Friday 21 August 2009

Ramadan Kareem, Happy Ramadan, Ramadan Mubarak

A Different Perspective On Shariah in the UK

Usually when Shariah law is mentioned in the mainstream media, we hear about hangings, stonings, amputation and women getting the short straw followed by hysterical rantings from a small section of the public. This is in contrast with the main body of Shariah laws used in British shariah courts to arbitrate. These focus on family law, finance and business. This recent Times article highlights how non-Muslim’s are turning to the Shariah courts to mediate in matters of money as a cheap, fast way of ending disputes.

"Dressed in immaculate white kurta pyjamas and with fingers interlaced, Sheikh Faiz Siddiqui leant back in his white leather chair as he listened.

Before him were two warring businessmen: a Muslim of Asian origins and his white non-Muslim partner, who had come to seek judgment on a dispute. This proved to be a run-of-the-mill squabble over whether the non-Muslim had been cheated out of the profits of their jointly owned car-fleet company by the Muslim.

What made the case out of the ordinary is that it was the the non-Muslim who had chosen to take his grievance to a religious tribunal run by imams according to the laws of sharia — an ancient Islamic code of conduct that dates back to the time of the prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.

As the story of the business unfolded, the sheikh — one of two judges presiding that day — began to suspect the Muslim businessman was not being entirely honest in his evidence. So what happened next, I asked, when I met Siddiqui at his opulent offices in Warwickshire.

“I reminded him of his vows to God,” he said. “I told him, ‘You can lie and you can cheat this other man. But realise this: one day, you will face the Day of Judgment and on that day you will face Allah himself and be punished’.”

The sheikh’s words apparently had a profound effect. The Muslim businessman promptly changed his story, admitting he had cheated, and his non-Muslim partner was awarded £48,000 in compensation by the two Muslim judges. "

Read the whole article here

Food in the Quran: Healing Honey

When in distress or difficulty Muslim’s turn to Quran or look to the tradition of their last Prophet, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) for assistance and illness is no exception. The Quran and tradition (sunnah) mention various foods in the context of their healing properties. Some of the knowledge has been part of the body of healing knowledge in Muslim communities in different countries for a very long time. It is only more recently that some of this wisdom is being supported by scientific research which proves how much healing power many of these food have.

One of these foods is honey. Both the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH)) refer to honey as a healer of disease:

'And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees and in (men's) habitations..... there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for mankind. Verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought' (Quran 16:68-9)

'Honey is a remedy for every illness and the Qur'an is a remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Qur'an and honey.' (Bukhari)

The Prophet (PBUH) has also told us of the healing found within honey for a variety of medical problems, including stomach ailments.
It is reported by Al-Bukhaari that a man came to the Prophet (PBUH) because his brother had a stomach disorder. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Let him drink honey." The man returned a second time complaining that no improvement happened in his brother’s case, and again the Prophet (PBUH) responded: "Let him drink honey." The man returned again, and said: "I have done that but to no avail." Thereupon the Prophet (PBUH) responded: "Allah has said the truth, but your brother's stomach has told a lie. Let him drink honey." He drank it and was cured. (Al-Bukhari)
Now we know for fact that honey contains antibacterial and antifungal properties, anti-diarrhoeal, wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties and anti-tussive and expectorant properties as well as nutritional value. Just one example of the practical value of the sunnah.

Benefits of Honey by Dr. Monzur Ahmed - Health Benefits Of Honey

Islamic Forum for Science and Arts - Honey

The healing power of honey: From burns to weak bones, raw honey can help

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Lena Khan’s "A Land Called Paradise"

This video was originally entered into the 2007 One Nation Many Voices film competition by the talented Lena Khan and won. The first time I watched it, I had tears in my eyes (I know, I know that is so lame!). I really love the video, the sentiments behind it and I absolutely adore the words to the sound track which is A Land Called Paradise by Kareen Salama (there is some guitar music for those who avoid music).

(Oh, and this is the first time I attempted to embed a video)

Saturday 8 August 2009

Sarah Joseph

One of the accusation levelled against Muslim’s here at times has been that they are "foreign" and cannot integrate with the English/American/Aussie "way". This is something Sarah Joseph has tried to deal with her attempts at "normalising" Muslims and trying to show that we are not all terrorists or brainwashed and oppressed but ordinary people with m mostly the same concerns as non-Muslims. One of the ways she has tried to do this is through her up-beat and stylish lifestyle magazine Emel. Her work led to her being homoured with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) from the Queen.

"Where are the 'normal' Muslims in the media? Where are the police officers, nurses, dentists - the aspirational people who make an ordinary Muslim picking up the paper think, 'Look, they made it, I can too'? That's one of the reasons we created Emel. You need to present different faces, that aren't all spouting anti-Western diatribes." (Evening Standard, 20 July 2005)

"I'm a person of faith and I believe a person of faith must be optimistic. I see young people who are involved at every level of British society - articulate, clever, inspirational individuals who feel strongly that they have to benefit this society and be part of Muslim society. I think that Muslims have the capacity to give a lot. As long as people start seeing Islam as part of the solution and not part of the problem they will go a long way. " (The Guardian, 30 November 2004)

Articles by Sarah Joseph:

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Muslim’s with Humour?!!?

Muslim’s aren’t exactly famous around the world for their humour which is a shame because I am sure that we have the same proportion of irreverent, cheeky, funny and probably humourless adherents as any other faith does. The news and media may not make it look that way, but I have come across enough funny Muslim’s to know we can have a sense of humour.

The exception for us is ridiculing any part of our faith as we believe that Islam is divinely inspired and because this would effectively place us outside of our faith as non-believers. This coupled with our love for our Creator and our beloved prophet Muhammad (PBUH –long version) is why there was such a passionate (though perhaps not the most well thought-out) response to both Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses and the horrible Danish cartoons ridiculing our Prophet (PBUH).

That aside, in recent years there is emerging some real Islamic humour with a message and one example of this is Musab Bora’s hilarious blog Mr Moo. A scroll back through his blog throws up such great finds as the very, very funny Muslim Lolcatz and his satirical The Islamicist which won the 2007 Brass Crescent Award for the blog most deserving of wider recognition.

Musab Bora's article in the Guardian - Muslims: a funny lot

Abu Hurairah said that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was told, “O Prophet of Allah, you are joking with us.” He said, “I only say what is true.” (Tirmithi)

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Positive Muslim News

Mash'Allah as I was looking for content for this blog, I found Sister Samana Siddiqui's blog Positive Muslim News which has been detailing examples of positive Muslim's since 2004, gleaning interesting articles from all over the net. Head over when you need a smile.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Positive Hijab

I read this excellent article a while ago, by Sultana Yusufali, then aged 17 and a Toronto high school student who had written for the Toronto Star Young People's Press:

Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this Earth. But it is the vessel of an intelligent mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements to sell everything from beer to cars. Because of the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are so stressed that the value of the individual counts for almost nothing. It is a myth that women in today's society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being "checked out''?

When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly say no. I made this decision out of my own free will. I like the fact that I am taking control of the way other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don't give anyone anything to look at and that I have released myself from the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females. My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me how I should look or whether or not I am beautiful. I know that there is more to me than that. I am also able to say no comfortably when people ask me if I feel as though my sexuality is being repressed. I have taken control of my sexuality.

You can read the full article here.

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William Dalrymple Articles

William Dalrymple is one of my favourite authors and his articles on Pakistan (1,2,3) stand out for the level of research and knowledge in them when most journalists and writers just go for the "Pakistan is doomed as a failed state" line (without actually having been to Pakistan or met many Pakistani's).

In the same way although I don't agree with everything he writes, his articles on Islam are usually well-informed. Two I enjoyed were his New Statesman cover story on Islamophobia:

As Jason Burke points out at the end of his excellent book Al-Qaeda, "The greatest weapon in the war on terrorism is the courage, decency, humour and integrity of the vast proportion of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. It is this that is restricting the spread of al-Qaeda, not the activities of counter-terrorism experts. Without it, we are lost. There is indeed a battle between the west and men like Bin Laden. But it is not a battle for global supremacy. It is a battle for hearts and minds. And it is a battle that we, and our allies in the Muslim world, are currently losing."

and his refutation of the nonsense the Islamophobe Martin Amis has been spouting:

It is the lack of nuance that is most alarming. For Amis, all Islamists are the same, whether mass-murdering jihadis, or completely non-violent but religiously conservative democrats. Nor is it just the militant Islamists he dislikes: ordinary Muslims are regarded with equal contempt. He writes, with deep distaste, of “the writhing moustaches of Pakistan” and “the shoving, jabbing, jeering brotherhood” that Christopher Hitchens encounters in Peshawar. It seems, to Amis, that people’s religion and ethnicity can remove them from rational discourse, and relegate them to the position of untermenschen.

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Niqab Mythbusting

Although I don't wear niqab (the face-veil), I have a lot of respect for women who do. I really enjoyed this article in the Times by Fatima Barkatulla, regular columnist on SISTERS, the magazine for 'fabulous Muslim women', setting right people's misconceptions about niqab and the people that wear them:

None of the niqab-wearing women who I know, wear it because they have been forced to. They see it as an act of devotion to their Creator: the culmination of a spiritual journey. In fact most of them are women who were born and brought up in the UK; many are White or Afro-Caribbean Muslim converts to Islam who have chosen to observe it. The hijab, niqab and abaya are outer garments and are worn only when outdoors or in the presence of men who are not close relatives and so, contrary to popular belief, underneath their robes, in family and female-only settings Muslim women are often very fashion conscious and outgoing. They dress in everyday clothing; they get their hair done, go on holiday and even buy lingerie!

You can read the whole article here

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