Articles of Interest, January 17th, 2008

Happy 66th Birthday Muhammad Ali!!!

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on January 17, 1942) is a retired American boxer and former three-time World Heavyweight Champion and winner of an Olympic Light-heavyweight gold medal. In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and the BBC.

Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who was named for the 19th century abolitionist and politician Cassius Clay. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964 and subsequently converted to Islam in 1975.

  • Not to steal the thunder of the many sites out there that pay him homage, or wikipedia, I just wanted to remind people that when you are ready to blame all Muslims and Islam for the terror acts committed by a few, remember that the Greatest of All Time is A Muslim, one of the Most recognizable and celebrated Americans is A Muslim, one of the great peacemakers, servant of the oppressed, and charity givers, is A Muslim. Happy Birthday Muhammad Ali, your an inspiration not only to Muslims, but to all Americans and the world.

Obama’s spiritual mentor

CHICAGO – The packed house at Trinity United – some 3,000 in all – had been in the pews for almost two hours, energized by a 200-voice choir and a rousing dance performance Sunday, when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright stepped up to speak.

Wright is well-known in Chicago and in the black church world for taking over a small United Church of Christ congregation in 1972 and turning it into an 8,000-member powerhouse. More recently, his name has become familiar as the longtime spiritual mentor of Barack Obama, who joined the church in 1988 – a move Obama says was important to shaping his identity as an African-American.

The connection has thrown a spotlight on some of Wright’s more controversial remarks in a church that advertises itself as “unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian” – at times espousing a black liberation theology that can sound as exclusionary as Obama’s message is inclusionary. He has also equated Zionism with racism.

On Sunday morning – amid intensified crossfire between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama over the use of race in the Democratic presidential campaign – Wright was preaching from the Gospel of John, using his powerful style to link the story of the loaves and fishes to a contemporary political message.

Man should not put limits on what God can do, but that’s what people always do, he told the crowd. Just as God made five loaves and two fishes feed thousands, God has provided liberators for blacks in the past – from Nat Turner to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and now Barack Obama. But, Wright said, there were always reasons not to follow them.

Some argue that blacks should vote for Clinton “because her husband was good to us,” he continued.

“That’s not true,” he thundered. “He did the same thing to us that he did to Monica Lewinsky.”

Many in the crowd were on their feet, applauding – amazed, amused and moved by the fiery rhetoric of their preacher, who is about to retire.

  • Well, one thing is for sure, Obama is definitely a Christian 🙂 Also, I would like to remind people that a member of any congregation, church, religion, etc. Should not have to apologize for the actions, words, or deeds of another in their group, no matter who they are. Lastly, Pastor Wright was right! If Black people seriously analyzed the policies of President Clinton as they relate to blacks and black countries, we would see that there is no way Clinton could have ever been “the first black president”. Furthermore, I believe that what he did do was good in some instances, but if giving positions in the cabinet or other political offices equate “blackness” or supporting blacks, may I remind black people that under President Bush we have seen two black Secretary of States?

Rove previews strategies against Clinton, Obama

Karl Rove told a group of state Republican officials Wednesday that while the GOP primaries “are far from over,” each of the candidates can beat the top two Democrats — and the former White House aide then outlined a strategy how.

While Rove, the man President Bush called “the architect,” might have retired from the White House, he is clearly still very much engaged in the day-to-day mechanics of the presidential contests on both sides.

In an address to a group of state GOP executive directors at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) winter meeting, Rove outlined talking points for ways to defeat leading Democratic candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.). The former adviser to the president did not mention former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.).

On Clinton, Rove said the senator talks about fiscal responsibility but has introduced “$800 billion in new spending and the campaign is less than half over.”

Rove said that “the woman” wants to repeal all of Bush’s tax cuts, and that she can be targeted for voting against “troop funding” in the form of her votes against the Iraq war supplementals.

Specifically, Rove hit Clinton for what could have been her worst campaign moment last year, when she had trouble answering a question about driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants at the Democratic debate in Philadelphia.

“You know, Sen. Clinton [has] got a problem with giving straight answers in this campaign,” Rove said. “I thought that was an incredible moment. In the course of 15 minutes, I counted her giving about four different answers.”

The Bush confidant also trotted out one of the lines of attack the RNC has already been working feverishly against Clinton, questioning why she and former President Bill Clinton will not release records from their time in the White House. This, according to Rove, “raises legitimate questions about what she’s hiding.”

Rove made it clear that most Republican attacks on Obama would focus on his “accomplishments and experience.”

“He got elected three years ago, and he [has] spent almost the entire time running for president,” Rove said.

Rove added that Obama has only passed one piece of legislation during his time in the U.S. Senate, and during his time in Illinois state Senate, Obama had “an unusual habit” of voting “present” instead of yes or no.

Rove also said that nonpartisan ratings show that Obama is more liberal than Clinton, which he said is “pretty hard to do.”

Time and again, however, Rove returned to the trump card he used in his successfully executed 2002 and 2004 elections, saying that neither Obama nor Clinton is prepared to protect the country from terrorists.

  • This is very important. If your a Democratic strategist you better read what Rove has stated. I still believe the GOP has a good winning strategy against Clinton, especially with a McCain, Thompson, or Gulliani at the helm. However, I just don’t think they have enough to defeat Obama with any Republican candidate at the helm. This is truly Obama’s election to lose.

When Ross Perot Calls…

The phone rang and it was Ross Perot, who hasn’t given an interview in years. Perot, who won 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 presidential election, making him one of the strongest third-party candidates in American history, got straight to the point.

“Remember what you wrote about John McCain in the March 13, 2000, NEWSWEEK?”

“Sure,” I lied.

“When McCain called Perot ‘nuttier than a fruitcake’?”

The Texas billionaire, now 77, still has some scores to settle from the Vietnam era, and his timing is exquisite. Just days before the South Carolina GOP primary, he wants me to know that McCain “is the classic opportunist–he’s always reaching for attention and glory. Other POWs won’t even sit at the same table with him.”

Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime top aide, says the Arizona senator has plenty of veteran support and many close friendships among other former POWs.

The Perot-McCain relationship goes back to McCain’s five and a half years of captivity in Hanoi. When McCain’s then-wife Carol was in a serious car accident, McCain’s mother called Perot for help. “She asked me to send my people to Philadelphia to take care of the family,” Perot says. Afterwards, McCain was grateful. “We loved him [Perot] for it,” McCain told me in 2000.

Perot doesn’t remember it that way. “After he came home, he walked with a limp, she [Carol McCain] walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona [Cindy McCain, his current wife] and the rest is history.”

Perot’s real problem with McCain is that he believes the senator hushed up evidence that live POWs were left behind in Vietnam and even transferred to the Soviet Union for human experimentation, a charge Perot says he heard from a senior Vietnamese official in the 1980s. “There’s evidence, evidence, evidence,” Perot claims. “McCain was adamant about shutting down anything to do with recovering POWs.”

  • I was wondering what happened to Perot. If anything, this is surely a good read. 🙂

First Temple seal found in Jerusalem

A stone seal bearing the name of one of the families who acted as servants in the First Temple and then returned to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylonia has been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem’s City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said Wednesday.

The 2,500-year-old black stone seal, which has the name “Temech” engraved on it, was found earlier this week amid stratified debris in the excavation under way just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate, said archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who is leading the dig.

According to the Book of Nehemiah, the Temech family were servants of the First Temple and were sent into exile to Babylon following its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

The family was among those who later returned to Jerusalem, the Bible recounts.

The seal, which was bought in Babylon and dates to 538-445 BCE, portrays a common and popular cultic scene, Mazar said.

The 2.1 x 1.8-cm. elliptical seal is engraved with two bearded priests standing on either side of an incense altar with their hands raised forward in a position of worship.

A crescent moon, the symbol of the chief Babylonian god Sin, appears on the top of the altar.

Under this scene are three Hebrew letters spelling Temech, Mazar said.

The Bible refers to the Temech family: “These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity, of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and came again to Jerusalem and to Judah, every one unto his city.” [Nehemiah 7:6]… “The Nethinim [7:46]”… The children of Temech.” [7:55].

The fact that this cultic scene relates to the Babylonian chief god seemed not to have disturbed the Jews who used it on their own seal, she added.

The seal of one of the members of the Temech family was discovered just dozens of meters away from the Opel area, where the servants of the Temple, or “Nethinim,” lived in the time of Nehemiah, Mazar said.

“The seal of the Temech family gives us a direct connection between archeology and the biblical sources and serves as actual evidence of a family mentioned in the Bible,” she said. “One cannot help being astonished by the credibility of the biblical source as seen by the archaeological find.”

The find will be announced by Mazar at the 8th annual Herzliya Conference on Sunday.

The archeologist, who rose to international prominence for her recent excavation that may have uncovered King David’s palace, most recently uncovered the remnants of a wall from Nehemiah.

The dig is being sponsored by the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem research institute where Mazar serves as a senior fellow, and the City of David Foundation, which promotes Jewish settlement throughout east Jerusalem.

  • hmmmm…..Now what damage has this find done to the foundation of the “Dome of the Rock” foundation, as well as the ancient Mosques, underground?

Israel worried as Russia sends nuclear fuel to Iran

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Israel said on Thursday that Russian deliveries of nuclear fuel to Iran might help Tehran develop nuclear weapons.

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Russia last month delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran’s first nuclear power plant in Bushehr, a step which both Moscow and Washington said should convince Tehran to stop its own uranium enrichment programme.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said during a visit to Russia that the fuel might help Iran develop its nuclear weapons programme.

“Now Russia has started delivering nuclear fuel to Bushehr, (Iran’s) uranium enrichment may serve military goals,” Russian news agencies quoted Livni as saying.

Israel, Washington’s staunchest ally in Middle East, says Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2010 and says an Iranian nuclear weapon would threaten the existence of the Jewish state.

Israel itself is widely believed to be the only Middle East country with a nuclear arsenal.

Iran has said it will not halt its efforts to enrich uranium — fuel it says it needs for other power plants but which foreign powers fear could be used in a nuclear bomb.

The United Nations Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt enrichment. Iran says its nuclear programme is purely civilian.

The U.N. sanctions have put “certain pressure” on Tehran, but their overall effect “has not been critical”, Livni said in a speech at the Russian Diplomatic Academy which news agencies quoted in Russian.

“Those taking decisions on Iran are being watched by everyone in our region, including Israel and moderate Arab regimes,” she said. “We expect the world will not allow the appearance of a nuclear Iran.”

“When I am being told about the inadmissibility of a nuclear Iran, I understand that these words should be translated into action.”

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Dominic Evans)

  • Well, well, well. I guess Israel has no other choice than to do what they have been doing to Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria to Russia. Go ahead Israel, protect your sovereignty! 🙂

“Lailaha illa Huwa”
There is no god except He

Ashura: Remembering Moses and Imam Hussein

Ashura is commemorated on the 10th of Muharram in the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

It is marked by many Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting to observe the day that Prophet Moses freed the Israelites from the bondage of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Along with this we also remember this day as one of the most tragic events in Islamic history when Prophet Muhammad’s beloved grandson Imam Hussein along with his family were martyred while standing up against injustice.

Some men seek to emulate the suffering of Imam Hussein, lamenting the martyrdom by self-flagellation.

A growing number of scholars discourage this self-infliction and instead encourage people to donate blood on this day.

Fasting on the day of Ashura is highly recommended since the time Prophet Muhammad migrated to Madinah.

According to Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 202 – Narrated Ibn Abbas:When the Prophet arrived at Medina, the Jews were observing the fast on ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram) and they said, “This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh,” On that, the Prophet said to his companions, “You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.

It is also recommended to be generous on this day towards family members and parents because prophet Muhammad stated that whoever is generous on his family on the day of Ashura, then Allah is generous towards him for the whole year.

There are several other Hadith that refer to the importance of the day of Ashura.

O’ Allah! Bless us to perform good deeds. Make the new year one of unity, cooperation and success.

A citizen of the world, spiritually, mentally 

William Webb would never have had to hide in the men’ s room at a convention, waiting for a gaggle of girls to lose interest. But Imam Suhaib Webb is a different story. Such is the Muslim community’ s fascination with this American-born Azhari student that one day he had to do just that.

“I’ m married!” he says, almost at a loss for words. “This is a fitna [discord]”

Webb is hard to miss, and his charisma and vision are even harder to ignore. Whether ambling through a bookstore in Old Cairo or sitting on the floor of Al-Azhar directing visitors, Webb is clearly at home. But few Azhari students are tall, blond, blue-eyed and reared on American hip-hop in a rough part of America’ s heartland.

More importantly, few students at Al-Azhar share Webb’ s daunting mission. Part of the vanguard of a new generation of American Muslim leaders, he is trying to articulate an American Islam that reflects both its heritage of Eastern scholarship and the needs of its American believers. Easy? Not in the slightest.

Born in the USA

Now in his third year of study at Al-Azhar, Webb has a growing following among American and British Muslims. But he wasn’ t always Imam Suhaib Webb. Once upon a time he was William Webb, born in 1972 to a Christian family in Oklahoma, where his grandfather was a preacher. “I had a lot of trouble accepting God as a human being or creation,” he recalls. “Even as a young child I would ask my mother questions. Suddenly, God is one of three instead of God just being God. So I became a little confused. How could the prophets before Jesus go to heaven if they couldn’ t worship Jesus? If [the criteria for heaven was] worshipping and recognizing him as a deity and [as] the key to paradise?”

At 14, Webb went through a spiritual crisis. By then he had become a gang member. “Although I came from a middle-class family, I went to a rough high school,” he says. Deeply entrenched in the 1980s hip-hop community, Webb worked as a DJ.

“Hip-hop was more of a social movement than it is now. Now it’ s all, ‘I got girls, I got some nice gold, nice car, I’ ll kill you and I love my mamma.’  [Back in the] ’80s and ’90s, there was more of a sociopolitical, almost Afro-centric feel, which was kind of laced with the teachings of Islam due to the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X.”

Webb credits this as his first exposure to Islam. “There was always a feeling among the hip-hop community and among inner city African-Americans and the whites that mix with them that Muslims are correct, and Islam is the true religion. Malcolm went that way so it must’ ve been right.”

He got his first copy of the Qur’ an at age 17. “I read the Qur’ an for three years in the restroom because I was scared my mother would pulverize me if she saw the Qur’ an in her house,” he says, his eyes growing wide. “It was a big deal!”

Once in college, his life became further intertwined with gang violence, culminating with his involvement in a drive-by shooting. That, he says, was a wakeup call. At the height of his material success as an artist, “I was completely empty inside and spiritually dissatisfied. I felt impoverished on an internal level.”

At age 20, when most freshmen in college were joining fraternities and spending the year drunk on dormitory lawns, Webb made the shahadah (the Muslim declaration of faith, recited at the moment of conversion).

“You’ re a Westerner, Brother!”

The interview is interrupted several times as visitors wander through Ibn Tulun mosque doors. Imam Suhaib greets them all. When addressing me, he keeps his eyes on the floor. He knows the mosque quarters well: When a man approaches to ask where the fatwa office is, he gives directions without a pause.

For him, converting to Islam wasn’ t enough. In one year, Webb will finish his studies at Al-Azhar, adding a formal degree to his already formidable accumulation of religious knowledge: He spent 10 years studying with a Senegalese scholar and memorized the Qur’ an under his guidance. He has studied with well-known sheikhs in the US and United Kingdom, and traveled to Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia to learn more. Egypt has been the first place in which he has dropped anchor.

The Muslim American Society sponsored Webb’ s move to Egypt in an attempt to cultivate leaders among American Muslims and deal with a crisis facing modern Muslims in the West. In a country where about 85 percent of non-African-American mosques are led by foreign-born imams, scores of religious leaders are confronting a community they do not understand.

“We felt that the youth were very confused when dealing with imams [sent from abroad], who are not really able to understand where the youth are coming from. They don’ t even speak the language at times. At times, they even exhibited behavior that is reprehensible for us in the West, like in their understanding of women and their role in the community. [] We had a hard time swallowing that, so we felt we needed some local expression.

“The quality of the [imam] is that he should have knowledge of the religion and knowledge of the place in which he articulates his views. There was a need for indigenous scholarship and articulation in America – so in order to do that, we had to sponsor people.”

There are 8-9 million Muslims in America, but Webb counts only nine or 10 Americans at Azhar with him. “It’ s scary because if you take all the students of [Islamic] knowledge in Syria, Saudi, and Africa – probably only 100 [American] students are out there studying, with a mere handful going back.”

But it isn’ t merely the imams who are to blame for this gulf of misunderstanding, he says. “The problem is also the communities these imams from abroad land in. If those communities don’ t engage that imam and don’ t encourage him to branch out into society, then you have problems.”

As a Western convert to Islam, Webb has found himself in an unusual position: smack in the middle of East and West. Coming to terms with the responsibility such a position holds isn’ t always simple. “As Western Muslims, we have a complex when we deal with the tradition. [In the sense that] we are told that traditional Islam is the savior for everything in the West. But I don’ t buy that Our job as Western Muslims is to synthesize and articulate a Western Islam.

“There’ s nothing wrong with that. The Malaysians articulate a Malaysian Islam. The Pakistanis love biryani; the Arabs hate spices and the Africans like a mix. We in the West, because of the society we live in, because of the way our society moves, we cannot just merely regurgitate sixth- or seventh-century texts and try to answer the crisis of humanity. Our job is to fuse both.”

As a convert, knowing what aspects of East and West to adopt or reject is also a challenge. “I have to engage the tradition first, understand it, then what I learn from the teacher, I have to translate into my experience as a Westerner. And I shouldn’ t be ashamed of that.

“We have a lot of brothers and sisters who convert to Islam who experience crises in dealing with modernity. What brought sovereignty to women and urbanization is modernity, what brought management – we don’ t have any management here – is modernity.

“At the same time spiritually, I have issues with modernity. The absence of God, the absence of a creator. The outcome of modernity was basically Hitler and Mussolini, but we can take just the good. I felt that I didn’ t want to lose my identity as a Westerner. I don’ t want to start speaking like,” and he adopts a fake Indian accent for a moment, “‘Hello, my name is Suhaib from Oklahoma.’  I meet brothers who go through this crisis. I meet people who don’ t want to dress like a Westerner – why not? You’ re a Westerner, brother! The Prophet rarely asked people to change their dress or their names unless their names meant something really bad.”

Webb believes converts in the West have not really come to grips with this fusion. “Our job as Western Muslims is to learn our religion well, to have an understanding and articulation that’ s balanced within the confines of our environment, because we represent a reservoir of prophetic guidance to the West. And the West represents a reservoir of material guidance for us.” The trick, he believes, is knowing how to fuse the two.

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Nabi Musa, or the Tomb of Prophet Moses (pbuh), lies 11 km south of Jericho and 20 km east of Jerusalem in the Judean wilderness.Although the last chapter in the Book of Deuteronomy tells us that Moses (pbuh) died and was buried on the other side of the Jordan River (Duet 34) and that no one knew where his Tomb was. Muslim tradition holds that Salah Eddin had a dream in which it had been revealed to him the site where the prophet Moses (pbuh) was to be respected and subsequently he built a cenotaph and on top of it a mosque.

The Story of Moses and The Guide 

One day, Moses delivered such an impressive sermon that all who heard it were deeply moved. Someone in the congregation asked: ” O Messenger of Allah, is there another man on earth more learned than you?” Moses replied: “No!”, believing so, as Allah had given him the power of miracles and honored him with the Torah.

However, Allah revealed to Moses that no man could know all there is to know, nor would one messenger alone be the custodian of all knowledge. There would always be another who knew what others did not. Moses asked Allah: “O Allah, where is this man? I would like to meet him and learn from him.” He also asked for a sign to this person’s identity.

Allah instructed him to take a live fish in a water-filled vessel. The point at which the fish disappears, he would find the man he sought. Moses set out on his journey, accompanied by a young man who carried the vessel with the fish. They reached a place where two rivers met and decided to rest there. Instantly, Moses fell asleep.

While he was asleep, his companion saw the fish wriggle out of the vessel into the river and swim away. However, he forgot to relate this incident to Moses. When he awoke, they continued their journey until they were exhausted and hungry. Moses asked for his morning meal. Only then did his companion recall that the fish they had brought with them had gotten away. Hearing this, Moses exclaimed: “This is exactly what we are seeking!”

They quickly retraced their steps to the place where the rivers met and where the fish had jumped out. There they found a man, his face partly covered with a hood. One could tell by his aura that he was a saintly man. He was Al-Khidr, the guide.

Allah the Almighty narrates in the Quran:

And (remember) when Moses said to his servant: “I will not give up (traveling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in traveling.”

But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish, and it took its way thought the sea as in a tunnel. So when they had passed further on (beyond that fixed place), Moses said to his boy-servant: “Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered much fatigue in this, our journey.”

He said: “Do you remember when we rested on the rock? I indeed forgot the fish, none but Satan made me forget to remember it. It took its course into the sea in a strange (way)!”

(Moses) said: “That is what we have been seeking.” So they went back retracing their footsteps.

Then they found one of Our devotees, unto whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.

Moses said to him (Khidr) “May I follow you so that you can teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?”

He (Khidr) said: “Verily! You will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not?”

Moses sad: “If Allah will, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.”

He (Khidr) said: “Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention it to you.”

So the two went off, until when they embarked on a boat and the man (Khidr) made a hole in it. Moses said: “Did you make a hole in it to drown its people? Verily, you have done Imra – a Munkar (evil, bad, dreadful) thing.”

He (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?”

(Moses) said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).”

Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Moses said: “Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have done Nukra a great Munkar (prohibited, evil, dreadful) thing!”

(Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”

(Moses) said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.”

Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight. (Moses) said: “If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it!”

(Khidr) said: “This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience.

“As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it (Lit., “to cause a fault in it” – i.e., to make it temporarily unserviceable), as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force.

“And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy.

“And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not hold patience.1

The story of Moses and Al-Khidr is also told in a hadith.

Ubai Ibn Ka’b told us that the Prophet (Muhammad) said: Once Moses stood up and addressed Bani Israel. He was asked who was the most learned man amongst the people. He said: “I.” Allah admonished him as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Him (Allah). So, Allah said to him: “Yes, at the junction of the two seas there is a slave of Mine who is more learned then you.” Moses said; “O my Lord! How can I meet him?” Allah said: “Take a fish and put it in a container and you will find him at the place where you will lose the fish.”

Moses took a fish and put it in a container and proceeded along with his (servant) boy, Joshua (Yusha Ibn Nun), till they reached the rock where they laid their heads (i.e. lay down). Moses slept, and the fish, moving out of the container, fell into the sea. It took its way into the sea (straight) as in a tunnel. Allah stopped the flow of water over the fish and it became like an arch (the Prophet pointed out his arch with his hands). They traveled the rest of the night, and the next day Moses said to his boy (servant): “Give us our food, for indeed, we have suffered much fatigue in this journey of ours.” Moses did not feel tired till he crossed that place which Allah had ordered him to seek after. His boy (servant) said to him: “Do you know that when we were sitting near that rock, I forgot the fish, and none but Satan caused me to forget to tell (you) about it, and it took its course into the sea in an amazing way?” So there was a path for the fish and that astonished them. Moses said: “That was what we were seeking after.”

So both of them retraced their footsteps till they reached the rock. There they saw a man lying covered with a garment. Moses greeted him, and he replied saying: “How do people greet each other in your land?” Moses said: “I am Moses.”

The man asked: “Moses of Bani Israel? ” Moses said: “Yes, I have come to you so that you may teach me from those things which Allah has taught you.” He said: “O Moses! I have some of the knowledge of Allah which Allah has taught me and which you do not know, while you have some of the knowledge of Allah which Allah has taught you and which I do not know.” Moses asked: “May  I follow you?” He said: “But you will not be able to remain patient with me, for how can you be patient about things which you will not be able to understand?” Moses said: “You will find me, if Allah so will, truly patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.”

So both of them set out walking along the sea-shore. A boat passed by them, and they asked the crew of the boat to take them on board. The crew recognized Al-Khidr, so they took them on board without fare. When they were on board the boat, a sparrow came and stood on the edge of the boat and dipped its beak once or twice into the sea. Al-Khidr said to Moses: “O Moses! My knowledge and your knowledge have not decreased Allah’s knowledge except as much as this sparrow has decreased the water of the sea with its beak. ” Then suddenly Al-Khidr took and adze and pulled up a plank, and Moses did not notice it till he had pulled up a plank with the adze. Moses said to him: “What have you done? They took us on board charging us nothing; yet you have intentionally made a hole in their boat so as to drown its passengers. Verily, you have done a dreadful thing.” Al-Khidr replied: “Did I not tell you that you would not be able to remain patient with me?’ Moses replied : “Do not blame me for what I have forgotten, and do not be hard upon me for my fault.” So the first excuse of Moses was that he had forgotten.

When they had left the sea, they passed by a boy playing with other boys. Al-Khidr took hold of the boy’s head and plucked it with his hand like this. (Sufyan, the sub-narrator gestured with his fingertips as if he were plucking some fruit.) Moses said to him: “Have you killed an innocent person who has not killed any person? You have really done a horrible thing.” Al-Khidr said: “Did I not tell you that you could not remain patient with me?” Moses said: “If I ask you abut anything after this, don’t accompany me, You have received an excuse from me.”

Then both of them went on till they came to some people of a village, and they asked its inhabitants for food but they refused to entertain them as guests. Then they saw therein a wall which was just going to collapse and Al Khidr repaired it just by touching it with his hands. (Sufyan, the sub-narrator, gestured with his hands, illustrating how Al-Khidr passed his hands over the wall upwards.) Moses said: “These are the people whom we have called on, but they neither gave us food, nor entertained us as guests, yet you have repaired their wall. If you had wished, you could have taken wages for it.”

Al-Khidr said: “This is the parting between you and me, and I shell tell you the explanation of those things on which you could not remain patient.”

The Prophet added: “We wish that Moses could have remained patient by virtue of which Allah might have told us more about their story.” (Sufyan, the sub-narrator, said that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “May Allah bestow His Mercy on Moses! If he had remained patient, we would have been told further about their case.”)2

Notes:

1. Quran 18:60-82

2. Sahih Al-Bukhari

From the book: Stories of the Prophets by Imam Ibn Kathir, translated by Muhammad Mustafa Gemeiah and edited by Aelfwine Acelas Mischler.

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Kelly, the running star of her school, wore the same body-covering suit in many competitions in the past three years. (Courtesy: Washington Post)

Track No Place for US Muslim Runner

CAIRO — A US high-school star runner has been pulled out of the track for wearing a uniform that allows her to compete while complying with her Muslim faith.

“They pulled me aside and asked me why am I wearing this,” Juashaunna Kelly, a senior in Theodore Roosevelt High School, told the Washington Post on Wednesday, January 16.

“I said, ‘It’s because I’m a Muslim.'”

Kelly, the running star of her school, was disqualified from the Montgomery Invitational indoor track and field meet on the ground that her one-piece unitard violated the rules.

The suit, in the blue and orange colors of her teammates’ T-shirt and shorts, was designed to cover her body from nick to legs.

It also had a hood that fits her head as an alternative to her hijab.

On top of the suit, Kelly wore the same T-shirt and shorts as other runners.

But meet director Tom Rogers said the uniform violated rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which sanctioned the event.

The Muslim runner, 17, insisted she wore the same suit in many competitions in the past three years, including last year’s Montgomery Invitational.

Kelly, who last week was named the 2007 cross-country runner of her District, was hoping to set a new record at the Montgomery Invitational which attracts dozens of college recruiters.

Discrimination  

The track meet officials say the issue was all about applying the rules.

“It has nothing to do with religious discrimination,” Rogers said.

He claimed making three public address announcements before disqualifying Kelly to meet with Roosevelt coach Tony Bowden, which the coach refutes as untrue.

Sarah, the mother, says it all started with the hood that covers her daughter’s hair.

“First, they said she had to take her hood off,” she told the Post. ”

“She ran in the same exact meet last year,” added the frustrated mother. “There was nothing said. No one has ever said anything to her.”

Coach Bowden agreed.

“It never started off about color [of her uniform]. It started with her head wear,” he said.

“It wasn’t a problem last year, and it’s a problem this year? Make me understand why.”

The issue of Muslim girls in sports has come to the fore in recent months, particularly in neighboring Canada.

An 11-year-old Canadian kid was thrown out from a national Judo tournament last November for wearing hijab.

The World Taekwondo Federation, the sport’s largest organization, ruled last May that women players would not be allowed to cover their hair in its competitions.

In March, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game’s ultimate regulators, said hijab is forbidden in soccer games.

The ruling came after a Canadian Muslim was expelled from a soccer game for wearing a hijab.

  • Only a blind person cannot see this for what it is.  Anti-Islam/Muslim sentiment is real and very much comparable to the deep racism rooted in American history.

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Making Muslim Girl Visible

It was a typical blustery, cold evening in Seattle, Washington, the US. The mixture of snow and rain pounded down on our heads and faces as my family and I ran for cover within the warm and inviting shelter of a coffee shop and bookstore not far from our home. My husband stood in line to order coco for our kids while I browsed through racks upon racks of magazines, finding myself perplexed: Could I possibly find anything appropriate for my seven- and nine-year-old daughters? Is there anything here that does not push consumerism and the darker side of pop culture?

These days, media and advertisers have found that the pre-teen scene is a hot market still not fully tapped into. New television shows and magazines are cropping up everywhere, tempting kids and taunting parents, indoctrinating young girls that they cannot be seen in school without that latest style of jeans, and making conscientious parents ponder, “How can we protect our kids without completely isolating them from their world?”

To my delight and surprise, in the midst of magazine titles, such as Teen Cosmo and Tiger Beat, was a lovely and colourful magazine titled Muslim Girl. I grabbed a copy and ran to the table where my girls were sitting.

“Take a look at this honey,” I said as I handed my nine-year old Zarefah the magazine. Her eyes illuminated as if I had handed her a bucket of gold.

Sipping hot chocolate and thumbing through the magazine, I was so happy to see that this was certainly a different magazine from the others that cater to this young, impressionable, and often very vulnerable age group. While the meatiest material (like the latest seasonal fashions or the best way to break up with your boyfriend) can be found in other teen magazines, Muslim Girl pushes world awareness, self-esteem, and empowerment.

Muslim Girl’s motto is “enlighten, celebrate, inspire.” The front cover showcases a lovely young girl brightly dressed in a colourful skirt and matching hijab. Standing strong and confident with a beaming smile, she rests her hands on her sides amid articles’ feature titles such as “Girls Go Global,” “The View From Indonesia, Lebanon and More,” and “Save Darfur.”

Further reading featured an article about a young Palestinian Muslim girl who is a two-time world champion in karate. Another piece tells the story of Zaynab Aden, an enthusiastic American Muslim woman who founded the Save Darfur Coalition an organization that works to educate people and foster awareness and policy change toward the war-torn country of Somalia.

Yet, another piece titled “Muslim Girl of the Month” highlights the lovely and bubbly Shaa’ista Sabir, an American Muslim teen in the southern US state of Georgia. In one photo, she poses with a laptop and beside her a quote expressing the “‘thirteen year plan,’ as Shaa’ista calls it, will result in her success as an author, screenplay writer, journalist, editor and publisher.”

Another image features Sabir laughing with her eyes closed, under which a statement reads, “She refuses to underestimate herself or to blindly follow any pre-existing plan that has been set out for her.”

The final picture shows her skipping down the road with a happy and confident smile, and the article concludes, “While it would be easy to reduce Shaa’ista to her long list of hopes and ambitions (which, by the way, don’t preclude the possibility of being elected President of the United States), it would be inaccurate to do so … she will achieve her goals — she knows that if she puts in the effort, Allah will do the rest.”

With American Muslim girls being the target audience, pop culture is covered in creative and very clever ways in photos with captions such as “Winterize Your Hijab — Make the Most of the Great Outdoors!” One young girl reviews the very popular Harry Potter book series and addresses the controversies and questions that have arisen from an Islamic perspective.

Certainly not all readers will agree with all of the opinions expressed in Muslim Girl. Personally, I was a little distressed by what seemed to be editorial comments that touted the party line of the Bush administration. But the overall and strongest impression I came away with was that Muslim Girl celebrates strong, confident, responsible, and pious youth, characteristics that for long have sadly fallen by the wayside in most American media.

 

Muslim Girl promotes a faith-in-action philosophy. It presses the social responsibility that comes with faith. It addresses hard issues like the distorted and often hostile sentiment that many American’s have toward Islam today. It enlightens kids about a multitude of current events and features Muslim women who are successful journalists, athletes, and diplomats.It prioritizes study and faith rather than fashion. Not only does it encourage inclusion and integration but also it inspires girls to “stand out” and “stand up” for their faith.

But with all I have said about this great magazine, I think my seven-year-old daughter, Iman, summed it up best when she pointed to Sabir with her beaming smile and tightly bound hijab and said, “Mommy, I want to be just like her.”

Suzanne Baroud is a writer and the managing editor of PalestineChronicle.com. She contributes articles to IslamOnline.net.

 

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2 Comments

  1. “Now what damage has this find done to the foundation of the “Dome of the Rock”

    None. If you read carefully you’ll notice the dig is nowhere near those foundations:

    “amid stratified debris in the excavation under way just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate”

    That means they’re digging in an old garbage dump outside the city walls. The foundations are within a wall originally built by Herod the Great to create a terrace for the temple and the temple premisses. That wall holds the terrace together. As long as you don’t dig within those walls, you needn’t worry. The dome of the rock is built directly on the limestone rock, so there’s very little chance that it will be affected by any digs near it. I don’t know about the al-Aqsa mosque.
    Incidentally: worrying about the foundations of islamic buidings as a way to protest against ‘jewish digs’ is a characteristic trait of intifada-propaganda.
    The islamic waqf that holds authority over the temple mount by the way does dig into it with a zeal. It has been established that this has destroyed quite a lot of archaeological evidence from the second temple period: archaeologists digging out the debris taken out of the temple mount have discovered numerous objects from that time ‘out of context’.
    In a few yeasr time it will be very hard to directly prove that the temple was actually built on the temple mount, which is exactly what intifada-propagandists are trying to achieve.

    Reply

  2. Re. the article about Obama’s mentor – I’m in the middle of reading “The Audacity of Hope” right now, and I must say, its excellent. I’ve recommended it even to hard core Republicans who would never vote for him. He has a chapter titled “faith” where he shares his own journey – and it does give some context for this article.

    Grace and peace to you.
    Catherine

    Reply

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