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Quran burning – A Fatal Ignorance by the West

Saturday 19th 2012 another day in the Afghan war history and an addition to the decade old Quran burning series; after 9/11 the global viewpoint has changed 360 degree against the various cultures and religions especially Islam which has faced the maximum wrath of entire world.

The launch of war on terror campaign which has claimed thousands of lives and has made millions homeless had never given a sight of peace in the hearts of those who have suffered from it the most. The uncultured and discriminatory behavior of the US armed forces and their ministers has never focused on how to train their forces and officers culturally instead of this they just no how to pull the trigger of their guns.

Thousands have soldiers have been targeted because of these silly mistakes done by few insane and careless. These incidents which has been witnessed from Guantanamo to US and from Iraq to Afghanistan has not only brought down the trust in the respectable American policies and their vision to the world but has also blackened the global image of the USA, US President Barack Obama and Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force had also offered their apologies and issued directives that all coalition forces in Afghanistan will undergo training no later than March 3 so they can identify religious materials and handle them correctly.

These kinds of irresponsible apologies and statements given by such a responsible persons and authorities would not only highlight the ignorant behavior but also lack of cultural knowledge and disrespect towards other religions, cultures and societies.

The scenes from toilets flushing of Qurans to Burning it by Churches / People and Soldiers defines the growing stress and negativism among the US Marines and authorities who from the very start had kept at bay from the cultural training in which they can identify various cultures existing in the environments of their specific operations. It is necessary for a nation who has set great examples and has been playing a leadership in diplomatic and economic / social circles of this world to give at least a basic know-how of the global civilizations and about their beliefs.

The world where these operation of so called ‘War on Terror’ are going on requires special purpose vehicle which can take initiatives to improve the curriculum of the armed forces being sent and operating in these regions like Iraq and Afghanistan. These kinds of incidents of Quran burning or any acts of disrespect widens the fault line which has already deepening between West and the Muslim world even it affects the opinions of those nations which are secular or non-aligned.

These acts increase hatred in already vulnerable and affected corners of the globe hence; heightening the level of risks and uncertainties to the operations and peace efforts which the respective nations are making to bring normalcy and prosperity in the region.

There are three things in Afghanistan which the forces should keep in their mind while doing / committing any such acts which are:

1.) Afghan people top priority and belief is their faith, their religion which is the stream of their life which includes Quran, their customs, and their religions duties.

2.) Afghan people are very patriotic and they can die for their land. The feeling of nationalism is very high.

3.) Afghan families and their society which comes among the most and forms their world. It includes many things such as following of ancient tribal code of hospitality, self respect, dignity, culture, their traditions, their norms which define their persona and their horizons.

The US and International Security Alliance Force must learn from the history and the past experiences of the Communist forces too had did the same mistakes and remained ignorant towards their occupants land, their traditions, their faith and enforced their misconceptions which neither do good nor spread positivity instead it did more harm and damage the repo of the repute.

Because of these irresponsible and ignorance acts Barack Obama who took over the seat of a global leader by storm has lost his legitimacy among the Muslim world in specific where his constant failures and slow implementation of key policies has ruined his image and efforts on which he has came to the power.

He and the world must take lessons from the past instances that if anyone who so ever it was had tried to enforce their system and had shown the ignorance of once civilization, culture and its beliefs then either he had lost his power or in some cases the ruling nation had suffered the huge setbacks to its own missions and purposes.

Earlier the same things were done by Communists in their invaded territories and even in other countries where they used facilitate the government or had influence but what everyone had saw and known to the fact that they never got successful in making their image clean and their system acceptable because they had enforced their own perceptions and had never respected the local faith and traditions, if Obama or his authorities are serious enough to bring peace and prosperity to the disturbed regions like Afghanistan then they must first make their forces trained in moral and ethical values, they must lessen down the kind of command pressures on the existing forces involved in the various operations in these regions like Iraq and Afghanistan which is taking toll on them psychologically.

If US say it promotes and protects human rights and their values then it must first start showing signs of acceptance of traditional beliefs and the values which exist in the lives of people of these so called disturbed countries like Afghanistan. Even if they are criminals or even they are using the good for bad but in order to keep maintain your efforts of peace and global unity with democratic values you need to handle the matter with due respect when it involves something sensitive like Quran.

People accept others systems and shows acceptance to it with their full adherence to its norms when the enforcing party shows its acceptance towards their values and beliefs they have with due respect and care in handling even at times of investigation or proceedings if something unlawful has been found.

Then only one can promise a more stable and neutral community with full acceptance to the global norms otherwise it becomes the much needed boon for the extremists who look out for these kinds of matters and take the advantage of the situation against those who are doing good and want to do good for the people and countries like Afghanistan where just because of foolishness of few irresponsible’s the entire nation has turned against which has so far not only claimed lives of innocents but has also threatened the presence of the personnel’s working on the peace missions.

Harmful practices to the female body; part 1 Female Genital Mutilation

“Mama tied a blindfold over my eyes. The next thing I felt my flesh was being cut away. I heard the blade sawing back and forth through my skin. The pain between my legs was so intense I wished I would die.” –Waris Dirie, UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and spokesperson on FGM

1. What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” Most of the victims live in African countries, some in the Middle East and Asian countries and it is increasing in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

FGM is usually performed by an older experienced woman with no medical training. In primitive areas, anaesthetics and antiseptic treatment is not used and the tools consist of knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass and razor blades. A mixture of herbs is placed on the wound to tighten the vagina and stop the bleeding. The age of the girls varies from infants to girls to the age of 10 depending on the community and family.

It is extreme form of discrimination against women and performed on innocent children that are not able to defend themselves. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.

2. 4 types of FGM

According to WHO;

a)     Excision (removal) of the clitoral hood with or without removal of part or all of the clitoris. Occurs in 85% of the FGM.

b)     Removal of the clitoris together with part or all of the labia minora. Occurs in 85% of the FGM.

c)      Removal of part or all of the external genitalia (clitoris, labia minora, and labia majora) and stitching and/or narrowing of the vaginal opening leaving a small hole for urine and menstrual flow. Occurs in Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, parts of Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

d)     All other operations of the female genitalia.

3. History of Female Circumcision

Female circumcision, also known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is not a recent phenomenon as it has been dated back as far as to 2nd century BC when a geographer, Agatharchides of Cridus wrote about the subject that occurred among tribes residing on the western coast of the Red Sea (today’s Egypt). Based on the current areas practicing FGM, it seems as the tradition has originated from Egypt and spread. Others believe that the custom was rooted in the kingdom of the Pharaohs.

As Islam rose throughout the region, Egyptians raided territories in the south and exported Sudanic slaves. Female slaves were sold at a higher price if they were “sewn up” as they became unable to give birth. After many converting to Islam, this practice was abolished as Islam prohibits Muslims from harming their body and enslaving others.

Today this primitive tradition has reached the coasts of America, Europe, Australia and Canada. Numbers from Amnesty International estimates that 135 million women have experienced FGM and that between 2-3 million girls and infants undergoes this practice every year.  In Africa alone it is about 92 million girls who has undergone FGM.

4. Medical consequence of FGM

FGM have absolutely no health benefits for the girls except doing harm and causing extreme pain. As the healthy genital tissue is being removed, the body cannot function in a natural way. Since this procedure is being practiced by people who have no medical training and without using any necessary anesthetic or sterilization, the FGM can lead to death by shock from bleeding or infections by the unsterilized tools. The first sexual intercourse will be extremely painful who will be needed to be opened and this is being performed by the partner with a knife. Besides bleeding there are several short and long term complications that these girls have to deal with and I have listed them shortly.

Depending on the degree of mutilation, short term health problems caused by FGM;

  1. Severe pain and shock
  2. Bacterial infection
  3. Urine retention
  4. Open sores injury to adjacent tissues
  5. Immediate fatal haemorrhaging (bleeding)
  6. Extreme pain as girls are cut without being numbed and the worst pain occurs the next day when the girls have to urinate
  7. Trauma as girls are forced and held down by several women

Long-term implications;

  1. Extensive damage of the external reproductive system
  2. Uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections
  3. Cysts and neuromas
  4. Increased risk of Vesico Vaginal Fistula
  5. Complications in pregnancy and child birth
  6. Psychological damage
  7. Sexual dysfunction
  8. Difficulties in menstruation
  9. Recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections
  10. Infertility
  11. The need for later surgeries such as to be cut open to allow childbirth and sexual intercourse after marriage. Sometimes it is also stitched again several times after childbirth.
  12. Problems urinating as girls are left with a small opening. This can slow or strain the normal flow of urine and lead to infections
  13. Gynecological health problems as they are not able to pass all of their menstrual blood out and have infections over and over again.
  14. Increased risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Infections (STD/STI) including HIV as the procedure is being performed in unclean conditions
  15. Psychological and emotional stress. A study by Pharos, a Dutch group that gathered health care information of refugees and migrants revealed in February 2010 that majority of these women suffered from stress, anxiety and was aggressive. They were also most likely to have relational problems or fear for relations. According to the study, it is believed that an estimate of 50 girls is being genitally mutilated every year in the Netherlands.

5. Where is FGM practiced?

Southeast Asia; Indonesia, Malaysia,

Central Asia; Tajikistan

Eastern Europe; Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia

Middle East; Yemen, UAE, turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Oman, Jordan, Iraq and Kurdistan, Iran,

Africa; Zimbabwe, Zaire, Uganda, Togo, Tanzania, South Africa, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, republic of Congo, Nigeria, Niger, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mali, Malawi, Libya, Liberia, Kenya, guinea-Bissau, guinea, Ghana, Gambia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Djibouti, democratic republic of the Congo, cote d’ivoire, Comoros, Chad, central African republic, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Benin, Algeria

The majority of cases of FGM are carried out in 28 African countries. In some countries, (e.g. Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan), prevalence rates can be as high as 98 per cent. In other countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Senegal, the prevalence rates vary between 20 and 50 per cent. It is more accurate however, to view FGM as being practised by specific ethnic groups, rather than by a whole country, as communities practising FGM straddle national boundaries. FGM takes place in parts of the Middle East, i.e. in Yemen, Oman, Iraqi Kurdistan, amongst some Bedouin women in Israel, and was also practised by the Ethiopian Jews, and it is unclear whether they continue with the practice now that they are settled in Israel. FGM is also practised among Bohra Muslim populations in parts of India and Pakistan, and amongst Muslim populations in Malaysia and Indonesia.

6. Religion or culture?

Although FGM happens in countries with Muslim majority, and people think that it is associated with Islam, FGM is not supported by any religion and condemned by many religious leaders.

In fact FGM is a pre-Islamic tradition and since Islam prohibits humans from harming and mutilating their body, therefore FGM is forbidden in Islam. In Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal, Benin, and Ghana, Muslim population groups are more likely to practice FGC than Christian groups but in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Niger, the prevalence is greater among Christian groups.

Today FGM is a mixture of cultural, religious and social factors. For instance, the social pressure to perform FGM because others in the same community do it keeps the practice strong. As from the religious view, the parents thinks that FGM is necessary to raise the daughter properly and make sure that she is a virgin until she is married even though no religious scripture supports this. It is motivated by the thought of proper sexual behavior.

7. Reasons and justification

  1. custom and tradition
  2. religion; in the mistaken belief that it is a religious requirement
  3. preservation of virginity/chastity
  4. social acceptance, especially for marriage
  5. hygiene and cleanliness
  6. increasing sexual pleasure for the male
  7. family honour
  8. a sense of belonging to the group and conversely the fear of social exclusion
  9. enhancing fertility

8. What can be done to prevent and abolish FGM?

Each community should arrange meetings where they discuss, talk and consider opinions about FGM. Here it would be important to allow the elder generation to speak with the young. It is important to spread out and explain about the harsh health problems FGM causes.

Next important thing is education. Education is the key to everything. As we can see, this is happening in areas where most people is illiterate or doesn’t have the possibility to go to school. The generations repeat themselves and the circle is hard to break. Another important thing would be that Islamic scholars and other religious leaders should change the perception about FGM as people listen to them.

Every country and community should work towards changing the attitude as women feels they are being disloyal to their culture for not choosing FGM. This pressure can change if doctors and other health care workers would talk with women about the dangers of FGC and offer other options that don’t involve cutting. Some human rights advocates also suggest that men could help reduce the practice of FGC by openly marrying uncut women. Many human rights organizations are also calling on religious leaders to openly confirm that their religions do not require women to have FGC.

Last, if the countries establish strict laws and investigate cases regarding FGM, then it will have some effect but it will not be enough to abolish it as 18 African countries has laws or decrees against FGM. Even countries with the highest rates of FGM have recently openly noted the need for banning this practice. Fines and jail sentences are typically minor, but most view any sanctions against FGC as a good start.

It is important that everyone is aware of this heinous practice that mutilates the female body. It is hard to understand how parents can perform this on their infant babies who are not able to defend themselves. Every country should implement various strategies to eliminate FGM and it starts with education and communication.

Sufism-Part 3 (Chishti Order)

Baba Fareed (R.A)

The Chishtī Order is a Sufi order within the mystic branches of Islam which was founded in Chisht, a small town near Herat, Afghanistan about 930 CE. The Chishti Order is known for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness.

The order was founded by Abu Ishaq Shami (“the Syrian”) who introduced the ideas of Sufism to the town of Chisht, some 95 miles east of Herat in present-day western Afghanistan. Before returning to Syria, where he is now buried next to Ibn Arabi at Jabal Qasiyun Shami initiated, trained and deputized the son of the local emir, Abu Ahmad Abdal. Under the leadership of Abu Ahmad’s descendants, the Chishtiya as they are also known flourished as a regional mystical order.

The most famous of the Chishti saints is Moinuddin Chishti (popularly known as Gharib Nawaz meaning “Benefactor of the Poor”) who settled in Ajmer, India. He oversaw the growth of the order in the 13th century as Islamic religious laws were canonized. He reportedly saw the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a dream and then set off on a journey of discovery.

Chishti master Inayat Khan (1882–1927) was the first to bring the Sufi path to the West, arriving in America in 1910 and later settling near Paris, France. His approach exemplified the tolerance and openness of the Chishti Order, following a custom began by Moinuddin Chishti of initiating and training disciples regardless of religious affiliation and which continued through Nizamuddin Auliya and Shah Kalim Allah Jahanabadi. Chishti master Mido Chishty has taken teachings of the order to develop FUZN. This has proven popular in the Middle East, Australia and California.

Key Practices & Principles:

The Chishti Order is famous for its emphasis on love, tolerance, and openness. The order traces its spiritual origin through various saints all the way to the Islamic caliph Ali and from him to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The Chishti saints had two hallmarks which differentiate them from other Sufi saints. The first was their ethical relations to the institutional powers. This meant voluntarily keeping a distance from the ruler or the government mechanism. It didn’t matter if the ruler was a patron or a disciple: he was always kept at bay since it was felt that mixing with the ruler will corrupt the soul by indulging it in worldly matters.

The second distinctive dimension was related to the religious practice of the Chishtis. It was proactive rather than passive; a ceaseless searches for the divine other. In this respect the Chishtis followed a particular ritual more zealously then any other brotherhood. This was the practice of Sama, evoking the divine presence through song or listening to music. The genius of the Chishti saints was that they accommodated the practice of sema with the full range of Muslim obligations.

The Chishti Order can also be characterized by the following principles:

  • Obedience to the sheikh and/or pir
  • Renunciation of the material world
  • Distance from worldly powers
  • Supporting the poor
  • Service to humanity
  • Respect for other devotional traditions
  • Dependence on the Creator and not the creation
  • Disapproval of showing off miraculous feats

The Chishti Order is now indigenous to Afghanistan and South Asia (mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). It was the first of the four main Sufi Orders (Chishtia, Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya and Naqshbandi) to be established in this region. Moinuddin Chishti introduced the Chishti Order in India, sometime in the middle of the 12th century AD. He was eighth in the line of succession from the founder of the Chishti Order, Abu Ishq Shami. The devotees of this order practise chilla i.e. they observe seclusion for forty days during which they refrain from talking beyond what is absolutely necessary, eat little and spend most of their time in prayers and meditation. Another characteristic of the followers of this order is their fondness for devotional music. They hold musical festivals, and enter into ecstasy while listening to singing.

After Fariduddin Ganjshakar, the Chishti Order of South Asia split into two branches. Either branch was named after one of Ganjshakar’s successors:

  1. Nizamuddin Auliya – This branch became the Chishti Nizami branch. Nizamuddin was the master of Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi who in turn was the master of Khwaja Bande Nawaz. All these are important saints of the order.
  2. Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari – This branch became the Chishti-Sabiri branch.

Over time (principally after the 17th century) many further branches emerged which routinely united or diverged towards other popular Sufi orders in South Asia. Prominent people of later times who trace their spiritual lineage through the Chishti order include:

  1. Ashraf Jahangir Semnani – He further extended the litanies the Chishtiya Nizami branch. His followers became the members of the Chishti Nizami Ashrafiya branch.
  2. Haji Imdadullah Muhaajir Makki – He extended the litanies of the Chishtiya Sabaria branch. His followers became the members of the Chishtiya Sabaria Imdadiya branch.
  3. Shah Niyaz Ahmad- He united the Chishti Nizami order with the Qadriya order to form the Chishtiya Qadriya Nizamia Niyazia branch.
  4. Habibi Silsila – In century 13th Hegira – Silsila Chishtiya Nizamia Habibia emerged at Hyderabad, India – Khaja Habib Ali Shah.

As a result of this metamorphosis of the Chishti order with other branches, most Sufi masters now initiate their disciples in all the four major orders of South Asia: Chishti, Suhrawadi, Qadri and Naqshbandi. They do however; prescribe prayers and litanies, only of the order with which they are primarily associated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notable Members:

  • Hasan al-Basri
  • Abdul Waahid Bin Zaid
  • Fudhail Bin Iyadh
  • Ibrahim Bin Adham
  • Huzaifah Al-Mar’ashi
  • Abu Hubairah Basri
  • Mumshad Dinawari
  • Abu Ishaq Shami
  • Abu Ahmad Abdal
  • Abu Muhammad Bin Abi Ahmad
  • Abu Yusuf Bin Saamaan
  • Maudood Chishti
  • Shareef Zandani
  • Usman Harooni
  • Moinuddin Chishti
  • Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki
  • Fariduddin Ganjshakar

 

List of Sufi Saints of South Asia

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