12.16.08

Poem to Celebrate Eid Al-Ghadeer

Posted in Islam, Poetry at 11:26 pm by Haider

This is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago to celebrate Eid Al-Ghadeer, which marks the occasion when Prophet Mohammed (peace be on him and his family) gathered all the Muslims who performed the pilgrimage with him in a place called Ghadeer Khum, and appointed Imam Ali (peace be on him) as his successor.

The occasion isn’t disputed by the various Muslim sects, but its significance and meaning is interpreted differently. The Shi’a, on one hand, believe it to be the appointement of Imam Ali as the successor to the Prophet, whereas Sunni Muslims generally regard it as an assertion of companionship.

Today is the anniversary of the occasion, so I thought I would share it on the blog :)

Celebrating Ghadeer

I begin in my Lord’s name
And without feeling guilt or shame
Raise my voice in His praise,
In remembrance of His days.

Best of all the days held dear
Is the blessed day of Ghadeer
And read this poem to celebrate
This joyous event and momentous date!

No other day is more renowned,
Ali was in the heavens crowned
Chosen by God to succeed
The holy Prophet, and to lead.

It’s a day when believers rejoice
God’s wisdom and His noble choice
To appoint a righteous, just Imam
For the sake of the Muslims and Islam.

When the Prophet, in the scorching heat
Waited for all Muslims to meet
In Ghadeer that it be shown
Who will succeed him, and be known:

“Whosoever takes me as his master,
Without Ali will face disaster.
God’s religion is now complete
And His favour will be your treat.”

The hypocrites were quick in their frowning
At Ali’s illustrious crowning
Why this delay? Why all this fuss?
Isn’t Ali just one of us?

I ask in return where have they been?
Do they know Ali, have they not seen?
He was the foremost in faith and deeds
Tending to all the Prophet’s needs.

He understood Islam as it should be
From sin and vice he was free
Without him Islam’s message is lost
Our prosperity will be the cost.

With these words I mark my stand,
And place my hand in Ali’s hand.

11.09.08

Defining the Meaningless

Posted in Islam, Language, Politics at 8:57 am by Haider

In my last post, I gave an example of the use of meaningless words in political discourse. But this post is slightly more controversial. It touches on issues that many find too sensitive to talk about, and do not usually direct their focus towards, because they’re too afraid of what they will discover.

Using meaningless terms in politics is one thing, but basing one’s religious views on meaningless statements is far more damaging. The sad fact is, this is a very common practice, and one that goes completely unnoticed in our midst.

Before I present the “touchy” example I would like to talk about, let’s begin with a not-so-controversial example, so I can define what I mean when I say that words can be “meaningless.”

If I was to say: “I stand for justice,” you won’t find it difficult to understand the statement. You will know that by “justice” I mean being fair and respecting people’s rights. After all, that’s what justice means. You might, at first, think that my statement is clear and quite meaningful. But you’ll soon realise that you have no clue what I mean.

Why?

Because I haven’t told you what I believe “fairness” means, and what I think “people’s rights” are. The statement is meaningless because it can have opposite meanings. “Justice” is a term used by every political party to describe the policies it advocates. For capitalists, capitalism is just, and communism is unjust. For communists, capitalism is unjust, and communism is just. Each has his own definition of justice. In order to understand my statement, you’d have to know what I mean by justice, and how my worldview translates into practical policies.

It’s just as meaningless as saying: “I have opinions,” because you haven’t stated what your opinions are (unless you’re trying to distinguish yourself from chimps).

For a statement to be meaningful, its relation to reality must be clear. In our example of justice, it is important to associate the word with the principles and practices I support, so you can know whether you support my view of justice or not. Without this clarification, the word “justice” doesn’t have a clear reference.

So how does this tie in with religious views?

Take the following statement: “Islam is compatible with human nature.”

While Muslims the world over pride themselves on following the only religion that’s compatible with human nature, they overlook the fact that they don’t know what “human nature” is in the first place!

Many Muslims haven’t stopped to think what human nature means, while others have come to define human nature according to their understanding of Islam (when it should be the other way around)! Either of the two ways, you can replace “Islam” in the above statement with the name of any other religion you wish.

To make the statement meaningful: How would you define human nature? How did you come to define it this way? And in what ways is Islam compatible with human nature?

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