Tuesday, May 31, 2016

ISIS’ Millenarian Theory and its Refutation: Perspectives from Islam on Mahdaviat Doctrine and its Misinterpretations (Part 2)

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam
30 May 2016
Note: A large part of the attraction of ISIS for Muslim youth is its millenarian thesis. It has convinced many that end of times is at hand, that they are engaged in the end-times battle, the Malhama. This has made the war they are engaged in imperative and urgent. Millenarianism or Islamic Eschatology, ilm-e-Aakhiruzzaman, was an inspiration behind some ideologues of al-Qaeda as well. But Osama bin Laden himself and most of his ideologues did not emphasize it much. As for ISIS, even in its previous avatar as Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīdwa-al-Jihād (The Organisation of Monotheism and Jihad) founded in 1999 by Jordanian radical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi which later pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, several ideologues strongly believed in the apocalyptic worldview, the theory of this war being the final great war, al-Malhama al-Kubra, in which Islam will conquer the world.
World domination has been a Muslim dream for ever. Books like Qeyamat ki Peshingoyian, or prophesies of the Prophet about the last days on earth have always been a bestseller in Muslim religious bookshops in every part of the world. No matter how irrational, Muslims of all denominations have for ever been waiting for a Mahdi or an Imam who will appear in the final days and set everything right. Indeed, this belief cuts across religious barriers. Believers in a number of religions are looking forward to the sudden appearance of a deliverer. This has made the task of ISIS easier. To help us understand this phenomenon better, New Age Islam is presenting a study by our regular columnist Mr. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, a classical Islamic scholar who specialises in comparative religion. --- Editor
Mahdaviat Doctrine in Islam
Muslims are awaiting the advent of Imam Mahdi and re-emergence of Hazrat Isa Alayhissalam (Jesus Christ, peace be upon him) to fight against Dajjal (anti-Christ) at Al-Malhama Al-Kubra (the Great Battle) so as to establish peace, justice, fairness, righteousness and security the world over. This is the Mahdaviat Doctrine in Islam. It is based on the foundational premises of the Islamic eschatology, which is divided into two categories: (1) al-Alaamat al-Sughra or the Minor Signs and (2) al-Alaamat al-Kubra or the Major Signs.
In Islam, the Mahdaviat doctrine is given paramount importance based on both the above categories. The first category implies the surest signs of the end-time when the awaited Messiah (al-Masih al-Mawud) will appear, and therefore it is termed as “The Major Signs of Qayamah (Al-alamat As-Saa’a Al-Kubra). The second category denotes the minor signs of the end-time that will precede the Major Signs. Some of the signs preceding the emergence of Hazrat Imam Mahdi as mentioned in various Islamic traditions are: (1) Disputes and differences among People, (2) A battle will take place in Mina (3) The Euphrates will disclose a mountain of gold etc.  I would like to reproduce below both the major and minor signs of the end-time, on which the Islamic Mahdaviat Doctrine is based, in the light of the Prophetic traditions.
 The Minor Signs (Al-Alaamaat Al-Sughra) in the Prophetic Traditions (Hadith)
Ø Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
The Last Hour would not come before the Euphrates uncovers a mountain of gold, for which people would fight. Ninety-nine out of each one hundred would die but every man amongst them would say that perhaps he would be the one who would be saved (and thus possess this gold).
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا يَعْقُوبُ، - يَعْنِي ابْنَ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ الْقَارِيَّ - عَنْ سُهَيْلٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ "‏ لاَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ حَتَّى يَحْسِرَ الْفُرَاتُ عَنْ جَبَلٍ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ يَقْتَتِلُ النَّاسُ عَلَيْهِ فَيُقْتَلُ مِنْ كُلِّ مِائَةٍ تِسْعَةٌ وَتِسْعُونَ وَيَقُولُ كُلُّ رَجُلٍ p[مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِّي أَكُونُ أَنَا الَّذِي أَنْجُو ‏"‏ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim 2894, Book 54, Hadith 38)   
 Ø This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Suhail with the same chain of transmitters but with this addition: "My father said: If you see that, do not even go near it."
وَحَدَّثَنِي أُمَيَّةُ بْنُ بِسْطَامَ، حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ زُرَيْعٍ، حَدَّثَنَا رَوْحٌ، عَنْ سُهَيْلٍ، بِهَذَا الإِسْنَادِ نَحْوَهُ وَزَادَ فَقَالَ أَبِي إِنْ رَأَيْتَهُ فَلاَ تَقْرَبَنَّهُ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim 2894, Book 54, Hadith 39)
Ø Ibn 'Umar reported that he heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying (in a state) that he had turned his face towards the east: Behold, turmoil would appear from this side, from where the horns of Satan would appear.
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا لَيْثٌ، ح وَحَدَّثَنِي مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ رُمْحٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنْ نَافِعٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ مُسْتَقْبِلُ الْمَشْرِقِ يَقُولُ ‏ "‏ أَلاَ إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا أَلاَ إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا مِنْ حَيْثُ يَطْلُعُ قَرْنُ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, Book 54, Hadith 58)
 Ø Ibn `Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) stood by the door (of the apartment of) Hafsa and, pointing towards the east, he said:
The turmoil would appear from this side, viz. where the horns of Satan would appear, and he uttered these words twice or thrice and `Ubaidullah b. Sa`id in his narration said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had been standing by the door of `A'isha.
حَدَّثَنِي عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عُمَرَ الْقَوَارِيرِيُّ، وَمُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، وَحَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ، سَعِيدٍ كُلُّهُمْ عَنْ يَحْيَى الْقَطَّانِ، قَالَ الْقَوَارِيرِيُّ حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ، عُمَرَ حَدَّثَنِي نَافِعٌ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَامَ عِنْدَ بَابِ حَفْصَةَ فَقَالَ بِيَدِهِ نَحْوَ الْمَشْرِقِ ‏ "‏ الْفِتْنَةُ هَا هُنَا مِنْ حَيْثُ يَطْلُعُ قَرْنُ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏‏.‏ قَالَهَا مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلاَثًا ‏.‏ وَقَالَ عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ فِي رِوَايَتِهِ قَامَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عِنْدَ بَابِ عَائِشَةَ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, Book 54, Hadith 59)
 Ø Salim b. Abdullah reported on the authority of his father that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), while turning his face towards the east, said:
The turmoil would appear from this side; verily, the turmoil would appear from this side; verily, the turmoil would appear from this side - the side where appear the horns of Satan.
وَحَدَّثَنِي حَرْمَلَةُ بْنُ يَحْيَى، أَخْبَرَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي يُونُسُ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ سَالِمِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ وَهُوَ مُسْتَقْبِلُ الْمَشْرِقِ ‏ "‏ هَا إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا هَا إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا هَا إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا مِنْ حَيْثُ يَطْلُعُ قَرْنُ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, Book 54, Hadith 60)
 Ø Ibn Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came out from the house of 'Aisha and said: “It would be from this side that there would appear the height of unbelief, viz. where appear the horns of Satan, i.e. the east”.
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، عَنْ عِكْرِمَةَ بْنِ عَمَّارٍ، عَنْ سَالِمٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ خَرَجَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْ بَيْتِ عَائِشَةَ فَقَالَ ‏ "‏ رَأْسُ الْكُفْرِ مِنْ هَا هُنَا مِنْ حَيْثُ يَطْلُعُ قَرْنُ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏‏.‏ يَعْنِي الْمَشْرِقَ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, Book 54, Hadith 61)
Ø Ibn Umar reported: I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying while pointing his hands towards the east: “The turmoil would appear from this side; verily, the turmoil would appear from this side (he repeated it thrice) where appear the horns of Satan”.
وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ، - يَعْنِي ابْنَ سُلَيْمَانَ - أَخْبَرَنَا حَنْظَلَةُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ سَالِمًا، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ ابْنَ عُمَرَ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُشِيرُ بِيَدِهِ نَحْوَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَيَقُولُ ‏"‏ هَا إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا هَا إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ هَا هُنَا ‏"‏‏.‏ ثَلاَثًا ‏"‏ حَيْثُ يَطْلُعُ قَرْنَا الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 62)
 Ø Ibn Fudail reported on the authority of his father that he heard Salim b. `Abdullah b. `Umar as saying: O people of Iraq, how strange it is that you ask about the minor sins but commit major sins? I heard from my father `Abdullah b. `Umar, narrating that he heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying while pointing his hand towards the east: Verily, the turmoil would come from this side, from where appear the horns of Satan and you would strike the necks of one another; and Moses killed a person from among the people of Pharaoh unintentionally and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: "You killed a person but We relieved you from the grief and tried you with (many a) trial" (xx. 40). Ahmad b. `Umar reported this Hadith from Salim, but he did not make a mention of the words: "I heard".
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عُمَرَ بْنِ أَبَانَ، وَوَاصِلُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الأَعْلَى، وَأَحْمَدُ بْنُ عُمَرَ الْوَكِيعِيُّ، - وَاللَّفْظُ لاِبْنِ أَبَانَ - قَالُوا حَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ فُضَيْلٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ سَالِمَ بْنَ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، بْنِ عُمَرَ يَقُولُ يَا أَهْلَ الْعِرَاقِ مَا أَسْأَلَكُمْ عَنِ الصَّغِيرَةِ وَأَرْكَبَكُمْ لِلْكَبِيرَةِ سَمِعْتُ أَبِي عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عُمَرَ يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏"‏ إِنَّ الْفِتْنَةَ تَجِيءُ مِنْ هَا هُنَا ‏"‏‏.‏ وَأَوْمَأَ بِيَدِهِ نَحْوَ الْمَشْرِقِ ‏"‏ مِنْ حَيْثُ يَطْلُعُ قَرْنَا الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏‏.‏ وَأَنْتُمْ يَضْرِبُ بَعْضُكُمْ رِقَابَ بَعْضٍ وَإِنَّمَا قَتَلَ مُوسَى الَّذِي قَتَلَ مِنْ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ خَطَأً فَقَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَهُ ‏{‏ وَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا فَنَجَّيْنَاكَ مِنَ الْغَمِّ وَفَتَنَّاكَ فُتُونًا‏}‏ قَالَ أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عُمَرَ فِي رِوَايَتِهِ عَنْ سَالِمٍ لَمْ يَقُلْ سَمِعْتُ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 63)
 Ø Hudhaifa b. Usaid al-Ghifari reported: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came to us all of a sudden as we were (busy in a discussion). He said: What do you discuss about? They (the Companions) said. We are discussing about the Last Hour. Thereupon he said: It will not come until you see ten signs before and (in this connection) he made a mention of the smoke, Dajjal, the beast, the rising of the sun from the west, the descent of Jesus son of Mary (Allah be pleased with him), the Gog and Magog, and land-slides in three places, one in the east, one in the west and one in Arabia at the end of which fire would burn forth from the Yemen, and would drive people to the place of their assembly.
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو خَيْثَمَةَ، زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ وَإِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَابْنُ أَبِي عُمَرَ الْمَكِّيُّ - وَاللَّفْظُ لِزُهَيْرٍ - قَالَ إِسْحَاقُ أَخْبَرَنَا وَقَالَ الآخَرَانِ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ بْنُ عُيَيْنَةَ، عَنْ فُرَاتٍ، الْقَزَّازِ عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ بْنِ أَسِيدٍ الْغِفَارِيِّ، قَالَ اطَّلَعَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَلَيْنَا وَنَحْنُ نَتَذَاكَرُ فَقَالَ ‏"‏ مَا تَذَاكَرُونَ ‏"‏‏.‏ قَالُوا نَذْكُرُ السَّاعَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏"‏ إِنَّهَا لَنْ تَقُومَ حَتَّى تَرَوْنَ قَبْلَهَا عَشْرَ آيَاتٍ ‏"‏‏.‏ فَذَكَرَ الدُّخَانَ وَالدَّجَّالَ وَالدَّابَّةَ وَطُلُوعَ الشَّمْسِ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا وَنُزُولَ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَيَأْجُوجَ وَمَأْجُوجَ وَثَلاَثَةَ خُسُوفٍ خَسْفٌ بِالْمَشْرِقِ وَخَسْفٌ بِالْمَغْرِبِ وَخَسْفٌ بِجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِ وَآخِرُ ذَلِكَ نَارٌ تَخْرُجُ مِنَ الْيَمَنِ تَطْرُدُ النَّاسَ إِلَى مَحْشَرِهِمْ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 51)
 Ø Hudhaifa b. Usaid reported:
Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) was in an apartment and we were beneath that, that he peeped in and said to us: What are you discussing about? We said: (We are discussing about the Last) Hour. Thereupon he said: The Last Hour would not come until the ten signs appear: land-sliding in the east, and land-sliding in the west, and land-sliding in the peninsula of Arabia, the smoke, the Dajjal, the beast of the earth, Gog and Magog, the rising of the sun from the west and the fire which would emit from the lower part of 'Adan. Shu'ba said that 'Abd al-'Aziz b. Rufai' reported on the authority of Abu Tufail who reported on the authority of Abu Sariha a Hadith like this that Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) did not make a mention of (the tenth sign) but he said that out of the ten one was the descent of Jesus Christ, son of Mary (peace be upon him), and in another version it is the blowing of the violent gale which would drive the people to the ocean.
حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُعَاذٍ الْعَنْبَرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ فُرَاتٍ الْقَزَّازِ، عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، عَنْ أَبِي سَرِيحَةَ، حُذَيْفَةَ بْنِ أَسِيدٍ قَالَ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي غُرْفَةٍ وَنَحْنُ أَسْفَلَ مِنْهُ فَاطَّلَعَ إِلَيْنَا فَقَالَ ‏"‏ مَا تَذْكُرُونَ ‏"‏‏.‏ قُلْنَا السَّاعَةَ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏"‏ إِنَّ السَّاعَةَ لاَ تَكُونُ حَتَّى تَكُونَ عَشْرُ آيَاتٍ خَسْفٌ بِالْمَشْرِقِ وَخَسْفٌ بِالْمَغْرِبِ وَخَسْفٌ فِي جَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِ وَالدُّخَانُ وَالدَّجَّالُ وَدَابَّةُ الأَرْضِ وَيَأْجُوجُ وَمَأْجُوجُ وَطُلُوعُ الشَّمْسِ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا وَنَارٌ تَخْرُجُ مِنْ قُعْرَةِ عَدَنٍ تَرْحَلُ النَّاسَ ‏"‏‏.‏ قَالَ شُعْبَةُ وَحَدَّثَنِي عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ بْنُ رُفَيْعٍ عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ عَنْ أَبِي سَرِيحَةَ ‏.‏ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ لاَ يَذْكُرُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَقَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا فِي الْعَاشِرَةِ نُزُولُ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏.‏ وَقَالَ الآخَرُ وَرِيحٌ تُلْقِي النَّاسَ فِي الْبَحْرِ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 52)
 Ø Abu Sariha reported:
Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was in an (upper) apartment and we were standing lower to him and discussing (about the Last Hour). The rest of the hadith is the same, and Shu'ba said: I think he also said these words: The fire would descend along with them where they would land and where they would take rest (during midday (it would also cool down for a while). Shu'ba said: This Hadith has been transmitted to me through Abu Tufail and Abu Sariha and none could trace it back directly to Allah's Apostle (ﷺ). However, there is a mention of the descent of Jesus Christ son of Mary in one version and in the other there is a mention of the blowing of a violent gale which would drive them to the ocean.
وَحَدَّثَنَاهُ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بَشَّارٍ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدٌ، - يَعْنِي ابْنَ جَعْفَرٍ - حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ فُرَاتٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا الطُّفَيْلِ، يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ أَبِي سَرِيحَةَ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي غُرْفَةٍ وَنَحْنُ تَحْتَهَا نَتَحَدَّثُ ‏.‏ وَسَاقَ الْحَدِيثَ بِمِثْلِهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ شُعْبَةُ وَأَحْسِبُهُ قَالَ تَنْزِلُ مَعَهُمْ إِذَا نَزَلُوا وَتَقِيلُ مَعَهُمْ حَيْثُ قَالُوا ‏.‏ قَالَ شُعْبَةُ وَحَدَّثَنِي رَجُلٌ هَذَا الْحَدِيثَ عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ عَنْ أَبِي سَرِيحَةَ وَلَمْ يَرْفَعْهُ قَالَ أَحَدُ هَذَيْنِ الرَّجُلَيْنِ نُزُولُ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَقَالَ الآخَرُ رِيحٌ تُلْقِيهِمْ فِي الْبَحْرِ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 53)
 Ø Abu Sariha reported: We were discussing (the Last Hour) that Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) looked towards us. The rest of the hadith is the same and the tenth (sign) was the descent of Jesus Christ son of Mary, and Shu'ba said: 'Abd al-'Aziz did not trace it directly to Allah's Apostle (ﷺ).
وَحَدَّثَنَاهُ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو النُّعْمَانِ الْحَكَمُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْعِجْلِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ فُرَاتٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَبَا الطُّفَيْلِ، يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ أَبِي سَرِيحَةَ، قَالَ كُنَّا نَتَحَدَّثُ فَأَشْرَفَ عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏.‏ بِنَحْوِ حَدِيثِ مُعَاذٍ وَابْنِ جَعْفَرٍ ‏.‏ وَقَالَ ابْنُ الْمُثَنَّى حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو النُّعْمَانِ الْحَكَمُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ عَبْدِ، الْعَزِيزِ بْنِ رُفَيْعٍ عَنْ أَبِي الطُّفَيْلِ، عَنْ أَبِي سَرِيحَةَ، بِنَحْوِهِ قَالَ وَالْعَاشِرَةُ نُزُولُ عِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ ‏.‏ قَالَ شُعْبَةُ وَلَمْ يَرْفَعْهُ عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ ‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 54)
  Ma'qil b. Yasar reported Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) as saying:
Worshiping during the period of widespread turmoil is like emigration towards me.
حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ يَحْيَى، أَخْبَرَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ زَيْدٍ، عَنْ مُعَلَّى بْنِ زِيَادٍ، عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ، قُرَّةَ عَنْ مَعْقِلِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ح وَحَدَّثَنَاهُ قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، عَنِ الْمُعَلَّى بْنِ زِيَادٍ، رَدَّهُ إِلَى مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ قُرَّةَ رَدَّهُ إِلَى مَعْقِلِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ رَدَّهُ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ "‏ الْعِبَادَةُ فِي الْهَرْجِ كَهِجْرَةٍ إِلَىَّ ‏"‏‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 54, Hadith 163, Chapter: The Virtue of Worship At Times of Turmoil)
 Ø It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed:
Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. During (that stormy period) a man would be a Muslim in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening or he would be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning, and would sell his faith for worldly goods.
حَدَّثَنِي يَحْيَى بْنُ أَيُّوبَ، وَقُتَيْبَةُ، وَابْنُ، حُجْرٍ جَمِيعًا عَنْ إِسْمَاعِيلَ بْنِ جَعْفَرٍ، - قَالَ ابْنُ أَيُّوبَ حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ، - قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي الْعَلاَءُ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ "‏ بَادِرُوا بِالأَعْمَالِ فِتَنًا كَقِطَعِ اللَّيْلِ الْمُظْلِمِ يُصْبِحُ الرَّجُلُ مُؤْمِنًا وَيُمْسِي كَافِرًا أَوْ يُمْسِي مُؤْمِنًا وَيُصْبِحُ كَافِرًا يَبِيعُ دِينَهُ بِعَرَضٍ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا ‏"‏‏.‏
(Sahih Muslim, book 1, Hadith 220, Chapter: Encouragement to hasten to do good deeds before the emergence of the Fitnah).
 The Major Signs (Al-Alaamaat Al-Kubra) in the Prophetic Traditions
Having mentioned above the prophetic sayings and Hadith reports about the Minor Signs, I am now reproducing below the Hadith traditions about the emergence of Imam Mahdi and the awaited Messiah in Islam or al-Masih al-Mawud (Hazrat Isa, peace be upon him). Some of such Ahadith that clearly talk about the Major Signs of the end-time are mentioned below:
•        Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu'minin: The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah”. … (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 36, Number 4271).
 •        Narrated Ali ibn Abu Talib (r.a): The Prophet (pbuh) said: “If only one day of this time (world) remained, Allah would raise up a man from my family who would fill this earth with justice as it has been filled with oppression. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 36, Number 4270).
 •        “Hear the glad tidings of the Mahdi. He will be one of the Quraish and one of my line. (Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir al-Zaman, p. 13).
 •        “The peoples of the Earth and sky, and even the birds in the air, will be delighted at his (the Mahdi’s) caliphate. (Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, p. 29).
 •        “The Mahdi will appear with the flag of the Messenger of Allah (saas), when people have lost hope that they will be freed from the woes afflicting them”.... (Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir al-Zaman, p. 55)
•        “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus peace be upon him) descends amongst you as a just ruler… (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 656)
•        “I swear by Him in Whose hand is my soul: the son of Mary shall descend among you as a just ruler….” (Sahih Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)
•        “There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace be upon him). He will descend (to the earth). (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 37, Number 4310; Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and Tirmidhi)
•        “I swear by Allah that the son of Maryam will certainly descend as a just judge and will definitely break the cross and kill swine and abolish the Jizya and will leave the young she-camel and no one will endeavour to (collect Zakat) on it. Spite, mutual hatred and jealousy against one another will certainly disappear and when he summons people to accept riches, not even one will do so” (Narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira Radi Allahu Anhu, Sahih Muslim, The Book of faith, Hadith 298)
•        “What would you do when the son of Mary would descend amongst you and would lead you as one amongst you? Ibn Abi Dhi'b on the authority of Abu Huraira narrated: Your leader amongst you. Ibn Abi Dhi'b said: Do you know what the words:" He would lead as one amongst you" mean? I said: Explain these to me. He said: He would lead you according to the Book of your: Lord (hallowed be He and most exalted) and the Sunnah of your Apostle (SallaAllahualaihiwaSallam). (Narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira Radi Allahu Anhu, Sahih Muslim: The Book of faith, Hadith 301)
•        “... Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims') commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah. (Sahih Muslim, The Book of faith, Number 0293)
•        “How can a community be eliminated, when there is first me [the Prophet Muhammad (SallaAllahualaihiwaSallam)], Isa’ (peace be upon him) son of Maryam at the end, and the Mahdi, one of my line, between us? (Jalaladdin as-Suyuti, Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir al-Zaman, Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, p. 78)
•        “The Mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah”. … (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 36, Number 4271)
•        “If only one day of this time (world) remained, Allah would raise up a man from my family who would fill this earth with justice as it has been filled with oppression. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 36, Number 4270)
•        “The peoples of the Earth and sky, and even the birds in the air, will be delighted at his (the Mahdi’s) caliphate”. (Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi Alamat al-Mahdi al- Muntadhar, p. 29)
•        Hazrat Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahualaihiwaSallam) said, “الآيات بعد المائتين” i.e. "The signs will be after two hundred years" (Sunan Ibn Majah, The book on Tribulations (Kitabul Fitan), chapter of signs (the day of Judgment), Hadith 4057)
•        Hazrat Abu Qatada narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said “The signs will continue to occur after two centuries" (Mishqat Shareef, Kitab ul Fitan, Baab Ashrat us  Saa’a, Hadith 5460)
•        "The signs will appear in the start of a 2nd century Hijri" (Mustadrak by Imam Hakim, Hadith 8319)
•        Imam Nuaim bin Hammad said, “the year of Imam Mahdi will be 204" (Al Havi Al Fatawa..vol 2..page 139) (Kitab ul Fitan, Volume 1, page 334, Hadith 962)
Current Islamic Scholarship on the Mahdaviat Doctrine or Eschatology
The Mahdism doctrine in Islam revolves around an eschatological figure who will rise and establish a system built on the foundations of peace, justice and social order. In major part of the Islamic world particularly in Iran, the Mahdism doctrine is inherent in the socio-religious and political discourses.
It is noteworthy that a number of Islamic scholars such as the early Islamic philosopher and historiographer, Ibn Khaldun and the Indian Islamic philosopher and renowned Urdu poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal have questioned the belief in the advent of Imam Mahdi.
Some of the contemporary Islamic thinkers like the founder-ideologue of al-Mawrid organization, Jawed Ahmad Ghamidi of Pakistan and the Founder-Director of New Age Islam Foundation, Sultan Shahin of India even go on to dismiss Muslims’ obsession with the entire millenarian thesis with contempt and disapproval. But majority of the Islamic clerics of all Muslim sects and hues not only declare it a mistaken assertion but also akin to a ‘grave sin in Islam’.
While Muslims in general prefer to get content waiting to see and join the Imam Mahdi, a growing number of contemporary Islamic scholars are thoroughly studying the subject to strive for a deeper understanding of the Mahdaviat doctrine. For instance, a Sunni Islamic scholar specializing in Islamic Eschatology Sheikh Imran Nazar Hosein has conceptualized the Institute of Islamic Eschatology (Ilmaakhir Al-Zamaan). He has authored various books on this subject like Ilmuaakhir Al-Zamaan (Islamic eschatology), An Islamic View of Gog and Magog in the Modern Age, Jerusalem in the Qur'an, Methodology for the Study of Dajjāl in the Qur’ān and others. In fact, he wrote his thesis on 'Post-Caliphate Islam and the Search for a New Islamic Public Order' for a PhD in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva in 1976. He felt that his research on this subject would remain incomplete without a proper study and understanding of Islamic eschatology. He concluded in his research on Islamic eschatology, that the Islamic Caliphate will be restored with the advent of Imam Mandi and the return of Isa ('Alaihis Salam) in perhaps another 25-30 years. But he also averred that it is not possible for the Islamic state to be restored so long as the Gog and Magog world-order persists. Notably, it took him 36 years to grasp Islamic eschatology and even then, he confessed that there were parts of the subject which still eluded his understanding. Therefore, he decided to establish an Institute of Islamic Eschatology, where the subject can be taught.
The modernist Turkish scholar and Islamic creationist, Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) has also written on this subject in the light of the Hadiths. In his detailed exegetic answer to the question whether what will happen in the Middle East in the end times, he writes:
“The Middle East is the most important of the regions referred to by our Prophet (s.a.a.s) in the context of events that will take place in the end times. Indeed, the majority of the portents described in the Hadiths have happened in the Middle East. In addition, there are a great many other accounts from our Prophet (s.a.a.s) regarding the region. Looked at in general, the common feature of these accounts is that the chaos, strife, and major events in the lands of the Middle East will continue until the appearance of the Mahdi. Throughout history, the Middle East, which includes such cities as Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad, and Istanbul, has been a region in which the holy prophets of Allah have lived, one which witnessed the birth of the three monotheistic religions, and a holy region in which the sacred sites of all three religions were built. It is reported in Hadiths that a region that has always played a leading role on the stage of history will also come to the fore in the end times, when glorious events will take place”.
More and more scholars and Islamic institutions are now engaging in the study of the apocalyptic theories and millenarian thesis in different parts of the Muslim world. For instance, there is a Bright Future Institute in Iran, which is a non-profit research centre based in the city of Qum. It focuses on research works on the Messianism in world religions in general and Islamic doctrine of Mahdaviat in particular. It has independently delivered various educational and research works on the Mahdaviat doctrine, considering saviour-based interaction and dialogue between religions a source of inspiration for interfaith harmony, religious commonality and mutual understanding among all world religions and faith traditions. It organizes yearly international conference on Mahdaviat Doctrine in Iran. It was held in Qom last year with the presence of intelligentsia, researchers, and religious scholars from across the world along with hundreds of Iranian thinkers and scholars.
A Regular Columnist with New Age Islam, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is Comparative Religion & Classical Islamic Scholar, and Doctoral Research Scholar at Centre for Culture, Media & Governance (JMI Central University).

- See more at: http://newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/ghulam-rasool-dehlvi,-new-age-islam/isis%E2%80%99-millenarian-theory-and-its-refutation--perspectives-from-islam-on-mahdaviat-doctrine-and-its-misinterpretations-(part-2)/d/107461#sthash.uZAXcEIA.dpuf

Islam's Economics: Religiosity of What Is In It for Me and Spirituality of What Is In It for Humanity

By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
30 May 2016
From a layperson’s perspective of Economics!
Case a): It is often shown in the media the leaders of Muslim countries performing religious rites when in office to bolster their standing in the nation. Not uncommon is the allegation that the publicity stunt was political and at the expense of the nation’s treasury.
Case b): Many individuals, in various countries who of their own, take in abandoned new-born children, some even disabled, to foster and nurture. The case of an elderly couple in Japan who have installed fully wired comfortable safe box named ‘Baby Cot’ at their house and the ‘Palnaa’ - Cradle- of Eidhi Foundation of Pakistan are examples of practical selfless acts, purely for Goodness sake.
The case a) is ‘Selfish Effort’ for personal gains and the case b) is ‘Selfless Endeavour’ to bringing long term change for the betterment of humanity.
The nature’s law as articulated by Isaac Newton that every Action has equal and opposite Reaction. In the above two examples, each one was practically-undertaken action but with vastly different outcomes. In social terms the first one would be considered as ‘wasted’ and the later as ‘lasting’ efforts.
It makes one wonder as to why the Quran repeats, over eighty times, the phrase A’millus Saalihaatih- the righteous acts or beneficial acts?
As every action-A’amal, whether for evil or good, has a reaction, the specific qualification of ‘righteous/beneficial’ is necessary to differentiate between the two; since the Book’s main aim is to guide humanity on the path of righteousness. This guidance was asked for by mankind in 1-6 of the Book.
In the context of beneficial acts, the one addressed in the very beginning, verse 2-3, of the Book, is the spending out of ones excess sustenance provided by nature, for the benefit of humanity as a whole- Yunfiqoon. This is repeated over seventy times therein.
A short chapter 107-Ma’oon of the Book is addressed here out of many, specifically as an example of the social Codes- ad Deen ul Islam (ref. 5-4) for its economics strategy.
The Chapter highlights the people who negate this aspect of the Code for change in the economic condition of humanity. The chapter is variously termed by translators as ‘Neighbourly Deeds’, ‘Act of kindness’, ’Assistance’, ‘Small kindness’, ‘The Spring of Sustenance’, and even ‘Religion’.
In Rodwell’s ‘The Quran’, this chapter is named ‘Religion’. Although the word Madhab- for religion is an Arabic word, it is not used in Quran. The specific term for its system of Codes is ad-Deen. It is based on goodly/beneficial actions A’millus Salihaat (ref. 16-97).
This is a précis that exposes those who are negligent of this particular Code. And so, in the process it defines Islam as being a ‘Do’ based ideology (2-3). It establishes the ideals of mankind’s (including women-kind’s!) dignity 17-70, and it’s the basis of prosperity.
The Chapter begins with:
107-1, Have you marked the one who attaches lies to ad-Deen?
In asking the question it marks out who belies ad-Deen and thus negates Islam. So who is that?
107-2, the one who shows animosity towards the orphans- Yateem,
Orphan is a child bereft of parental love, care, nurturing and protection; by the fact that one or both parents have passed away or while alive, had abandoned the child, thus depriving it of its rights to all the necessities of healthy development.
The Book embraces all those in humanity who lack the necessities of life that ensure the balanced development of mankind! And adds:
107-3, and urges not others the feeding of the needy. (Refer also 89-17 to 20).
Similarly, the ‘feeding’ is not just the giving of food to poor (during the month of Ramadhan only) but providing provisions of continuous nourishment for the development of a healthily humanity. Additionally to discourage others from doing the righteous acts is negating the Code, since that creates inequality in mankind.
107-4, So! Woe to the Musalleen, …the praying ones,
How so?
For it can be argued that the Musalleen, those who pray do a lot of “good work”. Religious school is often cited as an example. However, the act of providing boarding, lodging and religious knowledge with the ulterior and parochial motives (such as of recruiting youth to their version of Religion) is not an example of ‘Doing good’ for humanity.
The implication is obvious. Parents, relatives, friends, neighbours, teachers and everybody around the child contributes to it healthy development. The nation and the State.
‘Equitable Distribution of sustenance’ is extensively discussed from the very beginning of the Book. It is ordained upon those individuals who loudly and willingly (on being elected) take the oath (on scriptures) to shoulder all the responsibilities of leadership of the State. When they renege, the nation, the State fails. Then humanity suffers!
Religious Spirituality is individual’s worship of a Deity; such as worship/praying on prayer rug/Musalla, and Musalleen are therefore those who pray on it.
So why is the Book condemning Musalleen?  Because:
107-5, they are negligent of their (duty) of Salat,
In Verse 2-3 at the very start, along with the command to implement the Quranic Codes, is the command for ‘establishment’ of Salat. This establishment – Aqimus Salat is not the prayer, as the Musalleen insisted to be the rituals performed on the prayer rug. These rituals are condemned as shown in 107-4 above.
Hence, Salat is practical ‘Do’ system, established to benefit humanity and not as spirituality expressed on Musalla by Musalleen to show off piety. The next verses make it clear:
107-6, who perform these to be seen by others. (Refer also to 2-264, 4-142)
They “advertise” their piety by pretending that they are performing their duty of Salat; like performing Hajj at taxpayer expenses and publicizing it to win votes.  And finally;
107-7, who shy away from doing righteous deeds,
Communally a wasted Effort! How so? One way is by locking out their excess wealth which is beyond their needs 2-219. As one translator puts this wealth as the Spring of Sustenance for the needy; and therefore good for humanity as whole.
This would seem like drawing a long bow for those who take Quran as a religious scripture, a book of church dogma, liturgy and easy spirituality of the church.
‘They say “we found our ancestors follow this custom”’.
Blindly following ancestors is an excuse for the ignorant 7-173. Verse 9-34 is scathing in condemnation of this class. Quran calls them Mutrifeen, the freeloaders and parasites. This is the class which perpetuates the custom for its own aggrandisement and to gain status.
Quran always repeats its instructions in different ways (refer to verses 76-6 to 9, 89-17 to 20). A lengthy Verse 2-177 is briefly quoted here as an example.
It begins by condemnation of religious rituals. For, that which focuses the Creator’s Lordship of the universe on just one holy place on earth:
2-177, It is not righteous that you turn your faces towards East(s) or West(s), (summer and winter solstice); but what is righteous: But what is righteous is to spend out of your sustenance for love of Him ……and establish Salat and…And then a long list of ‘Do’s follow. Refer 9-60 also.
It concludes that those who fulfill all the requirements “are the people of truth and are God conscious”. In 2-5 it says: they are the ones on the path of Lord’s guidance (asked earlier in1-6) and they will prosper.
Prosperity of mankind depends on the practical actions to eliminate poverty by equitable distribution of wealth- Yunfiqoon; layperson’s system of ‘egalitarian economics’, with a heavy dose of morality that comes from one’s “self” and looking at the “big picture” like the people of Baby Cot and Palnaa. But it is an anathema to the wealthy; they say ‘…let God feed them’ 36-47
What emerges from the above is that Quranic Code is not a nebulous, ritualistic and spiritual dogma either for churches or politics, all operated by ‘the elevated class’ of people it calls Taghut; but it is a universal system of command for “Do’s” and “Don’ts” by all for the good of all. That is, the result-orientated spirituality of Islam.
The reward comes from the capacity to perform those deeds that lifts the performers’ ‘self’ to a higher level:
55-60, is the reward for Good other than Good?
Therefore leaders do not covet Nobel Prize, for doing what should be done as a duty in the first place, because:
13-17… as for that which is good for humanity remains on earth…  That is goodness for goodness sake, as the noble prize!
It begs the question then: If those who belie the code ad-Deen, are they not the companions of the Devil whom Almighty has cursed and who, as of their share, plunder and destroy the humanity and its soul in many ways?
4-118… he (the Devil) said, ‘certainly I will take my appointed share of Your servants’.
The Devil’s companions portray themselves as ‘the elevated class’, for their appointed share of Human soul; with hoarded wealth, military might, bruised foreheads and with flags adorned with holy text, pretending it is from the Book (2-79).
Mankind has the Book of Codes but fails to recognise the carpet baggers: the Devil-incarnates (2-98). Once these are recognised and driven out of ad-Deen, there is enough left to go round for the human nation (10-19) to prosper as one and in peace.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/rashid-samnakay,-new-age-islam/islam-s-economics--religiosity-of-what-is-in-it-for-me-and-spirituality-of-what-is-in-it-for-humanity/d/107471#sthash.wmUpiygb.dpuf

The Barelwi-Deobandi Truce? More Than Meets The Eye

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
30 May 2016
It was rather surprising that the Barelwi leader Tauqeer Raza Khan would visit Deoband, hold an hour long discussion and plead for maslaki unity among the Muslims. It is surprising because both these maslaks (schools of thought, sub-sects of Sunni Islam) think that the other is not following the true path of Islam and that the refutation of each other’s teachings in writings form an important core of their respective works.
For the Barelwis, the Deobandis, whom they accuse of being disrespectful to the Prophet, are to be treated as kafirs (infidels) and many of their sermons warn Muslims of the danger of praying behind a Deobandi imam. The Deobandis, on their part, have always accused the Barelwis of following the path of shirk, of being too close to Hindu tradition and of being grave worshipers; charges which make the Barelwis too Hindu to be considered as Muslims according to the Deobandis.
All this has been written and elaborated by their respective Ulama and it is not possible all of a sudden to argue that such deeper differences have ceased to exist. In fact, they do and will continue to exist as the Barelwi cleric made it clear: that the invitation to the Deobandis to come together did not mean that the theological differences among them will get dissolved. Rather he appealed for a political coming together, keeping aside the theological differences, and focussing just on their Muslim identity, which he thinks is being targeted and discriminated.
Now there cannot be any disagreement with Tauqeer Raza Khan when he says that Muslims are discriminated against and targeted for being a minority. Recent events have more than told us that here is a pattern where Muslim boys are being arrested on false charges and their released by courts for want of any credible evidence. There is no remorse, no compensation on the part of this government or the earlier governments in terms of the years of life lost for these Muslim youth and having to live their lives with the taint of terror.
Every right thinking person, be that a Deobandi or Barelwi, Hindus or Muslims, should raise their voice against such systematic targeting of a community. And of course one should keep differences on other things separate when one is trying to form a joint platform to fight on such important issues.
The problem with the Deobandis and Barelwis, however, are too deep to be resolved or even to be kept in abeyance for a while. Already there are murmurs within the ranks of Barelwis that perhaps Tauqeer Raza has gone too far. This was expected. The ideologue of the Barelwis, Ahmad Riza Khan, chastised the Deobandis for having an alliance with the Hindus (whom he called kafirs) against the British who were ahl-e-kitab (People of the Book). According to him, this was against all known tenets of Islamic fiqh.
Moreover, he accused the Deobandis, that by upholding the writings of scholars such as Sayyid Ahmad Rai Barelwi, the Deobandis themselves have become denigrators of the Prophet of Islam. And anyone who denigrates the Prophet is not Muslim and in fact is liable to be killed. His famous fatwa which declared the Deobandis as kafirs (husam al haramain) got vetted by a number of Ulama within the Arabic world. For the Barelwis, whose very maslak is built around the personality of the Prophet and sacredness attached to it, it will be very difficult to bridge this theological antipathy with the Deobandis.
Tauqeer Raza would have surely known this. Then what explains his sudden overtures to the Deobandis. For one, it has to do with his own marginalization within the anti-Deobandi platform. This platform is represented recently by the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board which held a huge Islamic conference in Delhi with the express purpose of promoting Sufi (read Barelwi) Islam over what they called Wahhabi (read Deobandi) Islam.
Initially part of this extravagant display, Tauqeer Raza was gradually marginalized from this platform with the whole limelight shining on the shrine of Kichhauchha who were the main organizers of the conference.
Secondly, it seems to me that the coming together of Barelwis and Deobandis is also an effort to prevent any discussion on the reform of Muslim personal law. There is a growing movement among Muslim women to demand changes in the Muslim personal law which they label as inherently unjust to women. The Muslim personal law board is party to this in court and are opposing any changes to these laws which they claim as sacred.
Thus behind the veil of protecting Muslim youths framed up on terror charges, something much more fundamental may be going on. Both the Deobandi and the Barelwi leadership derive much of their legitimacy and power from being the custodians of the Muslim religious sphere. Any challenge to their understanding of Islam is a direct challenge to their religious authority and therefore it is no wonder that the erstwhile enemies are now talking to each other.
History is a reminder that this is not the first time that they have come together. Even during the early 1970s both these maslaks came together on a single platform and that time also their objective was to prevent the shariat which they understand as sacred and therefore beyond any scope of change.
One would have been deeply appreciative of this coming together of the Barelwis and Deobandis had they resolved to do some concrete good for the community. They could have taken up issues of lack of education, etc, which so plagues the Muslim community. By taking up issue of framing up of Muslims in terror related cases, without any knowledge or expertise of how this system works and how to defend these Muslim boys, they are only adding to existing discourse of Muslim victimhood.
Arshad Alam is a NewAgeIslam.com columnist and a Delhi based writer.
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/islam-and-sectarianism/arshad-alam,-new-age-islam/the-barelwi-deobandi-truce?-more-than-meets-the-eye/d/107474#sthash.3w6rn02y.dpuf

When Being Curious About Islam and Muslims Was the Hip Thing to Do

By Ishaan Tharoor
April 22, 2016
Lindsay Lohan, the American actress, is said to be "exploring" Islam. Speculation was first stirred by a photograph of the celebrity carrying a copy of the Quran while completing a stint of community service. This week, in an interview with the Sun, Lohan told the British tabloid that she was indeed reading Islam's holy book.
"I’m a very spiritual person and I’m really open to learning," she said. "America has portrayed holding a Koran in such a different way to what it actually is. We all believe in something and at the end of the day it all ties to a god or a spiritual adviser."
She wasn't converting to a new religion, just learning more. "Lindsay has always been very spiritual and is open to exploring all religions and beliefs. She is simply educating herself on other people’s beliefs," a Lohan representative told Page Six. Some bloggers suggest it's little more than a play for attention; some conservatives, meanwhile, expressed deeper outrage.
Whatever her convictions, Lohan may or may not know that she's walking in a long tradition.
These days, of course, the idea of foreigners turning to Islam evokes grim thoughts. Numerous Western converts joined the ranks of violent extremist groups, from the Taliban to the Islamic State. In the eyes of many politicians and pundits, Islam -- and, by extension, Muslims -- poses a radical and ideological threat.
This was not the case in an earlier era, long before the rise of global jihadist organizations. In the 19th century and into the 20th century, myriad European elites displayed a fascination with the religion, languages, and customs of Muslims they encountered in the fraying domains of the Ottoman Empire and lands further east.
This interest took myriad forms: These included the adoption of the garb of the Zouaves, seen originally on Berber tribesman, by military units in Europe and the United States; in the fixation of European painters and writers with the supposed sensuality and licentiousness of Muslim societies; in the encyclopaedic efforts of Western Orientalists to learn Arabic and other languages of the Middle East and South Asia, and also dig up the region's forgotten ancient cities.
Some people did convert after their travels. Britain's most famous 19th century convert was William Quilliam, the son of a Methodist preacher who returned after a visit to Morocco in 1887 with the new name Abdullah. His embrace of Islam fitted alongside his championing of the Temperance Movement, which advocated abstinence from alcohol.
There were plenty of other figures who also believed the West could gain from adopting the customs of the East.
Last year, WorldViews told the story of David Urquhart, an energetic British supporter of the Ottoman Empire in the first half of the 19th century who saw the Islam of the Ottomans as a moderating influence in a world of Christian enmities. He dressed in Turkish robes and attempted to push other foreign practices on his countrymen, as WorldViews recounted:
Urquhart returned from his travels in Turkey and elsewhere convinced that the Ottoman lifestyle was better for one's health. "If London were [Muslim]," he wrote, "the population would bathe regularly, have a better-dressed dinner for [its] money, and prefer water to wine or brandy, gin or beer." He would later launch a largely unsuccessful movement to bring the culture of Turkish baths to the cold damp of Victorian Britain.
The allure of supposedly Muslim habits was so well-known that even the family of Winston Churchill, that venerable titan of the West, feared he would be seduced by Islam.
"Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalise, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have," wrote his soon-to-be sister-in-law in a 1907 letter addressed to Churchill. "If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it."
The likelihood of such a conversion was not particularly great. Churchill, like other British imperial officers posted overseas, encountered Islam as the dominant religion of rival empires such as the Ottomans and the Mughals. Muslims were to be respected -- Churchill was far more contemptuous of India's Hindus, for example -- but they were also to be defeated.
Lohan probably has a different agenda while studying the Koran.
"I’m not done reading it. Do you know how long that would take?" she asked the Sun. "It takes so long."
Source: washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/04/22/when-being-curious-about-islam-and-muslims-was-the-hip-thing-to-do/
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/ishaan-tharoor/when-being-curious-about-islam-and-muslims-was-the-hip-thing-to-do/d/107481#sthash.6mF77Xp4.dpuf

Why the Saudi Attempt to Modernize Their Society Is Bound To Fail

By Stephan Richter
May 31, 2016
Saudi royals’ reform agenda cannot be achieved, no matter how many consultants provide grand designs.
Without oil, Saudi Arabia doesn't amount to anything worthy of note. That die was cast decades ago.
The Saudis pay well and there are plenty of Western hustlers determined to make big bucks.
If only it were so easy… First, you spend decades on the basis of a rotten social compact that has two generations of young Saudis (men, of course) idle away in the public sector bureaucracy, while being handsomely paid for doing nothing by their oil-flush government.
On top of that, those same men – often not just do-nothings, but know-nothings – have gotten used to having labourers as well as medium- and highly skilled workers from other nations work as their minions. The net effect is that they build and maintain a modern-looking and smoothly functioning society.
McKinsey To The Rescue: Are You Kidding?
Then, when the oil riches decline and the world at large is making a determined move away from dependence on some desert sheiks, McKinsey is called to the rescue. For the right kind of money, the giant consulting firm is always pleased – and indeed eager – to help.
And so it is that we now read articles in the Washington Post and elsewhere that are dutifully admiring of the young crown prince and his brigade of technical advisers who are supposedly determined to turn Saudi Arabia around.
Of course, hope springs eternal. But there is just one little problem: A nation whose leadership has essentially been determined for decades to write off the human development potential of its population at large cannot easily flip a switch.
While they are world travellers always staying in their own luxurious bubble, Saudi princes have very little sense of reality and no ability (or track record) in social engineering.
They also don’t care about their own people. All they care about is to preserve their own social status. Realistically, what they attempt to do is rearrange the chairs on the deck of their Titanic.
Why Western Declarations of Admiration?
As transparent – and futile – as the Saudi royals’ manoeuvre is, what begs disbelief is the attempt in some of the world’s leading papers to declare admiration for the wisdom of the Saudis’ move.
Their self-reform agenda simply cannot be achieved. It’s not a matter of suddenly wising up and then calling in McKinsey to fix it all.
This is, after all, a country whose leadership regime has toyed with the Western world in the most cynical fashion by sending out official declarations that it is not a state sponsor of terrorism (largely true), while in all likelihood being the world’s biggest private sponsor of terrorists.
Whitewashing Saudi, Maligning Iran
What is even more baffling is the consistent effort, especially pronounced in the United States, to whitewash whatever goes on in Saudi Arabia, while maligning whatever happens in Iran.
No doubt: There are plenty of things in Iran that must be rectified and improved. But one future-oriented fact is undeniable. In terms of its human development potential, Iran is bound to outclass neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s improvement in UN Human Development Index score from 1990 to 2012 was globally second only to South Korea, and it now rates in the second-best tier.
Life expectancy grew by leaps and bounds, for example, along with living standards and education access. Childbirth deaths are much lower than peer averages.
Whatever one’s qualms with Iran, historically it is among humanity’s great nations in terms of its arts, culture and many other human skills. Saudi Arabia? Not so much. It is a glitzy pile of sand, amped up by the skills solely of foreign workers.
Providing Plenty Of Business Opportunities
Without the oil, Saudi Arabia doesn’t amount to anything worthy of note – had it not declared itself unilaterally to be the custodian of the entirety of Islam. Which in itself has led to a whole host of festering problems, incongruities and false claims and choices?
And, true enough, cynical and mercenary as the Saudi leaders always have been, they provide plenty of business opportunities to any and all foreigners willing to sell their services and goods, if not themselves.
Why? Because the Saudis often are the highest bidders and there are plenty of hustlers in the Western world determined to make big bucks, no matter the morals or the circumstances.
If you want to judge the prospects of Saudi reform, just look at the previous initiative announced with great fanfare in – as Reuters has chronicled – every time there’s a big decline in oil prices.
The Saudi university mirage
In 1998, for example, then-Crown Prince Abdullah (who reigned as king from 2005 to 2015), proclaimed “[T]he boom period is over. We must all get used to a certain type of lifestyle that does not rely entirely on the state.”
Obviously, that never occurred. But the bravado did manage to hoodwink more than a few Western players.
U.S. universities, for example, always eager to increase their tuition funds, were eager participants in creating the Saudi university mirage.
With a few years of hindsight, it is now clear that much of this effort was built on sand, literally. It is bound to vanish, not unlike some dunes in the Sahara.
But why should Western institutions worry? Saudis pay well – and extracting a rent from them, in a mercenary context, is far more important than achieving real results.
That goes for McKinsey just as much as U.S. universities. They are but compliant and complicit fig leafs in the Saudi royals’ charade.
Stephan Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist.
Source: theglobalist.com/mckinsey-and-the-saudi-mirage/
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/the-war-within-islam/stephan-richter/why-the-saudi-attempt-to-modernize-their-society-is-bound-to-fail/d/107480#sthash.oE5MGaqz.dpuf

London versus ISIS

By Dominique Moisi
May 30, 2016
“I feel so proud of my city,” my interlocutor says, referring to the election of the first Muslim, Sadiq Khan, as Mayor of London. She is Catholic, though she identifies first and foremost as British. But, like many other Londoners, she was inspired by Khan’s message of hope over fear.
Khan’s election contrasts sharply with dynamics that seem to be at work elsewhere in the West. European populations – in Hungary and Poland and with a close call in Austria – are falling prey to increasingly radical, openly xenophobic populism. In the United States, Donald Trump’s bombastic bigotry has won him the Republican nomination for the presidency.
Londoners certainly had the option of intolerance. They could have voted for the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, who persistently accused Khan of having ties with “radical Muslims figures.”
The expectation, without reason or evidence, that any Muslim person is linked to extremism is undeniably racist. Leveling such accusations against a Muslim running for public office has nothing to do with protecting the public interest. The purpose of such tactics is to reinforce the notion that no Muslim can be trusted to hold an important leadership position.
Many attempt to justify this view by pointing out that the Koran makes no distinction between “what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar.” But that implies that all Muslims behave exclusively according to the tenets of the Koran, without regard for secular law. That is simply not true.
In some cases, there are questions about how Islam’s adherents, including some of its most visible representatives, approach the subject of Islam’s role in the West. The scholar Tariq Ramadan, for example, has spoken of the rise of a “European Islam,” which anchors Islamic principles to the cultural reality of Western Europe. I fully support this notion, as long as this new Islam shares without reservation the values, beliefs, and memories of Europeans (including recognition of Israel’s right to exist). Unfortunately, when I expressed this to Ramadan in a debate years ago, he remained silent.
The challenges that may arise when incorporating Islam into Europe’s already-diverse societies do not, in any sense, mean that Muslims cannot be trusted to lead well. Yet some, particularly in France, are now warning that Khan’s election is the first step toward a not-too-distant future in which Muslims impose Islamic law on European countries, a scenario made vivid by Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel, Submission. (The book, however, can be interpreted less as a prediction of a Muslim takeover than as a criticism of French political correctness, which seems to adhere to the mantra, “Anyone but the National Front.”)
The implications of Khan’s election are likely to contradict the bigots and fear mongers. Indeed, beyond acting as a slap in the face to Europe’s populist forces, Khan’s victory will deal a blow to the “Islamic State” (ISIS), which for the purpose of recruitment depends on young European Muslims’ feelings of humiliation, marginalization, and failure.
With a Muslim as Mayor of London – a great Western city, which has suffered brutal terrorist attacks – it will be that much harder for jihadists to convince potential recruits in the West that their governments and societies are seeking to repress them. If young Muslims can succeed in the West, why would they give up their lives for ISIS, which is already losing ground in Iraq and Syria?
Of course, Muslim success stories like Khan’s remain too few and far between. But there is much to be gained from recognizing, publicizing, and multiplying them. This would probably be easier to achieve in Britain than in France, which remains fixated on laïcité (the absolute separation of church and state that is at the core of French republican identity).
In short, by rejecting Islamophobia and reiterating their belief in the values of an open society, Londoners have dealt a blow to Islamists. But it would be dangerous to overestimate the implications of Khan’s election.
For one thing, London is hardly representative of the entire United Kingdom, much less the rest of Europe or the West as a whole. The city is more cosmopolitan than New York, as culturally dynamic as Berlin, and much more self-confident than Paris. It is exceptional in its energy and openness. If only Londoners were to vote in the June 23 referendum, they would most likely choose to remain in the EU, despite the Union’s flaws.
For another, London’s openness and confidence is dependent, at least partly, on economic growth and prosperity. After all, it is far easier to share a large and growing pie. The “Polish plumber” who contributed so clearly to the beautification of London starting in the early 1990s was an economic asset, never a threat, and at least indirectly paved the way for workers from other countries and cultures.
Nonetheless, the openness of Londoners – especially at a moment when so many of their Western counterparts are being tempted by bigotry – is worthy of celebration. Rather than answering fear with more fear, they elected the better candidate, regardless of religion. That is how it should be.
Dominique Moisi, a professor at L'Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), is Senior Adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI) and a visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of La Géopolitique des Séries ou le triomphe de la peur.
Source: project-syndicate.org/commentary/sadiq-khan-london-muslim-bigotry-by-dominique-moisi-2016-05
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/dominique-moisi/london-versus-isis/d/107479#sthash.eoqWeyqM.dpuf

Pakistan’s National Psyche: The Missing Self Esteem

By Syed Ata Hasnain
May 31, 2016
I sometimes wonder what it must be like to be a citizen of Pakistan. I often meet the elite Pakistani citizenry which paints a picture that all is well at home. Sipping mojitos, they speak of Clifton in Karachi and high-end shopping; money seems to be oozing out of their pockets. Yet, facts give it all away.
To attend a conference or simply to travel as tourists, Pakistanis can never be sure how long it will take them to get a visa; although officially, 29 countries are listed in websites, which grant them visa-on-arrival, as compared to India’s 59. To be perceived worldwide as a nation which sponsors terror, is the core centre of Radicalism and which concerns itself least with development and welfare of its citizenry, isn’t a brand to be proud of; neither is it to belong somewhere where wives can officially be given light beating by husbands and Governors are assassinated on grounds of blasphemy.
Pakistanis usually laugh it away embarrassingly and admit that India has indeed made great strides in building an international image. The Pakistani diaspora is reputed to be hard working; of course nowhere near the brand of Indians, but their ability to integrate well within other societies is always suspect because of the image that goes along with them.
I remember the time when the role and image were the opposite. Pakistanis visiting India in the Sixties brought along various foreign goods and a unique water pumper called Rahber. They were immensely proud of their quality of life and looked down upon us Indians in socialist India.
Today, one can see Pakistani artistes wishing to settle here. If anything, they are fully aware that despite all its limitations, India aspires and works towards the betterment of its common citizens. There may be corruption, poverty, overruns of projects and too much bureaucracy, but at the end of the day the Indian citizen can legitimately aspire for a better life and that cuts across strata of society, farmer suicides notwithstanding. An Indian enjoys high international reputation. Worldwide, people speak of India’s century along with that of China. The old world hyphenation of India with Pakistan is now transformed to hyphenation with China and other emerging nations.
A Pakistani citizen may have to wait nine months or more for a visa to visit Hong Kong because being Pakistani is synonymous with being reasonably undesirable and alien to civilized society. How did this come to pass and why does that image persist? Is Pakistan doing anything as a nation to dilute that image? That would be worth examining because Pakistanis themselves would be interested to find out.
At the outset we need to go back to 1977 and the Zia mission. It was all about the planned retribution by the Pakistan Army against India, for the loss of its eastern segment (now Bangladesh). General Zia knew that to take on India he needed to do two things; one, go nuclear and two, exploit India’s ethnic, religious, caste and regional fault lines through a low cost, long term proxy war.
Pakistan went covertly nuclear in early 80s. On the second front, it started with Punjab and moved on to J&K before targeting other parts of India. Pakistan’s military establishment, not the Government, thinks it is still winning the low intensity proxy war that it commenced in the 80s and continues to support it. Zia had no qualms in radicalizing the Army because Radicalism in his vocabulary meant total support from the moneyed elements of the Middle East.
The Pakistani citizens need to know and so does the rest of the less-informed world that the tenuous hold that Islamic radicalism has over the world today can be squarely placed at the altar of Zia and his advisers of the ISI and the Army. It also attracted the much needed funding for Pakistan on the pretext of the Afghan refugees and the trans-national Islamic mercenaries. The Zia Plan continues to the day, followed by his successors. What it has succeeded in doing is to keep the ‘terror sponsor’ label closely affixed to Pakistan’s national persona.
A civil society instrumental in removing Ayub Khan from the presidency in 1968-69 through street power, today is virtually cowering and held to ransom by a brute military; one of the major achievements of the Pakistan Army. The common citizen is under fire from different directions; the radicals and the clergy along with the Army all combine to make life hellish. There is a vibrant media which feels intimidated; remember the Hamid Mir case. The ubiquitous face of the Pakistan Army is everywhere. It seems it never lost power ever.
Surprisingly, the citizenry extols the virtues of its domineering Army and perceives that Pakistan is a true democracy. No one seems to have told them that nations do not become democracies just because their citizens have universal suffrage; it’s more about developing institutions which are democratic. Pakistan’s national psyche is one of self-delusion and not surprisingly because for far too long the national discourse has been dictated by an army whose byline is unpredictability. Many say that the Pakistan Army’s greatest weapon is it irrationality.
What never ceases to amaze is how an institution such as the Pakistan Army has been allowed to prosper and hijack much of the world’s agenda for peace. There are three stakeholders in this.
The first are the people of Pakistan whose self-esteem has taken a nosedive with no apparent hope of recovery, given the circumstances and the power that their Army wields.
Second is the international community; different segments have different interests. For instance China is least concerned about the wellbeing of the Pakistani people; its concern is about stability and unity of Pakistan because of the huge investments at stake for future economics of China. Pakistan’s geo-strategic location affords China the ability to counter-balance India.
It is China’s national interest which gives the Pakistan Army the scope and gumption to exercise power and employ the much discussed and condemned strategy of ‘good terrorist bad terrorist’. The US perhaps is the one single entity most responsible for bolstering the confidence of the Generals in Pakistan. The long standing relationship going back to the CENTO/SEATO days has been an enduring one, not the least because of the US realization that Pakistan occupies the world’s most crucial strategic space.
I do not want to be clichéd in my analysis and therefore do wish to state that from a professional angle I find the Pakistan Army extremely proficient. This perception is based on a lifetime of meeting Pakistani officers on the LoC, in UN operations and in training courses and seminars abroad. However, the obsession with targeting India appears to come from a mindset that the position of pre-eminence they enjoy in Pakistani society only comes from maintaining a standoff with India. Many times we hear Pakistani citizens regretting the state of relations with India but the Pakistan national mindset remains fixated on what its Army desires. Perfectly educated, very articulate and extremely forward looking minds in all other spheres go berserk when the India-Pakistan context emerges. The rationality of a friendly India, a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood and cooperation to take the teeming millions in the subcontinent to a better destiny, never seems to appeal to the Pakistan military leadership as an element of Pakistan’s national interest.
The tragedy of the Pakistani people is that the control over their lives is not alone in the hands of the Army but equally in the hands of a radical clergy and it’s more than equal radical followers. The Army used the clergy at one time to establish its own control. Now it cannot dismount from the proverbial tiger. That is why this situation will persist and India has to be prepared for that. Peace processes will meet their end after fits and starts and the charade will go on. In a few years the already yawning gap between India’s economy and that of Pakistan will have a telling effect of the citizens of Pakistan. That is when things will begin to happen, from within the people, unpredictably and therefore dangerously.
Through my years as a senior Indian Army officer I always made it a habit to ask my officers to do an annual review of Pakistan. The subject was always ‘The Psyche and Mindset of the Pakistan Army’. The deductions I received from the studies then continue to be the same today. Will they ever change? Only Allah and Pakistan’s Generals know.
Source: swarajyamag.com/world/pakistans-national-pysche-the-missing-self-esteem
- See more at: http://newageislam.com/current-affairs/syed-ata-hasnain/pakistan%E2%80%99s-national-psyche--the-missing-self-esteem/d/107478#sthash.5QihcUVH.dpuf