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Full text of "Ahle sunnat urdu magazines,urdu islamic book,"

FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK 



God the Merciful says in the Holy 
Qur'an: 

"Say (O Muhammad to the people) if 
you love Allah then follow me (i.e 
Muhammad, (&). (3:31) 

FOLLOWING THE Sunnah (ittiba-e- 
Sunnat) is the basis and the only way of 
gaining the love of Allah. And the Holy 
Qur'an is explicit in this declaration that 
with out following the Sunnah of the 
Prophet (#J a believer (Mu'min) shall 
never mount any pedestal of Divine love. 
The luminosity that is generated in the 
heart following the Sunnah can never be 
acquired from even a thousand 
prostrations of Nafli prayers. 

Contrary to the misunderstanding that 
Sunnah refers to insignificant, unimportant 
and optional acts and practices in which 
the individual have unrestricted choice of 
omitting and commiting, the Sunnah is 
the culture of Islam. As we know, Islam is 
not confined to a few obligatory acts of 
worship and absentation from some 
prohibitions. Every ideology and every 
religion has a set of obligations and 
prohibitions, yet, Islam has an all-imposing 
and an all embracing system of life known 
as the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad 
(#J. About this incumbent system, the 
Holy Qur'an says: 

"Verily for you there is a beautiful 
example in the (way of life) of the Prophet 
of Allah for those who hope to (meet) Allah 
(with pleasure) and the last day". (60:6) 

Those who are in the quest of Allah's 



pleasure and seek success in the 
Hereafter are required to whole heartedly 
and in the entirity follow the Sunnah of 
the Prophet of Allah (#J mentioned in the 
aforementioned Qur'anic verse. 

In many other verses the Holy Qur'an 
commands obedience to the Prophet of 
Allah. The obedience is commanded in 
every sphere of life. This obedience is not 
partial but in full as the Qur'an orders. 
The command to obey the Prophet (^) is 
not restricted to acts like Fardh, Wajib and 
Sunnat-e-Muakkada and to the 
prohibitions known as Haram (unlawful). 
Obedience to every desirable (Mustahab) 
act and abstention from such acts which 
does not favours Allah's pleasure or which 
will constitute a loss in the hereafter are 
incumbent upon every Muslim. A Momin 
who claims or believes to love the 
Messenger of Allah cannot abstain from 
an act or deal simply because it has been 
categorized as desirable (Mustahab) by 
the Fuqha (Muslim jurists). Similarly, he 
should not commit an act that is unlawful. 
One who commits and omits on the basis 
of this idea, lacks true love for Allah and 
His Messenger. 

The Qur'an does not order obedience 
to the Prophet in only the Fardh and Wajib 
but in all his practices of spiritual and 
worldly life. It is ordained by the God in 
the following verse: 

"Whatever the Messenger of Allah 
brings to you, adhere to it and whatever 
he forbids you, abstain from it". (59:7) 

As far as the practical life of a Muslim 



MINARET 



April 2009 



is concerned, he is required to offer total 
obedience to Sunnah. In this lies his 
success in this world and in the hereafter 
The minimum punishment a person will 
suffer for intentionally or carelessly 
abandoning or disregarding the Sunnah 
is the deprivation from the intercession 
(Shafa'at) of the Prophet. This is by no 
means an small punishment. 

Every teaching, habit, practice, like 
and dislike of the Prophet (#J comes 
within the scope of Sunnah. Just as the 
physical life of a believer has to be in 
terms of the Sunnah, so too has his 
spiritual life — his character — is also to 
be regulated in accordance with the 
Sunnah. Acts of ibadaat, beliefs, social 
conduct, character and all other dealings 
of Muslims should be in full submission 
to the Sunnah. 

It is only when the Sunnah fully 
permeates the lives of Muslims will they 
gain honour and success in this world as 
in hereafter. The present deplorable and 



disgraceful conditions of the Ummah is 
the direct result of ignoring the golden 
examples of Sunnah of the Prophet. We 
cannot expect to achieve success and 
victory in any field of worldly life or in 
Aakhirah having cast aside the Sunnah 
to follow and adopt libertine cults and 
cultures of non-believers. As long as 
Muslims fail to understanding this truth 
they will remain in ruin and disgrace. 
Sharply rebuking those who turns towards 
the ways and cults of the infidals, the Holy 
Qur'an says: 

"Do they search for the law of the 
ignorance". (5:50) 

All the ways of life other than those 
governed by the Sunnah are the ways of 
ignorance. Never is the love of Allah and 
the love of Prophet (#J attainable by 
persuing the ways of infidals and of 
ignorants. As long as the Sunnah is not 
being introduced fully into every facet of 
our life our drift into the abyss ofignomity 
and ruin will continue FARID 



r 



^ 



FROM TH€ HOLY QURAN 



For those who have done good is the best (reward, i.e. 
Paradise) and even more (i.e. having the honor of glancing 
at the Countenance of Allah). Neither darkness nor dust 
nor any humiliating disgrace shall cover their faces. They 
are the dwellers of Paradise, they will abide therein forever. 

(Surah Yunus, 10:26) 



MINARET 



April 2009 



CALL FROM THE MINARET 

Dr. Maulana Muhammad Fazl-ur-Rahman 
Al-Ansari Al-Qaderi (R.A.) 

DUTIES OF THE INDIVIDUAL TOWARDS 
THE MUSLIM SOCIETY 

SOCIETY VIS-A-VIS THE INDIVIDUAL: 



(i) The organic nature of human society: 

"Oh mankind! reverence your 
Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a 
single soul, created, of like nature, his 
mate, and from them twain scattered (like 
seeds) countless men and women; — 
Reverence Allah through Whom ye 
demand your mutual (rights), and 
(reverence) the wombs (that bore you): 
for Allah ever watches over you." (IV : 1). 

"O mankind! We created you from a 
single (pair) of a male and a female, and 
made you into nations and tribes, that ye 
may know each other (not that ye may 
despise each other). Verily the most 
honoured of you in the sight of Allah is 
(he who is) the most righteous of you. 
And Allah has full knowledge and is well 
acquainted (with all things). (XLIX: 13). 

"And your creation and your 
resurrection is in no wise but as an 
individual soul: for Allah is He Who hears 
and sees (all things). (XXI : 28). 

(77) The organic nature of Muslim 
society as coming into existence by a 
"Contract": 

"Allah hath purchased of the Believers 
their persons and their goods; for theirs 
(in return) is the Garden (of Paradise): 
They fight in His Cause, and slay and are 
slain: a promise binding on Him in Truth, 



through the Taurat, the Injil, and the 
Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his 
Covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the 
bargain which ye have concluded: That 
is the achievement supreme." (IX : 111). 

(Hi) The manifoldness of social life as 
the natural condition of the progress of 
human civilisation: 

"By the Night as it conceals (the light); 
by the Day as it appears in glory; by (the 
mystery of) the creation of male and 
female; — verily, (the ends) ye strive for 
are diverse." (XCII: 1-4). 

(iv)The importance of social 
environment for the development of the 
individual: 

"And fear tumult (or oppression), 
which affecteth not in particular (only) 
those of you who do wrong: and know 
that Allah is strict in punishment." 
(VIM : 25). 

(v) Treating the demands of society 
above the demands of self, i.e., 
subordinating personal interests to the 
interests of the Social Whole created by 
Islam, enjoined: 

"Say: if it be that your fathers, your 
sons, your brothers, your mates, or your 
kindred; the wealth that ye have gained; 
the commerce in which ye fear a decline; 



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April 2009 



or the dwellings in which ye delight — are 
dearer to you than Allah, or His 
Messenger, or the striving in His cause; — 
then wait until Allah brings about His 
decision: and Allah guides not the 
rebellious." (IX : 24). 

1. DUTY RELATING TO ACTIVE 
STRUGGLE FOR THE SPIRITUAL AND 
MORAL PERFECTION OF THE MUSLIM 
SOCIETY 

Active struggle for the spiritual and 
moral perfection of humanity in general, 
and of their own community in particular, 
is the very mission of the Muslims: 

"Ye are the best of People, evolved 
for (the service of) mankind, enjoining 
what is right, forbidding what is wrong, 
and believing in Allah " (III ; 110). 

Indeed, it is the inseparable quality of 
Muslim character: 

". . . (it is their character that) they 
(always) enjoin good and (always) forbid 
evil. . . ."(IX: 112). 

Hence, Muslims have been 
commanded to set aright their affairs: 

". . . So be careful your duty to Allah 
and set aright matters among you (in 
respect of your mutual duties)...." (VIII : I) 

Nay, the Holy Qur'an goes beyond 
that. It orders all Muslims to engage in an 
unceasing struggle for the promotion of 
the Cause of spiritual and moral perfection 
of Muslim society in particular and of 
humanity in general. It says: 

"O ye who believe! Be ye helpers (in 
the Cause) of Allah ( — the Cause of 

MINARET 



helping human beings to spiritual and 
moral perfection). . ." (LXI : 14). 

While laying down that duty, however, 
the Holy Qur'an also guarantees success, 
if the struggle is pursued with the fulfilment 
of all the prescribed conditions: 

". . . .Allah will certainly aid those who 
aid His (Cause); — for verily Allah is Full 
of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to 
enforce His Will)." (XXII : 40). 

"O ye who believe! if ye will aid (the 
Cause of) Allah, He will aid you and will 
make your foothold firm." (XLVII: 71). 

One of those conditions is that the 
struggle has to be pursued not only as an 
individual responsibility but also co- 
operatively and collectively: 

". . . .Help ye one another in 
righteousness and piety, but help not one 
another in sin and enmity. . . ." (V: 3). 

2. DUTIES RELATING TO ACTIVE 
STRUGGLE FOR ENSURING AND 
PROMOTING THE ECONOMIC 
SOUNDNESS OF THE MUSLIM 
SOCIETY 

7. THE PRINCIPLE OF 'WEALTH 
FOR WELFARE': 

The Holy Qur'an denounces 
inordinate love of wealth as an anti-Islamic 
quality of character, which leads to hell: 

"Woe to every (kind of) scandal- 
monger and back-biter, who pileth up 
wealth and layeth it by, thinking that his 
wealth would make him last for ever! By 
no means! he will be surely thrown into 
That which Breaks to Pieces'." (CIV: 1-4). 

April 2009 



Similarly, it condemns those who 
amass wealth, make it idle, and do not 
spend freely for the good of their fellow- 
beings: 

". . . .And there are those who bury 
gold and silver and spend it not in the 
Way of Allah: announce unto them a most 
grievous penalty — On the Day when heat 
will be produced out of that (wealth) in the 
fire of Hell, and with it will be branded 
their foreheads, their flanks, and their 
backs. — This is the (treasure) which ye 
buried for yourselves: taste ye, then, the 
(treasure) ye buried!'." (IX : 34-35). 

Abstaining from spending for the 
promotion of truth and righteousness and 
the welfare of fellow-beings leads to the 
ruin (moral, spiritual and economic) of the 
individual and the community: 

"And spend of your substance in the 
cause of Allah, and make not your own 
hands contribute to your destruction; but 
do good; for Allah loveth those who do 
good." (II: 195). 

Its consequences are, indeed, grave, 
as exemplified in the story of Qar'un (or, 
Korah): 

"Qarun was, doubtless, of the people 
of Moses; but he acted insolently towards 
them: Such were the treasures We had 
bestowed on him, that their very keys 
would have been a burden to a body of 
strong men. Behold, his people said to 
him: 'Exult not, for Allah loveth not those 
who exult (in riches). But seek, with the 
(wealth) which Allah has bestowed on 
thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget 
thy portion in this world: but do thou good, 
as Allah has been good to thee, and seek 
not (occasions for) mischief in the land: 
for Allah loves not those who do mischief.' 

MINARET 



He said: 'This has been given to me 
because of a certain knowledge which I 
have.' Did he not know that Allah had 
destroyed before him (whole) 
generations, — which were superior to him 
in strength and greater in the amount (of 
riches) they had collected? But the wicked 
are not called (immediately) to account 
for their sins. So he went forth among his 
people in the (pride of his worldly) glitter. 
Said those whose aim is the Life of this 
World: 'Oh! that we had the like of what 
Qarun has got! for he is truly a lord of 
mighty good fortune!' But those who had 
been granted (true) knowledge said: 'Alas 
for you! The reward of Allah (in the 
Hereafter) is best for those who believe 
and work righteousness: but this none 
shall attain, save those who steadfastly 
persevere (in good). Then, We caused 
the earth to swallow up him and his house; 
and he had not (the least little) party to 
help him against Allah, nor could he defend 
himself." (XXVIII : 76-81). 

Viewing the problem from the other 
side, we find that, according to the Holy 
Qur'an, spending freely in the service of 
fellow-beings forms a sure guarantee for 
the prosperity of the individual as well as 
of the community. We are told: 

"The parable of those who spend their 
substance in the Way of Allah is that of a 
grain of corn: it groweth seven ears, and 
each ear hath a hundred grains. Allah 
giveth manifold increase to whom He 
pleaseth: for Allah careth for all, and He 
knoweth all things." (II: 261). 

Lo! those who believe and do good 
works and establish worship and pay the 
poor-due, their reward is with their Lord 
and there shall no fear come upon them, 
neither shall they grieve. (II: 277). 

April 2009 



Foundation upon which the entire 
structure of religion stands 



Atif Noor Khan 



The word 'Aqeedah' is derived from 
al-Aqad, which is to 'tie something (firmly)', 
and Ttiqad such and such", means "I tied 
my heart and mind to it." Aqeedah is what 
a person takes as a religion. It is said, 'he 
has a good Aqeedah' meaning protected 
from doubts'. 

Adeedah is an action of the heart, 
which is to believe and affirm something 
in the heart. 

The meaning of Aqeedah in the 
Shari'ah: It is the belief in Allah, His Angels 
His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day 
and belief in al-Qadr (Predestination) — 
its good and evil. These are called the 
Pillars of faith. 

The Shari'ah is divided into two parts: 
beliefs and actions. Beliefs are issues, 
which are not related to how an act is 
performed, like belief in the Rububiyah 
(Lordship) of Allah, the obligation to 
worship Him (alone) and the belief in the 
rest of the aforementioned pillars of faith. 

These are called Asliyah — the basic 
foundation. 

Actions are issues related to how 
actions are performed like prayer, Zakat, 
Fasting and other rulings with regards to 
actions. 

These are termed as Far'eyyah — 
the branches — because their soundness 
or corruption is based upon the beliefs. 



Thus, the correct Aqeedah (belief) is 
the foundation upon which the religion is 
based and with it the actions are set aright, 
as the Most High, said, "So, whoever 
hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let 
him work righteousness and associate 
none as a partner in the worship of his 
Lord." (al-Kahf, 18:110) 

"And indeed, it has been revealed to 
you (O Muhammad) as it was to those 
(i.e, Prophets) before you, O listners if 
you join others in worship with Allah, (then 
surely (all) your deeds will be in vain, and 
you will certainly be among the losers. 
"az-Zumar 39:65) 



"So, worship Allah (alone) by 
performing religious deeds sincerely for 
His sake. Surely, the religion is for Allah 
only." (az-Zumar, 39:2-3) 



These verses, and the numerous 
narrations that have been related 
concerning their meaning, confirm that 
action are not accepted unless they are 
free from Shirh (polytheism). 

Therefore, it was the main concern of 
the Messengers (A.S) to rectify the beliefs 
first and thus, the first thing they called 
their nations to was the sole worship of 
Allah and abandonment of worship to 
anything other than Him. As He, the Most 
High, says: "And verily, We have sent 
among every Ummah (community, nation) 
a Messenger (proclaiming), 'Worship Allah 
(alone), and avoid the Taghoot (everything 



MINARET 



8 



April 2009 



that is worshiped other than Allah)". 
(An-Nahl, 16:36) 

The first thing that every Prophet (A.S) 
addressed his people with was, Worship 
Allah; you have no other llah (deity worthy 
of being worshipped) but Him." (al-Araf, 
7:59, 65, 73, 85) 

It was said by Nuh, Hud, Saleh, 
Shu'aib and all the other prophets (A.S) 
to their nations. 

The Messenger of Allah (#) stayed 
in Makkah for thirteen years, after (he was 



bestowed with) Prophethood, calling 
people to tawheed, and rectifying their 
Aqeedah, because it is the foundation 
upon which the entire structure of religion 
stands. 

The DUAAT (callers to the religion of 
Allah) and those who seek to guide others 
in every age, have followed the example 
of the Messengers and the Prophets (A.S), 
who initiated their call with Tawheed and 
correction of Aqeedah and subsequently, 
they would focus upon the remaining 
commandments of the religion. 
(Courtesy: DAWN) 



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MINARET 



April 2009 



ABDUL QADIR JILANI (R.A.) 



Dr. Waffie Muhammad 



Abdul Qadir Jilani (R.A.) was indeed 
a great worker for Allah and His Deen. He 
was specially chosen by the Lord to revive 
true Islam when the Muslims seemed to 
have diverted their focus from what is 
required of true believers. They were: 

• busy debating non important issues, 
like whether the Qur'an was created or 
not; was it permissibe to honour the 
Prophet (#) or not, etc. 



• Very humble. 

Kept a close watch on his ego, e.g. 
he was about to wear a new beautiful 
shirt, so he tore it then patch it then wore 
it; that was because he did not want to 
feel happy with his new shirt. 

• He had complete reliance on Allah 
and knew that Allah was everything for 
him. 



being attacked by the Crusaders. Some of the things he taught were: 



• Indulging in developing "cults", getting 
involved with Jinns, etc. 

• Corrupt to a large extent. 

As a result of the success of his mission 
and his spiritual elevation, it seems fitting 
to conclude that he is one of those about 
whom the Prophet (#) spoke about. The 
Messenger (#) is reported to have said 
the following, as was reported by Muaz 
bin Jabal. He relates that the Prophet (#) 
said that Allah says: 

For those who love one another for the 
sake of Fear of My Majesty and 
Magnificence, there will be high seats of 
light that will be the envy of prophets and 
martyrs (for them in the Hereafter). 
(Tirmizi) 

Shaikh Jilani (R.A.) was: 

• A learned Muslim. 

• A highly spiritually disciplined person. 

• Dedicated to the service of humanity. 

• A wealthy man. 
MINARET 



• A person should try not to swear by 
Allah, unless it absolutely necessary. If 
he can avoid doing this, Allah will open 
the door of His light for him and he will 
become a good person. 

• A person should avoid telling lies 
whether in jest or earnest; and practice 
self control. 

• A person should always try to keep 
his promise, and if he cannot do so he 
should cease making promises altogether. 

• A person should avoid cursing 
anything in the realm of creation; he should 
try not to hurt anyone or anything. 

• A person should avoid invoking evil 
on others, on even the one who has 
wronged him. 

• A person should try to avoid labelling 
a believer as a polytheist 

• A person should refrain from 
contemplating or indulging in sinful 
offences. 

• A person should try not to lay burdens 
10 April 2009 



on anyone or any creature. 



supplication as he wishes. 



A person should not expect anyone 
to satisfy his greed for material things. 

A person should try to be humble at 
all times. 

(Details of the explanations can be found 
in Futuh Al Ghaib) 

One of the great teachings of this elevated 
Shaikh is that he was able to revive the 
believers' understanding that the role of 
Prophet Muhammad (#) was not only to 
receive the Qur'an on behalf of the 
Muslims, but he the Prophet (#) is still 
active in bestowing gifts (called Salaat) 
on all the believers who indulge in sending 
gifts (Salaat and salaams) upon him. This 
can be understood if one understands 
what is meant in the Hadith reported by 
Ubayy. He went to the Prophet (#) and 
had a dialogue with the Messenger (#) 
as follows: 

Messenger of Allah, I send a lot of 
Salaat upon you, how much of my prayer 
should be Salaat upon you? The Prophet 
(#) replied: Whatever you want. I said: a 
quarter. He said: Whatever you want, but 
if you increase it, it would be better for 
you. I said: A half: He said: Whatever you 
want, but if you increase it, it will be better 
for you. I said: Two thirds. He said: 
Whatever you want, but if you increase 
it, it will be better for you. I said: Should 

1 make the whole prayer for you? He said: 
this will be sufficient to release your 
distress and earn you forgiveness for your 
sins. 

The Prophet (#) is reported to have said: 

When any of you supplicates, let him start 
by Praising Allah and Glorifying Him; may 
He be Exalted; then let send Salaat upon 
the Prophet, and after that let him make 



A person should always keep in mind 
that Allah and the Angels are sending 
a gift called Salaat on the Prophet (#). 
As he is not a selfish person he 
distributes this to all those who selects 
to send Salaat on him. So every time 
a person says Allahumma sallay alaa 
Muhammadin, Prophet Muhammad (#) 
gives to that person something of the 
gift that Allah and His Angels are giving 
to him. 

Abdul Qadir Jilani taught his disciples to 
supplicate by praising Allah and then 
sending Salaat on the Prophet (#) before 
requesting the Lord for anything. We find 
a very good example of his teachings in 
this matter in his Darood e akseer-e-Azam. 

To give an example of how the 
Shakikh made his supplication, he used 
to say: 

Allahumma sallay alaa Muhammadin 
salaatan taghfiru bihaa zunubanaa. 
O Allah send Salaat on Muhammad, and 
through this gift may You forgive us for 
our sins. 

The message given by this great Shakih 
was so effective that thousands accepted 
Islam, the Muslim Ummah revived their 
spiritual focus, they desisted from taking 
help from any (Jinns, etc.) creature, but 
turned directly to the Lord in prayer, they 
learnt to respect and love the Prophet (#) 
and underwent all the training for the 
purpose of controlling their nafs. 

Even today the teaching of this great 
Shaikh is held in high esteem and the 
spiritual students of the Qadriyah Order 
recognise the connection he still maintains 
with all those who are aspiring to get close 
to Allah and His Rasul by cultivating 
humility and patience. 



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11 



April 2009 



Who Was Zul-Qarnain? 

Allama Abdullah YousufAH 



A great deal of literature numbering to millions of pages have been contributed by 
Mufassirs, Faqih and writers about "Who was Zulqarnain"? A legendary personality. Extensive 
and acute research has not yet been able to establish in its finality as to who was Zulqarnain 
between Alexander the Great or Cyrus the Great (Korash Azam of Persia) who flourished 
2500 years ago. 

All stories or narrations about Zulqarnain are referred in Qur'an as Parable for their 
spiritual meanings. In the metaphorical sense, Zulqarnain means "Lord of the two Qarns — 
horns". But no mention has been made about who amongst the two was "Zulqarnain". 

We bring for our readers a comprehensive study carried out by Allama Abdullah 
Yousuf Ali in Greek history as well as from the Qur'anic literature. He has tried to prove that 
Zulqarnain was Alexander the Great. He does not consider that historical or geographical 
considerations have much bearing on the story treated as parable, Zulqarnain's story is 
Editor 



What is the meaning of the name or 
title Zulqarnain — "Lord of the two Qarns" 
"Qarn" may mean: (I) a horn in the literal 
sense, as in the case of a ram or bull; (2) 
a horn in a metaphorical sense, as in 
English, the horn of a crescent, or by a 
further metaphor, the horn of a kingdom 
or territory, two portions at opposite ends; 
(3) by another metaphor, a summit, a lock 
of hair, typifying strength a crest such as 
Eastern kings wear on their diadems; (4) 
referring to time, an Epoch, an Age, a 
Generation. Meaning (1) is inapplicable 
to a man or a great King: The other three 
meanings may be applicable, as implying: 
(2) Lord of East and West, Lord of wide 
territory or of two kingdoms; (3) Lord of 
two crests on his diadem, typifying two 
kingdoms, or a rank superior to that of an 
ordinary king; (4) Lord of more than one 
epoch; one whose power and influence 
extend far beyond his lifetime. 

If we accept the popular identification 
of Zulqarnain with Alexander, all the three 
latter designations would be applicable to 



him, as he was Lord of the West and the 
East, Lord of the Greek States united for 
the first time and of the widely-extended 
Persian Dominion which included all 
Western Asia, Egypt, Central Asia, 
Afghanistan, and the Punjab (at least 
portions). He is represented on his coins 
with two horns on his head: he considered 
himself a son of JupitorAmmon (who had 
the two horns of a ram), with a divine 
mission. He revolutionised the history of 
Europe, Asia, and Africa (Egypt), and his 
influence lasted for many generations 
after his death at the young age of 33. He 
lived from B.C. 356 to 323, but his name 
was one to conjure with for many centuries 
after him. It was not only on account of 
his political power, but his cultural 
influences. Through his conquests Greek 
art gave the inpulse to Gandhara art in 
Central Asia and North-West India. The 
city of Alexandria which he founded in 
Eqypt became the cultural centre, not only 
for Greece and Rome, but for Judaism 
and Christianity, and retained its 
supremacy till the sixth century of the 



MINARET 



12 



April 2009 



Christian era. Justinian closed its schools 
of philosophy in 529. Its philosophic and 
scientific schools spread their influence 
over even a wider area than the 
Mediterranean basin. 

Now the generality of the world of 
Islam have accepted Alexander the Great 
as the one meant by the epithet 
Zulqarnain. But some of our Ulema have 
raised doubts about it and made other 
suggestions. One is that it was not the 
Macedonian Alexander the Great, but an 
earlier pre-historic king contemporary with 
Abraham; because, they say, Zulqarnain 
was a man of faith (18:88-98), while 
Alexander the Great was a Pagan and 
believed in Grecian gods. An identification 
with a supposed pre-historic king, about 
whom nothing is known, is no identification 
at all. On the other hand, all that is known 
about Alexander the Great shows that he 
was a man of lofty ideals. He died over 
three centuries before the time of Jesus, 
but that does not mean that he was not a 
man of faith, for God revealed Himself to 
men of all nations in all ages. Alexander 
was a disciple of the philosopher Aristotle, 
noted for his pursuit of sound truth in all 
departments of thought. Socrates spoke 
of the Grecian gods, and so did Aristotle 
and Plato; but it would be wrong to call 
them idolaters or men without Faith. In 
the Ethiopic traditional stories of Alexander 
the Great, he is represented as a great 
prophet. 

Another suggestion made is that 
Zulqarnain was an ancient king of Persia. 
A king of Persia is referred to as a Ram 
with two horns in the Book of Daniel (8:3) 
in the Old Testament. But in the same 
Book, the Ram with two horns was 



smotten, cast down to the ground, and 
stamped upon by a he-goat with one horn 
(8:7,8). There is nothing in our literature 
to suggest that Zulqarnain came to any 
such ignominious end. Nor is the Book of 
Daniel an authority worth consideration. 
Its authenticity is very doubtful. There is 
no question that it is a patch-work, as 
parts of it are in the Aramaic (or Chaldee) 
language and parts in Hebrew, and there 
are in it a number of Greek words. The 
Septuagint version contained large 
editions. "Daniel" — whoever the writer 
or writers were — refers to historical 
persian kings. If it is argued that it was 
some old pre-historic Persian king who 
built the Iron Gates (Al-Quran 18:96) to 
keep out the Gog and Magon tribes 
(18:94), this is no identification at all. There 
is no unanimity about the identity of the 
Iron Wall, or the Gog and Magog tribes. 

Another suggestion made is that it 
was some old pre-historic Himyarite king 
from Yeme, about whom nothing else is 
known. This, again, is no identification at 
all. 

The question of Yajuj and Majuj (Gog 
and Magog) and the iron barrier build to 
keep them out is of some interest. It is 
practically agreed that they were the wild 
tribes of Central Asia which have made 
inroads on the settled kingdoms and 
Empires at various stages of the world's 
history. The Chinese Empire suffered from 
their incursions and built the Great Wall 
of China to keep out the Manchus and 
Mongols. The Persian Empire suffered 
from them at various times and at various 
points. Their incursions into Europe on 
large hordes caused migrations and 
displacements of population on an 



MINARET 



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April 2009 



enormous scale, and eventually broke up 
the Roman Empire. These tribes were 
known vaguely to the Greeks and Romans 
as "Scythians". 

If we could locate the iron barrier or 
iron gates referred to in the Holy Qur'an 
(18:96)? We should have a closer idea of 
the tribes whom the barrier was meant to 
keep out. It is obvious that the great wall 
of China is out of question. Begun in the 
third century B.C and continued later, it 
covers the enourmous length of 1500 
miles, and goes up the hills and down the 
valleys, with towers 40 feet high at intervals 
of 200 yards. Its average height is 20 to 
30 feet. It is built of stone and earth. There 
is no particular point in it which can be 
identified with the iron barriers in the text. 
No one has suggested that Zulqarnain 
was a Chinese Emperor, and none of the 
great Conquerors of Western Asia can be 
credited with the building of the Chinese 
Wall. 

The barrier in the text must have 
been more in the nature of iron gates than 
an iron wall. Two iron gates geographically 
far apart, have been suggested in the 
alternative. Sometimes they have been 
mixed up by writers not strong in geograpy. 
Both of them have local associations with 
the name of Alexander the Great. Both 
are near a town Derbend, and have borne 
the name of Babul-hadid (Arabic for Iron 
Gate) 

The best known in modern times is 
at the town and seaport of Derbend in the 
middle of the western coast of the Caspian 
Sea. It is now in the Soviet territory, in the 
district of Daghistan. Before the Southern 
expansion of Russia in 1813 it beloged to 



Persia. A spur of Mount Caucasus here 
comes up north, close to the sea. The 
wall in question is 50 miles long, with an 
average height of 29 feet. As Azerbaijan 
(in Persia) is not far from this place? Some 
writers have mixed up the Derbend iron 
Gate with Azerbaijan, and some with the 
Caucsian town of Kharz (Kars), which is 
to the south of the Caucasus. There are 
local traditions here, and in the Astrakhan 
region, at the mouth of the river Volga, 
higher up the Caspian, connecting this 
Caucasian iron gate with the name of 
Alexander, but there are good reasons 
why we should reject this as the site of 
the iron gate in the Qur'anic story. (1 ) This 
does not correspond exactly to the 
description in (18:96) "the space between 
the two steep mountain sides; the gap is 
between the mountain and the sea. (2) 
Alexander the Great (assuming that 
Zulqarnain is Alexander), is not known to 
have crossed the Caucasus. (3) There is 
an iron Gate which corresponds exactly 
to the description, in a locality which we 
know Alexander to have visited. (4) In the 
early days, when Muslims spread to all 
parts of the world, local legends were 
started by ignorant people connecting the 
places they knew with places referred to 
in the Qur'an. 

We now come to the Iron Gate which 
corresponds exactly to the Qur'anic 
description, and has the best claim to be 
connected with Alexander's story. It is 
near another Derbend in Central Asia, 
Hissar District, about 150 miles south- 
east of Bukhara. A very narrow defile, with 
overhanging rocks, occurs on the main 
route between Turkestan and India; latitude 
38 N; longitude 67E. It is now called in 
Turki Buzghol-Khana (Goat-house), but 



MINARET 



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April 2009 



was formerly known as the Iron Gate 
(Arabic, Bab-al-Hadid); Persian, Dar-i- 
Ahani; Chinese, T'ie-men-kuan). There is 
no iron gate there now, but there was one 
in the seventh century, when the Chinese 
traveller Hiouen Tsiang saw it on his 
journey to India. He saw two folding gates 
cased with iron and hung with bells. Near 
by is a lake named Iskandar Kul, 
connecting the locality with Alexander the 
Great. We know from history that 
Alexander, after his conquest of Persia 
and before his journey to India, visited 
Sogdiana (Bukhara) and Maracanda 
(Samarqand). We also know from 
Muqaddasi, the Arab traveller and 
geographer, who wrote about A.H. 375 
(A.D. 985-6) that the Abbasi Khalifa Wathiq 
(842-846 A.D) sent out a mission to 
Central Asia to report on this Iron Gate. 
They found the defile 150 yards wide: on 
two jambs made with bricks of iron welded 
together with molten lead, were hung two 
huge gates, which were kept closed. 
Nothing could correspond more exactly 
with the description in (18:95, 96). 

If, then, the Barrier in (18:95-98) refers 
to the Iron Gate near Bukhara, we are 
able to proceed to a consideration of the 
Gog-Magog People with some confidence. 
They were the Mongol tribes on the other 
side of the Barrier, while the industrious 
men who do not understad Zul-Qarnain's 
language were the Turks, with their 
agglutinative language, so different from 
the languages then spoken in Western 
Asia. The Barrier served its purpose for 
the time being. But the warning that the 
time must come when it must crumble to 
dust has also come true. It has crumbled 
to dust. Long since, the Mongols pushed 
through on their westward journey, pushing 
the Turks before them, and the Turks 



became a European power and have still 
a footing in Europe. We need not bother 
about the legends of the Gog and Magog 
people. They were reputed to be gaints, 
and two tiny hills in the flat Cambridgeshire 
are derisively called the Gog-Magog hills. 
Similarly the statues of Gog and Magog 
in the Guildhall in London only reminds 
us how legends are apt to grow and get 
transported to strange places. In the 
Alexander legends of medieval Europe, 
Gog and Magog are said to have come 
with 400,000 men to the help of Poms 
whom Alexander defeated and to have 
fled after that defeat. They fled to the 
mountains, and Alexander built a wall with 
brass gates to prevent their interruption's. 

Personally, I have not the least doubt 
that Zulqarnain is meant to be Alexander 
the Great, the historic Alexander, and not 
the legendary Alexander. I have studied 
the details of Alexander's extraordinary 
personality in Greek historians as well as 
in modern writers, and have since visited 
most of the localities connected with his 
brief but brilliant career. Few readers of 
Quranic literature have had the same 
privilage of studying the details of his 
career. It is one of the wonders of the 
Qur'an, that, spoken through an Ummi's 
mouth, it should contain so many incidental 
details which are absolutely true. The 
more our knowledge increases, the more 
we feel this. There are little touches which 
need not have been mentioned. They 
come in incidently like the incidental 
remarks of a person full of knowledge, 
who does not intend to put forward those 
points but whose fulness of knowledge 
brings them in inevitably. 

One such point occurs in the mention 
of Alexander's westward journey (18:86). 



MINARET 



15 



April 2009 



He saw the sun set in a piece of murky 
water which is described as a "Spring". 
Most commentators have understood the 
spring to be the sea, and the murky water 
to be its dark-blue water. Nizami, in his 
"Romance of Alexander, takes Alexander 
right west along North Africa to Andalusia 
and the Atlantic ocean. There is no historic 
proof that Alexander ever reached the 
Atlantic. But he was of course familiar with 
the deep-blue waters of the Mediterra- 
nean. The Mediterranean interpretation 
may pass if we had not a closer 
explanation. Alexander's first exploits were 
when he was a mere boy, in the reign of 
his father philip. The region of lllyricum 
was due west of Macedonia, and 
Macedonia's first expansion was in that 
direction. The town of Lychnis was 
annexed to Macedonia and thus the 
western frontier of Macedonia was 
secured. The northern frontier towards 
the Danube had already been secured, 
and the lesson he subsequently gave to 
Thebes secured him against attack from 
the Greek states to the south, and 
prepared the way for his great march east 
against th Persian Empire. To the West 
of the town of Lychnis is a lake 170 square 
miles in area, fed by underground springs 
that issue through limestone rocks and 
give out murky water. Both town and lake 
are now called Ochrida, about 50 miles 
West of Monastir. The water is so dark 
that the river which forms the outlet of the 
lake to the north is called the Black Drin. 
Looking at the sunset from the town, the 
observer would see the sun set in a pool 
of murky water (1 8:86). It was a question 
before the boy Alexander — the dreamy, 
impulsive, fearless rider — whether he 
would put the barbarous lllyricans to the 
sword or show them mercy. He showed 
true discrimination and statesmanship. 

MINARET 16 



He punished the guilty but showed 
kindness to the innocent, and thus 
consolidated his power in the West. This 
I construe to be the meaning of (18:86, 
87); otherwise these verses do not seem 
to be perfectly clear. 

Another point may be noted. The three 
episodes mentioned are the journey to 
the West, the journey to the East, and the 
journey to the Iron Gate. The journey to 
the West I have just explained. The jouney 
to the East was to the Persian Empire. 
Here he found a people who lived in the 
open and wore little clothing. This might 
apply to people who live in an inland place 
in the latitude of Persepolis or Multan. He 
left them alone as they were (18:91 ). He 
was not warring against populations: he 
was warring against the proud but effete 
Persian Empire. He left them as they were, 
with their local institutions, and under their 
local chiefs. In feeling he treated them as 
his own, not as aliens. In somethings he 
himself adopted their ways. His followers 
misunderstood him. But God understood, 
for He approves of all things that lead to 
Unity among mankind. 

The direction of the third journey is 
not mentioned. The commentators 
suggest the north, but they might with 
better reason have suggested the south, 
as Alexander visited Egypt. But the visit 
to the Iron Gate was to the East — a 
continuation of his journey to East. That 
is why the direction is not mentioned again. 
Here his mission was different. He had to 
protect a peaceful industrious population, 
whom perhaps the Persian Empire had 
failed to protect, against turbulent and 
restless invaders. He helped them to 
protect themselves, but warned them that 
all human precautions, though good and 

April 2009 



mecessary, are vain without God's help. 

Each of the episodes mentioned is 
historical. But the pomp and glitter of 
military conquest are not mentioned. On 
the contrary spiritual motives are revealed 
and commended. We need not know or 
learn any history or geography or science 
or psychology or ethics to understand 
them. But the more real knowldege we 
have, the more completely shall we 
understand them and the lessons to be 
drawn from them. The earthly journeys 
are treated as mere symbols to show us 
the evolution of a great and noble soul 
which achieved so much in a short earthly 
life. 

His career was so extraordinary that 
it impressed his contemporaries as a world 
event, as it undoubtedly was — one of 
the greatest world-events in history. 
Legends began to grow up round his 
name. In many cases the legends overlaid 
the history. Today the world is thrilled by 
Sir Aurel Stein's identification of Aornos, 
a very small geographical detail in a great 
career full of lessons, in political, ethical, 
and religious wisdom. But the generations 
immediately following Alexander's period 
wrote and transmitted all sorts of wonderful 



legends that passed current in East and 
West. The philosopher Kallisthenes had 
been with Alexander in Asia. Under his 
name was produced a Greek book in 
Alexandria some time before the second 
century of the Christian era. It was 
translated into Latin in the third century. 
Translations were subsequently made into 
most of the European languages. In 
Chaucer's time (1340- 1400) these 
Alexander legends were krown to every 
"wight that hath discrecion". 

Alexandria was a focus of Christian 
and Jewish learning for some centuries. 
The Christians also made Alexander a 
saint. The Jews carried the Alexander 
cycle into East. Our Persian poet Jami 
(A.H. 535-599, A.D. 1141 - 1203) worked 
it up into his epic the "Iskandar-Nama". 
He is careful to show the historical or 
semi-historical and the ethical parts 
separately. The one relates to action or 
exploits (Iqbal) and the other to wisdom 
(Khirad). He had the advantage of the 
Qur'an story before him. That story 
mentions three historical episodes 
incidentally, but draws our attention to 
matters of the weightiest spiritual 
significance, and that is the cheif thing to 
note in the story. 



Evil is that for which they sell their 
souls; that they should disbelieve in that which 
Allah hath revealed, grudging that Allah should 
reveal of His bounty unto whom He will of His 
bondmen. They have incurred anger upon anger. For 
Disbelievers is a shameful doom. 
(Al-Baqarah, 2:90) 



MINARET 



17 



April 2009 



HOW HOLY IS 
PALESTINE TO MUSLIMS? 



By 
Dr. Rauf 

A religious shrines may be defined as ft a 
place of some religious value to a given 
people, held by them in sentimental esteem 
and promotion veneration'. Such a value 
may derive from the fact that the place as- 
signed as a house of worship and devotion: 
or from the fact that it had witnessed an his- 
torical religious experience; or from its asso- 
ciation with an historical holy figure, be it a 
Prophet, a saint or a scholar of religion. 



On the other hand, islam is a faith that 
asserts to be a religion revealed from 
Heaven: and shares with Judaism and Chris- 
tianity their original ideas and ideals. 

Islam is based on the belief in the Su- 
preme Being, the Almighty Allah, the one, in- 
visible and indivisible, all power and alf 
knowledge, Who is Eternal, the First and the 
Last, Who is Unique and nothing resembles 
Him: and He is neither contained in time nor 
in space. 

Islam also stresses a belief in God's 
Messengers, the Hoiy Prophets. One if those 
who enjoys a high place of honour in Istam is 
the Prophet Abraham who is described in the 
Holy Qur'an as the Khalrl "the close friend", of 
God. He was alone when he called for the 
worship of Almighty God. He destroyed the 
idols which were worshipped by his people 
and was, therefore, persecuted and thrown 
into fire. God saved him and blessed him. At 
an advanced age, he was blessed with a 
number of children, prominent among them 
were Ismail (Ishmael) who settled in Arabia 
and Isaac who stayed in the Holy Land with 



his mother Sarah. Both Ishmael and Isaac 
were blessed men and became Prophets and 
Messengers of God. Isaac, in turn, was 
blessed with a son Jacob or Israel, who also 
became one of God's Messengers. His story 
and the story of his children, especially Jo- 
seph, are told in a most charming and noble 
style in the Holy Qur'an. 



Another personality held in great esteem 
in Islam and counted, like Noah and 
Abraham, amongst the five topmost Holy 
Prophets is Moses. The story is told of his 
birth in Egypt where his people were severely 
persecuted by its ruler at that lime, who or- 
dered the slaying of all their male babies. 
Nevertheless, Moses was miraculously 
spared, and was cared for in the household 
of the Pharaoh himself. When he attained 
maturity, Moses called for the worship of the 
true God alone, contrary to the claims of the 
haughty Pharaoh. In the course of dispute, 
Moses miraculously defeated the expert ma- 
gicians of the Pharaoh and won them to his 
side. Finally, Moses was able, with the help 
of God, to deliver his people from the tyranny 
of the Pharaoh into the way to the promised 
Holy Land, The sea was split upon to them T to 
make a dry platform for them to cross, the 
Pharaoh and his men who followed them 
were drowned. Moses' hope to reach the 
promised Holy Land was frustrated owing to 
the disobedience of his own people. They 
feared its inhabitants, and said to Moses: 
"Go, you and your Lord to fight. As for us, we 
are to settle herein". The Qur'an relates. 



MINARET 



18 



April 2009 



However, they were able Jater to conquer 
the blessed city of Jerusalem under the lead- 
ership of David who made it the seat of his 
kingdom and who was also a Prophet and 
Messenger of God. His throne was inherited 
by his son Solomon who was blessed with 
wisdom, with singular power and with divine 
Rrophethood. 

Another great personality held in the 
greatest esteem and veneration in Islam, 
whose name is also associated with the Holy 
Land, is Jesus Christ who was miraculously 
born to Virgin Mary who had had no husband 
and was never touched by a man. She is re- 
garded in Islam as the best and most virtuous 
women ever created. The story of the birth of 
Jesus, his talk when he was still in the cradle, 
his mission, his preaching, his persecution 
and his deliverance is described in the Holy 
Qur'an. 

All these venerated figures and many 
others like them, may the peace and all the 
blessings of God be upon them lived and suf- 
fered in the Holy Land. Therein they were 
born, they grew, they preached, they knelt in 
prayers, they died or were killed and their 
noble remains are contained therein. The soil 
of the Holy Land is mixed with their noble 
blood. 

The verses of the Quran which describe 
the service and achievement of these noblest 
and most pious of men, are recited by mih 
lions of adherents of Islam daily and almost 
hourly, in a most inspiring manner. Thus the 
love and veneration of these holy men and 
the veneration of the land which was the seat 
and arena of their work, struggle and devo- 
tion, is ever fresh and ever renewed in the 
minds and hearts of the Muslim people. 

It is to Muslims alone that the whole of 



the Holy Land is dear and sacred, because it 
is they who hold that their faith is a continua- 
tion and incorporation of all the religions of 
the past, and it is they who are obliged by 
their faith to respect the rights of the adher- 
ents of these preceding religions. 

Two particular places however, deserve 
a special mention and a special emphasis. 
One is the town of Al Khalii (Hebron) and the 
other is the city of Jerusalem, especially the 
area known as al-Haram al-Sharif. 

Muslim tradition goes that when 
Abraham's wife, Sarah, died, he sought to 
find a place for her burial. He was led to a 
cave in Hebron which he purchased from 
Affron, Its owner. Then he carried the body of 
his beloved wife and laid her to rest in the 
cave. When he himself died later, he was 
buried beside her. Then followed the noble 
remains of Isaac and Jacob and their wives; 
and this place became one of the oldest 
burial grounds, deeply venerated by Muslims 
who refer to the enclosure as al-Haram al- 
Ibrahimi, "The Sacred Mosque of Abraham." 
Muslim rulers in succeeding generations 
built, repaired and improved the area, and 
generously made endowments to ensure an 
efficient, sufficient and worthy maintenance 
of the Holy Place. Muslims make visits to the 
Haram and recite prescribed prayers. 

A Muslim intending to pay a visit to 
Abraham, {peace be upon him), is expected 
first to repent sincerely from his sins, and re- 
cite prayers for the Prophets Abraham and 
Mohummed, peace be upon them, all the 
time while he is on his way. 

On reaching the Mosque, he halts a little 
in humility and then entering the mosque with 
his right foot first, recites: 



MINARET 



19 



April 2009 



"In the name of God, O Lord! Bestow 
Your blessings upon the Prophet Mohummed 
and open the gates of Your mercy to me." 

After performing two rak'ats of prayers in 
the honour of the mosque he then ap- 
proaches the tomb of Sayyidina Abraham 
(peace be upon him) and standing with a low- 
ered head, prays for God's forgiveness. 

He is recommended to go then to the 
window of our master Abraham al-Khalil, 
peace and blessings be upon him which is in 
front of that of our master Jacob, and stand 
by, greeting and paying and then conclude by 
praying for all the Messengers and Prophets 
of God. 

Coming now to Jerusalem and al-Haram 
at-Sharif, the blessed Prophet Mohammed 
was once asked: which was the earliest 
Mosque? The Prophet answered, al-Masjid 
al-Haram: i,e. the sacred Mosque in Makkah. 
He was then asked, "which mosque was 
next?" He said, al-Masjid ai-Aqsa, i.e. the 
Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. He was further 
asked, "and how long was the interval be- 
tween them?" The Prophet replied, "Forty 
years." 

Muslim tradition, and the Qur'an assert 
that Abraham and Ishmael were the builders 
of al-Masjid al-Haram of Makkah. While 
building the Haram they repeat the words: 

H 'Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. 
For Thou art the All-hearing, the All-Know- 
ing." 

"Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing 
to thy Will), and of our progeny a Muslim 
people," bowing to Thy (Will); and show us 
our places for the celebration, of (due) rites: 
and turn unto us {in Mercy), for Thou art the 



Oft-Returning. Most Merciful/' 

"Our Lord! send amongst them an 
Apostle of their own, who shall instruct them 
in Scripture and Wisdom, and sanctify them: 
for Thou art the Exalted in Might, The Wise". 

The coming of the Prophet Mohummed 
(4£), son of Abdullah, was the answer and 
fulfilment of their prayers. According to Mus- 
lim tradition Jacob, the grandson of 
Abraham, peace be upon them both, was the 
first builder of a mosque in the site of al- 
Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem. 

Jsaac, advised his son not to marry from 
the Canaanites but seek his spouse from 
amongst the family of his maternal uncle. 
When Jacob reached the site T now known as 
al-Haram al-Sharif T he felt exhausted and 
needed to rest. So he lay down and rested 
his head on a stone. During his sleep he saw 
as if there was a column of light arising from 
this place and reaching the gates of heaven. 
Disturbed and awakened, Jacob was com- 
manded by a revelation to build a mosque at 
the same site. So the interval between the 
building of the Ka'ba by Abraham and 
Ishmael, and that of the Aqsa Mosque was of 
forty years. 

By the time of the conquest of Jerusalem 
by David (peace be upon him) there was no 
trace of the prayer house erected by Jacob, 
and David was thus widely credited as the 
founder of the Aqsa Mosque, which was 
completed in great grave of "your father 
Abraham". Next time he was advised to dis- 
mount and pray; and was told: "You have 
prayed on the birth-place of your brother 
Jesus!" 

The al-Haram al-Sharif was thus the end 
point of the Prophet's Isra' as it was also the 



MINARET 



20 



April 2009 



starting point of his heavenly journey on the 
same night called mi'raj, and in this context 
the place has had the speciai distinction of a 
mention in the Holy Quran, a privilege de- 
nied to any other mosque except that of 
Makkah. 

It was because of this special place and 
sanctity that Umar the great, the second Ca- 
liph bowed to the request of the Patriarch 
Sophronius and came all the way from 
Medinah to receive personally the keys of the 
city. The first thing the great Caliph did after 
signing a peace treaty with the Patriarch was 
to seek to find the site of the house of God; 
whose foundations were laid by the prophets 
respected and loved by all Muslims, The site 
when discovered had centuries of the gar- 
bage pited over it. As the garbage was re- 
moved and the sacred rock appeared. 'Umar 
(RDA) immediately began to clean it with his 
own apparel; and all those present from 
amongst the Companions of the Prophet ($&) 
joined in the task, Umar (RDA) ordered that 
the sacred rock henceforth shall never be 
desecrated and that a fence should be des- 
ecrated and that a fence should came, and 
on the Caliph's request, the renowned Bilal, 



the Prophet's mu'adhdhin recited the adhan, 
"Call to prayer", for the first time since the 
death of the Prophet (#). 'Umar (RDA) and 
the other Companions present could not hold 
back their tears! 'Umar (RDA) then led the 
prayers a little further from the stone where 
the Mosque of 'Umar was soon built and be- 
came popularly known as al-Aqsa Mosque, 
As an act of veneration, a splendid dome was 
built over the rock by the Ummayyad Caliph 
Abd al Malik bin Marwan. The title al-Aqsa in 
the Qur'an and Hadith, however, refers to the 
whole area. 

It will be a grave error, however, to think 
that the religious sanctity for Muslims is con- 
fined to certain given sites in the holy land, 
although the concept of sanctity may be a 
matter of degree. All Muslim properties and 
possessions, particularly the house of wor- 
ship, the inalienable religious endowments 
as well as Muslim cementries in which the re- 
mains of Companions and of men of knowl- 
edge and noblemen lie, like the cementery of 
Manilla, are objects of religious sanctity, and 
their protection is the collective responsibility 
of all Muslims. 




MINARET 



21 



April 2009 



Islam and Muslims in the 
Twenty-First Century: 

Muzaffar Iqbal 



Islam and Muslims have faced many 
challenges in their long history, but the 
challenge faced by Islam and its more 
than one billion followers in the 21st century 
are unlike anything witnessed before. 
These challenges are unique both in their 
nature as weil as their scope; this 
uniqueness arises from a number of 
factors. 

It is for the first time in their history 
that Muslims find themselves so dispersed 
on this planet that hardly a place remains 
where small or large communities of 
believers cannot be found. This 
georaphical spread has created many 
unique challenges not only for the diaspora 
but also for those regions which have been 
the traditional home of Muslims for over 
or close to a millennium. This is so because 
the presence of sizable Muslim 
communities outside their traditional lands 
has created dynamic interactions between 
them, their new homelands and "back- 
home 11 . The impact of this migration has 
been considerable, even though the size 
of these communities outside the historical 
geographical limits of the Muslim world, 
established in the last major redrawing of 
world maps in the sixteenth century, is 
small compared to those who stilE live 
within these boundaries. A major reason 
for this is the fact that a large majority of 
migrants have chosen Europe, the United 
Kingdom and North America as their new 
home. This geographical region, which is 
now home to the Western civilization, has 
a large footprint. in the world today and 
hence the presence of Muslim 



communities in the heart of this civilization 
has produced entirely new dynamics in 
the centuries-old interaction between Islam 
and the West. 

A second and much more important 
reason for the uniqueness of contemporary 
challenges to Islam and Muslims stem 
from the technological advances that have 
brought the "fruits" of the scientific and 
industrial revolution to their doorsteps, 
invented for quite a different culture, and 
arising from the interna! needs of the 
western societies, hundreds of new 
technologies have arrived in the Muslim 
world during the last fifty years; these have 
reshaped and redefined life pattern at a 
very large scale, giving birth to new modes 
of social and cultural activities their arrival 
has also been accompanied by changes 
in worldviews. The main intent of this new 
thought was to establish a Kingdom of 
Man on Earth. This revolution in thought, 
which occurred in Europe alongside the 
second Scientific Revolution of the 
eighteen century generated myriad forms 
of social, philosophical, economic and 
political currents that were rooted in a 
worldview from which God has been 
abstracted at various levels. 

This worldview, rooted solely in the 
here and now and in complete 
forgetfulness of the Hereafter, continues 
to govern life and thought in the West, It 
has produced various currents of thought 
which have given birth to a host of "isms" 
during the last three centuries. This 
includes humanism, romanticism, 



MINARET 



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April 2009 



feminism, and a multitude of others, all of 
which have had their day in the making 
and unmaking of the West. The twin 
revolutions in thought and sciences have 
also given birth to numerous "mini- 
revolutions" which have affected atl 
domains of knowledge. These currents 
are sometimes collectively called 
modernity, though the precise definition of 
this ubiquitous word remains controversial. 
In any case, it is the encounter with these 
new currents in thought that have created 
the most important challenge now faced 
by Islam and Muslims. 

There are numerous dimensions of 
these challenges that have economic, 
social, politicat, scientific and technological 
implications. Driven by an incessant desire 
to gain power and influence over the entire 
human habitate, these new currents have 
been able to create a nich in the Muslim 
world through myriad means, and a 
sizeable number of Muslims have been 
won over by a modernity whose claim to 
superiority rests on its self-assessment as 
the most "advanced 51 and "productive" 
phase of human civilization. It is this self 
assessment, along with the economic, 
military and political power of the West, 
that is mainly responsible for the 
emergence of its standards of judging all 
other civilizations and worldviews. 

Whether one agrees with Samuel 
Huntington or not, it is obvious that after 
the demise of Communism as a viable 
ideology, western civilization has no other 
challenge to face but that of Islam, This 
does not necessarily lead to a clash of 
civilizations, but there is something 
poignantly true in Huntington's formulation, 
though he does not built his case on the 
real foundation upon which the two 
civilizations divert. The foundational 



difference between the Islamic and the 
contemporary western civilizations is that 
the former attempts to create the kingdom 
of God on Earth while the latter is a bold 
attempt to establish a kingdom of Man. In 
the former, limits of human action are 
framed by the boundaries established by 
Allah; in the later, even the idea of limits 
is an anathema^ In the former, the ultimate 
goal of this earthly life is to prepare for the 
Hereafter in the latter, the very concept of 
Hereafter is a dogma. Various currents 
have now poised these diametrically 
opposed worldviews against each other 
at a scale never before witnessed; this 
has also created numerous challenges for 
Islam and Muslims. 

Conversely, there is a reciprocal 
current that has produced an enhanced 
awareness of Islam in the West. This 
enhanced awareness and the need to 
answer numerous questions about Islam 
is mainly responsible for a new wave of 
publications. A survey of books on Islam 
and Muslims published in the West during 
the last two years reveals an astonishing 
aspect of these publications: a large 
number of these new works, which range 
from studies on classical Islamic heritage 
to various contemporary issues, conduct 
an incessant search for a self-created myth 
of some kind of "wrong" which has 
produced contemporary Islamic polity, 
presumably writing in the backwaters of 
history. Thus we have, for instance, 'what 
went wrong 3 of Bernard Lewis, whose 
infamous theories on Islam and Muslims 
have achieved the status of a school of 
thought. Then there is an organised effort 
to investigate 'Madaris 1 and their 
curriculum, issues related to women and 
family life-- all seen from the peculiar 
perspective of western humanism. 



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April 2009 



This "scholarship" is not in vain. It goes 
hand in hand with the new political, military 
and economic realities of our times which 
are attempting to redraw the map of the 
world in all aspects — from cultural to 
economic. This wave of new publications 
is in sync with the attempts to create a 
global village in which the most dominant 
and aggressive civilization of the day will 
be able to weed out all other civilizations 
by sheer force of its economic and 
technological power, This roadmap to a 
monochromatic world has a new 
intellectual component that aims at 
conquering hearts and the minds and an 
effective means to export "freedom" and 
"liberty". 

This large-scale effort to hollow out 
islamic tradition from within has met with 
very little effective scholarship from the 
Muslim world. There is an atmosphere of 
stagnation in Islamic intellectual space; 
one does not need years of research to 
discover this. Just a quick survey of 
publications is enough to reveal the extent 
of this siesta. Even without the new global 
effort to divest Islam of its essential inner 
realities, there was already a pressing task 
for the Muslim scholars; to understand 
that terrible phase of Muslim history during 
which almost the entire Ummah was 
colonized. But there is no organised 
agenda of research, no planned effort to 
meet the challenges of the new century. 
There are hardly any institutions in the 
Muslim world which are devoted to 
understanding the new emerging global 
realities. There are no teams of scholars 
devoted to the painstaking task of the 
reconstruction of Islamic thought. 

The new challenges require a 
dynamic, well-designed research agenda 
that is shared by a large number of Muslim 



scholars who are witling to dedicate their 
lives to a process of revival and 
reconstruction. The following presents 
some preliminary thoughts on various 
aspects of a research agenda that needs 
to be organized by Muslim scholars. 

Islamic Tradition 

Various historicai currents of the past 
three centuries have produced an Ummah 
in the twenty-first century which lacks the 
basic means to tap the vast resources of 
its own tradition. More than two-thirds of 
contemporary Muslims do not speak Arabic 
and in lands where Arabic is still the 
language of daily use, its classical heritage 
has become inaccessible to a large 
majority. This is one of the most important 
impacts of the colonization of the Muslim 
world. The true care for this is, of course 
the revival of Arabic as a living language, 
understood by a large number of Muslims. 

Islamic Perspective on the West 

Compared to Western views on Islam 
and Muslims, one finds very little reflection 
by Muslim scholars on various aspects of 
the Western civilization. The absence of 
scholarly reflection on this civilization has 
given liberties to the likes of Bernard Lewis 
who would not even think of the possibility 
that question such as "What Went Wrong" 
might really be asked about a civilization 
that has brought the entire human race to 
the brink of a global catastrophe. An 
organized effort is, thus, needed to 
understand the emergence of the 
contemporary western civilization and 
various forces which govern it today. The 
contemporary western civilization has 
emerged out of two transforming 
.revolutions: the Scientific Revolution of 
the seventeenth century and the revolution 



MINARET 



24 



April 2009 



in thought that accompanied it. The latter, 
sometimes called Humanism or 
Enlightenment, replaced the orientation of 
the West from a God-oriented civilization 
to a man-centred civilization. Muslim 
scholars also need to have a well-planned 
research agenda to study these twin 
revolutions which have produced the 
contemporary West, 

Research and Publications for the 
Next Generation of Muslims 

Perhaps the most apparent sign of the 
failure of Muslim scholars can be seen in 
the emergence of western-style education 
institutions in the Muslim world. From 
Jeddah to Jakarta, one can find these 
institutions inculcating a non-ls!amic world- 
view in the minds of Muslim children of 
the new millennium. This has already 
produced a generation of Muslims which 
is uprooted from the spiritual and 
intellectual soil of their forefathers. This 
new generation has been left in the hands 
of the merchants of the education because 
states have shunned responsibilities and 
because the Muslim intelligentsia has failed 
to produce new educational resources 
suitable for the needs of the new generation 
growing up with laptops and internet. True, 
there have been a few efforts in this 
direction. There has been a movement of 
"Islamization of knowledge". There have 



been important conferences on education 
and many individuals have made efforts 
to produce educational material. But these 
are ineffectual efforts as one can see by 
visiting a grade eight classroom in any qf 
these pseudo-western schools and looking 
at the text books being use. 

This is neither a limited issue nor a 
minor problem. The entire field of education 
needs a renewed commitment. This is not 
only the need of the sizeable Muslim 
communities now living in the West; it is 
also the need of children growing up in 
Lahore and Istanbul, Thus, the need of 
the hour is a very well-designed project of 
research, aimed at producing a large 
number of educational resources for the 
new generation which cover the entire 
spectrum of knowledge. This is an effort 
that requires an Ummah-level institute 
especially devoted to this cause and with 
all the material resources required to 
produce results. 

These preliminary thoughts are 
intended to invite Muslim scholars to 
propose such outlines. The need is there 
and a large number of Muslim scholars 
are already aware of it. But there rs a 
vacuum in terms of institutional framework 
and leadership. An urgent and organized 
effort is needed now or it may be tool late. 
(Courtesy: Islamic Studies, Voi 42 f No. 3) 



el9 






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April 2009 



NEWS IN BRIEF 



Saudis happiest of all Arabs: Survey 

Saudis are the happiest people of all 
Arabs and rank 26th among the happiest 
people in the world, according to a study 
released recently by the World Values 
Survey, a global network of social scientists 
based at the Unirersity of Michigan. 

The yardstick of happiness according 
to the study was the contentment of a 
people with their living standard. The 
participants were asked questions such 
as if they were very happy, happy or not 
at all happy. The study ranked the Danes 
first among the people from 97 countries, 
while Zimbabwe came at the bottom. The 
United States got 16th position and 
Guatemala came 17th. Among the Arab 
countries that figured in the list, Jordan 
came 57th, Morocco 68th, Algeria 72nd 
and Egypt 74th. While the Danes scored 
4.24 points, Saudis got 3.17 points. 
Zimbabwe was the glummest country in 
the world followed by Armenia, Moldavia, 
Belarus, Ukraine, Albania, Iraq and 
Bulgaria which were among the last 10. 
Israel was placed at 45th position, Turkey 
at 60th and Iran at 64th. 

The report also noted that several 
countries registered improvement in their 
happiness compared to the past years. 
They included India, China, Ireland, South 
Korea and Mexico. On the other hand, 
Britons, Belgians, Austrians and Germans 
are no longer as happy as they were in 
the past. 

The survey also exploded the myth 
that freedom and sense of peace and 



security are the determining factors in 
making one happy. It said several Latin 
American countries such as Colombia, 
which is plagued by fighting, came at the 
third place in the list. El Salvador and 
Guatemala came 11th and 17th 
respectively. On the other hand, France 
was placed at 37th position and Italy at 
46th. 

Omani Scholar says Organ Donations 
not permissible in Islam 

Organ donation, including eyes, is 
not permitted in Islam, said an Omani 
Islamic scholar, who sees no harm in 
donating blood even in Ramadan. "There 
are three schools of thought on organ 
donations by Muslims, but the majority of 
Islamic scholars believe that organ 
donation is not permissible in Islam," 
Shaikh Khalfan Al Esry, a member of the 
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque's Steering 
Committee for Islamic Information Centre, 
told Gulf News in an interview. Blood 
donation, he stressed, was different, as it 
is replenished. He said that a minority 
group of scholars believe organ donation 
was permissible while some would like to 
leave it to the individual to decide. "Our 
body is sacred and a dead body is 
respected in Islam and there's no need to 
scavenge it for organ donations," Al Esry 
said. "We handle the body with care and 
give privacy to it by covering it while taking 
it for burial. Then how can we think of 
removing its parts?" he said. Removing 
organs for donation, he reckons, amounts 
to disrespecting the dead. Al Esry also 
argued that an individual doesn't own his 
or her body. "It is a gift of God and in Islam 



MINARET 



26 



April 2009 



an individual can neither harm his or her 
own self physically, mentally nor spiritually. 

Germany's largest mosque in Cologne 

Cologne City Council has voted in 
favor of building Germany's largest mosque 
despite a fierce opposition from right-wing 
groups. "We are building this for all the 
people of Cologne, not just Muslims," said 
the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious 
Affairs (DITIB) in a statement. The city 
council voted to allow Muslim groups to 
build the mosque in Cologne's Ehrenfeld 
district. DITIB has agreed not to broadcast 
Adhan over loudspeakers. Germany is 
home to some 3.2 million Muslims, over 
half of whom are of Turkish origin. There 
are now 159 mosques in Germany. "I think 
the new mosque will be such an 
architectural masterpiece that tour buses 
will take people to see it after they visit the 
Cologne Cathedral," said Josef Wirges, 
local council member for Ehrenfeld and 
member of the Social Democrats (SPD). 

Conversion of Islam ratio rises 

For the first time ever, more than 
1 ,000 Germans have converted to Islam 
in 1 2 months, the director of the German- 
based Islam-Archive Central Institute Salim 
Abdullah announced on Dec 13. 

Some 1 ,152 Germans have converted 
to Islam between May 2004 and May 2005. 

Abdullah could not pinpoint the exact 



reason as to why there are this many Islam 
converts. 

Interestingly enough, whenever the 
media attack Islam, more people convert 
to Islam than in normal years, Abdullah 
said. 

More than 60 per cent of those who 
convert are woman, most of them single 
and well educated, he added. 

According to statistics released by his 
institute in May 2005, some 14,352 out of 
3.2 million Muslims in Germany are of 
German-origin. -By special arrangement. 

Pope Values Quran as Precious 

Pope Benedict XVI has paid reverence 
to the Quran and termed it as precious. 
Issues discussed about faith and reason 
in Christianity and Islam were very 
important and need consideration, said 
the Pope in a meeting with Mahdi 
Mostafavi, head of Iran 's high-ranking 
visiting delegation to the Vatican. 

For his part, head of Iran's Islamic 
Culture and Relations Organization, Mahdi 
Mostafavi responded that there is an 
overwhelming need for faith and reason 
now, compared to the past. Mostafavi also 
voiced Tehran's readiness to promote 
cultural and religious cooperation between 
Iran and the Vatican and offered Pope a 
copy of the Quran. 



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