Monday, January 31, 2011

Maryam (Mary) and the Birth of Jesus


Quran has a full Chapter dedicated to Maryam, the mother of Jesus (Isa-alaisalaam)- Chapter 19 of Quran, namely, Surah Maryam. This Chapter deals with all the difficulties faced by various Prophets and also tells the problems faced by Bibi Maryam.

Before her story in Surah Maryam, we have a description of her own birth, life and of her giving birth to Jesus, in Chapter 3 of Quran - Surah Ale Imran (Family of Imran). I'd skipped portions of life of Mary while analysing the Surah earlier. That's because I wanted to have a separate article on what the Quran states about Mary. The Quran has specifically mentioned about Maryam and has even dedicated an entire Chapter to her. This is the greatest honour that can be given to any woman. No other woman shares this honour. Apart from a detailed mention in two Chapters, some of the other Surahs also keep referencing her alongwith with her son, Jesus (Isa PUBH).

Let us see what Surah Ale Imran says about dear Maryam (Mary) and her subsequent birth to Jesus:

SURAH ALE IMRAN (CHAPTER 3)

[3:35] (Remember) When the wife of Imran said, “My Lord! I pledge to you what is in my womb - that it shall be dedicated purely in Your service, so accept it from me; indeed You only are the All Hearing, the All Knowing.”Background : Prophet Imran (pbuh) was a religious leader of the Israelites and his wife Hannah was barren and prayed for a child and promised to offer the child to the service of Allah (God). She was the sister of the wife of Prophet Zakaria(pbuh).

Sadly, before the birth of the child, her husband passed away. This I came across in places, though couldn't find the source of the reference.


[3:36] So when she gave birth to it, she said, “My Lord! I have indeed given birth to a girl!” And Allah well knows what she gave birth to; and the boy she had prayed for is not like this girl; “And I have named her Maryam and I give her and her offspring in Your protection, against Satan the outcast.”

Hannah had vowed to offer the child to the services of Allah, but when she gave birth to a girl, it posed a dilemma for her as in those times women were not allowed in the temple, especially to be devoted to the services of The Supreme One. But, Allah is the All-Knower and knew what was in her womb and had already chosen the path for Maryam (Mary).
[3:37] So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah . Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”

As Mary didn't have a father to be her guardian and also since she was devoted to the services of Allah, someone had to be appointed as a guardian for her. Prophet Zakaria (Zechariya, pbuh) himself was a pious man and held a important position as the priest and trustee of Hekal. He used to pray devotionally and preach zealously. His wife and he were the symbols of piety and righteousness. Prophet Imran (pbuh) was also a pious man. Being in closest in relation to Mary, Zakaria (pbuh) volunteered to be her guardian. He was chosen finally from among the others as they threw lots to decide the guardianship of Mary.

Mary stayed in a special room in temple, where no men were allowed. Zakaria (pbuh) used to visit her to inquire about her well-being. Whenever he went to the prayer chamber to see Maryam, he found food with her. He asked Maryam (Mary) about the source of food. She replied that they were sent by Allah. And Allah gives to whom He wills.

[3:38] It is here that Zakaria prayed to his Lord; he said, “My Lord! Give me from Yourself a righteous child; indeed You only are the Listener Of Prayer.”Zakaria (pbuh), who himself was very old then and didn't have children of his own, longed for a child of his own to carry the priesthood ahead. There itself, he prayed to Allah to grant him a righteous child.

[3:39] And the angels called out to him while he was standing, offering prayer at his place of worship, “Indeed Allah gives you glad tidings of Yahya (John), who will confirm a Word (or sign) from Allah, - a leader, always refraining from women, a Prophet from one of Our devoted ones.”

Then the angels called out to Zakaria (pbuh) and confirmed to him that a righteous son will be born to him. He was to be Yahya (pbuh), who is known by the name of John in the Bible.

[3:40] He said, “My Lord! How can I have a son when old age has reached me and my wife is barren?” He said, “This is how Allah brings about, whatever He wills.”
[3:41] He said, “My Lord! Determine a sign for me”; He said, “The sign is that you shall not be able to speak to mankind for three days except by signs; and remember your Lord profusely, and proclaim His Purity before sunset and at dawn.”Zakaria (pbuh) could not believe how he could have a child at his advanced age, while his wife was also barren. He asked for a sign from Allah, to prove that the news that was conveyed to him was true. Zakaria was conveyed through the Angel that he will not be able to speak to anyone for 3 days except by gesture. And was asked to keep praying to the Lord.

The account from St Luke's Bible is similar to the events stated here, with a difference that the Bible states that when Zakaria (pbuh) showed doubt about the news, the Lord was angry and he was told that his will not be able to speak till the child was born.

The account in Surah Ale-Imran then moves back to Maryam...

[3:42] And when the angels said, “O Maryam! Indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you, and has this day, chosen you among all the women of the world.”
[3:43] “O Maryam! Stand in reverence before your Lord, prostrate yourself and bow along with those who bow.”
[3:44] These are tidings of the hidden, which We secretly reveal to you (O dear Prophet Mohammed - peace and blessings be upon him); and you were not present with them when they threw their pens to draw lots, to know who should be the guardian of Maryam; nor were you present with them when they were quarrelling.

For those who do not know and wonder why Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is being addressed here, let me clarify. The Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in various stages of his life, part by part by Gabriel Angel (who is known as Jibreel Alaisalaam in Islam). The prophet himself was an uneducated man, who could not read or write. Allah send His revelations - of the people and prophets before him - through His Angel Jibreel as also the laws to be followed from thereon. Our prophet used to remember the words of the blessed Angel and share it with his companions (known as 'Sahabis'), and the learned among them used to write down everything verbatim. And then compare notes. That is how the Quran has been passed down through the ages. After that, nothing has been changed to date. Why was an illiterate man chosen to be the Messenger of Allah and pass on great knowledge to the world ? This itself is planned by Allah for a reason - so no one can say that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) read or studied it from somewhere and wrote the Quran himself. Allah is indeed the best Planner.

Referring to the lines 'drawing of lots', it refers to the practice of those times to draw lots to come to a conclusion /decision. To decide the guardianship of Maryam, lots were drawn and Allah chose Zakaria (pbuh) from among the others. This verse is addressed to Mohammed PBUH, that though he was not there when all these things happened, the past events of prophets prior to him are being revealed to him.

[3:45] And remember when the angels said, “O Maryam! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Eisa (Jesus) the son of Maryam - he will be honourable in this world and in the Hereafter, and among the close ones (to Allah).
Here is the account where Maryam was told by the angels that she will bear the a son by the name of Isa (Jesus), who will be a honourable man and amongst the people close to Allah.

[3:46] “He will speak to people while he is in the cradle and in his adulthood, and will be of the devoted ones.”This verse states one of the miraculous attributes of Jesus PBUH. His being able to speak in infanthood.


[3:47] She said, “My Lord! How can I bear a child when no man has ever touched me?” He said, “This is how Allah creates whatever He wills; when He wills a thing, He only says to it, ‘Be’ - and it happens immediately.”Maryam asked the Angel/s how she would bear a child when she is untouched by any man. Here it is stated that Allah can create whatever He wants, in whichever way He wants. This is reiterated in Ayat (verse) 59 of this Chapter, where Allah states that the birth of Jesus is similar to the birth of Prophet Adam (pbuh). Both were born with the will of Allah in unique ways.

The qualities that will be bestowed to Jesus (PBUH) are told to Maryam through the following verses....
[3:48] “And Allah will teach him the Book and wisdom, and the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Bible).”
[3:49] “And he will be a Noble Messenger towards the Descendants of Israel saying, ‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, for I mould a birdlike sculpture from clay for you, and I blow into it and it instantly becomes a (living) bird, by Allah’s command; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I revive the dead, by Allah’s command; and I tell you what you eat and what you store in your houses; undoubtedly in these (miracles) is a great sign for you, if you are believers.’ (Several miracles bestowed to Prophet Eisa are mentioned here.)
Narration moves to the life and purpose of Jesus, in a brief narrative...
[3:50] ‘And I come confirming the Taurat (Torah) - the Book before me - and to make lawful for you some of the things which were forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a sign from your Lord - therefore fear Allah and obey me.’
[3:51] ‘Undoubtedly Allah is the Lord of all - mine and yours - so worship Him only; this is the Straight Path.’ ”
[3:52] So when Eisa sensed their disbelief he said, “Who will be my aides towards (in the cause of) Allah?” The disciples said, “We are the aides of Allah’s religion; we believe in Allah, and you bear witness that we are Muslims.”
[3:53] Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger Jesus, so register us among the witnesses [to truth]."
[3:54] And the disbelievers conspired (to kill Eisa ), and Allah covertly planned to destroy them; and Allah is the best of secret planners.
[3:55] Remember when Allah said, "O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ".Here again, like elsewhere in Quran, it is reiterated that Jesus was raised to Allah and he was neither killed nor died. His followers includes all who believe in Jesus (pbuh), this of course is not restricted to Christians, as Muslims believe him to be a Prophet of Allah as well.
Here again, if you read carefully the verse begins with 'Raise to myself' and then ends with 'You will return to me'. This is an indication of the second coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus (PBUH) was raised to Allah, when his enemies planned to kill him. Again his being returned to Allah for judgement, is an indication that he will come to live with us and then return to the Lord as we all return back after living our full term on the earth (that is - till our death).
[3:56] “So I shall mete a severe punishment to those who disbelieve, in this world and in the Hereafter; and they will not have any supporters.”
[3:57] “And for those who believed and did good deeds, Allah will give them their full reward; and Allah does not like the unjust.”
[3:58] These are some verses that We recite to you, and advice full of wisdom.

[3:59] The example of Eisa with Allah is like that of Adam; He created him (Adam) from clay and then said to him, “Be” - and it thereupon happens!Relate this Ayat back to Ayat 47 above.
[3:60] This is the Truth from your Lord, so never be of those who doubt.
[3:61] Therefore say to those who dispute with you (O dear Prophet Mohammed - peace and blessings be upon him) concerning Eisa (Jesus) after this knowledge has come to you, “Come! Let us summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves - then pray humbly, thereby casting the curse of Allah upon the liars!” (This is for those who differ in belief on the birth and life of Jesus.)

[3:62] This undoubtedly is the true narrative; there is none worthy of worship except Allah; and Allah is the Almighty, the Wise.
[3:63] So if they turn away, then indeed Allah knows those who cause turmoil.

[3:64] Say (O dear Prophet Mohammed - peace and blessings be upon him), “O People given the Book(s)! Come towards a word which is common between us and you, that we shall worship no one except Allah, and that we shall not ascribe any partner to Him, and that none of us shall take one another as lords besides Allah”; then if they do not accept say, “Be witness that (only) we are Muslims.”
Here is a commandment from the Lord to people who follow were revealed the 3 Scriptures (namely Torah, Gospel and the Quran) to understand the common things between the three religions and believe in one God- Allah. And not to ascribe any partners to Him. He is above having a son or any other relations.

The narrative about Maryam and Jesus (PBUH) ends with this verse in Surah Ale-Imran (though the Chapter continues).

The Story of Maryam and of her giving birth to Jesus (PBUH) is again mentioned in Surah Maryam. Excerpts about Mary in Surah Maryam :

SURAH MARYAM (CHAPTER 19)

[19:16] And remember Maryam in the Book; when she went away from her family to a place towards east.This verse reveals about the moving of Maryam to a place towards the east, away from her family.

[19:17] And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.
There she met a man on the way. This was actually Gabriel Angel disguised as a man.

[19:18] She said, "I seek the refuge of the Most Gracious from you - if you fear Allah."
[19:19] He said, "I am indeed one sent by your Lord; so that I may give you a chaste son."
[19:20] She said, "How can I bear a son? No man has ever touched me, nor am I of poor conduct!"
[19:21] He said, "So it is; your Lord has said, ‘This is easy for Me’; and in order that We make him a sign for mankind and a Mercy from Us; and this matter has been decreed."
[19:22] So she conceived him, and she went away with him to a far place.
[19:23] Then the pangs of childbirth brought her to the base of the palm-tree; she said, "Oh, if only had I died before this and had become forgotten, unremembered."
[19:24] (The angel) Therefore he called her from below her, “Do not grieve - your Lord has made a river flow below you.”
[19:25] "And shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards you - ripe fresh dates will fall upon you''

[19:26] "Therefore eat and drink and appease your eyes; so if you meet any person then say, ‘I have pledged a fast (of silence) to the Most Gracious - I will therefore not speak to any person today.’ "
[19:27] So carrying him in her arms, she brought him to her people; they said, "O Maryam, you have indeed committed a great evil!"This is after Maryam gave birth to Jesus (PBUH) and brought him to her people. The people started accusing her of sin.

[19:28] "O sister of Haroon, neither was your father an evil man nor was your mother of poor conduct!"

[19:29] Thereupon she pointed towards the child; they said, "How can we speak to an infant who is in the cradle?"When people started accusing Maryam of misconduct, she pointed to her baby to seek explanation. The people exclaimed how could a infant talk!

[19:30] The child proclaimed, "I am Allah’s bondman; He has given me the Book and made me a Herald of the Hidden (a Prophet)."
[19:31] "And He has made me blessed wherever I be; and ordained upon me prayer and charity, as long as I live."
[19:32] "And has made me good to my mother and not made me forceful, ill-fated."
[19:33] "And peace is upon me the day I was born, and on the day I shall taste death, and on the day I will be raised alive."
Here again 'death' and 'being raised alive' are separately mentioned as two separate events. An indication of Second Coming of Jesus and his subsequent death later.
[19:34] This is Eisa (Jesus), the son of Maryam; a true statement, in which they doubt.
[19:35] It does not befit Allah to appoint someone as His son - Purity is to Him! When He ordains a matter, He just commands it, "Be" - and it thereupon happens.

[19:36] And said Eisa (Jesus), "Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord - therefore worship Him; this is the Straight Path."
[19:37] Then the factions differed [concerning Jesus] from among them, so woe to those who disbelieved - from the scene of a tremendous Day.
[19:38] Much will they listen and much will they see, on the Day when they come to Us, but today the unjust are in open error.
[19:39] And warn them, [O Muhammad], of the Day of Regret, when the matter will be concluded; and [yet], they are in [a state of] heedlessness, and they do not believe.

[19:40] Indeed We shall inherit the earth and all that is on it, and only towards Us will they return.Though Surah Maryam (Chapter 19) continues about hardships of some other prophets, the story of Maryam and Jesus ends with Ayat 40

There is a brief mention of Maryam in CHAPTER 66 - SURAH TEHREEM (The Prohibition) also :
[66:12] And the example of Maryam the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity - We therefore breathed into her a Spirit from Ourselves – and she testified for the Words of her Lord and His Books, and was among the obedient.

The Importance of Maryam alongwith other important women in Islam (through the Hadeeths) :

Hazrat Ali bin Abi Talib (RA) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "The best of the women in the world is Maryam (in her lifetime), and the best of the women in the world is Khadijah (in her lifetime)."
Abu Musa Ashari (RA) also narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "Many among men attained perfection, but among women none attained perfection except Maryam the daughter of Imran, and Asiya the wife of Pharaoh; and the superiority of Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (an Arabic dish) to other meals."

Translation credit :
http://www.alahazrat.net/alquran and in some parts from http://quran.com/

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Surah An Nisa- Rights of Women


In my earlier analysis of Surah An-Nisa, I'd just run through the verses on the Rights of Women, but on demand from some Muslim friends, I am providing an in-depth into the skipped verses. This is for fellow Muslims (especially women), who want to know more abut the importance of marriage, women and property rights in Islam, so that they get correct knowledge right from the Quran itself and avoid its misuse by hearsay.

MARRIAGE:
4:3 -
And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].
Verse 3 states that though it is advisable to marry from the orphan girls, one may do so if one is sure of doing full justice to them. Else marry any other girl. One may marry upto a limit of 4, but if one is not sure of treating all of them equally, then it is better to marry only one woman from any believing woman or from any believing woman from the slaves (There was a practice of slavery those days.... in place of servants). Marrying one woman, if fearing injustice to them is highlighted again in the last sentence as Allah does not like those who do injustice to others.


This point is further stressed through verse 129 which states that no man can be equal to more than one woman, no matter how much he tries.....
4:129 -
And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

In the act of being more favourable to one wife, man is likely to be unjust towards his other wife/ wives. So instead of being in such a situation, wherein the man is not able to be just to one wife (by dividing time and money) equally among them, then it is better to separate by settlement.
4:130 -
But if they separate [by divorce], Allah will enrich each [of them] from His abundance. And ever is Allah Encompassing and Wise.

Bridal gifts (Mahr):
Women are entitle to a marriage gift from their husbands at the time of marriage (but this should be what the guy can afford). This is reverse of the law in some countries, where men are ask money (dowry) from women for marriage, whether they can afford it or not. This is also followed up by beating or killing the bride eventually to meet dowry demands...
4:4 -
And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.

The mahr cannot be taken back, unless wife gives it up willingly. This is so even after a divorce is sought....
4:20 -
But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?
4:21 -
And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant?

WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN PROPERTY :
4:7 - For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much - an obligatory share.

4:8 -
And when [other] relatives and orphans and the needy are present at the [time of] division, then provide for them [something] out of the estate and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.
This is an appeal to make provision for needy people from your property

4:9 -
And let those [executors and guardians] fear [injustice] as if they [themselves] had left weak offspring behind and feared for them. So let them fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice.
This verse calls for justice from the guardians/ witnesses / executors of the will.

4:10 -
Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze.
This again is a warning for custodians of orphan's property (left by their parents / guardians) till they come of age.

The following verses state how the property (in absence of will) is to be distributed among family :
4:11 - Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one's estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one's parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children - you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah . Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

4:12 -
And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah , and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing.

4:13 - These are the limits [set by] Allah , and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted by Him to gardens [in Paradise] under which rivers flow, abiding eternally therein; and that is the great attainment.

Treatment of Women by men:
4:19 -
O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.
Points highlighted in this verse :
1) Women cannot be forced for marriage or by becoming heirs to their property.
2) No marriage gift to be taken back from them (unless they have betrayed their husbands).
3) Women should be treated kindly
4) If you dislike your wife, so it is possible that you dislike a thing in which Allah has placed abundant good.

Who are the women prohibited in marriage to a man ? This is clearly mentioned in verses 23 and 24 as below :
4:23 -
Prohibited to you [for marriage] are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father's sisters, your mother's sisters, your brother's daughters, your sister's daughters, your [milk] mothers who nursed you, your sisters through nursing, your wives' mothers, and your step-daughters under your guardianship [born] of your wives unto whom you have gone in. But if you have not gone in unto them, there is no sin upon you. And [also prohibited are] the wives of your sons who are from your [own] loins, and that you take [in marriage] two sisters simultaneously, except for what has already occurred. Indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.

4:24 - And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

Who can be married and conditions of marriage....
4:25 -
And whoever among you does not have means to marry free, believing women due to poverty, should marry from the believing bondwomen you own; and Allah knows well your faith; you are from one another; therefore marry them with the permission of their masters/ people, and give them their bridal money according to custom, they becoming (faithful) wives, not committing mischief or secretly making friends; so when they are married and commit the shameful, for them is half the punishment prescribed for free women; this is for one among you who fears falling into adultery; and to practice patience is better for you; and Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Equality between men and women...
4:32 -
And do not long for things by which Allah has given superiority to some of you over others; for men is the share of what they earn; and for women the share from what they earn; and seek from Allah His munificence; indeed Allah knows everything.
Here it is highlighted that one should not just long or pray for some thing/s which is granted to another (by comparing ourselves with others) because men and women get what they earn for themselves.
Jazakallah.

Translation courtesy :
quran.com (in a few places http://www.alahazrat.net/)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Surah Al Mai'dah


Al Maidah means : The Food. The essence of the Surah is of course, Food. What is allowed, what is not? And how one partakes of it. It comprises of 120 verses/ ayats.

Ayat 1 -O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts. Lawful for you are the animals of grazing livestock except for that which is recited to you [in this Qur'an] - hunting not being permitted while you are in the state of ihram. Indeed, Allah ordains what He intends.
The verse begins with the command to fulfill all contracts and promises made. Then goes on to explain that only animals which graze on grass or plants are lawful for a Muslim and that hunting is not allowed during Ihraam. Ihraam is the state you’re in while on pilgrimage (after donning the white cloth called ‘ihraam’, see pic)

Ayat 2 -
O you who have believed, do not violate the rites of Allah or [the sanctity of] the sacred month or [neglect the marking of] the sacrificial animals and garlanding [them] or [violate the safety of] those coming to the Sacred House seeking bounty from their Lord and [His] approval. But when you come out of ihram, then [you may] hunt. And do not let the hatred of a people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram lead you to transgress. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.
Here it is clear that acts of garlanding animals while sacrificing them is not permissible.
Ayat 3 - Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah , and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Prohibited food as explained above:
Meat of dead animals, Blood, Swine (pigs), animals killed by strangling of a violent blow, or which dies of injury due to horns, what is killed by wild animals, those sacrificed on stone altars, or killed by arrows. But animals hunted by your trained hunting animals, which you eventually sacrifice in the prescribed way (halaal) is acceptable. But again, if one is compelled to eat something out of sheer hunger (in a survival situation), something not prescribed for a believer, then there is no sin on him as Allah knows whats in our hearts.

Many of non-Muslims must have heard the word Halaal in context to food. ‘Halaal’ simply means – 'lawful' (permissible), while ‘Haraam’ means ‘unlawful’. Halaal food means food which is not prohibited as per Quran. There is prescribed way to slaughter an animal in Islam and this method has also been proven to be the best method scientifically also. It causes least pain to animal and almost entire blood is oozed out from animal, which is good for human intake also. To read in detail about the Islamic way of slaughtering animals (and its scientific authentication), you may check this link :

Ayat 4 - They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, "Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah ." Indeed, Allah is swift in account.

What foods are lawful for a believing Muslim and whom can a Muslim man marry ?
Ayat 5 - This day [all] good foods have been made lawful, and the food of those who were given the Scripture is lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. And whoever denies the faith - his work has become worthless, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.

This ayat states that a Muslim man can marry a chaste, practicising woman from a Muslim, Christian or Jew (those who have been given the Scriptures before you) by giving them their full marriage right and gift (mahr). For those who do not know, Mahr is a monetary gift given to a woman by her husband at the time of marriage. This is defined in Surah An Nisa (Ayat 4) as below :
4: 4 And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).

Also listing some related Ayats from Surah An Nisa related to 'Mahr', including right of woman to marry the man whom she likes (not forcing someone to marry you):
4 : 19 O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.

A Mahr given to a woman cannot be taken back, even on ending the marriage.
4: 20 But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?

Coming back to Surah Al Maidah ...
Ayat 6 speaks about ablution (wuzu) to be performed before offering prayers
Ayat 6 : O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.

Janabah here speaks of the state of impurity. If water is not available, while travelling and one needs to clean self, then clean soil can also be used to cleanse the face and hands. ‘Intention’ (neeyat) is a very important part of Islam. The intention in your heart (whether you speak aloud about it or silently say it in your heart) before doing an act is very important. Whether we offer namaaz, charity or any other good deed or activity, the person’s intention behind it is taken into account by Allah. God can see in your hearts and knows what is in it. So our intentions should be good for HIM to ease things for you and help you earn your rewards. Also the above ayat clearly states that in exceptional cases, Allah understands your problem and wants to ease things for us, so will even cause clean soil to cleanse us in case of emergencies. Also, if our intention is to show off while doing charity, you may gain its rewards only in this world and for what it is intended, hereafter you may not gain from it or its reward may be diminished. Allah knows best.

Again, we are reminded that God is The One and above having any relations. He can create and destroy whom He wishes. He was neither born nor will die. He was and will be.

Ayat 17 - They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?" And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.

Ayat 18 - But the Jews and the Christians say, "We are the children of Allah and His beloved." Say, "Then why does He punish you for your sins?" Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination
Here, we are told that no one is above the other. All of us are human beings (mere mortals). He above everything.

Ayat 19 - O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger to make clear to you [the religion] after a period [of suspension] of messengers, lest you say, "There came not to us any bringer of good tidings or a warner." But there has come to you a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And Allah is over all things competent.
Here, Our Messenger refers to our beloved Prophet Mohammed.

Here, through Quran, Mohammed (PBUH), is asked to recite the story of Moses, where he advised his people to enter the Holy Land promised by God, but they refused by giving excuses and God eventually cursed them for disobeying His command. This is explained through Ayats 20 to Ayat 26
Ayat 20- And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, "O my people, remember the favor of Allah upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds.

Ayat 21 - O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah 's cause] and [thus] become losers."

Ayat 22 - They said, "O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter."
Ayat 23 - Said two men from those who feared [to disobey] upon whom Allah had bestowed favor, "Enter upon them through the gate, for when you have entered it, you will be predominant. And upon Allah rely, if you should be believers."

Ayat 24 - They said, "O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here."

Ayat 25 - [Moses] said, "My Lord, indeed I do not possess except myself and my brother, so part us from the defiantly disobedient people."

Ayat 26 - [ Allah ] said, "Then indeed, it is forbidden to them for forty years [in which] they will wander throughout the land. So do not grieve over the defiantly disobedient people."

Then the Surah goes on to relate the story of the sons of Adam, wherein one son sinned by killing his own brother and later repented (Ayat 27 to Ayat 31).

Ayat 27 -And recite to them the story of Adam's two sons, in truth, when they both offered a sacrifice [to Allah ], and it was accepted from one of them but was not accepted from the other. Said [the latter], "I will surely kill you." Said [the former], "Indeed, Allah only accepts from the righteous [who fear Him].

Ayat 28 - If you should raise your hand against me to kill me - I shall not raise my hand against you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah , Lord of the worlds.

Ayat 29 - Indeed I want you to obtain [thereby] my sin and your sin so you will be among the companions of the Fire. And that is the recompense of wrongdoers."

Ayat 30 - And his soul permitted to him the murder of his brother, so he killed him and became among the losers.

Ayat 31 - Then Allah sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother. He said, "O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the body of my brother?" And he became of the regretful.

(This is where from where the burial practice was started. Prior to this, no death had probably occurred, as they were from amongst the sons of the first Man and Prophet of Allah- Adam PBUH. Also earlier men used to live for several hundred years)

Ayat 32 - Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
A soul for a soul means – capital punishment for murder of another (which is allowed). But this justice is left to the kin of the murdered. But again, it is upto them to forgive the other as an act of charity. This is mentioned in detailed in Ayat 45.

So, with the exception of mischief mongers and murderers, if one kills an innocent person, it is as if he had slain entire mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved entire mankind. Here is a lesson for those kill in the name of religion. When mass killing is done, so many innocents and Allah’s loved ones too lose their lives. By doing this, the doer only brings the wrath of Allah on himself. And saving a life is the regarded as a great act comparing it with saving humanity. Through several Hadeeths, we are told that even the simple act of removing an obstacle (stone, branch, thorn or anything which may cause harm to a traveller) from the road is considered the highest act of charity.

Punishment for stealing :
Ayat 38 -[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah . And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
This is usually highlighted by many non-Muslims as barbaric, but read what the immediate verse states.
Ayat 39 - But whoever repents after his wrongdoing and reforms, indeed, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

In the next Ayat, sending of the Torah as guidance of the people is stated. But here is also a warning for those who modify the religious texts for their own personal things or justify their own acts :
Ayat 44 - Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah , and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers.

Ayat 45 - And We ordained for them therein a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds is legal retribution. But whoever gives [up his right as] charity, it is an expiation for him. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the wrongdoers.
This is the Ayat I was referring to earlier, which clearly defines Crinimal Law for murder or any other physical harm. Like we say, ‘An eye for an eye...’ Rest is self explanatory.

Ayat 46 - And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.

Ayat 47 - And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.
The above 2 ayats are self-explanatory.

Ayat 57 - O you who have believed, take not those who have taken your religion in ridicule and amusement among the ones who were given the Scripture before you nor the disbelievers as allies. And fear Allah , if you should [truly] be believers.
Ayat 58 - And when you call to prayer, they take it in ridicule and amusement. That is because they are a people who do not use reason
Notice that here Quran tells us to keep away from people who make fun of your religion and ridicule it. But it doesn’t state anywhere to harm or hurt them.

Those who follow the earlier Scriptures correctly are also among the favoured.
Ayat 69 - Indeed, those who have believed [in Prophet Muhammad] and those [before Him] who were Jews or Sabeans or Christians - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.

With reference to calling Jesus as God and referring to Him as Three...
Ayat 72 - They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary" while the Messiah has said, "O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord." Indeed, he who associates others with Allah - Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.

Ayat 73 - They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the third of three." And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.

Ayat 74 - So will they not repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Jesus, the Messenger of God just like our beloved Prophet Muhammed....
Ayat 75 - The Messiah, son of Mary, was but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.

Keeping a Promise / Oath and compensation if it is broken –
Ayat 89 - Allah will not impose blame upon you for what is meaningless in your oaths, but He will impose blame upon you for [breaking] what you intended of oaths. So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever cannot find [or afford it] - then a fast of three days [is required]. That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. But guard your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be grateful.

Though a way of compensating for broken oaths or promises is mentioned, it is stressed that Oaths should be guarded and not broken as that is better for us.

Prohibition from intoxicants and gambling –
Ayat 91 - Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?

Sea Food allowed even if on Pilgrimage –
Ayat 92 -Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers, but forbidden to you is game from the land as long as you are in the state of ihram. And fear Allah to whom you will be gathered.

About the power of various miracles bestowed on Jesus by Allah –
Ayat 110 -[The Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, "This is not but obvious magic."

Ayat 111 - And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, "Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus." They said, "We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah ]."

Coming back to the essence of the Chapter, Food, we are narrated another incident from the life of Jesus PBUH. This however is in continuation of Ayat 110 and 111, (when Allah will question Jesus on the Day of Judgement)

Ayat 112 - [And remember] when the disciples said, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said," Fear Allah , if you should be believers."
Ayat 113 - They said, "We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses."

There is no clarity whether this refers to The Last Supper of Bible, though it could be a possibility.
Ayat 114 - Said Jesus, the son of Mary, "O Allah , our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers."

Ayat 115 - Allah said, "Indeed, I will sent it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you - then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds."

Again the highlight is on Allah being the Supreme and devoid of relations and continues with the questions that will be asked to Jesus by Allah on the Day of Judgement...

Ayat 116- And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, "O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, 'Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'" He will say, "Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.

Ayat 117 - I said not to them except what You commanded me - to worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.

Ayat 118 - If You should punish them - indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them - indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Ayat 119 - Allah will say, "This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness." For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment.

Ayat 120 - To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is within them. And He is over all things competent.

Jazaakallah Khair
Translation credit : Saheeh International

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Misuse of Quranic verses...

Many (Muslims and non-Muslims ) quote Quranic verses out of context though some verses flow in continuity into others. Quoting verses for mischief is haraam. For example, refer to Ayat 86 of Surah An Nisa which states that a greeting should be returned with an equal greeting or a better one. In keeping with the practice, the greeting 'Assalaam alaikum' is returned with a 'Walaikum Salaam' or a better one (refer to my article on Surah An Nisa).
Some Muslim guys use this to tease Muslim girls. They call out 'Assalaam alaikum' on seeing a pretty girl and if the girl walks away with her head bowed down, they shout what kind of Muslim she is. All of us Muslims know that, the basis of every act in Islam, even Lawful, is 'Neeyat' or Intention. And without the right intention, the act itself is not complete. Even before offering the obligatory namaaz, the intention is stated silently or aloud. In this context, I'd only like to say that the intention of saying 'Assalaam alaikum' in cases as stated above is 'teasing' and not 'greeting', so if the girl does not return it, she is not at fault. Allah knows what is in our hearts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Khuda ke liye (For God's sake)

As I was listening to the title track of the 2007 bold Pakistani movie- 'Khuda ke Liye' which dared to present some facts on terrorism in the name of religion and question them too, I thought it makes sense to put it here. People continue to kill each other in the name of religion, though neither religion nor God preaches such things. This movie was also released in India and watched and appreciated by many - Muslims and non Muslims. Afterwards I'd heard of the film-makers being absconding by being 'wanted' for all the wrong reasons.....

I am pasting the lyrics of the lovely song (which makes us think) and is an appeal to people of all religions :

KHUDA KE LIYE

Khuda ke naam se khelo naa,
Khuda ke liye, Khuda ke liye
Khuda mera bhi hai, cheeno naa
Khuda ke liye, Khuda ke liye.
Khuda toh Azeem hai,
Raheem bhi,Kareem bhi,
Main kaise maan loon,
Ke bus Jabbar hai.
Khuda toh Aasaan hain, samjho naa.
Khuda ke liye, Khuda ke liye.
Khuda toh Haseen hai,
Jameel bhi, maatin bhi.
Yeh dil nahi maanta
ke bus Kahaar hai.
Khuda Rehmaan hai, mano naa.
Khuda ke liye, Khuda ke liye.
Khuda ke naam se, khelo naa.
Khuda ke liye, Khuda ke liye.
Khuda mera bhi hea, cheeno na.
Khuda ke liye, Khuda ke liye....


English translation :
Don't play with the name of God
For God's sake, for God's sake
God is mine too, don't steal Him from me.
For God's sake, for God's sake.
God is Magnificient,
He's Merciful and Generous too,
How do I believe that
He is just Powerful?
God is Simple.
Why don't you understand?
For God's sake, for God's sake?
God is Beautiful,
He's Lovely and Constant too,
My heart doesn't believe that
He's just Almighty.
God is Kind, believe me.
For God's sake, for God's sake.
Don't play with the name of God,
For God's sake, for God's sake.
God is mine too.
Don't steal Him from me.
For God's sake, for God's sake.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Surah 4 - An Nisa (Women)


An Nisa means The Woman. This Surah deals with Rights of Women in many parts in Property, in Marriage (gifts, laws of marriage, reconcialition, separation etc), though I have not given the details therein, as it is very detailed and might not interest a non-Muslim reader. Those interested can search up the net on topics like 'Rights of Women in Islam.'

This Surah begins with marriage rights, inheritance rights and other legal matters. Though the name of the Chapter is Surah An Nisa, the topics dealt therein are legal matters pertaining to all (men, women, children and orphans). In matters of guardianship of orphans and being a custodian of their property, a lot of stress is laid on dealing justly and kindly with them.

'And give to the orphans their properties and do not substitute the defective (of your own) for the good (of theirs). And do not consume their properties into your own. Indeed, that is ever a great sin'. (Ayat 2)

'And test the orphans (in their abilities) until they reach marriageable age. Then if you perceive in them sound judgement, release their property to them. And do not consume it excessively and quickly (anticipating) that they will grow up. And whoever (when acting as a guardian) is self-sufficient, should refrain (from taking a fee) ; and whoever is poor, let him take according yo what is acceptable. Then when you release their property to them, bring witnesses upon them. And sufficient is Allah as Accountant.' (Ayat 6)

'Indeed those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies, fire. And they will be burnt in a Blaze (Hellfire).' (Ayat 10)

Ayat 7 to Ayat 12 - Mostly deal with property and inheritance laws and distribution of wealth is to be done among kith and kin.

Ayat 19 to Ayat 25 - Deal with marriage laws; what and who is permissible and not, marriage gifts (mahr) etc.

Each and every law is detailed to precision in Quran. And to think of it in modern times is truly unbelievable! Sadly, Quran was mostly deciphered only by a few learned men and they carried the heritage. In earlier times, the 'complete knowledge' was not passed to the common people. They were busy in their own struggles of daily survival. Practices were passed on, but many did not know the exact references. Some practices got diluted. Some practices/ teaching passed on by the clergy, were followed, but many did not know the reasons or the fineprints of doing so! Now, data is easy accesible and can be easily passed on and shared. Quran and many Hadeeths are available in various translations. If only we could read Quran with meaning. That is why so many times in Quran itself, Allah urges everyone (men and women alike) to learn and gain knowledge. If only every Muslim does that, would we know where 'outside' things have been mixed in Islam to create confusion (and in turn create hatred for Muslims!) . Sadly, uneducated fall prey, people with part knowledge of Islam are confused (often misguiding others), while the other remain adamant.

Coming back to Surah An Nisa and some rules regarding suicide, murder and taking someone else's wealth:

Ayat 29 - 'O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly, but only in lawful business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed Allah is to you ever Merciful'.

Ayat 30 - 'And whoever does that in aggression and in injustice - then We will drive him into a Fire. And that, for Allah, is always easy.

Ayat 31 - 'And if you avoid the major sins which are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance (into Paradise).'

What does the Surah say about reconciliation between husband and wife, who are considering separation ?
Ayat 35 - 'And if you fear dissension between the two (husband and wife), send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted (with all things).'
(It is so beautifully written that if the two within their hearts, desire reconcialition, after having fought for over some issue, then God will cause reconciliation between them).

About kindness and charity and worshipping Him alone...
Ayat 36 - 'Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near relative, the near neighbour, the neighbour farther away, the companion at your side, the traveller and those whom your right hands possess (servants/ slaves). Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful'.

Justice from Allah .....
Ayat 40 - Indeed, Allah does not do injustice (even) as much as an Atom's weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward.

About keeping trusts (promises / obligation due) and dealing others with justice ....
Ayat 58 - Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people, to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.

Ayat 63 tells us to 'avoid' wrong people (or anyone who causes mischief), instead of using 'violence' against them. And to explain things to them in a kind way.
'Those are the ones of whom Allah knows what is in their hearts, so turn away from them (i.e do not use violence), but admonish them and speak to them a far-reaching (i.e effective) word'.

Many rulings of how believers should behave in public and their dealings with people are mentioned in Surah An Nisa. Some of them are stated below :

* Fighting in the cause of the oppressed :
Ayat 75 - And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and (for) the oppressed among men, women and children who say " Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper.

* Greeting others :
Ayat 86 - And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet (in return) with one better than it or (at least) return it (in a like manner). Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant.
For example, if someone greet you with an 'Assalaam alaikum' (Peace be upon you), you must either return it with a 'Walaikum assalaam' (Peace be upon you too), or something better like 'Assalaam alaikum wa rahmatullah' (May Peace and mercy of Allah be upon you) or better still with 'Assalaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu' (May Peace, Mercy and Blessings of God be with you). Just a 'walaikum' means 'same to you'.

* Not supporting a wrong -doer
Ayat 107 - And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Indeed, Allah loves not one who is a habitualy a sinful deceiver.
Is this a warning for lawyers too ?

* Seeking forgiveness from God
Ayat 110 - And whoever does a wrong or wrong himself, but then seeks forgiveness of Allah, will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

* Admonition against committing sins :
Ayat 111- And whoever earns (i.e commits) a sin only earns it against himself. And Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.

* Blaming one's sin on another :
Ayat 112 - But whover earns an offense or a sin and then blames it on an innocent (person), has taken upon himself a slander and manifest sin.

* One of the Rights given to women (right of seeking divorce) :
Ayat 128 - And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them - and settlement is best. And present in (human) souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah, then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.

Before I disclose next 2 ayats, let me stress the fact though, according to Islam marrying more than one women (upto a maximum of 4), is permissible, a pre-condition is that the person doing so, should have the confidence to treat them equally (financially and dividing his time equally between them). This we all know, is not possible in today's times. Hence, those who truly understand the correct essence of Islam (including the clergy), have one wife only. Else this would invite the wrath of Allah. This is what is stressed in Ayat 129 and Ayat 130. Those who misuse this law are like those who break laws in any society by finding loopholes in them. ((But those who wish to help a needy Muslim sister and have the means and ability to divide time and money equally between them may do so.))

Ayat 129 - And you will never be able to be equal (in feeling) between wives, even if you should strive (to do so). So do not incline completely (towards one) and leave another hanging. And if you amend your actions and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is Ever Forgiving and Merciful.

Ayat 130 takes the previous ayat forward by further stressing, that if you cannot do justice to one of your wives, then instead of saddening her life by not giving what's due to her, it is better to separate. A muslim woman also has full right to seek divorce from her husband. And there is no restriction on her from marrying some other person after her divorce. Re-marriage is allowed for a widow too.

Ayat 130 - But if they separate (by divorce), Allah will enrich each (of them) from His abundance. And ever is Allah Encompassing and Wise.

Quran seems to be the only religion which permits Divorce between couples, if there is no means of reconcialition or if they do not wish to continue their marriage. But contrary to what people might think the divorce rate in Muslims isn't as high if you check comparative statistics around the world. And it might not always be from husband's side. The wife can also seek divorce from her husband (a right given to her some 1400 years ago!). Though many religions did not originally have the divorce built within their religious texts, they were later included to suit their present day requirements. While some religions have added divorce under certain conditions, they continue to consider re-marriage as adultery. Further to suit today's times, rules have been manually made and included in country laws to make provisions for re-marriage and other rights for women.

The last few ayats (verses) talk about Mary and Jesus :

Ayat 156 - And (We cursed them) for their disbelief and their saying against Mary a great slander. (when the people had accused her of fornication).

Ayat 157 - And for their saying 'Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah'. And they did not kill him nor did they crucify him ; but (another) was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him for certain.

Ayat 158 - Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.

The ayats 157 and 158 pertain to the differences between Islam and Christianity over Jesus (SAS)'s crucification. Here is where Quran differs from the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was cruficied by his enemies and killed. Then he reappeared before them on the following Sunday (Easter). Quran is clear that Jesus was never crucified or died on earth. He was replaced by another and taken up by Allah. It is due to this fact, that the second coming of Jesus SAS on earth is justified in Islam, as those who have died on earth will not come back to live with us again.

Ayat 171 states that the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, is only a messenger of Allah. It also instructs believers to resist from saying 'three'. This refers to the trinity concept of Christianity.
Resist from saying 'three' - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God and He is above having a son'

Here the important points to note are -

* Islam places Mary amongst the purest of women and hence, people posing questions on her purity are cursed by Allah, the Almighty Himself. Though Bible speaks of Mary later being married to Joseph, the carpenter, there is no mention of Mary being married to anyone before or after giving birth to Jesus in Quran or even in any Hadeeths. So it cannot be verified or commented upon.

* Islam recognises Jesus as the Messiah, but restricts believers from calling him the son of God. Associating any human attributes to or any person/s with Allah is considered the Greatest Sin.

* Jesus, according to Islam, was never crucified but raised up by God to Himself.

The Surah (Chapter), in keeping with the essence of its name, ends with another right given to a woman, whose brother dies with no heirs but only sister/s, in ayat 176.

Jazakhallah Khair

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Bigg Boss breaks his own rules~!

The season 4 of Bigg Boss has been totally biased and disappointing. The reason some people like me even saw the shows, was only due to Salman Khan's presence.

Since the show didn't manage to catch one's interest in the first place, further angering people with biases towards vulgar, loud contestants, the classes only had time to notice bloopers and other loopholes in the show. With Colors' way of handling the show this season, I think it will put the original copyright holders of the show format to shame.

This year, I was angry several times with the organisers. Till last year, lot of rules and behavioural conduct were instilled in the show. KRK was shown the door for hurling a plastic water bottle at a contestant, while in the season prior to that Raja Choudhary was a bundle of bad behaviour and abuses, but went on to reach the finals. And this year, inspite of causing bodily harm to Sameer Soni, Bigg Boss was partial towards her. In fact, the fellow contestants were asked to give her a chance or choose to evict her with Sameer, while Bigg Boss could've taken the decision as in the case of KRK. Dolly passed so many vulgar and personal comments on many contestants, but continued to be pampered by the show organisers (Bigg Boss is just a voice of the organisers, after all!). The aura created in people's mind for Bigg Boss has been shattered. He seems more like a voice of the loud and the vulgar now.

One wonders how much reality there is to the fact that 13 contestants are left alone to themselves. The contestants are well-groomed. You cannot stay groomed automatically without make-up artists keeping your eyebrows in shape, hair trimmed, threading, colouring and a lot more things. Then so many additions are done in garden area at times. This involves people. And many times, it could be done during the day, with contestants being asked not to come out. So they aren't exactly alone. Though there is no paper, calender, watch, the contestants remember dates and days! Many of us forget even otherwise. The camera captures every moment 24 hours, but the show is telecast for an hour. The editing team selects what needs to be shown. What seems like a long grumble in the one hour telecast, would actually be a 5 mins heated exchange of words and what seems like a short fight, may actually be a hour-long drama involving hitting and hurling abuses (like in the Dolly case). In the Dolly eviction episode, her hitting at Sameer was cleverly erased by the organisers. They didn't want her out in the first place, which is why she was so sure of coming back even after being evicted. They wanted her to provide masala to the show. A better way would be to put a bunch of jhopadpatti-walas in the next season. We'll have more 'masala' that way, and the prize money would go to a needy!

Dolly was brought back and to balance it out, Sameer was brought in too. Then next 2 weeks, she was kept 'safe' by first being declared 'Malika-E-Bigg Boss' and then as the captain. In another instance, Bigg Boss wanted to continue Dolly as captain and kept a condition that all can participate and in case of least majority by any, Dolly would be captain by default. But the other contestants were smart (especially Ashmit, who saw through it) and decided that only 3 people volunteer for the position. Another time, groups were made and Khalli was asked to select one group for nomination. Since Khalli was close to Dolly then, again she was saved (with Veena) and Seema was made the scapegoat (because of Sameer).

Dolly has also given a new meaning to 'good grooming' and 'manners' and calls it being FAKE, when she says that she's the only Real person in the house, while others are Fake. According to her being REAL means- Do what you want, say what you feel, abuse people you hate, get nasty if others do not see your viewpoint. And lastly, if people disagree with you, abuse and hit them. Maybe if things get worse, even kill them! Does it sound familiar? Ain't this what un-educated (even many of the uneducated ones are civilised) , un-disciplined, junglees and crooks do? If we have to live like junglees, law, order and discipline would cease to exist. We would tease people, make fun of others, slap those who irritate us, and abuse customers who try to act like kings! Anti-social elements would rule then. I know a relative, who is like her. She will instigate, start fights, abuse, curse and then next day will act as if nothing happened and try to be sweet and project that she did all that because she was right. Thankfully, we stay clear of her ;-)

Dolly was brought back with popular demand - is the contention Bigg Boss gives. The voting was probably held in 'Colors' office. 'Whom do you think will bring more TRPs to the show?' seems to be the question asked to the employees!
Then we had Veena Malik. One helluva confused woman, who was too proud and self obsessed. She added 'oomph' value to the show, and that's why dragged almost till the end. When nominated against Sara Khan, she was saved (that's the time Sara had started criticising Bigg Boss too!). When after lot of hue-n-cry about the content being telecast and behaviour of contestants was highlighted by media, Bigg Boss removed all the misappropriate clothes from contestants' luggage (in an episode where all were asked to leave their bags out, and a few clothes returned back). How did Veena manage to hide her small chaddi (boxer panties) and continue to flaunt it all over the house?!

When Sara Khan tried to highlight the partialities done by Bigg Boss, she was threatened by Bigg Boss and eventually removed the coming Friday. But Dolly was allowed to break an important rule and use it to her advantage. That of bringing outside information inside. When she came back after being evicted, she told Ashmit and Veena that Sara had voted for Veena. Finally she managed to create a rift between the three. Dolly had the benefit to see how she was being projected outside and correct her mistakes, though Sameer was kept in a different room after his eviction and brought back within a week. And the favour given to Sara Khan, which Bigg Boss and later Salman Khan harped on, was only watching the house members from a different room. She did not have the advantage to see herself from outside and check public opinion on herself. Sara Khan herself started silently in a good manner, projecting herself as a kid, but spoiled her good image of television with her questionable behaviour. Veena and Sara have projected an image on television, which even the West will not project on a reality show. Even our so-called notorious Rakhi Sawant and Sambhavna Seth behaved well on the show, and did not cling to someone they did not know. Maybe too much glamour at a young age and discontinuation of studies and being cut off from the real world, has made Sara like that!

Here, even the sms votes are questionable. I wonder how many citizens actually vote for such programmes! Reality shows are no longer a fresh concept they once were. If people keep voting for all such shows, we would be spending 1/3 of our salary on these sms, as the charges are more for special sms. Very few people from the cities vote, as all are busy with their lives. They just watch a show and forget it. It mostly people in the interiors of our country who have lot of leisure time and nothing much for entertainment, who vote. The past voting trends have shown people from smaller towns win shows. Then some of the lower income group from cities also vote, as they get involved with such shows and celebrities mean a lot to them. But over a period of time (years), the overall votes gathered must've definitely dwindled as the reality show concept has aged. This leaves the organisers to take their own discretionary decisions. If I have two contestants, suppose with 11000 and 10400 votes each, 600 votes gives the organisers an advantage point to make a decision in favour of TRPs instead of viewer's choice. And sadly, the lower income group's money is put at stake. This is just my theory, the organisers of reality shows maybe taken more liberties than this!

Of the entire bunch of contestants, we had few well-behaved people like Aanchal (she's a real lady), Sameer, Shweta and surprisingly Seema Parihar. Disappointments were Manoj Tiwari. Though he might be a good fellow, he appeared proud and suspicious. His suspicious nature made him act foolishly in the final episodes before he was voted out. There are a few people like him in real life, who suffer because of their suspicious nature. They might be good (to the extent of helping others), but they get carried away by things, take hasty decisions and in the process hurt people. And at the end of it wonder what wrong they did or why people disapprove of him/ her. Such people will not even appreciate criticism and improve from their actions.

What is called for is that the procedure followed in the show should be auditable. Some shows have their own internal audit. Morever, we have full right to seek information (under RTI) on the number of votes obtained for each episode and also check SOX audit performed for the procedure followed for eliminations. Those who'd like to know what transpired behind the curtains of the Bigg Boss show, do visit the below link and find out ways to exercise your Right to Information: