Monday, July 31, 2006

Iraq, Camus, and The Plague

I leave the readers with a personal anecdote political scientist John Mearsheimer used at the US Naval War College’s Annual Conference on International Strategy when he was asked the question, ‘What is the path to success in Iraq?’:

“I remember once in English class [at West Point Military Academy] we read Albert Camus's book The Plague. I didn't know what The Plague was about or why we were reading it. But afterwards the instructor explained to us that The Plague was being read because of the Vietnam War. What Camus was saying in The Plague was that the plague came and went of its own accord. All sorts of minions ran around trying to deal with the plague, and they operated under the illusion that they could affect the plague one way or another. But the plague operated on its own schedule. That is what we were told was going on in Vietnam. Every time I look at the situation in Iraq today, I think of Vietnam, and I think of The Plague, and I just don't think there's very much we can do at this point. It is just out of our hands. There are forces that we don't have control over that are at play, and will determine the outcome of this one. I understand that's very hard for Americans to understand, because Americans believe that they can shape the world in their interests.”

Monday, July 24, 2006

Going Nowhere Fast

I got an email from a friend letting me know how they were planning on making Umrah. This is the 3rd time this person has been making Umrah since I have know them and every time around I get an email asking me to send them my duaas so because they are going to Umrah and every time I have sent the same duaa:

may Allah invite my family and me to baitullah.

I got their third email recently and I sent them the same duaa again... I know that there are many reasons that duaas do not get answered but...

Perhaps the 3rd time is the one.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Quran and the Spiders

Allah, the Almighty, said: (The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah is that of the spider, who builds (to itself) a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house;- if they but knew) (Surat Al-Ankabot: 41).

From these verses, the following universal signs can be detected:

(1) Confirmation of the fact that the spider's house is the flimsiest house, whether physically or spiritually. This has been proven by the late studies in zoology.

Following are some of the expositors' statements to explain the previous verses:

* In abbreviation, Ibn Kathir (May Allah bless his soul) mentioned: "This is an example given by Allah, the Almighty, of the idolaters who revere gods besides Allah. The idolaters hope that those gods will assist them, provide for them, and they turn to them in times of hardship. In this regard, they are like the spider's house, in its weakness and frailty, because by clinging to these gods they are like a person who holds on to a spider's web and does not gain any benefit from that. Had they known this, they would not have taken protectors other than Allah. This is unlike the Muslim believer, whose heart is devoted to Allah and, in addition, does well in following Allah's decrees. The Muslim has grasped the most trustworthy handle, the one that never breaks because of its strength and stability…"

* In Tafsir Al-Jalalain "Al-Jalalain Interpretation" (may Allah bless their souls), which was investigated and commented on by Sheikh Mohamed Kan'an (May Allah bestow good on him), the following was stated: (The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah): idols which they hope will benefit them (is that of the spider, who builds (to itself) a house) in order to lodge in it. (The flimsiest) the weakest (of houses is the spider's house) that does not protect from heat nor cold. The same thing applies to idols which do no good to their worshippers. (If they but knew), they would not have worshipped those idols.

* In Safwat Al-Bayan Lem'any Al-Quran, the following was stated: (The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah…), meaning that the parable of those who worship idols and depend on them, as well as, hope for benefit and meditation of those idols, is that of the spider which builds itself a weak house by its spinning. This house does not protect the spider from the hot or cold weather, nor does it protect from the rain or in times of danger.

* The authors of Al-Montakhab fey Tafsir Al-Quran Al-Karim (may Allah bestow good on them) stated the following:

The talkers of vanities, who follow others than Allah, are similar, in their weakness, frailty, and dependence on others, to the spider which builds itself a house to protect itself. The spider's house is the flimsiest of houses and farthest from being suitable for protection. If those talkers of vanities were people of knowledge and intelligence, they would not have done that.

The Spider from a Scientific Perspective

The spider is an animal of phylum Arthropoda, classified in Class Arachnida, which combines Order Araneida along with other orders including scorpions and mites.

The spider's body is divided into a prosoma where the head is connected to the breast and an undivided opisthosoma which includes the abdomen. The prosoma carries four pairs of legs, two pairs of feelers, and two chelicerae which resemble a pair of pincers or claws that contain the poison glands. The prosoma is separated from the opisthosoma by a thin waist.

An anatomical photograph of silk-making glands

The spider has simple eyes whose number might be eight or less. It is a predator of insects and has a thick skin covered with hair which is shed around 7 to 8 times until it reaches maturity. Zoologists today know more than thirty thousand types of spiders which vary in sizes (from less than a millimeter to ninety millimeters), shapes and colors. Most spiders live in the wild, mostly alone except at times of mating and egg hatching. The spiders' environment extends from sea level to heights of five thousand meters. The spider has three pairs of prominent moving protrusions in the lower abdomen. These protrusions have tiny holes from which the fluid used to make the threads for its house comes out; therefore, they are known as the spinners. This fluid which comes out from a number of special glands to outside the spider's body, through the rear spinners, dries as soon as it is subjected to air. When it dries, various threads are produced which differ in types, length, and strength according to the difference in the producing glands.

A photograph of the spider's threads being produced from the silk glands as if it were a thread factory

The spider might stay in its house, where it practices all life's activities, or it might have a nest or a hideout other than the house, which is connected to the house by a thread known as the trap thread. The spider escapes to this hideout at times of danger.

The Scientific Indications of the Holy Script

First: Referring to the spider in the singular form:

In Lissan Al-Arab, under the subject (ankab), it was mentioned that the (ankaboot "spider") is an animal which weaves in the air, and on the mouth of the well, a flimsy thin web. It is a feminine word, and may have been mentioned in poetry. The spider's house is called (al-akdaba). Al-Feraa said: the spider is feminine, and some Arabs may mention it. The plural form is (al-ankabotat), (al-anakeb), and (al-anakeeb). In Yemen's language, it is (aknabaah), as well as, (ankbaa) and (ankabowah). Sibawayh mentioned (ankabaa) while giving evidence on the addition of ta'a in (ankaboot), so he does not know if it is singular or plural. Ibn Al-A'rabey said" (al-ankab) is for the masculine, and (al-ankaba) is for the feminine. It was said that (al-ankab) is the spider's classification. Al-Ankaboot maybe masculine or feminine. Al-Moubarid said: al-ankaboot is feminine and can be used for the masculine.

Most likely, the term (al-ankaboot) is for the feminine singular, the plural of which is (al-anakeb).

Naming the noble surat with the singular form (Al-Ankaboot "The Spider") indicates the solitary life of this animal, except at times of mating and egg hatching. This can be compared to the two surats Al-Nahel (The Bees) and Al-Namel (The Ants), where the names are plural since these insects live in groups.

Second: In His saying: (Builds to itself a house):

In this noble quranic verse, there is a clear indication that the female spider is the one mainly undertaking the building of the house. Consequently, building the spider's house is a mission shouldered by the female spiders. It is the female which has in its body the glands for secretion of the silk material from which the spider's house is woven. Sometimes, the male spider might take part in helping with the building, repairing or expanding. However, the process of building is mainly feminine. It is here where we find the scientific miracle in Allah's (the Almighty) saying: builds to itself a house.

Third: In the Almighty's saying: (the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house…)

This miraculous quranic script indicates a number of important facts, some of which are:

(1) Physical weakness: The spider's house, from the physical point of view, is the weakest house of all, because it is made out of a number of very delicate silk threads. These threads are interwoven, leaving large separating spaces at most times. Therefore, they do not protect from the heat of the sun, or the extreme cold. These threads do not form adequate shade, nor protect from the rain, storming winds, or the dangers of attackers. This is despite the miraculous building of this house.

(2) The weakness is in the spider's house and not the threads; for the Almighty says (the flimsiest of houses). This is a clear indication that the weakness and frailty are within the spider's house and not the spider's threads. This is a very precise indication. The threads of the spider's house are made of very delicate silk. The thickness of one thread is usually one million of the squared inch, or one part of four thousand parts of the thickness of the ordinary human hair. Despite its delicacy, it is the strongest biological substance known to mankind so far. The silk threads which make up the spider's web are considered stronger than steel, and their strength is surpassed only by the melted quartz. The thin thread stretches to five times its length before it is cut. Therefore, the scientists call it "biological steel" or "bio-steel". It is twenty times stronger than the ordinary metal steel. Its tolerance measures 300,000 pound for the square inch. Hypothetically speaking, should there be a thick rope of the spider's threads, in the size of the thumb, it can easily carry a "jumbo" jet.

(3) Spiritual weakness: The spider's house, spiritually speaking, is the flimsiest of all houses, because it is deprived of all love and kindness, which are the pillars of any happy home. The female, in some types of spiders, kills the male as soon as the fertilization takes place. Being larger in size and more violent, the female kills the male and eats its body. In some cases, the female eats its youngsters mercilessly. In some types, the female dies after fertilizing its eggs, which are usually fostered in a silk bag. When the eggs hatch, spiderlings come out to find themselves in a very crowded place inside the eggs bag. The siblings then start to fight for food, space or both. The brother kills its brother and sister, and the sister kills its sister and brother, until the fight ends with a few spiderlings remaining. These spiderlings shed their skin and tear the eggs bag to come out one after the other with unhappy memories. They all then spread in the surrounding environment. Each female starts to build its house. On the road to achieve this goal, some of the spiderlings die, whereas those who survive repeat the same tragedy. This makes the spider's house the most violent and ruthless house, lacking all forms of kinship. Hence, Allah the Almighty sets it as a parable in its weakness and frailty because it lacks the simplest form of kindness between the husband and wife, the mother and her children, the brother and his siblings, and the sister and her siblings.

Fourth: In His saying: (If they but knew):

These facts were unknown to any human at the time of revelation, and for long centuries thereafter. They have been discovered after extensive studies of the behavior of the spider by hundreds of scientists, for tens of years, until they were realized in the last decades of the twentieth century. That is why our God (Exalted be He) ended the noble verse with His saying (if they but knew).

Consequently, the quranic description of the spider's house as being the flimsiest of all houses; this description which was revealed to an illiterate prophet (PBUH) in a nation with a majority of illiterates, fourteen hundred years ago, is considered a scientific achievement which no sensible person would imagine a source for other than Allah the Creator. Allah is the one who revealed the noble quran with His knowledge to the final Prophet and Messenger. It is Allah who protected the quran in the same language in which it was revealed (the Arabic language) for fourteen or more centuries. Allah will continue to protect the quran until He inherits earth and those who live on it. The quran will remain as evidence on all people till the Day of Judgment. The truth within quran will stand witness to the holy quran being the words of Allah, the Creator. It will also stand witness to the prophet hood and message bestowed on the Final Prophet and Messenger to whom the quran was revealed (PBUH). The Prophet has delivered the message, fulfilled the trust, advised the nation, and struggled in the cause of Allah until his final days. We ask you Allah, the Almighty, to reward him, our Prophet, with the best of the rewards given to a prophet for his works with his ummah, and the best of rewards given to a messenger for the fine fulfillment of his mission. We pray to Allah to bestow on our prophet the right of intercession and superiority and send him (on the Day of Judgment) to the highest standing (in Paradise) which He promised him, for Allah does not break His promises. We end our supplication by praising Allah, and praying to Him to bestow peace and blessing on our Prophet Mohamed, his family, companions and whoever follows his way till the Day of Judgment.

Some Hidden Quranic Signs:

A- The house of the spider is not merely its dwelling place. Being the sticky net it is, it constitutes a trap for flying insects such as flies and others. These insects are a prey on which the spider feeds. Similarly, those idolaters who revere gods besides Allah, and call people to those revered gods, are in fact calling them to an artful trap which leads them to their death and destruction in this life and the afterlife. Allah, the Almighty, said: (Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.) (Surat Al- Nesaa: 48)

B- Warning against those with corrupt invocations who revere others besides Allah, whether money or whim. This warning is issued through indicating their hidden strings with which they hunt their victims. These strings can be money, sex, power, or any other hidden string which destroys the victim once it is trapped.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Anecdote on Repentance

From Imaam ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi's Kitaab at-Tawwaabeen

When Maalik ibn Dinar [the well-known taabi'ee] was asked about the causes of his tawbah [repentance], he said:

"I was a policeman and I was given to drinking. I bought a beautiful slave who gave me a daughter [he named her Faatimah]. I doted over my daughter and when she began to crawl on all fours I grew even fonder of her. Whenever I put a strong drink In front of me she would come to me and pull me away from it, or she would spill it from me. When she completed two years she died. I became consumed with grief over her loss. When the night of mid Sha'baan came - it was the night before Jumu'ah - I stayed home and drank.

I did not pray the 'Isha prayer. Then I had a dream that the Day of Judgment had begun, the Trumpet was blown, the graves gave up their dead, mankind was gathered up, and I was among them. I heard something behind me. I turned around and saw a dragon of indescribable size, blue-black, rushing for me with wide open jaws. I fled in terror. I passed by a Shaykh dressed in spotless clothes, exuding a fragrant smell. I greeted him and he greeted me back. I said to him 'O Shaykh! Protect me from this dragon, and may Allaah protect you!' The Shaykh wept and said: 'I am weak and it is stronger than me, I cannot overcome it. Go quickly, perhaps Allaah will grant you something that will save you from it.'

I turned and resumed my flight. I climbed up onto one of the promontories of the Day of Resurrection overlooking the layers of Hellfire. I looked at the horror they contained and almost fell in for fear of the dragon. But a crier cried out to me: 'Go back! You are not amongst its mates.' His words stilled my fears and I went back. But the dragon again pursued me. I went back to the Shaykh and said: 'O Shaykh! I begged you to protect me from this dragon but you didn't protect me.' Again he wept and said: 'I am weak, but proceed to this mountain. In it are kept the stores (wada'i') of Muslims. If there is something in store (wadi'a) for you, then it will help you.'

I looked and saw a round-shaped mountain of silver topped with domes of hollowed pearl and hanging drapes, and every dome had two large gates of red gold encrusted with emeralds and pearls and overhung with drapes of silk. When I saw the mountain I fled to it with the dragon in hot pursuit. As I approached the mountain one of the angels cried: 'Raise up the veils, open the gates, and look out! Perhaps this wretched one has something in store with you that will save him from his enemy.' At this the veils were lifted, the gates were opened, and out of the palaces came children with faces like full moons.

The dragon was catching up to me and I was near despair. One of the children cried: 'Woe to you! Come and see, all of you! His enemy is very near him.' Whereupon the children came one wave after another and among them was the dear daughter of mine that had died two years before. When she saw me she wept and said: 'My father, by Allaah!' Then she leapt in a carriage of light and came near me with the speed of an arrow. She put her left hand in my right hand and I held onto her. Then she stretched her right hand towards the dragon and it turned around and fled. My daughter bade me sit, then she sat in my lap and began to stroke my beard and said: ' O my father! 'Has not the time come for those who believe, that their hearts become humble in the remembrance of Allaah?' (57:16).' I began to weep and said: 'O my daughter, you children know the Qur'aan?' She replied: 'My father! We know it better then you.' I said to her: 'Tell me about the dragon which wanted to destroy me.' She said: 'Those were your evil deeds which you built up and strengthened, and they wanted to take you to the Hellfire.' I asked: 'What about the Shaykh I passed by?' She replied: 'O my father, those were your righteous deeds, you made them weak until they were no match for your evil deeds.' I said: 'O my daughter! What are you all doing in this mountain?' she said: 'We are the children of Muslims, we have been given this dwelling until the Hour rises. We wait whatever you send forth to us, and we intercede for you.'

Then I awoke in a start and saw that morning had come. I flung the potion (alcohol) from me and shattered the drinking cups, and I repented to Allaah and that was the reason for my repentence."


I have also heard it said that when Maalik ibn Dinaar awoke, he was screaming, 'the time has indeed come, the time has indeed come!!' [in response to the ayah quoted by his daughter], and that he then made ghusul and went to pray fajr at the masjid, intending repentance, and that when he walked into the masjid, he found the imaam reading that very ayah, " Has not the time come for those who believe, that their hearts become humble in the remembrance of Allaah?", and he repented.

I know that many Muslims are struggling with this regard so inshAllah may they renew their intentions to repent and seek the mercy of Allah (SWT).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Islam Youngest Muslim Reverts in The World. Children in England Turn To Islam

I saw this amazing video at WWW.TURNTOISLAM.COM ... the site has some other great Videos and Downloads.

This is an Islamic Documentary featuring a group of children in a North England city who are attracted to Islam and spend much of their time at the mosque near there home.

My own thoughts on this video is that first: SubhanAllah, its quite beautiful to see such devotion at a time when most children are obsessed with video games and idle talk.

Second, the documentary shows how there are underlying tensions between Muslims (mostly South Asians) and the English as you can see the white child being called a 'gohra' and in response they have created their own slang to use; 'paki not porki'

Overall, I found the documentary very nicely done - the filmakers didnt try to force an image and let it flow.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Food for Thought, Food for Marriage?

Male 55 yr, Female 11 yr, are just married.

Stop: before you think of anything that may come to mind (i.e. this is wrong, how could this happen, etc) -

Consider this: Afghanistan is arguably one of the most dangerous places in the world which has an average life expentacy of 43 years (male and female), has virtually no economy (unless you count exporting opium and heroin), tribal warlord ruled country (the US considers it a democracy - which it helped create).

Child Brides article

Just so you know, the article says that, "Husbands are not ordinarily old enough to be their wives' fathers or grandfathers, but such February-September couples as those pictured here are hardly rare either."

the choice for the poor family in Afghanistan: if boy, sell into bondage; if girl, get her married.
"Fathers then were especially keen to convert their daughters into brides. It was a way to deliver the girl from hunger — and a way to at least temporarily ward off famine for the rest of the family. Young boys were sold into bondage with the same painful practicality."

Economic Sense or Oppressive Nonsense?:
well, lets apply that to afghan society... the people are starving to death, more than half the country is under poverty line... so economist would say it is sensible transaction.
Feminist beg to differ - this would the height of anger for them. I remember many feminist who were critical of the Taliban over their treatment of women - flashforward today: regime change to democracy yet same situation in society.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nice Video

I saw this and I thought it was nice for them to show how people can still take time out for Salah and still enjoy themselves.