Friday, 30 May 2014

World Hijab Day Nazma Khan

King Faisal Death 1975 وفاة الملك فيصل

Buddhism For Sale

Buddhism is the world’s most fashionable religion. Men and women of the affluent West are seen seeking relief from their living anxieties, in Buddhist practices like meditation and Zen craft. This trend goes along with an increasing decline in Christian Church attendances in these parts of the world.
The popularity of Buddhism in the West is observed across social strata. The intellectual types have abandoned creation theories and beliefs in a supervising God. They cannot make sense of the prevalence of evil, deprivation and acute injustice in the world on the assumption of the old dogma of a compassionate God.  The more angst-ridden lower classes look to Buddhism with a different emphasis. Overall, the appeal of Buddhism in the West is not so much for the religion’s metaphysic or its philosophy as defined by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path nor to the religion’s myriad rituals like worship of Bo trees, transference of merit and Pirith but to the facets mentioned above. In the Buddhist portfolio of the West broader Indian practices like Yoga are also incorporated.
The sight of a monk in saffron robes walking elegantly with head downcast has optional appeal to the run down sense of spirituality in the West.  Consequently in the West, Buddhism sells like skin care products and perfumes. The Age newspaper of May 26th this year carried an interesting story about fake monks who have entered the army of salespeople and who were seen in the streets of the busy Melbourne CBD. For the benefit of readers who have missed this story I reproduce it as follows:
“Dodgy Buddhist monks wearing robes that hide tracksuit pants and runners are scamming Melburnians and visitors to the CBD, Consumer Affairs says.
Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Buddhist Council of Victoria warned on Monday of conmen dressing as Buddhist monks and asking for money in exchange for prayer beads, amulets and spiritual guidebooks.
Swinburne University student Tara Siri, 21, said she was walking with friends down Spring Street last month when a “monk” approached them bowing his head and smiling, before pushing a plastic hologram picture of Buddha into her friend’s hand and asking for cash.
“First she was like ‘Oh, I don’t have any money’ but then he kept smiling and handing her the picture. She got out her wallet and handed out $2, but he wanted more. He really put the peer pressure on,” Miss Siri said.
She also noticed the clothes underneath the smiling assassin’s robes deviated from the traditional wear.
“He had … tracksuit pants and sneakers on,” Miss Siri said.
“They’re taking advantage of people’s first impressions. The reputation of Buddhist monks is really positive, you’d have no reason to doubt someone who would come and do that.”
Greg Campbell, 46, sells The Big Issue on the corner of Exhibition and Bourke streets and has noticed gangs of monks harassing pedestrians towards Elizabeth and Swanston streets.
It’s an area where charity collectors are hard to avoid and far from being annoyed about money that would otherwise go to reputable organisations like his own, Mr Campbell said he just feels sorry for the people who donate to them.
“It embarrasses people, they feel they have to give money,” he said.
Buddhist Council spokeswoman Susan Wirawan, who has also been approached, said the organisation has received numerous complaints in the past six months.
“Monks do go out on the road and looks for alms, but usually they accept food. They don’t go out soliciting (money),” Ms Wirawan said.
“They’re not good practicing Buddhists. If they were they would understand the teaching of Buddha is quite against that; using your Buddhism to make profit.”
A Consumer Affairs spokeswoman said they had received a number of complaints in the past six months and if people had doubts about a charity’s legitimacy they should donate directly to organisations, rather than to people collecting on the street.”
Readers would note how the Australian Government’s supervising body-Consumer Affairs- has also been alerted.
Outside the West and in areas more native to Buddhism like Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka the religion is firmly established over centuries of indoctrination and socialization. To the vast majority of people in these countries the Buddhist religion is the “normal” lifestyle and it is unquestioned on that score. Theoretically and as exemplified in the Kalama Sutta Buddhism is the most tolerant of all religions and it has been without any record of violence to other faiths. Kalama Sutta invokes critical thinking and the scientific method in arriving at judgments. In practice it has been a different story. The indoctrination process has been linked to the limbic and emotional regions of the minds of followers so much so that anyone expressing opinions contrary to the socially accepted views is likely to meet with hostility in countries like Sri Lanka.  A Salaman Rushdie on Buddhism is not likely to have his head hunted down; yet he could be put into a very difficult situation.  Much before Salaman, we had the erudite Professor Tambiah who wrote a book captioned, “Buddhism Betrayed.”  That man is still being smeared. In these gory days of the Bodu Bala Senawa and Ravana Balakaya competing established faiths are living on edge fearing the Buddhist Gestapo anytime and every time. The government does not want to be perceived as being hostile to the lawlessness of these blood hounds because government has to sell itself.
In this way Buddhism is simply everywhere in Lanka. This means that any person, politician or product to be marketed will have to be at least consistent with the socially constructed version of the faith. A person, in other words, must  market himself/herself along with the Buddhist ethos.  This gives rise to fake monks of a different kind that wholesale and retail the Buddhist religion.  In Sinhala language one has heard expressions such as “Buddhagama vikunan kanawa” The other day a notorious druggie was featured in a newspaper giving awards at a Daham Pasela!
Within our Maha Sanga itself there are rich and powerful monks that form a separate affluent class of their own. They acquire their wealth by selling Buddhism for political power. The upper class monks try and cultivate their public images to seem like the Buddha himself. They want to be apart from the ordinary rank and file and they give more distinctive and unique names for their abodes. One such monk resides not in a temple but in an “Asapuwa.”  These upper classes of monks officiate at Danes and Banas of the rich, famous, and powerful men and women.  They travel about in luxury cars to these venues and the show they put on makes ordinary laymen genuflect before these holies just at the sight of them. Duty-free allowances are their right. As a young man, I once visited the prosperous late Buddharakhita Thero (who later died as a jailbird) and found to my amazement bottles of whisky and other rich liquors in his private chambers. This man openly slept with a woman Minister. Among this genre of fake monks there are those who have chosen parliamentary careers and enjoy massive perks and privileges so much that they don’t want to play a more assertive role as guides or mentors to the rotten lay MPs. They have become docile adjuncts of the powers that are. The late Revd Gangodawila Soma virtually lived by selling Buddhism. He met with his untimely demise in an act of presenting for a Russian PhD a tiny book he had written long ago. A franchise chain of Buddhist monks are operative with temples in many countries.  Dear reader, we admit there are thousands of genuine (Arya) monks in rural enclaves who live in humble purity. This majority are swamped by the high profile opportunists in Colombo power circles. The outside world would tend to identify Lankan Buddhism with the play of  the latter practitioners.
While the true Buddhism is being ripped apart by charlatans and put up for sale The Ministry of the Buddha Sasana watches  on impotently.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

This Race-War Is More Appalling Than The Dutugamunu-Elalan Conflict

By Kumar David -
Dr. Kumar David
Dr. Kumar David
Five years after the racial civil-war: This race-war is more appalling than the Dutugamunu-Elalan conflict
The war that ended five years ago was a race-war. I do not say this as a hard, cold fact; I have no patience with euphemisms. Let’s call a spade a spade. In my judgement 99% of Sinhalese longed for the defeat and obliteration of the LTTE and the death of Prabaharan; 90% were convinced that the Tamils had no problem and that an armed struggle was unjustified. That’s plain vanilla Fact-1. I also know that at the height of the LTTE’s popularity two-thirds or more of Tamils empathised with it. Tamils were and are convinced that they were and are an oppressed, discriminated minority, that peaceful attempts and political avenues ended in a blind alley, and that the LTTE, by taking to arms, wisely or unwisely, was at last standing up for them. Face it, that’s Tamil opinion; plain vanilla Fact-2. Whether you are Sinhalese or Tamil face it, most lousy Lankans are racists.
The Dutugamunu-Elalan conflict was not a race-war to anything like this extent, his purported para-demaluremark notwithstanding. My understanding of ancient history is drawn from standard sources and I see nothing akin to today’s racism in the second century BC. Dutugamunu’s campaign was to unify a fragmented country and the war with Elalan was an element in that strategy. His reign, as best as I can work out from standard sources, was one of material prosperity and concord. The period leading up to, and his reign itself (161-137 BC), cannot be likened to the racism of post-independence Lanka. The Mahavamsa, put together in the 5-th Century AD, projected what is now know as the Mahavamsa Ideology, backwards to a time in which it did not belong. Remember the punitive invasion of Raja Raja Cholan was much later in 993AD and an entirely different story.
Conversely, post-independence Lanka has witnessed sustained racial tension; what ended in 2009 was a 25-year race-war. This story of our times is different for three reasons; its causes and origins, its methods and prosecution and its present status (the inability of the races to reach settlement). Let’s take a cold look at the facts and make an assessment of future prospects on this the fifth anniversary of the victory of the Sinhalese race over the Tamil race. Yes I know that I am being deliberately provocative in choice of words, hence my opponents for the duration of this essay will be sloppy bless-their-hearts do-gooders and softie liberals without stomach for indigestible facts. The world is awash with good people, like my lovely aunts, who imagine that shielding their eyes from evil extinguishes it.
Causes and conduct
I have no intention of inventorying a catechism of complaints and counter complaints, I will only take stock of matters that obstruct a political solution or transform the options. Prime place I give to the state in Lanka which has mutated into a full-fledged Sinhala-State. I don’t use this identifier today as a term of criticism, simply a description. To recap quickly, its main features are; a de facto mono-ethnic government, a literally mono-ethnic armed force, alienation of Tamils, provisions in the constitution, and probably most important the hegemonic ideology of state and society. Mutation from the old comprador order occurred over time from 1948 and reached a zenith and plateaued before year 2000. The Rajapakse regime resides on that plateau and because of its quintessential nature and support structures it cannot climb down from the gum tree it is foist on.
Vigilantes ‘inspect’ Muslim business premises in Colombo
Vigilantes ‘inspect’ Muslim business premises in Colombo
Jumping across the intermediate lamentations to what is relevant to my topic, the other key  factor is that, for better for worse, the LTTE on behalf of the Tamils undertook a civil war to secede and form a Tamil state. The Tamils lost the war but nothing else has changed. The nature of the state, hegemonic ideology of state and society, and the Tamil condition of mind (conviction that they are an alienated people) all remain unaltered; this has no parallel with 161 BC. The Tamils are now stuck up another gum tree, one they have been driven up; I see no possibility of their clambering down.
The conduct of hostilities during the half century of violence, not just war, starting in the late 1950s (pogroms, military repression, terrorism of many sorts by both sides, and a no holds barred civil war) and extending to May 2009, and still persisting in a minor key, has been more virulent than anything in Lanka’s previous history. Even the brutal scorched earth policy the British let loose in the Uva after the 1918 rebellion was not sustained for years and years.
Thus we have two negative factors; institutional transformations that occurred over half a century that make an ethnic settlement extremely difficult (pessimists would say impossible), and secondly scars of conflict that make forgiveness and reconciliation grim and unlikely. The DNA of the Rajapakse Government is so screwed that, in my view, a political settlement between Sinhalese and Tamil peoples is out of the question so long as it remains in office. However this piece looks at a long timeframe, beyond the happy day when this lot is booted out. The question then is: Once rid of this obstacle and say with a flexible alternative in office, will ethnic reconciliation and political settlement be feasible? One-state with internal autonomy, or two living side by side in peace are both perfectly acceptable. Who cares so long as there is peace and people are content!
Is there reason to presume that closure and peace, on either a one-state with devolution, or a two-state basis is possible in the foreseeable future? Only an inflexible pedant will assert that both are impossible, but also it is simple minded to discount the difficulties impeding both. At the risk of being called a pessimist I veer towards seeing both as difficult, even after that bright and sunny day on which at last we see the back of the Rajapakses. Current events in Ukraine add to my pessimism, but I must make an assertion before that.
Let me make it absolutely clear that when the road seems difficult and the path steep, no way should we abandon the struggle or relax our commitment. In political as in personal life, at times challenges are grim, at other times it seems easy, but in either circumstance the grind must go on.  The world can always be made at least a little better, whatever its current state. But we must approach the task as realists, not wide-eyed idealists.
Why Ukraine has made me pessimistic
Disaster was starring the post-coup government in Kiev in the face, unless it was prepared to relax its refusal to grant autonomy to the three Russian speaking eastern provinces, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. Differences had been aggravating over many years due to a Centre led campaign to push the Ukrainian language into prominence putting Russian speakers, in their opinion, at a disadvantage. When political instability set in after the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 these provinces took their opportunity to up the ante and press their demands. Autonomy was replaced by a demand from federalism and as confrontation escalated a self-determination referendum was held in Donetsk and Luhansk on 11 May. It secured thumping majorities. The post-coup government was unable to quickly devolve substantial power and defuse rising tension because it was under the sway of extremist forces (Svaboda and Right Sector). The presence of massed Russian troops on the other side of the border ruled out a crushing military strike by Kiev against the rebellious provinces.
Teaching minorities a lesson with impunity
Teaching minorities a lesson with impunity
To my mind the parallels with Lanka are striking, so are certain crucial differences. The big difference is that the role of Russia is markedly different from any potential role of India in Lanka. The boldness and the declaration of rights by Donetsk and Luhansk and the annexation of Crimea would have been impossible without tacit Russian support in the first two and Russian intervention in the third. Unlike in the case of Lanka, foreign influence in the Ukraine is contradictory and pulling in different directions – the West versus Russia.
Many other parts of the storyline, however, seem weirdly similar; festering differences on language, (Sinhala-Only, Speak-Ukrainian), stubborn refusal to devolve power, rising tensions, extremist movements with the ability to exert veto powers over the government, and the obvious loss of moral legitimacy of the government in both countries. (In the Ukraine the post-coup regime in Kiev has no constitutional legitimacy either). The 90% pro self-determination ballot on 11 May in Donetsk and Luhansk and the 75% voter turnout, is like a rerun of the TNA’s performance in the 2013 northern provincial elections.
The ground for pessimism is that Lanka is stuck with the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, internal conditions are not merely bad, but worse than Ukraine. Over there they did not fight a 25 year civil-war and the Ukrainian state was never a rabid mono-ethnic monster. On the other hand the possibility of a two-state solution is near impossible in Lanka because there is no way India will play an active interventionist role as Russia did, both openly (Crimea) and obliquely in the eastern provinces. This is why most likely we are stuck in a chasm between the devil and the deep blue sea with no light visible at either end of the tunnel. A small candle will light up when we get rid of the Rajapakses, but that could still be a year or two away.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Meaning of the hadeeth: “Whoever prays Fajr will be under the protection of Allaah”

Meaning of the hadeeth: “Whoever prays Fajr will be under the protection of Allaah”

What is the meaning of the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation willbe under the protection of Allaah”? How can I be under the protection of Allaah?
If a man prays at home in congregation with his wife, is it the same as the prayer in congregation that is mentioned in the hadeeth?.

Praise be to Allaah.Muslim (657) narrated that Jundub ibn ‘Abd-Allaah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays Fajr is under the protection of Allaah, so do not fall short with regard to the rights of Allaah, for anyone who does that, Allaah will seize him and will throw him on his face into the Fire of Hell.”
Al-Teebi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The reason why Fajr prayer is singled out for mention here is because of the hardship that it entails, and performing it is a sign of a man’s sincerity and faith, and whoever is a sincere believer is under the protection of Allaah. Sharh Mishkaat al-Masaabeeh by al-Teebi (2/184).
There are two scholarly views on the meaning of the hadeeth:
1 – The hadeeth indicates that it is forbidden to harm any Muslim who prays Fajr, for the one who prays Fajr is under the care and protection of Allaah, and it is not permissible for anyone to harm the one whom Allaah has protected. If anyone harms him, he has transgressed and violated the protection of Allaah, so he deserves the punishment of Allaah for having transgressed His protection and for harming the one who is under His protection. See Fayd al-Qadeer by al-Manaawi (6/164).
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Sharh Riyaadh al-Saaliheen (1/591):
This indicates that it is obligatory to respect the Muslims who affirm their Islam by praying Fajr, because no one offers Fajr prayer but a believer. And it is not permissible for anyone to transgress against them. End quote.
This is also indicated by the report narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Awsat (4/5) with his isnaad. Al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Targheeb (1/110): it is saheeh because of corroborating reports.
It was narrated that al-A’mash said: Saalim ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar was sitting with al-Hajjaaj and al-Hajjaaj said to him: Get up and strike this person’s neck. Saalim picked up the sword and took hold of the man, and headed towards the gate of the palace. Then his father looked at him when he was taking this man out and said: Is he really going to do it? He repeated it two or three times, and when he took him out, Saalim said to him: Did you pray Fajr? He said: Yes. He said: Then take whichever path you want. Then he came and threw down the sword and al-Hajjaaj said to him: Did you strike his neck? He said: No. He said: Why not? He said: I heard my father say: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays Fajr is under the protection of Allaah until evening comes.”
2 – What is meant by the hadeeth is a warning against abandoning or neglecting Fajr prayer, because abandoning it is a transgression of the covenant between a person and his Lord. This covenant is prayer and regular performance of prayer.
Al-Baydaawi said: It may be that what is meant by protection is that prayer brings security (from the punishment of Allaah), so what is meant is: Do not abandon Fajr prayer, and do not be heedless about it, lest you break the covenant that exists between you and your Lord, and Allaah seizes you, for whomever He seizes He will throw on his face into the Fire. That is because Fajr prayer is somewhat difficult and burdensome. So performing it is a sign of the believer’s sincerity, and the one who is sincere is under the protection of Allaah. End quote from Fayd al-Qadeer (6/164).
Some scholars are of the view that the virtue of entering the protection of Allaah that is mentioned in this hadeeth applies only to the one who prays Fajr in congregation. Hence al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) gave it the title, in his editing of Saheeh Muslim, of “Chapter on the virtue of praying ‘Isha’ and Fajr in congregation.” He was preceded in that by al-Mundhiri (may Allaah have mercy on him), who quoted the hadeeth in his book al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb under the heading “Encouragement to pray Fajr and ‘Isha’, in particular, in congregation, and a warning against staying away from them.”
This apparently is what Imam Muslim did, as he narrated nearly twenty ahaadeeth before this hadeeth, and umpteen ahaadeeth after it, all of them speaking about prayer in congregation and related matters.
Hence al-Haafiz ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Ishbeeli narrated it in his compilation of al-Saheehayn, in a chapter entitled “Prayer in congregation” (923).
Al-Mubaarakfoori quoted the same hadeeth in Sharh al-Tirmidhi, where he said: “The one who prays Fajr” in congregation. End quote.
Ibn ‘Allaan said in Daleel al-Faaliheen (3/550): i.e., prayer in congregation, as mentioned in the other report.
This is supported further by the hadeeth of Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him): “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation will be under the protection of Allaah …” al-Haythami (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (2/92): Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and its men are the men of saheeh. Al-Mundhiri said in al-Targheeb: the men of its isnaad are the men of saheeh. Al-Albaani said: It is saheeh because of corroborating evidence. See: Saheeh al-Targheeb, no. 461.
Note: This additional material was quoted by al-Manaawi also, and he attributed it to Muslim, but this is a mistake on his part. The additional word “in congregation” is not found in Muslim, or in any of the six books.
And it was said that the virtue is attained by everyone who prays Fajr on time, even if he does not pray with the congregation, because no such limitation is mentioned in the report of Muslim or any other author of the six books.
This appears to be the meaning understood by Ibn Maajah (may Allaah be pleased with him) as he included this hadeeth in his Sunan in a chapter entitled “The Muslims are under the protection of Allaah,” in Kitaab al-Fitan.
This was also suggested by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (6/36): “Chapter affirming the protection of Allaah for the one who prays Fajr.” This applies to all those who pray.
3 – The prescribed prayer in congregation that is enjoined and brings the reward is prayer in congregation in the mosque, and not any other congregation. This has been explained in detail in questions no. 8918,49947 and 72398.
There are several reports that speak of the virtue of offering Fajr prayer in congregation:
In Tafseer al-Tabari (3/270), in the commentary on the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “and those who pray and beg Allaah’s Pardon in the last hours of the night” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:17], it is narrated that Zayd ibn Aslam said: They are the ones who attend Fajr in congregation.
In their commentary on the verse “Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope” [al-Sajdah 32:16], Abu’l-Darda’ and al-Dahhaak said: ‘Isha’ and Fajr prayer in congregation.
See: Zaad al-Maseer (6/339)
In Saheeh Muslim (656) it is narrated from ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays ‘Isha’ in congregation, it is as if he spent half the night in prayer, and whoever prays Fajr in congregation, it is as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”
Al-Bukhaari (615) and Muslim (437) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If they knew what there is (of reward) in ‘Isha’ and Fajr prayer, they would come to them even if they had to crawl.”
‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: To attend Fajr prayer in congregation is dearer to me than spending the night in prayer. Al-Istidhkaar (2/147).
And Allaah knows best.