Thursday, August 28, 2008
Israeli peace pioneer Abie Nathan dies aged 81
Abie Nathan - By The Associated Press
Israeli peace pioneer, pirate radio station founder and former Royal Air Force pilot - has died in Tel Aviv at the age of 81, officials at the city's Ichilov Hospital said Wednesday.
Nathan burst onto the world of Middle East diplomacy in 1966 with a dramatic solo flight to Egypt in a rattletrap single-engine plane, more than a decade before Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty.
Although he failed in his initial bid to talk peace with the Egyptians, his daredevil escapade won the affection of many Israelis, and he launched a long and often eccentric one-man crusade to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Over time, he earned a reputation as a maverick peace activist who often took diplomacy into his own hands. He was called a crackpot and a prophet. But many admired the daring of the former Israel Air Force fighter pilot as he pounded on Egypt's doors, sailed his pirate radio ship into hostile Middle East waters or risked his life on hunger strikes for peace.
Yossi Sarid, the former leader of the leftist Meretz party, said Nathan paved the way for Israel's peace movement. "He was ahead of his time, and he did everything himself," he said.
Abraham Jacob Nathan was born April 29, 1927 in Iran, educated in India, and served in Britain's Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot, before joining the Jewish immigrant influx into newborn Israel in 1948.
A short, dark man, he flew for Israel's national airline and ran an art gallery and restaurant that became the center of Tel Aviv's bohemian life. His American-style diner even helped pioneer the hamburger in Israel.
Convinced that people power could succeed where the diplomats had failed, Nathan bought a 188-foot, 570-ton freighter that was partially funded by John Lennon. He anchored it off the coast of Tel Aviv and turned it into a pirate radio station, The Voice of Peace, with a mix of pop songs and peace messages.
"Shalom, salaam and peace to all our listeners," Nathan declared in his maiden broadcast in 1973. "The Peace Ship is a project of the people. We hope through this station we will help relieve the pain and heal the wounds of many years of suffering of the people of the Middle East."
Over the next 20 years, The Voice of Peace became especially popular among youth. It was the only radio station in the Middle East that broadcast music from the world's Top 40 charts and used English as its primary language, yet offered both Israeli and Arabic news.
Apart from his peace efforts, Nathan flew or shipped emergency supplies to victims of war, earthquakes and famine around the world, including to Biafra, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Lebanon and the former Zaire.
In the 1970s, Nathan went on repeated hunger strikes to try to force the Israeli government to make concessions for peace with Egypt and talk to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
He saw the first wish come true when Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979. But it would be years before Israel would reverse a law making meetings with the PLO a crime. Nathan broke the law several times by meeting with members of the PLO.
In recent years, he had been confined to a retirement home and had rarely been seen in public. In a 1996 interview with The Associated Press, Nathan said that during one of his prison hunger strikes, he was certain he was going to die. He bought a grave and a tombstone.
When asked what he would want written on the stone, he replied "Nisiti" - the Hebrew for "I tried."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We all remember the film, The Message, right?
Well do we remember the man behind it - Moustapha Akkad?
I bet not. Well, I think he was a real life hero in his own, unknown, way.
Heroes do not have to be big men with booming voices who engage in spectacular battles.
Sometimes - most of the time - they are just persons who are just average Joe's or Jill's, who have a big heart and want to do something with their lives that is bigger than their own selves. They may not go out to do battle in another continent, or find a cure for cancer.
They may just be doing what they are already doing, but in a way that would make the lives of others matter.
Not many of us know that the man behind the most iconic film on the Prophet (s.a.w.) was murdered savagely.
In 2005, Akkad and his daughter were killed in a bomb blast detonated in Jordan by an al-Qaeda suicide bomber.
Moustapha Akkad (Arabic: مصطفى العقاد) (July 1, 1930 – November 11, 2005) was a Syrian American film producer and director, best known for producing the series of Halloween films and directing Mohammad, Messenger of God and Lion of the Desert.
Though he dedicated much of his career to explaining Islam to the West, ironically he was killed in 2005 in Amman, Jordan by an Al-Qaeda in Iraq suicide bomber.
Akkad was born in Aleppo, Syria. In 1935, his father, then a customs officer, gave him $200 and a copy of the Quran before he left for the United States to study film direction and production at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Akkad spent a further three years studying for a Master's degree at the University of Southern California (USC), where he met the legendary director Sam Peckinpah.
Peckinpah became Akkad's mentor in Hollywood and hired him as a consultant for a film about the Algerian revolution that never made it to the big screen, but he continued to encourage him until he found a job as a producer at CBS.
In 1976, he produced and directed Mohammad, Messenger of God (released as The Message in 1977 in the United States), starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas.
Akkad faced resistance from Hollywood to making a film about the origins of Islam and had to go outside the United States to raise the production money for the film.
While creating Muhammad, Messenger of God, he consulted Islamic clerics and tried to be respectful toward Islam and its views on portraying Muhammad.
In 1978, he helped make low-budget film history when he produced Halloween.
Akkad became best known for his key involvement in the first eight Halloween movies, as an executive producer (the only producer to participate in all of these films), Akkad also later owned the long-running franchise that spawned seven further variations on the original theme (the most recent being Halloween: Resurrection in 2002).
The series was highly profitable, although it was only the first film that became iconic.
In 1980 he directed his next big project, Lion of the Desert, in which Quinn and Irene Papas were joined by Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, and John Gielgud.
It was about the real-life Bedouin leader Omar Mukhtar (Quinn), who fought Mussolini's Italian troops in the deserts of Libya.
The movie is now critically acclaimed, after initially receiving negative publicity in the West for being partially funded by Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, who invested $35 million in the movie.
This negative publicity may have been the cause of its relatively poor performance at the box office.
In the United Kingdom Akkad once tried to buy Pinewood Studios from the Rank Organisation and also had a studio at Twickenham.
He was in the process of producing a $80 million movie featuring Sean Connery about Saladin and the Crusades, for which he already had the script, that would be filmed in Jordan.
Speaking of the film, he said:
In a tragic twist of fate, Akkad, and his 34-year-old daughter Rima Akkad Monla, were killed in the 2005 Amman bombings.
They were both in the lobby at the Grand Hyatt when a suicide bomber sent by Al-Qaeda in Iraq detonated his device.
His daughter died instantly, and Akkad died of his injuries two days later in a hospital.
Akkad is survived by three sons.
Sons include Tarek (his oldest) and Malek, who helped produce most of the Halloween movies.
Mudpe adds -Youtube Credits of the film, The Message -
In Mudpie's view, this is the most memorable scene of the film, Lion of the Desert -
Mudpie adds - not many of us today know that Akkad encountered violent objections to his making the Message.
The extremists were outraged by The Message – or, as it was then called, Mohammed, Messenger Of God.
Although Akkad had observed the prohibition against representations of the Prophet, even a rumored glimpse of his shadow (which the director had at one time considered) provoked objections. Hamaas Abdul Khaalis, formerly a Seventh Day Adventist called Ernest McGhee, decided to do something about the abomination.
A dozen Muslims seized three buildings, and took 120 hostages, including (in an early example of the many internal contradictions of the Rainbow Coalition) the future mayor of Washington, DC, Marion Barry.
He was one of a couple of dozen injured. Jewish hostages were abused.
A reporter was killed.
Fast forward a few years, and we now know that this was just a sign of things to come.
Moustapha Akkad was a great missionary of the late 20th century, as his message of The Message had reached millions of people, both Muslim and non-Muslim.
And nothing that the savages of al-Qaeda can do will ever take that away from him.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Shaykh Hassan Cisse (1945 - 2008), also written Cheikh Assane Cissé or Shaykh Hasan Cisse (also Sise or Seesay), was an Islamic scholar, Sufi shaykh and humanitarian activist who served as Imam of an international Muslim community in Medina Baye (or "Baay") in Kaolack, Senegal, West Africa.
He is the son of Sidi Ali Cisse and Fatima Zahra Niasse; and grandson of Ibrahim Niass, also spelled "Niasse" (d. 1975), who was a Shaykh of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order and head of the largest Muslim community in twentieth-century West Africa and initiator of the largest branch of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order.
Shaykh Hassan has himself become one of the preeminent leaders of Tijaniyyah, leading millions of followers in more than 40 countries and unifying diverse cultures under the banner of Islam.
Also a devoted humanitarian, he has campaigned against disease (especially polio, malaria and HIV-AIDS), poverty and gender, and racial and religious discrimination throughout the African continent and beyond.
He died on August 14th, 2008 in Kaolack, Senegal.
Shaykh Hassan memorized the Qur’an at an early age and was educated in the traditional Islamic sciences (Qur’an, Prophetic narrations (hadith), Arabic grammar and literature, jurisprudence, theology, poetry, logic, rhetoric and Sufism) at the hands of his grandfather, Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, and a number of other West African scholars (‘ulama), such as Ahmad Thiam and his own father, Sidi Ali Cisse, in Medina Baye.
He also spent years studying in Mauritania and in Egypt, and he obtained a B.A. in Arabic Literature and Islamic Studies from Cairo’s Ain Shams University.
More recently, Al-Azhar University recognized his credentials as an Islamic scholar of distinction with an honorary degree.
During his early travels in Mauritania, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Ghana, he received more than 600 scholarly authorizations, or ijaza, from prominent Islamic scholars.
But his most cherished education remained that at the hands of his grandfather, Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse.
It was Shaykh Ibrahim who sent him Britain to learn English.
He received his M.A. in English from the University of London in 1974.
Later, he began a PhD in Islamic Studies at Northwestern University (Chicago, U.S.A.), but was forced to suspend his studies when his father died in 1982, and he returned to assume the imamate in Medina Baye in Kaolack, Senegal.
He is fluent in Arabic, French, Hausa, English, and Wolof, his native language.
In addition to his position of Imam in Medina Baye, Shaykh Hassan Cisse is the Founder and Chairman of the African American Islamic Institute, a UN recognized non-governmental organization that promotes education, protection of women and children, health care, and interfaith dialogue between the U.S. and West Africa.
He is President of El-Hajj Ibrahim Niasse University in Dakar, Senegal; President of the African Islamic Organization for Population and Development; Special Advisor for Islamic Affairs for the Republic of Ghana; and Honorary Member of the Ulama League of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
As a distinguished Shaykh of the world-wide Tijaniyyah Sufi order, he has followers outside of sub-Saharan Africa in such diverse places as Libya, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Trinidad.
He has been especially influential in spreading Islam and the Tijaniyyah in the United States, the Caribbean and South Africa.
The Shaykh has a track record of working with diverse Islamic organizations (Organization of the Islamic Conference, Azhar University) governments (Senegal, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria), international aid organizations (WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International) for the promotion of his stated mission of the education, well-being and mutual understanding of humankind; believing, “Investing in humanity is an investiture in God.”
Here is a video of the shaykh (God have mercy on him) giving a talk at a seminar on Sufism -
English Khutbah by Sheikh Hassan Cisse (1 of 3) - listen to it - "the best of wara' is to stop all the forbidden things" ....
The Qalandariyah, Qalandaris or "kalandars" are wanderering Sufi dervishes. The term covers a variety of sects, not centrally organized. One was founded by Qalandar Yusuf al-Andalusi of Andalusia, Spain.
Starting in the early 12th century, the movement gained popularity in Greater Khorasan and neighbouring regions. The first references are found in 11th century prose text Qalandarname (The Tale of the Kalandar) attributed to Ansarī Harawī. The term Qalandariyyat (the Qalandar condition) appears to be first applied by Sanai Ghaznavi (d 1131) in seminal poetic works where diverse practices are described. Particular to the qalandar genre of poetry are terms that refer to gambling, games, intoxicants and Nazar ila'l-murd - themes commonly referred to as kufriyyat or kharabat.
The writings of qalandars were not a mere celebration of libertinism, but antinomial practices of affirmation from negative action. The order was often viewed suspiciously by authorities.
The term remains in popular culture. Sufi qawwali singers the Sabri brothers favoured the chant dam a dam masta qalandar (Oh go, go, crazy Qalandar!), and a similar refrain appeared in a hit song from a Bollywood movie that became a dancefloor crossover hit in the 1990s.
Mudpie - I do not know much about this tariqat, but it does appear peculiarly unconventional. However, the whole concept of the Qalandariyyah is, as I gather from the readings, meant to be strange and unconventional, deliberately not complying to accepted norms. It has existed for a long time, though.
Click on the pic to go to the website ....
Anyway, he has a website from his university which contains a treasure trove of information on Sufism.
He does not mention Singapore nor much of Malaysia in his list. I guess it indicates what sort of impression we left on him .....
Click on the pic to go to the site....
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos, right, extend their gloved fists skyward during the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner" after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200-meter run in the 1968 Olympics.
In Mudpie's mind, one of the most indelible images that inspired him as a young student was that of the two black Americans who put up their black gloved fists during the playing of their nation's national anthem, after they have won the race for that very same nation. A little reading subsequently led him to realise the full extent of the courage of these men, how they sacrificed their Olympic gold medals for a cause - to have their nation treat them fairly at home as they deserve to be treated, regardless of their race.
Racism is a loaded accusation thrown about, even in Singapore. However, it is just one genus of the larger species of bigotry. Just as many Malays in Singapore, or Muslims in the world, are quick to yell out "racism!", we are ourselves often as guilty of the same when we accuse others "kafir!" or "Jew!" or "homo!". The problem about bigotry is that it judges people by their label, and not by who they are.
God the Exalted tells us in the Qur'an - O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
Mudpie was inspired by this incident to be aware of the dignity that is endowed by God the Exalted to all humans, and incidentally one of the 5 things the sharee'ah is meant to preserve honour.
To not judge people by their label, that is to preserve their honour.
And honour is in he who honours others.
Read the article in the New York Times.
The Muslim world is not up there with the glamour nations llike China, Russia and the USA in medal tallies, but it has its share of inspirations. For as much as sports is becoming more and more commercialised now, here are a few Muslims whom Mudpie believes are inspirational stories in themselves.
Two women athletes from the Arab world, who stand strong and free in the face of other veiled, cloistered ones.
A swimmer who had clocked faster than Phelps, from an Arab desert nation. He was suspended for amphetamine use, and had his world championships stripped in disgrace. However, he did not retire in ignominy, but came back after the suspension and proved that he was great even without the drugs. That took courage and determination.
An Iranian fighter from the earthquake city of Bam who sold his medals to charity for eathquake victims.
The least we could do is know who they are.
Hadi Saei Bonehkohal Bostan Abad (Persian: هادی ساعی بونه كُهل} , born June 10, 1976 ) is an Iranian Taekwondo athlete who became the most successful iranian athlete in Olympic history after snatching gold in the 2008 Summer Olympics. He competed in the Men's 68 kg (featherweight) at the 2004 Summer Olympics and won the gold medal. In addition, He competed in the Men's 80 kg at the 2008 Summer Olympics and won his second olympic gold. In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney he won bronze.
|Competitor for Iran|
|Bronze||2000 Sydney||68 kg|
|Gold||2004 Athens||68 kg|
|Gold||2008 Beijing||80 kg|
In the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Saei's gold medal was really important for all Iranian athletes who participated in this year's Olympic games. Saei was the last Iranian athlete to compete. Iran's hope to avoid its worst Olympics showings was resting on Saei's shoulders. By winning his gold medal, Saei ensured that Iran was leaving Beijing with a better result than their poor showing at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, where they bagged only one bronze medal. Full results of Iran's medals in the history of the Summer Olympic games can be found in the 'Medal tables' in Iran at the Olympics.
He was born in Tehran, Iran. He has been practicing Tae Kwon Do since he was six years old. Having previously competed in Lightweight (67-72 kg), he is the 1999 World Champion and 2003 World Championship silver medallist. When Iranian town of Bam, Iran was devastated in the 2003 earthquake, Saei put his medals on auction to raise money for the victims.
He has been World Champion in the Tae Kwon Do World Championships 7 times and was recently awarded the title of 'Best Tae Kwon Do Player of all Time' by the International Board. Currently, he is a senior at the Iran Physical Education University.
He has suffered great personal tragedy, having lost his brother and father in the same year, and the death of his younger brother, who succumbed to cancer the following year.
|Competitor for Morocco|
|Silver||2004 Athens||800 m|
|Bronze||2008 Beijing||800 m|
|Competitor for Tunisia|
|Gold||2008 Beijing||1500 m freestyle|
On December 1, 2006, Oussama Mellouli beat Michael Phelps in the 400m IM at the US Open in West Lafayette. Mellouli clocked 4:15.61, ahead of Phelps with 4:18.32.
Soraya Haddad (born September 30, 1984) is an Algerian judoka.
|Competitor for Algeria|
|Bronze||2008 Beijing||Judo -52 kg|
She won the bronze medal in the Judo -52 kg weight class at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She was African champion three times: 2004, 2005 and 2008, and also a bronze medalist in the -48 kg category in the 2005 World Championships in Egypt. She was born in El-Kseur, Algeria.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 - Global sales of new Islamic bonds in 2008 will struggle to match last year's $16 billion due to the credit crisis, the world's top sukuk arranger said on Wednesday, contrary to views that the industry would shelter investors scarred by the credit crunch.
Islamic bonds have to be backed by assets and generally eschew the complex, opaque structures of its conventional peers which led to the subprime crisis.
Islamic law, or the sharia, also forbids speculative contracts, which some bankers say help shield investors from excessive risk.
But Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, chief executive of CIMB Islamic Bank, said the $1 trillion industry does not offer absolute protection from the credit woes afflicting conventional markets.
"The sukuk market is essentially a credit market, you can't run away from that. It is asset-based, therefore it gives a greater comfort level to the investors," Badlisyah told reporters after launching an Islamic fund.
"Notwitstanding that, it still goes back to the credit capacity and credit risk of the obligor. So when there is a credit crunch in the market, automatically there is an impact."
He said it would be "very difficult" for total new sukuk issues this year to reach the $16 billion mark logged in 2007, with some issuers expected to hold off until next year.
"This year I don't think we will surpass that mark," Badlisyah said. "If the market is difficult, it's not good for them to come now so they'll probably wait a little bit longer."
Several issuers such as Qatar's Doha Bank's
But some firms such as Dubai Electricity and Water Authority have recently tapped the Islamic market after earlier putting on hold their fund-raising plan.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore firm City Developments
Badlisyah said the infrastructure sector would remain the most active issuer of sukuk this year, with most sales likely to emerge from the Gulf and Malaysia.
Malaysia has the world's largest Islamic bond market. At the end of 2007, it accounted for about 60 percent of the global sukuk outstanding worth around $100 billion, the central bank has said.
About $10 billion of Islamic bonds have been issued globally this year, Badlisyah added.
CIMB Islamic is part of CIMB Group, which is listed on the Malaysian stock exchange through Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
The series is a creation of Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, founder and C.E.O. of Teshkeel Media Group. The creative team for The 99 is composed of comic book industry veterans such as Fabian Nicieza, Stuart Moore, Dan Panosian, John McCrea and Sean Parsons – all of whom have worked at both Marvel and DC Comics.
Although the series is based in Islamic concepts, it is promoted as appealing to universal virtues, and the religion of each character is not made explicit.Members of The 99 are ordinary teenagers and adults from across the globe, who come into possession of one of the 99 mystical Noor Stones (Ahjar Al Noor, Stones of Light) and find themselves empowered in a specific manner. All dilemmas faced by The 99 will be overcome through the combined powers of three or more members. Through this, The 99 series aims to promote values such as cooperation and unity throughout the Islamic world. Although the series is not religious, it aims to communicate Islamic virtues which are, as viewed by Dr. Al-Mutawa, universal in nature.
The concept of The 99 is based on the 99 attributes of Allah. Many of these names refer to characteristics that can be possessed by human individuals. For example – generosity, strength, faithfulness, wisdom are all virtues encouraged by a number of faiths.
In compliance with islamic tradition, the Arabic version of the aliases of each of the 99 is written without the definite article "Al-", because use of this precise form is exclusive to Allah. This serves to remind that The 99 are only mortals, and sets them as human role models, with their qualities and weaknesses.
Those of the 99 who have been revealed thus far are:
- Jabbar, The Powerful;
- Noora, The Light;
- Darr, The Afflicter;
- Jami, The Assembler;
- Widad, The Loving;
- Fatah, The Opener;
- Mumita, The Destroyer;
- Raqib, The Watcher;
- Bari, The Healer;
- Sami, The Hearer;
- Soora, The Organiser;
- Hadya, The Guide;
- Rafie,The Lifter;
- Fatah, The Opener;
- Baqi, The Everlasting.
A character known as Batina the Hidden has also been mentioned in interviews as an example of the variety of depictions of female characters in the comic - she will be the only one wearing a burqua out of the 40 female characters in the main cast.
Mudpie downloaded the free copy and liked the quality of artwork. The story is not bad, either, and has the look and feel of a Marvel comic. Great things : the girls are not dressed in revealing costumes that is the usual in comics, and the heroes are multiracial, with an Indonesian and a Filipino hero. Also, the girls kick their own share of ass, not like the wimpy tudung-clad Malay girls in Malaysian comics. Apparently this is banned in Saudi Arabia - reeeally?
Monday, August 18, 2008
In Europe and America, the bastions of religious freedom, things are not so simple, and our Muslim counterparts face numerous challenges in building mosques.
Mudpie has sympathy for them.
However, looking at some of the mosque designs intended, Mudpie wonders if our Muslim brethren were not also to some extent, insensitive to the feelings of their neighbours.
I mean, build a giant mosque with a 50m minaret in the middle of Germany's cultural capital?
Is that not downright provocative?
Could they not have built a more generic looking building with European flavour, instead of something that looks like the Taj Mahal?
Are they building a place of worship to establish Islam in the hearts of their neighbours, or are they building an Indian restaurant?
In his Malay speech at his annual National Day Rally, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said these include giving a boost to madrasah or Islamic religious education.
"I have discussed these ideas with Minister—in—Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim and the Malay MPs. They have sounded out community leaders and received support for these ideas," said Prime Minister Lee.
Last year, three full—time madrasahs — or religious schools — came together to form the Joint Madrasah System.
Working with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore or MUIS, they aim to raise the quality of madrasah education. But to do this, they need more resources.
Prime Minister Lee, speaking at the Rally on Sunday, said one way is to tap on the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF), which is currently used for the mosque building programme and also to fund the activities of Mendaki — the community’s self—help group.
But this would mean raising the monthly contribution rates. Contributions are made through deductions from Malay/Muslim employees’ salaries. And as income goes up, the amount contributed goes up too. Currently, those earning under S$2,000 a month contribute at least a dollar, while those making over $4,000 give up to $7.50. They can opt to give more.
Mr Lee gave the assurance that the new contribution rates will be affordable, especially for those earning less.
The Prime Minister also suggested using money from the MBMF to breathe new life into old mosques, under a new mosque upgrading programme. This will help older mosques keep up with the new—generation mosques, which he said, are in a different class. Older mosques are also showing signs of wear and tear.
"It is apparent that the old mosques need a new lease of life. This can be done by upgrading and adding new facilities to our old mosques. For example, we can provide activity rooms for youths, and lifts and ramps for the elderly. The community can then enjoy mosques which are up—to—date, and meet the needs of the modern Muslim community," said Mr Lee.
Another suggestion is to tap on the MBMF for resources to tackle the problem of dysfunctional families among the community which continue to be a concern for him. Mendaki is working with Malay/Muslim organisations to mobilise the whole community and the government, said Mr Lee, is supporting this.
Mr Lee said that in making the changes to the monthly contribution scheme and religious education, it should be remembered that Singapore is a multi—racial and multi—religious society. So, even when practising our religious beliefs, there is a need to strengthen national togetherness.
On that note, Mr Lee said the Malay/Muslim community should continue to participate in other grassroots activities and also pour more resources into the study of English, Mathematics and Science. This is to ensure that the community continues to make economic and social progress.
Mudpie puzzles -
I checked the MUIS website after reading this, but could not find the accounts or at least the figure collected by the Mosque Building Fund last year. Granted, that there is probably a need to increase the collection amount, but transparency and good governance dictates that how much is collected and how it is spent should be made easily available, especially at a time when such a announcement is made.
THE Malay-Muslim community should stay engaged with the other races through community and grassroots activities even as they maintain their traditions and religious beliefs, Prime Minister Lee Hsient Loong said in his annual address to the nation on Sunday night.
He also urged mosques to organise events with out community groups to strengthen multi-racial and multi-religious links.
'This is how we have kept our society cohesive and harmonious. We must treasure this precious achievement, and do our best to keep it this way.'
He lauded one event which he attended recently as a good example of an activity which reached out to other communities.
The Rahmatan Lil Alamin (Blessings to All) event at the Al-Iman Mosque in Bukit Panjang organised a blood donation drive and provided meals for poor Singaporeans of all races and religions.
Said Mr Lee: 'The food was cooked by volunteers from all the mosques in Singapore. I did not donate blood but I was lucky to enjoy the delicious nasi briyani.'
Summing up his Malay speech, he said the Malay-Muslim community here is building a progressive and well-integrated community of excellence.
'The spirit of the community is strong, united and confident,' he added, pledging that the Government would continue to give full backing and support to the community.
Upgrade older mosques
IT is time to focus on upgrading older mosques, now that community efforts to build new and modern mosques have proven successful.
To do this, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday night suggested starting a mosque upgrading programme.
'This can be done by upgrading and adding new facilities to our old mosques. For example we can provide activity rooms for youths and lifts and ramps for the elderly,' he said.
'The community can then enjoy mosques which are up-to-date, and meet the needs of the modern Muslim community.'
Mr Lee made these comments as he praised the Malay community?s success in building mosques in new Housing Board estates for over 30 years.
Money for this comes from the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund. Working Muslims contribute to it, giving monthly donations, ranging from $2 to $11, depending on their salary. Wealthy Muslims can choose to give more.
So far, 22 mosques have been built, and the 23rd, Al-Mawaddah Mosque in Sengkang, will be ready by December.
Mr Lee also suggested hiving off some of the fund to boost religious education programmes
One beneficiary could be the joint madrasah system. Three of the six madrasahs here come under the system, as part of an initiative to lift academic standards at Islamic religious schools here.
Mr Lee said that the schools need more resources to upgrade their programmes. They have been raising funds on their own and getting support from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).
The Government had considered funding them, he said, but felt it would be difficult to justify this, as madrasahs do not come under the state school system.
So this is where the Malay-Muslim community can step in to support them, he said.
What a wonderful National Day present! We got a silver medal! Well done Wang Yuegu, Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei! Our first Olympic medals in over half a century.
Since we're all watching the Olympics, and should be patriotically proud of our national table tennis team's silver medal achievement, I thought it would be good to also know a little bit more about the state of Islam in China.
After all, we are all so focused on the rising dragon in all other aspects, we should also keep track of this aspect.
I found a blog about China Muslims that is not the usual fundamentalist rant about how they are being oppressed, etc.
You know, just like how most Muslims from majority-Muslim countries always seem to think that we Singaporean Muslims are all suffering, oppressed and in need of liberation from Satanic non-Muslim governments who are killing us with better democratic rights, religious freedom and economic opportunities than their own "Islamic" countries? (I know that they mean well, but it is no different from when the Europeans "modernised" us for our own good, to be like them).
So before we jump on the "oppressed Muslim" bandwagon with the rest of the jihadi bunch, I suggest that we hear something about China Islam from China Muslims, instead of people in the Mideast.
Of interest in this blog is an article on the hadith "Seek knowledge even to China" - we've heard that it is not authentic, right? Really? Think again.
Did you know that the Chinese Muslims could write Chinese with Arabic letters, like we write Malay in Jawi? They call it Xiao'erjing. Here's an example -
Here's an old kitab in Xiao'erjing Chinese translation of Arabic on the left -
Also, I bet you did not know that in Chinese, halal is called qīngzhēn cài (清真菜) or "pure truth food." A mosque is called qīngzhēn sì (清真寺) or "pure truth temple.".
Friday, August 15, 2008
Sha'ban is a significant month. The Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) said - Rajab is God's month, Sha'ban is my month and Ramadan is my people's (ummat) month.
The moon is split
In the month of Sha'ban was the incident the moon was split as mentioned in the Qurna in surah al-Qamar : 1 - the end is near and the moon is split.
The command to selawat
The command to selawat (praise) as stated in surah al-Ahzab:56 was sent in this month - Indeed God and the angels selawat on the Prophet. Oh you who believe, selawat on him and give him the best of greetings.
The change of the qiblat
The command from God the Exalted to change the qiblat from Masjidil Aqsa in Palestine to Masjidil Haran in Makkah took place in this month in the year 8 AH. This is stated in the Qur'an in surah al-Baqaerah:144 - Turn your faces to the direction of Masjidil Haram.
The Ascension of Deeds
Every Monday and Thursday, God the Exalted raises the deeds of a Muslim that was done in that week.
Every Sha'ban God the Exalted raises the deeds of a Muslim that was done in that year.
Every Lailatul Qadr God the Exalted raises the deeds of a Muslim that was done in his/her life.
As such, we find the Prophet (prayers and peace be on him) fasted on every Monday and Thursday, as well as often in Sha'ban. When asked he (prayers and peace be on him) said - This is the month wherein deeds are raised to God the Master of the Universe, and I would like it that when my deeds are raised, I am in a state of fasting.
The righteous of the past increased their worship on the eve of Nisfu Sha'ban. Amongst the things they did were -
To recite the surah YaSin
Recite the surah al-Fatihah and YaSin as as many as 3 times with the correct intentions (see my earlier post) followed by the doa of nisfu Sha'ban (below).
To pray tahajjud
Increase the optional (sunnah) prayers at night. This was the practice of our Master the Prophet of God (prayer and peace of God on him). Our Mistress Aishah (may God be pleased with her) said - so long was his prostration that I thought he had passed away.
To perform the tahajjud prayer at night brings great reward. The Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) ever said - two raka'at prayer at night is a treasure amongst the treasures of goodness.
The Prophet (prayer and peace be on him) encouraged fasting on the day of Nisfu Sha'ban as stated - If it is the eve of nisfu Sha'ban, arise at night and fast on its day.
Fasting here means to fast on the 15th of Sha'ban, not the 14th. It means the day after recitation of surah YaSin 3 times with the doa.
The intention of the fast is - I fast tomorrow in the day of nisfu Sha'ban as sunnat because of God the Exalted.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The Names of the Eve of Nisfu Sha'ban
Abul Khair al Talaqaani (God have mercy on him) counted the names of the eve of nisfu Sha'ban as many as twenty-two. Amongst them that are well known are -
The Night of Granting of Prayers
The eve of nisfu Sha'ban is the night wherein God the Exalted grants requests. There are so many hadeeth from the Prophet (prayer and peace of God on him) that explain this. Amongst them is a hadith from Imam al-Sayuti from Ibnu Asaakir from Abi Umamah (God have mercy on him) - the Prophet (prayer and peace of God on him) said, on five nights no prayer is rejected. The first night of Rajab and the even of nisfu Sha'ban, and the eve of Friday, and the eve of Eidul Fitr, and the eve of Eidul Adha.
Ibn Omar (God have mercy on him) narrated - on five nights no prayer is rejected. The eve of Friday and the first night of the month of Rajab and the eve of nisfu Sha'ban and the night of Lailatul Qadr and the two eves of Eid.
The Night of Allocation of Fate
The eve of nisfu Sha'ban is also called the night of determination, allocation and fate. On this night God the Exalted determines the fate of a person as to whether his/her provisions are increased or decreased. Whether his/her age will be extended or shortened. Whether there will be any decree of God the Exalted that will be handed down.
Imam an-Naablusi related that the Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) ever said - Indeed the prayer on this night will not be rejected.
Therefore the learned of the past recited the famous prayer of nisfu Sha'ban that contains - the eve of nisfu Sha'ban in the blessed month of Sha'ban completes every mater that contains wisdom and determination.
Clearly God the Exalted may amend fate that is predetermined if He wishes to, as stated by Him in the Qur'an in surah al-Hadid verse 2 - And He is Most Powerful over all things.
Imam as-Shafi'e (God have mercy on him) often prayed with the famous prayer - Oh God, Oh the Sublime, we beseech from You gentleness in the fate that You decree.
So also in a hadith where the Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) said - the decree of God cannot be moved except by prayer.
The Night of Mercy
The eve of nisfu Sha'ban is the night where God the Exalted sends down mercy. In a hadith, the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) said - Indeed God is merciful to my ummat (my people) on this night as numerous as the strands of wool on the sheep of Bani Kalb.
Bani Kalb was a tribe in Yemen.
The similitude of what is said by the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) illustrates how much the mercy of God is sent down on that night. There is not a single person from the past to this day who will be able to count the strands of wool on one sheep, let alone of a tribe.
Therefore, would it not be a great loss to those who pass the opportunity to receive this great mercy? When God the Exalted gives mercy to us, it means God gives ease, happiness, peace, joy, pleasure, enjoyment and tranquility. This is mercy. And mercy is sent by God the Exalted so much to those who worship and keep alive the eve of Nisfu Sha'ban.
The Night of Blessing
A person who has blessings will have a joyful life. Even if his earnings are little, his spending will be sufficient. No borrowings. No worries even though others may perceive him as poor.
Food that contains blessing will be sufficient, even if not much in amount. Crops that contain blessing will provide greater yield and be of use. Blessing means a lot of goodness.
Our Mistress Aishah (may God be pleased with her) narrated a hadith from the Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) - God the Exalted pours forth goodness on four nights of pouring, the even of Eidul Adha, the eve of Eidul Fitri, the eve of Nisfu Sha'ban and the eve of Arafah.
The Night of Forgiveness
For the people who have sinned, this night is the one to ask for forgiveness from God the Exalted, because this is the great night of forgiveness.
Imam al-Tirmizi and Ibn Maajah narrated a hadith from Our Mistress Aishah (may God be pleased with her) that the Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) in this matter said - God the Exalted gives forgiveness more than the strands of wool on the sheep of Bani Kalb.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (may God have mercy on him) brings a hadith in his Musnad - Indeed God the Exalted has come on the eve of Nisfu Sha'ban to his slaves and forgives men on earth except for the mushrik (idolators) and mushahin (schismatics).
In another hadith from our Mistress Aishah (may God be pleased with her), the Prophet (prayer and peace of God be on him) said - Oh Humairah (Aishah's pet name), do you know what is this night? This is the eve of Nisfu Sha'ban. Indeed God the Exalted on this night releases from hellfire as many as the strands of wool on the sheep of Bani Kalb. I asked, O Prophet of God, what is the connection with the sheep of Bani Kalb? He (prayer and peace of God be on him) answered, there is no tribe amongst the Arabs that has more sheep than they do. However, I say that it does not include six types of people : those who persevere to drink alcohol, those who persevere in usury and fornication, those who sever ties between people, the makers of idols and those who spread lies.
Al Allamah As Sheikh Abdul Hamid Quds, the scholar of the sacred mosque of Makkah, in his book Kanzun Najaah, added to this the collectors of taxes that are forbidden by Islam, people who are arrogant, and oppressive traders (or those who lie on oath).
There is narration that add sorcerers, idolators, fortune tellers, murderers and those who kill themselves.
Sins such as these require repentance before God the Exalted sends down forgiveness of them.
Repentance has three cautions -
First - to know truly that what was done was wrong in the eyes of religion.
Second - to feel sorry for what was done.
Third - to vow to oneself with utmost sincerity that one will never do it again.
The Night of Redemption
The eve of Nisfu Sha'ban is said to be the night of redemption. This can be seen in several hadith wherein the Prophet of God (prayers and peace of God be on him) fasted very much in the month of Sha'ban. Whenever asked, the Prophet (prayers and peace of God be on him) said that it was to redeem sins of a year.
The Night of Intercession
Abu Mansur Mohammaed Ibn Abdullah Al-Hakim An-Naisaaburi (may God have mercy on him) named it the night of intercession. He based this on a hadith wherein the Prophet (prayers and peace of God be on him) said that Jibril (may God grant him peace) had come to him and said, indeed God the Exalted has released from hell fire half of your people and some of them received full intercession (on the eve of Nisfu Sha'ban).
(to be continued, insha Allah... )
(All errors are mine)
Nisfu in Arabic means half. Nisfu Shaban means the half of Sha'ban.
The night of nisfu Sha'ban is the 15th night, that is, its day is the 14th of Sha'ban.
It has become the practice of the righteous since the ancient times to recite surah YaSin on that night with 3 requests.
The first YaSin is read with a request for a long life in obedience to Allah the Exalted.
The second YaSin is read with a request to keep tribulation away.
The third YaSin is read with a request for a rich heart and a good end (husnul khatimah) or to be without need for the aid of others.
(Alhabib Muhammad bin Salem Alattas read the third YaSin with the intent of husnul khatimah and any requests of oneself.)
After completing each reading of the surah YaSin is read the doa nisfu Sha'ban, usually in congregation, in the manner composed by Imam Abdulrahman al-Yafie.
The benefits of reciting the surah Yasin
The reciting on the night of nisfu sha'ban has become a practice of the learned and the righteous for hundreds of years.
The surah is not long, and is frequently recited in group and contains great blessings.
Amongst with, the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, ever said - whosoever recites the surah Yasin once, it is written by Allah the Exalted for him as if he had recited the Qur'an ten times.
If it is asked is there any one who is able to recite the Qur'an ten times in a night, the answer would yes, it would be possible, but for most it is not possible.
As such, God be praised, those who recite the surah YaSin as many as 3 times on the night of nisfu Sha'ban will receive the merit of reciting the Qur'an 30 times.
The Prophet prayer and peace be on him, often explained that Allah the Exalted gives rewards for each letter of the Qur'an that is recited.
Do not consider "Alif Lam Meem" as one letter, but Alif as one letter, Lam as one letter, and Meem as one letter.
The Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, said - for every thing there is a heart, and the heart of the Qur'an is the Surah YaSin.
He prayer and peace be on him, also said - the YaSin is read for a thing, and for that it is (that is, the surah YaSin is read with whatever intent whatsoever).
The Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, said also - Whosoever recites YaSin, his sins sill be forgiven by God; and whosoever recites it whilst hungry, God will fill him; and whosoever recites it whilst lost, God will guide; whosoever recites it whilst in loss, God will make him find; whosoever recites it over food out of worry that it is not sufficient, God will give him sufficiency; whosoever recites it over a dying person, God will ease the death; whosoever recites it over a birthing woman, God will ease the birthing.
There are numerous hadith that show the greatness of the surah YaSin.
So also there are numerous hadith from the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, that enourage worship and prayer on the night of nisfu Sha'ban.
Therefore it would be wise for one to begin his/her worship with reciting the surah YaSin that forms the heart of the Qur'an and thereafter to pray to God the Exalted.
The Eve of Nisfu Sha'ban
The eve itself is full of blessing and mercy, second only to the night of Power (Laylatul Qadr).
Our Mistress Aishah, may God be pleased with her, relates that our Master the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, did not sleep on that night as described in a hadith narrated by Imam al-Baihaqy r.a. - the Prophet of God, prayer and peace be on him, rose in the night (of nisfu sha'ban) and prayed, and so long was his prostration that I thought he had passed on. When I saw that I touched his toe and he moved. Then I drew back and heard him, prayer and peace be on him, say in his prostration, "O God, I ask forgiveness from You from whatever is to be sent down, and I ask your pleasure instead of your wrath. I cannot measure praise to You as You praise Yourself. After he, prayer and peace be on him, had finished his prayer, he said to Aishah r.a., tonight is the night of nisfu sha'ban. Indeed God has come to His slave on this night and given forgiveness for them who asked for forgiveness, and gave mercy to those who give mercy, and He delays mercy and forgiveness to those who hate.
The Prophet Goes to the Cemetery of al-Baqi'
It is narrated that the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, profusely prayed on the night of nisfu Sha'ban for his ummat, those who are alive and those who have passed away. Sayidatina Aishah, may God be pleased with her, said that on that night the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, went out from home and went to the cemetery of al-Baqi', where he, prayer and peace be on him, prayed for the believing men and women, and the martyrs.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam al-Tarmizi, Imam at-Tabarani, Imam Ibn Hibban, Imam Ibn Maajah, Imam al-Baihaqqi and Imam an-Nasaai narrated numerous ahadith that demonstrate the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, blessed and honoured the night of nisfu Sha'ban with many sunnah prayers, doa, and prayers for forgiveness.
It is narrated that Kaab al-Ahbar said that God the Exalted sent, on the eve of nisfu Sha'ban, the angel Jibreel, peace be on him, to paradise and ordered him to beautify it, and amongst which He said to him, indeed God the Exalted has liberated from hellfire on this night as many as stars in the sky, as many as the days and nights in the world and as many as the leaves on the trees.
Sayidina Omar bin Abdul Aziz, may God be pleased with him, once wrote a letter to his governor in Basra, saying - Guard 4 nights in each year in which God the Exalted sends down great mercy. The first night of Rajab, the even of nisfu Sha'ban, the eve of EidulFitri, and the eve of EidulAdha.
There are some who add to these the eve of Fridays, and the eve of Arafah.
It is narrated that Sayidina Ali ibn Talib, may God ennoble his face, kept himself free for worship 4 nights in each year. The nights were the first night of Rajab, the eve of EidulFitri, the eve of EidulAdha, and the eve of nisfu Sha'ban.
(to be continued, insha Allah, tomorrow)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
All I can say is, there is a queue of people wanting to wear that label - gays, disabled, foreign brides, taxi drivers .....
The Malays have a saying - di mana bumi dipijak, di situlah langit dijunjung - Wherever on Earth the feet may trod, thereat shall the Heavens be praised.
The reason why many Singaporean Malays are not happy is because they measure themselves according to the criteria of success of other cultures - wealth, status, size of homes, how others see them. In this regard, Mudpie will only refer to the old Sufi adage - in matters of the world, compare thyself with those who have less, and be grateful, and in matters of the hereafter, compare thyself with those who have more, and be inspired.
As Malays, we should be measuring our successes on our own terms.
There are many aspects of the Malays that even other communities admire, and that over the years of my life, I have come to realise are the important KPIs.
We are kind, non-aggressive, forgiving and friendly people.
We have the tightest family ties of any community. We love to play, sing, dance, paint, perform, entertain, socialise and perform with ease all the skills that are totally useless in the non-Malay world.
We're not hung up about being richer than everyone else, because we all know that money never buys happiness.
We may not be staunchly religious, but we are, at our core, all Muslims, and you can see the most tattooed Malay bartender on Hari Raya (Eid) don his full Malay outfit and troop to the mosque to sit next to the bearded and turbaned ustaz from al-Azhar, at the end of which they would turn to each other, shake hands and ask for forgiveness - without any awkwardness whatsoever.
Whenever you go to any hospital, you will see for every 1 Muslim patient, there would be at least 10 visitors (and that does not count the kids).
In which other community do you find a hundred people dropping everything to attend at a funeral upon being informed on the same day of death?
In which other community do you find five hundred people at a void deck large enough to hold only fifty people, attending a wedding reception of someone whom they know as their father's former neighbour's daughter's ex-colleague - and not think it is strange?
We may have the lowest per capita income of all the communities, but per capita we give to charity the most. Our mosques, madrasahs, education funds, orphanages, etc are never short of funding.
Most of all, we are rich in blessings from our forefathers, amongst whom walked unnamed saints.
My advice to people who think they are being treated as second class is - in this world, you are in whatever class you imagine yourself to be.
On another note, this National Day I declare that I am proud to be Singaporean.
Patriotism to the Singaporean is always a curiously mixed sentiment.
No body really loves this country, because the physical country - in terms of buildings and places where you grew up in, and memories of events - constantly crumbles away with redevelopment, leaving no markers.
However, if we do not love Singapore the little red dot on the map, we definitely do love being Singaporean.
We love the way we can embarrassingly use Singlish like a worn and tattered but comfortable singlet that we cannot show when company arrives.
We love how, after living in a city for decades, we will still discover traditional dishes at hawker stalls that we had never before come across.
We love how, in spite of all the gripes about how dirty or slow something is here, we always complain about how clean and fast things are in Singapore whenever we are abroad.
We love how we all hate national service and reservist callups - and yet we will always talk about it for the rest of our lives even more than we do about our weddings.
We love how it feels comforting and safe to hear the plane announcement - "ladies and gentlemen, in a few moments we will be arriving at Singapore Changi Airport", just before the warning that drug trafficking attracts a death penalty.
Most of all, we love how you can always have a place to eat - everywhere.
And we all know that the crescent on the red sea in the Singapore flag secretly represents how prata and teh tarek will always save us in adversity.
Singapore is not the island; it just is the address where Singaporeans live. Singaporeans ARE Singapore.
Ok, what is National Day without a corny Singaporean music video?