Monday, October 08, 2007

Guidebook for Muslims in space

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has come up with the world’s first concise and comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Abdullah Md Zin said the book of guidelines would be translated into English, Russian, Arabic and possibly more languages, for the benefit of future Muslim astronauts.

“There is a lot of interest in the book prepared by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

“We even have foreign broadcasting stations like Al-Jazeera and Japan Broadcasting Corporation requesting for interviews solely on the guidelines.

“The reason we formulated guidelines for Muslims in space is because we wanted to ensure our astronaut could fully concentrate on his mission, without having to worry about how he should perform his religious obligations in space,” he said yesterday.

Malaysia’s Angkasawan will blast off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Oct 10.

While medical officer Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, 35, and Armed Forces dental surgeon Kapt Dr Faiz Khaleed, 27 are both eligible to go to space, it is highly likely that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar will be the lucky one.

Abdullah said astronomy was an integral part of Islamic civilisation and several prominent astrologers in world history were Muslims.

He said the book, titled Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, among others teaches the Muslim astronaut how to cleanse himself the Islamic way, on performing ablution, determining the Qiblat (the location of Kaabah) and prayer times as well as on how to fast in space.

“Jakim painstakingly collected views and opinion from ulamas, religious scholars and scientists, before coming up with the guidelines. We are happy to share this 18-page book with the rest of the world,” he said.

Source : The Star Online

Jakim's Director of Research, Anan C. Mohd said the chosen astronaut has the option of either fasting in space or replacing those days when he is back on earth as he is considered a traveller.

"Should he choose to fast in space, it would be a great experience and we would look forward to him sharing his experience so that we can document it."

Islam allows for a certain flexibility in observing the rituals.

Anan said the astronaut will be observing his fast and other religious obligations following the time of the nearest place to the ISS. In this case, it will be based according to the local time at Baikanor, the launching pad.

The astronaut need only pray five times daily following the practice on Earth, even though the ISS will be orbiting Earth 16 times a day.

On the direction for praying, he should be facing Makkah. However, under the circumstances that do not permit him to do so, he should face the direction of Makkah or Earth or any direction, in that order.

When it comes to ritual cleansing or ablution, owing to the limited supply of water and the absence of dust in the ISS, the astronaut only needs to rub both his palms on the wall, glass or seat.

"There is no conflict between Islam and science.

"Islam encourages its followers to appreciate and explore outer space," Anan added.

Source :Program Angkasawan Negara Advertorial

Download of A Guideline To Ibadah At ISS
(Right click, Save Link As..)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The "Yoga" Of Islamic Prayer

By Karima Burns, MH, ND

Called “one of the oldest systems of personal development encompassing body, mind and spirit” by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, yoga has become one of the fastest growing health trends today. It has been renowned for centuries for its curative powers of movement.

Yoga consists of a number of “asnas,” or body positions, which one retains for a desired length of time while either reciting “mantras” or breathing in a rhythmic manner. Its benefits have been researched by many doctors who now recommend it to their patients, by many medical schools such as Harvard, and by many foundations such as the Menninger Foundation.

In fact, yoga has become so popular that secretaries have developed a simplified sitting version that they can do at their desks. The elderly, pregnant women and athletes also have their own versions.

Interestingly, for the millions of people enrolled in yoga classes, the Islamic form of prayer has provided Muslims for fourteen centuries with some of yoga’s same (and even superior) benefits. This simple form of “yoga” offers physical, mental, and spiritual benefits five times a day as Muslims assume certain positions while reciting Qur’an and athkar (remembrances).

Of course, not all the yoga positions are found in the Islamic prayer. However, hospital researchers have concluded that patients benefit from even a simplified version of yoga, and most hospital yoga programs, such as those at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Massachusetts, consist of only five to seven positions.

The Muslim prayer has five positions, and they all (as well as the recitations we make while performing the prayer) have a corresponding relationship with our spiritual and mental well being, according to modern scientific research. The benefits of performing specific movements and recitations each day come from the correct rendition of the position or action itself, the length of time the position is held, and from careful and correct recitation techniques.

Each of the five prayer positions has a corresponding yoga position, and the positions together “activate” all seven “chakras” (energy fields) in the body. The idea of activating a chakra may sound linguistically strange, but it is easier to understand once one translates that word into more familiar language.

Eastern healers believe that each of the chakras correlate to major nerve ganglia that branch forth from the spinal column. Thus, the concept of activating these nerve centers is akin to getting a chiropractic adjustment or installing a medical stimulating device on the spine to correct corresponding bodily malfunctions.

In layman’s terms, the idea of chakras can be understood by thinking about how the sense of “feeling” functions. One notices, when touching any part of the body, that that part responds by being more “awake” and aware. Another part of the body that was not touched, but is along the same nerve pathway, may also respond.

When a person is sitting, for instance, they may not be thinking about their legs, which are momentarily at rest; however, if someone touches them, they will again be “aware” of them. Chakras work in much the same way.

Studies have found that varying areas of the body, when activated by touch, movement or thought, evoke specific emotional and physical responses in much the same way that a smile can evoke the feeling of happiness, and actually increase circulation – even if one was feeling sluggish and unhappy before smiling. This is one of the reasons that it is so important to perfectly perform all of the movements of the Islamic prayer, rather than haphazardly rushing through them.

The Takbir and Al Qiyyam together are very similar to the Mountain Pose in yoga, which has been found to improve posture, balance, and self-awareness. This position also normalizes blood pressure and breathing, thus providing many benefits to asthma and heart patients.

The placement of the hands on the chest during the Qiyyam position are said to activate the solar plexus “chakra,” or nerve pathway, which directs our awareness of self in the world and controls the health of the muscular system, skin, intestines, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and eyes. When the hands are held open for du’a, they activate the heart “chakra,” said to be the center of the feelings of love, harmony, and peace, and to control love and compassion. It also governs the health of the heart, lungs, thymus, immune system, and circulatory system.

Muslim researchers have shown that when Muslims recite the Qur’an, old thoughts, feelings, fears and guilt are released or healed, and blood pressure and stress levels are reduced. Virtually all of the sounds of the Arabic language are uttered while reciting Qur’an, creating a balance in all affected areas of the body.

Some specific sounds, in fact, correspond to major organs in the body. In his research and creation of eurhythmy, Rudolph Steiner (founder of the Waldorf Schools), , found that vibrations made when pronouncing the long vowels, 'A', 'E' and 'U,' stimulated the heart, lungs, and the thyroid, pineal, pituitary, and adrenal glands during laboratory tests.

The position of Ruku is very similar to the Forward Bend Position in yoga. Ruku stretches the muscles of the lower back, thighs, legs and calves, and allows blood to be pumped down into the upper torso. It tones the muscles of the stomach, abdomen, and kidneys. Forming a right angle allows the stomach muscles to develop, and prevents flabbiness in the mid-section.

This position also promotes a greater flow of blood into the upper regions of body – particularly to the head, eyes, ears, nose, brain, and lungs – allowing mental toxins to be released. Over time, this improves brain function and ones personality, and is an excellent stance to maintain the proper position of the fetus in pregnant women.

The Sujud is said to activate the “crown chakra,” which is related to a person’s spiritual connection with the universe around them and their enthusiasm for spiritual pursuits. This nerve pathway is also correlated to the health of the brain, nervous system, and pineal gland. Its healthy function balances ones interior and exterior energies.

In Sujud, we also bend; thus activating the “base chakra,” which controls basic human survival instincts and provides essential grounding. This helps to develop levelheaded and positive thinking along with a highly motivated view of life, and maintains the health of the lymph and skeletal systems, the prostate, bladder, and the adrenal glands. We also bend the “sacral chakra” during Sujud, thus benefiting and toning the reproductive organs.

The position of Al Qaadah, (or Julus) is similar to the Thunderbolt Pose in yoga, which firms the toes, knees, thighs, and legs. It is said to be good for those prone to excessive sleep, and those who like to keep long hours. Furthermore, this position assists in speedy digestion, aids the detoxification of the liver, and stimulates peristaltic action in the large intestine.

Last, but not least, the “throat chakra” is activated by turning the head towards first the right and then the left shoulder in the closing of the prayer. This nerve path is linked to the throat, neck, arms, hands, bronchials, and hearing – effecting individual creativity and communication.

It is believed that a person who activates all seven nerve pathways at least once a day can remain well balanced emotionally, physically and spiritually. Since this is the goal of all sincere Muslims, we all should strive to attain the perfection of stance, recitation, and breathing recommended in the Hadith while performing our prayers – the very same techniques of perfection taught in popular yoga, Tai Chi, and many other exercise classes.


The arrival of the month of Ramadhan has given us the opportunity to increase our ibadah. May the above article make us more diligent in the performance of of our prayers, especially in the Tarawih prayers.


Also see:- Illustrated Muslim Prayer Movements

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Minimum Amount Of Water Needed For Ablution


I have one litre water. Can I use this water for wudhu before shalah? How much water minimum we use for wudhu?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

One litre of water is sufficient for performing ablution; rather a Mudd (which equals 0.688 litre) is enough. It is confirmed that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) used to perform ablution only using one Mudd and would perform Ghusl (ritual bath) using one Saa' (which equals 4 Mudds), as reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim may Allaah have mercy upon them. Therefore, whoever uses a Mudd properly in ablution; it will be enough for him.

As regards the minimum quantity of water which is sufficient for ablution, then most of the scholars may Allaah have mercy upon them are of the view that there is no minimum quantity of water. What should be considered is that the limbs which must be washed in ablution are washed. Therefore, if a person performs ablution and washes all the limbs that should be washed in ablution even with a quantity lesser than a Mudd, then his ablution is acceptable. Indeed it is confirmed that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) performed ablution with a third of a Mudd. [Al-Haakim].

Ibn Qudaamah may Allaah have mercy upon him said: “This is the view of Ash-Shaafi'i and the view of the majority of the scholars may Allaah have mercy upon them.”

However, some scholars may Allaah have mercy upon them are of the view that less than a Mudd is not sufficient as the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “A Mudd is enough for ablution and a Saa' is enough for Ghusl.” [Ahmad and Ibn Maajah]. According to this view, the narration sets the estimation of the quantity of water which is sufficient for ablution and that anything less than that is not sufficient.

Any way, according to both views, if the limbs that must be washed in ablution are not properly washed with a Mudd, and there is a need for more water, then it is acceptable as long as there is no extravagancy.

Allaah Knows best.

Fatwa answered by: The Fatwa Center at Islamweb

Sunday, August 26, 2007


By Paul Craig Roberts

"No American President can stand up to Israel."

These words came from feisty Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations (1967-1970) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1970-1974). Moorer was, perhaps, the last independent-minded American military leader.

Admiral Moorer knew what he was talking about. On June 8, 1967, Israel attacked the American intelligence ship, USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 173. The Israelis even strafed the life rafts, machine-gunning the American sailors leaving the stricken ship.

Apparently, the USS Liberty had picked up Israeli communications that revealed Israel's responsibility for the Six Day War. Even today, history books and the majority of Americans blame the conflict on the Arabs.

The United States Navy knew the truth, but the President of the United States took Israel's side against the American military and ordered the United States Navy to shut its mouth. President Lyndon Johnson said it was all just a mistake. Later in life, Admiral Moorer formed a commission and presented the unvarnished truth to Americans.

The power of the Israel Lobby over American foreign policy is considerable. In March 2006, two distinguished American scholars, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, expressed concern in the London Review of Books that the power of the Israel Lobby was bending US foreign policy in directions that serve neither US nor Israeli interests. The two experts were hoping to start a debate that might rescue the US and Israel from unsuccessful policies of coercion that are intensifying Muslim hatred of Israel and America. The Israel lobby was opposed to any such reassessment, and attempted to close it off with epithets: "Jew-baiter," "anti-semitic," and even "anti-American." Today Israeli citizens who oppose Zionist plans for greater Israel are denounced as "anti-Semites."

Many Americans are unaware of the influence of the Israel lobby. Instead they think of the US as "the world's sole superpower," a macho new Roman Empire whose orders are obeyed without question or the insolent nonentity is "bombed back to the stone age." Many Americans are convinced that military coercion serves our interest. They cite Libya, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and now they are ready to bring Iran and Pakistan to heel with bombs.

This arrogance results in the murder of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of men, women and children, a fate that many Americans seem to believe is appropriate for countries that do not accept US hegemony.

Coercion is what American foreign policy has become. Macho superpatriots love it. Many of these superpatriots derive vicarious pleasure from their delusions that America is "kicking those sand niggers' asses."

This is the America of the Bush Regime. If some of these superpatriots had their way every "unpatriotic, terrorist supporter" who dares to criticize the war against "the Islamofacists" would be sent to Gitmo, if not shot on the spot.

These Bush supporters have morphed the Republican Party into the Brownshirt Party. They cannot wait to attack Iran, preferably with nuclear weapons. Impatient for Armageddon, some are so full of hubris and self-righteousness that they actually believe that their support for evil means they will be "wafted up to heaven."

It has come as a crippling blow to Democrats that "their" political party is comfortable with Bush's America, and will do nothing to stop the Bush regime's aggression against the Iraqi people or to prevent the Bush regime's attack on Iran.

The Democrats could easily impeach both Bush and Cheney in the House, as impeachment only requires a majority vote. They could not convict in the Senate without Republican support, as conviction requires ratification by two-thirds of Senators present. Nevertheless, a House vote for impeachment would take the wind out of the sails of war, save countless lives and perhaps even save humanity from nuclear holocaust.

Various rationales or excuses have been constructed for the Democrats' complicity in aggression that does not serve America. Perhaps the most popular rationale is that the Democrats are letting the Republicans have all the rope they want with which to produce such a high disapproval rating that the Democrats will sweep the 2008 election.

It is doubtful that the Democrats would assume that men as cunning as Karl Rove and Dick Cheney do not understand the electoral consequences of a low public approval rating and are walking blindly into an electoral wipeout. Rove's departure does not mean that no strategy is in place.

So what does explain the complicity of the Democratic Party in a policy that the American public, and especially Democratic constituencies, reject? Perhaps a clue is offered from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune news report (August 1, 2007) that Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison will spend a week in Israel on "a privately funded trip sponsored by the American Israel Education Federation. The AIEF--the charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)--is sending 19 members of Congress to meet with Israeli leaders. The group, made up mostly of freshman Democrats, has plans to meet with Isreali Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and [puppet] Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The senior Democratic member on the trip is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has gone three times. . . . The trip to Israel is Ellison's second as a congressman."

According to the Star-Tribune, a Republican group, which includes Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, Minn), led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R, Va) is already in Israel. According to news reports, another 40 are following these two groups during the August recess, and "by the time the year is out every single member of Congress will have made their rounds in Israel." This claim is probably overstated, but it does show careful Israeli management of US policy in the Middle East.

Elsewhere on earth and especially among Muslims, the suspicion is rife that the reason the war against Iraq cannot end, and the reason Iran and Syria must be attacked, is that the US must destroy all Muslim opposition to Israel's theft of Palestine, turning an entire people into refugees driven from their homes and from the lands on which they have lived for many centuries. Americans might think that they are merely grabbing control over oil, keeping it out of the hands of terrorists, but that is not the way the rest of the world views the conflict.

Jimmy Carter was the last American president who stood up to Israel and demanded that US diplomacy be, at least officially if not in practice, even-handed in its approach to Israel and Palestine. Since Carter's presidency, even-handedness has slowly drained from US policy in the Middle East. The neoconservative Bush/Cheney regime has abandoned even the pretense of even-handedness.

This is unfortunate, because military coercion has proven to be unsuccessful. Exhausted from the conflict, the US military, according to former Secretary of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, is "nearly broken." Demoralized elite West Point graduates are leaving the army at the fastest clip in 30 years. Desertions are rapidly rising. A friend, a US Marine officer who served in combat in Vietnam, recently wrote to me that his son's Marine unit, currently training for its third deployment to Iraq in September, is short 12-16 men in every platoon and expects to be hit with more AWOLs prior to deployment.

Instead of re-evaluating a failed policy, Bush's "war tsar," General Douglas Lute, has called for the reinstitution of the draft. Gen. Lute doesn't see why Americans should not be returned to military servitude in order to save the Bush administration the embarrassment of having to correct a mistaken Middle East policy that commits the US to more aggression and to debilitating long-term military conflict in the Middle East.

It is difficult to see how this policy serves any interest other than the very narrow one of the armaments industry. Apparently, nothing can be done to change this disastrous policy until the Israel Lobby comes to the realization that Israel's interest is not being served by the current policy of military coercion.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:

Source :-

It is the Jewish lobby which chooses the US president, not the American people. But most Americans don't realize this.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Troubling Case

By Fareena Alam
Date: 18 June 2007

In January 2002, Q-News carried an exclusive interview with a young American Muslim named Musa Abdun Nur Maguire speaking about his cousin, Sulayman. Both were converts to Islam. Both grew up in upwardly mobile, aspirational, West Coast liberal families who accepted their children's religious changes with genuine openness and respect. So far, so good. The trouble was that Sulayman's other name was John Walker Lindh, dubbed - in the throes of post-9/11 hysteria - the "American Taliban". It was a case that intrigued and troubled us then. It is a case that should trouble all of us now.

Taken prisoner by American forces in December 2001 in Afghanistan, "enemy combatant" John Walker Lindh was the focus of a campaign of disinformation from the start. Musa's description of John's intense spirituality, sensitive political awareness and desire to work for social justice bore little resemblance to the way he was painted in the American media. With the trail of Osama bin Laden going cold, the nation was searching in vain someone else to direct its collective anger and hurt towards. Finding John Walker Lindh was the next best thing. Reports portrayed him as a traitor who wanted to kill American troops, a henchman of al-Qaida, a confidante of OBL himself. In short: a Kurtz-like, brainwashed, terrorist killer. The allegations were so blatantly false that even the United States government couldn't prove them when the Lindh case came before the courts in October 2002. The true story is in fact emblematic of everything that has gone wrong in this so-called "war on terror".

Last week, Frank Lindh - John's father and a San Francisco-based lawyer - came to London to talk about the gross miscarriage of justice that followed his son's capture and the human rights implications of his continued incarceration. The event, Frank Lindh's first lecture in the United Kingdom, was brought together by Q-News in conjunction with Cageprisoners and with support from Islamic Circles and The City Circle. His deeply moving presentation is available as a podcast on iTunes.

Frank Lindh (a practising Catholic) is a warm, straightforward man. His campaign to clear his son's name and gain his release in the face of American public opinion that has been shaped by continued false allegations and reactionary, bully patriotism (of the Rush Limbaugh / Fox News variety) is courageous. The story he tells of John Walker Lindh's journey from the killing fields of Afghanistan to an American prison cell is extraordinary.

Having converted to Islam at the age of 16, after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, John Walker Lindh had travelled to Yemen and later Pakistan to study classical Arabic and Islamic studies - decisions he made with the blessing and permission of his parents and about which he was completely transparent. His parents respected their son's right to choose his own confessional path. His father remarked, reflecting on John's religious transformation, "Islam fit him. It was like he had always been a Muslim."

While in Pakistan, memorising the Quran at a madrassah, he decided that he would volunteer to spend the summer with Afghan armed forces controlled, at that time, by the Taliban who were fighting the Northern Alliance, the tribal warlords involved in their own campaign of murder and plunder. It seems like an unusual, even foolhardy decision. But it's no more a crime than that of thousands of American (and British) who went abroad to fight in the Spanish civil war, or in Bosnia. John later acknowledged: "I want the American people to know that had I realised then what I know now about the Taliban, I would never have joined them."

John's account of his time in Afghanistan has not been disputed by the American authorities who captured and later prosecuted him: John received basic infantry training at a camp funded by Osama bin Laden, who was actively supporting the Taliban government (as was the US government who in April 2001 gave the Taliban government $41 million in aid). The camp was not a terrorist training camp. Those camps were quite separate from the Taliban military infrastructure (for an inside view of what that variety of camp looked like, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's report on one-time Guantanamo detainee Abdur Rehman Khadr is instructive).

The real story of John Lindh's service in the Afghan army is less sexy than the hype that followed: he served sentry and cooking duty in Tahar on the frontlines of the confrontation with the Northern Alliance. It was only after the commencement of American bombing that the Taliban line was broken and John Lindh fled along with other Taliban troops to Kunduz, 60 miles away. American soldiers never served in the Tahar region. It was then that things turned really ugly.

Captured by the brutal warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, John Lindh and his comrades were at first offered safe passage through Northern Alliance territory. This shaky deal fell apart when some Taliban captives became nervous and revolted at the Qala-i-Jhangi fortress where they were being held. John was shot in the leg, but took refuge with the few other survivors in the basement of the fortress. The orders now changed: all the prisoners were to be killed. American (and British) forces looked the other way. After several unsuccessful attempts to take the prisoners, Dostum's forces finally flooded the basement where they were hiding, Most of the injured and weary prisoners drowned. Remarkably, John Walker Lindh survived. Enter the American forces who took possession of him.

Learning of the capture of an American among the Qala-i-Jhangi prisoners, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered military interrogators to "take the gloves off". Locked up in a metal shipping container (similar to the one in which hundreds of Taliban prisoners had died earlier, suffocated and shot to death), blindfolded, duct-taped to a stretcher, taunted and threatened by US soldiers, denied a lawyer, denied access to medical treatment for a festering bullet wound in his leg, denied access to the Red Cross, photographed naked and blindfolded, John Walker Lindh was among the first to experience what post-9/11 American justice would feel like.

The administration relished the capture of Lindh. It was exactly the kind of symbol they needed to sell the "war on terror" to the American public. All kinds of outlandish and false statements were made. President Bush stated emphatically that, "Obviously, Walker is unique in that he's the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured." False. Rumsfeld, no doubt gleeful after having ordered the gloves off, said that John Walker Lindh was "captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands." False. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert declared Lindh a "terrorist" who belonged to "an organisation that took American lives and came against the American Constitution." False.

Bush's father (the former president) was near hysterical: "I thought of a unique penalty. Make him [John Lindh] leave his hair the way it is and his face as dirty as it is and let him go wandering around this country and see what kind of sympathy he would get."

Bush Sr was only outdone by "liberal-minded" Rudolph Giuliani, then-Mayor of New York: "When you commit treason against the United States of America, particularly at a time when the U.S. is in peril of attack and further attack, I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider."

When he was finally brought to trial later that year, nine of the 10 indictments against John Lindh were eventually dropped. That didn't prevent Attorney-General John Ashcroft declaring that Lindh dedicated himself to "killing Americans" - though he must have known that the remaining indictment said nothing about this.

Although he was exonerated of all terrorism-related charges, John was forced into a plea bargain. Already tried and convicted by public opinion, a fair jury trial was deemed impossible and could have resulted in an even worse outcome. John Lindh finally agreed to plead guilty to one crime: breaking the economic sanctions imposed on the Taliban regime - by the Clinton administration. For this he was given a 20-year sentence. Attempts to force John's lawyers to agree to a lifetime travel ban eventually failed: John Lindh insisted that he wanted to leave the US at least once - to go on Hajj, the pilgrimage in Mecca.

John Walker Lindh is now housed in the highest security prison in the United States. He was initially forbidden to speak or pray audibly in Arabic. Even greeting other Muslim prisoners with "Salams" was prohibited. These were part of the "special administrative measures" placed on him. He is now in isolation. Visits with family are highly controlled. He spends his time studying religious texts, memorising the Quran and praying.

John Lindh's case is remarkably similar to that of Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen who also survived the massacre at Qala-i-Jhangi and captured. Hamdi was taken to Guantanamo, but once his US citizenship was discovered, he was shipped to a naval brig in Virginia where he was held as an "enemy combatant". Hamdi's case was finally heard by the Supreme Court last year, which ruled that Hamdi could not be held without charge and was entitled to a hearing. With no evidence against him, the US government released Hamdi, stripped him of his US citizenship and sent him to his country of origin, Saudi Arabia. If Hamdi is free, John Walker Lindh should be as well.

While the Lindh case has largely been forgotten, a few brave American voices have tried to keep it in the spotlight. Grammy award-winning (and politically progressive) country musician Steve Earle released the track John Walker's Blues, an imagined telling from Lindh's own perspective:

I'm just an American boy raised on MTV
And I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em looked like me
So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him."
(For the rest of the lyrics click here)

It was a powerful, humanising antidote to the disinformation campaign. Predictably, country music stations banned the song for being unpatriotic.

Tom Junod of Esquire Magazine reconstructed John (now Hamza) Walker Lindh's current life through extensive interviews and concluded: "He is a better person than you or I ... He has a spiritual presence ... He's very kind ... He's very concerned about the poor - so concerned that he's lived among them. He's committed to social justice, though he's the first to admit that he's made some bad decisions in that regard. But that's another thing about him. He never lies. He never changes his story, even when he has every reason to. He's very consistent, to put it mildly."

Frank Lindh's campaign deserves our support. Like the calls to close down Guantanamo, come clean on secret prisons and tell the truth about extraordinary renditions, the call to commute John Lindh's sentence is right and just.


Further Reading:-

Free John Walker Lindh

Profile: John Walker Lindh

The Real Story of John Walker Lindh
by his father Frank Lindh

Who Will Stand Up For The Tortured And Gagged
by Dave Lindorff

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fasting : Scholars Reject Women Be Allowed To Work Half Day

From Utusan Malaysia Online

Translated by kilamxx

Scholars rejected the proposal by CUEPACS (Congress Of Unions Of Employees In The Public And Civil Services) that the government shortens the daily working hours of female employees by half during the fasting month of Ramadan.

The general opinion overall is that the proposal would raise problems in the workflow and in fact some see it as a way to exploit the holy month in avoiding work.

The excuse given by CUEPACS that the proposal would give female employee, especially those living in the Klang Valley, the chance to go home earlier to manage the housework including the preparation of food for the breaking of fast was dismissed as inadmissible.

The Perlis Mufti, Dr. Mohd. Asri Zainul Abidin, said the proposal was impractical and hoped the government would take into account the views from various quarters before deciding on the issue.

“There is nothing in the teachings which said that work should be set aside just for the breaking of fast, but instead the emphasis should be on performance of pious duties or worship,” he said when contacted here today.

He added, it would be better to encourage the reading of the Holy Quran, thus increasing the good deeds (pahala) and continue working to increase productivity.

Yesterday, CUEPACS President, Omar Osman proposed that the government shortens the working hours of female employees to half day during the Ramadan month which is expected to begin on 14th September.

The excuse was that the traffic congestion during the fasting month exposes them to the risk of accidents besides the responsibility of managing the children and the preparation of food for the breaking of fast.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Mufti of Pahang, Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman said, religion has never differentiated the way of working within the month of Ramadan with any other month.

“There is no evidence or reasoning in Islam which compels us to shorten the work time during the fasting month just for the sake of preparing food for the breaking of fast.

“There are only some Hadiths which allow one to lessen the workload a bit but not to the extent of incurring difficulties on others,” he explained.

He said a compromise can be reached whereby the working hours for female employees may be slightly shortened.

“A one or two hour remission may be allowed but not until a half day.

“But this should be made up for by coming in to work earlier,” he said.

Free lance preacher Mohd. Daud Che Ngah described the proposal as an attempt to ‘evacuate’ the women from the ‘battlefield’.

“Why should they be allowed to get home early on the excuse of preparing food for the breaking of fast while the men are left to toil hard at the workplace?” he asked.

The breaking of fast should not be the highlight of the month of Ramadan. The emphasis should be on how we fill up the days and nights with our good deeds and piety.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bringing back the caliphate

By Inayat Bunglawala

Osama Bin Laden wants it back, as does Hizb ut-Tahrir and also, according to a recent poll organised by an American university, a majority of Muslims across the world do so too. But what is the caliphate (Arabic: Khilafah) and what would it look like today?

Before he died in 632 CE, the Prophet Muhammad succeeded in establishing a single state in Arabia, in which he was both the spiritual head and also the temporal ruler. Within a period of just over 20 years, Muhammad had unified the Arabs, smashed the centuries-old practice of idolatry and inculcated in them a deep love for Islam: voluntary submission to God's Will.

It was an astonishing achievement and the Islamic state would, after Muhammad's death, continue to expand and draw in new converts to Islam from other peoples. Islam, with its pristine monotheism, stood in stark contrast to the many competing versions of Christianity with their endless bickering over the true nature of Christ and also the rather narrow tribalism of Judaism.

The Prophet's successors (Caliphs) tried to maintain this system but it was inevitably beset with divisions and rivalries, and in time, multiple regional caliphates came into existence. The last caliphate to be widely recognised - Ottoman Turkey, which in its latter days came to be known as the "sick man of Europe" - was abolished by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

On Wednesday, writing on Cif, Brian Whitaker, questioned the relevancy of the caliphate in the modern world, saying:

Whatever the historical merits (or not) of this now-defunct system of government, it is difficult to see how anyone could seriously regard its return as a step forward in the 21st century.

Brian looked at some of the articles of the draft Hizb ut-Tahrir constitution for their particular conception of the caliphate and, I must admit, it did not really look like a place where I would want to live in or bring up my kids in. But need it be that way?

The same US poll that cited majority support for the caliphate amongst the public in Muslim countries also found even larger majorities who thought that a democratic political system was a good way of governance. So clearly, many Muslims believe that democracy need not conflict with their Islamic ideals.

Hizb ut-Tahrir have posted an article on their website titled "Poll confirms massive support for the caliphate in the Muslim world" but have strangely omitted any mention of the finding that an even greater number of people favoured the establishment of democracy as their preferred method of achieving a well-governed state. Hmmm ...

In my view, the findings of the US poll serve to confirm the argument made by a Sudanese Islamic philosopher, Abdelwahab el-Affendi, in his 1991 book, Who Needs an Islamic State? Affendi urged Muslims to look at their history and be willing to learn from their experiences and also from that of others:

Wisdom dictates that we should be pessimistic about the qualities of our rulers, something which should not be too difficult, given our experiences. The institutions of a Muslim polity, and the rules devised to govern it, should therefore be based on expecting the worst.

Human experience shows that democracy, broadly defined, offers the best possible method of avoiding such disappointment in rulers and affords a way of remedying the causes for such disappointments once they occur.

The caliphate clearly has an enormous emotional pull on Muslims and for understandable reasons as it aspires to break down national/tribal borders and unify Muslim countries under a just government as opposed to their current crop of mainly unelected and dishonest rulers. Is the caliphate really unattainable? It depends on how you conceive it. El-Affendi has a model in mind which may surprise you:

The model we are proposing here could suggest a way in which a polity is not strictly territorial. Political associations should make it possible for members to move in space without losing their rights of membership. This entails a concept of an international order based more on coexisting communities than on territorially-based mutually-exclusive nation-states. The European Community and the United States of America reflect some of the characteristics of the model we have in mind.

A confederation of democratic states based on the model of the European Union. Now that would be a caliphate that I can imagine myself living in!

Source :-

As Inayat Bunglawala has shown in his article above the concept of a Caliphate can be something flexible and open to interpretation. Muslim and even non-Muslim minds should not be closed to the idea. On the same token the concept of an Islamic state may also be just as loosely defined.