Archive for March, 2006

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Know Your Prophet (His Last Days)

March 29, 2006

During his (prayers and peace be upon him) last days on earth, the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah (blessings of Allah be upon her), spent a lot of time with him. One day, the Prophet made a gesture to Fatimah to come closer to him. She came closer, and he whispered something in her ear that made her weep. Then, he whispered something in her ear that made her laugh. People were astonished at this, but she would not reveal what he said until after his death.

The mother of the believers, A’isha, then asked her about this and Fatimah replied, “In the first instance my father informed me about his death and stated that he was not likely to recover from his illness. Hence, I began weeping. However, when he talked to me for the second time he told me that I would be the first person from amongst his Ahl al-Bayt who would join him. This made me happy and I understood that I would be joining my dear father very soon.”

During the last moments of his life the Prophet opened his eyes and said: “Call my brother so that he may come and sit by my side.” All those present understood that he meant no one other than Ali. Ali sat by the side of his bed but felt that he wanted to rise from his bed. He, therefore lifted the Prophet from his bed and made him rest on his own chest.

A number of traditionists have narrated that, before the Prophet died, the Angel Jibreel came to him and gave him the option of recovering from his illness and continuing his life in this world or for the Angel of Death to come to him, take his soul, and proceed to the next world and live among those referred to in the verse, “These are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favours from among the Prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and they are the best friends that one can have.” (Surah al-Nisa, 4:69). The Prophet replied, “No. With the Divine Companion” and passed away.

The Messenger of Allah, the Chosen One, the Seal of the Prophets, returned to Allah, Glorified and Exalted, on Monday, the 28th of Safar.

Imam Ali (peace be upon him) bathed the sacred body of the Prophet and shrouded him, as the Prophet had directed that his body should be bathed by one who was nearest to him and such a person could be no one except Ali. Then he uncovered the Prophet’s face while he was bitterly weeping and said, “O Prophet of Allah! I love you more than I have loved my parents. Your death put an end to the prophethood, to revelation, and to the messengers from the Lord. While death of other Prophets had not resulted in this way. Your death caused a grief that every other grief was forgotten. The grief of your separation became common sorrow and everybody felt it. If you had not ordered us to be patient and not to lament and bemoan loudly, we would have kept weeping and lamenting ceaselessly, though all this lamenting could not have compared with the actual loses of your separation. But death is an inevitable event, nobody can turn death back and nobody can stop it from coming. Please remember us before Allah“. (Nahjul Balaghah, Sermon No. 23).

“The first person who offered prayers for the Prophet was Imam Ali. Thereafter the companions came in groups and offered prayers and these rites continued till Tuesday noon. Thereafter it was decided that the sacred body of the Prophet might be buried in the same house in which he had breathed his last. The grave was prepared by Abu ‘Ubaydah bin Jarrah and Zayd bin Sahl and the obsequies were performed by Imam Ali with the assistance of Fadl and Abbas.

Adapted from “The Message” by Ayatullah Ja’far Subhani

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Universal Morality

March 28, 2006

Today I was talking with my sister about the philosophical school of “moral relativism“.

I found an Islamic book on the topic, but I am curious to know if there are any good books in favor of the theory.

I, of course, am of the opinion that morality is universal, that certain undying principles and morals are inherent in human beings and that all human beings are, by the decree of the Creator, entitled to certain inalienable rights. In other words, a person either has morality or he does not. While the way someone perceives morality can vary, the presence of it is pretty black and white.

My sister asked an interesting question about whether or not those rights extend to animals (i.e. some cultures kill animals for food, clothing, etc., while others hold them to be sacred and never kill them). I would say that their rights are different with us just as they are different with each other (in other words, a lion, by its nature eats a gnu, and a man, by his nature, eats a chicken).

Nevertheless, the right to kill can only be granted by Allah. And that is the real reason that we (the followers of the Prophet’s household) only eat meat that is slaughtered in the name of Allah (zabiha). It is not the method of slaughtering that is so important but rather, as Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (peace be upon him) said, “the name that is important.” It is important to recite Allah’s name over it, thus acknowledging the animal’s right over you and seeking Allah’s divine permission to kill it.

I mentioned to my sister the example of Native Americans, particularly the Lakota, who believe the animals to be sacred (or perhaps even divine in the case of the buffalo — tatanka), yet they certainly ate it, wore it, used it for tools, housing, and just about everything else. By using it in every aspect of their lives, they honored it. To kill it for sport, however, would still be considered wrong. This is, in my estimation, the correct moral approach, and al-Islam clearly supports this view. Killing, whether of people or animals, can be sanctioned under certain circumstances, but it can never become a sport or something taken lightly (according to one’s own immoral values).

I intend to write a more lengthy discussion on these issues on OneUmmah.net, insha’Allah, if time and longevity of life permit.

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Graphic Novels and Graphic Non-Fiction

March 24, 2006

Runaways, Marvel teenage superheroesLast night I went to an excellent session on Graphic Novels. For those of you out of the loop, graphic novels are essentially comic books that are novel-length and typically bound in a traditional book format. They are sensationally popular with the young people (and myself).

The genres are pretty much unlimited. Although most people think of comics in relation to super heroes and possibly manga-style martial artsy type books, there are a number of graphic novels that cover everything from high-school (there are even Lizzie McGuire graphic novels) to the Holocaust. That leads me to the next point, which is that graphic non-fiction is an excellent resource, especially for students who are struggling with research because of their low reading levels.

I have non-fiction books about topics such as Harriet Tubman, the Titanic, and the American Revolution, all in “comic book” format.

Granted, it does add a little work to your plate. Not all graphic novels are suitable for young people, but I am assuming that if you are a school or children’s librarian, you make those kind of judgment calls with all books.

Please do not be deceived into thinking that this cheats kids out of “real reading.” Not only does it encourage reading, but the graphic novels themselves are an excellent source of “reading practice,” and studies have shown that the reading level of graphic novels is actually higher than many traditional adolescent novels. After all, they can get away with higher level words because they have pictures to describe them. Kids love them, and any librarian who deprives them of what they love to read is just evil. 🙂

**Climbs down from the pulpit**

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AP Disappointment

March 23, 2006

I just tried a free trial of AccuNet/AP‘s image and media service. It is described as being an easy way to search for Associated Press resources, but it seems pretty buggy to me. I was not able to find anything because it kept refreshing my browser (Firefox). They have a “diagnostic” page that basically just lists your user agent information. The site is not particularly nice looking (it looks like amatuer web design with grainy graphics). Overall, it is very disappointing considering that it supposedly comes from AP. It is certainly not a writer’s dream come true, and for libraries and education, you can forget it.

The price they offer is $295 for a one-year subscription with unlimited access, which would not be bad if it didn’t suck.

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Sufi Dreams and Dervish wishes

March 22, 2006

I’ve added a “Sufism” forum to Muslim Message. I felt it was appropriate in a time when Sufism is under attack from some. I’ve invited a wise and well-versed young brother from Bangladesh to be moderator. He describes himself as a member of Ahl al-Sunnah and a 100% follower of Sufism.

He is Syed Badrudduza Director General of “Torikae Mojaddedia Dawate Khalk Elallah.”

The forum is currently empty, so please come and fill it with mystic chants and drunken poems of spiritual ecstasy.

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Happy Spring

March 21, 2006

It’s spring, although you can hardly tell with the 8 inches of snow being dumped on us. Anyway, alhamdulillah.

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The Golden Scrolls

March 20, 2006

I have the web site for my forthcoming novel online, alhamdulillah. It will mainly serve as an information site, but you will also be able to purchase the books from there. I will probably not post any significant excerpts until the book is finished. There are way too many characters, places, and events for me to know exactly what will make it into the final manuscript. After editing is done, or at least after I know what parts I will definitely keep, I will try to post some relevant excerpts. As of now, only Umm Zahra has read any of it.

It is a fantasy/adventure book, but I’m hoping it will cross all genres, inshaAllah, attracting the interests of all types of people. My goal is to have the manuscript complete by June, editing finished by October, and publishing sometime after that. Lantern Torch will be doing all of the editing and publishing, but I might hire some others to assist along the way. Final printing will be done by Lulu, inshaAllah, but I do reserve the right to print other editions.

Writing is fun, and the deeper I get into the world, the more I start to feel as though I’m a part of it, that we all are, and I hope that all of you readers out there will want to become a part of it as well (in other words, I hope it doesn’t suck).