Emphasizing Huqooq-ul-Ibad (Rights of Others) in Ramadan

Muslims around the world have begun observing the holy month of Ramadan with long hours of fasting during daylight and by flocking to the mosques everywhere for taraveeh (extra prayers) after sundown. The imams are delivering khutbas and making television presentations on the blessings of Ramadan and emphasizing extra rewards for praying during the month. Meanwhile, the Taliban have refused to agree to a ceasefire by claiming that the “reward of fighting is much higher in the holy month.”

How about discussing Huqooq ul Ibad (human rights) in this blessed month? How about saying that there is no greater right of the living than the right to life? And there is no greater sin than the taking of an innocent life which is happening with regularity in indiscriminate bomb attacks almost everyday in public places?

And We have sent you (Muhammad) not but as a mercy for mankind
Quran: Sura Al-Anbiya  21:117

As to the convoluted justifications for killing of the "infidels", it is important to remember that the Holy Quran describes Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as Rehmat-ul-lil-Alamin, not just Rehamt-ul-lil-Muslimeen.  The Prophet of Allah was sent to this world as a blessing for all, not just for Muslims, a fact often forgotten by bigots and terrorists who claim to be Muslims and carry out unimaginable atrocities in the name of Islam.

TTP's "Shariah" is Distortion of Real Shariah. Just Say No to it!

It seems to me that there is an urgent need to bring Huqooq ul Allah (Duties to God) in better balance with Huqooq ul Ibad (Duties to humans and all of Allah's creation). And Ramadan is an ideal time for the imams (prayer leaders) and khatibs (preachers) and popular televangelists to give equal time to both in their sermons, TV shows and speeches to the faithful attending the mosques or watching TV.

The Muslim preachers must take this opportunity to tell the worshipers that Allah will not forgive any wrongs done by them to their fellow human beings; such wrongs can only be forgiven by those who are wronged.

“And render to the kindred their rights,as also to those in want and to the wayfarer” (Surah Bani Isra’il, verse 26)

“Serve Allah, don’t associate anyone with Him, do good to parents, kinsfolk,orphans, those in need, neighbors who are of kin, neighbors who are strangers,the companion by your side, the wayfarer,and what your right hand posses: for Allah loves not the vainglorious;nor those who are niggardly, enjoin niggardliness on others,hide bounties which Allah has bestowed on them” (Surah Al-Nisa, verse 36)

It's important to remember during Ramadan from the teachings and the life Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)  lived to learn how to deal with the serious crises Muslims face today. Here is how I remember the Prophet I know from my reading about his life:

Secular Education:

The Prophet I know instructed Muslims to "go as far as China to seek knowledge". It was clear at the time that China was not a Muslim nation. It is therefore safe to conclude that the Prophet encouraged all necessary efforts to seek all knowledge including secular education.

Faith and Reason:

The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran to humanity, the Book that repeatedly and emphatically challenges readers to "Think" (Afala Taqelon) and "Ponder" (Afala Tatafakkron) for themselves. This is the best proof that Islam wants Muslims to reconcile faith and reason. It was this teaching that brought greatness to Muslims in seventh through thirteenth centuries following the death of Prophet Muhammad.


The Prophet I know showed compassion and understanding when a Bedouin person entered the Prophet's mosque in Medina and urinated, an act that infuriated the Prophet's companions. He restrained his companions and asked them to show understanding for the ignorance of the Bedouin.


The Prophet I know spoke softly and briefly. His last khutbah was a mere 430 words lasting a few minutes. He did not make long, fiery speeches.

Response to provocation:

The Prophet I know responded to abuse by prayer. When the people of Taif threw rocks at him, he responded by praying to Allah to give guidance to those who abused him.

Respect for Life:

The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran, the Book that equates " unjust killing of one person" with "the killing the entire humanity". It commands respect for life.

In this terror-stricken world, it is more important than ever for Muslims to make a serious effort to understand what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood for and how he lived his life. The issues of education, faith, reason and compassion need to be understood in the light of the Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadith. It is this understanding that will help guide the Ummah out of the deep crisis it finds itself in.

I urge the Muslim imams and the Islamic scholars everywhere not to waste the opportunity to educate Muslims about the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the high importance of Huqooq-ul-Ibad in Ramadan to contribute to ending the long nightmare Pakistanis and others are are being subjected to.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

The Prophet I Know

Is Ramadan Just a Break From Work?

Does Nawaz Sharif Have a Counter Terrorism Strategy?

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Comment by Riaz Haq on July 22, 2013 at 3:56pm

Here's a NY Times story illustrating how angry anti-US Pakistanis are shooting themselves in the foot:

Usman, who limps on a leg bowed by the polio he caught as a child, made sure that his first three children were protected from the disease, but he turned away vaccinators when his youngest was born.

He was furious that the Central Intelligence Agency, in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, had staged a fake vaccination campaign, and infuriated by American drone strikes, one of which, he said, had struck the son of a man he knew, blowing off his head. He had come to see the war on polio, the longest, most expensive disease eradication effort in history, as a Western plot.

In January, his 2-year-old son, Musharaf, became the first child worldwide to be crippled by polio this year.

“I know now I made a mistake,” said Usman, 32, who, like many in his Pashtun tribe, uses only one name. “But you Americans have caused pain in my community. Americans pay for the polio campaign, and that’s good. But you abused a humanitarian mission for a military purpose.”

Anger like his over American foreign policy has led to a disastrous setback for the global effort against polio. In December, nine vaccinators were shot dead here, and two Taliban commanders banned vaccination in their areas, saying the vaccinations could resume only if drone strikes ended. In January, 10 vaccinators were killed in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north.

Since then, there have been isolated killings — of an activist, a police officer and vaccinators — each of which has temporarily halted the campaign....


And here's PTI's chief minister Pervez Khattak saying "our war is not against the Taliban. We say to Taliban this is your province and your country. We want to talk with them."


Comment by Riaz Haq on July 23, 2013 at 3:46pm

Here's a Reuters' story suggesting Sharif taking tough-line against militants under pressure from Pak military:

Sharif's tougher line signals that Pakistan's powerful military still has the upper hand in policy-making, despite hopes that the government would have a larger say after he came to power in the country's first transition between civilian administrations.

"Of course we want to try talks but they are a far off possibility," said a government official, who has knowledge of discussions between civilian and military leaders on how to tackle the Taliban.

"There is so much ground work that needs to be done. And when you are dealing with a group as diverse and internally divided as the Pakistani Taliban, then you can never be sure that every sub-group would honor talks."


"Today it would be incorrect to say that the army has full control over policy making," said one retired senior army officer. "It is just fashionable to say the army doesn't let civilians work. Question is, do they want to work?"

But for now, when it comes to the Taliban, there is more confusion than clarity.

"On the ground there is no policy as such," said one senior police officer posted in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region on the Afghan border. "Should I fight them or talk to them?"


Comment by Riaz Haq on August 8, 2013 at 5:32pm

Here's an AFP report of an attack killing 30 policemen in Quetta:

A suicide bomber has killed 30 people and wounded more than 50 others, most of them Pakistani policemen attending a funeral.

The attack at police headquarters in the south-western city of Quetta was the latest in a series of attacks highlighting the major security challenges faced by a newly elected government.

The bomber struck as officers gathered to pay their respects to a colleague who had been shot dead only hours before in Quetta, capital of the troubled province of Baluchistan.

"Most of the dead and injured are policemen," senior police official Mohammad Tariq said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Quetta sits on the frontline of Islamist militant violence, a Baluch separatist insurgency and violence targeting the Shiite Muslim minority.

Witnesses described the horror after the explosion.

"I was inside the mosque and we were lining up for the funeral prayers when a big blast took place," police officer Mohammad Hafiz said.

"I came out and saw injured and dead bodies lying on the ground.

"I have no words to explain what I've seen - it was horrible."

Another witness said he saw dead bodies scattered everywhere.

"Most of the bodies were beyond recognition," he said in an interview broadcast by TV channel ARY.

"We collected body parts and flesh.

"Those who are killing people, even inside mosques, are not human beings, they are beasts.

"They are not Muslims, they have nothing to do with Islam. Allah will never pardon them."

The blast capped a bloody Ramadan in Pakistan, where at least 11 attacks have killed more than 120 people during the fasting month, one of the holiest times in the Islamic calendar.

Early on Wednesday a bomb killed eight people at the end of a football tournament in Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, many of them young fans watching the game from the stands.

On Tuesday Baluch separatist gunmen shot dead 14 people, including three security officials, 70km southeast of Quetta.


Comment by Riaz Haq on May 8, 2014 at 10:38am

Here's a Time magazine story on Boko Haram:

Shariah is part of Islam, and shariah is important to Muslims. But shariah is not a codified, static or agreed upon collection of laws

Over 200 girls abducted, enslaved and possibly sold. 310 people killed in a market attack. Schools and churches bombed. Students, teachers, and police shot dead. An escalating surge of violence aimed at children and adults, Muslims and Christians, political, traditional and religious leaders.

Largely due to the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, Boko Haram has now entered mainstream media and US public consciousness.

In response, there is growing commentary on the horror of this event, and on Boko Haram’s history. Many voices have begun to lay bare relevant intersections of government corruption, poverty, diversity and education.

Yet when it comes to the question of motivation, an off-the-shelf explanation is being bandied about: the motivation of Boko Haram is the implementation of shariah and an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria.

This explanation certainly aligns with the rhetoric of Boko Haram. It also permits a neat “ah-ha” moment, allowing us to somehow make sense of these heinous atrocities by placing them in a familiar storyline. Shariah is routinely discussed in connection to violence, inhumane punishments, anti-Western sentiment and oppression of women.

The problem is that this depiction is highly reductive and oversimplified. It obscures significant details related both to shariah and to Boko Haram. And, in doing so, it grants a sense of legitimacy to the group’s twisted ideology while muffling strategic voices of opposition.

Shariah is part of Islam, and shariah is important to Muslims. But shariah is not a codified, static or agreed upon collection of laws. Shariah is better understood as guiding principles according to which Muslims attempt to live their lives.

A good analogy here is the founding ideals of our ..

It is similar with shariah and Islamic law. The majority of Islamic laws do not derive directly from the Qur’an, which primarily contains generalized ethical content. Most Islamic laws instead come from the work of Islamic jurists over the past 1,400 years. These jurists, in the past and today, have debated, upheld, modified, and introduced diverse laws. They have tried—with varying degrees of success—to align those laws with the principles of shariah. What they have never done is agree upon a fixed set of specific laws.

Just as we adapt our laws here in the US to fit changing circumstances over time, jurists adapt Islamic laws to fit changing circumstances. And just as each US state faces unique circumstances, people, and challenges that require different laws, jurists also adapt Islamic law to local conditions. We strive in the US remain true to our nation’s highest ideals, and jurists strive to remain true to sharia.

Why does this matter in reference to Boko Haram? Because in parroting the content-lite and ideologically-rich rhetoric of Boko Haram, we buy in to their mythology. We explain their behavior as mere religious zealotry. We allow them to define the terms of the discussion, without challenge. We implicitly, sometimes explicitly, assent to the idea that their version of “shariah” is actually authoritative.

We also inadvertently muffle the voices of Muslim opposition to extremists like Boko Haram. These voices, including my own, yell out that this is not my “shariah.” But because these voices do not fit within the agreed upon mythology, they often fall upon deaf ears.

When asked about the motivation of Boko Haram, we should call it what it is: a bastardized ideology that references Islam and focuses mainly on punishment. An ideology that aims not to create a functional ‘state,’ but rather a state of fear and coercion. An ideology that performs its obscene agenda on the backs of girls and women....


Comment by Riaz Haq on December 14, 2016 at 10:12pm

#Saudi Prince: #Arabs Have 'Wronged #Islam And Distorted The Image Of #Muslims'


Arabs have "wronged Islam and distorted the image of Muslims," Saudi Prince Khaled Al-Faisal warned in a speech this week. The prince said Muslims should "not allow colonialism to return, or for divisions to prevail."

The prince's remarks were brief and did not reference any recent events in the Arab world. It's unclear what he was referring to, but his comments come as the Islamic State group has carried out terror attacks against Muslims across the Middle East and as Saudi Arabia is locked in a struggle against Iran for influence over the region.

"I do not envy anyone who stands to speak on behalf of Arabs today. We have wronged Islam and distorted the image of Muslims," Prince Saud, who has served as foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, said during the opening remarks at the 15th Arab Thought Foundation conference in Abu Dhabi. The theme of the event was: "Arab Integration: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Arab Emirates."

"Excuse me if my candor is painful, but the wounds are glaring," he added. "Arise Arabs, wake up Muslims, do not allow colonialism to return, or for divisions to prevail."

In July, Saudi officials accused the Islamic State group of bombing the holy city of Medina, the site of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's tomb and his house, in an attack that killed four security officers and injured five others.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has urged Muslims to unite against an epidemic of "extremism." But earlier this year, Saudi Arabia's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, said Iran's leaders were not Muslims. Saudi Arabia and Iran represent opposite sides in Syria's civil war and other Middle East conflicts, including Yemen. Saudi Arabia cut off relations with Iran in January after its embassy was attacked in Tehran.


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