Friday, February 27, 2015

Freedom of speech a la French Style

In some of my articles on France, I mentioned how hypocritical the entire French society is. It gave the modern world the concept of equality, liberty and fraternity. But truly it never learned how to walk the talk. If you do things French style, everything is kosher but if it is not done in the French manner, it is haram. So, am I surprised with the new revelation that the French professional basketball player Akin Akingbala (originally from Nigeria) has been fired from his team for re-tweeting a message that began, 'Je ne suis pas Charlie', meaning 'I am not Charlie,' in reference to the cartoonist who was killed? The tweet then went on, 'I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture, and I died defending his right to do so ‪#‎JeSuisAhmed‬'.
Do you see any problem with Akin's view? I don't see any. As a western Muslim, I can understand why he would tweet what he did. But the secular fundamentalists have problem with Akin's freedom to express his views. The French team would have liked him to keep quiet and/or march with their fellow hatemongers against Islam and Muslims. But when Akin said the most reasonable thing, there was no tolerance for such views. He was terminated. You call it freedom, I call it abuse and intolerance.  
As Khalid Baig brought to my notice: Akin's crime was to merely retweet something from the account of an activist who began this tweet (and tens of thousands of people retweeted as well).
As always, his news item is barely making any rounds in any mainstream media outlet.
By the way, his is not the first (nor, it appears, the last) of a line of people who have been arrested or otherwise penalized for saying something that was deemed insensitive to the Hebdo attack.
By such practices, I am forced to cry out foul at the complete and total hypocrisy of advocates of 'FREE SPEECH'.
As a Muslim activist fighting Islamophobia has noted, "In a way, these news items are good, because it shows what many have been saying all along: the issue really has nothing to do with the absolute right of free speech, and everything to do with the right to provoke and anger and insult a select group that is already politically marginalized and socially vilified, and expect no response."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Two Christian women were raped and killed inside Myanmar

Violence against religious minorities is very common inside Burma. Often such violence comes with rape and murder, which are used as weapons in this den of intolerance to ethnically and religiously cleanse a minority group. As a matter of fact, such crimes against minorities is tolerated and promoted by vast majority of Buddhists in this Buddhist-majority country that is making increasingly a mockery of the teachings of Gautam Buddha. The Rohingya Muslims, who are of Indian stock, closely resembling Bangladeshi and other Indians to the west of the border,  from where Buddha himself emerged, are the worst persecuted people in our time simply because of their race, color, ethnicity and religion.

Owing mostly because of the Muslim identity of the Rohingya people, more often than not the powerful western nations have tried to overlook such crimes perpetrated by the Myanmar people against them. Forgotten there is the mere fact that Myanmar does not tolerate anyone outside the Buddhist faith. Most of its current wars against the ethnic minorities owe it to that simple formula - these minorities are not Buddhists. As such, they are targeted for extinction. First came the Rohingya and then others, one at a time.

How long will the western nations overlook the slow genocide perpetrated against non-Buddhists there?

In recent days, two young women have been raped and killed in Burma because of their Christian work in a Buddhist village, Christian activists said in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Saturday, February 21.

The women, who were serving as volunteer schoolteachers in a village located within Kachin State, had earlier been threatened after evangelism activities, Christians said. Local officials reportedly told them to leave the area because they did not want Christians in the village after they were heard speaking about their faith in Christ.

"Shortly thereafter, the young women were reportedly raped and killed by soldiers" on January 19, said advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs. Their names were not immediately released. In general BosNewsLife does not publish names of victims of sexual abuse unless already in the public domain or if they decide to come forward.


Despite recent reforms in predominantly-Buddhist Burma, also known as Myanmar, Christians face "increased persecution," according to activists familiar with the situation.

"New believers routinely lose their employment and homes, and many women across the country are at risk of being raped and murdered by members of the military," added VOM, which has close contacts in the region.

It urged supporters to pray for the spread of the Gospel and that the "faithful testimony and witness of these dedicated women will continue to impact the members of this village community, even long after their deaths."

VOM also asked to pray for students "they sacrificially taught" who could be "comforted in the knowledge that these young women are now experiencing life to the fullest with Jesus in heaven."

It was crucial, VOM said, to "intercede for the soldiers who perpetrated this heartless crime, that they will be moved by the Holy Spirit to seek repentance and salvation".

Derek Tonkin's ludicrous piece on the Rohingya people shows his ulterior motives

The Myanmar Times has posted an article on the subject of the Rohingya people.

As I have noted a few times, Mr. Tonkin's approach to history has been problematic because of his business interest with Burma and no one should take his take on such important matters seriously. As an obsessed anti-Muslim Brit, who smells jihad everywhere, he would quote views that try to undermine Muslim influence in Arakan before the British arrived in the scene.
As I have noted in my book on demography of Muslims in Arakan, the entire census process during the British period was a flawed one by any measure. It is that flawed census that said that just after British colonized Arakan there were 2:1 Magh:Muslim ratio. And now Tonkin quotes another missionary where it is 8:1 ratio. Which one should we believe and why?
Did it every come to his mind: how authentic these latest numbers are? Did Comstock do a real survey by counting 250,000 heads and categorizing them? Or did he meet a few folks based on which he thought that by extrapolation it could be that ratio or that overall population? No demographic researcher would take such numbers seriously. As one who makes a living out of teaching statistical tests I won't pay two cents for Comstock's unrepresentative sample collection and the flawed inferences he made.
Tonkin is making a fool of himself and becoming a senile rep for the marauding Buddhists. It is simply shameful and disgraceful!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Japan Times article - Militant monks rabble-rousing in Myanmar

Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan. Recently his article -

Militant monks rabble-rousing in Myanmar -

has appeared in the Opinion page of the Japan Times.

 I share his article below in its entirety. 
 With the people of Myanmar heading to the polls later this year, there are troubling signs that some extremists are intent on stirring up trouble.
Last month, one such extremist held a rally in Yangon. Ashin Wirathu gave a vitriolic speech that attacked U.N. human rights envoy Yanghee Lee.
“Don’t assume you are a respectable person, just because you have a position in the U.N. In our country, you are just a whore,” he said. “If you are so willing, you may offer your arse to the kalar [a racist term meaning 'blacks' that is commonly used to denigrate Muslims in Myanmar]. But you will never sell off our Arakan State!” Remarkably, Wirathu is a monk.
This notorious monk has a history of instigating violence against Myanmar’s Muslim minority and is a bigoted rabble-rouser who allegedly has ties to “dark forces” that are eager to stir up trouble. He served an almost decade-long jail term for inciting violence in the past, but is apparently popular as recordings of his speeches are widely available and he attracts large audiences. On the day of his U.N.-bashing, he marched through Yangon with about 500 supporters, in a nation where such large demonstrations usually require a police permit.
Alas, Wirathu is the poster child for hate speech in Myanmar, spewing his invective and heartily backing controversial new legislation that aims to ban Buddhist women from marrying Muslims. Non-Buddhist men would have to convert to Buddhism before marrying a Buddhist woman, get consent from the bride’s parents or guardians, and only then could local officials register the marriage. Failure to comply could be penalized by imprisonment and/or confiscation of assets. Not only does this deny Muslim men freedom of religion, it also infringes on the rights of Buddhist women. It weakens women’s rights and gives parents or guardians control over the most intimate and important decision many will make in their lives.
This ban on interfaith marriage comes against the backdrop of a significant rise in anti-Muslim violence in recent years. At issue is whether Muslim families in the western state of Rakhine (formerly Arakan) are legitimate citizens of Myanmar, with all the rights that entails, or illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The problem of the Rohingya is hotly debated and complicated, but it does seem that many of these Muslim families have been living in the country for several generations and are not recent arrivals. Undoubtedly, though, some of them are and dealing with them has provided a pretext for more draconian state treatment of all Muslims in the area, sparking violence against them, in some cases instigated by monks.
So what is with these militant monks? Certainly they are forcing us to reconsider the stereotype of monks as sutra-reading lotus-eaters dedicated to mindfulness and detachment through quiet meditation. The firebrand extremists are wolves in saffron robes, betraying their faith and urging others to hate and, in extreme cases, engage in acts of violence.
In 2007, several weeks after the Saffron Revolution — when security forces mowed down monks on the streets of Yangon — I was in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, and met some monks who had been involved in the anti-government demonstrations. They asked me why the U.S. didn’t launch airstrikes against the generals in Naypidaw, their dystopian capital built in the middle of nowhere. This is not what I expected from monks, but in scenic Mrauk U, a few hours riverboat ride away, I met other monks with the same question. In both places, anti-government invective was laced with nasty comments about Rohingya and Muslims. It was my first inkling that something was amiss.
Wirathu leads the 969 Movement, which promotes boycotts of local Indian or Chinese businesses, exploiting the widespread frustration among people living close to the edge. It is not a big leap from a boycott to some incident that can spark the kindling of discontent that leads to riots, deaths, burning and looting. By inflaming communal tensions and wreaking havoc, Buddhist militants have much to answer for but they enjoy impunity because security forces have not been even-handed.
Wirathu’s jingoistic rhetoric whips crowds into a frenzy, promoting a Buddhist nationalism that taps into the miseries of endemic poverty and offers a handy target. He wants to “save” Buddhist wombs from nefarious Muslims who threaten to overwhelm the demographic balance with their large families. It appears that his campaign is politically motivated as Wirathu is also linked to the government and those who engage in dirty tricks to weaken the election prospects of Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
Instigating communal turmoil underscores the need for a robust role by security forces in keeping the peace, thereby playing to the strength of the current government dominated by ex-military officers. They are desperate because everyone is predicting an NLD landslide. Thus a more devious aspect of this campaign is to maneuver Suu Kyi into the position of appearing overly solicitous toward the vilified Rohingya, thus “betraying” the Buddhist majority. Meanwhile, opposing the marriage law would mean she is not protecting “our” women from “them.”
Mindful of this insidious strategy, Suu Kyi must walk a tightrope in ways that frustrate her overseas backers who want her to stand up for the Rohingya. If forecasts are accurate, however, it appears that very few Buddhists are buying into this ruse and her NLD will coast to victory if the elections are free and fair. Will they be?
Curiously, on Feb. 11 the president’s office effectively revoked the voting rights of 2 million people only a few days after a massive majority in parliament granted suffrage to these same holders of temporary identity cards; 1.3 million of them are Muslim Rohingya. This is probably the least of Rohingya worries, but it does underscore how they have become political pawns.
So why was Wirathu lashing out at the U.N.? Because it is calling for Myanmar to grant citizenship to Rohingya born in the country. Lee, the target of Wirathu’s vile tirade, replied with dignity.
“Fundamental rights are not hierarchical — they aren’t conditional upon one another. They’re inalienable,” she said.
Perhaps so, but not if the mad monk and his masters get their way.
Jeff Kingston is the director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bangladesh government's decision on matters of the Rohingya people is criminal and deserves change

Muslim Aid, a UK-based non-government organization, is going to close down its Rohingya project in Teknaf in phases, as the European Union has stopped funding it after being requested to do so by the Bangladesh Government.

I am simply shocked to learn of the decision. The current government in its zeal to eradicate Jamat-e-Islam and Muslims religious groups which had opposed its rule seems not concerned about ramifications of its actions which not only punish the Rohingya refugees living in makeshift camps but also show a total abhorrence to simple acts of mercy and compassion -- virtues that are universally cherished. One wonders how low would the government step down to alienate itself from the general public who are sympathetic to the Rohingya cause and would welcome finding an honorable solution to end their plight.

As to the reason of why the UK based NGO was blacklisted, we are told that it was at one time headed by a Jamat (JIB) leader who was accused of and recently convicted in Bangladesh for his alleged involvement with the killings of Bengali intellectuals in 1971 civil war.

Thus, according to a senior Bangladeshi official of the Foreign Ministry, “The NGO has dubious operations in Teknaf, and the government has requested the EU not to fund it.” “We do not want them to operate in Teknaf as the government has no knowledge of where and how they spend their fund,” said another foreign ministry official. The European Union embassy in Dhaka also confirmed that, from February this year, their contract with Muslim Aid has expired. Last year, the EU alone provided 2.857 million Euros to Muslim Aid. The NGO also receives funds from other donors.

So, the Hasina administration in its zeal to eliminate JIB has chosen to punish the Rohingya people by cutting off its aid that came from an NGO that was at one time chaired by a Jamati leader. Such a decision is stupid and irrational for surely if such criteria are chosen many of the political organizations of our time including the ruling Awami League lack legitimacy to operate inside the country.

The Bangladesh government in 2008 allowed Muslim Aid to manage a make-shift camp for undocumented Rohingyas in Teknaf. The government scrapped its permission in 2012 but did not force the NGO to leave Teknaf. As such, the NGO was still managing the camp where over 15,000 undocumented Rohingyas are residing. Nearly 30,000 Rohingya refugees are residing in two camps in Cox’s Bazar, whereas about three to five hundred thousand undocumented Rohingyas, whom the government does not recognize as refugees, are residing in Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf, Chittagong, and other adjacent districts.

I pray and hope that  common sense and human decency dictate Bangladesh government actions, and that the prime minister is not advised by some brain-dead pundits who are increasingly alienating her from the public.

Ishaan Tharoor's article on the Rohingyas of Myanmar

Ishann Tharoor was previously a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York. He writes on international affairs. In a recent column in the Washington Post, he discusses the fate of the Rohingyas in Buddhist-majority Burma (Myanmar).

You can read this article by clicking here.

Reflections on some deaths of the past couple of weeks

Three Muslim students were murdered on February 10 in Chapel Hill, N.C. in what can only be described as a hate crime. As usual, the popular media in the USA initially did not mention that it was a targeted murder committed by a gun-toting White racist whose all victims were Muslims. Only after the Internet had cried foul the media pundits corrected their reporting so as not to appear biased. I am sure if the victims were non-Muslims and the killer a Muslim, the media would have called him a Muslim or an Islamic terrorist.

The three Muslim victims included — a man, his wife and her sister — all college students who were all born in the USA and grew up in the North Carolina area. They were shot to death at a quiet condominium complex near the University of North Carolina.

It is worth recalling the recent controversy surrounding the Duke University campus, which is also located in North Carolina where Muslim students were denied the right to broadcast adhan on Friday for the weekly Jumu’ah prayer after a rabid, hatemongering Christian priest Franklin Graham had objected. [He called upon the donors and alumni to withhold their support from the university until Duke had reversed its permission for the Muslim call to prayer. The university authorities caved into his pressure once again showing that the so-called liberal campus is not committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students.] I won't be surprised to learn that the murderer was influenced by Graham's hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Tuesday shooting of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh. Deah and Yusor were married, and Razan was Yusor's sister, according to UNC (University of North Carolina). Deah was a second-year dental student there, and Yusor was scheduled to begin dental studies in the fall. Razan was a student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. The neighborhood where they were found consists mostly of rental apartments and condominiums.

Mohammad Abu-Salha, father of two of the victims and a local psychiatrist, called the shootings a "hate crime" that involved more than a parking dispute. "My daughter, Yusor, complained and she told us she felt that man hated them for the way they looked and the Muslim garb they wore," he told MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily. "She felt the heat has risen after she moved into the apartment and her friends came to visit and most of them wore Muslim attire. So she was worried about that."

Police have not released a motive and said the investigation is continuing. The FBI is now conducting a "parallel preliminary inquiry" to determine whether any federal laws, including hate crime laws, were violated in the case.

Search warrants filed in a court last Friday showed Hicks listed a dozen firearms taken from his condo unit. The warrants list four handguns recovered from the home where he lived with his wife, in addition to a pistol the suspect had with him when he turned himself in after the shootings. Warrants also listed two shotguns and six rifles, including a military-style AR-15 carbine, and a large cache of ammunition.

The UNC shooting case spurred international outrage.

"No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship," President Barack Obama said Friday in Washington. And in New York, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "deeply moved" by the thousands attending the victims' funeral this past week.

A press release Saturday from the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the world's largest bloc of Muslim countries, says the group's leader thanks the American people for "rejecting the murder which bear the symptoms of a hate crime." Secretary General Iyad Madani also says the slaying of the students has heightened international concerns about "rising anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobic acts" in the United States.

In 2012 when statistics were last available for hate crime tally, law enforcement agencies nationwide reported 5,796 "hate crime incidents." It is unclear though how many yielded criminal convictions.

As if those targeted murders were not enough, last Friday (February 13) Quba Islamic Institute in Houston was set ablaze in the pre-dawn hours in what can also be described as a hate crime. The fire destroyed one of three buildings at the center, which remains fully operational.

In a video on the institute's Facebook page, Ahsan Zahid, son of the imam, said fire officials told him the fire appeared intentional. In an interview with KTRK-TV in Houston, Zahid said a smashed table that appeared to be vandalism was found on the property Friday morning. He also told the station that someone had driven by the institute Thursday evening, yelling "mocking chants," the station reported. Earlier in the week, an unknown masked man had to be chased off the property, according to the TV report.

A day earlier on Thursday, February 12 a Muslim man and his family were attacked inside a Kroger grocery store, located 15255 Michigan Avenue in of the Dearborn, Michigan at the corner of Greenfield Rd., while they were shopping. The incident occurred around 5:45 p.m. when the Arab man and his children were inside of the store purchasing ice cream. Two White American guys passed by the family and began making derogatory remarks about ISIS, according to eye witnesses. The Caucasian men began to physically assault the Arab man, making comments that included "go back to your country" and "you terrorists." One of the Caucasian men told the Arab man's young daughter to "take the rag off your head." 

Surely, our world is increasingly becoming a theatre of wanton violence and abysmal intolerance. And who would have thought that the US’s claims of epitomizing the notions of diversity and inclusion would be torpedoed by its own intolerant bigots and racists!

The sad fact is such tragic incidents or events, as we witnessed the past week in Houston, Dearborn and Chapel Hill, have a much wider ramification these days when the world is more connected than ever before. What is a tragic event here can trigger a tragedy elsewhere and vice versa! Not everyone in a society filters information in the same way, and some are bound to react non-proportionately. That is why the tit for tat formula cannot be a viable solution.

And yet, President Obama has sought authorization for war against ISIS (also called ISIL). As Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman has recently argued in the Bloomberg View the authorization for the use of military force replaces the 2002 Iraq War authorization. But it leaves in place the 2001 authorization passed immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. That law originally applied to al-Qaeda, but has been extended by interpretation to cover successor organizations including Islamic State. The old authorization permitted war against those whom the president determined to have “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the Sept. 11 attacks “or harbored such organizations or persons.” “The new authorization,” says Feldman, “however, extends to “individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” This language goes further than the old authorization. Fighting “alongside” Islamic State could be almost anyone involved in the fight against Bashar al-Assad, for example. Uncomfortably enough, that would include potential U.S. allies -- and even, bizarrely, the U.S. itself.”

In this week we also heard about Kayla Mueller’s sad death in Syria. She was a 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona, who died when her building where she was housed by ISIS had been struck by bombs from a warplane, dispatched by Jordan after one of its pilots was brutally killed by ISIS. Her death was confirmed by the U.S. government. She was captured in August 2013 in Syria, but her captivity had largely been kept secret in an effort to save her.

Kayla was a free-spirited activist (affiliated with the pro-Palestinian human rights group – the International Solidarity Movement), very much like Rachel Corrie of Olympia, Washington who was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer nearly 12 years ago while protesting against demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli forces in the occupied Gaza strip. [Note: The Israeli government has refused to be held liable for her murder.]

From Prescott, Kayla helped raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and offered comfort at a women's shelter. Her desire to help others stretched beyond Arizona to Palestinian territories, Israel, India, France and Syria. In 2010, Mueller spent time with the International Solidarity Movement, a group of foreign activists who come to the West Bank and east Jerusalem to show support for the Palestinians. Activists frequently participate in West Bank protests against Israel's separation barrier, and organizer Abdullah Abu Rahmeh said, "We were shocked to know that Kayla was taken hostage, and we were shocked more when she was killed because she came here to help people."

According to her Muslim fiancĂ© Omar Alkhani, ‘She cared for people so much. She would never buy make-up and extra clothes because she used that money to buy food for the poor children. That's how I remember her.’

Kayla wrote passionately about conditions in war-torn Syria, where she had gone to help refugees. In a blog post, she wrote: "Every human should act. They should stop this violence."

Kayla’s clarion call continues to meet deaf ears. Instead of stopping the violence and coming to the aid of its victims, the US and her allies acted wickedly and promoted self-destruction. Their nonchalance attitude to uprooting Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime only emboldened it to practice a scorched-earth policy against the Sunni majority in Syria who were left with no viable option, and led to the creation of the very menace it now wants defeated by hook or crook. Thus, instead celebrating the release of a noble activist Kayla Muller, we must now mourn her untimely death.

There is no doubt that what ISIS did with the Jordanian pilot was absolutely un-Islamic and barbaric.  In response, Jordan executed two prisoners, including Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi militant whom it had sought to trade with ISIS, on February 3 only a few hours after Jordanian King Abdullah met in Washington with President Barack Obama. Its bombing inside Syria has also resulted in the death of Kayla.

Jordan’s revengeful execution of prisoners is equally condemnable. Surely, when a dog bites you, you don’t bite it back to be equal with it. I wish Jordan’s Abdullah who claims to be the 43rd generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (S) had instead borrowed a leaf out of the life of his most illustrious predecessor.

The tenth year of Muhammad’s (S) prophetic mission was a sad one. He had lost his beloved wife, Khadija (R), with whom he was married for 25 years. He also lost his uncle, Abi Talib, who as the chief of the Hashimite clan had stood by him in times of despair making sure that no physical harm would befall him. Now with Abu Lahab, an ardent enemy of Islam, as the new chief of the clan the Prophet (S) was ill-treated as never before. On one occasion a passer-by leaned over his gate and tossed a piece of putrefying offal into his cooking pot; and once when he was praying in the courtyard of his house, a man threw over him a sheep’s uterus filthy with blood and excrement. On another occasion, when the Prophet (S) was coming from the Ka’bah, a man took a handful of dirt and threw it in his face and head. When he returned home, one of his daughters washed him clean of it, weeping while the Prophet (S) reassured her, “Weep not, little daughter, Allah will protect your father.”

It was then that Muhammad (S) decided to seek help from the Thaqif, the people of Ta’if – a decision that eloquently reflected the apparent gravity of his situation in Makkah (Mecca). Accompanied by his disciple, Zaid ibn Haritha, Muhammad (S) came to Ta’if. On his arrival, he went straight to the house of three brothers who were the leaders of Thaqif at that time, the sons of ‘Amr ibn Umayyah. When the Prophet (S) invited them to Islam and asked them to help him against his opponents, they abused him verbally. So the Prophet rose to leave them, perhaps intending to try elsewhere in Ta’if; but when he had left them they stirred their slaves and retainers to insult him and shout at him, until a crowd of people were gathered together against him who started pelting stones at him. His feet started bleeding. Zaid himself was injured with a head injury. The Prophet could not walk any longer. But the unbelievers put him on his feet and again resumed throwing stones at him. Ultimately, the Prophet (S) was forced to take refuge in a private orchard. Once he had entered it the crowd began to disperse, and, tethering his camel to a palm tree, he made for the shelter of a vine and sat in its shade.

When he felt himself to be in safety and at peace, Muhammad (S) prayed: “O God, unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness, and of my lowliness before men. O Most Merciful of the merciful, You are the Lord of the weak. And You are my Lord, Unto whose hands will you entrust me, unto some far off stranger who will ill-treat me? Or unto a foe whom You have empowered against me? I care not, so You be not wroth with me. But Your favoring help – that were for me the broader way and the wider scope! I take refuge in the Light of Your Countenance whereby all darknesses are illumined and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You make descend Your anger upon me, or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet is it Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through You.”

After he had made the supplication, Muhammad (S) looked up. He saw a cloud providing shade to him and in that cloud was seated the Angel Jibril (Gabriel). Jibril (AS) said, “Allah has heard what your community has said and He had also witnessed what the people of Ta’if had done to you. He has sent you the Angel who is entrusted with the mountains. Whatever you command, he will carry it out.”

The Angel who is entrusted with the mountains approached Muhammad (S) and said, “O Muhammad, I am the Angle of Mountains. I am at your command. If you command me I shall destroy this town by smashing it with the Mountain Akhshab.”

At this moment of trial, what the Prophet of mercy had to say simply surprised the Angel. The Prophet (S) said, “I beg forgiveness for them. Even if these people do not accept Islam, I do hope from Allah that there will emerge from there a people submissive unto Him who will not associate any partners to Him.”

No man has ever uttered such words for those who caused so much suffering. But such was the person of Muhammad (S). [Devotional Stories by Habib Siddiqui, A.S. Noordeen, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2011)]

As we try to find answers and solutions to our problems and dilemmas in these times of despair, let’s not get carried away by wanton violence which only begets more violence.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Latest Hate Crime against Muslims in Chapel Hill, NC - 3 Muslim students killed

Three Muslim students were murdered in CHAPEL HILL, N.C. in what can only be described as a hate crime. As usual, the popular media did not mention that it was a targeted murder committed by a White racist whose all victims were Muslims who were born in the USA and were residents of North Carolina. The three victims included — a man, his wife and her sister — all college students. They were shot to death at a quiet condominium complex near the University of North Carolina, but police had not yet given a motive or released details about the suspect. 
You may recall the recent controversy surrounding another university campus in North Carolina where Muslims were denied the right to call adhan after hatemongering Xian priest Franklin Graham's objection. I won't be surprised to learn that the murderer was influenced by Graham's hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the Tuesday shooting, Chapel Hill police told local news outlets. He is being held at the Durham County Jail and was expected to make a first court appearance Wednesday morning.
About 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of gunshots. They found three people who were pronounced dead at the scene. They were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

Barakat and Mohammad were married, and Abu-Salha was Mohammad's sister, according to UNC.

Barakat was a second-year dental student there, and Yusor was scheduled to begin dental studies in the fall. Abu-Salha was a student at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, according to UNC.

The neighborhood where they were found consists mostly of rental apartments and condominiums.

"It's a very quiet community," resident Bethany Boring told WRAL-TV. "It's a lot of graduate and professional students. You know, professional families."

Police have not released a motive and said the investigation is continuing. A police spokesman did not immediately return telephone messages Wednesday. UNC said its chancellor would issue a message to campus later Wednesday but gave no other details.

You can read more by clicking in the link below:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

ANECDOTES of Molla Nasreddin Hodja

Nasreddin Hodja (Hoca in Turkish; the letter ‘c’ is pronounced as ‘dj’) was a Muslim humorist from Turkey (in the 13th century C.E.). As many as 350 anecdotes have been attributed to the Hodja, as he most often is called. Hodja is a title - meaning teacher or scholar (“Hodja” or “Hojjat” literally means “Proof,” e.g., of learning or in Islam). These stories about Molla Nasreddin are enjoyed throughout the world, not just among Turkish speakers where the anecdotes originated. Azerbaijanis and Iranians know this comic sage as "Molla Nasreddin." Turks and Greeks call him "Hoja Nasreddin." Kazakhs say "Koja Nasreddin;" Arabs, "Juha;" and Tajiks, "Mushfiqi." Other spelling variations for Nasreddin include: Nasrettin, Nasrudin, Nasr-id-deen, Nasr-eddin, Nasiruddin, Nasr-ud-Din, Nasr-Eddin, Nasr al-Din and Nasr-Ed-Dine. Molla is also written as Mulla. The many spelling variations for Hodja include: Hoja, Hojja, Hodscha, Hoca, Chotza, Khodja, Koja and Khoja.

Nasreddin Hodja’s stories are well known from the shores of Aegean to the Eastern reaches of Sinkiang, where he is known as "Effendi." One of his statues adorns a city square in Bukhara, depicting the esteemed Hodja riding his donkey backwards, as told in one of his anecdotes. It should be pointed out here that some variations of the anecdotes exist in the way they are told through time and space. Many a punch lines from his anecdotes have long since reached the status of proverbs. Mark Twain's Library of Humor of the late 19th century includes a story attributed to Hodja.

The historical Nasreddin Hodja can be considered a populist philosopher, wise and witty man. The stories attributed to him display a biting sense of humor and the anecdotes themselves have satirical qualities that go immediately to the heart of the matter. Molla's observations involve people from all walks of life, from beggar to king, politician to clergy, and scholar to merchant. His stories often point to an obvious truth which has been taken for granted and usually include an unexpected twist that makes his ideas witty and fresh. Though Molla often appears as a fool, he usually is the one who cleverly exposes other people's foolishness. Subtleties of his pronouncements may not be apparent at first, but cannot be dismissed off-hand even by the most skeptical.

The stories are eternal; they deal with social issues, which are fundamental to human nature, social injustice, class privilege, selfishness, cowardice, laziness, incompetence, ignorance, narrow-mindedness and all kinds of fraud. Though most of the stories are set in the 13th century teahouses, bath houses, caravanserai and market places, Molla's observations about human nature are so insightful and told so cleverly that they have the power to amuse and captivate us centuries later. The incidents and characters in these stories illustrate the comic, eccentric and inconsistent aspects of human beings through Nasreddin Hodja's astute observations.

There is some controversy around Hodja’s birth and death dates. According to most accounts, he was a village Imam (cleric) during Seljuk times, and was born in 1208 C.E. in Hortu village near Sivrihisar in Central Anatolia and died in 1284 C.E. (683 AH) at the age of 76.. However, the most reliable document is the date 1383 (796 AH) found inscribed on the wall of his tomb in Aksehir. It indicates that Hodja died before 1393. This latter date seems to agree well with his encounter with the Mongol Emperor Timur. [The encounter must have been after Timur had defeated Sultan Yildirim Bayazit ("Bayazit the Thunderbolt") in the last decade of the 14th century.]  

 As a young boy he must have enjoyed a free country childhood and lived in one of the cottages with adobe walls and flat baked earth roofs, typical of this region. He received his early education from his father, the village imam, and went on to study at the madrasa (Islamic school). After working as a village imam for some years, he moved to the town of Aksehir. There he is known to have studied under such notable scholars of the time as Sayyid Mahmud Hayrani and Sayyid Haci Ibrahim. Later he became a professor at the madrasa in Aksehir and served as kadi (Judge).

Nasreddin Hodja was buried in Aksehir, near present day Konya province in the Turkish Republic, in a tomb that symbolizes the absurdity in life, which he had loved to expose while alive. It is protected against the elements by a large diameter ribbed dome, supported by many slender columns. An imposing gate, leading to the area covered by this dome, is most visible. Two rectangular stone posts provide the anchor for the tastefully designed wrought-iron door. The two wings of the ornate gate are tightly shut and secured with an enormous padlock. However, there is no surrounding fence and the gate stands alone on its site. Once his name is invoked, the tradition demands that seven anecdotes from Nasreddin Hodja be told.

Immortalized by his humorous and thought provoking words and actions, Nasreddin Hodja was a man of the people who perceived the world through their eyes. This won him a deep love, which has lasted for centuries. In the pessimistic and strife-torn world of the Middle Ages, Nasreddin Hodja radiated optimism. Yet this certainly did not prevent him from attacking injustice with stinging words. In his accounts he always seeks a peaceful way to get his message across, getting the better of his antagonists without argument or fight.

He loved life, and despite being a man of religion disliked nonsensical debates on religious subtleties. When he was asked about where the mourners should stand when carrying the coffin at a funeral, he retorted, "As long as you are not the one inside it doesn't matter a jot!"

Nasreddin Hodja never let trivial matters worry him. When a kite seized the liver he was carrying home for supper, he shouted, "You're wasting your time, I've got the recipe!" His affection extended to animals, and in many anecdotes we find him talking to his donkey like a friend.

One day a man stopped him and said, "Hodja, a roasted stuffed turkey just went past." Nasreddin Hodja replied, "What has that got to do with me?" "But it went to your house,” said the man. "What has that got to do with you?" retorted Nasreddin Hodja.

His optimism is illustrated by one of his most famous stories.

One day a man found him pouring the remains of his yogurt into Aksehir Lake. "Hodja, what are you doing?" the man asked. "I am turning the lake into yogurt," he replied. When the man laughed at him, he said, "But you never know perhaps it might."

This endorsement of hope against all odds has remained valid in every era. And we probably need such rays of hope to illuminate our path more so in our time when perpetual war, bloodshed, meanness, injustice, bigotry, insolence and sycophancy have become norms rather than exceptions. Nasreddin Hodja’s anecdotes and stories can surely help us to hope and dream big.

I remember how much I, as a child, growing up in Bangladesh, enjoyed reading stories and anecdotes of Nasreddin Hodja. You can find the largest collection of stories about Nasreddin Hodja in my book “ANECDOTES     of Molla Nasreddin Hodja for Children of All Ages”, which has been published by Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, India. I hope you enjoy reading those stories.