Category Archives: History

Abu Ubaydah ibn Al Jarraah (radiallahu anhu)

The Romans sent a man to negotiate with Abu Ubaydah ibn Al Jarraah but when he got there he couldn’t tell which of the Muslims he was as none of them looked to him like a governor should.

Roman: O Arabs, where is your leader?

Arabs: There he is.

Roman: [Upon locking eyes with Abu Ubaydah who was sitting on the ground with a bow on his shoulder and an arrow in his hand] Are you the leader of these men?

Abu Ubaydah: Yes

Roman: Then why are you sitting on the ground? Why don’t you sit on a cushion?

Abu Ubaydah: Allaah is not too shy to tell the truth and I shall tell you the truth about what you have said. I do not have any wealth; I own nothing but my horse, my weapon and my sword. Yesterday I needed some money and I had nothing, so I borrowed some money from this brother of mine (Mu’aadh ibn Jabal) who had some. He lent it to me. If I also had a rug or a cushion, I would not sit on it and exclude my brothers and companions; I would let my brother sit on it, for he may be better than me before Allaah. We are slaves of Allaah. We walk on the Earth, we sit on the ground, we eat on the ground, we lie down on the ground, and that does not lower us in status before Allaah at all. Rather Allaah increases our reward thereby and raises us in status, and thus we show humbleness before or Lord.

Radi’Allaahu ta’aala anh ♡

– Futoohush Shaam by Al Azdee p122.

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Glenn Greenwald – Attacks on the West

‘It is always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked and bewildered when someone brings a tiny fraction of that violence back to that country…

The issue here is not justification. The issue is causation. Every time one of these attacks occurs — from 9/11 on down — Western governments pretend that it was just some sort of unprovoked, utterly “senseless” act of violence caused by primitive, irrational, savage religious extremism inexplicably aimed at a country innocently minding its own business. They even invent fairy tales to feed to the population to explain why it happens: they hate us for our freedoms.’

-Glenn Greenwald following the attack on Canadian parliament 2014

ISLAM21C – AUSTRALIA’S FORGOTTEN ISLAMIC ROOTS

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Written by Ayshah Syed for Islam21C

Australia Day; a day of progress, a day of fireworks and laser shows, a day of communities gathering, unified in celebration of what makes Australia great – or so they would have us believe.[1] The truth of the matter is that Australia Day marks the anniversary of conquest, slaughter and invasion. For the indigenous people, January 25th is Invasion Day and marks 228 years of genocide.[2] It is a Day of Mourning.

For the British powers, Australia was terra nullius – land belonging to no-one (read: no one important), and they therefore felt justified in colonising the country without a treaty or any recognition of the rights of indigenous people to their land.[3] In 1788, the First Fleet of British Ships arrived, and Captain Arthur Phillip raised the British Flag in a symbol of British Occupation.[4]

On this day, 228 years ago, British fleets invaded what is now known as Australia, beginning a systematic extermination of its indigenous people that was to last hundreds of years. Like other victims of Western imperialism, the indigenous people were regulated under legislation until the 1960s and legally hunted like animals. Their children were also often taken from their families and put into abusive residential schools to ‘integrate’ them into ‘modernity’ and instil within them ‘superior’ Western values.[5]

In an abhorrent display of their colonial blood-lust, Britain stole the indigenous people’s land, exterminated the indigenous people’s identity and repressed the indigenous people’s independence. With a global history of foreign relations such as this, it is no wonder that people view the idea of a borderless world with such trepidation. “They come because they hate our freedom; they come because they want to change our way of life; they come because they want our jobs, our resources, our land; they come with malintent.” It sure does sound like you’re projecting, oh Saintly Colonisers. But, I digress.

In an article titled ‘Black History did NOT start with Slavery’, Dawwud Loka emphasises the rich history of a native people before colonial rule.[6] Such is the case with the indigenous people of Australia. Theirs is a history of tradition, beliefs, progress, foreign trade and hospitality. Trade? Hospitality? Who would deign to trade with the ‘lowly natives’? Which naval fleet would come upon this terra nullius and see people, deserving of their own land and equals in terms of business, and leave without propping up their flag? It was the Muslims. Anthropologist John Bradley from Melbourne’s Monash University explores the success of their international relations pre-British colonisation.

“They (the Muslims and the Aboriginal people) traded together. It was fair – there was no racial judgement, no race policy.”[7]

Few Australians are aware that the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with foreign Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonisers. Muslim fishermen rode over on Indonesian fishing boats from the trading city of Makassar.

They made annual trips to gather the sea cucumbers, which fetched a high price because of their important role in Chinese medicine and cuisine.  The Makassan Muslim cucumber traders stayed, married Aboriginal women and left a lasting religious and cultural legacy in Australia. Alongside cave paintings and other Aboriginal art, Islamic beliefs influenced Aboriginal mythology.[8]

The first Muslims to settle permanently in Australia were the cameleers, mainly from Afghanistan. The Muslim camel men worked the inland tracks and developed relationships with local Aboriginal people. Intermarriage was common and there are Aboriginal families with surnames including Khan, Sultan, Mahomed and Akbar. Muslim Malays worked as labourers in the pearl-shelling industry. They, too, formed longstanding relationships with the indigenous people they met. A significant number married local Aboriginal women, and today there are many Aboriginal-Malay people in the top end of Australia.[9] Unfortunately, Muslim trade with the indigenous people ended when heavy taxation and government policy restricted non-white commerce.

John Bradley describes his findings of the Aboriginal tradition infused with Islamic heritage, a memento of a peaceful, progressive time before Western Colonisers took their land, took their women and established themselves as superior.

“If you go to north-east Arnhem Land, there is [a trace of Islam] in song, it is there in painting, it is there in dance, it is there in funeral rituals… It is patently obvious that there are borrowed items. With linguistic analysis as well, you’re hearing hymns to Allah, or at least certain prayers to Allah.”

And Islam continues to exercise an appeal for some Aboriginal peoples today.[10] Muslim conversion is growing in indigenous communities. In the 2001 national census, 641 indigenous people identified as Muslim. By the 2006 census the number had climbed by more than 60% to 1,014 people.[11] In a research paper on Islām and its role in returning pride to the indigenous Australian people, Dr Peta Stephenson, Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne, found,

“The Indigenous Muslims […] perceive a neat cultural fit between their traditional Indigenous beliefs and the teachings of Islām. Many hold that in embracing Islām they are simultaneously going back to their Indigenous roots.”[12]

A participant in Stephenson’s study said that Islām does not just say “you’re Muslim, that’s it. It recognises we belong to different tribes and nations. So it doesn’t do what Christianity did to a lot of Aboriginal people, [which] was try and make them like white people.”

Stephenson continues,

There are also gender-specific reasons why Islām appeals to indigenous women and men. Indigenous women have long been stereotyped as sexually available, and suffer disproportionate levels of abuse. Wearing the hijāb is a practical as well as symbolic deterrent to unwanted attention. As a public expression of the importance Islām accords the family, it also appeals to indigenous female converts who, against the backdrop of a long history of family break-up, want to offer their children security and stability.

A similarly nuanced set of arguments surrounds the appeal of Islam for indigenous men. The Islamic notion of “universal brotherhood” and its disavowal of racial distinctions lead to a growth in self-esteem that has a significant influence on the way they think about their roles as husbands and fathers. The attraction of Islām for many indigenous men is that it recognises the importance of defined leadership roles for men in their families and communities. These roles have largely been lost through racism and the ongoing legacy of colonisation.[13]

For some Aboriginal converts, Islām offers a fresh start; a detachment from the horrors that have stripped them of their inheritance and the crisis of identity and dependence they experience as a result. One gentleman was once homeless and an alcoholic, but he found the Islamic doctrines of regular prayer, self-respect, avoidance of alcohol, drugs and gambling all helped him battle his addictions. He has now been sober for six years and holds down a steady, professional job.

“Where is my culture?” he asks. “That was cut off from me two generations ago. One of the attractive things about Islam for me was that I found something that was unbroken. When I found Islam it was the first time in my life that I felt like a human,” he says. “Prior to that I had divided up into ‘half this, quarter that’. You’re never a complete, whole thing.”[14]

Regardless of whether it is the new hope it offers people now, or the goodness it brought in the past, what is clear is that across generations and across land and sea (Australia included), Islām has existed as a light; a beacon of peace, progress and enlightenment. It was not Islām which left a legacy of enslavement and exploitation; this is the legacy of Western Colonisers. Islām left a legacy of tolerance, integration and trade. Skin colour was not an issue for the Muslims; this was a sickness which existed in the minds of the Western Colonisers.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) taught the Muslims,

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white [person] has no superiority over a black [person] nor does a black [person] have any superiority over a white [person] except by piety and good action.”[15]

The Muslim people honoured the indigenous people in pre-colonial Australia, and the Muslim people mourn with them today. Australia Day, by all moral accounts is not a day of joy. On this day we mourn the stripping of their independence, the loss of their land, the violation of their rights, and we condemn the celebration of their suffering.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] http://www.australiaday.org.au/australia-day/about-our-national-day/

[2] http://www.islam21c.com/special/web-posts/australia-day-celebrating-228-years-of-genocide/

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[4] http://www.australiaday.org.au/australia-day/history/beginnings/

[5] http://www.islam21c.com/special/web-posts/australia-day-celebrating-228-years-of-genocide/

[6] http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/black-history-did-not-start-with-slavery/

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[8] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[9] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[10] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[11] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[12] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[13] http://theconversation.com/long-history-with-islam-gives-indigenous-australians-pride-3521

[14] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27260027

[15] http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/islam-is-the-cure-to-racism/

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Tim Wise – Pathology of White Privilege

This is it… this is the video that finally helped me ‘get it’ when it came to the subject of white privilege a few years ago.

I know Tim Wise has done other later talks in more recent years, continues to address issues of race and inequality from a white perspective but this for me is my favourite, most powerful speech of his I’ve listened to. Maybe as it affected me so much.

And yes… I know he is a non-Muslim, and will occasionally say things as a Muslims we will not agree with but on the subject of racial inequalities, white privilege and the massive problems built up into modern day societies around  these issues he speaks the truth and we should respect that.

Hamza Yusuf and the Dangers of Black Pathology

Article written by ‘Strugglinghijabi’ and the original is linked here

Ya know, I’m not very familiar with Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. When I say “not very familiar,” I mean I used to think he was the guy who formerly went by the name Cat Stevens. (Embarrassing, I know.) So when it comes to his reputation and character, I think it better to suspend my initial impressions and rely on the Muslims I know (mostly black) who are acquainted with him. What I’ve gathered seems to boil down to three basic viewpoints:

  • Those who have followed him/known him for years and believe him to be good, kind and absolutely not racist.
  • Those who have followed him/known him for years and think he’s a decent Islamic teacher but have always felt uncomfortable about his commentary on race and politics.
  • Those who could never bring themselves to follow him because his commentary on race and politics always seemed racist and out of touch.

So what do I do with that? How do I reconcile the divergence? Well, it seems he’s probably not an avowed racist, but clearly his thinking is misguided and very much affected and infected by the mythology of black pathology. (Shout out to activist, scholar, artist Su’ad Abdul Khabeer for putting this on my mind.) White supremacy, which results in the othering/devaluing of blackness, is so pervasive that even the most well-intentioned people can suffer from it without even knowing. We can probably all think of racist things that have flown out of the mouths of people we generally love and agree with. In fact, we (black people) can probably think of some of our own statements that have been either tinged or deeply stained with this implanted self-hatred. I’m tryna tell you, it’s deep, son.

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Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, speaker at RIS2016

As a cousin of mine so eloquently put it, our brainwashing has been complete. There is no part of our thinking or experience that has not been affected, influenced and tailored. So when a well-respected, well-loved scholar like Hamza Yusuf gets on a grand stage and tries to counter and discount black justice movements (BLM and the like) by citing the myth of black on black crime and then tops it off with a statement like, “It actually makes me a little sick to my stomach to see all these people rising up about… white privilege,” we see exactly what we’re dealing with and how no one, no matter how popular, is exempt from inheriting diseased thinking.

For those who Stan for Yusuf and cannot and will not accept these comments as anything more than the result of his intense fatigue, I (kinda) understand your pain. I say this because I know how hard it can be to swallow the idea that a person you have revered for years—a person whose teachings brought you deeper into the fold of Islam—can have racist views. I get that you experience it as a loss, and I get that there is a bit of grieving involved for the image you once held. But after the shock subsides, recognize and acknowledge the danger of black pathology and how it was wound all up and through Yusuf’s RIS 2016 rhetoric.

Black pathology is the idea that black people are—perhaps simply by virtue of being born black—steeped in pathology, unable to think and behave normally, healthily, sanely. Black pathology states that we are inherently flawed, not in a “all of mankind is flawed” sort of way, but in a “something is specifically wrong with those people” sort of way. So the many problems that have befallen black people have nothing to do with concerted efforts of concentrated racism and everything to do with our messed up wiring, which prevents us from pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps like so many others.  Yes, I know Yusuf never made such bold and direct claims, but there was definite danger in his words.

Why? Because he had an opportunity to educate a mass of mostly non-black Muslims on the oppression of their black brothers and sisters but instead spoke on black on black crime and how America’s anti-discrimination laws are top notch. Translation: “The problem is them.” To borrow a tweet from Su’ad Abdul Khabeer,

Black pathology is used to explain away structural racism by claims of “bad” behavior, culture, morals, etc

And then to add insult to injury, Yusuf brought up the racism “in our own communities” but only addressed anti-Jewish sentiment and Arab vs. non-Arab (i.e., South Asian) racism. He made no mention, not even in passing, of the very real and visible issue of anti-blackness in Muslim communities. Please tell me you see something wrong with that.

But that was late Friday night. He was tired and wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. He had Saturday to clarify. However, what came Saturday night wasn’t much better. Though he apologized explicitly about his comments directed toward Sheikh Yasir Qadhi and the Muslim Brotherhood, he did not directly apologize about his comments on black people. Instead, he explained how he couldn’t possibly be racist because of his proximity to non-white people. Really, bro?

What’s crazy is that most people didn’t even expect him to come out and say, “I apologize for being a racist.” Brother, only you and Allah (SWT) know your heart. If you say with sincerity that you love all of humanity and are not racist, I’ll accept that you believe that, but know that having a Mexican wife and a mother in the Civil Rights Movement doesn’t excuse you from being held accountable when you say racist things. We all must accept correction.

All that was required was a sincere apology, an admission of insensitivity, an acknowledgment of the fact that you don’t have the understanding or cultural sensibilities to speak to such issues.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, you crawled deeper into the cave of black pathology by saying the breakdown of the black family is the greatest issue facing black Americans, not racism. I must ask, how on earth can any person with any bit of black history under their belt discuss the tearing apart of black families, which is a real thing, WITHOUT centering the structural racism that was put in place specifically to do just that? There is no clear picture of one without the other.

Otherwise, you end up sending the message that black men and women are being incarcerated at alarming rates just because. That’s black pathology. You end up sending the message that black people are killed and mistreated (by others and themselves) just because. More black pathology. You end up sending the message that black people tend to be less financially stable just because. Another statement powered by black pathology. This type of thinking attaches itself to existing ideologies of racism and supports them as they grow, further blotting out black humanity. Ergo, it is a very big deal.

So if you are going to discuss such complex topics, be willing to make space at the table for all relevant aspects, including those that make you uncomfortable. And humble yourself enough to admit where you lack knowledge. If you cannot do that, silence is better.

CAGE – TO COMMEMORATE “ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST STATESMAN”

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To commemorate “one of the world’s greatest statesmen”, Winston Churchill, the UK Government has released a new £5 note…

Here’s a few quotes from the ‘great’ man:

BENGAL FAMINE / INDIA

“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

“The famine is their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

This was during the Bengal famine in 1943 when over 3 million Indians died due to starvation. As people ate grass and leaves, Churchill’s Empire increased tax and export of wheat to stockpile supplies in Europe.

WHITE SUPREMACIST:

In 1937, he told the Palestine Royal Commission:

“I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

ON THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDS:

“I cannot understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.”

VIEWS ON ISLAM/ MUSLIMS:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia [rabies] in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.

“Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.”

ON PALESTINIANS:

“(The Palestinians are) barbaric hoards who ate little but camel dung.”

THE HISTORY OF SUFISM – BY DR. MUHAMMAD MUSA AL-SHAREEF

In any aspect of our deen it is important to be balanced, to not fall into extremes of partisanship either for or against but  to look at the evidence and tease out the truth of the matter with balance and fairness.

In this important talk, Dr Muhammad Musa Al-Shareef discusses the origins of the Sufis and Sufism, how it contains some goodness as well as bad and how they’ve gone further and further astray as time has gone on.

“I had to stress this point at the beginning as some think the sufis are all deluded, ignorant and in the wrong. On the other hand, there are some people who regard Sufis as authorities in relgion and examples of true Muslims. In fact, both are extreme views. The moderate view is that Sufis are a sect of Muslims; we can adopt their sound views and give up their false ones.”
Dr Muhammad Musa Al-Shareef – The History of Sufism