Thursday, 25 June 2015

Media's share of corruption

All of us are either corrupt or support corruption in one way or the other. But the worst of the lot are media people who are apparently waging constant war against corruption. The other day, someone broke the news mocking governance in Sindh by saying, ‘what will be the fate of a province where Director Anticorruption is arrested for corruption.’ Such is the role of media i.e. director anticorruption in the country. Only difference is that this director is badly exposed but not put behind bars. They tell blatant lies in your face. They pop up daily on your TV screens and never fail to lie. In recent past, media empires have been raised by getting a fair share out of ongoing corruption in the country. Mostly, they get paid for maintaining silence and on other occasions for exposing the enemies of their masters.

Look at the scams surfacing in Sindh. Everyday dawns with disturbing accounts of corruption. For years, corruption reigned supreme in Sindh. Today, every media channel is throwing headline tickers on corruption stories but I have a simple question to them, where was their investigative journalism for the last so many years? Why did they not unearth this stuff? Was it not their responsibility as well? They have done well exposing poor butcher who sells meat of donkey or a baker with unhygienic cooking practices. But a lot more was expected from them. They are minting heaps of money. Coffers of Media seths are overflowing with bullion but nothing substantive was made public against the big fish. They were part of this corrupt curry being cooked in this country for years just like director anticorruption of Sindh.

Lets give a little break to usual suspects like Najam Sethi, Hamid Mir, Mehr, Kashif etc and look at some of the stalwarts of media.

Most popular voice against corruption is Hassan Nisar, whose employer is Mir Khalil ur Rehman. While hiring, you must have signed up a piece of paper as terms of service. This paper ensures that employer has a say in what you will say on air. Mr Hassan Nisar do you not smell corruption odor coming out of the currency notes you get from Geo TV. Abusing others from the corrupt forum of a media owner is the essence of Hassan Nisar’s heroics. He is selling what sells in numbers. He is saying rather shouting what we want to hear. Like every other columnist in the country he is also making money. It is not a cynical view but it just hurts to think, even those who present themselves as Messiahs to this poor nation are part of the problem not the solution.

Today Ayaz Amir considered to be icon of intelligentsia in this country writes against the govt because he was kicked out of PML(N) before last elections. He does maintain a sense of false dignity about his work but his indignation for exodus from ruling elite is evident if carefully read between the lines. Not long ago, same person used to defend this party and its leadership on media. What happened to his serene level of intellect then. Nothing just that PML(N) stopped serving his purpose. Now he adroitly writes and speaks against the govt .It all comes down to personal interests.

Most of the leading columnists are on the pay roll of political parties. Not a single honest, unbiased media man of integrity is available in journalist community. Everyone speaks the agenda he is paid for. The older the journalist the more shrewd he gets in his craft. Look at Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami. He is spokesperson of PML(N). What else you people want from life. You already have a successful career. Made enough money for generations to come. For making a place in this society and among journalist fraternity, there ought to be some journalistic responsibility upon these alligators but they continue to thrive. You will be surprised to find out the lifestyles of Kamran Shafi, Mubashar Luqman and other hitmen of media.

Idea of this entry is not to target a particular individual. This was just a preview of leading journalists whom people expect to be truthful to this country and nation. But no one is. Very unfortunate. Very sad.

What we can do under these circumstances is to stay alert to media shenanigans. Look at things critically. Do not get carried away by a particular column, program or talk show. Look at things in totality. Bigger picture is bleak but they should not continue to make fool out of us. Their sponsors including politicians and foreign donors should not get the worth of their money as long as we are aware that they are kith and kin of media. We must not buy rotten product media is trying to sell every day of the week. We need to really wake up and smell the coffee.










Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Timing for recitation of Al Kahf on Juma

What is the appropriate timing for recitation of Surah Al Kahf on Friday, whether Thursday night (Shab-e-Juma because Islamic lunar day starts at sunset) or sometime during Friday. Like every other thing we resort to Sunnah for application of method. If there is some variation found in Sahih Ahadith as is the case with recitation timings of Surah Al Kahf, then we can exercise ‘common sense’ which is called Ijtihad. Most people will be content to go to Maulvi Sahab for guidance which has one advantage and some grave disadvantages. The advantage is that on Judgment Day, the burden of our wrong method will be on Maulvi sahab’s neck. List of disadvantages is seriously long and gruesome.

If Maulvi’s neck will be on the line, you will also be held accountable for not researching on the issue. Besides, Maulvis these days are paid professionals who invest 8 odd years in a Madrassa to finally get a job. Those will lesser qualifications end up as Imam Masjid with little stipend and food offered by local community as part of the package. Some with additional qualifications may make earnings by registering Nikah, Jinaza, Khatm-e-Quran, Taraveeh, teaching nazrah (Arabic reading of Quran) to kids and other sidekicks from their profession. Everyone knows how hard it is to make a living these days. Those running Madrassas are power brokers. They have their own hegemonic issues. Each fighting the other for gaining religious, financial and political space. Everyone has a sect, whereas Nabi (PBUH) was a Muslim.

However, amid this extremely chaotic situation, we should try and establish in the light of available Ahadith, when to recite Al Kahf?

  • From Abu Sa’eed al-Khdri, who said: “Whoever reads Surah Al Kahf on the night of Juma, will have a light that will stretch between him and the Ancient House (the Ka’bah).” 
(Narrated by al-Daarimi, 3407. This hadeeth was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in 
Saheeh al-Jaami, 6471) 

  • “Whoever reads Sura Al Kahf on the day of Juma, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.”
(Narrated by al-Haakim, 2/399; al-Bayhaqi, 3/249. See: Fayd al-Qadeer, 6/198. It was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6470) 

  • It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘Whoever reads Surah Al Kahf on the day of Juma, a light will shine for him from beneath his feet to the clouds of the sky, which will shine for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will be forgiven (his sins) between the two Fridays.”

It is possible that all these Ahadith are narrated on different occasions or one Hadith cited by three different persons with variation in understanding of the content. However, one simple fact comes to fore that Surah Al Kahf is to be recited on Juma which extends from Thursday evening after sunset to before sunset on Friday. This is also means that during this period, recitation of Al Kahf is considered Afzal (more fruitful) and there is no restriction on its recitation on any other day of the week.

Only Allah knows the whole truth.
Have a blessed Juma and blessed Ramazan

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Four strories, four temptations, four trials

We must remember that the Qur’an does not just narrate stories in quite a random manner; they rather form an integral structure and serve a specific meaning. For example, while narrating the story of Prophet Musa (AS) in Al Kahf, there is no mention of the Pharaoh or the miracle of the stick because the meaning intended in this case is different from that found in either of those stories. What is then the thread which ties the four stories of Al Kahf together?

The four basic trials and temptations in life are faith, wealth, knowledge and power. Good and bad use of each will have ramifications. All these trials are narrated in the same sequence in four amazing stories of Al Kahf. The connection is mindboggling. The thread that ties the four stories together in Surah Al-Kahf can only be a divine arrangement. Half-way in the Surah, between the first two stories and the two remaining, we are told that the stimulus of temptation is the enemy of Allah Karim, namely, Iblis (Satan). Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “Will you then take him (Iblîs) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zâlimûn (polytheists, and wrong-doers) (18:50). Who, in their right mind, would take Allah’s enemy as their master and defender?

We briefly touch upon major trials and temptations in human life discussed in stories of Al Kahf:

The trial of religion: Faith in oneness of Allah is the foundation stone of religion. Every step of the way our faith is tested. Every transaction we make has to fit the criterion of religion. In story of men of cave, it was about people’s evil acts towards young believers in the form of harm, torture or threats which may cause loss of faith, deviation from religion or fear. This was the trial the people of the cave experienced and passed.

The trial of wealth: This was the trial of the man with the two gardens, who was so proud of his wealth that he considered the hereafter not to be true. Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “And I think not the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, (on the Day of Resurrection), I surely shall find better than this when I return to Him (18:36). Wealth is a serious distractor, hence a serious test. People develop this false sense of wellbeing that if they got the best of this world, they will definitely get the best of the next. It does not happen like that. The man of two gardens was apparently a Muslim, who had been blessed with wealth and sons, but he failed the trial and paid the price.

The trial of knowledge: The case of a man who boasts of the knowledge he possesses to the extent that he feels arrogant and hence forgets about modesty. Such a man may learn things of no benefit to him or to his community. Or else he may misuse the knowledge he was granted in a way that may harm him or the society in which he lives. The trial of knowledge is illustrated in the story of Prophet Musa (AS) and Al-Khidr. Prophet Musa (AS) thought that no one on earth was more knowledgeable than him. However, once he realized that this was untrue, he traveled a long distance to meet the more knowing man and to learn from him in a truly respectful and modest relation of a pupil to his teacher. Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “Musa said to him (Khidr): “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)? (18:66). In order to leave us with a strong message, Allah failed his revered Prophet like Musa AS in this test.

The trial of power: Al Zulqarnain is presented as a just king who attributed his wealth and power to Allah Karim alone. Allah Karim says what can be translated as, “He said: “As for him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with a terrible torment (Hell). “But as for him who believes (in Allah’s Oneness) and works righteousness, he shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Al Zulqarnain) shall speak unto him mild words (as instructions) (18:87-88). It shows any amount of power in this world is not a right but a responsibility which makes it a trial. Al Zulqarnain passed this test.

Protection from temptations

The main idea of the Surah is protection from temptation. In this respect, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Between the creation of Adam and the Day of Judgment, there exists no greater trial than that of Al-Dajjal.” A question is then to be raised: What is the connection between the trial of Al-Dajjal and the four aforementioned trials and temptations?

Al-Dajjal will appear before the Day of Judgment and present the four temptations. He will try to push people to abandon their faith and will ask them to worship him and not Allah. Allah Karim will give him the ability to perform miracles: Al-Dajjal then may promise to bring to life one’s mother and father if one rejects Allah and believes in him instead. Everybody will be tempted except those blessed by Allah Karim. Al-Dajjal will lure humanity with temptation of wealth: he will simply command the sky to rain down on a particular piece of land and vegetation will flourish. He will be able to transform a barren desert land into a beautiful green garden. He will try you with temptation of knowledge: he will captivate people with what he knew which will tempt some of them to believe in him. Finally, he will exploit the temptation of power: he will subjugate people to his strength and authority in many parts of the earth except Makkah and Al-Madinah. These are serious temptations that all Muslims, in all parts of the land and throughout all of time, must beware of. Reading surat Al-Kahf and understanding the meanings within it, especially the four stories and the divine messages they carry can do this.

The four stories in the Surah are linked together through the string of trials. Each story is followed by comments which point out the lessons to be learned from it and how we can protect ourselves from trials and temptations. This is the magnificence of the Qur’an; it does not tell stories for their own sake but to leave a meaningful message. Hence, thrust of this Surah is seeking protection against all major temptations. Dajjal or no Dajjal, temptations remain a permanent feature of our lives and passing these trials is the essence of life.

May Allah protect us against temptations and carry us through the trials as He pleases.

Blessed Juma and Blessed Ramazan

Friday, 12 June 2015

Relation of Dajjal with four stories of Al Kahf

Writing about Dajjal is not promoting an obsession but creating awareness about the issue. Our purpose should be education on the subject and not spreading sensation or hysteria. Preparation for the worst fitna, so that we are not caught off guard because the very meaning of the word Dajl is deceit and Dajjal the great deceiver; the devil incarnate. Like any other test in life, appearance of Dajjal will come as a test. However, test and tribulation of the faithful will be harder than ever before. Every prophet has warned about fitn of Dajjal. Prophet (PBUH) has even been recorded mentioning coming of as much as thirty Dajjals before the appearance of The Dajjal whose powers will mesmerize the world. Even faithful will find it hard to distinguish right from wrong. In past, coming of Dajjal has been associated with ravaging of Baghdad by Mongols. Founder of fitn of Qadaniyat Mr Ghulam M Mirza is one example. But the one dubbed to fight Armageddon by all religions of Books, is real villain in waiting. His powers will exceed human abilities. He will perform false miracles. He will bring dead to life. He will defy laws of physics. He will tame nature for his use. Holder of such powers is likely to baffle anyone.

We know from Hadith that recitation of Al Kahf on Friday shields against fitn of Dajjal till next Friday. Should it not ring alarm bells that nearly millennium and a half ago, the Prophet (PBUH) had emphasized so much on shielding and preparing against this fitn each Friday till the end of times. So, should we not infer that presence of Dajjal over centuries is a different phenomenon from final appearance of Dajjal towards the end of times.

Only Allah knows the whole truth.

We shall now try to establish relation of Dajjal with all four stories of Al Kahf. What make these stories relevant and guidance for all times? How can reading of few Quranic stories protect us from Fitn of Dajjal? The morals of stories and their sequence is also amazingly organized.

First story of men of cave depicts societal decay where living bona fide life of a Muslim becomes difficult. The only refuge is in bonding with likeminded faithful and retiring to protection of Allah. Remaining steadfast on Tauheed against all the odds is the bottom line of our faith system. Look around, people like us who are born Muslim, believe in Allah’s oneness but our faith limits end there. Manifestation of Tuaheed is in following Quranic injunctions of Allah and just paying lip service to Oneness of Allah.

Second story of Men of two gardens hits absurdities of materialism. It is about forgetting Allah in good times, love for wealth and offspring and trust in own abilities rather than in blessings of Allah. Materialism is our adopted goddess. We prostrate in front of Allah but never get tired of doing math in our heads. Every day we worship the deity of desire. Today, anyone who avoids haram is the heretic of society. Everyday we put behind Allah in want for our material needs.

Third story of Musa and Khizar AS touches upon our overconfidence on knowledge of things and human impatience. Our race has evolved in every branch of knowledge. How far have we come? Not very far. Despite all the growth in knowledge, we measure people in terms of colour, creed and material status. Easy access to info has further confused the issue. Information is aplenty but knowledge is withering away. Science is the new religion of substance.

Before we take on the last story, it is important to draw chronological relation of first three. When it gets difficult to live like a Muslim in a Muslim society, connect with likeminded faithful and seek Allah’s refuge. Next step of decay is cancer of materialism followed by overconfidence in our knowledge. Humanity has sequentially traveled past these milestones. Life is difficult for those who believe in oneness of Allah. Materialism is the religion of the world. Human knowledge and confidence has relegated the need of God in the eyes of Godless. 

Following the sequence of this Surah and journey of humanity, next is the story of Al Zulqarnain. A learned, wise and brave ruler who defeated Gog and Magog. It seems all signs point towards appearance of Dajjal any time soon. Likewise, the promised Al Mehdi and Al Massih, who like Al Zulqarnain will establish writ of Allah’s Deen on earth by defeating the Antichrist and Gog Magog. There seems to be a deliberate sequence and chronology among stories of Al Kahf and their relation with appearance of Dajjal. However, timelines may be longer than usual and Allah knows the whole truth.

May Allah help us understand the bigger picture and enable us to play our desired role, Ameen.





Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Rohingya genocide - A victory of social media

   Burmese Muslims have finally caught the attention of media both home and abroad.  Rohingya Muslims committed one major sin by desiring to join Pakistan before 1947 which did not materialize. After 1947, they just paid the price for being Muslims. Rohingya
populace of Arakan province borders with Bangladesh. State of Bangla claims to have shown enough responsibility of accommodating around 1,40,000 Rohingya. Remaining 0.8 million Rohingya Muslims of Arakan have nowhere to go. As they escape brutalities of Burmese Monks, Bengali border security forces stop them; unfortunately they are not stopped verbally rather by force and at times warning shots are fired. They return to Burma to face greater misery.

   It is difficult to see how Muslims, or any group, could pose a threat to Myanmar's dominant religion. In this country of 51 million, 9 of 10 people are Buddhist. The Rohingya are believed to account for barely 2%.

   LA Times called him, "Buddhist Bin Laden," because Ashin Wirathu’s venomous tirades are contrary to conception of a Buddhist monk: a gentle, saffron-robed ascetic in the mold of the Dalai Lama. Wirathu, 46, in his hate speeches and Facebook posts, warned of an impending "jihad" against the huge Buddhist majority, spread rumors of Muslims systematically raping Buddhist women, called for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses and dubbed Muslims as "snakes" and "mad dogs." In July 2011, after Wirathu wrote in a Facebook post that two Muslim brothers had raped their Buddhist maid in Mandalay, the second-largest city, an organized mob rampaged through Muslim neighborhoods. Two Muslims were killed. The maid later confessed to fabricating her story, but the swiftness of the violence and the fact that hundreds of riot police officers did not intervene led many to believe that it had been orchestrated. State is sponsoring his terrorism which has already committed genocide of hundred thousand Muslim Rohingya.

    For years, the world remained hushed up on the troubles of Burmese Muslims. However, in recent past mainstream media in the world failed to keep the lid on the issue. Because, poor of the world had found their voice on the social media. Unless highlighting an issue serves economic and vested interests of Govts and media owners, it never finds space in headlines. But social media is not bound by these limitations. Credit must go to each single person who posted on the internet in the name of humanity and broke the cruel silence of those who matter in the power matrix of the world. Social media with its vices has become the voice of voiceless. I am certain Mark Zukerberg could never imagine his facebook spearheading campaign against Muslim genocide in Myanmar but unthinkable has happened.

   Special thanks to each person for each click because echo of your clicks can be heard across the globe. Traditional habit of media to feed us what they want to feed us and patronize our thought process on issues, has received a slap in the face. All statesmen, state media, paid media and even few Muslim countries’ leadership have started voicing concerns for Rohingya Muslims. Truly, a victory of social media and triumph of humanity.  

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Virtues of Al Kahf 2

Being word of Allah, Quran has this unique lingual thoroughness. It contains direct injunctions, however, the description of ‘unseen’ is the tricky part. Explanations on beginning and end of times, invisible creatures like angels and jinns, resurrection, accountability, heaven and hell; all are unseen events described in veiled speech. These are open to interpretation. This is where human imagination goes berserk. The hardest thing for human mind in 21st Century is to accept the existence of unseen world. Our minds are used to accepting evidence. Scientific experiments are based on empirical evidence. Theories of philosophy and economy are all supported by substantive evidence. For existence of unseen Quran is the living and talking evidence. You have to find time to delve on 6666 evidences. Quran is the special mercy of our Lord. He gave us signs (Ayahs) to understand. While others waste time in debate, those blessed with the eye of the soul can clearly see those signs.

Now we move straight to our weekly segment and complete second part on virtues of Al Kahf

            Third Virtue: On the Authority of Hazrat Aisha (RA); the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Shall I not inform you of a Surah which is so full of greatness it reaches between the heaven and earth and it has blessings written for it of similar proportions (from the sky to earth) whoever reads it on Yom-ul-Juma, is forgiven what occurred between that Juma and the next, in addition to 3 days (i.e. 10days in all) and whoever reads the last five ayat of it when he goes to sleep, Allah will send him that night what he wants. They said, Yes, O Messenger of Allah. He said: Sura Ashabul Kahf.”

Firstly, it is important to address the difference in number of days for which Al Kahf shields us from Fitn and number of Ayahs to be recited. In some Hadith seven days are mentioned and on other occasions ten. Likewise, some Hadith emphasize recitation and memorization of first ten, last ten and last five Ayahs of Al Kahf. The difference is not as important as the recitation itself. If possible entire Surah be recited. Similarly, first and last ten Ayahs be memorized. No need to embroil in futile debate of numbers. Allah has also discouraged such debate in same Surah describing number of Ashab-e-Kahf. Our focus must be on the lessons intended to be drawn.

This hadith gives a variety of virtues of reading and reciting Surah al Kahf on the day of Juma. The first virtue is that reading Surah al Kahf on Friday absolves us from sins for ten days. The second virtue described in the hadith is that by reading Surah al Kahf on Friday nights and before going to sleep every night one gets the benefits of expatiating from sins as well as granting of wishes.

Now let us find out how Al Kahf may protect us from fitna of Dajjal. Appearing of Dajjal is certain towards the last days before end of times. Again Dajjal belongs to the unseen part of Quranic guidance. Similarly, things are mentioned in metaphors. Symbolism in Quran is abundant. For example, last ‘days’ mentioned in Quran and Hadith may not be of just 24 hours. Long nights and days of northern pole suggest that it is not necessary. Whereas, in our earth, days and nights span over months, how is it possible that a day in our Lord’s description fits 24 hours’ cycle. Judgement Day is considered to be equal to thousand years. We need to understand that time is a human invention and every invention is bound to end. Hence, days before end of times could be spread over years or centuries. In this context, we may comfort ourselves by thinking that we may not confront Dajjal in our lifetime and it may possibly be true. But this does not completely strike out the possibility of seeing that fitna. Who knows he exists but time of his appearance has not arrived yet. He is supposed to be an extremely powerful creature.

I recall my first readings about the Dajjal and it did scare me a bit because he will seem to be so powerful and will be able to produce many (false) miracles. Many good people will be fooled or deceived by him to his submission. It will be disconcerting to others to see known pious or good people following what the Dajjal says. This is very scary and it will tend to mislead those weak in faith. It will be an extremely trying time and the fact that he will be given the ability to offer people a choice between what seems to be certain death or life but the true believer, when forced to make that decision will choose fire (death) rather than kufr. It will be very frightening. We don't know exactly how this will occur or even when, but we have seen many of the signs of the last days come to pass so it is not farfetched to feel, to think that we are living in some of the last days before the Last Day.

Allah is the Knower of whole Truth.

May Allah protect us from Fitn of Dajjal and bless us with understanding the marvels of Quran in general and Al Kahf in particular.
(Next week, the relationship of all four stories of Al Kahf with present times and Fitn of Dajjal, Insha Allah)