Tuesday, June 22, 2010

(2) Early Life Of Muhammad Before Becoming The Messenger Of God

By Sodium

Perhaps,the best way to provide a clear picture of the early life of Muhammad,before he became the messenger of God,would be to do it in a chronological order:

570 A.D was the year in which Muhammad was born in the city of Mecca. His father was Abdullah bin Al-Muttalib and his mother was Amina bint Wahb. His father died at age of 25 and while Amina was pregnant with Muhammad. His mother took care of him until Muhammad reached the age of six when she took him to the city of Yathrib, (Medina now), an oasis town, approximately 280 miles north of Mecca. Amina, his mother wanted to stay with relatives so that Muhammad could pay visits to his father grave in Yathrib.

575 A.D is the year when Muhammad became an orphan, since his mother died on their way back to Mecca. In order to comprehend the difficulty in traveling 280 miles at that time is to remember that the travel was done on camels. She was buried in a small town called Abha, a place located between Mecca and Yathrib. Halima, his nursing maid took him to his grandfather, Abdul Al-Muttalib who was the most respected elder in Mecca,and who "presided over Mecca's Council of Elders". His grandfather was happy to have him as a substitute for the loss of his own son,Muhammad's father. From his grandfather, Muhammad learned the fundamental principles of statecraft.

578 A.D is the year when Muhammad's grandfather died. Muhammad was about eight years old. Muhammad had ended up in care of his uncle, Abu Talib. Abu Talib was a rather powerful figure in Mecca and hence Muhammad was under the protection of his father's brother, Abu Talib, for many years. It seems to me that because of his loss of his father, mother and grandfather, at such a tender age and living so many years as an orphan the following verses appeared in the Qur 'an after Muhammed became the Messenger of God:

"Amma Al-Yateema Fla Tunhar",translation:

Amma means but.

Al-Yateema means the orphan.

Fla means do not,or better yet, you must not.

Tunhar has several meanings: reject, belittle or insult or condemn.

The net and acceptable translation is the following:

"But the orphan you must not reject, belittle, insult or condemn".

In another verses of the Qur'an, the following already translated Sorah,(Picture or description) about the orphan:

"Did God not find you an orphan and give you shelter and care? And He found you wandering and gave you guidance. And He found you in need, and made you independent".

580-594 A.D. those are the years Muhammad spent as a teen ager, in which he worked as a shepherd to help his uncle, Abu Talib, who was a merchant of modest means. He also used to travel with his uncle as far away from Mecca as Syria, in business trips. The older merchants observed his honesty and conscientious behaviors and as a result they started calling him "Al-Ameen" which meant/means the honest one or the one worth trusting. The following story about Muhammad as a young man may attest to the intelligence and fairness of "Al-Ameen":

One day, after cleaning the Ka'b'a, the tribes of Mecca could not agree on which tribe should have the honor and prestige for raising the black stone to the roof of the Ka'b'a and they could not agree. Some of the wise men of the tribes suggested that in order to avoid bloodshed between the tribes, all tribes accept the verdict of the first man appears on entering the steps of the Ka'b'a. They all agreed and they all anxiously waited. All of the sudden "Al-Ameen",Muhammad appeared entering the Ka'ba's facilities complex. Every tribe was pleased it was "Al-Ameen" who would decide which tribe should raise the stone to the top of the Ka'ba. The leaders of the various tribes told "Al-Ameen" what they had already agreed and would accept his decision. Muhammad,"Al-Ameen" asked for time to think. Given. After a while he asked the leaders to bring him a carpet large enough for the purpose he had in mind. The carpet was brought. And then he asked the stone to be rolled into the middle of the carpet. It was done. Then he asked every tribe to choose one of its men to hold the carpet by part of its edges. Every tribe chose their own man.Then Muhammad asked them to raise the carpet, carrying the stone, all together and at one upward movement to the top of the Ka'ba. So it was done and the bloodshed was avoided and every tribe was pleased and honored by "Al-Ameen"'s intelligent decision.

594 A.D When Muhammad hit early 20 in age he was employed by a wealthy Meccan widow to handle her trading caravans from Mecca to Syria and from Syria to Mecca. The widow's name was Khadija bint Khawalayd. He always brought profits to her. She was impressed by his honesty and good character, she fell in love with him and eventually she proposed marriage and he agreed and they were married in 595. He was then 25 year old and she was 40 year old and they loved each other so dearly. They had six children: two sons who died in infancy and four daughters. They prospered as Mecca prospered.

As it may be seen that Muhammad's life was a happy one and really needed no religious act to disturb it, except that Arabia was in a state of religious flux and a lot of opposing religious forces were in contentions that did not allow the serenity Muhammad,"Al-Ameen",was looking for. About the age of 40, Muhammad started looking for the serenity he felt he needed. He found such a serenity in solitude and meditations in a cave of mount Hir'a, just a walking distance outside Mecca.

Operative words to remember from this rather lengthy essay are the following words:

Mount Hir'a.
Khadija,Muhammad's wife.
Yathrib, (Medina,now)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

(1) Arabia Before Appearance Of Islam.

By Sodium

In ancient time, Arabia used to include not only present-day Saudi Arabia,but also the current political entities of United Arab Emirates, State of Qatar, Sultanate Oman, Kuwait, Yemen and possibly western and southern Iraq where the Christian Ghasanite Arabs lived and also in southern Jordan where the Nabetean Arabs lived in their marvelous city of Petra. The ruin of Petra in southern Jordan is considered, now, one of the Seven Wonders Of The World. While the writer of this essay was stationed in Amman,Jordan in 1970's and 1980's, he had the opportunity to pay several visits, on different occasions, to Petra, along with his family. The more he visited Petra, the more he had/has become fascinated by its structural engineering that was all designed and built in rocks from beginning to end. The canals that where built in rocks to collect raining water had, indeed, a stroke of human genius.

Perhaps, that's why it took the Roman Empire so long to conquer Petra in spite of a very lengthy siege!

The whole point behind mentioning the geography of Arabia is to stress the fact that it was much bigger than nowadays Saudi Arabia and it embodied different tribes of Arabs, some of whom were Christians, (The Ghasanites tribes), and some tribes were Pagans like the Nebetean Arabs of Petra. Some were Jewish Arab tribes,(five tribes),who dwelled in Yathrib, (Medina now), and in the town of Khaybar of ancient Arabia.

It is well known that Yemen was also inhabited by Arab tribes who built well advanced civilization, especially in agriculture. The coffee that billions of human beings enjoy its aroma and taste every morning was first discovered and brewed in Yemen.

As it may be seen that the most advanced civilization occurred at the edges of the Arabian peninsula, while the inside center of Arabia was inhabited by Arab tribes who were waging tribal wars, against one another, for survival, since scarcity of water and green fields for grazing for their domestic animals were rare. Therefore, such tribal warfare is usually caused by a dispute over a well of water or grazing right on a rather slightly greener field. The most eminent factor behind such a tribal warfare was simply the harshness of their geographical and climatical environment, under which sustenance of life was extremely difficult to maintain.

However, central Arabia was inhabited by two kind of Arabs: Arabs who dwelled in cities like Mecca and Yathrib, (it is now called Medina), and Arabs who lived in tents in the harsh Arabian desert. In order to bear the harshness of the desert, all Arabs had to follow unwritten code of social behavior taught to them at a tender age from generation to the next. Such a code is called " muruwah ," written and pronounced also as, " muru,ah. It is very important to understand what "muruwah" means in order to comprehend the ethics of the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula.

"Muruwah" meant a combination of things to all inhabitants of ancient Arabia:

~ It meant generosity.

~ It meant courage.

~ It meant patience.

~ It meant endurance.

~ It meant protecting the weaker members of the tribe or clan.

~ It meant adherence firmly to the determination to avenge any wrong doing done to the tribe.

~ It meant defying an enemy to the tribe.

~ It meant preserving the honor of the tribe.

~ It meant to be ready,at a short notice,to leap for the defense of relatives.

~ It meant obeying the order of the chief,with no question asked.

The central points behind all of the above are to remember at all time the following three realities of the harsh desert:

* Selfishness in hoarding foods and water by the wealthy Arabs was absolutely un- acceptable while others went thirsty and hungry. Therefore, a tribesman must be " karim," also written as " kareem, " meaning,  " generous. "

* Today's rich tribe may very easily ends up destitute tomorrow.

* No Arab adhering firmly to his "muruwah" will help another Arab, if the latter was terribly stingy and violated the unwritten code of "muruwah" in good days.

That was the human conditions in which Muhammad ibn Abdullah was born: Tribal warfare, the unwritten code of "muruwah", with different kind of religions, ranging from Christianity, mostly at the edges of Greater Arabia and Yemen to Judaism, mostly in the city of Yathrib, (Medina now),to paganism in the city of Mecca and fabulous Nebatean city of Petra, and to some Arab tribes worshipping the Sun and Moon.

The Arabs who did not follow Christianity or Judaism called their Christian and Jewish fellow Arabs: " The People Of The Book, " in reference to the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jewish Arabs and Christian Arabs respectively adhered to.

Arabia was religiously in a state of flux, since most Arabs had no book to follow like their Christian and Jewish minority of Arabs that lived in Greater Arabia, although they passionately were loyal to their goddesses that were kept in the Kab'ah, the holy cubic block of Black stone in the center of Mecca whose master was Qurraysh, the most powerful Arab tribe in all Arabia. Quraysh is Muhammad 's tribe that wanted to kill him, as we shall see later on.

From all of the foregoing, it is suggested to remember the following operative words:

Greater Arabia,
Tribal warfare,
muruwah and what it meant.
The People Of The Book,
The city of Mecca,
The city of Yathrib, (Medina now),
The powerful tribe of Quraysh.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Islam As Understood By An Agnostic.

Although the news coming out from the Middle East,especially from the website of Al-Jazeera(www.aljazerra.net)can keep this website busy just commenting on the news being reviewed,I have chosen to start a series of reviews about Islam that may prove more productive and beneficial to those who have already expressed genuine desire to learn more about Islam.

In order to develop an acceptable comprehension of the essence of Islam,one may have to study the various topics or units amout Islam as an integrated whole,not as seperate units perse. In other words,one has to,at least,be familiar with all topics touched by Islam or caused by Islam,in order to understand one topic as it is connected to other topics.

Therefore,the following topics will be outlined and possibly discussed in the next few weeks,hoping a degree of enlightment will be the end result for everyone following these reviews:

(1) Arabia Before The Appearance Of Islam.

(2) Early Life Of Muhammad Before Becoming The Messenger Of God.

(3) How Islam Appeared.

(4) The Five Pillars Of Islam.

(5) The Escape Of Muslims From Mecca to Yathreb(Medina,now).

(6) Al-Muhagireen(The Immigrants) And Al-Ansar(The Supporters).

(7) Muhammad's Triumphant Return To Mecca.

(8) The Language OF The Qura'n.

(9) Interpretation Of The Verses Of The Qura'n.

(10) The Greatness Of Islam.

(11) The Meaning Of Jihad In Islam.

(12) The Status Of Women In Islam.

(13) Islamophobia.

(14) Recommended Reading/References

I shall attempt to be as brief as possible,except where it is necessary to dwell on the topic for badly needed elaborations. I hope I need not do that. I shall see.

If one single,sincere and honest reader or follower of this blog extracts some benefits from the above series,I will be content and will be satisfied,indeed. If no such a reader or follower exists,I will regret the waste of time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Turkey's Erdogan: Hero of the Hour in the Arab/Muslim World

By Sodium

Israel's inhuman blockade of Gaza for the last three years and the late Israeli military operation, in the high sea,35 miles off the coast of Gaza, against Turkish ships carrying humanitarian aids of foods and medicines for the sieged people of Gaza, the result of which were at least 9 peace activists dead ( some news paper put the dead at 16 ) and undisclosed numbers wounded, mostly Turkish nationals, had / has compelled Mr.Ragab Tayyeb Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey to take tough measures against Israel, once upon a time Turkey was an ally to Israel.

Indeed, it is amazing how the political equilibrium can shift so drastically in the shifting sands of the Middle East.

Among Mr. Erdogan's tough measures against Israel's military arrogance are the following steps or issues Mr. Erdogan had / has made publicly clear for the whole world to see and hear:

(1) He ( Mr.Erdogan ) has already canceled the military exercises Turkey was supposed to conduct with Israel military forces.

(2) He has declared publicly that Turkey will never abandon the Palestinians in Gaza as human beings need badly humanitarian assistance.

(3) He has made it clear to Israel that Turkey will never forget the legal status of Jerusalem which in reality negates every illegal steps Israel had / has so far done in East Arab Jerusalem which included kicking the Palestinians from their homes by force of arms and then allow Jews only to live there. The whole purpose of such horrible Israeli actions is to make the Jewish residents in East Jerusalem the majority instead of the current Palestinians majority.

(4) There are newspapers report that Mr. Erdogan may even go further than that and decrease the staff of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv in Israel to the minimum allowed. Same newspapers reported that he may even cancel all business dealings already singed with Israel.

Because of the foregoing reasons, Mr.Erdogan who is Turkish, not an Arab, has all of a sudden become the hero of the hour in the Arab and Muslem world. Based on my reviews of several newspapers in the Arab world, the vast majority of the people in the streets of the Arab world have expressed immense admiration for Mr.Erdogan. One columnist wrote that if Erdogan could run in the schedule elections in Egypt in 2011 and in the Tunis 'election scheduled for 2014,he could / can win in those two Arab countries handily. I may add by land slide. In fact, he can win every election that may be held honestly in every state of the 22 states that make-up the Arab world.

Most likely, the repercussions of the Israeli military actions against the Turkish ships called " Marmara, " carrying humanitarian aids to the people of Gaza will not be over for some times to come. Already some steps have already taken in Europe as well as in Turkey to bring legal charges against some leaders in the Israeli leadership. Whether or not, such actions will produce tangible punishment against Israel, only the future will reveal.     

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Notes On Israel's Unhelpful Recent Behavior

By Sodium

It seems to me that the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has an arrogant talent that is neither compatible with the spirit of good international behavior, nor is it compatible with what really good for the Israeli people in the long-run. As a person who has spent practically a large segment of his adult life advocating peace in that troubled region of the globe, I truly regret the unwise and unhelpful behavior of the Netanyahu's government. Although any veteran observer of the Middle East scene can cite several obstacles created intentionally or un-intentionally by the current Israeli government, this essay will concentrate on only two issues that the Netanyahu's government has failed so miserably in handling:

Refusal to attend the recent meeting for the NON-POLIFERATON of nuclear weapons called for recently by President Obama, the end result of which might have been a new Middle East, FREE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, including Iran was not serving the best interest of Israel's security in the long-run, let alone the road for a just peaceful Middle East. I regret the fact that I am compelled to pass judgment on such a detrimental behavior and call it arrogant practiced by a bunch of Israeli politicians who could not see further than the tips of their noses. Reasons:

~ Israel security lies NOT in its Nuclear weapons. In fact, the estimated 200 atomic bombs Israel has, should be considered a burden on its own internal security. The proof of what I am saying, here, is the catastrophic nuclear leak/accident that took place in Chernobyl, Russia, displacing more than 300,000 ( three hundred thousand )people, annihilating all forms of life, plants and animals, leaving behind incredible devastated Chernobyl for untold years to come. Some radiation has reached neighboring countries such as Ukraine and Belarus. There is no assurance that a similar accident would not happen in Israel or other countries having nuclear reactors or nuclear weapons. The difference between Israel and other countries with nuclear facilities, Israel is a small tiny little country while the other members of the nuclear club are much larger area-wise. Hence, the devastation in Israel would be unbearable. De-population of Israel will be inevitable. Hence, the result is clearly; that would be the demise of the whole Zionist project

~ Neither Israel's long-term security lies in its total dependence on the U.S., militarily and financially, since America has changed drastically from a CREDITOR nation to DEBTOR one. The foreign debt of the U.S. has reached unprecedented level. Some economists have predicted that the U.S. would never be able to pay back its foreign debt. In such kind of circumstances, who in his or her right mind expects the U.S.to keep giving away billions of dollars to Israel, Egypt etc...?  No way. The sooner Israel and other countries realize what is coming, the better for everyone involved. Congressman Ron Paul of Texas said publicly on the floor of the U. S House of Representatives: " We are broke. "

~ Israel security lies NOT in terrorizing the Palestinians, Lebanese and the rest of the Arab world, by its almost untamed and unleashed American powers of all sort, military, diplomatic and political powers in the world stage. The more it brutalizes the Palestinians, the more extreme militants it creates for future vengeance. And the sweep of history is neutral. Today, Israel has the upper-hand. Thanks to the American powers. But, who is foolish enough to guarantee that this Israel's military supremacy will last forever? Human history tells us that powerful empires were reduced to ashes by other newly founded by strong and determined men and women to conquer the world. In short, the cycle of human history is profoundly telling

Question: where then Israel's security lies?

Israel's security lies in the hearts and minds of the people of the Arab world whose population exceeds the three hundred million, ( 300,000,000 million ), backed by additional 1.5 billion non-Arab Muslims. That is about a total of 1.6 billion. Yes, you read it right, BILLION. Unfortunately, Israel has failed so miserably in realizing this extremely important point for its long-haul security needs. It seems that the Israeli leadership has unlimited capacity for thinking of only short-haul security needs, which are essentially based on the sorrow of the military might that certainly cannot be sustained forever. Human history attests to that: from the Babylonian warrior, Nabukhednazzer, to Alexander the Great, to the Persian, Roman and Arab empires, to Gengiz Khan, to the Crusaders who built city-states in the Middle East that lasted for about 200 years, to Saladin, (or Salh El-Deen,in Arabic), who finally succeeded in defeating the Crusaders in the great battle of "Hitteen" to mark the beginning of the end for the Crusaders presence in the Middle East, to the Ottoman empire, to British and French colonial rule, as one of the worst diplomatic treachery resulting from World War One, and finally the treachery reached its culminating apex in the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, after World War Two. Israel needs not to be kicked out like the Crusaders, if it just finds its way in dealing with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world appropriately. Arabs and Jews lived peacefully with one and another for centuries. And certainly can do so again, if they are left alone to weed out their differences.

Militarily attacking ships, mainly Turkish ships, loaded with humanitarian aids such as foods and medicines for the 1.5 million Palestinian people in Gaze, who have been sieged and blockaded for the last three years by the Israeli arm forces is not going to help any party, including Israel. The ships were cruising in international water when they were attacked by the Israeli military,  killing 9 humanitarian activists and wounding undisclosed number. Israel, in this case not only violated well established international laws by blockading Gaza, but with this attack has also demonstrated that it has no respect for human lives and acted as a bunch of barbarian pirate thugs and should be held accountable and must be investigated properly and punished justly according to international laws of the seas.

A nation that is acting as a bully does not want to live in peace in its vast surrounding of Arab neighborhood, but it seems to want to send a message to the Arab world that it is the bully boss in the neighborhood, in spite of the fact that it is really in an Arab neighborhood. Unless Israel starts learning how to walk humbly with its enemy in order to achieve genuine peace, the cycle of violence and possibly regional wars, unfortunately for the people of the region and the world, will be the rule, not the exception.

I do hope that the Arab people will continue exhibiting patience with Israel s' bellicose and belligerent behaviors, lest a regional war erupts, which would be a disaster to all the people of the region and, most likely, the rest of the world, because of global dependency, especially in energy resources..