‘Free a neck’ for a better life

This article is from the ‘The Better Life’ magazine Nov 2014 issue

Decapitation is separating the head from the body. Beheading is intentional decapitation with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by a guillotine. From 1351 until it was abolished in 1870 it was a legal punishment in England for persons convicted of high treason. The condemned were occasionally forced to watch as others had their necks chopped off before them. Even Kings and Queens were beheaded.

In 1536 Queen Anne Boleyn and in 1542 Queen Catherine Howard were beheaded. Queen Jane Grey was beheaded in 1554, aged 16. In 1587 Mary Queen of Scots’ neck was chopped three times before her head was held up while saying “God save the Queen.” Walter Raleigh discoverer of the Pitch Lake was beheaded in 1618 and King Charles 1 in 1649.

Beheading is not a form of capital punishment in Islam. It was condemned by the Prophet Muhammad (s). On the contrary, freeing of the neck (tahreer raqaba) is the Qur’anic punishment for unintentional man-slaughter. [4:92]

Freeing of the neck (fakku raqaba) also means removing a person from physical slavery or from the enslavement of debt, ill health or other restricting situations. In Arabic, the verb from raqaba (neck) also means respect, building self esteem or making someone raise their head high once again after challenging circumstances. [9:10]

The Qur’an in Chapter 90 – al-Balad (The State) lists freeing of the neck as the first requirement for building the Islamic State which is an uphill task. [90]

While each person should be more concerned with spiritual than material matters, it is by looking after another person’s material welfare that one’s own spiritual development is achieved. The material world is expanded that each soul be perfected. [90:6-7] Piety requires believing, praying and spending of health, wealth or knowledge. [2:3]

Allah says: We develop humans to be the most excellent. [95:4] It is therefore not important what religion we are in. But it is important what religion is within us. It’s not what we do in religion that matters – what rituals we perform. What matters is what religion does to us. How much it determines our personal self development.

Wrong religion from whatever source, gives us ceremonies to save us from the effects of our sin. But the Qur’an assures us that good deeds drive away evil deeds. [11:114] And if we repent and do good deeds Allah will change our evil deeds into good ones. [25:70]

Murders so dominate the news media that it leaves little room to show how to develop excellence in human beings. But at every Jumu’a sermon there is the opportunity – to recite to them His messages and purify them, and teach them the Book and Wisdom. [62:2] Every Friday it is obligatory to explain the Beauty of Islam as a religion of peace and to show how Prophet Muhammad (s) changed his society and established the Islamic State as a free, God-fearing and non-violent society.

The Prophet Muhammad’s (s) burning desire was to change the ways of his people. He could not – until the Qur’an was revealed to him. With this Book he changed the world’s worst people from barbarism to civilization. Claiming Prophethood, he lost his social status. He was mocked, driven into exile, and pursued to be put to death. Friends became foes. Increased opposition only brought about in him perfect patience and endurance [14:12]

What worldly purpose did he seek? After victory the Prophet Muhammad (s) hoarded no gold for himself, built no palace, no audience hall. He had nothing of kingly pleasure and comfort. He built no huge temples, churches or statutes for himself or his religion. He created no dynasty to succeed him. He left nothing but the Divine teachings he received: Allah invites to the abode of peace [10:25] and his example in following them. This was his Islamic State.

This article was published on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i-Islam Trinidad & Tobago

Pakistan’s first sect-free mosque calls for end to discrimination

Darul Iman Jamia Masjid Qurtuba’s story is as dramatic as the sectarian history of Pakistan.

The newly-built mosque in Islamabad’s Margalla foothills is calling upon its followers to stop discriminating along sectarian lines and to start praying together – in whichever way they like – under the same roof.

Zahid Iqbal is a local businessman who conceptualised the idea of a sect-free mosque in 2010. He bought the mosque plot in the E-11 sector. But the road to the realisation of his dream wasn’t easy: At first, authorities refused to register it as a sect-free mosque. Under Capital Development Authority rules, every mosque has to declare its sect following, before being granted permission to build the mosque.

The procedure involved some complicated maneuvering: To bypass the strict rules, he registered a trust, and then sub-registered the mosque under the trust’s banner: The Al-Kitaab Foundation Trust.

Meanwhile, Iqbal has already found an Imam for the mosque – Qari Jehangir, who is currently doing his Master’s degree from the Islamic University. The coordinator of the mosque is doing his MBA from Preston University. Both are young men in their twenties. The Imam and Khateeb are both from different sects – and the mosque administration says it will have no problem if a Shia Imam leads prayers.

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Sunnis free to attack minorities in Pakistan

..police however are refusing to take the victim’s statement, and three weeks on from the incident the criminals still go unpunished. As too often happens in Pakistan, when the victim is a Christian and his executioners belong to the Muslim majority and the violation of laws and rights takes place in complete indifference.

The article linked to above is a typical example these days of the laws in Pakistan. If the perpetrator is a Sunni against a minority then authorities act like no crime has been committed.

The Sunni version of justice in a Muslim country.

US – the land of free, unless you are a Muslim

Lowe’s, the national hardware chain, has pulled commercials from future episodes of “All-American Muslim,” a TLC reality-TV show, after protests by Christian groups.

The Florida Family Association, a Tampa Bay group, has led a campaign urging companies to pull ads on “All-American Muslim.”

“‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” the Florida group asserts in a letter it asks members to send to TLC advertisers.

The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish,” the FFA’s letter continues. Continue reading

When Rapists go free

We hear much from the religious political parties of Pakistan about the rights granted to women by Islam. Of course, Islam has granted equality of opportunity and full rights to women. It is sad comment on the moral fabric of these religico-political leaders, who claim to be fighting for the introduction of Islamic values in Pakistan, that they remain totally silent when women are raped. Continue reading