) means accepting him as a guide and a
ROLE MODEL in daily life. Unfortunately, the role model of a large
majority of Muslims is the white man of the West. From the rulers of
Muslim countries to ordinary people in the street, whether living in a
Muslim country or western country, the role model is a white "successful"
person certainly NOT Prophet Muhammad (S). And for a Muslim country or a
Muslim society, the role model is America, her political and economic
systems, and her value system or lack of it. For so called religious
minded Muslim the role model is frequently a dead or living saint (wali)
or imam or 'alim (scholar), almost never Prophet Muhammad (S); if he is
the role model it is in a hearsay manner or by conjecture not through
authentic and direct knowledge. Lip service is given to Prophet Muhammad
(S), his birthday (maulood or milad-un-Nabi) is celebrated, seeratun-Nabi
is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fanfare, salath 'alan-Nabi or
durood is said whenever his name is uttered. Those who do not are looked
at with scorn and to those who do not do any of these celebrations are
called WAHABIS. A very large majority of Muslims are not even familiar
with the biography of Prophet Muhammad (S) and the irony is that the
"ulama" (scholars) discourage Muslim masses from studying and obtaining
guidance directly from QUR'AN and books of authentic HADITH. This broken
pillar of SHAHADAH or declaration of the CREED OF ISLAM is lying on the
ground. Only if the meaning of shahadah is understood and lived by,
sufficient guidance is there for life in this world and salvation in the
SALAH (Namaz or five daily prayers) is another broken pillar standing but
ready to fall any time. A large majority of the Muslim population does not
pray hence the pillar is broken. Among those who perform five daily
prayers, the meaning of the prayer does not touch their lives. Among those
who pray are some who do not do so correctly or understand the meaning of
what they say by their tongues; naturally what they do not know, they do
not practice. For example, the most essential part of salah (or prayer) is
saying SURAT AL-FATIHA which is a reminder of the covenant (meethaq) with
Allah and a du'aa (supplication). A section of 'ulama (Hanafi madhhab)
have advised their followers against saying Surat Al-Fatiha in
congregational prayers (silent or loud) despite the fact that Prophet
Muhammad (S) has strongly advised saying it individually even in
congregational prayers. There is a significant majority of those who
perform five daily prayers who have adopted different ethical values in
their daily lives (mu'amilaat), such as in business, jobs, industry, etc.
and they remain untouched by the value system of Islam. For them salah is
for Allah and daily business is to make a living where Allah does not
exist, hence it is all right to cheat, break promises, contracts and
pacts; it is all right not to give their money's worth to the employer, it
is all right to cheat employees, it is all right to be a tyrant ruler, and
so on yet pray five times a day. Salah is a broken but partially standing
pillar not capable of bearing any weight of the roof.
ZAKAH (zakat or poor-due or wealth cleansing tax) or whatever way the word
is translated is a broken and fallen pillar in an overwhelming majority of
Muslim countries and minority Muslim societies around the world. Zakah
collection is neither organized nor collected nor distributed in a manner
done in the first century of Islam. It has been left up to the individuals
to distribute zakah and a majority of them do not offer zakah. Naturally,
the Muslim countries are the poorest countries of the world despite being
the richest in the world in terms of natural resources, collectively
speaking. Without allocating zakah, rich Muslims are amassing dirty riches
making the poor poorer and rich richer; just the opposite of the desired
result of an Islamic economy.
SAUM (rozah or fasting in the month of Ramadan) is perhaps practiced by
more people than those who perform the five daily prayers. Fasting has
three DON'TS and one very important DO; don'ts are eating, drinking and
sexual activity. A very important DO is to live by the MORAL CODE of
Islam. Without following the moral code of Islam SAUM is reduced to a
simple deprivation of food, drink and sex and does not bring any spiritual
benefit. Saum or fasting is a test of sincerity (ikhlaas) of a Muslim's
beliefs. According to the Qur'an fasting is supposed to develop piety or
God consciousness (taqwa) in a Muslim and develop a community of God
conscious people. Piety or God consciousness means avoiding evil thoughts
or deeds for regard of Allah. Today, the community of fasting people is
composed of as many evil doers (if not more) than those who do not even
believe in Islam or fasting in the month of Ramadan. Fasting makes no
difference to Muslims and it has no impact on their lives; it is just a
ritual without meaning. In fact the month of fasting has become a more
expensive month than the other months for every Muslim in the Muslim
countries. The consumption of everything in Ramadan goes up, so do the
prices. In the Muslim countries, the Ramadan days become nights and nights
become days and a lot of indigestion and sickness grows. Saum is another
broken but partially standing pillar which is not capable of bearing any
weight of the roof of the building of Islam.
HAJJ (pilgrimage) is also a broken pillar of Islam which is partially
standing without being able to bear the load of the building. Like the
Friday khutba (sermon) is a weekly educational program and renewal of
faith, hajj is an annual international meeting of Muslims. This is a
meeting where Muslims from various parts of the world should meet with
each other, exchange progress of Islam in their respective countries and
suggest to each other working solutions of mutual problems. This would
develop brotherhood of Muslims in the world context. Obviously, hajj has
become a ritual devoid of its benefits to the Muslim UMMAH.
Concept of a Complete Building
The foundation of Islam is the set of basic beliefs which is composed of
Belief in One God Alone, Allah with all His attributes and knowing their
meaning and impact on one's life,
Belief in divine guidance of mankind through His Prophets and Messengers
and belief in Muhammad (S) as the last Prophet/Messenger,
Belief in the Books of Allah and Qur'an being His last and complete
Beliefs in the Angels as His functionaries,
Belief in the Last Day or the Last Hour,
Belief in the LIFE HEREAFTER which includes resurrection of man and
accountability to his Creator and Lord, the Day of Judgement followed by
reward and punishment meaning the eternal life of paradise or hell, and
Belief in destiny (Qadr).
The set of beliefs may also be looked at as the engine of a car. If the
engine of a car is good the car (body) will go places and if the engine is
bad the car will not go any place irrespective of the condition of the
body. The set of beliefs of a person is his engine, if beliefs are no good
the person will have problems in his life. A society composed of people
with sick beliefs will be a sick society as it is the condition of Muslim
The rest of the building of Islam, GOOD DEEDS OR WORKS, (a'maalus
salihaat) consists of the following seven components.
1. The first component consists of RITES OR ACTS OF WORSHIP commonly known
as five pillars of Islam namely, shahada, salah, zakah, saum and hajj
which have been discussed in the beginning of this article. These pillars
support the building of Islam above ground.
2. The most important good work after establishing the pillars for a
Muslim is to be a ROLE MODEL for mankind as Prophet Muhammad (S) is the
role model for Muslims. To be a role model requires excellence in
knowledge which includes professions and vocations. A good Muslim must be
the best in his vocation to be a role model. A society composed of
knowledgeable best persons will also be the best society which would
become a role model for all other societies of the world.
3. The MORAL CODE of Islam is another component of the building of Islam.
Propagation of the moral code of Islam, enjoining good and forbidding evil
(amr-bil-ma'roof wa-nahi 'an-almunkar) is a duty of every Muslim.
4. RIGHTS AND DUTIES given by Islam is another component of the building.
There are three areas of rights and duties, namely (a) God-man relation,
(b) man-man relations, and (c) man-earth relations. The details of these
rights and duties are given elsewhere.
5. Islam also provides guidelines in SHARI'A law which is the system of
civil and penal law. As a part of the legal system there are guidelines
for allowed/lawful (halal) and disallowed/unlawful (haram) in four areas,
namely, (a) eating and drinking, (b) sources of income, (c) spending of
wealth, and (d) sexual relations. These areas of law also become a part of
the building of Islam.
6. Islam makes every person responsible to convey the message of Islam to
other human beings (DA'WAH) due to our love for them. How would it be
possible for a Muslim to hope for going to paradise by the Grace of Allah
without providing any such chance to non-Muslims? This love for mankind
demands that other's be informed about the message of Islam and let them
have a chance to accept it. CONVEYING THE MESSAGE OF ISLAM is another
essential component of the building of Islam.
7. Finally, this earth belongs to Allah, therefore, He has the most right
to rule this earth according to His design. The human being is a trustee
or manager of God on earth (KHALIFAH) which simply means that man has a
duty to manage the earth according to the wishes of the owner (Trustor,
Allah) NOT according to his (trustee, humankind) wishes. This means
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RULE OF ALLAH on earth is the responsibility of
Muslims. Every Muslim must implement the Rule of Allah beginning with his
personal life and extending it to family life, to social life, to economic
life and to include political life at local, national and international
levels. This aspect completes the building of Islam with its finishing
touches. Let us come together and work together to implement the Rule of
Allah in its entirety and rebuild the Muslim Ummah.
For a more complete treatment of this subject see the article by the same
author, "HOW TO PRESENT ISLAM, A RATIONAL APPROACH" available from the
Introduction to the Institute
The Institute of Islamic Information and Education (III&E) was established
in 1985 for the only objective of Da'wah. The working definition of Da'wah
for the Institute includes (a) conveying the message of Islam to
non-Muslims and inviting them to Allah, (b) making efforts to remove
misinformation about Islam and Muslims from text books, reference material
and media, (c) making efforts for the integration of new Muslims into the
Muslim community, and (d) to develop material resources, recruit
(volunteers) and train manpower for da'wah work.
III&E publishes brochures, tracts and booklets for non-Muslims as well as
Muslims. III&E operates an Islamic Reading Room in Chicago where it holds
classes on Islam for new Muslims and non-Muslims. It distributes books and
tapes on relevant topics to deserving individuals, libraries, prisons and
teaching institutions. The Institute personnel give lectures and talks on
Islam and Muslims in schools, colleges, churches and community centers.
III&E is a non-profit, tax exempt organization. Please send your tax
deductible donations and zakat money to be used exclusively for da'wah and
Ismailis in deadly education spat
By Sudha Ramachandran
BANGALORE - An alliance of Sunni religious
organizations in Pakistan proposes to have the Nizari Ismaili community,
also known as Aga Khanis, declared infidels. The proposal comes amid
increased targeting of members of the Ismaili community and criticism of the
educational institutions they run in Pakistan.
The Nizari Ismaili community is an Islamic
sect whose members are followers of the Aga Khan. The Koran is their primary
religious text. They could be described as a Shi'ite sub-sect, as like the
Shi'ites they regard Ali as the Prophet Mohammed's successor. However, they
broke away from the Shi'ite mainstream centuries ago when they adopted
Ismail as their seventh imam, instead of his younger brother. Another
difference between Shi'ites and Ismailis is that the latter consider the Aga
Khan's birthday and the anniversary of his inauguration as more important
than Muharram - the most important event on the Shi'ite calendar, when the
battle of Karbala and the death of Hussein are commemorated. Ismailis,
unlike other Muslims, rarely undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Ismailis regard themselves as "proper
Muslims". However, Sunnis and Shi'ites in Pakistan (and other countries
where Ismailis live) believe they are "different". For one, they seem quite
"Westernized". Ismaili women are not expected to wear the burqa (veil). In
their congregation halls, women pray alongside men - on separate but similar
and adjacent carpets, denoting equality between the sexes. The schools run
by Ismailis are co-educational. A distinct Hindu influence is also
discernible in their style of worship. They sing hymns while praying and
believe in reincarnation.
Ismailis, who had escaped by and large the
attention of Pakistan's Sunni hardliners, are now under attack. About 22
Sunni organizations have come together as the Difa-e-Islam Mahaz (Front for
the Defense of Islam) to spearhead the anti-Ismaili campaign.
In 1947, Pakistan was created as a home for
the subcontinent's Muslims. It is overwhelmingly Muslim; 70% of the
population is Sunni and 20% Shi'ite. The Sunni-Shi'ite rivalry, which goes
back centuries, exploded into violent bloodletting since the 1980s. More
than 4,000 people have been killed in the sectarian violence in Pakistan.
While Pakistan has not witnessed Hindu-Muslim riots - some would suggest
that this is because Hindus have either fled to India or keep a very low
profile in the country - sectarian violence has occurred often with various
minority sects being targeted. For instance, Ahmadiyyas have been persecuted
from the 1950s onwards.
A Karachi-based Ismaili businessman told Asia
Times Online via e-mail that the current campaign of Sunni hardliners to
declare Ismailis infidels might be in its preliminary stage, but it has
already triggered considerable alarm within the community. "There are fears
that we will suffer the fate of the Ahmadiyyas," he said.
Like the Ismailis, the Ahmadiyyas have a
liberal interpretation of Islam. In 1953, anti-Ahmadiyya violence in
Pakistan resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ahmadiyyas. In 1974, the
Pakistani constitution was amended to declare Ahmadiyyas non-Muslims,
because they do not consider Mohammed to be the last Prophet of Islam. They
were subsequently threatened with death if they tried to pass themselves off
as Muslims. It is illegal for Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan to pray in mosques or
inscribe Islamic prayers on their gravestones.
Ismailis now fear that they, too, will be
declared non-Muslims and, worse, be targets of mob violence. They have
bitter memories of Sunni mob violence. In 1982, in the Chitral area in
northwestern Pakistan, about 60 Ismailis are reported to have been killed
and their community buildings burned down. In recent years, employees of the
Aga Khan Foundation have been attacked.
The Aga Khan Foundation is involved in
extensive development work in Pakistan, especially in the fields of
education, health, socio-economic development and so on. In January, Sunni
extremists gunned down a prominent Ismaili leader and scholar in Gilgit. The
killing was aimed at stoking sectarian tension in the region and it was
successful in doing so for violent riots raged in the area for days.
The violent targeting of Ismailis comes
against a backdrop of growing anti-Ismaili feelings. This should be viewed
in the context of post-September 11, 2001, anti-Western/Christian feelings
among Sunni hardliners in Pakistan. Sunni militant groups have targeted
Christians several times in recent years. Sunni hardliners have often
accused the Aga Khan of working with Israel and the US against the interests
of the Pakistani state.
While the "Western" lifestyle and the
"blasphemous beliefs" of the Ismailis might have provoked to some extent
Pakistan's Sunni hardliners, their anger appears to have more to do with
concern over the Ismailis' growing secularizing influence in the educational
arena in Pakistan. In addition to innumerable hospitals and charitable
organizations, the Aga Khan Foundation runs a network of schools that
provide quality education to young Pakistanis.
In 2002, the Pakistani government signed an
executive order inducting the Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKUEB)
into the national education system. The AKUEB follows the British O-level
and A-level system of education. So far access to this system has been
limited to the rich. The induction of the AKUEB into the national education
system would make it affordable and therefore accessible to a larger number
The Pakistani government's announcement that
it would allow schools to adopt the system of the AKUEB triggered angry
criticism from the Islamists. Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed
issued a warning to the Ismailis that he would launch a campaign against
them similar to the one against the Ahmadiyyas. Over the past year, Sunni
extremist outfits have launched a virulent smear campaign against the Aga
Khan Foundation, its work and the Ismaili community. They have accused the
foundation of receiving money from the "enemies of Islam", ie the US, Israel
and India, to spread anti-Muslim ideas among the people.
They have criticized the curriculum of the
AKUEB as undermining the tenets of Islam. The Sunni hardliners have
misrepresented the work the Aga Khan Foundation is doing with regard to
women's reproductive health. They have accused it of encouraging "immoral
lifestyles" and introducing "a free-sex environment".
The Jamaat has accused the AKUEB of
secularizing the country through the introduction of this system. However,
the ordinance allowing the AKUEB system states that it would follow the
national curriculum and syllabus. So what are the Sunni hardliners scared
of, especially since the adoption of the AKUEB system is voluntary?
The Ismaili businessman argues, "Sunni
hardliners fear that the AKUEB system being more efficient, more people -
including those who have hitherto been forced to opt for the madrassa
education the Islamic fundamentalists offer - will now go for the AKUEB
The battle is for control of the minds of
young Pakistanis. And the Sunni extremists are fighting in the only way they
know - violence, death threats and intimidation.
An array of Sunni hardline groups that have
otherwise been at loggerheads with one another have come together to fight
their common enemy - the challenge posed by the system of education provided
by the AKUEB. According to a report in the Daily Times, an English newspaper
in Pakistani, the Difa-e-Islam Mahaz hopes to get other Islamic sects
including the Shi'ites and Ahle Hadith on board its effort to have a fatwa
(decree) declaring Ismailis as non-Muslims. Whether the Shi'ites join the
effort to target a sub-sect of their own community remains to be seen.
There is little reason Shi'ite hardliners
would want to hold hands with their Sunni counterparts. After all, relations
between the two, which have been marked by violence and bloodletting over
the past two decades, have deteriorated considerably over the past couple of
years. Pakistan's Sunni majority largely considers Shi'ites as infidels.
However, Shi'ite hardliners are as insecure
with the Aga Khan Foundation's work and the system of education it provides
as are the Sunni hawks. They feel threatened that it would shrink the size
of the turf over which they wield influence.
A new dimension has been added to sectarian
violence in Pakistan, which has generally run along the Sunni-Shi'ite
divide, with Ismailis emerging as the main targets of Sunni hardliners. On
which side the Shi'ite hawks decide to jump - whether on the side of their
Ismaili "brothers" or of their hardline counterparts in the Sunni fold -
will significantly determine the contours of the conflict in the coming
Sudha Ramachandran is an independent
journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.
(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All
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Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005 7:58 am Post subject: Who is a Muslim? —Ishtiaq Ahmed
The following article in the wake of the recent call to declare Ismailis as renegades in Pakistan, expresses the prospect of pluralism at its worst. I hope the call does not really represent the opinion of the majority and it is only a passing phase. As I watch the current cricket test series between India and Pakistan and the attitudes of the crowds and players, I sense a great deal of goodwill, friendship and tolerance between the two nations. I hope that such sentiments of hope and peace at a larger scale will overshadow the narrow mindedness of the Mullahs.
Who is a Muslim? —Ishtiaq Ahmed
The call given recently by the Difa-e-Islam Mahaz (Front for the Defence of Islam), a 22-party front calling Sunni, Shia and Ahle Hadith ulema to
declare the followers of the Aga Khan, the Ismaili Shias, apostates or
renegades of Islam is the latest indication that sectarianism continues to
push forth fragmentary processes in the Pakistani polity. Interestingly the
call has been given by Dr Mufti Sarfaraz Naeemi, principal of Jamia Naemia seminary in Lahore. Dr Naeemi belongs to the Barelvi School which is supposed to be ‘mild’ and accommodating in contrast to Deobandi hardliners. Some time ago mainstream ulema also wanted the Zikri sect of Balochistan to be declared non-Muslim.
Modern social and political science have developed a wide range of terms and concepts to define aggression against different groups of people. Thus genocide means the destruction of a people; ethnocide means the destruction of the culture of a people, and politicide means the destruction of a political group. We might be contributing to such vocabulary with what I would call ‘secticide’ or the destruction of a religious sect. If nothing is done to stem the sectarianisation of the Pakistani polity then Sunni aggression against the Shia minority could follow as the next form of secticide. And it’s not unthinkable that Sunni sub-sects of Barelvis,
Deobandis and Ahle Hadith may at some point also be involved in
exterminatory activities against each other. What would we call that:
sub-secticide? The Munir Report of 1954 concluded that no two scholars of
Islam could agree on a definition of a Muslim, and Shias and Sunnis declared each other kafirs. The dangers of secticide are real.
The most ironical part of the Pakistan story is that the sects which played
an important role in popularising the idea of Pakistan are being persecuted today. The advent of the Muslim separatist movement begins with the 1906 address by the Aga Khan on behalf of notable Muslims to Viceroy Lord Minto, requesting separate electorates. The Aga Khan enjoyed the patronage of British colonial power that helped him obtain several concessions for the Muslim community including separate electorates. The connection of the Ahmadiyya community with the idea of Pakistan dates from the time of Viceroy Lord Linlithgow, who a few days before the March 23, 1940 Lahore resolution, used the good offices of Sir Zafrulla Khan to inform the Muslim League that the British government would consider it appropriate if it were to demand a separate Muslim state(s).
The Viceroy wanted to pressure the Congress Party which refused to cooperate in the war effort. Thereafter the Ahmadiyya were not involved in Muslim League politics. They became wary of the idea of Pakistan when the Muslim League mobilised mainstream ulema to propagate the idea of an Islamic state during the 1945-46 provincial election campaign. However, Quaid-e-Azam won over Sir Zafrulla to the cause of Pakistan by assuring him that such a state would be non-sectarian. Thenceforth the Ahmadiyya sect invested all its effort in supporting the demand for Pakistan.
Any serious study of the proceedings of the Punjab Boundary Commission would show that of all the briefs presented before the Commission — including those prepared by the Indian National Congress, the All-India Muslim League, the Sikhs, Christians, Ahmadis and others — the one that Sir Zafrulla put forth on behalf of the Muslim League was the most powerful. So much so that the counsel for the Indian National Congress, Mr Setalvad, complimented Sir Zafrulla for preparing such a strong case for Pakistan.
Sectarian strife has always been present in Islamic history. The Sunni and
Ismaili sects in the early period of Islam considered each other heretics.
So did the Sunnis and the Ithna Ashari Shias. Ismailis and Ithna Asharis
denounced each other as heretics. Closer to our own times, soon after Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (died 1908) declared himself a prophet, the Sunni and Shia ulema declared the Ahmadis heretics. In 1912 Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s son, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, who later became the khalifa of the Rabwah branch of the Ahmadiyya, declared that Muslims who did not enter the fold of Ahmadiyat were outside the pale of Islam. Ahmadis were instructed not to take part in the funerals of non-Ahmadis. Critics point out that Sir Zafrulla did not participate in the funeral prayers for Quaid-e-Azam.
Persecuted sects are no less rigid and narrow-minded than majority sects. It would be foolish to ignore these ground realities.
Sectarian bickering and violence is not confined to Islamic societies. Until
the 1960s the Catholic and Protestant sects of Christianity did not accept
each other’s claims to being bona fide Christians. This meant they believed that the followers of the other group would burn in hell as heretics. After World War II Western democracies removed such theological disputes from the affairs of the state and introduced individual and corporate religious freedom as a cornerstone of their public policy.
From a democratic point of view, the state should not have any role in
determining who is a Muslim and who is not. On the other hand, the various sects cannot be put under obligation to accept each other’s credentials as Muslims. They can continue to dispute such matters but peacefully. I think the attitude of true democrats against victimisation and persecution of minorities should be the one classically expressed by the German pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984) against Nazi brute power:
“First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
It is therefore important that we demand that the Pakistan government should clearly and categorically declare the Difa-e-Islam Mahaz a criminal
organisation. This is also the only way to prevent freethinking Muslims from being terrorised into conforming to outmoded social and cultural mores. It is imperative that Pakistan does not degenerate into full-fledged religious fascism
The enemies of ismailis have forgotten that Islam is the religion of the ancestors of our Hazir Imam.
It is very bad that a muslim of todays declare other muslim as Kafir if he not accept his interpretation or understanding of Islam although according to hadith if any muslim say Kafir to other true muslim, he himself become Kafir.
In Ginan Buj Niranjan Pir Sadardin says,"The mullahs and preachers try and find God through shariat. They some times belittle the marifati people and even call a momin, Kafir. They may even take him to task and make his existence full of trials and tribulations. It is really these people who should be condemned for they are away from the truth. They have forgotten the truth and thus remains forgotten.....Ask yourself where you are at but do not judge others like mullahs would."
Hazrat Muhammad [PBUH] said that ,"Meray baad umat k teheter firqay hongey us mey aik sirat-e-mustaqim per hoga."
The hadith is in Sahi Bujhari and Muslim that
Abu Hazifa said that one day he asked Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] O, Prophet Muslims are getting success. Muslims have conquered Mecca and Fort of Khaibar. So what will happen in future? Will there also be good days for muslims in future?
Prophet [PBUH] replied that Abu Hazifa in future there will be much more better period for muslims. Muslims will conquer many countires far away.
Than He [Abu Hazifa] asked,After that period of glory and success will bad times comes for muslims or not?
Prophet [PBUH] replied yes it would be very bad days. One muslim will kill another muslim. The one who will speak truth will be killed.
He said such bad days will come in reality?
Prophet[PBUH] replied yes it will come
He than again asked so after this bad time will good days come again for muslims or not?
Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] replied Yes, Ofcourse there will be true momins.
He asked,what after that Good times, will bad time comes again for muslims?
Now Prophet [PBUH] replied There will be very bad days after that for muslims. Some people among muslims will come calling themselves hafiz and aalim and will misguide people. Allah will burn these people in fire of hell in day of judgement.
Abu Hazifa asked Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] so will I be alive at that time?
Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] replied I am telling about about what will happen after a long period of time [that means he would not be alive at that time or that time will not come in his life period]
He asked, Suppose if I am alive at that time than what should I do and where to go for guidance?
Prophet [PBUH] replied, At that time there will be many sects among muslims and all will claim that they are on true path but follow the one who follow a Living Imam and that Imam would be like a King.
Abu Hazifa asked, If there would be no any sect like that or no living Imam than would be?
Prophet [PBUH] replied It would be always, it may be possible that you may not find it but it will be there and if you were living at that period of time and you are unable to find that sect than better to leave what others say and go to jungle and remember Allah obver there [but dont follow any other]
Azhar Sheikh says don’t declare other sects followers heretics
By: Sultan Ahmed
CAIRO, Egypt: The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi has affirmed that it is not permissible to declare those who follow other Islamic sects as heretics.
This was contained in a letter which the Grand Sheikh has addressed to Prince Ghazy bin Muhammad, Advisor to the Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah II.
The memorandum contains mostly Fatwas (pronouncements) on various matters of faith which the Advisor had asked for, particularly those focusing on declaring followers of other sects, such Ibadhis, Dhahiriya, Ja'afariya, Zaidiyya, Ash'ariyya, and Sufism, as heretics.
In his letter, the Grand Sheikh said that it is not permissible for one to refer to another as denier of the truth, except if the person referred to has decried what has come in the Islamic Shari'a, such as the basic articles of faith in Allah, his prophets, the angles, His Books, and sincere worship of Allah.
The International Islamic Conference, Amman, Jordan
A significant milestone was laid in the contemporary history of the Muslim world at the recent International Islamic Conference, held in Amman, Jordan from July 4 to 6, 2005. It brought forth a united resolve, rarely seen before, to tackle firmly the challenges threatening the Ummah’s own internal stability, and even integrity, as well as undermining its historic role of constructive interface with other cultures and traditions, especially, though not exclusively, Christians and Jews whom Islam honourably refers to as the fellow People of the Book, ahl al-kitab.
Hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with an inaugural address by His Hashemite Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, the Conference brought together more than 170 religious leaders and scholars from 40 countries, from the main Shia schools – Ithna Ashari, Ismaili and Zaidi; the four Sunni schools – Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii and Hanbali; as well as the Ibadi and the Zahiri. The Organisation of Islamic Conference – OIC – was represented by its Secretary-General. The Institute of Ismaili Studies and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University, sent, as their delegates, Dr. Farhad Daftary, Professor Abdou Filali-Ansary and Shams Vellani.
Reflecting, thus, the historic plurality that the Muslim Ummah accommodates within the fundamental unity of Islam, the Conference in Jordan achieved a level of participation not matched in similar gatherings in the past. But the Conference was also a substantive departure in that it went beyond broad recommendations. Instead, it succeeded in forging an unprecedented consensus among these schools on the mutual acceptance of the legitimacy of various Muslim denominations held until now in differing levels of suspicion or hostility. The Conference, thus, marked a real break-through and a turning point, in the recognition of pluralism as a fact of Muslim history and heritage to be cherished as a blessing.
In advance of the Conference, messages and declarations had been invited from the leading Muslim authorities - Shia, Sunni and Ibadi - in support of the Conference goals. These included a message from His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.
Among the other leading Muslim authorities and dignitaries, who had presented fatwas, were: Grand Imam Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, Shaykh al-Azhar; Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali-Sistani, Najaf, Iraq; several Grand Ayatollahs from Najaf, Iraq; Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri, Iran; Dr. Ali Jummua, the Grand Mufti of Egypt; High Council of Religious Affairs, Turkey; the Institute of Islamic Fiqh, Saudi Arabia; Sheikh Ahmad Ibn Hamad Al-Khalili, Grand Mufti of the Sultanate of Oman; Sheikh Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad Al-Wazir, Zaidi leader, Yemen; Sheikh Ahmad Kaftarou (late), former Grand Mufti of Syria; Sheikh Said Abdelhafid Al-Hajani, Grand Mufti of Jordan; Sayyid Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon; Dr. Youssouf Aballah Al-Qardawi, Qatar
Presented at the Conference, and endorsed by its final declaration, these messages affirmed the principle that whoever is an adherent of one of the eight schools of Muslim jurisprudence - madhabib - is a Muslim who cannot be declared or treated as an apostate or infidel, and whose life, honour and property are inviolable.
Resolving that only those qualified within their respective schools of jurisprudence have the authority to issue fatwas, the Conference condemned forthright the practice among extremists of issuing so-called authoritative religious opinions encouraging violence against Muslims whom they accuse as infidels, and upholding and extolling acts of terrorism, whether directed against Muslims or non-Muslims, as not only illegitimate but an affront to all that Islam stands for (see also Sunday Telegraph, 24 July, 2005).
MHI's Message to The International Islamic Conference, Amman, Jordan
4th - 6th July, 2005
I am happy that we have been invited to participate in the International Islamic Conference being held in Amman, from the 4th to the 6th of July, 2005, under the auspices of the Hashemite Kingdom. In light of the purpose of the Conference, I find it appropriate to reiterate, in my message of greetings, the statement that I made in a keynote address at a gathering of eminent Muslim scholars from 48 countries who attended the Seerat Conference in Karachi on Friday, 12th March, 1976, nearly 30 years ago, which I had the honour to preside at the invitation of the then Minister for Religious Affairs, Government of Pakistan.
In my presidential address, I appealed to our ulama not to delay the search for the answers to the issues of a rapidly evolving modernity which Muslims of the world face because we have the knowledge that Islam is Allah's final message to mankind, the Holy Quran His final Book, and Muhammad, may peace be upon him, His last and final Prophet.
These are the fundamental principles of faith enshrined in the Shahada and the Tawhid therein, which bind the Ummah in an eternal bond of unity. With other Muslims, they are continuously reaffirmed by the Shia Ismaili Muslims of whom I am the 49th hereditary Imam in direct lineal descent from the first Shia Imam, Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib through his marriage to Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, our beloved Prophet's daughter.
I applaud Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah, for the foresight in hosting and organising this International Islamic Conference for the purpose of fostering unity in the Ummah and promoting the good reputation of our faith of Islam. Let this Conference be part of a continuous process of dialogue in the true spirit of Muslim brotherhood so that the entire wealth of our pluralist heritage bears fruit for the Muslim world, and indeed the whole of humanity; for ours is the heritage which premiates human dignity, transcending bounds of creed, ethnicity, language, gender or nationality.
Our historic adherence is to the Jafari Madhhab and other Madhahib of close affinity, and it continues, under the leadership of the hereditary Ismaili Imam of the time. This adherence is in harmony also with our acceptance of Sufi principles of personal search and balance between the zahir and the spirit or the intellect which the zahir signifies.
I agree with our distinguished hosts and conference participants that there is a need today to define which Madhahib will apply to the Ummah. This clarity is critical for modem life in Islam as is evident in areas such as law, access to Islamic banking, or in dealing with the challenges of the rapid generation of new knowledge such as in bio-medical and other scientific fields.
In keeping with our historic tradition of ever abiding commitment to Muslim unity, we reaffirm our respect for the historical interpretation of Islam by our brother Muslims as an equally earnest endeavour to practise the faith in Allah and emulate the example of our Holy Prophet, may peace be upon him, which illuminates Muslim lives and which, Inshallah, will elevate all Muslim souls.
Once again, I congratulate His Majesty and the Hashemite Kingdom for this timely initiative, and I pray for the successful deliberations of the Conference in the spirit of Islamic brotherhood.
With fraternal greetings,
His Highness the Aga Khan
49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim
The following is the background information about Jafari Madhhab that MHI refers to in his message to the Islamic Conference mentioned in the previous post. The key points about this madhhab that are of particular relevance today are highlighted in bold characters. Also for more information on this issue please refer to the IIS publication through the following link.
Jaber ibn Abdillah al Ansari relates "The Prophet of Allah (P.B.U.H.) told me, 'Perhaps you will live until you meet one of my sons (descendants) through Hussain, called Muhammad who will open knowledge's door at large. When you meet him, convey to him my greetings. (Recorded by the renowned Sunni scholars Sibt ibn Jawzi in Tadhkirat al Khawas", ibn Sabbagh Maleki in "Alfusul Al-Muhimma" and Shablanji in "Nur -Absar".)
This is how Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) introduced the fifth Imam of his household (Ahlul Bayt (A.S)) to his companions. Jaber, as foretold lived a long life, and dutifully conveyed the Prophet's greetings to the young Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Hussain, who was soon renowned as "Baqer al-Uloom".
Imam Muhammad AI-Baqer, a child of three and a half years at the tragedy of Karbala, witnessed the massacre of AhluI Bayt (A.S.) by the blood thirsty hordes of the Omayyads. He along with his ailing father and the female members of the Prophet's Household were dragged in chains to the court of the tyrant Yazid and had to endure imprisonment.
However, Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) were released and returned to Al-Medina, where Imam AI-Baqer grew up in the shadow of his renowned father.
It was a peroid of great political and religious turmoil. Uprisings against Omayyad oppression occured everywhere. The blood of Muslims literally flowed like water. Schizm was rife and the ummah of the Prophet was in a state of bewilderment. The tyranny of the usurpers of the day had kept the greater number of Muslims away from the torchbearers of guidance, Ahlul Bayt (A.S.). The Prophet (P.B.U.H.) had left behind two precious things (thaqalyn), the Qur'an and his household, warning people that as long as they held fast on to these two they would never go astray. The book is a comprehensive set of laws for the benefit of mankind, but it needed divinely ordained scholars to explain and expound on its message. It is no doubt a miracle, but in the hands of the dubious it could become destructive to those with little knowledge and claims beyond their ability.
The people knew this tradition but the fear and censorship of Muslims. The march of the Muslim armies was gaining new converts to the faith, but it was a faith devoid of its true spirit.
It was at this time of discontent Imam Al -Muhammad al Baqir (as) , in the true tradition of his father and grandfather before him, quietly started to set things right in order to deliver the Ummah of his great ancestor, the Prophet (P.B.U.H.). The first generation of Muslims, except for Jaber ibn Abdillah as referred to, at the beginning of the article, was no longer there to recall the companionship of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and the practising of his "Sunna". The Imam, therefore felt the need to train the new generations and formulate the legal code of Islam. As the rightful heir of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) he had grown up according to and was the guardian of the pure pristine and unadulterated "Sunna" of the Messenger of Allah.
The Qur'an and the Sunna are the two sources of legislation in Islam and it was the task of Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) to ensure their correct application. The criterion for judging the authenticity of the Sunna of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) was the Holy Qur'an. A famous tradtion says; "Accept the Sunna which tallies with the Qur'an but discard what contradicts the Holy Book". But oppurtunists, encouraged by the regime, and emboldened by the ignorance of the masses, spared no efforts to twist and misinterpret the meanings of verses of the Q ur'an.
An idea of the troubled times and the spiritual vacuum could be gauged form the saying of the fifth Imam himself "What you do not know, say; Allah knows better. (These days) One takes a verse from the Qur'an and splits it as wide as that between heaven and earth" (Balaghi in Sahih Al-Kafi).
Therefore to put an end to discord and deviation, Imam Al-Baqer fel t the necessity to lay the foundation of the first school of jurisprudence in AI-Medina. The school flourished at the time of his son, the sixth Imam, Ja'afar al-Sadq (A.S.) and is referred to as the "Ja'fari School" of fiqh. The term Ja'fari, however, should not be misleading. Imam Al-Baqer and Imam Ja'afar were not innovators, but faithful transmitters of the genuine message of Islam as revealed to Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
Imam Baqer (A.S.) himself says in this regard; "If I report a tradition without giving it a chain or authorities, then my chain ot authorities for it is in fact my father on the authority of my grandfather on the authority of his father (Amir ul-Mo'mineen Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.)) on the authority of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and his family, on the authority of (Archangel) Gabriel, peace be upon him, on the authority of Allah, the Almighty and High".
The fa mous Sunni scholar Muhammad Ibn Uthman Al-Dhahabi writes in his "Mizan Al-I'tidal" that whenever Jaber ibn Abdillah used to recite any tradition from Imam Muhammad al-Baqer (A.S.), he introduced it by saying: "The trustee... told me". Muslim, the famous compiler of traditions, states in the beginning of his book "Sahih Muslim"from Jarrah that Jaber said: "I have altogether sevently thousand traditions which have come to me through Abi Ja'afar (i.e. Imarn Muhammad AI-Baqer (A.S.)) from the holy Prophet".
Sheikh AI-Mufid writes in al-Irshad that whenever Jaber bin Yazid al-Jufi reported anything on Imam Baqer's authority, he used to say, "The trustee of the trustees (of the Prophet) and the heir of the knowledge of the Prophets, Muhammad ibn Ah ibn
al-Hussain, peace be upon him, told me."
Imam AI-Baqer (A.S.) recounted reports of the beginnin g of history and reports of the Prophets. Details of the campagins of Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) were written on his authority. People used to refer to him for the Sunna of the Prophet, and a commetary of the Holy Qur'an was written on his authority. He trained his disciples to impart knowledge to others and to make legal decisions and issue rational decrees in the light of the holy Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunna. The blessings of "Ijtihad" as initiated by Ahlul Bayt (A.S.), have continued to serve as guidance for the Muslims ever since, with competent jurists rising up to shoulder the challenging task in every age.
The Imam thus encouraged Islamic learning and the dynamism of Ijtihad among his followers. The Muslims turned to him for instruction in the fundamental articles, rites and observance of faith and in all other branches of Islamic knowledge deduced from the holy Qur'an and the real Sunna of the Prophet. There were hundreds o f thousands of disciples and companions of Imam Baqer and his son Imam Ja'afar. Their exact number is difficult to ascertain. Among them were about four thousand eminent scholars, whose names and accounts have been preserved in biographical books. So great was their influence that subsequent traditionsts like the founders of the later Sunni schools of jurisprudence, Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafei, and Maleki relied upon them and took traditions from them.
The regime in Damascus aware of its illegal claims to authority, became alarmed at the activities of Imarn Al-Baqer (A.S.) in educating and enlighterning the Muslims. The
Caliph Hisham ordered that the Imam and his son, Imam Al-Sadeq, be brought to his capital The Imam entered the Caliph's assembly and greeted those seated around with a gesture of his hand. He did not, however, salute the Caliph customary court salutation, and took his seat wit hout waiting for permission. This enraged Hisham and he began insulting the Imam. When Hisham stopped the successor of the Prophet stood up and said:
"0, people, where are your headed? Where are you being led? Through us Allah guided your first and throught us he will end your last. If you have no absolute sovereignty we do have our absolute sovereignty, and there will be no sovereignty beyond ours as ours will be the last. Almighty Allah says, "And the end will belong to those who ward off evil".
The enraged Caliph had the Imam placed under arrest. But even in confinement the Imam continued his mission and used the opportunity to reform and educate the inmates. The historian Tabari says that Hisham got more alarmed on the growing influence of Imam Al-Baqer on the Syrian people, especially as a result of a dialogue with a local Christian religious leader. He reluctantly released the Imam and sent him back to Al-Medina.
Arrogance, they say, deprives the mind of reason, and Hisham like all short sighted usurpers, administered poison to Imam AI-Baqer, in whose honor there was no greater testimony than the Prophet's greetings through Jaber. The Imam as a result, left for his heavenly abode in the year 114A.H. after 19 years of Imamate, but not before ensuring that the seeds of knowledge which he split open, would be brought to fruit by his worthy successor, Imam Al-Sadeq (AS)
Imam Muhammad Al-Baqir (A)
1) Once a Christian asked our 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) how it could possibly be true what the Imam (A) had said about the fruits of Heaven not reducing when they were eaten.
Imam (A) told him not only was it true but he could give him an example of something being used and not reducing, which was present in this world.
Imam (A) then continued that when a candle is used to light other candles, even as many as a hundred thousand other candles, the light of the original candle will not get any less.
Just because you do not understand something in Islam does not mean it is wrong. Allah gave us Islam and our knowledge can not compare with His.
2) In the time of our 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) there lived a man called Jabir bin Abdullah.
Jabir was a pious man who was alive at the time of the Holy Prophet (S).
One day the Holy Prophet (S) told Jabir that he would be alive to see the Prophet's great great grandson Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A). The Holy Prophet (S) asked Jabir to give Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) salaams from his great great grandfather, the Holy Prophet(S).
The Holy Prophet (S) passed away and Jabir remained alive for a long time just as the Prophet (S) had told him.
One day Jabir who was now a very old man, was visiting the house of Imam Ali Zainul Abideen (A) when he came across a small child.
Jabir asked Imam Zainul Abideen (A) who the child was. When Imam (A) replied that the child was his son Muhammad al-Baqir who was to be the next Imam, Jabir was so happy that he began to cry.
At last Jabir could give the message that he had been carrying with him for so many years.
Jabir turned to face Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) and told him that his great great grandfather had asked him to pass his salaams to Imam (A).
If you are given something to look after or pass to someone else (no matter how small) then look after it well as you are accountable for it.
3) In the time of our 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) the Muslims were using Roman coins for money. The King of Rome decided that he was going to make new Roman coins which would have written on them things that were against Islam.
The Muslim king Waleed did not know what to do because they needed to use the coins for money but at the same time they did not want to use coins which had things against Islam written on them.
Waleed decide to ask our 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) what he should do. Imam (A) told him that he should also make new coins which the Muslims could use from then on.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir told him that the coins should have on one side "La ilaha illallah" and on the other side "Muhammadur rasulullah".
Waleed agreed that this was an excellent idea and the coins were made.
4) We should learn what our Imams (A) have taught us. They always know what to do.
It was a very hot day and our 5th Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) was working hard on his farm.
A man was walking past and when he saw Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) looking so hot and tired from all the hard work he had done, he told the Imam that he should not work so hard and rest instead.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (A) answered that he was working so hard, so that he can look after his family, and not have to ask anyone for help.
Allah likes for us to work hard and do things for ourselves.
You should always try hard to do something by yourself and only when you have tried and can not do it you should ask for help.
*** Please note that the above article is from an Ithna Asheri perspective. They believe that Imam al Baqir was the 5th Imam whereas we consider him as the 4th Imam.
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