Reflections on my Haj experience

Published on: 23/08/2019 | Comments: 3 comments 

.. by Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah

Alhamdullilah, have just been through the grand collective ritual of Islam, it’s fifth pillar, the Haj. The experience was overwhelming by all accounts. There would hardly be an occasion in a person’s life where one can see so much of people from all around the world concentrating on a single event with so much reverence and devotion.

The spirit of Haj is the strongest centripetal binding force between different sects and sections of Islam. If it was not for Haj which brings all believers together, Muslims would have shredded apart long ago into different divisions each on their own.

Just before the beginning of Haj, there was a message running viral on the social media with proclamations from different Muftis around the world calling for boycott of Haj in the present circumstances, giving various reasons as justification. After going through the ritual and thinking about this with a cool mind, the appeal for boycott seems a ploy by the enemies of Islam who want the most potent unifying force of Muslims to be weakened. If there are geo-political problems that cause apprehensions in the minds of people, such problems need to be solved instead of discouraging Haj in itself. We do not ever cut the head to cure the headache.

Personal Observations:

Much as the presence and devotion of the participants was overwhelmingly impressive, the connection of the spirit of the ritual to every day true life was sadly found missing every where.

At Arafat, the main venue of Haj sermon, the grand imam and the imams in different camps were heard to be only praying for mercy from Allah Almighty for their sins, but praying to Allah for giving them the strength to not commit sins in future was found missing. The misconception that Allah Almighty would forgive all past sins of a person who performed Haj stood out glaringly.? The sermon givers did not qualify the kind of sins that Allah would forgive, for Allah Almighty has clearly mentioned in the Holy Quran that HE would not forgive sins against humanity (Haqooq ul Ibad). The misconception that after performing Haj one comes out free of all sins like a baby born from a mothers womb, is the underlying reason for Muslims not giving importance to Huqooq ul Ibaad. No where in various sermons during Haj was the sublime sunnat of the Holy Prophet PBUH i.e of being Sadiq and Ameen (truthful and trustworthy) touched upon,

Whereas Sunnats of the Holy prophet like his dress, his beard size, his using miswak, his offering nafal prayers etc were being mentioned again and again with reverence, no where was the saying of the prophet that ‘Cleanliness is equal part of faith’ ever mentioned, that is why all Hajis were seen with miswak in hand, mostly with beards, ankles bared and offering nawafils, but also was seen the Haj venues draped in trash and litter whether it was at Mina Arafat or Muzdalfa.

There was no mention in the lengthy Haj Khutba and Duas about discipline, cleanliness, compassion, etc. The beautiful Haj connotation of mercy and compassion is so strong that in the state of Ihram, pilgrims cannot harm any living creature, not even kill a mosquito, but this aspect of showing compassion to Allah’s creatures was not touched upon in the long sermons. Duas were mostly restricted to seeking forgiveness from sins. No where in sermons was the bitter fact attended to, that everyone who can, fleeces the Hajis in Mecca and Madina during Haj days. A taxi which normally charges 20 riyals during normal days asks for upto 500 riyals in Haj days exploiting the compulsion and helplessness of the Hajis.

The Haj organiser in his briefing had warned that Hajis should be careful when buying coupons for sacrificial animals because many companies take the money and send you fake intimation without actually sacrificing the animal for you.

At Arafat when the time for begging from God came, I first prayed for the Muslim Umma to be gifted with the quality of being Sadiq and Ameen (truthful and trustworthy), before I prayed for myself. My faith in Allah was rekindled when immediately clouds appeared and a down pour quenched the parched land. I felt as if Allah Almighty had liked the prayer I made to him to to make Muslims Sadiq and Ameen.

Some observations regarding administration of Haj:

The mechanics of conducting Haj have come a long way from travelling on foot and camels to planes and trains, from raising the size of Satan’s pillars from small to huge sizes, from expanding the original Mina field to vast expanse under same name. All these changes have been brought about after authorization from leading clerics (fatwas). Much more needs to be done through Ijtihad and Ijmah in amending some procedures, tailoring them to modern time requirements.

— The first and most important administrative amendment that needs to be done without any more delay is to segregate male from female during tawaf of the holy Kaaba. At present, tawaf around the Kaaba is done in a jam packed mataf where na muhrim men and women are literally brushing shoulders and pushing each other which is not permitted in Islam. In early days the population was low and this may not have been a problem but today it sure is.
— Through Ijma, some Haj procedures have already been reoriented. Except for the Waqoof at Arafat which is actual Haj Farz, other rituals which are Sunnat or Wajib have been reorganised after Ijmah with Ulema.? Earlier, Rummi (stoning of devil) was only allowed only in the afternoon, now due to huge crowds it is not manageable so? 24 hours Rummi has been allowed. Similarly other procedures which are repetitious can also be looked into, like stoning of devil could be kept on one day instead of spreading it over three days.
–? The Saudi government should deploy courteous and efficient employees who should be trained to serve pilgrims instead of bossing over them.
— The sign boards all over Mecca and Madina are in Arabic. Hajis from world over visit these places. Such boards should also be written in at least two other major languages other than Arabic.

It was very saddening to hear when an employee of the hotel we were staying in, said that purity and sanctity we see is only restricted to the perimeters of the two Harams at Mecca and Madina. Outside of these walls every kind of corrupt practices go on., he said disgustedly. One shudders to think that the immediate vicinity of these two sacred places has not been able to make Muslims good people. There must be something missing. Most probably it is that religious clerics and Ulema do not stress upon the importance of character building in their sermons.

If Allah Almighty listens to my humble prayers and endows Muslims with the prime sunnat of the Holy Prophet? i.e of being Sadiq (truthful) and Ameen (trustworthy) , Muslims will be respected again and the world at large would be a better place. .. Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah, 18 Aug 2019

Comment 7 .. A truly thought provoking reflection and observation of the behavior and expectation of Umma towards forgiveness of their sins by performing Haj. This insightful write up by Fardad Ali Shah sb draws the attention of Muslims towards the true spirit of Sunnat, the basis of which is truthfulness and trustworthiness which is unfortunately missing among majority of the Muslims. Muslims find spiritual satisfaction by imitating the physical appearance of the holy prophet but they hardly pay any serious attention to follow his deeds such as truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, compassion for humanity. Our religious leaders and preachers do not promote these attributes in their preaching and sermons while these are essential for a peaceful and conducive society and need to be inculcated among Muslims for adoption.
This also provides an intellectual platform for debate to reform and promote healthy trends in society and I would encourage other worthy readers to express their views on the subject. .. Sultan Mehmood, Islamabad 22 Aug 2019

Comment 6 .. Congratulations Sir, well written article with good suggestion for administration. .. Usman Uddin, Chitral 22 Aug 2019

Comment 5 .. I studied the article carefully. Totally agree with every point in it to be practical and realistic. I suggest all the readers to act upon all the suggestions highlighted in the article. Thank you for presenting such valuable information. .. Wajahat Ali, Chitral 22 Aug 2019

Comment 4 .. Heartiest congratulations on performing the pilgrimage. Segregation of male and female pilgrims in the rite of Circumambulation requires deeper study while the other aspect of limiting pelting stones at Satan to one day instead of three days appears to be allowable in light of this holy saying of the holy Prophet (peace be upon him):????? ????:??? ???:???? ???? 1263 ?????? 0 ???? ???? 0
???? ????????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???? (??? ???? ???? ???? ????) ?? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?? (???? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ????? ??? ???? ????? ??) ?? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ????????? ??????? ??????? ????? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???? ??? ???? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? (?????? ???????? ?????? ??? ????? ?????) ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ?? ?? ??? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ??????? ?? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?? ????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?? ???? ?? ????? ???? ???? ? ??? ?? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?????? ?? ??????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ??????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ??????? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ?? ??? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ????? ??? ????? ??????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ????? ???? ????? ???? ????? ?? ??? ??? ????? ???? ??? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ???? ??? ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ????? ???? ????? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ????? ??? ????? ????? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ??? Regarding segregation of male and female pilgrims to avoid pogrom ,let us see it separately.These are personal views and carry no weight unless they are endorsed by authentic religious authorities . ..? Ghulam Anbia , Chitral 21 Aug 2019

Comment 3 ..? For the present,the separation of ladies for Tawaf also looks in order from this hadis:??? ???? ???????:??? ???:???? ???? 645 ?????? 0 ???? ???? 0(????) ?? ???? ?? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? : ?? ?? ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ?? ?? ???? ???? (??? ???? ???? ???? ????) ?? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ??? : ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??? ? ???? ??? : ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?? ??? : ?? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ?? ?? ??? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ????? (??) ????? ?? ??? ?? ?? ???? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ??? : ?? ?? ???????? ! ???? ?? ?????? ???? ?? ????? ?? ??? : ?? ?? ??? ?? ?? ?? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?? ??? ?? ??? ????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ???? ???? ?? ?? ??? ???? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???? ??????? ???? ?? ?? ?????? ???? ??????? ??? ????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ???? ????? (??) ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ??? ? ????? ?? ??? : ?? ???? ??? ??? ???? ??? ?? ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ?? ?? ?????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ?? ????? ???? ?????? ..? Ghulam Anbia , Chitral 21 Aug 2019

Comment 2 .. ?An exceptionally well-written article with many interesting suggestions.
Inspired after reading through the reminisced Hajj experience. I particularly like the fact that it gives an objective look at the issues/areas of improvement, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages. Very insightful! .. Sana Feroze, Melbourne?20 Aug 2019

Comment 1–?If even during Haj the importance of honesty, cleanliness and discipline is not mentioned, then how can you expect Muslims to adopt these qualities. The priorities of our sermons need to be revisited indeed. .. Mustapha, Chitral 19 Aug 2019

Ireland ‘leads the world in Islamic values as Muslim states lag’

Published on: 09/05/2019 | Comments: No comments 

Ireland embodies Islamic beliefs, according to survey

Ireland best embodies Islamic beliefs, according to survey Photo: Rex (file photo: County Kerry, Ireland)

A study of 208 countries and territories has found that the top countries in both economic achievement and social values are Ireland, Demark, Luxembourg and New Zealand. Britain also ranks in the top ten.

The first Muslim-majority nation is Malaysia ranking at 33, while the only other state in the top 50 is Kuwait at 48.

Hossein Askari, an Iranian-born professor of International Business and International Affairs at George Washington University, said Muslim countries used religion as an instrument of state control. He said: ?We must emphasise that many countries that profess Islam and are called Islamic are unjust, corrupt, and underdeveloped and are in fact not ?Islamic? by any stretch of the imagination.

?Looking at an index of Economic Islamicity, or how closely the policies and achievements of countries reflect Islamic economic teachings – Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Norway, and Belgium round up the first 10?.

?If a country, society, or community displays characteristics such as unelected, corrupt, oppressive, and unjust rulers, inequality before the law, unequal opportunities for human development, absence of freedom of choice (including that of religion), opulence alongside poverty, force, and aggression as the instruments of conflict resolution as opposed to dialogue and reconciliation, and, above all, the prevalence of injustice of any kind, it is prima facie evidence that it is not an Islamic community,? he said.

An Overall Islamicity Index analysing social rules and human rights measures found that similar rankings were generated in 2010.

“New Zealand, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands; and again only Malaysia (38) and Kuwait (48) make it into the top 50 from Muslim countries,? he said. ?Islam is, and has been for centuries, the articulation of the universal love of Allah for his creation and for its unity, and all that this implies for all-encompassing human and economic development.”? .. Source

Kalash-Muslim coexistence signifies religious harmony

Published on: 21/01/2018 | Comments: No comments 

? .. by Zahiruddin
Kalash women dance during the Chilim Jusht festival. ? Dawn
Kalash women dance during the Chilim Jusht festival. ? Dawn

?Had it been true, today you would not have found me attired in this outfit,? Syed Gul points towards her typical Kalash dress when asked about the issue of forced conversion of Kalash people to Islam. An educated woman who studied archaeology in university and presently serving as supervisor in Chitral Museum, Ms Gul goes on to assert that she passed four years of her college life in a deeply religious Muslim family, but they did not talk to her about her Kalash religion. She added that none of her Muslim friends in the girls? college ever discussed her religion and similar was the case when she studied in Hazara University.

About the contents of a recent report compiled by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) painting a bleak picture of Kalash people, she said that she did not know any single person who had been converted to Islam by force. She claimed that the other issues as discussed in the report pertaining to land settlement, basic human rights and oak forest ownership were all devoid of facts.

She praised the Muslim natives in the three Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur for their affable attitude towards Kalash people. She said that according to the last population census report, the strength of Kalash people stood at 3,800 compared to 12,000 of Muslims in all the three valleys, but the majority had never hindered their religious rituals.

Wazirzada Kalash, manager of Ayun and Kalash Valleys Development Programme, and Muhkamuddin, a former chairman of the organisation, insisted that if someone wanted to see the practical manifestation of interfaith harmony in its best form, the Kalash valleys were the best places to visit where Muslims and Kalash lived in an ideally peaceful atmosphere ensuring coexistence. They admitted the fact that the Kalash people were gradually decreasing in strength due to their conversion to Islam, but said the process could not be stopped due to the social environment.

Not a single complaint about forced conversion of Kalash has ever been reported in Chitral, says DPO Mansoor Aman

They said that in schools the Kalash and Muslim children intermingled and read the same syllabus from the same teacher and played in the same ground. ?The Kalash children?s unwittingly adopting the norms of the Muslim majority starts from primary classes. They have to wear the dresses like the Muslims children in schools.?

Islamiyat is taught as a compulsory subject in the schools which moulds their inclination towards Islam. The co-education in the government middle schools of Rumbur and Birir valleys and the high school of Bumburate valley can also be counted as one of the factors in this regard, they said.

They regretted that the primary level schools for Kalash had been abolished which were set up many years ago in all the valleys and now Muslim children were also enrolled there. They said that at primary level the Kalash children must be given an exclusive environment along with teachers from their own community so that they might retain the essence of their religion and culture.

District education officer Ihsanul Haq confirmed that the students of both sexes and communities were taught in the same schools. He said that the subject of Ethics could not be started in the valley schools for Kalash students as the KP Textbook Board did not provide free textbooks. Regarding abolition of Kalash-specific primary schools, he said that it was unnecessary for the Kalash children to have a separate school.

About the issue of conversion, district police officer Mansoor Aman said that according to the police record, not a single complaint about forced conversion of Kalash had ever been reported. ?Those Kalash who convert to Islam, exercised their constitutional right of changing religion.

There might be larger social and economic factors which influence their choice. There is no constraint on Kalash people in performing in their religious rituals. They can do their festivals and routine rituals with freedom and security,? Mr Aman said.

Wazirzada Kalash also said that the land settlement process had recently been completed in the district as per procedure of the department.

He said that the land settlement department informed the villagers to remain present in their lands at the time of demarcation and settlement and this was practiced in the valleys as well.

About the allegation of deprivation of Kalash from the local forest, he said that the forests in the valleys were being managed under the Forest Act 2002.

He said that Kalash lived side by side with Muslims in the valleys sharing the same facilities. ?If Kalash in some locality was the sufferer of the lack of a certain facility, then his Muslim neighbour also did suffer and it had never happened that the Kalash were debarred from taking advantage of a certain facility in an area,? he said.

Syed Gul said that the Kalash felt themselves more secure than ever before as both their Muslim neighbours and the state agencies cared for them and no outsider could dare to intimidate them. She said that at present there were hundreds of Kalash girls enrolled in different colleges of the city while enrolment rate of Kalash children in the schools was nearly 100 per cent.

The Kalash exponents, however, suggested that Kalash children should be taught by teachers from their own community in separate schools up to primary level while the subject of Ethics should be taught to them in the middle and high classes instead of Islamiyat.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2018

Pathetic state of the Muslim world today

Published on: 30/12/2017 | Comments: No comments 

Ironically, the Muslim World presents a gloomily retrogressive picture in the current world scenario notwithstanding that they constitute a quarter of the world population. Most of them are in a penury with begging bowls in hands standing at the doors of the US dominated international monetary institutions. Given the fact that the Muslim territories from South west Asia to central Asia to Middle East to North Africa abound in natural resources like huge reservoirs of natural gas, petroleum, precious gems and minerals etc.; they despicably lack the technical know-how to exploit these resources to their optimum benefit.? These resource-rich countries heavily rely on foreign companies for the extraction of crude oil products and also hire the services of foreign engineers for the construction of mega structures obviously due to the reason that they lack the expertise in the relevant field.

Sadly, the Muslims have lost a sense of direction in this era of technological advancement. The Muslim world stands at the crossroad of its history groping in the dark alleys of darkness perpetuated by illiteracy, obscurantism, sectarianism and parochial interests. This is obviously the reason the Muslims are subjected to humiliation and disgrace in Palestine, Burma, Afghanistan and Occupied Kashmir by the imperialistic forces without any let or hindrance. The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the US President Donald Trump and the consequent lackluster response from the OIC and Muslim world leadership is an ominous portent of the abject powerlessness of the Muslims across the globe.

The internecine wars within the Muslim states created a space for the foreign powers to meddle with the internal affairs of these countries. These powers take sides with the dissident factions, who are always at logger head with one another, in an attempt to destabilize the political set-up in the Muslim countries in order to achieve their ulterior motives and objectives. Afghanistan is a case in point. This landlocked country has remained a war-game zone for major powers of the world for decades. The country lay ravaged and devastated as a result of internal conflicts and subsequent foreign invasions. Preceding the US invasion this country remained a center-stage of power struggle between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance perpetuating a series of internal warfare that started with the withdrawal of the Red Army and the subsequent disintegration of the USSR in 1991.

In the meantime, The Allied Forces led by the US are stationed in Afghanistan with the covert intent of containing China and of heightening the influence of India putting? weight at her back to carry out subversive activities in Pakistan to sabotage the Pak-Chine economic corridor?CPEC. Post 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan on the flimsy reason that the recalcitrant Taliban sheltered the most wanted man to the US, Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the terrorist attacks on WTC and Pentagon. These were the CIA trained warriors in the late 70?s, who had brought down the mighty empire of the USSR with the backing of the US.? The Americans deserted them soon after their core objective of the supremacy of power with a unipolar status was achieved.

The irony of fate is that, The Muslim world lack the capacity to oppose the US tooth and nail on the ground that it is a divided and scattered conglomeration of states engaged in sectarian and ethnic rivalries. The Saudi Kingdom seems in no mood to take on board Iran–a predominantly Shiite state in time of exigency. This has resulted into two blocks within the Muslim world?one led by Iran and the other by the Saudi Kingdom rendering the OIC an irrelevant body.? Seizing the opportunity, the US has been consistently showing her inclinations towards the Saudi Kingdom to build pressure on Iran tightening the noose around the latter in a bid to checkmate her nuclear ambitions. The Saudi Kingdom readily panders to the US wishes to the detriment of the unity of the Muslim Ummah. At one point the US had also succeeded in persuading the Saudi king to forge diplomatic relations with Israel.

The? Muslim Ummah currently faces leadership crisis to the core. The governments across the muslim world are run by autocratic and oligarchic kings in most cases who never look beyond their petty self-interests. Moreover, these rulers are immersed in luxuries and are more focused on the security of their thrones than the betterment of the Ummah. History bears witness to the fact, that post ?twelfth century rulers in the Muslim world reveled in expanding the frontiers of their occupied territories relegating the acquisition of knowledge to the background.? Tamerlaine is known to history for erecting minarets of human skulls from the decapitated corpses on the battlefield. The Mughal rulers relished at building monuments at a huge cost of money; whereas in the meantime the West was profoundly immersed in developing educational institutions of the stature of Oxford and Harward.

?In a frenzied power struggle, these autocratic rulers deliberately want to keep their own subjects in the damp dungeon of ignorance employing different methods of suppression to stifle the public voice against the injustices. They consider scientific research, technology and dissemination of knowledge a threat to their power politics. That is why democracy and rule of law is purposely kept at bay in most of the Muslim countries. The imperialistic powers take advantage of this fallacy of the Muslim rulers and make an inroad into our internal affairs to serve their self-interests.? The need? of the times is that we woke up from our deep slumber and started moving out of the alleys of darkness and ignorance into the illuminating world of knowledge and scientific research to counter the imperialistic designs of foreign powers in an effective manner. .. Khalid Pervaiz Raza, Booni Chitral 30 Dec 2017