Saturday, December 19, 2009

Apostasy in Islam

By Alhaj Dhul-Waqar Yaqub


We, as American citizens, have a patriotic duty to comprehend the dynamics that keep our democracy strong. We should be well informed and engage the world around us based on fact not fear. Since 9/11 religious and political elements, within the European and American Occident, have invigorated their engagement with Islam. This invigorated engagement is based on the same stratagems from the past i.e. fear and suspicion. Islam is seen, through a flawed prism of distortion and negative discrimination, as the threat to the West; Islam’s founding Prophet is scripted as a sex crazed pedophile who butchered people indiscriminately; the monopoly on religious extremism is Islam’s alone; and its adherents are terrorist fanatics lacking compassion and mercy.

Fortunately for the seekers of truth, reality goes against what has become the general media perception of Islam here in America. However, it was author and missionary Don Richardson’s book Secrets of the Koran and the chaos it has the potential to sow among non-Muslims, which prompted a concentration on an enormous misconception in Islam. Richardson’s declaration that, “Reverters are tagged as apostates, and the penalty for apostasy under Sharia law is death”[i] reinforces a longstanding conjecture that apostasy in Islam is a capital crime punishable with death.

The objective of this paper is to investigate and assess the subject of apostasy in Islam from Holy Qur'an. Ultimately this paper will show that the concept of apostasy (irtadda in Arabic)[ii], as it existed in medieval Christianity is alien to Islam and that the Sharia law of apostasy has nothing to do with Islam.


This investigation and assessment of apostasy in Islam requires clarification of the methodology, which will be used to deduce the facts from its primary source. This methodology has a standard and a fundamental rule, which is as follows:

For the purpose of this paper Islam’s primary source, which is the Holy Qur’an, will be used exclusively. The standard and fundamental rule pertaining to the correct interpretation of the Qur’an is explained by the Qur’an itself. Allah says, “He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book; in it there are verses that are decisive in meaning – they are the basis of the Book – and there are others that are susceptible to different interpretations. But those in whose hearts is perversity pursue such thereof as are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and seeking wrong (of their own choice) interpretation of it. And no one knows its right (true) interpretation except Allah and those who are grounded in knowledge; they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ And none heed except those gifted with understanding.” [iii]

According to the above verse, the Qur’an has two types of verses. Verses that are “decisive in meaning” (muhkam); Verses that are “susceptible to different interpretations” (mutashabih). The right way to interpret “mutashabih” verses is that their interpretation must agree with the verses that are “muhkam”. If the interpretation of verses, that are “susceptible to different interpretation”, does not agree with the verses that are “decisive in meaning”, they are to be dismissed as incorrect.[iv]

Holy Qur'an: Freedom of Conscience and Belief

Freedom of conscience and freedom of belief are basic principles of Islam. The verse where Allah says, “There should be no compulsion in religion: Surely, right has become distinct from wrong…” [v] gives the commandment that in no case is force to be resorted to for the purpose of converting non-Muslims to Islam. It makes no difference whether non-belief was before or after one’s acceptance of Islam, compelling a person through coercion to accept religion or to punish a person for leaving a religion is clearly forbidden. The nonbeliever and the apostate are entitled to the freedom to accept or reject religion without force or the punishment of a capital crime.[vi]

The above mention verse not only gives the commandment that force should not be used for the purpose of converting non-Muslims to Islam, it also gives the reason why force conversion is not a viable option to accepting truth freely. Islam proposes that “right has become distinct from wrong” and anyone who has sincerity of the heart or mind may access truth easily.

By the same token, if a person “turns back from his religion” the same principle will apply. Islam is manifest truth. Anyone who sincerely desires to see this truth can easily see it; but if a person does not desire to see it, no force or punishment can make him see it. A person who has become a Muslim has the option of renouncing Islam after having declared his faith in it.

Islam’s concept of freedom of conscience and belief is perfectly compatible with one of the most important documents of our time i.e. the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. Article 18 of the UDHR declares the following:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Islam’s compatibility with Article 18 of the UDHR follows from “There shall be no compulsion in religion: Surely, right has become distinct from wrong…” [vii] and “…whoever rejects the faith, his work has doubtless come to naught, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.” [viii] The words, “rejects the faith” means “turns apostate.” Apostasy, by itself, however condemnable is a spiritual offense to be settled in the “Hereafter” not in the temporal world.

The essence of freedom of conscience, belief and the freedom to change one’s religion, without any legislative underpinning of punishment by death, is clearly stated in the aforementioned Qur’anic verses. However, author and missionary Don Richardson, attempted to dismiss the verse that says, “There shall be no compulsion in religion: Surely, right has become distinct from wrong…” (Qur’an 2:257) by alleging that “…it has been abrogated (i.e. annulled, cancelled, replaced)…” [ix] In reality there is absolutely no verse in the Qur’an which is abrogated. The Qur’an itself testifies to its own purity and integrity. The well-known verse: “Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation and most surely We will be its guardian” (Qur’an 15:10) leads to no other conclusion. If the abrogation of any part of the Qur’an be conceded, the promise about its protection becomes null and void, for in that case it would be impossible to distinguish the abrogated portions from the rest of the Book. [x]

Christian critics focus on verses of the Qur’an, which gave the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the young Muslim nation the authority to defend themselves from aggressors. These critics are shameless as they take verses out of context to support their points of view. In the Qur’an Allah says, “And if they break their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion, then fight these leaders of disbelief, surely, they have no regard for their oaths that they may desist” (Qur’an 9:12). The context of this verse is that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and the Muslims were subjects of aggression for the purpose of annihilating Islam by force. These aggressors acted treacherously and resorted to all sorts of foul means to annihilate Islam. It was only such men that Muslims has been commanded to fight.

Those who rejected Islam after having believed in it and took up aggression for the purpose of annihilating Islam would be fought against, not because of their apostasy, but because of their aggression toward Islam. This seems to be the real issue that Christian critics have to face. There is no death penalty associated with apostasy. However, within the context of war, those who took up treason, rebellion or hostility against Islam were fought against as enemies of the Islamic State.

Our Christian critics have unfairly charged Islam as a religion of war and view Muslims as terrorist thugs. No doubt there are Muslim rogues who have hijacked Islam and use Islamic phraseology in carrying out their insanity, but to judge the entire religion based on the acts of a few is shameful. Can we, as Muslims, assess the worth of Christianity based on the rogue behavior of the Ku Klux Klan and be fair-minded? The answer is no. We may go even further by encouraging Christian critics of Islam to compare the wars of Islam with the wars of the great Old Testament Law-giver, Moses (as). Here, Moses (as) made war against a people who had never taken up arms against him and “…save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them…” (Deut. 20:16, 17).[xi]


Apostasy is the renunciation of Islam by a Muslim. Every Muslim has an option to renounce Islam but no one has the right to declare another apostate. An organization, government agency, Imam or Sharia court cannot declare another an apostate. Apostasy by itself, which is not aggravated by rebellion, treason or aggression against the State, does not incur any penalty or punishment in this life.

[i] Don Richardson, Secrets of the Koran, (Ventura, California, USA, Regal Books/Gospel Light, 2003), p. 24

[ii] Abdul Mannan Omar, The Dictionary of The Holy Qur’an, (Hockessin, DE: Noor Foundation – International Inc., 2003), p. 207

[iii] Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud, Second Successor of the Promised Messiah, The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 1, Part II, (Oriental and Religious Publishing Corporation Ltd., Rabwah, West Pakistan, 1965), 3:8, p.365

[iv] ibid, commentary 299, p. 365-368

[v] Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud, Second Successor of the Promised Messiah, The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 1, Part I, (Oriental and Religious Publishing Corporation Ltd., Rabwah, West Pakistan, 1964), 2:257, p.325

[vi] ibid, commentary 263, p. 325, 326

[vii] ibid, 2:257, p.325

[viii] Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud, Second Successor of the Promised Messiah, The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 1, Part II, (Oriental and Religious Publishing Corporation Ltd., Rabwah, West Pakistan, 1965), 5:6, p.605

[ix] Don Richardson, Secrets of the Koran, (Ventura, California, USA, Regal Books/Gaspel Light, 2003), p. 58

[x] Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud, Second Successor of the Promised Messiah, The Holy Qur’an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. 1, Part I, (Oriental and Religious Publishing Corporation Ltd., Rabwah, West Pakistan, 1964), 2:107, commentary 113, p.162-164

[xi] The British & Foreign Bible Society, The Bible, Revised Standard Edition, (Great Britain: Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, 1967), Deut. 20: 16, 17, p. 146

Friday, July 24, 2009

Views on American Racism

"Racist" and "racism" are provocative words in American society. To some, these words have reached the level of curse words in their offensiveness. Yet, "racist" and "racism" are descriptive words of a reality that cannot be denied. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans (people-of-color) live daily with the effects of both institutional and individual racism.

After the election of Barack Obama as America's first African American president there were many who asserted that racism is no longer a problem and that we are now living in a "post-racial America." However, with the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the expulsion of a group of black children from a private swimming pool apparently because of their race, the true state of America's racism emerges to the surface once again to remind us that "we ain't there yet, y'all."

It isn't necessary to sight case after case of individual racism. What is needed is the collective realization that institutional racism is embedded deep into the moral fiber of America; that there has to be a collective will to confront, engage in dialectic discussion(s) leading toward the complete and total elimination of individual and institutional racism. The process for the elimination of all forms of racism has to begin now.

It may be said that dichotomy oversimplifies the complexities of America's race problem. There are some, both black and white Americans, who believe that if we are not suffering from "overt racism" then racism has ended and therefore we need not continuously bring up the subject again and again. It is true that it is no longer fashionable to put on a hooded sheet and lynch a black man. Nor do we see the "For Whites Only" signs of overt legal segregation. However, "overt racism" has given way to a more subtle or sophisticated form, which doesn't depend on brute force to enforce laws to subjugate and control. This "subtle racism" allows some whites to vote for Obama, and to carve out exceptions for those black and brown folks who make white folks comfortable, but to maintain fundamentally hostile views towards the larger communities of color from which these exceptions come. In other words, the kind of racism that says, black folks are fine, so long as they went to Harvard Law, speak a certain way, dress a certain way, and pander to the tastes of us white folks. "If you're white you're right" as the old saying goes.

Even immigrants get caught up in this "subtle racism" when they come to America. These immigrants, whose skin may be black or brown, in their effort to imitate the white ruling class will take on the psychic and the racial biases of white Americans. They will view blacks--even children--as pathological, socially dysfunctional, likely to misbehave, and unworthy of the opportunities enjoyed by whites.

In light of the latest racially motivated incidents, let me make the following point in the clearest possible terms:
The white racial psychic must be thoroughly challenged, exploded, destroyed, eradicated, before the United States of America can ever hope to achieve racial equity, or even the most rudimentary levels of social justice.
"Institutional racism" is the structure that houses race-based discrimination in justice, housing, education, employment and health. It reflects the cultural assumptions of the dominant group, so that the practices of that group are seen as the norm to which other cultural practices should conform (Anderson and Taylor, 2006). Institutional racism is more subtle, less visible, and less identifiable than individual acts of racism, but no less destructive to human life and human dignity.

Challenging and dismantling "institutional racism" requires a sense of history -- the history of racial stereotyping in America -- and a capacity to listen and observe how frequently the present echoes the past (David Shipler, 2002). One must be aware that what seems to bother white people more than anything, whether in the case of "expelling black children from a swimming pool" or at any other time, is being confronted with the recognition that black people do not see the world like they do; that black people, by and large, do not view America as white people view it. White people are shocked that this should be so, having come to believe apparently, that the falsehoods to which they cling are not equally shared by darker-skinned compatriots. White people are shocked to learn that black people actually still perceive the U.S. as a racist nation -- they're literally stunned that people who say they experience discrimination regularly (and who have the social science research to back them up) actually think that those experiences and that data might actually say something about the nation in which they reside. Imagine.

The difficulty is that one has to perceive the problem to embrace the solutions. If you think that racism isn't harmful unless it wears hooded sheets or burns crosses or bars blacks from motels and restaurants, you will support only the crudest anti-discrimination laws and not the more refined methods such as affirmative action and diversity training. If you recognize how subtle racism can be, the subtler tools seem appropriate (David Shipler, 2002).

There has to be some acknowledgement that whites benefit from racial prejudice, even as society suffers as a whole. Few white Americans reflect on the unseen privileges they possess or the greater sense of worth they acquire from their white skin. In addition to creating the traditional alignments of power in America, negative beliefs about blacks tend to enhance whites' self-esteem.

If blacks are less intelligent, in whites' belief, then it follows that whites are more intelligent. If blacks are lazier, whites are harder working. If blacks would prefer to live on welfare, then whites would prefer to be self-supporting. If blacks are more violent, whites are less violent --- and the source of violence can be kept at a safe distance.

Many conservatives urge that an "optimistic" assessment of America's racial situation be presented. At the same time, they refuse to see the pernicious racism that persists. That blindness does not justify optimism. Legitimate optimism comes from facing the problems squarely and working to overcome the insidious subtleties of bigotry that still remain in America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th of July

As an Ahmadi Muslim I can say, "Happy Independence Day America" and really mean it. My patriotic realization wasn't something that happen all of a sudden, but was gradual with deliberate reservations.

We grew up celebrating the 4th of July like everyone else in the neighborhood. It was barbecue, home made ice cream, fireworks, family get-together and a day off work. If we were lucky we would go to the amusement park for rides in bumper cars, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds and the haunted-house. I vaguely remember the 4th of July as a holiday relating to America's independence. At the most, perhaps on a test in school, we had to recall "July 4, 1776" as an important date concerning the adoption of a "Declaration of Independence" document. The long and short of the 4th of July was this: fireworks yes, but singing the Star-Spangled Banner" no.

During my service in the military the 4th of July wasn't much different. Saluting the flag was a daily routine, but not associated with celebrating Independence Day...even on the 4th of July. The "4th" was a day off work and an all day round robin of Bid Whist.

After accepting Islam, as my religion and way of life, celebrating the "4th of July" became questionable: Is it Islamic? As a Muslim I'm I also an American? Is America my country? However, the most compelling question was; Can I be a Muslim and be patriotic to the United States of America?

National events brought me face to face with my own patriotism as a Muslim in 1970. I worked among an all white staff during the period when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and refused induction into the military because of his religious convictions. Muhammad Ali angered these white conservative patriotic World War II veterans and he had a "big mouth" too. My name was Dhul-Waqar Yaqub and I was "one of them" as far as they were concerned. I was their scapegoat.

Being "one of them" meant being a "black Moslim racist" regardless of how many times I conveyed to them that I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and I didn't hate white folks. One day a co-worker, Woody by name, started talking to me about his military service during World War II. He took this opportunity to inform me that he could think differently about me if I had served in the military.

I was shocked and stunned by his remark. Realizing I never shared the fact that military service was a part of my past I responded, "You've got me all wrong Woody. I served in the military and was honorably discharged, my father served in the military during World War II and my grandfather served in the military during World War I. Both my father and grandfather received honorable discharges."

Woody, by the look on his face, was equally stunned. He remarked, "I didn't know that." As he tried to composed himself he blurted out, "Well, why are you in that religion?" At that time the buzzer sounded off signaling clean-up time so I asked him, "Woody, can we talk about this tomorrow?" He agreed.

Subsequently, I started going through the Holy Qur'an and the writings of the Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and writings of the Ahmadiyya Khulafa looking for answers about where my patriotism should be as an Ahmadi Muslim. I stumbled upon a booklet titled, "The Question of Divided Loyalty: Some Parallels From History" by Mirza Bashir Ahmad (1893-1963). In that booklet the author pointed to the relevant Qur'nic verse, which says,
"O ye who believe obey God and obey the Prophet and obey those in authority from among you." (4:60)
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement (upon him be peace), writing about the above quoted verse specified very clearly what Islam commands:
"The Holy Qur'an commands, 'Obey Allah and obey His Prophet and obey those in authority among you.' Believers are to obey those in authority, besides God and His Prophets. To say that 'those in authority' does not include a non-Muslim Government would be a manifest error. For, a government or authority whose ordinances are in accordance with the Shariah (that is, they are not in conflict with it) is 'authority from among you.' Those who are not against us are among us. The Qur'an, therefore, is unequivocal on the point. Obedience to government authority is one of its imperatives." (Works and Speeches, Vol. 1, p. 261).
So also in the Hadith, the Holy Prophet (saw) is reported to have said:
"He who obeys me, obeys God; he who disobeys me disobeys God. He who obeys his authority obeys me; he who disobeys his authority disobeys me" (Muslim, Kitab al Imarah).
In this hadith the whole subject of loyalty and patriotism to one's country became illuminating. Loyalty and patriotism belong by right only to God, Creator, Master, Lord of Men and Nations. Others have authority derived from Him. This would include the United States of America, which reflect the Authority of God.
In accordance with all this (the Holy Qur'an, the Holy Prophet's Hadith, the writings of the Promised Messiah), the then Head of the Ahmadiyya Movement, Hadrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, impress upon my mind loyalty and patriotism to one's Nation by clearly stating:
"Our belief is that Islam requires every one to be loyal to the state under which he lives...Loyalty to a Government or State, according to us, is ordained by the Holy Qur'an and the Qur'an is the Book of God...The Ahmadiyya Head or Khalifa has no right to alter an ordinance contained in the Holy Book. The Khalifa is a deputy, not a dictator. A deputy is bound to authority in the same way as are all others." (Al-Fazl, April 5, 1949)
After several months of study I felt ready for the Woody's of the world. However, more importantly I was beginning to comprehend the concepts of patriotism from an Islamic perspective. For the first time in my life I had a desire to learn about the principles my country stood on. I started studying the United States Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and its twenty-seven amendments. The first ten amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights and of special importance was the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery and authorizes Congress to enforce abolition. I didn't find any of these documents to be in conflict with the Holy Qur'an.

My follow up dialog concerning my new found concepts of patriotism with Woody and other co-workers brought about an inconclusive reserve on their part. I tried to make it clear to them that I am a Muslim who belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I came from a family line that had three generations of men who served in the U.S. Military and that military service invested me and my future generations with a free exercise of religion.

During the seven years of employment there and as a result of our many discussions, Woody secretly admitted that he listen to "negro" spirituals (gospel music) on Sunday morning radio. He claim that it was the only aspect of religion which gave him the "feeling". Another co-worker shared with me that in his village, an "Underground Railroad" station operated there years ago. That seemed to be a source of pride for him. Anyway, people just don't make this stuff up.

To all Americans, from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, we wish you a happy 4th of July!

The Surprising Benefits of Honey

"And thy Lord has inspired the bee saying, 'Make your hives in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which the people build. Then eat of every kind of fruit, and follow the ways of thy Lord that have been made easy for thee.' There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is cure for men. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect." (Holy Qur'an 16:69-70)

The verses of the Holy Qur'an quoted above introduces the subject of divine revelation. The bee has been selected as a prominent example, because its wonderful organization and work impresses even a casual observer and is discernible to the naked eye. The verses says that God inspires the bee to collect its food from different fruits and flowers and then by means of the mechanism provided in its body it converts the collected food into honey. Honey provides a cure for the physical diseases of man and the most essential quality of the Qur'anic revelation also is that it is a cure for the spirirual maladies of man.

In an article posted on June 05th, 2009 in Storage, Health the health and curative benefits of honey are confirmed.

Throughout history honey has been considered a food with unparalleled nutritional and physical benefits. Really, honey is a miracle food. For over 10,000 years (and maybe more) honey has been used as a staple food and as a medicine. Honey is one of the few foods that can actually sustain human life by itself. If you’re not storing honey, this ought to convince you to start.


Honey lasts forever; if stored properly you will never need to worry about your honey going bad, forget about FIFO with honey. There was actually edible honey discovered in the pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. It is also a healthy substitute for sugar that contains no fats or cholesterol.

Honey Food Storage

My honey is hard and crystallized! Not to worry, if your honey has become crystallized all you need to do is heat it to return it back to normal. Or if you like, turn it into mead!



Honey is great for overall skin health and can even help to reduce wrinkles and nourish the skin.


Honey has been used as an antibacterial for years, it was even one of the most popular treatments for wounds in the First World War. Recent science has explained to us why honey is such an effective antibacterial agent.

"One New Zealand researcher says a particular type of honey may be useful in treating MRSA infections. Antibacterial properties of honey are the result of the low water activity causing osmosis, hydrogen peroxide effect, and high acidity."


Honey has also been shown to reduce odor, swelling and scarring when used to treat wounds, aside from its antibacterial effects.

Stomach Ache

Got a stomach ache? No problem, mix one teaspoon of honey with a hot glass of water, squeeze in about half a lemon and your stomach ache should go away.

Pink Eye

While it has only been proven in rats, honey was considered an effective treatment for conjunctivitis.


Folk medicine suggests that taking local honey will help your allergies because you gain a tolerance to local pollens. Recent studies suggest that while it doesn’t help by eliminating allergies it helps reduce allergies.

"a recent study has shown pollen collected by bees to exert an anti allergenic effect, mediated by an inhibition of IgE immunoglobulin binding to mast cells. This inhibited mast cell degranulation and thus reduced allergic reaction."


Honey coats the throat, making it great for a sore throat. To cure your sore throat simply take about 1 teaspoon of honey and let it slowly trickle down your throat.


Honey is also great for burns since it removes the pain and helps aid in the healing process.



Some studies suggest that honey can also help with various nervous disorders such as insomnia. If you can’t sleep, mix 1 teaspoon of honey into a warm glass of water and enjoy a good night’s sleep.

**Because of the spores contained in honey, infants under the age of 1 year cannot consume it. While it’s fine for older children and adults, infants under 1 year can contract botulism from honey


Monday, June 22, 2009

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA: First National Convention

In 1947, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA held its first National Jalsa Salana (annual convention) in Dayton, Ohio. The site where the convention was held is the site of what was to become the first mosque built in America by American converts to Ahmadiyya, the true Islam.

From these humble beginnings the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has continuously held its Jalsa Salana (annual convention) for sixty-one years. Alhumdulillah! All praises are due to God, Who is Single.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ahmadiyya Muslim Prison Ministry USA

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Philadelphia was the scene of this photo, which was taken in 1972, in front of the Philadelphia, PA mission house. Bilal Abdus Salam (5th from the right) established himself as a Chaplin in a minimum security facility outside of Philadelphia. To my knowledge, Bilal's "jail ministry" was a first in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and it caught the attention of the then Chief Missionary, Sharif Bajwa (picture with coat over his arm) and several Pakistani judges who were visiting the U.S. at the time. This group photo was taken before driving to tour the facility.

Bilal Abdus Salam tells the story of how he established himself as a Muslim Chaplin. He made an application to provide religious services to inmates, but was denied by the authorities because they thought the teachings of Islam would be a security risk. Bilal gave the application authorities a copy of The Philosophy of the Teaching of Islam by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whom we believe to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (as). As a result of reading that book the application authorities were able to comprehend that Muslims were to submit to those who are in authority from among them and they therefore admitted Bilal as a Muslim Chaplin. From there Bilal went on to secure the human/religious rights of the Muslim inmates.

Bilal wanted to relieve the suffering and provide moral/spiritual guidance to those inmates seeking to reform themselves. In collaboration with authorities he was able to exclude pork from being served to Muslim inmates, provide Islamic reading materials to those seeking knowledge, and established Jummah services into the conceptual framework of jail/prison ministry at that facility.

We can measure Bilal's success as a Muslim Chaplin from an interview I had with one of Bilal's converts. He said, "I was a teenager living in the projects of Philadelphia when I saw my brother's body minutes after he was gunned down. I was angry and never thought of living life pass the age of twenty-five when I landed in jail. Islam was the buzz among the inmates and I wanted to know what was going on. I attended a lecture discussion on Islam, which was delivered by Bilal and for the first time I was hearing something that made sense of this hell I was living. Bilal gave me a copy of the "Philosophy" and when I started reading that book it seemed as if light was jumping off the pages. That's how I came into Ahmadiyyat." As an interviewer I was surprisingly stunned because I've known this brother for over thirty years, but wasn't aware of his background. Currently a grandfather, who dresses like a Wall Street business man, musingly talks about his grandchildren saying, "When I tell them about my life before accepting Islam and Ahmadiyyat they always tell me they don't believe me. I give praises to Allah, the Most Forgiving. The life I was living wasn't providing me with peace of mind and I certainly would have been just another casuality of the streets instead of a grandfather telling my grandchildren stories they can't believe."

In view of the way Bilal carried out the Tabligh process...I'm reminded of "some home grown" wisdom, which was shared with me by a dear brother. He said, "Tabligh has become just a prophetic idea instead of being the force igniting processes that relieve the suffering amongst the most vulnerable".

From a historical perspective, a movement that began in the 1970s under the Nation of Islam to evangelize inmates has evolved into one of the most effective religious rehabilitation agendas in the U.S. Imams continue to draw converts, but most Muslims in prisons today are Sunnis, said Lawrence Mamiya, a professor at Vassar College who has studied Muslim prison ministries.

As far as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA is concerned, Bilal may have been the first, but other Ahmadi Muslims have followed his example. Currently, Al-Haj Abdur Raqib Rashid Wali is serving as Chaplin in a maximum security prison in California. I had the pleasure of meeting several of these unique individuals, who were converted to Islam by Imam Wali, as he is affectionately called by ex-inmates. I consider them to be unique because they had served their time and I met them not in prison, but outside the confines of their cell walls. They were on jobs living life as upright tax paying citizens. While inmates, they were serving long sentences, sometimes up to ten years or more. They credit Imam Wali for his guidance by saying, "...he would tell us that he was preparing us to leave this small prison to go into the big prison of life." I found them to be very focused, having an exceptional knowledge of themselves and their purpose in life, deeply spiritual and well connected with Allah, the Most-Merciful.

"Jail [/prison] is a tomb or a womb" as inmates under Chaplin Hakeem refer to their confinement. Hasan Hakeem, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Zion, is also a Chaplin of what may be termed a jail ministry, is untiring about his work. In an interview with Chaplin Hakeem I asked him what he considers his role as a Chaplin to be? He explained, "I minister to everybody. Regardless if they are Muslim or a Christian inmate, a family member visiting an inmate or a security guard, the message is the same...get your relationship with God together. When I council inmates about questionable behavior I asked them what would their mother think about what they are doing and they make positive adjustments." When I went to the Zion Mission House I found newly released inmates there for prayers and waiting on assignments for an upcoming event. I could see the tabligh process manifesting itself in a "new Muslim cool" kind of way i.e. reformation. "All of these brothers come from troubled backgrounds, they're African-American, European-American or Hispanic-American converts who have an opportunity in a wholesome environment to try to reflect and change their lives, " Chaplin Hakeem said. "The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community offers them that opportunity."

In today's Islamophobic climate The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA still has an important role to play in Muslim Prison Ministry programs. It's motto "Love for All Hatred For None" signals its "moderate" stance toward that end.

Major James K. Dooghan, United States Army School of Advance Military Studies in his white paper titled Muslim Prison Ministry: Hindering the Spread of Radical, Violent and Irreconcilable Wing of Islam states the following: "Addressing the violent Islamic ideology at the grass roots level may decrease the number of terrorist recruitment and increase the number of Muslims appealing to a nonviolent interpretation of the Qur'an." Major Dooghan goes on to say, "The author recommends an anti-violent Islamic ministry program which educates detainees and prisoners through Muslim clerics...The U.S. Bureau of Prisons Muslim chaplaincy program offers a framework to select Muslim religious service providers for a Muslim prison ministry program. Sufficient legal, ethical and moral framework exist to argue for the availability of a ministry program to personnel in U.S. custody. This indirect appoach focuses on conflict resolution and relies on Muslims who reject the violent interpretation of the Qur'an, commentaries, the hadith, the fiqh and the law. The solution is not an ecumenical reconciliation of the various religions of the world but a peaceful coexistence beginning with an intellectual understanding of the ideologies and empathy for the Muslims caught in the war between terrorist and the coalition forces trying to defeat the terrorist networks."

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA has an inherent history of nonviolence and has always advocated true Islamic principles leading toward peace. The philosopy behind "Love For All Hatred For None" stands as a challenge to Muslims who are advocating a violent and radical approach to Islam.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

...and they prayed too.

Prayer is the life of a Muslim. In the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA the observance of prayer is the means of direct communion with the Lord of All The Worlds. 95% of these brothers, pictured above, are American born Ahmadi Muslims. They have incorporated prayer into their lifestyle after their acceptance of Islam. It is through the acceptance of prayers that one comes to know God for certain.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Al Qaeda Plays the Malcolm Card -- In These Times

Al Qaeda Plays the Malcolm Card
By Salim Muwakkil

Many of these Islamist groups fear the election of a black American president with explicit African roots and symbolic Islamic connections will lessen the anti-American fervor among their recruitment targets.

When media reports emerged that al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, disparaged President-elect Barack Hussein Obama as a "house negro," it angered many in the black community. However, it also struck a chord.

The Egyptian physician — who is reportedly Osama bin Laden's confidant — actually used the phrase "house slave," but it was later translated as "house negro."

Al-Zawahiri said, "You [Obama] represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz or Malcolm X," who "condemned the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed, and he declared his support for peoples resisting American occupation."

The al Qaeda leader said Obama, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice "confirmed" Malcolm X's definition of a "house slave." He was referring to Malcolm X's distinction between slave-era "house Negroes," who lived comfortably in the big house abetting white supremacy, and "field negroes," who toiled in the fields under the whip, plotting resistance.

But his metaphor was wrong about Obama: If anything, he would now be the housemaster, not the slave.

What's more, Al Qaeda is deploying this particular metaphor to offset Obama's global popularity, particularly in East Africa. Many of these Islamist groups fear the election of a black American president with explicit African roots and symbolic Islamic connections will lessen the anti-American fervor among their recruitment targets.

Although al-Zawahiri overplayed his hand with such a transparent racial ploy, he did manage to draw attention to what could be a troublesome issue for many progressive activists, particular for those who are African-American.

Many advocates of progressive international policies see the United States as "imperialism central." And for good reason. Stephen Kinzer's 2006 book, Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, makes clear this nation's ignoble history in subverting and deposing foreign governments. Kinzer concludes, "No nation in modern history has done this so often, in so many places so far from its own shores."

The response to al-Zawahiri's comments also revealed African-American Muslims have little love for radicalized Islamists. At a news conference in New York City at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial, Educational and Cultural Center, a gathering of African-American Muslim leaders denounced al-Zawahiri's remarks as "insulting." The group added, "As Muslims and as Americans, we will never let terrorist groups or terror leaders falsely claim to represent us or our faith."

The statement also noted that radicalized Islamists have, "historically been disconnected from the African-American community generally, and Muslim African-Americans in particular."

This was a veiled shot at Arabs' historic role in the slave trade and the racism still blemishing some Arab nations, such as in Sudan.

Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam — which is generally separate from other African-American Islamic groups — has been effusive in his praise for Obama. And Farrakhan has made clear his disdain for groups that employ terrorism.

Despite Farrakhan's aversion to al Qaeda's tactics, his foreign policy prescriptions probably would please al-Zawahiri and "condemn the crimes of the Crusader West against the weak and oppressed." With their man Obama now leading the "Crusader West," where will the Nation of Islam stand when the crusade inevitably continues?

More generally, where will black progressives stand?

No doubt, there will be strong black critics of the Obama administration who will keep the first black president's feet to the fire.

Others may find more to love about America. If the Obama administration decides to bomb Pakistan's tribal territories, for example, these supporters, who once may have questioned the wisdom of unilateral bombing, now will urge critics to "understand the bigger picture."

In October 2002, actor and activist Harry Belafonte called Powell and Rice "house negroes" for their subservience to the Bush administration. He was condemned in the media, but the black community had his back. If Belafonte said the same about Obama today, he would have to take a banana boat back to Jamaica.

Al Qaeda Plays the Malcolm Card -- In These Times

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Origin of the Human Race by Alhaj Dhul-Waqar Yaqub

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

[32:8] الَّذِىْۤ اَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ خَلَقَهٗ‌ وَبَدَاَ خَلْقَ الْاِنْسَانِ مِنْ طِيْنٍ‌ۚ‏

[32:9] ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهٗ مِنْ سُلٰلَةٍ مِّنْ مَّآءٍ مَّهِيْنٍ‌ۚ‏

[71:14] مَّا لَـكُمْ لَا تَرْجُوْنَ لِلّٰهِ وَقَارًا‌ۚ‏

[71:15] وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ اَطْوَارًا‏

[71:20] وَاللّٰهُ جَعَلَ لَـكُمُ الْاَرْضَ بِسَاطًاۙ‏

[71:21] لِّـتَسْلُكُوْا مِنْهَا سُبُلاً فِجَاجًا

How did I get here? Where did I come from? Who are my ancestors? It would be safe to say that these questions may be asked by every thoughtful human being at least once in their life time. For Black Americans in particular, finding the answers to these questions begins an incredible journey of self discovery.

Black American folk wisdom says, “If you don’t know where you’ve been you won’t know where you’re going.” Our captain and navigator into “where you’ve been” is Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop (December 29, 1923 – February 7, 1986), a historian, anthropologist and physicist. Considered one of the greatest African historians of the 20th century, Diop’s scientific ideas have transformed the basic thrust of African studies in the United States.

Cheikh Anta Diop was born in the town of Diourbel, Senegal, on the West coast of Africa. His birthplace has a long tradition of producing Muslim scholars and oral historians. His early education was in a traditional Islamic school where his inspiration and interest in history, the humanities and social sciences from an African point of view began. At the age of 23, he went to Paris in 1946 to become a physicist. He remained there for 15 years, studying physics under Frederic Joliot-Curie, Marie Curie’s son-in-law, and ultimately translating parts of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity into his native Wolof. Diop's education also included African history, Egyptology, linguistics, anthropology, economics and sociology.

In 1951, Diop submitted a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Paris in which he argued that ancient Egypt had in fact been a Black African culture. The thesis was rejected. Over the next nine years, Diop reworked the thesis, adding stronger evidentiary support. In 1960, he succeeded in the defense of his thesis and was awarded his Ph.D. degree.

In 1955, the thesis had been published in the popular press as a book titled Nations nègres et culture (Negro Nations and Culture). Dr. Diop challenged the notions of European centered scholars, who had written Africa’s contributions to world civilization out of history. It would make him one of the most controversial historians of his time.

Dr. Diop’s critics contend that his thesis lacked merit and that it essentially supplants and counters one form of racism with another rather than attempting to arrive at the truth.

Seeker after truth who engage themselves in studies should be aware that there are scholars performing inferior research and research that supports prejudicial conclusions rather than ones of discovery. Other pseudo scholars approach scholarship with designs to a political end. Concerning the latter, identity politics came to the forfront in the Black American awarness experience. Identity politics is political action to advance the interests of members of a group whose members perceive themselves to be oppressed by virtue of a shared and marginalized identity (such as race, ethnicity or religion).

While using Africa as the vantage point and the basis for his thesis, Dr. Diop does not neglect the broader dimensions of history. He shows that history cannot be restricted by the limits of an ethnic group, nation, or culture. Roman history is Greek as well as Roman, and both the Greek and the Roman histories are Egyptian because the entire Mediterranean was civilized Egypt; and Egypt in turn borrowed from other parts of Africa, especially Ethiopia.

Diop left his mark in the realm of the reassessment of the role of black people in world history and culture. Combining an unusual breadth of knowledge; including linguistics, history, anthropology, chemistry, and physics; he uncovered fresh evidence about the ancient origins and common principles of classical African civilization. He believed that people who feel they possess no past of their own tend to be absorbed and assimilated into the governing system, and are made to feel inferior because of this apparent deficiency.

Dr. Diop contends that there exist two theories of human origin: monogenetic and polygenetic. The monogenetic view states that there is one source for mankind; man was born in one place and became different due to the climatic conditions to which he was exposed. Followers of this theory believe that mankind was born in Africa - specifically in the area of Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. It is from this area of Africa that mankind evolved as a separate species and left there to people other parts of the world, which had different climatic conditions. Under these different climatic conditions and over periods of time the African changed and developed a new look.

As an example: during the last Glacial Epoch or about 40,000 year ago a Homo Sapiens Sapiens, currently identified as Grimaldi Man, left Africa and went to Europe. As a result of the extreme cold climatic conditions and over a period of 20,000 years he underwent an adaptation to that climate and evolved into what we conventionally call a White man. The Grimaldi Negroids have left their numerous traces all over Europe and Asia, from the Iberian Peninsula to Lake Baykal in Siberia, passing through France, Austria, the Crimea, and the Basin of Don, etc. In these last two regions, the late Soviet Professor Mikhail Gerasimov, a scholar of rare objectivity, identified the Negroid type from skulls found in the Middle Mousterian period.

The polygenetic opinion claims that man has several locations of origin, which would explain the physiological differences between the races. Followers of this theory believe that man was born in Africa, Europe, and Asia and there was no evolutionary or climatic development. Diop argues that there are two reasons why this theory is faulty. He says that nature never strikes twice in its evolution; she doesn't create the same being twice. In addition, complete fossils have been found only on the African continent, which proves that life began there. No such fossils have been found anywhere else in the world.

Aspects of the polygenetic theory (sometimes referred to as multi-regionalism) have been criticized as not based on objective scientific observation. Some critics even argue that the polygenetic theory may be motivated by ethnocentrism and is meant to instill beliefs of purity of lineage. This implied racism has had a negative effect, causing scientists to restrict their hypothesizing to politically correct conclusions.

Dr. Diop reinforces his belief in the monogenetic theory by noting that the polygenetic theory seeks to establish a hierarchy of race suggesting that some races are superior to others. He asserts, if man has the same origins there can be no intellectual hierarchy because all of the races of the world would have the same intellectual history. If the races had had different origins it can be said that they had different intellectual capacity because they all had a different intellectual history. The polygenetic theory is essential in order to defend the notion that there are inequalities between the races. It is for this reason why people have defended the polygenetic theory. However, science has set this theory aside.

It is the monogenetic theory that will support the notion that because our origin is the same we also have the same intellectual capacity. Dr. Diop is not saying that Blacks are intellectual superior to Whites. That would be false. Diop’s insistences are: no race is superior to another. All races have the same intellectual capacity. There is no autonomic difference in the brain of the various races.

Currently, the dominant view among scientists is the Out of Africa Model. According to the Out of Africa Model (sometimes referred to as the Recent African Origin of Modern Humans or RAO) Homo Sapiens Sapiens evolved in Africa 200,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens Sapiens began migrating from Africa between 70,000 – 50,000 years ago and would eventually replace existing Homo Erectus, Neanderthal, and Homo Sapiens in Europe and Asia.

The Out of Africa Model has gained support by recent research using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). After analyzing genealogy trees constructed using 133 types of mtDNA, they concluded that all were descended from a woman from Africa, dubbed Mitochondrial Eve.

By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, American geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a San Bushman who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.

Here, important questions arise: Should Black Americans be satisfied with learning only European history and why should there be a focus on Black history? Dr. Diop answered these questions by stating, “Its fine to learn the history of others but you must know your own history first. People who lose their historical memory become a fragile people and they regress. It is their historical memory that permits them to be a strong people. The final question is: in what measure does the works of Cheikh Anta Diop allow one to respond to the challenges of the future? Theophile Obenga, a disciple and a companion of Diop answers this question by stating,” with Cheikh Anta Diop, history is not defined as the study of the past of human kind, but as the construction of the future in the name of life."

Dr. Diop was the Director of Radiocarbon Laboratory at the Fundamental Institute of Black Africa (IFAN) at the University of Dakar. He sat on numerous international scientific committees and achieved recognition as one of the leading historians, Egyptologists, linguists and anthropologists in the world. He traveled widely, lectured incessantly and was cited and quoted voluminously. He was regarded by many as the modern `pharaoh' of African studies. Cheikh Anta Diop died quietly in sleep in Dakar, Senegal on February 7, 1986.

In the introductory remarks of Cheikh Anta Diop we noted that his early education was in a “traditional Islamic school”. His life’s work appears to be a reflection of the Holy Qur'an. Based on the idea that “the proof of the pudding is the pudding itself”, it would be safe to believe that he was grounded in the Qur'anic concepts of man’s creation. Some of the verses that support Diop’s ideas of the origin of the human race and the development of man are in Arabic at the beginning of this paper and may be rendered into English as follows:

Who made perfectly well all that He created. And He originated the creation of man from clay. Then He made his progeny from an extract of an insignificant fluid. (32: 8-9)

O you human beings! What is the matter with you that you fail to understand that Allah does not do anything unless there is wisdom and purpose underlying it? You yourselves are not ready to accept the assumption that you do things with no aim or purpose in view. Why do you therefore assume that Allah, the Most Wise and Al Knowing does things without purpose? Why do you jump to the thoughtless conclusion that He created man with no purpose in view? Why do you fail to grasp the evident truth that your creation has not been the result of a sudden meaningless impulse? It was the result of wise planning and deliberate execution in a succession of stages from one point to another. (71: 14-15)

Allah has made the earth a vast expanse for you. That you may traverse its spacious paths for the development of civilization and also to attain spiritual perfection. (71: 20-21)

One world, one people. That seems to be what Allah is saying in the Holy Qur'an, “O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may know one another.” (49:14) As a counter-measure against ethnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other cultures), etnocentrism (lack of tolerance of other races) and xenophobia (fear of other races) we must internalize the historical reality that the blood that unites us is thicker than the waters of the Diaspora, culture and accents that separate and divide us.

Bibliographical Sources:

The Holy Qur'an with English Translation and Commentary, Vol. II (Part II) and Vol. III, Published under the auspices of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud, Khalifatul Masih II.

The Holy Qur'an with Arabic Text – English Translation as Explained by Allamah Nooruddin.

Creation of Man by Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud, Khalifatul Masih II.

The Cultural Unity of Negro Africa, Cheikh Anta Diop, (Paris: Presence Africaine, 1963), English Tanslation: Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and Matriarchy in Classical Antiquity, (Karnak House: 1989).

Civilization or Barbarism, (1981), Cheikh Anta Diop

Introduction to African Civilizations, John G. Jackson and Runoko Rashidi, (Citadel: 2001).

Conceptions of History in the Works of Cheikh Anta Diop and Theophile Obenga, Jackson and Rashidi, op. cit; Chris Gray, (Karnak House: 1989).

Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution in Nature, Rebecca L. Cann, Mark Stoneking, Allan C. Wilson (1987).

Genetic and Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Modern Human in Science,

Christopher Stringer and Peter Andrews (1988).

Modern Humans Came Out of Africa, "Definitive" Study Says, James Owen, National Geographic News (2007).

Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop Part 1-6,

Created Unequal: Multiregionalism and the Origins of Anthropological Racism, Adam Wells Davis, MA

Thesis (2004),