slip-sliding away…..

Archive for May, 2010

Watch what you say

Posted by Yacoob on May 28, 2010

As a reminder to watch what we say, I thought I’d put up a collection of Islamic quotes and more with regard to backbiting. It has been covered before, but we can never get too many reminders when it comes to matters of  such importance.

I hope these serve as reminders to us all about how careful we need to be with our tongues.

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O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed, some suspicions are sins. And spy not on each other nor backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.

(Quran 49: 12 – Surah Al-Hujurat, verse 12)

Various ahadeeth and sayings:

  • “…Backbiting is to say something about your brother that he would dislike…If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” [Muslim]
  • “When man wakes up in the morning each day, all parts of the body warn the tongue saying, ‘Fear God as regards us, for we are at your mercy; if you are upright, we will be upright and if you are crooked, we become crooked.’” [Tirmidhi]
  • It was narrated in the Hadith relating the story of Mi’raj (Ascent): “The Prophet (peace be upon him) passed by people with copper fingernails – with which they scratch their own faces and chests. He asked: “Who are those, Gabriel?” It was answered: “Those are the people who eat the flesh of other people and vilify their honor.”
  • It was narrated that a man brought two fasting women to the Prophet (pbuh) – for they were dying of thirst.  The Prophet (pbuh) turned away, silently refusing to give permission for them to break their fast.  So, the man begged him again, mentioning that the women were on the verge of death.  The Prophet then said, “Bring them to me and bring along a bowl.” When they turned to him, he turned to one and told her to vomit in the bowl. She complied, spitting up a mixture of vomit, blood, pus and pieces of flesh which half filled the bowl.  He then turned to the other and had her do the same.  After the bowl was filled, the Prophet (pbuh) reportedly said, “Verily these two have fasted from what Allah has made halaal for them; and broken their fast from what Allah has made haraam.  They spent their fast eating the flesh of others.” [Ahmad]
  • “… Do not backbite Muslims, and do not search for their faults – for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault; and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, He disgraces him in the open for everyone to see – even if he hid it in the innermost part of his house.” [Abu Dawud; Tirmidhi, others]
  • “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet, and whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (or insult) his neighbour…” [Bukhari]
  • “Whoever guarantees me (the chastity of) what is between his legs (i.e. his private parts), and what is between his jaws (i.e., his tongue), I guarantee him Paradise.” [Bukhari]

Scholar Hasan al-Basri reportedly said:

“I swear by Allah: backbiting is swifter in consuming the religion of a Muslim than a gangrenous infection is in consuming the human body.”

Two particular audio lectures come to mind, when I think of this topic:

  1. Guarding the tongue (30 minutes) [Stream | Download]
  2. Truthful and Straightforward Speech (18 minutes) [Stream | Download]

And, for a lighter look at the issue, watch Baba Ali’s video: “Little backbiter”.

If you’d like a printable version of the quotes, you can download the Word document below:

Backbiting_reminder

Posted in Advice, Information, Quotes | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cartoons and Freedom of Expression

Posted by Yacoob on May 25, 2010

As many of you will know, there’s currently a furore around South African cartoonist Zapiro’s depiction of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The South African Muslim leadership has united in condemning the incident; as well as strongly discouraging the community from reacting violently – because we cannot defend our Prophet by acting in a way he would not sanction (for that merely perpetuates the false stereotype of Muslims as violent, extremist maniacs).

But at the root of it all is the issue of freedom of expression. The cartoonist firmly sticks to his right of this freedom, and goes further to assert his right to satirise religion. The latter point, I believe, is indicative of the Western liberal mindset which holds nothing sacred, and views everything as ‘fair game.’ Such is a consequence of the collapse of religious values in the public sphere.

In fact, when it comes to sacredness, it seems that the only thing some people hold sacred is their secular constitutions – which, in many cases, they hold as more important than any Divinely-revealed code of life.

With regard to freedom of expression – and indeed any freedom – the point that many people miss is that there can be no freedom without a related responsibility. With each freedom comes a responsibility to exercise that freedom responsibly – i.e. without harming others.

With some cartoons, like the Danish ones and some which have recently come out on the Facebook group which called for “Draw Muhammad day” – this responsibility is forgotten.

Anyway, one of my favourite writers, Khalid Baig, very nicely summarises the issue of this freedom in the piece below.

After reading it, feel free to leave your comments on the whole situation and debate.

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Freedom of Expression?

Source: http://albalagh.net/food_for_thought/0096.shtml
By: Khalid Baig (Posted 20 May 2010)

With the latest in-your-face act of the Facebook, the issue is once again attracting headlines. Should Muslims react? How should they react? Where do they stand on the philosophical issue underlying all this?

In the media the issue has been framed as a clash between two camps. One camp stands for freedom of expression. The other wants to curtail it.  Needless to say the first camp is enlightened and virtuous. The other is a relic of the dark ages. The clash, in other words, is between a civilized and civilizing West – and Islam, that just refuses to be civilized.

Once you accept this framing of the whole issue, the outcome is already decided. “Are you for freedom of expression or not?” It is a loaded question, and just like the yes/no question, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” – no matter how you answer it, you remain guilty.

Look at the typical Muslim response which begins, “We also believe in freedom of expression, but…” It matters little what you say after that. It is obvious that you are trying to add exclusions and limitations to a basic moral value while the other side is asking for no such limits. It is not difficult to see which side will come out ahead.

But this predicament is a result of uncritically accepting a false statement about the nature of the clash. For the real clash is not between those who are for and those who are against a freedom. Rather it is between two different freedoms. On the one hand is the freedom to insult. On the other is freedom from insult. Whether it was the Satanic Verses of the 1980s or the Cartoons of 2005 and their endless reproduction since then, if they stand for any freedom, it is freedom to insult. Pure and simple. Muslims, on the other hand, have stood for and demanded freedom from insult. Nothing more. Nothing less.

These are certainly opposing values. You can be for one or the other. And the question does arise, which one is a better value.

To see that let us imagine a society that truly believes in the first as a cherished moral value. It celebrates freedom to insult and guards it at all costs. Every member of it enjoys this freedom and practices it regularly. In a business everyone insults everyone else. The boss is insulting the employees, the employees are insulting the bosses. The salesmen are insulting the customers. The accountants are insulting the creditors. Everyone is enjoying the great freedom to insult. The same is true of the home. The parents are always insulting the children. The children are constantly insulting the parents. The spouses are incessantly insulting each other. And in doing so they all stand on the high moral ground because freedom to insult is such a fundamental freedom on which the society is built.

Actually, contrary to the claims of the pundits, if the Western society was truly built on this “cherished moral value,” it would have perished a long time ago — consumed by the fires of hatred and negativity generated by this freedom. No home, no neighborhood, no village, no business, no organization and no society can survive for long if it makes freedom to insult as a cornerstone of its freedoms. Clearly, most who advocate this freedom do not practice it in their daily lives. But they are making an exception in the case of Islam and Muslims. The driving force behind this is not any great moral principle but a deep rooted hatred born of ignorance.

Software professionals sometimes use a term called beature. It stands for a bug turned into a feature. A bug is a defect in the software. A feature, on the other hand, is a desirable attribute. A beature is a defect that is presented (thanks to slick marketing) as a feature. Freedom to insult is also a beature. It is the growing sickness of Islamophobia in the West which is being presented as a high moral value, packaged by the slick marketing departments as freedom of expression.

Well, whether or not freedom to insult is a Western value, Islam has nothing to do with it. It lays emphasis on its exact opposite: the freedom from insult. It values human dignity, decency, and harmony in the society. The freedom of religion it ensures includes freedom from insults. While it does not shy away from academic discussion of its beliefs and showing the falsehood of non-Islamic beliefs, it makes sure that the discussion remains civil. In those discussions it wants to engage the intellect of its opponents; in contrast those who itch to insult their opponents – who are interested in satisfying their vulgar emotions. Thus while Islam’s most important battle is against false gods, it asks its followers to refrain from reviling them. (Qur’an, Al-anam, 6:108). It also reminds its followers to stay away from harsh speech. “Allah loves not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who has been wronged.” (Qur’an, Al-Nisa, 4:148). Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, who is being reviled by the scum of the world, taught Muslims to never let the low moral standards of their adversaries dictate their own moral standards.

As a result of these teachings, Muslims can never even imagine insulting any Prophet — from Adam to Moses to Jesus to Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Even when they ruled the world, Muslims treated the religious leaders of non-Muslim with respect – even during battles. In the Baghdad court, Jewish and Christian scholars engaged in open discussions with the Muslim savants. Needless to say, they had not been attracted by the freedom to insult – but its exact opposite. Freedom from insult is a fundamental value that assures peace and harmony. It leads to healthy societies. And Muslims are very proud of their impeccable record here.

What is true of a home or a village is also true of the world – as it has become a global village. Now, more than ever before, the world needs the harmony and tolerance that can only be assured by the freedom from insults.

Posted in Are you pondering what I'm pondering?, What's going on | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Fiery sunset

Posted by Yacoob on May 11, 2010

Posted in Something to see, Up in the sky | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

 
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