If Virgin Mary wears a veil



Islam - An Historic Perspective

Islam began when man's career on earth began---more precisely at the time of man's creation and his descent. Allah created Adam and Eve and enjoined them to worship Him and live a life of obedience to the Divine Will.

Allah is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and of human beings. Man must turn to Him for sustenance and guidance. The very word Islam means obedience to God. In this respect, Islam is man's natural religion---the only natural course is for man to look towards Him for guidance.

The day Adam and Eve were sent down to live on earth, Allah told them that they were His servants and He was their Master and Creator. He told them and mankind that the best course was for them to follow His guidance, to obey His orders and to refrain from what He had forbidden. God said to them that He would be pleased if they obeyed Him and in turn He would reward them. If, however, they did not heed His commands, He would be displeased and would punish them. This was the simple beginning of Islam.



The Command of War in Islam

Certain verses of the Qur'an give the command to do battle (22:39). Here are a few points on this subject that we learn from our study of the Qur'an.

The first point is that to initiate aggression or armed confrontation is absolutely forbidden for Muslims. That is why the Qur'an clearly states: Fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, but do not transgress (2:190).

Islam allows only a defensive war. That is, when aggression is resorted to by others, Muslims may engage in war only in self-defence. The initiation of hostilities is not permitted for Muslims. Combat may be engaged in only when "they (the opponents) were the first to commence hostilities against you." (Qur'an, 9:13)

Furthermore, even in the face of aggression, Muslims are not immediately to wage a defensive war. Instead they are to employ all possible means to prevent a carnage from taking place. They are to resort to fighting only when it becomes totally unavoidable. All the battles that took place during the life of the Prophet provide practical examples of this principle. For instance, during the campaign of Ahzab, the Prophet attempted to avoid the battle by digging a trench, and thus successfully averted war. If, on the occasion of Hunain, the Prophet had to engage in battle, it was because it had become inevitable.

There was another kind of war, according to the Qur'an, which was temporarily desirable. That was the struggle to end religious persecution (fitna) (2:193).

In this verse 'fitna refers to that coercive system which reaches the extremes of religious persecution. Prevalent all over the world in ancient times, this system had effectively closed the doors to all kinds of spiritual and material progress for man. Therefore, God commanded His devotees to put an end to the kings' and emperors' reign of terror in order to usher in an age of freedom in which man might receive all kinds of spiritual and material benefits.

This task was undertaken internally within Arabia during the life of the Prophet of Islam. Afterwards, the Sassanid and Byzantine empires were dismantled by divine succour during the period of the rightly-¬guided caliphs. Consequently, the coercive political system ended at the international level, and thus began an age of intellectual freedom.

In this connection we find a very authentic tradition recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari. When, after the caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Zubayr and the Umayyads engaged themselves in political confrontation, Abdullah ibn Umar (son of the second Caliph) and the senior-most surviving companion of the Prophet kept himself aloof from this battle. A group of people came to him and, referring to the verse (2:193), which commanded the believers to do battle in order to put an end to persecution, asked him why he was not willing to join the battle, Abdullah ibn Umar replied that ‘fitna’ did not refer to their political confrontation, but referred rather to religious persecution, which they had already brought to an end. (Fathul Bari, 8/160).

This makes it clear that the war putting an end to persecution was a temporary war, of limited duration, which had already been concluded during the period of the rightly guided caliphs. Now justifying the waging of war by citing this verse is not at all acceptable. This verse will apply only if the same conditions prevail in the world once again.

Biographers of the Prophet have put the number of war campaigns at 80. When a reader goes through these biographies, he receives the impression that the Prophet of Islam during his 23-year prophetic period waged wars at least four times a year. But this impression is entirely baseless. The fact is that the Prophet of Islam in his entire prophetic period fought only three battles. All the other incidents, called ghazwa, or military expeditions, are in fact, examples of avoidance of battle, rather than of involvement in battle.

For instance, the incident of al-Ahzab has been called a battle in the books of seerah. Whereas in reality, on this occasion, 12,000 armed tribesmen of Arabia came to the border of Madinah in order to wage war, but the Prophet and his companions did not allow the battle to take place by digging a trench, which acted as a buffer between the Muslims and the aggressors. The same is the case with all those incidents, called ghazwa, or battles. Whenever the Prophet's opponents wanted to involve him in battle, the Prophet managed to defuse the situation by adopting one strategy or another.

There are three occasions when the Prophet entered the field of armed combat – at Badr, Uhud and Hunain. But as proven by events, fighting had become inevitable on all these occasions. The Prophet had no choice but to do battle with the aggressors. Furthermore, each of these military engagements lasted for only half a day, beginning at noon and ending by sunset. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that the Prophet in his entire life took up arms only for one and a half days. That is to say, of the entire 23-year prophetic period, except for one and a half days, the Prophet observed the principle of non-violence.

While giving the command of battle to the Prophet and his companions, the Qur'an clearly states that it was the other party, which had commenced hostilities (9:13). This verse gives conclusive evidence that there is only defensive war in Islam. It is absolutely unlawful for the believers to wage an offensive war. The Islamic method is entirely based on the principle of non-violence. Islam does not allow for violence in any circumstance except that of unavoidable defence.

taken from: http://www.cpsglobal.org/content/command-war-islam

Support for the Needy in USA

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On Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, my brief on support for the needy appeared in the local paper. My article along with articles from two other faith leaders are given below.



Dr. Ishaq Zahid

More than 46 million Americans – at least 15 percent of the U.S. population – live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. Yet the issue of poverty was largely ignored in the recent presidential debate. Also, according to the Pew Research Center, the support for government programs to aid the poor is steadily on decline.



Basic needs, if unavailable to our poor fellow human beings, must be taken care of by a multitier support model.

While each person is responsible for his sustenance, family members should be the first and foremost to help in cases of need, regardless of likes and dislikes of the needy relative. Islam’s Holy Book, the Quran says:

Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarers. Do not squander your wealth wastefully; for those who squander wastefully are Satan’s brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord. (17:26-27)

Prophet Muhammad said: “To give something to a poor man brings one reward, while giving the same to a needy relation brings two: one for charity and the other for respecting the family ties.”

Unfortunately, the family unit is extremely weakened in current times. For example, we find that a great percentage of children are now born out of wedlock. More than 40 percent of children were born to unmarried women, and the rate is increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I believe the next level of support should come from the religious institutions. When emergency needs arise, people often turn to their worship places first. To meet growing needs, religious entities are, in fact, trying to be resourceful despite slumping donations in uncertain economic times. They have and are serving the needs of millions, and yet that is not enough.

Islam and other religions teach their adherents to not let the love of this world enter into the heart.

You shall not attain righteousness until you spend out of what you love (in the way of Allah). Allah knows whatever you spend.” (The Holy Quran, 3:92)

Religious leaders need to spend more time in their sermons inspiring their congregations to waste none, consume less and share more. In today’s world, where so many wake up in poverty and go to sleep hungry, each of us must ask: “How can I help?” It is a sin to waste food while others do not have enough to eat. The food we waste in America every year can feed 49 million people per year.

The next tier of support has to come from regional and federal governments because some people do not get taken care of by the family and religious entities. Perhaps we should study the feasibility of establishing county-level programs for the needy to provide food and shelter, learning from the county jails funding models. The federal government should have stimulus and incentives by providing partial funding to faith-based and other community-based programs as well as programs set up by regional governments.

In this multitier support model, the federal government’s presence is mandatory and fundamental but not totalitarian. The government from local to federal, the politicians and the spiritual leaders, should ensure that no one is left hungry and without shelter unless they themselves are facing the same.



The Rev.Joseph Darby Senior Pastor, Morris Brown AME Church

Faith-based groups, nonprofits and philanthropic foundations cannot assume the role played by the governmental “safety net” embraced in our nation’s core documents. The preamble to our Constitution says that we aspire to “promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity,” and we profess in our Pledge of Allegiance to be “one nation under God.”

Those statements indicate what America should be — a nation that encourages personal initiative, achievement and accountability while seeing that those who face chronic or episodic economic need are made whole and empowered to compete and achieve.

If we are “one nation under God,” then we should remember the scriptural mandates embraced by many people of faith: to love others as we love ourselves, to see to the needs of those who are struggling and, as stated by the biblical Micah, to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.”

Those who are hungry and homeless, those without access to affordable health care that focuses on wellness and those who have been kept on the margins of society because of their color or economic class have a harder time “securing the blessings of liberty.”

It’s more than reasonable for the government to address those concerns, so that those we encourage to “lift themselves up by their bootstraps” will at least have boots.

During my tenure as its president, the South Carolina Christian Action Council issued a call for our state’s Legislature to craft a “moral budget” that is fiscally prudent but also takes into account the needs of our citizens. We did so in part as a response to those who said that churches and private benefactors could come together and provide for the needy.

Many churches and groups of churches have done so for years and are still doing so, but there’s a limit to what churches that have other ministry expenses and that have also felt the effects of the last six years of economic struggle can do.

Some churches also — for sometimes dubious reasons of their own — pick, choose and restrict the pool of those they assist.

Private benefactors have limits as well. One built a private school for children of modest means in downtown Charleston, but no others have stepped forward to do the same. The governor’s philanthropic foundation has adopted a rural school district, but their first initiative was to improve an athletic field and not to provide educational resources.

The argument that government should take a “hands off” position also can fade when economic need hits home. The past six years have seen some who once condemned government for helping the needy change their tunes when they had to apply for governmental assistance to make ends meet.

Our government provides economic incentives to lure businesses and has bailed out troubled banks. If we have an economic interest in promoting the general welfare of the powerful, then we also have a moral responsibility to promote the general welfare of those in need.

The Rev. Bert Keller - Retired senior pastor at Circular Congregational Church and bioethics professor at MUSC

One thing free people do for themselves and each other through the instrument of government is to make and keep human life human. I believe that should be the main thing government does.

Assuring rule of law is part of that, and we do it by legislation, law enforcement and a good court and penal system. To make and keep human life human also demands high-quality public education, a decent standard of health care — and a social safety net to keep people and families from real harm when they become disabled, destitute, old beyond income-producing years or chronically poor.

From the biblical point of view, God’s concern is always for the poor and powerless.

Policies or laws that protect people from falling into poverty and powerlessness the Bible calls justice, and the motivation to enact such policies, or help those at risk of being crushed by poverty, is called mercy or compassion. Or just plain love. Read Matthew 25.

In a democratic and humane society, like ours, government is morally empowered to undergird what we call the inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Where people feel ownership in their government, this is not seen as “us” helping “them,” but like the whole community acting to safeguard itself.

There will always be room for nongovernment organizations, such as churches and civic clubs, to fill in gaps. And both sectors, public and private, ought to always be inventive in combining “safety net” measures with building human capital so that cycles of poverty can be broken and families empowered to flourish. Education and health care do this, for example.

What kind of situations call out for a safety net?

We think of old age and medical care, to name two, and the corresponding responses of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

We think of having an income below the level agreed on as poverty, and the attendant food programs such as food stamps, free lunches (sometimes breakfast) in schools and maternal and infant feeding programs.

We think of crisis situations, such as Hurricane Hugo, and the aid that came to the Lowcountry via FEMA and other agencies.

And we think of the chronically poor who can find no way out of a culture of poverty, and the responsibility of the rest of the community to them.

Safety net specifics such as eligibility criteria and effective means of help must be settled by policy, but the principle is firm and robust: We should treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves — with a human touch of graceful generosity. Even if we temporarily go in debt to do it.



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