Alislam-eGazette Publishes an Historic Collection about Christianity: How Jesus Became God?

Featured

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit,     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthews 5:1-3)

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
He said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthews 5:1-3)

Alislam-eGazette is an international electronic publication of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, since 2007, with more than 40,000 subscribers.

This month it published an historic collection of articles about Christianity.  Earlier this week, Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, called Britain ‘A Post-Christian Country.’

Williams told the Sunday Telegraph that Britain is no longer a “nation of believers,” and the era of widespread worship is over.

He characterized Britain as a “post-Christian” nation, “in the sense that habitual practice for most of the population is not taken for granted,” reports the BBC.

In Europe almost half of the population characterizes herself as agnostic or atheist and up to a quarter in USA and Canada do the same.  If these numbers are a slight exaggeration for the total population, they are certainly true for the younger generation.

There is certainly a pressing need, in this age of information, in our Global village with rampant and constant dialogue between religions, to better understand all religions, especially Monotheism of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Click here to read the volume.

A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?

Featured

Epigraph: Whatever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Allah; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (Al Quran 57:2)

Hydrogen burning in the center of a massive stars occurs at a temperature of approximately 40 million Kelvin, as compared to 10 million Kelvin in the center of the sun

Hydrogen burning in the center of a massive stars occurs at a temperature of approximately 40 million Kelvin, as compared to 10 million Kelvin in the center of the sun

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

This popular article in Google-knol was first written by me in December of 2009.

Atheists are right in exposing the irrationality of the Christian dogma.  However, the Christians are right in as far as their claim that there needs to be a Creator of this universe, Who employed natural means to do His work.  However, both parties in their self-conceit are not listening to how Islam resolves their conflict; Islam as understood by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Click to Read: If Atheists and the Christians Debate, Islam Wins!

Unlike the 19th century physics the twentieth century physics demands that there ought to be a creator of this universe. The concept of ‘multiverse,’ is confabulation of atheist scientists to get out of this difficulty. Here is a clear and lucid challenge to Professor Richard Dawkins in which carbon is used as a general proxy for physics. This article references several recent works.

——————————————————————————————————————

Professor Richard Dawkins seems to divide the physical reality of the universe into simple things like stones and clouds and complex things that are the living beings.  He opens his book the Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, with the following words:
“We animals are the most complicated things in the known universe. The universe that we know, of course, is a tiny fragment of the actual universe. There may be yet more complicated objects than us on other planets, and some of them may already know about us. But this doesn’t alter the point that I want to make. Complicated things, everywhere, deserve a very special kind of explanation. We want to know how they came into existence and why they are so complicated. The explanation, as I shall argue, is likely to be broadly the same for complicated things everywhere in the universe; the same for us, for chimpanzees, worms, oak trees and monsters from outer space. On the, other hand, it will not be the same for what I shall call ‘simple’ things, such as rocks, clouds rivers galaxies and quarks. These are the stuff of physics. Chimps and dogs and bats and cockroaches and people and worms and dandelions and bacteria and galactic aliens are the stuff of biology.

The difference is one of complexity of design. Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. Physics is the study of simple things that do not tempt us to invoke design.”1

But, tell this to a quantum physicist that rocks, clouds and rivers are ‘simple things,’ and do not require an explanation!  Dawkins claims that ‘physics is the study of simple things that do not tempt us to invoke design,’ not so fast!  This is only his assumption created by the anesthesia of familiarity, and a passionate desire to prove atheism. Non-living things certainly require an explanation and of course the living things require a greater explanation.  The assertion that the stone does not require an explanation is only his delusion and with his passing years it has become more entrenched in his mind.
Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Such an assertion could have been true prior to the Big Bang theory but no more.  According to Aristotle the universe was eternal and this continued to be the physics of the nineteenth and the twentieth century until Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe.  Where did the Big Bang come from?  Who made the laws of nature and why do they conspire to make this universe suitable for life?  Is multiverse universe science or only confabulation of those scientists who are fundamentalists in their atheism? Here we will focus on only one type of evidence and only one type of element or stone for our purposes, namely carbon and why it requires an explanation.  A diamond is a precious stone and is made entirely of carbon (just like the graphite in a pencil). But, while graphite is very soft, the carbon atoms in diamond form in such a way as to create the hardest known substance. The word carbon probably derives from the Latin carbo, meaning variously ‘coal,’ ‘charcoal,’ ‘ember.’ The term diamond, a corruption of the Greek word adamas, ‘the invincible,’ aptly describes the permanence of this crystallized form of carbon.  Pure diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance known.  The Encyclopedia Britannica describes, “On a weight basis, carbon is 19th in order of elemental abundance in the crust of the Earth, and there are estimated to be 3.5 times as many carbon atoms as silicon atoms in the universe. Only hydrogen, helium, oxygen, neon, and nitrogen are atomically more abundant in the cosmos than carbon.”  Encyclopedia summarizes that originally in the universe, carbon has been produced by a nuclear reaction involving helium atoms, “Carbon is the cosmic product of the ‘burning’ of helium in which three helium nuclei, atomic number 4, fuse to produce a carbon nucleus, atomic number 12.”2  Life as we know it would not be possible without carbon.  The Encyclopedia Britannica describes:

“More than 1,000,000 carbon compounds have been described in chemical literature, and chemists synthesize many new ones each year. Much of the diversity and complexity of organic forms is due to the capacity of carbon atoms for bonding with each other in various chain and ring structures and three-dimensional conformations, as well as for linking with other atoms. Indeed, carbon’s compounds are so numerous, complex, and important that their study constitutes a specialized field of chemistry called organic chemistry, which derives its name from the fact that in the 19th century most of the then-known carbon compounds were considered to have originated in living organisms.”3

The life as we know it would not be possible without water and carbon, yet there was no carbon around at all for tens of millions of years after the Big Bang.  Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee write in their book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe:
“The cosmic choreography that led to the formation of Earth, all other bodies in the Universe, and (ultimately) life began with the Big Bang, the very ‘beginning of time.’ The Big Bang is what nearly all physicists and astronomers believe is the actual origin of universe. Born in an instant, the entire universe started out as an environment of incredible heat and density, but subsequent expansion led to rapid cooling and more rarefied conditions. During the first half-hour, conditions existed that produced most of the atoms that are still the major building blocks of the stars-mainly hydrogen and helium, atoms that make up over 99% of the normal (visible) matter in the universe. In itself however, the Big Bang generated little chemical diversity. It gave us little or nothing beyond hydrogen, helium, and lithium to fill the periodic table. It did not produce oxygen, magnesium, silicon, iron, and sulfur, the elements that constitute more than 96% of the mass of our planet. It did not produce carbon, a chemically unique element whose versatile ability to form complex molecules is the basis for all known life. But the Big Bang did produce the raw material (hydrogen) from which all heavier and more interesting elements would later form.”4
The simple fusion process of hydrogen changing into helium is the secret of the stars. It is the reason why the night sky is not dark, the reason why Earth’s surface is not frozen, and the reason why planets can exist; it is the energy source that powers life on Earth. This process commonly occurs inside stars, but it was also the major nuclear reaction in the Big Bang. In stars the fusion of hydrogen to yield helium provides a critical long-term energy source. In addition to being the first nuclear reaction to produce new elements, the formation of helium from hydrogen (thermonuclear fusion) has handed advanced life a double-edged sword. On the one hand, fusion is the only known process that could be used in future reactors to provide truly long-term energy sources for advanced civilizations. The sun has continued to provide solar energy to the earth, by thermonuclear fusion for its 4.5 billion years of existence and will continue to do the same for billions of years to come.  But the same life bestowing thermonuclear fusion cannot be happening on the planets that harbor life.  So, on the other hand, bombs based on the fusion of hydrogen are one of the surest means of destroying advanced life forms completely on our planet earth on a wide scale.  In the early universe we had only few elements, mostly hydrogen and helium.  Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee explain that we did not have any carbon for a period of over 2 billion years after the Big Bang:
“The fusion of hydrogen to form helium was the end of the road for element production during the Big Bang. The key process that would lead from helium to the production of heavier elements could not occur under the conditions that prevailed in the early Universe. When the temperature was high enough to produce them, the spatial density of atoms was too low and the reaction rates too small. Thus it was not possible for Earth-like planets to form in the early Universe, because their formation depends on elements heavier than helium. During the first 15% of the age of the Universe, a period of over 2 billion years, stars could form, but there was not enough dust and rocks for them to have terrestrial planets. When modern telescopes are used to observe more and more distant objects, we are actually seeing further and further back into the early history of the Universe. If it were possible to detect life with a telescope, we would observe a ‘dead zone’ beyond a certain distance beyond a certain time, that is, when the Universe was without life or planets or even the elements to produce them.”5
One needs to glance at the Periodic Table and how it mentions the number of electrons in each element and their atomic weight and how each individual element relates to other elements.  One needs to glance at hydrogen, helium, carbon and oxygen especially to grasp the rest of the story.

Eulogizing the inherent organization of the periodic table, Thomas David Parks writes in an article, Plain water will tell you the story:

“Probably to a chemist the periodic arrangement of the elements is the most arresting. One of the first things a freshman chemistry student learns is the periodicity or order found in the elements. This order has been variously described and classified but we usually credit Mendeleev, the Russian chemist of the last century, with our periodic table. Not only did this arrangement provide a means of studying the known elements and their compounds but it also gave impetus to the search for those elements which had not yet been discovered. Their very existence was postulated by vacant spaces in the orderly arrangement of the table.
Chemists today still use the periodic table to aid them in their study of reactions and to predict properties of unknown or new compounds. That they have been successful is sound testimony to the fact that beautiful order exists in the inorganic world.”6 7
To understand the process of manufacturing of carbon and complexities involved let us turn again to Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee:
“Carbon formation requires three helium atoms (nuclei) to collide at essentially the same time: a three-way collision. What actually happens is that two helium atoms collide to form the beryllium-8 isotope, and then, within a tenth of a femtosecond (1/10,000,000,000,000,000 second) before this highly radioactive isotope decays, it must collide with and react with a third helium nucleus to produce carbon. Carbon has a nucleus composed of six protons and six neutrons, the cumulative contents of three helium atoms. Once carbon had been made, however, heavier and heavier elements could be formed. The production of heavier and more interesting elements occurred in the fiery cores of stars where temperatures ranged from 10 million to over 100 million degrees Celsius. The sun is currently producing only helium, but in the future, in the last 10% of its lifetime, it will produce all of the elements from helium to bismuth, the heaviest nonradioactive element in nature. Elements heavier than bismuth are all radioactive, and most are produced by the decay of uranium and thorium. The elements heavier than bismuth were produced in the cores of stars ten times more massive than the sun that underwent supernova explosions, dramatic events in which a star brightens by a factor of 100 billion over a period of a few days.”8
So, what is the great difficulty in three helium atoms combining to yield an atom of carbon?  Paul Davies explains:
“After beryllium, carbon is the next-heaviest element. It has six protons and six neutrons. Could it be that stars have found a way to vault over lithium and beryllium and go straight from helium to carbon? This would require three helium nuclei to come together at the same moment. The proton and neutron arithmetic (3 x 2 x 2 = 6 + 6) works out correctly, and the end product would be stable carbon nuclei. Because more protons are involved in a triple nuclear encounter than in the original hydrogen fusion, the electrical repulsion is correspondingly greater, so the temperature must be higher to overcome it and allow the nuclei to get close enough for the shortrange strong nuclear force to act. That isn’t a problem: by further contracting, a star’s core can raise the temperature to a high enough level. There is, however, a fundamental difficulty with the reaction itself. The likelihood of three helium nuclei coming together at the same place and the same time is tiny. To be sure, they don’t have to arrive at exactly the same moment; two helium nuclei could first form a very unstable nucleus of beryllium, and before it fell apart a third helium nucleus might slam into it. But at first sight the numbers look very unfavorable, with a typical beryllium nucleus disintegrating too quickly to give a third helium nucleus a decent chance to hit it. On the face of it, then, that route to carbon seems to be blocked too.”9
To elaborate further the detailed and complex process of evolution of the stars, let me quote Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee again:
“The matter produced in the Big Bang was enriched in heavier elements by cycling in and out of stars. Like biological entities, stars form, evolve, and die. In the process of their death, stars ultimately become compact objects such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, or even black holes. On their evolutionary paths to these ends, they eject matter back into space, where it is recycled and further enriched in heavy elements. New stars rise from the ashes of the old. This is why we say that each of the individual atoms in Earth and in all of its creatures-including us-has occupied the interior of at least a few different stars. Just before the sun formed, the atoms that would form Earth and the other planets existed in the form of interstellar dust and gas. Concentration of this interstellar matter formed a nebular cloud, which itself then condensed into the sun, its planets, and their moons.”10
Paul Davies describes the unusual circumstances that are needed for the helium atoms to merge, leading to the creation of carbon in the following words in his book, Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe is Just Right for Life:
“The carbon story left a deep impression on Hoyle. He realized that if it weren’t for the coincidence that a nuclear resonance exists at just the right energy, there would be next to no carbon in the universe, and probably no life. The energy at which the carbon resonance occurs is determined by the interplay between the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force. If the strong force were slightly stronger or slightly weaker (by maybe as little as 1 percent), then the binding energies of the nuclei would change and the arithmetic of the resonance wouldn’t add up; the universe might very well be devoid of life and go unobserved.
What are we to make of this? When Hoyle drew attention to this issue, the orthodox view was that the strength of the nuclear force is simply ‘given’ – it is a ‘free parameter,’ the value of which is not determined by any theory but must be measured by experiment. A common response was to shrug the matter aside with the comment ‘The value it has is the value it has, and if it had been different, we wouldn’t be here to worry about it.’ But that attitude seems a bit unsatisfactory. We can certainly imagine a universe in which the form of the strong force law is the same but the actual strength of the force is different, just as we can imagine a world in which gravity is a little stronger or weaker but otherwise obeys the same laws. The fact that the value of the strong and electromagnetic forces in atomic nuclei are ‘just right’ for life (like Goldilocks’ porridge) cries out for explanation.”11
In the above quote, Paul Davies has drawn our attention to the absolute value of the strong force and the electromagnetic forces, and how they are neither too high and nor too low, just about right to make our earth and the universe suitable for life or biophilic.  The attention to the complex details draws our attention to the Providence of God, as the Holy Quran says, “You see not any imperfection in the creation of the Gracious God.  Return your gaze, do you see any flaw.   Then return your gaze again and again.  Your gaze comes back to you dazzled, perplexed and fatigued, having found no incongruity.” (Al Quran 67:4-5)  So, what are the strong and electromagnetic forces that are conspiring to give ‘Goldilocks’ porridge,’ in the nuclei?   According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Strong force is a fundamental interaction of nature that acts between subatomic particles of matter. The strong force binds quarks together in clusters to make more-familiar subatomic particles, such as protons and neutrons. It also holds together the atomic nucleus and underlies interactions between all particles containing quarks.

The strong force originates in a property known as colour. This property, which has no connection with colour in the visual sense of the word, is somewhat analogous to electric charge. Just as electric charge is the source of electromagnetism, or the electromagnetic force, so colour is the source of the strong force. Particles without colour, such as electrons and other leptons, do not ‘feel’ the strong force; particles with colour, principally the quarks, do ‘feel’ the strong force. Quantum chromodynamics, the quantum field theory describing strong interactions, takes its name from this central property of colour.”12

Unlike the gravitational force the strong force increases with increasing distance, ‘As the distance between two quarks increases, the force between them increases rather as the tension does in a piece of elastic as its two ends are pulled apart. Eventually the elastic will break, yielding two pieces.’13 The strong force falls sharply to zero beyond about a ten-trillionth of a centimeter, which is roughly the size of an atomic nucleus, so only by getting very close will protons come under its influence. When they do, the nuclear force is strong enough to overwhelm the longer-ranged electrical repulsion.14  Mark Mahin in his book, the new scientific case for God’s existence, has explained the issues at hand in regards to the strong force and the electromagnetic forces in detail.  He writes pertaining to the strong force:
“Protons and neutrons are the two types of nucleons; they are called nucleons because they are found in the nucleus of the atom. If two nucleons are separated by a hundred billionth of a centimeter, there is very little mutual attraction between them. Yet when two nucleons are separated by a distance of less than a ten trillionth of a centimeter, they feel an extremely strong force of attraction. This force between nucleons is called the strong nuclear force or the strong force. After the appearance of the theory that protons and neutrons are composed of quarks, some physicists suggested that the force binding nucleons is only a remnant of the much stronger force binding quarks. In this book when I refer to the value of the strong force constant I mean only the strength of the force binding nucleons. This force is about 1011 times stronger than the gravitational force.

During the first few minutes after the expansion of the universe began, roughly 25 percent of all hydrogen was converted into helium. A number of scientists have said that if the strong force had been only a few percent stronger, essentially all of the universe’s hydrogen would have been converted into helium.  In such a case intelligent life would not exist in our universe, for three reasons. First, there would be no water; for water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. It has often been said that water is probably necessary for the evolution of life anywhere; for no other waterless liquid is even half as suitable for biological purposes. Second, hydrogen is a crucial element in the proteins and nucleic acids needed for life. Third, if all hydrogen had been converted into helium early in the universe’s history, stars like the sun would never have existed. Only relatively short-lived stars made of helium could have existed. It took over three billion years for life on our planet to evolve from the most primitive level to the level of man, and if all stars were relatively short-lived, intelligent life would probably never have evolved. According to some scientists, if the strong force had always been more than a few percent greater, protons would not have formed from quarks. In such a case there would be none of the atoms needed for life. So if the strong force constant had always had a value greater than twice its actual value, intelligent life would not exist in our universe.

Things also would have been very different if the strong force had always been much weaker. The strong force of attraction between protons is roughly 100 times greater than the electromagnetic repulsion between them. If the strong force constant had a value less than a hundredth of its actual value, protons would not stay together in the cores of atoms, and there would be no living things (there would not even be any rocks). So if the strong force constant had always had a value less than a hundredth of its actual value or more than twice its actual value, intelligent life would not exist in our universe. In other words, intelligent life would not exist in our universe if the strong force constant did not have a value between .01f and 2f.  Here I use f as a symbol for the actual value of the strong force constant-that is, the strength of the attractive force between nucleons, which is about 1011 times greater than the gravitational force.”15

It is not only the strong force and the electromagnetic force that are finely tuned but almost every force known to mankind appears to be manipulated to make the universe biophilic.  Pertaining to the lengthy details about electromagnetic forces please see the actual work of Mark Mahin in his book the new scientific case for God’s existence.  Paul Davies writes about the weak forces:
“The weak force is implicated in the carbon story, not only in the manufacturing the carbon but also in disseminating it.  The carbon atoms inside your body were forged inside a star, some billions of years ago.  How did they end up on earth?  A good way for a star to divest itself of carbon is by exploding.

If the weak force were weaker, the neutrinos will lack the punch to create this explosion.  If it were stronger, the neutrinos would react more vigorously with the stellar core and wouldn’t escape to deliver their blow to the outer layers.  Either way, the dissemination of carbon and other heavy elements needed for life via the process would be compromised.”16

No wonder, Stephen Hawking said, “The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous.  I think there are clearly religious implications.”17 Professor Dawkins may find it convenient to ignore what Mark Mahin or I have written.  But he certainly cannot casually dismiss the writing of Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, who is an English cosmologist and astrophysicist. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995, and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge since 2004. He became President of the Royal Society in December 2005.  He writes in his book Our Cosmic Habitat:
“A universe hospitable to life–what we might call a biophilic universe–has to be very special in many ways. The prerequisites for any life–long-lived stable stars, a periodic table of atoms with complex chemistry, and so on–are sensitive to physical laws and could not have emerged from a Big Bang with a recipe that was even slightly different. Many recipes would lead to stillborn universes with no atoms, no chemistry, and no planets; or to universes too short lived or too empty to allow anything to evolve beyond sterile uniformity. This distinctive and special-seeming recipe seems to me a fundamental mystery that should not be brushed aside merely as a brute fact.”18
Professor Richard Dawkins may also recall, that he had adequately defined ‘complicated thing’ in his book, the Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design:

“A complicated thing is one whose existence we do not feel inclined to take for granted, because it is too ‘improbable’. It could not have come into existence in a single act of chance. We shall explain its coming into existence as a consequence of gradual, cumulative, step-by-step transformations from simpler things, from primordial objects sufficiently simple to have come into being by chance. Just as ‘big-step reductionism’ cannot work as an explanation of mechanism, and must be replaced by a series of small step-by-step peelings down through the hierarchy, so we can’t explain a complex thing as originating in a single step. We must again resort to a series of small steps, this time arranged sequentially in time.”19

One would hope that given the above explanation of carbon, Dawkins will not want to be pompous and obscurantist and will stop calling stones ‘simple things.’ Dawkins might believe that ‘multiverse,’ concept may come to his rescue.  Multiverse is the main ploy of the atheists to wriggle out of the evidence of the finely tuned universe.  Antony Flew explains, “This fine tuning has been explained in two ways.  Some scientists have said the fine tuning is evidence for divine design; many others have speculated that our universe is one of multiple others—a ‘multiverse’—with the difference that ours happened to have the right conditions for life.  Virtually no major scientist today claims that the fine tuning was purely a result of chance factors at work in a single universe.”20

A true scientific explanation, says Paul Davies, is like a single well-aimed bullet. The idea of a multiverse replaces the rationally ordered real world with an infinitely complex charade and makes the whole idea of ‘explanation’ meaningless.21  Richard Swinburne is just as strong in his disdain for the multiverse explanation: “It is crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.”22

EPILOGUE

Indeed in the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, and in the alternation of the night and of the day, are there signs for men of understanding. They who, standing, sitting or reclining, bear Allah in mind and reflect on the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, saying: ‘O our Lord! You have not created this in vain.’ (Al Quran 3:189-190).

Click here to read and view the Debate: Does the Universe have a purpose?

Most agnostic or atheist scientists are witness to the above verses of the Holy Quran, from Sura Al Imran, when they see the order, beauty and complexity in the Universe.  For example Baron John Rees, President of the Royal Society of UK writes in his book, Just Six Numbers: the Deep Forces That Shape the Universe describes:

“I have highlighted these six because each plays a crucial and distinctive role in our universe, and together they determine how the universe evolves and what its internal potentialities are; moreover, three of them (those that pertain to the large-scale universe) are only now being measured with any precision.

These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if anyone of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator?”23

To drive home the full force of the fine tuning of these six numbers from physics, Martin Rees further quotes a very useful metaphor:
“There are various ways of reacting to the apparent fine tuning of our six numbers.  One hard-headed response is that we couldn’t exist if these numbers weren’t adjusted in the appropriate ‘special’ way: we manifestly are here, so there’s nothing to be surprise about.  Many scientists take this line, but it certainly leaves me unsatisfied.  I‘m impressed by a metaphor given by the Canadian philosopher John Leslie. Suppose you are facing a firing squad. Fifty marksmen take aim, but they all miss. If they hadn’t all missed, you wouldn’t have survived to ponder the matter. But you wouldn’t just leave it at that – you’d still be baffled, and would seek some further reason for your good fortune.”24
But as most of these authors do not believe in accountability or hereafter, in other words deny the last portion of the above quoted verses, ‘Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire,’ their thinking is vulnerable to go astray. When we read the above verses in totality they read:
“Indeed in the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, and in the alternation of the night and of the day, are there signs for men of understanding. They who, standing, sitting or reclining, bear Allah in mind and reflect on the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, saying: ‘O our Lord! You have not created this in vain; nay, Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire.’” (Al Quran 3:189-190).
It is denial of accountability, by the atheist scientists and their preconceived conclusions about atheism that make them weave artificial explanation for the order, beauty and organization that they have observed in the universe and in the living organisms on our planet earth.  Now watch how Baron Martin Rees starts manufacturing smoke screens in the concluding chapter of the book that I am quoting here.  The chapter is titled, Coincidence, providence—or multiverse, he writes trying to be an apologetic for concept of ‘multiverse’:
“Some people may be inclined to dismiss such concepts (multiverse) as ‘metaphysics’ (a damning put-down from a physicist’s viewpoint). But I think the multiverse genuinely lies within the province of science, even though it is plainly still no more than a tentative hypothesis. This is because we can already map out what questions must be addressed in order to put it on a more credible footing; more importantly (since any good scientific theory must be vulnerable to being refuted), we can envisage some developments that might rule out the concept.”25
He chooses to put multiverse genuinely in the province of science while the multiverse is by definition outside of our universe and there is no hope of us ever studying or observing it, except in make belief stories.  He knows it himself also as a little bit later he confesses, “These universes would never be directly observable; we couldn’t even meaningfully say whether they existed ‘before’, ‘after’ or ‘alongside’ our own.”26

In summary, the processes leading to the formation of what Dawkins calls ‘simple things,’ are hugely complex and unusual and the assumption that they do not require an explanation is presumptuous.  Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee explain:

“The near-ideal nature of Earth as a cradle of life can be seen in its prehistory, its origin, its chemical composition, and its early evolution. What are the most important factors that allowed Earth to support advanced life? Earth has offered (1) at least trace amounts of carbon and other important life-forming elements, (2) water on or near the surface, (3) an appropriate atmosphere, (4) a very long period of stability during which the mean surface temperature has allowed liquid water to exist on its surface, and (5) a rich abundance of heavy elements in its core and sprinkled throughout its crust and mantle regions.
Earth is actually the final product of an elaborate sequence of events that occurred over time span of some 15 billion years, three times the age earth itself.  Some of these events have predictable outcomes, whereas others are more chaotic, the final outcome controlled by chance. The evolutionary path that led to life included element formation in the Big Bang and in stars, explosions of stars, formation of interstellar clouds, formation of the solar system, assembly of Earth, and the complex evolution of the planet’s interior, surface, oceans, and atmosphere. If some god-like being could be given the opportunity to plan a sequence of events with the express goal of duplicating our ‘Garden of Eden,’ that power would face a formidable task. With the best intentions, but limited by natural laws and materials, it is unlikely that Earth could ever be truly replicated. Too many processes in its formation involved sheer luck. Earth-like planets could certainly be made, but each outcome would differ in critical ways. This is well illustrated by the fantastic variety of planets and satellites that formed in the solar system. They all started with similar building materials, but the final products are vastly different from each other. Just as the more familiar evolution of animal life involved many evolutionary pathways with complex and seemingly random branch points, the physical events that led to the formation and evolution of the physical Earth also required an intricate set of nearly irreproducible circumstances.”27
With every passing year more and more information has pooled to suggest that there aught to be a Creator for this universe.  Some of this information is discussed in this article and much more is documented in the form of short book reviews and some videos in theFebruary 2010, Al-Islam eGazette:
The human condition is, as Plato would make Socrates say in the Republic (7.514a ff.), comparable to that of prisoners of an underground cave, whose unfortunate fate is to confuse reality with passing shadows created by a fire inside their miserable abode and kept in motion by clever manipulators, who in the name of politics, religion, science, and tradition control the human herd.   This is the drama that the atheist scientists have played on the masses, in the last two centuries.

Dawkins is able to see the beauty and organization in biology, as he confesses in the Blind Watchmaker, commenting on the famous book of Reverend William Paley, “One thing I shall not do is belittle the wonder of the living ‘watches’ that so inspired Paley. On the contrary, I shall try to illustrate my feeling that here Paley could have gone even further. When it comes to feeling awe over living ‘watches’ I yield to nobody.”28  He further concedes describing the beauty of bats, “We shall look at a particular example and shall conclude that, when it comes to complexity and beauty of design, Paley hardly even began to state the case.”29  It is time for Dawkins and like to stop hiding behind the smoke screens of ‘multiverse’ universe and confess that the very building materials of all life forms on our planet, especially carbon, demand that there ought to be a Creator!

I conclude in the words of the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, as he describes the purpose of human life and nature of human brain in his book Hakika Tul Wahee (Essence of Revelation):
“Let it be clear that man has been created with the ultimate purpose to recognize his Creator.  Man is supposed to have full awareness of his Creator and to understand His attributes to a level that his cognizance reaches a degree of certainty.  Therefore, Allah has designed the human mind with two different talents.  On the one hand, he has been given intellectual abilities.  As a result of these abilities he is able to study Allah’s creations, and by observing divine purpose in every particle of nature, by studying the organization and order in the natural systems of the universe, he is able to fully realize that this elaborate infra-structure of the earth and the heaven cannot be by itself, without a creator.  He can conclude that there should be a Designer and a Maker of all this!

On the other hand Allah has gifted man with spiritual powers and perceptions as well.  This dual gift from Allah is for the reason, that, whatever limitations and short comings are left from the domain of intellectual capacity should be satisfied with the spiritual abilities.  It is obvious that intellectual abilities given to man are only able to study the earth and the heaven and observing individual details declare that this profound and organized universe should have a creator.  It is beyond the capacity of the intellectual abilities to go further and declare that such a Creator of this universe does exist!  It is not within their scope to announce that there is indeed such a Maker!”30

The role of revelation in human affairs is subject of a different article: Al Aleem God: The Bestower of true Dreams.

Additional Readings:

Ten Raised to Five Hundred Reasons for Our Gracious God

Richard Dawkins’ tweets on Islam are as rational as the rants of an extremist Muslim cleric

Richard Dawkins and the Unbearable Smugness of Tweeting

Is Richard Dawkins Really the World’s Leading Intellectual?

Richard Dawkins, ‘Islamophobia’ and the atheist movement

New Atheists Attacked by Fellow Secularists for ‘Islamophobia’

Richard Dawkins’ anti-Islam/anti-Muslim propaganda exposed: The facts

Atheists Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris Propagating Populist and Crude Hatred of Islam

Richard Dawkins Stands in Awe of Nature but Cannot Seem to See Under the Surface

Richard Dawkins Follows Prophet Muhammad’s Teaching on Freedom

Dawkins’ False Papal Fatwa: ‘Einstein was a Pantheist and not a Deist?’

———————————————————————————-
REFERENCES

[1] Richard Dawkins.  The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design.  WW Norton & Company, 1996.  Page 1.

[2] “carbon (C).” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 08 Dec. 2009.

[3] “carbon (C).” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 08 Dec. 2009.

[4] Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee.  Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus Books, 2000.  Page 38.

[5] Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee.  Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus Books, 2000.  Page 39.

[6] This article is published in a book the Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe edited by John Clover Monsma, published in 1958.

[7] http://www.alislam.org/egazette/articles/Plain-water-200908.pdf

[8] Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee.  Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus Books, 2000.  Page 40.

[9] Paul Davies.  Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.  Page 135.

[10] Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee.  Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus Books, 2000.  Page 43-44.

[11] Paul Davies.  Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.  Page 138.

[12] “strong force.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Dec. 2009.

[13] “strong force.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Dec. 2009.

[14] Paul Davies.  Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.  Page 134.

[15] Mark Mahin.  The new scientific case for God’s existence.  Mindlifter Press, Boston, 1985. Pages 56-58.

[16] Paul Davies.  Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.  Page 140-141.

[17] J Boslough.  Stephen Hawkings universe.  William Morrow, New York, 985.  Page 121.

[18] Martin Rees.  Our Cosmic Habitat.  Princeton University Press, 2001.  Page xvi of prologue.

[19] Richard Dawkins.  The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design.  WW Norton & Company, 1996.  Page 14.

[20] Antony Flew. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Harper One, 2007.  Page 115.

[21] Paul Davies, “Universes Galore: Where Will It All End?”

http://cosmos.asu.edu/publications/chapters/Universes%20galore.pdf

[22] Richard Swinburne, “Design Defended,” Think (Spring 2004): page 17.

[23] John Rees.  Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.  Basic Books, 2000.  Page 4.

[24] John Rees.  Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.  Basic Books, 2000.  Page 165-166.

[25] John Rees.  Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.  Basic Books, 2000.  Page 166-167.

[26] John Rees.  Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.  Basic Books, 2000.  Page 168.

[27] Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee.  Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus Books, 2000.  Page 36-37.

[28] Richard Dawkins.  The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design.  WW Norton & Company, 1996.  Page 5.

[29] Richard Dawkins.  The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design.  WW Norton & Company, 1996.  Page 21.

[30] Promised Messiahas.  Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22, pp. 7-8.

Pope visits Al-Aqsa, calls for end of Israeli occupation

World Bulletin / News Desk

Pope Francis on Monday visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

The pontiff was welcomed by Prince Ghazi bin Mohamed, the Jordanian king’s personal representative and special adviser on religious matters, whose country is overseeing all Muslim and Christian religious sites in Al-Quds since the 1950s.

A host of Palestinian dignitaries, topped by Al-Quds Mufti Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, were also on hand.

The pope toured the Dome of the Rock Mosque with Prince Ghazi giving a presentation, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter.

Israeli authorities prevented Muslim worshippers from performing the Fajr (dawn) prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), a few hours before the visit.pope_mosque

 

MORE

Breaking News: An other Ahmadi Doctor is martyred!

 

Dr Mehdi Ali Shaheed

Dr Mehdi Ali Shaheed

 

An other picture of Shaheed.

An other picture of Shaheed.

According to news Dr Mehdi Ali of USA who came for Waqfe Arzi at Tahir Heart has scummed to his injuries caused due to bullets fired at him in front of Bahishti Maqbra Rabwha-Pakistan.  He went to Bahishti Maqbara to offer prayers with his family.  Innah lillah wa innah elahe rajeoon. Details awaited about this Shahadat.

That ‘earthquake’ in Europe?

Source: CNN

(CNN) — Far-right parties appear poised to secure a stronger foothold in the European Parliament after a vote that France’s Prime Minister described as an “earthquake.”

France’s far-right National Front party was projected to win a nationwide election for the first time on Sunday following the parliamentary vote, French media reported, citing exit poll results.

Right-wing parties also gained ground in Denmark and Austria, according to projections posted on the European Parliament’s official elections website.

Voters across Europe have been casting ballots for days in the parliamentary vote. There are 751 seats from 28 countries up for grabs.

More:

Maple Motorcyclist killed in crash

 

Motorcyclist killed in Vaughan crash

Ornge air ambulance - Teston Road

A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital after a serious crash in Vaughan, May 24, 2014.

TWITTER.COM/MELISSAMON/

Motorcycle Crash Vaughan Motorcycle involved in the fatal crash

 

An motorcyclist has died after a motorcycle crash in Maple, Vaughan, York police say.

The single-vehicle crash happened just before 2 p.m. Saturday on Teston Road just west of Highway 400. The victim, a 31-year-old man, was airlifted to the hospital.

York police said the man lost control of his motorcycle and hit a tree. Roads in the area were closed for hours while police investigated.

TMT – Our heartfelt condolences to Shaheed’s parents and wife. He was a resident of Peace Village. To Allah we belong and to him we all return……………….. Inna lillahe wa inna elahay rajenoon May Allah bless his soul, and keep him in eternalpeace. amen

International Press Surprised By Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV Election Loss

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders

Source: Dutch News

The international press is concentrating its coverage of the Dutch EU elections on the loss sustained by Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV, the FD reports.

The British Daily Telegraph sees the defeat of the PVV as a surprising turn of events after earlier polls, and points out that the party lost out to pro-European parties.

Reuters headlines its article: Far right suffers Dutch surprise. It calls the loss of seats (down from five to three) ‘an unexpected defeat’ for Wilders ‘who was leading in the polls for months’.

The French newspaper Le Monde calls the result ‘a bad score for the Dutch extreme right’. The paper thinks Wilders’ chant of ‘do you want more or fewer Moroccans’ is a possible reason.

Read more: Dutch News

Additional Reading

Book Review: EXTREMIST: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere

Real Madrid swamps Atletico t win Champions League final

The Star 2014/05/25

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Real Madrid's victory over Atletico in the Champions League final on Saturday in Lisbon.

Shaun Botterill / GETTY IMAGES

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Real Madrid’s victory over Atletico in the Champions League final on Saturday in Lisbon.

LISBON, PORTUGAL—Real Madrid’s record 10th European title will be written down as a seemingly convincing 4-1 victory over Atletico Madrid.

In reality, “La Decima” was a lot harder to come by.

Atletico was minutes away from its first Champions League title Saturday when Sergio Ramos began Real’s comeback by heading in the equalizer in injury time. Real then broke down Atletico’s resistance with three goals in the last period of extra time to create an unfairly lopsided score.

“It’s the most important goal I’ve ever scored,” Sergio Ramos said of his game-changing strike. “We made history against a great rival.”

As Atletico faded, Gareth Bale scored the winning goal with a header in the 110th minute, before Marcelo slotted in the third in the 118th and Cristiano Ronaldo polished off the win with a penalty at the end.

“Madrid was better,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who lost his temper toward the end after failing to complete a La Liga-Champions League title double. “They were able to get out on the break and that hurt our chances.”

Diego Godin had put Atletico ahead when his 36th-minute header looped into a Real goal left vacant by captain and veteran goalkeeper Casillas’ reckless rush out.

Atletico — which had to substitute striker Diego Costa early in the first half — then simply wore out in extra time as the team failed to follow up on the Spanish league title it secured last weekend.

Had Atletico held on for its first European title, Ronaldo and Bale would have shared some of the blame for a series of missed chances in the 90 minutes.

Instead, the star forwards added to their storied club’s illustrious history in club football’s most prestigious competition.

“I’ve learned from past experiences to keep going, to forget about the chances you miss and keep persevering,” Bale said. “The celebrations of the crowd meant everything to me.”

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti also ties the record with three European Cup victories as a coach, after winning in 2003 and ’07 with AC Milan. The Italian becomes the fifth coach to win with two different clubs.

“The hardest thing was to tie the game because it was so tough for us at that point,” Ancelotti said. “They suffocated the space and were doing it so well. The goal gave us strength.”

Casillas also won his third Champions League title, being the only player remaining from the club’s previous 2000 and ‘02 victories.

After Ramos’ goal made up for his own mistake, Casillas ran deep into Atletico’s half to share a long celebratory hug with Marcelo.

Bale’s decisive goal sparked wilder celebrations, while Ronaldo pulled off his shirt before provoking tempers with a muscle-flexing pose after scoring his penalty — extending his record for a Champions League season to 17 goals.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone — known for his fiery temper — came on the pitch for a second time in extra time in the final minutes and confronted Real defender Raphael Varane after he kicked the ball toward the Atletico bench. Simeone had to be restrained by his own staff and was sent to the stands.

“He’s a young player with a bright future, hopefully he learns,” Simeone said.

For pulling off his shirt, Ronaldo earned one of 12 yellow cards shown by referee Bjorn Kuipers of the Netherlands in an often physical match.

Ronaldo and Bale were both sent tumbling by tough tackles within three minutes, but it was Atletico’s 36-goal forward Costa who had to quit early.

Costa hobbled off after just nine minutes, making it clear that the gamble by coach Diego Simeone to put him in the starting lineup had backfired. Costa also exited last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the Spanish league decider and received a horse placenta treatment on his right hamstring in midweek.

Four minutes after Bale wasted Real’s best early chance, scooping a left-foot shot wide from 12 metres (yards), Godin made Real pay.

Casillas charged from his line when Juanfran lifted a high ball toward the penalty spot, and was stranded when Godin rose to loop a header toward the empty goal. The ball crossed the goal line before the veteran ‘keeper could swipe it away.

In a second half of increasingly hectic Real attacks, Ronaldo tested Thibaut Courtois with a curling free kick but was off target with a pair of headers.

Bale was guilty of a series of miscued shots with the outside of his left boot, and a handball in the Atletico penalty area that added to Real fans’ frustrations.

Atletico was less than two minutes from the title when its tough defensive line was finally breached by Ramos’ sixth goal in seven games, including two in the semifinal against defending champion Bayern Munich.

Of Islam, Boko Haram and sexual slavery

Daily Times: Most victors would take the women from the enemy ranks as slaves, rape and torture or even kill them. However, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) did not allow any of this. He allowed the female captives to earn their freedom

The Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram recently kidnapped more than 200 young girls, allegedly to sell into sexual slavery. Extremist Muslim clerics and extreme critics of Islam have long shared the conviction — amongst some others — that Islam allows keeping slaves, at least in certain circumstances, and permits their rape. This myth is unfounded. Slavery was the norm in the Arabia that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) opened his eyes in. Anyone who could afford to buy a slave, kept one. Unfortunately, these slaves — especially girls — had no dignified status in society. They were bought and sold like property. They were overworked, abused and looked down upon as inferior beings.

Deeply troubled by this social injustice, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) set out to emancipate slaves. He did not do this with the stroke of a pen. Letting the slaves go free, having to fend for themselves, be homeless and form isolated settlements would not ensure equal rights and status. Instead, he embraced them, assimilated them into society and made them useful contributors to the growing Muslim community. He uplifted them and ousted their inferiority complex. He instructed the Muslims to free the slaves who could stand on their own feet and forbade slave trade at all costs. He taught that all humans were equal and so it was not proper to address a slave with that word. He said: “Let none of you call out to his slave saying, ‘My slave boy!’ or ‘My slave girl!’ nor let a slave call out to his master saying, ‘My Lord!’ but let the master call out to the slave saying, ‘My young man!’ or ‘My young woman!’ and let the slave call out to the master as ‘My chief!’”

Islam offered many ways for former slaves to be incorporated into society. One such means was marriage. No Arab noble would have ever conceived of marrying a slave but Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) broke this taboo with his own example. He inspired a new way of thinking in Arab society. He taught: “He who has a slave girl, educates and treats her nicely and then marries her will get a double reward.”

While Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was starting a social revolution in Arabia, he found himself in a very hostile environment. Muslims were persecuted for over a decade in Mecca. They were boycotted, thrown out of the city and forced to migrate to Medina. Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) enemies were persistent. They pursued him there as well. Just two years after his immigration, a 1,000-man strong army marched out of Mecca with the intent to finish the Muslims forever. It was at this time that fighting was first permitted in self-defence (2:190). The Muslims, only 300 in number, defended themselves and won this battle decisively at Badr. Muslims had to counter many more offensives. Thus, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) laid down clear rules and regulations for warfare. No women, children, elderly, monks, worship places and trees, for example, were to be hurt during fighting.

More: 

Egypt’s New Strongman

Source: NY Times:

CAIRO — Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former army officer soon to be Egypt’s president, promises to remedy Egypt’s crippling fuel shortage by installing energy-efficient bulbs in every home socket, even if he has to send a government employee to screw in each one.

“I’m not leaving a chance for people to act on their own,” Mr. Sisi said in his first and most extensive television interview. “My program will be mandatory.”

Mr. Sisi, 59, disciplined and domineering, is universally expected to become Egypt’s head of state after a pro forma election scheduled to begin Monday. He has already been the nation’s paramount decision maker since he ousted Egypt’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, last summer.

More:

 

 

Notable Female Leaders

Bio. —

Aside from their gender, female leaders don’t have much else in common. Some have brought peace to troubled lands, while others have strewn discontent. Some have been competent or brilliant, others inept or corrupt. They come from political positions ranging from arch-conservative to ultra-leftist and represent all the world’s religions.

Visit BIO’s Women’s History group for more lists of the world’s most fascinating women!

PEOPLE IN THIS GROUP

Golda Meir

Golda Meir

Golda Meir was best known as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel and the world’s third woman to hold the title.
  • DIPLOMAT
  • PRIME MINISTER
  • (1898–1978)
Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher

The first female prime minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher was a controversial figurehead of conservative ideology during her time in office.
  • PRIME MINISTER
  • (1925–2013)
Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi was India’s third prime minister, serving from 1966 until 1984, when her life ended in assassination. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.
  • PRIME MINISTER
  • (1917–1984)
Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I was the long-ruling queen of England, governing with relative stability and prosperity for 44 years. The Elizabethan era is named for her.
  • QUEEN
  • (1533–1603)
Cleopatra VII

Cleopatra VII

As queen of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is one of the most famous female rulers in history. The stories surrounding Cleopatra’s tragic life inspired a Shakespeare play.
  • QUEEN
  • (C. 69 BCE–C. 30 BCE)
Catherine II
More:  http://www.biography.com/people/groups/famous-female-leaders#awesm=~oFePsdfZLG6ud5

Pope Francis waded into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Source: N Y Times:

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Pope Francis waded into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace-making soon after arriving here on Sunday, issuing an extraordinary invitation to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and President Shimon Peres of Israel to join him in his home in the Vatican for “a heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace.”

More:

Over 60% of US drone targets in Pakistan are homes – research

RT:
The CIA has been bombing Pakistan’s domestic buildings more than any other targets over the past decade of the drone war launched by the US, says the latest research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Almost two thirds, or over 60 percent, of all US drone strikes in Pakistan targeted domestic buildings, says joint research conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), a London-based non-profit news group, along with Forensic Architecture, a research unit based at Goldsmiths University, London, and Situ Research in New York.

23
The authors of the paper analyzed thousands of media reports, witness testimonies and field investigations to obtain the data on drone strikes in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

22
According to the study, at least 132 houses have been destroyed in more than 380 strikes over the past decade with at least 222 civilians being among the 1,500 or more people killed.

MORE

 

Peres, Abbas accept papal invitation to pray for peace at Vatican

 The Jerusalem Post:

Pontiff extends invitation to Israeli, Palestinian Authority presidents a month after negotiations break down.
President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted on Sunday Pope Francis’ invitation to both leaders pray for peace at the Vatican.
“The president welcomes the pope’s initiative and says he appreciates any effort that is being made towards achieving peace between Israel and her neighbors,” a spokesperson for Peres said.

628x471
MORE

 

NSA SPYING : Greenwald advocates Swiss asylum for whistleblower Snowden

swissinfo.ch and agencies
May 24, 2014 – 11:47

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke revelations about spying by the United States government, says Switzerland should offer whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum and wouldn’t be punished for doing so. But he adds the Swiss are a partner in certain US spy operations.

“A stable, well-off and important country like Switzerland can take Snowden in,” Greenwald said in an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger and Der Bund newspapers, adding it was the responsibility of any country benefiting from Snowden’s revelations to offer him asylum.

Snowden, a former NSA contractor who fled the United States in June 2013 after leaking millions of documents revealing widespread domestic and international spy operations to Greenwald at The Guardian newspaper and to the Washington Post, is now living under asylum protection in Moscow. But his asylum permit runs out in August.

Although he believes Switzerland has an obligation to offer to take Snowden in, Greenwald said the NSA documents show the Swiss are second-tier partners for the US in spy operations, after English-speaking countries like Britain, Canada and Australia. Defense Minister Ueli Maurer said last year the Swiss had no role in the NSA’s operations.

“The US sees the Swiss as a monitoring partner,” Greenwald said, “for example, with regard to specific countries or in the supervision of certain regions or individual groups”.

Greenwald also said Snowden’s documents show the NSA is spying on the Swiss banking sector, but that “those documents need to be examined more closely”.

Parliament has indicated it wants to meet with Snowden to find out more about the implications of his revelations for Switzerland and to talk about asylum possibilities. But Greenwald says Snowden should make sure the deal isn’t one-sided.

“The question is whether Snowden should help countries that don’t want to help him,” he said. “If I were in his situation, I would think twice about whether I would talk to representatives from countries that wanted to take away my rights and help land me in prison.”

SOURCE: SWISSINFO.CH

Qur’an lesson for today: 131. Pilgrimage a source of cleansing

131. Pilgrimage a source of cleansing

[22:30] ‘Then let them accomplish their needful acts of cleansing, and fulfil their vows, and go around the Ancient House.’

[2:198] The months of the Hajj are well known; so whoever determines to perform the Pilgrimage in these months, should remember that there is to be no foul talk, nor any transgression, nor any quarrelling during the Pilgrimage. And whatever good you do, Allah knows it. And furnish yourselves with necessary provisions, and surely, the best provision is righteousness. And fear Me alone, O men of understanding.

Curtesy Amjad Tariq, Sydney

eDigest: Pope urges end to “unacceptable” Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Epigraph:

 And thou shalt assuredly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants and monks and because they are not proud. (Al Quran 5:83)  

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas received the Pope at his palace

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas received the Pope at his palace

The Lead post collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Pope urges end to “unacceptable” Israeli-Palestinian conflict

 Epigraph:  And thou shalt assuredly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants…

Obama has put Pakistan drone war on hold

(CNN) – A year ago, President Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University in Washington in which he made the case that it was time to wind down the “boundless global…

Fisk tells of life in Middle East

MARY FOGARTY – UPDATED 22 MAY 2014 03:02 PM ACCLAIMED journalist Robert Fisk was in Enniskerry recently, where he was interviewed by David McWilliams for a live and enraptured audience.…

Israel continues digging tunnels underneath Al-Aqsa mosque

PNN/Jerusalem The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Waqf reported yesterday that the Israeli authorities have almost finished a network of tunnels underneath one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa mosque…

UN Panel Slams Vatican On Priest Sex Abuse, Citing Anti-Torture Treaty

Epigraph: And what is the matter with you that you struggle not in the cause of Allah and of the weak — men, women and children — who say, ‘Our…

Pakistani doctor given UN award on child health

Dawn.com — ISLAMABAD: The World Health Assembly has rewarded a Pakistani physician, Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, for his global work on child health and newborn survival. World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General…

New bus ads in DC say Qu’ran promotes Jew hatred – A merit-less, dangerous accusation!

Source: muslimwriters.org | time.com Qasim Rashid Qasim received his JD from Richmond Law and his BSc from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He publishes regularly in national and international outlets including USA…

UK: The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association 5k Fun Run, Sunday 1st June, Kelvingrove Park

Source: glasgowwestend.co.uk The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association 5k Fun Run is back!! Sunday 1st June, Kelvingrove Park The fourth annual AMYA 5k Fun Run takes place in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow…

“Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions” by Harris Zafar

Source: amazon.com | twitter.com/Harris_Zafar Despite heightened interest in the study of the Muslim faith, for many people Islam remains shrouded in mystery and confusion. What really is Shariah law? How is a Muslim…

Who are the #Ahmadiyya Muslims?

Source: veooz.com Introduction given by its founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), the Messiah & Mahdi.…

Nearly 300 runners for Ahmadiyya’s Bradford West Gwillimbury race

Source: simcoe.com Approximately 250-300 runners participated in the 4th annual Run for BWG today, a 3k and 5k event that raises funds for local services. The race was organized by and…

10 ways to become closer to God by Imam Shamshad A. Nasir

Source: dailybulletin.com Dear readers: here are 10 ways you can become closer to God. These were written 125 years ago by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad,…

eDigest: Pope Francis arrives in Jordan today at start of Holy Land trip

Epigraph: Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with…

Islam Abhors Kidnapping

Source: The Malta Times By Laiq Ahmed Atif, who is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta. The Gracious God will have mercy on those who are merciful. Have mercy on those…

Qur’an lesson for today: Commandment regarding Pilgrimage for going around Ancient House (Kabah)

130. Commandment regarding Pilgrimage for going around Ancient House (Kabah) [22:30] ‘Then let them accomplish their needful acts of cleansing, and fulfill their vows, and go around the Ancient House.’…

Applaud U.S. pragmatism on Hamas

May 21, 2014 12:11 AM By Rami G. Khouri The Daily Star STORY SUMMARY This is a significant change from the situation eight years ago, when Hamas won the January…

Smoke rises from Somalia’s parliament building after attack

Source: CNN Mogadishu (CNN) — Smoke and flames rose from Somalia’s parliament building in Mogadishu after militants launched an attack Saturday. People could be seen lying on the ground, as…

Persecution against Ahmadis in Pak increased manifold: Report

IBNlive-Press Trustt of India — Acts of persecution against the minority Ahmadi community in Pakistan have increased “manifold” over the past year as seven community members fell prey to religious…

 

 

Is it a tacit recognition of a Palestinian state by Pope?

Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

Source: Times of India (TOI)

BETHLEHEM: Pope Francis landed on Sunday in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in a symbolic nod to Palestinian aspirations for their own state as he began a busy second day of his Mideast pilgrimage. 

Previous popes always came to the West Bank after first arriving in Tel Aviv, Israel. Francis, however, landed at a Bethlehem helipad from Jordan aboard a Jordanian helicopter and immediately headed into an official welcoming ceremony and meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

In its official program, the Vatican referred to Abbas as the president of the “state of Palestine.” 

“The fact that he is coming straight from Jordan to Bethlehem, without going through Israel,” is a tacit recognition of a Palestinian state, said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Christian who is a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized a “state of Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem _ lands Israel captured in the 1967 war — as a non-member observer. The recognition still has little meaning on the ground, with Israel remaining in full control of east Jerusalem, which it annexed in 1967, and the West Bank. 

Read more:

Pope urges end to “unacceptable” Israeli-Palestinian conflict

 Epigraph:

 And thou shalt assuredly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants and monks and because they are not proud. (Al Quran 5:83)

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas received the Pope at his palace

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas received the Pope at his palace

Source: BBC

Pope Francis has called for an end to the “increasingly unacceptable” Palestinian-Israeli conflict during a visit to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

His comments came as he met Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as part of a three-day tour of the Middle East.

He is holding an open-air mass for 8,000 local Christians by Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

The tour’s official purpose is to improve ties with the Orthodox Church.

Later, the Pope will travel to Tel Aviv and then Jerusalem where he will meet Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople.

However, correspondents say Palestinians are hoping for a show of support as his visit comes just weeks after peace talks with Israel broke down.

Read further and watch a video in BBC

Additional Reading

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Islam!

Fisk tells of life in Middle East

MARY FOGARTY – UPDATED 22 MAY 2014 03:02 PM

ACCLAIMED journalist Robert Fisk was in Enniskerry recently, where he was interviewed by David McWilliams for a live and enraptured audience.

Nelofer Pazira, Robert Fisk and Jessica Carey.

Nelofer Pazira, Robert Fisk and Jessica Carey.

Fisk lives and works in the Lebanon, basing his existence around a flat in Beirut. He is the Middle Eastern correspondent for The Independent and author of several books.

His vast knowledge was at the disposal of the crowd gathered in the Summerhill House Hotel, where he spoke about his distinguished career, which has included speaking to Osama Bin Laden, and regularly putting his life at risk and the volatile political climate in a vast area.

A controversial figure, Fisk is fiercely passionate about his subject matter and insists his bias is only towards the innocent victim in any given situation.

The evening was organised by Enniskerry Heart Savers and was completely sold out.

The Cardiac First Response Group was started in September 2013. ‘Our aim is to provide accessible Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in public places, to teach members of the community how to provide CPR, and to act as first response to patients in the area who are suffering with cardiac issues while an ambulance is on its way,’ explained group Chairman Pat Carey.

‘Given the remoteness of our village and surrounding areas, not to mention the poor access especially in winter months, this service is extremely important.’

Both David McWilliams and Robert Fisk were at the event in Enniskerry free of charge.

Thanks to individual sponsorship and fundraising they now have three AEDs and one heated cabinet in the area.

With help from Joe Dowling from the Irish Heart Foundation they have over 100 locals trained in CPR and AED use. This training was provided free of charge to the community. These AED’s are located in The Powerscourt Arms Hotel, Curtlestown School and Keegan’s Farm Shop.

‘We will be working under the umbrella group Wicklow Cardiac First Responders (WWCFR) and thanks to them in early April, 9 locals completed a two days course and are now fully trained First Responders,’ said Pat. ‘Our next aim is to purchase training equipment and supplies for trained First Responders who will be on call with the central ambulance control.’

Bray People
SOURCE: http://www.independent.ie/regionals/braypeople/news/fisk-tells-of-life-in-middle-east-30272820.html

Israel continues digging tunnels underneath Al-Aqsa mosque

PNN/Jerusalem

The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Waqf reported yesterday that the Israeli authorities have almost finished a network of tunnels underneath one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

al-aqsa-jerusalem1
The Foundation also said in a press release that Israel has finished digging tunnels and excavations near the Ablution Gate, and has connected them to other networks of tunnels located underneath the western wall of the mosque, reports WAFA.

The Foundation has declared that these excavations have been done secretly by Israel, under the pretence of archeological excavations and funded by the radical settler organization Ateret Cohanim, and that with the digging they have uncovered large vaulted halls that will be open soon to the Israeli public.

WAFA quotes the Foundation declaring that “All the archeological findings date back to various successive Islamic periods, especially the Mamluk period; however, Israeli occupation authorities claim they date back to the Temple era”.

The Foundation concluded saying that the network of tunnels run under the vicinity of the western border of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, less than 50 meters away from the mosque, and penetrate deep into underneath Ablution Gate, located within the mosque itself.

SOURCE: PALESTINIAN NEWS NETWORK

UN Panel Slams Vatican On Priest Sex Abuse, Citing Anti-Torture Treaty

Epigraph:

And what is the matter with you that you struggle not in the cause of Allah and of the weak — men, women and children — who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and make for us some friend from Thyself, and make for us from Thyself some helper?’  (Al Quran 4:76)

United nations General Assembly

United nations General Assembly

Source: Huffington Post

Posted: 05/23/2014 

GENEVA (AP) — In a report that could expose the Catholic Church to new legal arguments by clerical sex abuse victims, a U.N. committee found Friday that the Vatican does exercise worldwide control over its bishops and priests and must comply with the U.N.’s anti-torture treaty.

The U.N. Committee Against Torture concluded that Vatican officials failed to report sex abuse charges properly, had moved priests rather than discipline them, and had failed to pay adequate compensation to victims. Although the panel did not explicitly say that the Holy See had violated any of its obligations under the anti-torture treaty, which it ratified in 2002, panel members said that was implicit in the criticism.

“Legal scholars will tell you that when the committee addresses a problem and makes a recommendation, it sees the state as not meeting the requirements of the convention,” the panel vice chair, Felice Gaer, told reporters. “It’s absolutely clear what we’re saying.”

But the Vatican dismissed the 10-member panel’s conclusions as “fundamentally flawed” and insisted it didn’t exercise direct control over its priests worldwide.

The report’s most immediate impact may be to empower victims pressing the Vatican to take more legal responsibility for priests who raped and molested children. The Holy See long has sought to distance itself from the conduct of pedophile priests and the bishops overseeing them, saying the church’s own structure isn’t the centrally organized, top-down hierarchy that the lawyers for victims have often described.

Earlier this month, the Holy See revealed to the committee that it had defrocked 848 priests and imposed lesser penalties on 2,572 others since 2004. Those figures reflected only those complaints handled directly by the Holy See, not those left in the hands of dioceses, so the total number of sanctioned priests worldwide could be much higher.

Crucially, the committee rejected the Holy See’s position that it should be legally liable for enforcing the treaty only within the tiny confines of Vatican City itself. Church leaders consistently have argued that legal responsibility for abuse lies with the bishops and the leaders of individual congregations of priests, nuns and brothers.

The committee said the Vatican, like all parties to the treaty, must ensure that the treaty isn’t violated by its representatives anywhere worldwide. It said the Vatican’s contention that it did not enforce control over church personnel outside Vatican City borders was “not consistent” with the treaty or the Vatican’s own laws.

The panel said ratifying parties to the torture treaty, including the Vatican, “bear international responsibility for the acts and omissions of their officials and others acting in an official capacity or acting on behalf of the state.”

In reply Friday, the Vatican accused the panel of sloppy reasoning. It insisted the committee was wrong “to give the impression that all the priests serving around the world are indirectly, legally tied to the Vatican.”

The Vatican said it was not even indirectly responsible for enforcing the treaty’s anti-torture obligations on all the world’s 440,000 priests and the Vatican’s own laws do not imply such a level of legal control.

Asked about that Vatican statement, Gaer told reporters: “We’re not suggesting that the Holy See is responsible for the actions of every Catholic. But the officials of the Holy See do exercise control over a significant range of conduct that takes place outside the four corners of Vatican City.”

The Vatican stressed that the committee’s report had not explicitly stated whether it believes that rape and sexual abuse constitute a form of torture and therefore violate the Holy See’s treaty obligations. It said the U.N. report makes “an implicit fundamental assumption” that any sexual abuse is equivalent to torture, an assumption not supported by the treaty.

Panel members, however, say it has been firmly established in international law that rape and sexual violence can amount to torture, on a case-by-case basis. They said the torture committee had referred to cases of rape and sexual abuse in about 50 other reviews over the past decade.

“We’re not saying that any sexual abuse is equivalent to a form of torture. We need to see the circumstances. The issue here is the responsibility of a state,” said the committee’s chairman, Claudio Grossman. “A responsibility of a state comes into play if there was no prevention or there was no investigation and punishment.”

In 2001, the Vatican required bishops and religious superiors to forward all credible cases of abuse to Rome for review. That followed findings that pedophile priests were being shuffled from diocese to diocese, rather than facing church trials or police investigations. The Vatican in 2010 told bishops and superiors they must report credible cases to police when required by local laws.

The committee’s review marked the second time this year that the Vatican has been forced to appear before a U.N. committee in Geneva and peppered with questions about its handling of abuse cases.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded in February that the Vatican systematically placed its own interests over those of victims by enabling priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children through a code of silence.

Reference

Pakistani doctor given UN award on child health

Dawn.com —

ISLAMABAD: The World Health Assembly has rewarded a Pakistani physician, Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, for his global work on child health and newborn survival.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Margaret Chan announced the ‘Ihsan Dogramaci Family Health Foundation Prize’ for Dr Bhutta at a session of the assembly in Geneva on Thursday.

Dr Bhutta is the founding director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University Karachi and Robert Harding Inaugural Chair in Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children Toronto.

He is also one of the seven members of Independent Expert Review Group, appointed by the UN secretary-general for monitoring global progress on maternal and child health millennium development goals.

He represents academic and research organisations on Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations Board and co-chairs the Maternal and Child Health Oversight Committee of WHO Emro and Global Countdown for 2015 Steering Group.

Dr Bhutta told Dawn that it was the first time that a Pakistani had been rewarded at the global forum. Ironically, there was no representation of the government at the award ceremony.

Dr Bhutta’s research interests include newborn and child survival, maternal and child under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

He leads a large group based in Pakistan with special interest in research synthesis.

Besides, Sasakawa Health Prize was awarded to Dr Hubert Bogaert Diaz of Leprosy Control Foundation Dominican Institution of Dermatology and Skin Surgery for expanding services for children affected by skin diseases, other than leprosy.

The UAE Health Foundation Prize was given to the Institution for Research in Health in Costa Rica for its work on gastric cancer and occupational exposure to pesticides.

The Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize for Public Health was given jointly to Prof Sinata Koulla-Shiro of Cameroon and the Czech Society of Cardiology.

Origional Post here:  http://www.dawn.com/news/1108331/pakistani-doctor-given-un-award-on-child-health

New bus ads in DC say Qu’ran promotes Jew hatred – A merit-less, dangerous accusation!

Source: muslimwriters.org | time.com

Qasim Rashid

Qasim Rashid

Qasim received his JD from Richmond Law and his BSc from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He publishes regularly in national and international outlets including USA Today, Washington Post, and NPR. Qasim currently blogs for The Huffington Post.

 

large-jewish-star-266x300

The fiasco continues.

Islamophobes are fabricating the myth that Islam promotes Jew-hatred by taking out ads on D.C. buses. Take a look at the ad, linked above—does anyone else find it insane that these ignorant people are spending money promoting pictures of Adolf Hitler?

Now, certainly some Muslims are anti-Jewish, as are some Christians, agnostics, atheists—you get the idea. However, nothing in the Qur’an or in Prophet Muhammad’s example supports the myth of “Islamic Jew hatred.”

As I detail in my upcoming book, EXTREMIST, an objective study of Islam demonstrates that the myth of Islamic Jew hatred crumbles like a house of cards.

So let’s dig in.

Those who proclaim Islamic Jew-hatred deliberately misrepresent the Qur’an 7:167—among several more verses. My analysis of 7:167 below—which is equally applicable to any allegedly “anti-Jew” verse—demonstrates without question that nothing here is “anti-Jewish.” But to remain objective, I reference Dr. Philip Jenkins—a prolific non-Muslim academic—who, on the question of Islamic Jew-hatred writes in his book Laying Down the Sword:

“In order to make such texts look vicious, anti-… read more at muslimwriters.org

UK: The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association 5k Fun Run, Sunday 1st June, Kelvingrove Park

Source: glasgowwestend.co.uk

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association 5k Fun Run is back!!

Sunday 1st June, Kelvingrove Park

The fourth annual AMYA 5k Fun Run takes place in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow on Sunday 1st June.  This is a fantastic family event aimed at all members of the local Ahmadiyya Mosque, no matter what age or ability. The event also encourages and welcomes non mosque members to participate, bringing the whole community together.

This event has grown each year with the 2013 event raising over £25,000 for Yorkhill Children’s Charity – a phenomenal amount!

Registration in advance is free but we ask participants to raise a minimum £20 sponsorship.

Registration on the day is £20 for adults, £10 for children, and opens at 9am at the Baitur Rahman Mosque, 8 Haugh Road, Glasgow (just two minutes from Kelvingrove Park).

The race kicks off in the Kelvingrove Park at 11.15am.

For more information or to register call our Fundraising Team on 0141 201 6917 or email fundraising@yorkhill.org

_________________________________________________________

Similar news @ eveningtimes.co.uk

Mosque runners will raise cash A WEST End mosque is urging community members to take part in a charity fun run. The fourth annual Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association 5k Fun Run is returning to Kelvingrove Park on June 1. The family event is aimed at members of the Ahmadiyya Mosque, in Haugh Road, as well as other local people. This event has grown each year – and last year reaised £25,000 for Yorkhill Children’s Charity. Registration in advance is free but participants are asked to raise a minimum of £20 in sponsorship. For more information, call 0141 201 6917.

“Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions” by Harris Zafar

Source: amazon.com | twitter.com/Harris_Zafar

Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions

Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions

Despite heightened interest in the study of the Muslim faith, for many people Islam remains shrouded in mystery and confusion. What really is Shariah law? How is a Muslim to understand Jihad? Does Islam oppose Western values such as free speech or freedom of religion? What place do women have according to Islam?

Understanding that this confusion has as much to do with the behavior and words of Muslims as it does with allegations made by anti-Islam activists, Demystifying Islam offers refreshingly bold answers to provocative questions about Islam today.

download (1)

 

 

Author Harris Zafar—lecturer, writer, teacher and national spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA—is forthright about issues where Muslims disagree, and he digs into history through vast research and scholarship to track the origins of differing beliefs. From the burqa to the role of Jesus in Islam, Demystifying Islam is an essential resource and concise guide to understanding the fastest growing religion in the world

Excerpt about abrogation from my new book “Demystifying : Tackling the Tough Questions”

BnhTAObCYAEb03B

Purchase it at amazon.com or see Harris Zaffar’s twitter page at twitter.com/Harris_Zafar

Nearly 300 runners for Ahmadiyya’s Bradford West Gwillimbury race

Source: simcoe.com

Nearly 300 runners race for Bradford West Gwillimbury Dominik Kurek Runners start the 5k run at the 4th annual Run for BWG Saturday, May 24.

Nearly 300 runners race for Bradford West Gwillimbury
Dominik Kurek
Runners start the 5k run at the 4th annual Run for BWG Saturday, May 24.

Approximately 250-300 runners participated in the 4th annual Run for BWG today, a 3k and 5k event that raises funds for local services.

The race was organized by and held at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at (AMJ) Community in Bradford.

To date, the event has raised approximately $30,000 for the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury’s Library and Cultural Centre and the Leisure Centre. Organizers expected to raise another $10,000 this year with funds also going to the town’s new Family Health Centre.

Chair of the organizing committee, Munawar Chudary, said the community is focused on supporting local healthcare services. The organization raises funds for the hospital in Vaughan, but until now, it had no public health centre to support in Bradford.

“We were waiting for that,” he said. “Because we did not have any family health centre or hospital, we started with the library and Leisure Centre.”

Mr. Chudary said future runs might even support the new health centre alone.

1

“I’m really proud of the Ahmadiyaa Muslim community here in Bradford, in Ontario and throughout Canada and the world. Love for all, hatred for none, those are words they live by and they’ve showcased it here as well,” said Mayor Doug White, in a public address prior to the race start.

“I just want to say I’m very, very proud. The AMJ gives to Bradford and I am so proud to say Bradford gives back to you.”

The winner of the 3k race was 14-year-old Waleed Irfan, while 16-year-old Usama Shakeel came second and 15-year-old Sulmaan Ali came third.

Winners of the 5k race were brothers Jose Carvalho, 31, in first, Fernando Carvalho, 29, in second and Paula Carvalho in third.

10 ways to become closer to God by Imam Shamshad A. Nasir

Source: dailybulletin.com

Dear readers: here are 10 ways you can become closer to God. These were written 125 years ago by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the messiah and mahdi …

1. Do not associate partners with God. This means believing that God is singularly one, the only supreme being and sole creator of the universe.

2. Abstain from lying, fornication, adultery, trespasses of the eye, debauchery, cruelty, dishonesty, mischief and rebellion. Don’t be carried away by your passions.

3. Offer the five daily prayers according to the command of God and the holy prophet; and try to regularly offer the Tahajjud (pre-dawn optional) prayer, and invoke God’s blessings upon the holy prophet. Ask forgiveness for your sins, remember God’s bounties and praise him.

4. Under the impulse of any passions, cause no harm to the creatures of God and human beings in general; neither by your tongue, your hands, nor by any other means. You should embody “Love for All — Hatred for None.”

5. Remain faithful to God in all circumstances of life — in sorrow and happiness, adversity and prosperity, in good times and bad — and remain submitted to God, ready to face all indignities and sufferings in his way, never turning away at the onslaught of any misfortune. Be ever steadfast.

6. Refrain from following immoral, un-Islamic customs and lustful inclinations, and completely submit yourself to the authority of the Holy Quran; and make the word of God and the sayings of the holy prophet the guiding principle in every walk of life.

7. Give up all pride and vanity and live your life in complete humbleness, cheerfulness and forbearance.

8. Hold faith, the honor of faith, and the cause of Islam dearer to you than your life, wealth, honor, children and all other dear ones.

9. Keep yourself occupied in the service of God’s creatures for his sake only; and strive to benefit mankind to the best of your God-given abilities.

10. Enter into a bond of brotherhood with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — the promised messiah — pledging obedience to this humble servant of God in everything good, for the sake of God alone, and remain faithful to it until your last breath.

[Urdu] Khutba Juma aur Hamari Zimmedari… by Imam Shamshad A. Nasir

by Shamshad A. Nasir

Kindly click on the images to zoom them out, Jazakallah.

Khutba Juma or Hamari Zimma dari-page-001 Khutba Juma or Hamari Zimma dari-page-002 Khutba Juma or Hamari Zimma dari-page-003 Khutba Juma or Hamari Zimma dari-page-004 Khutba Juma or Hamari Zimma dari-page-005

Page 6
Page 7

Imam Shamshad A. Nasirimages

Shamshad A. Nasir is imam of the Baitul Hameed Mosque, Chino, California. Imam Nasir currently serves as the missionary-in-charge of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for the southwest region of the United States.

Obama has put Pakistan drone war on hold

Obama pointing to a student for a question during the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative town hall meeting at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014.

Obama pointing to a student for a question during the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative town hall meeting at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014.

(CNN) — A year ago, President Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University in Washington in which he made the case that it was time to wind down the “boundless global war on terror ” and “perpetual wartime footing” that has been a feature of American life since 9/11.

Indeed, the CIA drone program in Pakistan has stopped completely since the beginning of this year. This is a noteworthy development given the fact that there have been 370 drone strikes in Pakistan over the past decade that have killed somewhere between 2,080 to 3,428 people; most of whom were suspected militants, but also a smaller number of civilians.

In his speech the President made the case that al Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks, “is on the path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us.”

Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen

Obama outlined the remaining terrorism threat as coming from “less capable al Qaeda affiliates” who are certainly threats to American diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad, as well from “homegrown extremists,” like those who bombed the Boston Marathon a little over a year ago.

Read further

eDigest: Pope Francis arrives in Jordan today at start of Holy Land trip

Epigraph:

Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Al Quran 3:65)

 Exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher: The site is venerated as Golgotha, where Jesus was put on cross

Exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher: The site is venerated as Golgotha, where Jesus was put on cross

The Lead post collected by , the Muslim Times’ Editor for Germany

Pope Francis travels to the Holy Land with a rabbi and a Muslim cleric

Epigraph: Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with…

Vatican defends Palestinian sovereignty ahead of papal visit

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s Secretary of State on Thursday defended the Palestinians’ right to a “sovereign and independent” homeland and said he hoped Pope Francis’ upcoming visit would lead…

American Rabbis Welcome Pope Francis To Israel

The Huffington Post  | by  Yasmine Hafiz Ahead of Pope Francis’ arrival in the Holy Land on May 24, over 450 American rabbis have signed a letter of welcome as he…

Islamabad: Sikh community storms Parliament House

Source: The Express Tribune By Iftikhar Firdous Published: May 23, 2014 ISLAMABAD: After storming through the gates of Parliament House in protest of alleged desecration of their holy books in Sindh,…

Religion at work under spotlight

NZ Herald: Employers find it okay to employ Buddhists and Hindus but are wary of hiring Muslims, an AUT study has found. The research for a book entitled Work and Worship by…

In a first, Twitter blocks ‘blasphemous’ tweets in Pakistan

ET: The online social-networking and microblogging site, Twitter, has honoured five requests brought forward by Abdul Batin, an official of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), to block ‘blasphemous content’ in Pakistan,…

Islam Abhors Kidnapping

Source: The Malta Times

By Laiq Ahmed Atif, who is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.

The Gracious God will have mercy on those who are merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, Allah in heavens will have mercy on you.

He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children and does not recognise honour of the elderly.

All creatures are Allah’s family; and Allah loves most among His creation those who treat his family well and look after their needs.

These are statements by the holy founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad. If one ponders over these statements and reads the news, which has spread all over the world and has since become the talk of the town, about the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls, it becomes clear that such actions are cruel, brutal and barbaric and are condemned by Islam.

What is Boko Haram?

Boko Haram is an extremist organisation in Nigeria, which means “western education is forbidden”. The members of this organisation call themselves Muslims and they want to impose their so-called Islamic philosophy and ideology on the rest of the population. But they are nothing more than a vile band of killers, kidnappers, suicide bombers, murderers and extremists.

In secular matters, Muslims should also obey their rulers who may not be Muslims

Since the organisation came into existence it maimed a large number of mothers, fathers and children through their vicious acts of extremism. Now they have caused complete agony to the parents of more than 200 innocent girls who haven’t even properly embarked on the journey of their lives.

The actions of Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam; their actions can be condemned and unreservedly rejected on many basis.

Islam discards the idea of forming a kind of state within a state, taking the law into one’s own hands and disallows spreading disorder in the land. It says that “disorder and persecution are worse than killing”. Allah repeatedly instructs in the Holy Quran: “Create not disorder on the earth.” “Commit not iniquity in the earth, creating disorder.” “Allah loves not disorder.” “Allah loves not those who create disorder.”

With reference to abiding by the law of the land, the Holy Quran says: “O ye who believe, obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those who are in authority among you” (4:60). The words “those in authority”, in their wider significance, include even such non-Muslims as may happen to be in authority over Muslims. The practice of the Prophet Muhammad and his sayings make it abundantly clear that, in secular matters, Muslims should also obey their rulers who may not be Muslims.

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video. This stand of Boko Haram against women/girls also does not comply with Islamic teachings and Islam discards any such action of kidnapping women/girls against their will and stopping them from having their education.

The Holy Quran firmly declares that detaining or enslaving women against their will is completely forbidden (4:20).

It also categorically rejects the idea of holding captive prisoners of war unless there is ongoing and regular fighting in the land (8:68).

In the Holy Quran, God instructs us to pray for the knowledge: “O my Lord, increase me in knowledge” (20:115). These words show the great importance the Quran attaches to the acquirement of knowledge. Elsewhere in the Quran, knowledge has been styled as “God’s great grace” (2:270).

Prophet Muhammad said that: “It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge.” He also exhorted both to “seek knowledge though it may be found in a country as far away as China” and to “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”. It was an oft-repeated saying of his that if a man had daughters and he arranged to have them educated and took pains with their upbringing, God would save him from the torment of hell.

Prophet Muhammad said that “Allah is gentle and He loves gentleness and He rewards for gentleness what He does not recompense for harshness; and He does not reward any other virtue like He rewards gentleness”.

My sincerest appeal to Boko Haram is to release all the abducted schoolgirls and stop all acts against humanity. And since they have said they are doing all that in the name of Islam, I quote what Prophet Muhammad had said, that “Muslim is one from whose hand and tongue all others are safe and are in peace”.

My appeal to them is to become the one from whom compassion and love flourishes and not the one who is enemy of mankind.

I shall conclude with a quote by the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, who very rightly says:

I admonish you to refrain from evil and be truly compassionate towards mankind. Cleanse your hearts of malice and spite for you will become like angels through this habit. It is a filthy and unholy religion that is devoid of sympathy for humanity and polluted is the path riddled with rancour based on selfish desires.

Be compassionate towards all for the sake of God, so that you may be shown mercy in the heavens. Come and I will teach you a way that will cause your light to prevail over all other lights. Abandon all lowly spites and jealousies. Be compassionate for mankind and lose yourself in God.

To contact the author: amjmalta@gmail.com

Reference

Qur’an lesson for today: 130. Commandment regarding Pilgrimage for going around Ancient House (Kabah)

130. Commandment regarding Pilgrimage for going around Ancient House (Kabah)

[22:30] ‘Then let them accomplish their needful acts of cleansing, and fulfill their vows, and go around the Ancient House.’

[2:159] Surely, Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the Signs of Allah. It is, therefore, no sin for him who is on pilgrimage to the House, or performs ‘Umrah, to go round the two. And whoso does good beyond what is obligatory, surely then, Allah is Appreciating, All-Knowing.

Applaud U.S. pragmatism on Hamas

May 21, 2014 12:11 AM
By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star

STORY SUMMARY

This is a significant change from the situation eight years ago, when Hamas won the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and headed the new government, which promptly elicited an Israeli-American boycott of that government. This time, the Palestinians have been more diplomatically astute by announcing clearly and often – as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did in recent meetings with top U.S. officials John Kerry and Susan Rice – that the new government will be committed to Abbas’ diplomatic program and will abide by the Quartet’s three conditions.

If the U.S. and the EU practice pragmatic diplomacy and engage with the new Palestinian unity government, this will severely isolate the Israeli government internationally, which would likely lead to one of three options: Israeli public opinion could force a new general election to validate or throw out the current rightist government; or Israel could provoke some new military crisis with the intention of showing the world that Hamas’ inclusion in the Palestinian government only leads to violence.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Columnist/2014/May-21/257196-applaud-us-pragmatism-on-hamas.ashx#ixzz32dlEPW00
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Obama has put Pakistan drone war on hold

Source: CNN

(CNN) — A year ago, President Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University in Washington in which he made the case that it was time to wind down the “boundless global war on terror ” and “perpetual wartime footing” that has been a feature of American life since 9/11.

Indeed, the CIA drone program in Pakistan has stopped completely since the beginning of this year. This is a noteworthy development given the fact that there have been 370 drone strikes in Pakistan over the past decade that have killed somewhere between 2,080 to 3,428 people; most of whom were suspected militants, but also a smaller number of civilians.

More:

Smoke rises from Somalia’s parliament building after attack

Source: CNN

Mogadishu (CNN) — Smoke and flames rose from Somalia’s parliament building in Mogadishu after militants launched an attack Saturday. People could be seen lying on the ground, as ambulances pulled up.

People took cover as security forces moved in, exchanging gunfire with the attackers. Some members of parliament were evacuated from the building.

A lawmaker, Mohamed Omar, inside the parliament building said that Al-Shabaab militants wearing military uniforms and suicide belts had entered the compound.

More:

Pope Francis travels to the Holy Land with a rabbi and a Muslim cleric

Epigraph:

Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Al Quran 3:65)

Exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher: The site is venerated as Golgotha, where Jesus was put on cross

Exterior of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher: The site is venerated as Golgotha, where Jesus was put on cross

Pope Francis arrives in Jordan at start of Holy Land trip

Source: CNN

By Daniel Burke and Kevin Conlon, CNN
May 24, 2014 — Updated 1019 GMT (1819 HKT)

(CNN) — Pope Francis departed Rome on Saturday for a trip to the Holy Land with a rabbi and a Muslim cleric from his home country of Argentina.

The pope will visit Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who co-wrote a book with the pontiff, and Sheikh Omar Abboud, who leads Argentina’s Muslim community.

The Holy Land visit is the first for Francis as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and just the fourth for any pontiff in the modern era.

More:

Additional Reading

How Islam has Influenced Christian understanding of God

Persecution against Ahmadis in Pak increased manifold: Report

IBNlive-Press Trustt of India —

Acts of persecution against the minority Ahmadi community in Pakistan have increased “manifold” over the past year as seven community members fell prey to religious intolerance and 16 were attacked, according to a report.

The annual report of Jamaat Ahmadiyya also claimed that due to pressure from extremists, Ahmadis are being persecuted under discriminatory laws.

“Acts of persecution against the Ahmadi community have increased manifold while the law enforcement agencies pandered to the whims of the aggressors,” the report said.

“Whether it is the desecration of Ahmadi worship places or graves, the Pakistani authorities align themselves with extremists instead of enacting the law,” it claimed.

During 2013, there had been significant increase in fabricated news stories published in the Urdu press.

“More than 1,700 news reports and 400 articles appeared (in Urdu press) during the year depicting Ahmadis in a negative light,” the report claimed.

“Ahmadis have been facing political, social and legal discrimination since the promulgation of the notorious ordinance of 1984 which is contrary to the basic and equal rights of citizenship,” it added.

“As many as 237 Ahmadis have been killed since the Ordinance was passed while 193 attempted murders have taken place. Some 27 mosques have been demolished and 31 sealed by the authorities,” the report said.

“Some 37 bodies exhumed after burial while burial of 61 dead bodies of Ahmadis were denied in common cemetery. Not only are the lives of Ahmadis are under constant threat the departed souls are in no peace either,” it added.

Jamaat Ahmadiyya spokesman Salmuddin claimed: “The government’s silence suggest official patronage of these heinous acts.”

He said the government functionaries seemed to have close dealings with extremists under the cover of discriminative legislation against Ahmadis.

Pakistan’s Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but were declared non-Muslims through a constitutional amendment in 1974.

A decade later, they were barred from proselytising or identifying themselves as Muslims.

Origional Post here:  http://m.ibnlive.com/news/persecution-against-ahmadis-in-pak-increased-manifold-report/473883-2.html

Nawaz accepts Modi’s invitation to attend swearing-in ceremony

Source:ET

ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has decided to attend the swearing-in ceremony of India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi , a foreign office official confirmed on Saturday.

Nawaz is among the leaders of South Asian countries invited to attend the oath-taking ceremony to be held in New Delhi on May 26.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader on May 21, in a bold move, invited Nawaz to his swearing-in ceremony. Modi is to take the oath as prime minister 10 days after a landslide win for the Hindu nationalist BJP which secured the first majority by a single party in 30 years.

This is the first time in the history of India that a Pakistani prime minister has been invited to the oath-taking ceremony of an Indian premier.

More:

Vatican defends Palestinian sovereignty ahead of papal visit

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s Secretary of State on Thursday defended the Palestinians’ right to a “sovereign and independent” homeland and said he hoped Pope Francis’ upcoming visit would lead to “courageous decisions” for peace.

“We know that the Pope is going to a particularly suffering land,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, whose role is equivalent to that of a prime minister, told Vatican television ahead of the Pope’s three-day visit starting on Saturday.

“I really hope that the fruit will be to help politicians and all people of goodwill take courageous decisions on the path to peace,” Parolin said in the interview, which was posted on the website of Vatican Radio.

Asked about particular points that Francis will talk about during the visit amid stalled peace talks, Parolin said they would be in line with Vatican policy.

“On the one hand, Israel’s right to exist in peace and security within internationally recognised boundaries.

“And the Palestinian people’s right to have a homeland, sovereign and independent, the right to move around freely, the right to live in dignity,” he said.

The Pope travels to Jordan first on Saturday where he will meet Syrian refugees, then to Bethlehem in the Palestinian Territories on Sunday and on to Jerusalem where he will hold a prayer for Christian unity and visit holy sites.

The Vatican’s decision for Francis to fly by helicopter directly to Bethlehem from Jordan without passing through Israel as normally required by diplomatic protocol is a first that has cheered Palestinians and angered Israelis.

The Vatican recognised the Palestinian territories as the “State of Palestine” in 2012 and has incurred Israeli ire in the past for appearing to side with the Palestinians although relations have improved markedly in recent years.

SOURCE: THE JORDAN TIMES

In this photo taken May 19, 2014, Palestinian Christian members of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation use hammers to extract fractions of the cement blocks of the separation barrier, which later will be inlaid in an olive wood cross and presented as a souvenir to Pope Francis during his upcoming visit to the Holy Land this weekend, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem (AP photo)

In this photo taken May 19, 2014, Palestinian Christian members of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation use hammers to extract fractions of the cement blocks of the separation barrier, which later will be inlaid in an olive wood cross and presented as a souvenir to Pope Francis during his upcoming visit to the Holy Land this weekend, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem (AP photo)

S

Honour of the Holy Prophet (saw) and Blasphemy law: A Sermon by Khalifa of Islam

Source: Alislam.org: Hudhur said currently a hotly debated topic in the press and the electronic media is that of the blasphemy law of Pakistan. [Referred to in Urdu as ‘Namoos e Risalat’, i.e. law upholding the honour of the Prophet]. A true Muslim, whose belief extends from Hadhrat Adam (on whom be peace) to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is anxious at offence directed at any of the Prophets and is certainly very concerned as regards the Seal of all the Prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). A true Muslim can lay his/her life down, can see his/her children murdered and his/her property looted but cannot listen to disrespect towards his/her master, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Today, due to certain situations, the blasphemy law of Pakistan is at a critical juncture and Western leaders as well as the Pope are making demands regarding it.

These days Islam and Muslims are represented in a most horrific manner in the media with plentiful examples of Pakistan and Afghanistan thrown in. Hudhur said today he would not speak on the matter of the significance of the blasphemy law for Muslims and how the non-Muslims are taking advantage of it. Rather, he wished to say that anyone who made the slightest of effort against the honour and respect of his master, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) would come under the chastisement of the Quranic verse: ‘We will, surely, suffice thee against those who mock:’ (15:96). God Himself is protecting the honour of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and is enhancing his status every minute and thus states in the Qur’an: ‘Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet…’ (33:57).

In the current age, the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) understood this status more than any other and explained it to us. He said that the Holy Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) truthfulness and sincerity was such that he experienced all manner of evil but did not care and God thus stated: ‘Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! you also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace.’ No verse of this magnitude has been used for any other Prophet. God willed us to send salutations on him as a mark of thankfulness. In his blessed model, the Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) truthfulness and sincerity was for God. Therefore, if we wish to be included among those who are true believers of the Ummah, then we should obey all of God’s commandments with truthfulness and sincerity and invoke salutations and blessings (Durud) on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) with profusion.

While invoking Durud we should have his favours on us in view; he informed us of a religion that takes one to God, he taught us morals which God likes, he established a model for us by being a perfect servant of God, he honoured the dues of God’s worship and demonstrated an excellent model of fear of God as well as a supreme example of praise and glorification of God. The Qur’an gives many commandments, among them are: to adhere to truth under all circumstances, to fulfil promises, to pay the dues of kinship, to have compassion for creation of God, to be steadfast, to forgive, to be humble and to have trust in God in every situation. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was a supremely excellent model of all these attributes. When a true believer invokes Durud, he/she should try and follow his model, then alone can he/she express his/her truthfulness and sincerity to him and then alone will it be a Durud emanating out of thankfulness. This is upholding the honour of the Prophet (Namoos e Risalat), that to silence the outsiders one tries to follow his blessed model rather than disgrace Islam for ulterior motives and give our detractors chance to be disrespectful towards our beloved master (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

If our detractors get a chance to say negative things about the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) due to our weaknesses, then we are answerable to God for this. Love for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is not to be expressed through empty slogans. God wants practice. This is a serious cause for concern for Muslims.

If the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) had not elucidated the true status of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to us, the extent of our reverence for him would also have been limited to holding apparent rallies. He understood the lofty station of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and then explained it to us.

He wrote: ‘That light of high degree that was bestowed on perfect man was not in angels, was not in stars, was not in the moon, was not in the sun, was not in the oceans and the rivers, was not in rubies, emeralds, sapphires, or pearls; in short, it was not in any earthly or heavenly object. It was only in perfect man whose highest and loftiest and most perfect example was our lord and master, the Chief of the Prophets, the Chief of all living ones, Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. That light was bestowed on this man and, according to their ranks, upon all those who bore the same colour to some degree…. This dignity was found in its highest and most perfect form in our lord and master and our guide, the immaculate Prophet, the righteous one, testified to by the righteous, Muhammad, the chosen one [peace and blessings of Allah be on him].’ (Essence of Islam, Vol. I)

He also wrote: ‘I always wonder how high was the status of this Arabian Prophet, whose name was Muhammad, (thousands of blessings and peace be upon him). One cannot reach the limit of his high status and it is not given to man to estimate correctly his spiritual effectiveness. It is a pity that his rank has not been recognized, as it should have been. He was the champion who restored to the world the Unity of God which had disappeared from the world; he loved God in the extreme and his soul melted out of sympathy for mankind. Therefore, God, Who knew the secret of his heart, exalted him above all the Prophets and all the first ones and the last ones and bestowed upon him in his lifetime all that he desired. He is the fountainhead of every grace and a person who claims any superiority without acknowledging his grace is not a man but is the spawn of Satan, because the Holy Prophet has been bestowed the key to every exaltation and he has been given the treasury of every understanding. He who does not receive through him is deprived forever. I am nothing and possess nothing. I would be most ungrateful if I were not to confess that I have learnt of the true Unity of God through this Prophet. The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this perfect Prophet and through his light. The honour of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance, has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet. The ray of this sun of guidance falls like sunshine upon me and I continue illumined only so long as I am adjusted towards it.’ (Essence of Islam, Vol. I)

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also wrote: ‘When we estimate justly, then out of the whole series of Prophets, we find one of high courage and alive and greatly dear to God, the Chief of the Prophets, the pride and the crown of the Messengers, whose name is Muhammad Mustafa and Ahmad Mujtaba [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. By walking under his shadow for ten days one obtains that light which before him could not be obtained in a thousand years’ (Essence of Islam, Vol. I)

Hudhur said impartial opinion would clearly perceive that no one recognised the station of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) did. He alone had the valour to raise effective voice in response to attacks against the person of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). In his day a priest published a most offensive book about the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and sent free copies to Muslim religious leaders. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) also received a copy. He had a poster published addressing the government that although the law of the land allowed such publication but Muslims believed in all the Prophets. He suggested that a law should be introduced whereby people of each religion would only mention the good aspects of their faith and did not offend others. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) was passionate about safeguarding the station of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and indeed defended it at every opportunity. He said that our effort should be to present the flawless face of Islam to the world and in response to false allegations against it, to demonstrate to the world its pure and luminous picture.

Hudhur said true support of Islam is in eradicating very objection raised against it so that those who have spread the falsehood become weary. What is needed is practical effort borne out of compassion for Islam and this needs to be a constant endeavour to dismiss all allegations, bolstered by practice befitting true believers.

The Promised Messiah’s (on whom be peace) sentiments regarding upholding the honour of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) were such that he wrote that he would rather befriend poisonous snakes than those who make impure accusations against his master. He also wrote that nothing hurt him more than derision and mockery aimed at the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). He said that even if all his progeny and its progeny, his friends and associates all were murdered and his hands were cut off and the pupils of his eyes were gouged out and he lost all his amenities, the grief of attacks against the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) would be weightier for him than these woes.

Hudhur said there are some anti-Islam Christian priests around today as well. Recently an American priest had wanted to burn copies of the Qur’an. He wished to come to the UK. However, the British government has banned him from entering the country. Hudhur said this was an extremely commendable step by the British government, may God enable them to fulfil dues of justice in the future as well.

Hudhur related a few incidents from the life of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) to further illustrate his sense of honour for the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II (may Allah be pleased with him) also made all efforts of refutation when someone wrote an offensive book about the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) but advised that while sense of honour for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) should be demonstrated, it should also be demonstrated that a Muslim restrains himself. 25 years ago when Salman Rushdie wrote his infamous book, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV (may Allah have mercy on him) responded to it through his own publication. In 2005 when the Danish caricatures were published Hudhur and our mission in Denmark also responded and took appropriate actions. When attacks were made on the Holy Qur’an in Holland by a member of parliament, responses were issued. Hudhur said it is the dignity of a true Muslim to respond to such matters with a sense of honour but while remaining within the law.

Hudhur said if the blessed model of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was followed by the Muslims, the enemy would have been automatically silenced and those with ulterior motives would have been brought to justice. If the Muslims wish to express their endorsement for the honour of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) they should search for taqwa as taught by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

The history of the Ahmadiyya Community is replete with incidents upholding the honour of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Hudhur said it would be impossible to relate them all in one Friday Sermon, it would also be difficult to do so in a few Sermons. He said the objections against the person of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) can be removed by bringing the world under his banner. Disorder will stop when his true teaching will be implemented by us and the world is gathered under his banner. If only relevant laws are made to gain ulterior motives then that is blasphemous in itself.

Laws address apparent evil they do not address what is in hearts. True happiness for a Muslim will come about only when love of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) will be established in the world. It is the obligation of an Ahmadi in any case, for which we should make our best efforts, but if other Muslims also demonstrate models of forgiveness that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) displayed rather than show harshness, this indeed would be service to Islam. Today, this blessed model is needed as it is needed to take his message to the world and not simply make outward laws. May God enable us and the other Muslims to do this.

PAKISTAN: The worst of the blasphemy law is yet to come

AHRC: A blasphemy case has been registered under sections 295, 295C 298C and others against GEO media group owner, Mir Shakilur Rehman, anchor Shaista Lodhi, Veena Malik, Asad Khatak and other people, creating a new state of affairs.

Perhaps this is the first time that such high profile people have been charged under the blasphemy law and these are all very serious charges with the most severe punishment ranging up to the death penalty.

Normally, in such cases the police immediately arrest the accused, and if they fail then local imams use their leverage to provoke or remind Muslims of their religious duty, using mosque loudspeakers.

An emotionally charged religious mob then takes the law into their own hands and begins the process of self proclaimed justice which often results in the accused person being lynched. If the accused is Christian then the whole community comes under attack, their churches are rampaged and towns can even be set on fire. Even those who are not involved are punished.

But the situation in this case is quite different and intriguing, and everybody is watching it cautiously as this case can be a game changer.

The incident occurred on May 14 during the Utho Jago Pakistan show, hosted by Shaista Lodhi. People complained about some objectionable clips, and as soon as she realised her mistake she apologised on air, but it was too late as it has become a burning issue for some people. It is being seen not as a normal crime, but a crime against Islam, and carries a severe punishment.

Because of public pressure an FIR (first information police report) was registered on May 17 in Margla Police station, Islamabad, but according to reports a similar case has been registered in several police stations. Nobody has been arrested yet which is very unusual in these kinds of cases, but since all these people are very high-profile, law enforcement agencies and the government are both hesitant to take any action.

On the contrary, this is the first time I have seen the polarization of Ulemas and politicians. Some are insisting on action to be taken, while others are insisting on accepting the apology of Shaista Lodhi, the host of Utho Jago Pakistan. I wonder why some of  those who are insisting on accepting the apology, including hardliners who have been vociferously suggesting death only as a penalty for the blasphemer and never believe in a pardon, are now being such hypocrites. No doubt they will find some Islamic reference to justify their stance.

The situation is becoming more complex and many zealots cannot understand what action they should take. Keeping in view such situation, I cannot predict anything, but my personal opinion is that the apology should be accepted.

However, it does not seem that easy as Sahabzada Hamid Raza, Chairman Sunny Ittehad Council has submitted a petition in the Supreme Court and also the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) Ulema Board has issued a fatwa. There are several others who are not willing to accept the apology and are determined not to let this issue go at any cost. They want the implementation of the law to be able to run its course.

Sahabzada Hamid Raza and several other Ulemas believe no one has a right to pardon, and if pardoning these people is so important because of their social status, then everyone who has been languishing in prison for years must also be pardoned.

I think this is a principal stance and I am in favour of everyone being pardoned as the majority of these victims are innocent and they have been falsely accused to settle personal scores. If we look at history, many have been acquitted by the courts as they were found not guilty. In the majority of cases there are no witnesses and no evidence.

But this case is unique as, if started, it will be challenging for the courts, but equally simple as the witnesses and evidences are readily available. However, will this case ever be started, and if started, will it be decided according to the law. I have some doubts as Pakistan has double standards regardless of law or religion.

More: 

Islam’s Humanism: Their is No Worldly Punishment for Blasphemy

May 2011 eGazette – Blasphemy laws and freedom of religion

Punishment of Blasphemy

By Khalid Saifullah Khan (Australia)

Blasphemy means behavior or language that shows disrespect for any prophet or any religion. Blasphemy not only hurts the religious sensibilities of others, but it also disturbs the peace and harmony of any society and even causes law and order problems, which is why Islam does not allow even the idols of the polytheists reviled or maligned. Allah says: “And abuse not those whom they call upon beside Allah, lest they, out of spite, abuse Allah in their ignorance.” (Al Quran 6:109) If even the false idols are not allowed to be slandered, how the founders and leaders of different religions, sects and groups can be defiled? Clearly, the Holy Quran forbids Muslims to be blasphemous but if a blasphemy is committed, whether by a Muslim or a non-Muslim, Islam does not prescribe any worldly punishment. In this article, Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law would be examined in the light of above.

No doubt, the freedom of speech is necessary for the progress and development of a society. But this freedom must not be used to insult religions.
That is why Islam forbids blasphemy but does not prescribe any worldly punishment for it.

read more: 

Pakistan: “The end of pluralism and choice”

xindexoncensorship.com: Shahidullah Afridi’s roots are in a village in the Bara administrative division of the Khyber agency. For the last four years, Afridi has been living in the neighbouring city of Peshawar, but keeps a keen eye on events at home.

He was shocked when he heard that last week, the outlawed militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) had started a rather strange recruitment drive in his village that asked residents to enrol at least one of their sons to madrassas run by LI or pay Rs 400,000 (£2,397.96) as penalty.

Afridi is glad he left when he could. “I have a five-year old son. I don’t want my son to study in a madressa. I didn’t and I consider myself a fairly good Muslim,” he said, adding: “If you don’t study in a school [as opposed to a madressa], you don’t find work.”

The news was confirmed by Zahir Shah Sherazi, Dawn TV’s bureau chief in Peshawar who also reports on FATA and KPK. “My sources tell me that A4 sized posters have been plastered all over the marketplace in the Malik Din Khel area, controlled by LI, demanding locals put their sons into the seminaries run by them,” he told Index, adding: “They also said admission in madrassas other than theirs would not be acceptable.”

Afridi has not visited his village since he left. “I neither sport a beard nor do I wear a skull cap,” he told Index by phone from Peshawar, where he works as a daily wage earner.

Ambreen Agha, a research assistant with New Delhi’s Institute for Conflict Management, said Mangal Bagh assumed the leadership of LI in 2007, emerging as a new face of extremism and Islamic fundamentalism. “He imposed his version of the Shariah, issuing diktats against women’s education, making it compulsory for men to keep beards and forced women to wear burqa.”

Neither the Pakistani government nor the army took any actions.

More: 

India’s left will be back

theguardian: by Vijay Prashad —

The BJP’s neoliberalism may have pushed the left to the sidelines, but the inequality perpetuated by this agenda will ensure its return

Of the votes in the Indian election, 69% went against the eventual winner, the rightwing Bharatiya Janata party (BJP). This means that despite all talk of a landslide, the Indian electorate is open to an alternative. As the elected officials take their seats in the 16th Lok Sabha (parliament), it seems like folly to consider alternatives. The BJP has an outright majority in the parliament – it does not even need its allies to govern. The Congress party is a shadow of its former self, the oppressed caste parties (such as the Bahujan Samaj party) will be absent and the Left Front (Communist) bloc will be miniscule. All of these parties have called meetings to discuss their losses. More will be needed than licking wounds.

The Congress party’s main lesson will be to sit tight and wait for the BJP to stumble on its promises. Yet two main flaws – dynastic politics and a neoliberal policy agenda – cannot be addressed by the party’s high command. No senior leader wants to see the party distance itself from the Nehru-Gandhi family, whose current head – Sonia Gandhi – remains its oracle. Over the past four decades, since Sonia Gandhi’s husband, Rajiv, ran the party, it has fashioned itself as the spear of neoliberalism. It would take a party split for that commitment to be revoked.

During the past decade of rule, Congress’s policies have increased inequality in India and failed to address joblessness. Instead of any concrete improvement in people’s wellbeing, Congress seemed to deliver one corruption scandal after another. The BJP ran as the anti-corruption crusader, and promised to lift growth rates and ameliorate joblessness. However, the BJP’s policy slate is neoliberalism on steroids, which means it is unlikely to be able to meet the expectations it has set itself.

Over the past decade, the Communists have raised the issue of corruption ceaselessly. And it was precisely on this issue that the populist Aam Aadmi party (AAP) emerged last year to the win the Delhi state elections. Its symbol is the broom, sweeping away corruption from public office.

There is a significant divide between the Communist-AAP assessment of corruption and that of the Congress-BJP. The latter see corruption as a surface problem – bribes here, special favour there. “Good governance”, they argue, as if reading from a World Bank manual, will sort this out. The left and the AAP see corruption as a much broader problem – bribes and special favours certainly, but also the nepotism of the elite, the withering of public institutions and the attenuation of the political space. This latter point is germane to this election, aspolitical violence in West Bengal for instance, intimidated sections of the electorate that had made its commitment to the left clear. The 16th Lok Sabha is itself an example of this corruption – it has a record number of multimillionaires and criminals.

Why were the Communists not able to capitalise on their critique of neoliberalism? Neoliberal policy not only drives inequality, it also produces aspirations. Malls, filled with shining new commodities, have been built in the large cities and small towns. Television shows and films have produced a culture of goods – fancy houses, jobs that pour money into their employees’ banks, which hand out credit cards to buy anything in the malls. These neoliberal desires have over the course of the past 20 years had a marked impact on the Indian imagination. It is no longer a society formed on the values of the anti-colonial movement or of the Nehruvian period of national development. The core values of the present are personal consumption and career advancement. Such a cultural universe is detrimental to the kind of political project promoted by the Communists.

Prognoses that see this election as the “sunset for the left” are premature. Indian communism has taken its blows over the past 100 years and it will revive once again for several reasons.

India lacks a genuinely social democratic party, which means that there will always be an appeal for the Communists to take up the issues of livelihood and wellbeing of a population that will continue to be battered by an agenda that produces inequality. A very anaemic liberalism forces the Communists to lead the charge for civil liberties and the protection of minority rights, a pressing matter when the BJP – with no commitment to such rights – will be in power. The weakness of Indian liberalism and the absence of a social democratic party have led many prominent Indian liberals to call for the Communists to become a party of reform rather than revolution. The way the Communists see things, no amount of reform will be able to lift the hundreds of millions of Indian out of poverty. India requires an alternative policy path.

The left struggles to find a way to both critique the inequality of neoliberalism and to appeal to the public for an alternative future. This is the conundrum of the left around the world. The red flag has come to represent protest against the present. It does not yet indicate the pathway to the future.

Origional Post here:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/23/india-communists-bjp-neoliberalism-left

Second coming of Jesus… lets discuss.

Source: dailybulletin.com | Imam Shamshad Nasir

After the death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) as believed by Christians, nothing is closer to their heart or more central to their belief than his long-awaited second coming.

Biblical prophecies about the second coming have been debated by Christian scholars for centuries. When Jesus failed to reappear at the dawn of the second millennium (AD 1000), a general consensus began to form that Jesus would return sometime in the mid-to-late 19th century. Numerous messianic and rapture movements started in fervent expectation of the return of Jesus in the 1800s. What if I were to tell you that those prophecies did indeed come true?

For all my devout, God-loving Christian friends who strive to be Christ-like and live their lives by his teachings and example and who await his second coming as he himself defined it — through someone else who would come, not physically, but in his power and spirit — the good news is, that:

Jesus Christ has already come.

He came as he said he would — “like a thief in the night” — born in India in 1835 and receiving his appointment by God as the promised messiah in the last quarter of the 19th century. His name was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835-1908).

Jesus said in Matt.23:39 that people would not see him again (i.e., recognize him in his second advent) until they said “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And so most Christians did not and do not “see” or “recognize” Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the second coming of Jesus because they are not members of the religion that requires pronouncing blessings upon “he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

For more prophecies, click here: Prophecies promising the return of Christ

Only Muslims say “Peace and blessings of God be upon him” whenever they hear or say the name of the holy prophet Muhammad. And it was Muhammad who received, memorized and recited for his followers the 114 chapters of the Holy Quran — all but one of which starts with the words: “In the name of God (the Lord), most gracious, ever merciful.”

All Muslims believe in Jesus as the true messiah for the Israelites. All Muslims also believe in the second coming of Jesus. The difference between Ahmadi Muslims and all other Muslims is that non-Ahmadi Muslims believe (as do most Christians) that Jesus was taken up bodily alive into heaven 2,000 years ago, and that he will bodily descend back down to Earth in the latter days. In both non-Ahmadi Muslim and Christian camps, mass slaughter is promised for those who do not submit to Jesus — see Luke 19:27 where Jesus says: “Bring all those who will not have me reign over them as their king and slay them at my feet.”

Only Ahmadi Muslims believe the second coming of Jesus will not be a blood-soaked killing spree, resulting in the deaths of billions of “disbelievers.” And only Ahmadi Muslims take Jesus at his word when he explained in Matt.17:12-13 that the prophet Elijah was not going to come again in his same physical body, but that Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, came “in the power and spirit of Elijah” to herald the arrival of the messiah.

Click to Know the Virgin birth, blessed life, details of death and matters of resurrection clarified

Jesus clearly defines the real nature and form of second advents — including, by logical inference, his own. And yet, virtually all Christians and Muslims await the literal Second Coming of Christ from 2,000 years ago. True, the world needs the messiah now, but the messiah Jesus from the 1st century AD is not coming back himself.

Since the dawn of Islam, Christians have been accepting Islam. This will only continue as more and more Christians study the Bible and dare to question what they are taught in church. If, by seeking answers elsewhere, they investigate Ahmadiyya Islam (at Alislam.org), they will find the answers to their questions in the Quran and in the life of the Holy Prophet and in the advent of the promised messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

Some Christians at the time of Muhammad, when they first heard the recitation of the Quran, recognized the truth of Islam and the fulfillment of the promised advent of a law-bearing prophet like Moses as mentioned in Deut.18:18-20 and Deut.33:2. Here are three verses from the Quran (ch.5, vv.83-85) specifically about Christians: … And thou shalt assuredly find those who say, “We are Christians,” to be the nearest of them in love to the believers [the Muslims]. That is because among them are savants [learned scholars] and monks and because they are humble. And when they hear what has been revealed [from the Quran] to this messenger [Prophet Muhammad], thou see their eyes overflow with tears because of the truth which they have recognized. They say, “Our Lord, we believe, so write us down among those who bear witness …” (ch.5, “Al-Maidah,” verses 83-85)

Ahmadi Muslims are the only Muslims in the world who have accepted the first coming of Jesus in the first century AD, as well as the second coming of Jesus in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the 19th century. To learn more, I humbly invite you to the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino.

BAITUL HAMEED MOSQUE

11941 Ramona Ave., Chino
Call for more information: 909-627-2252

Robert Fisk: Our modern gods: Amnesty International, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations

Robert Fisk:    Our modern gods: Amnesty International, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations  They provide a reflection of our universal need for human protection, but are without artistic merit

Why did we give up on the old, grumpy, whimsical, brutal gods of old, with their adulterous, murderous, gentle, poetic ways? In Quebec City, I’ve been looking into the faces of Poseidon, Aphrodite, Dionysius, all culled from the great Greco-Roman collections of Berlin and now given a year of life at the Musée de la Civilisation “Masters of Olympus” exhibition on the banks of the Saint Lawrence. Cold marble is thus shielded from the still near-freezing waters by air-conditioning, statues and busts that were carved in Greece and the Middle East, and which must now be preserved from our environment. Once these figures stood in watered gardens near the Mediterranean, sometimes buried by a volcano in Pompeii or an earthquake in Roman Berytus (Beirut).

Hesiod and Homer were their poets, the first allegedly murdered for a rape he did not commit, the second perhaps non-existent – scholars are able to kill off the author of The Iliad with a mere mention of “recital” authorship in an age before written texts – but the Greeks believed in them. And don’t the busts of these great wordsmiths prove that they lived? Just as Zeus and Poseidon and Artemis and Apollo lived?

And if polytheism was born of Chaos, surely monotheism is about dictatorship. Zeus was, in his way, a bit human. Go to Quebec or Berlin and take a look. Christianity, too, at first. God Made Man, perhaps, if you were a Christian. Judaism was stricter. The Islamic God may not be a jealous God, but Islam is about submission. The one God of all three monotheistic religions expects obedience. There is only One True God. He is a just, lonely God. No wonder our human dictators hated this monotheistic chap, although Stalin was slightly less intolerant of Jesus – a working class lad, a carpenter’s son – than he was of the bourgeois merchant Mohamed.

But there is something rather intrusive about prying into the private lives of gods who did indeed look a bit like us, albeit in a frightening way. Take the vast marble foot of a colossal statue from 100BC Egypt. It belongs to a god, of course, but it’s a bit chilling to learn that only the feet, hands and heads of these giants were in marble. Most were simply attached to a wooden torso. God made Wood.

Beards were important to the male gods – and beards are important, aren’t they, to rather a lot of present-day prelates and God-followers? It’s almost a relief to come across an Asia Minor Triton of 150BC who appears to have submitted himself to a real haircut. Aphrodite, bringer-back of faithless husbands, modestly covers her naked left breast with her right hand, but wearing her hair up and back like any lady of the Greek aristocracy. Take away the actors’ masks and these folk do appear to be what Greeks actually looked like. But in a world without technology, how did the sculptors achieve this remarkable craftsmanship – a question even museum experts cannot answer – which includes figures only 150mm high?

And the transition from polytheism to monotheism? I suspect it was not that painful. The Kaaba, now the most sacred location in Islam, once contained 360 deities and was dedicated to a Nabatean god. Christians followed pagan traditions and built on polytheistic altars. I was struck a few weeks ago, in the Syrian town of Yabroud, to see the base of Roman pillars of an ancient temple/church – erected in an age when their constructors still believed in their very own household gods. These were deities who laid down no rules. The gods spent much of their time attacking and abusing each other inspiring myth and ritual and art. You could see why the early Roman emperors thought these gods and goddesses were safe, court jesters rather than an all-powerful God which might hold them to account.

Followers of an Islamist militia had destroyed the faces of Christian saints in the Yabroud church – too many graven images for them. Not that we “moderns” are that much more enlightened. Remember Henry VIII and Cromwell. The Quebec exhibition even includes a 500BC Greek bowl depicting a Dionysian feast in which the stick figures have had their phalluses – “vulgar details”, as the Canadian caption rather primly remarks – removed in the 1800s.

Greek gods, which became Roman gods, offered protection in a friendly, racy way. They reflected ourselves, I suspect, with all the characteristic flaws and obsessions we understand today. Revenge, adultery, betrayal, murder. They were us! They were ritualised in stage plays which still exist in our modern theatres. That’s why, at school, I wrote a third-rate poem called Penates (“household gods” in the Roman world) in which the “god” was a black-and-white television set which, in those days, only began life at 6pm.

Today, I guess the laptop and iPhone are our penates, the SMS a kind of ritual play, our greater gods being Amnesty International, the Geneva Conventions and – with certain reservations – the United Nations. The latter provide a reflection of our universal need for human protection, an example of our moral impoverishment. But, like Google, they have no artistic merit. And most will betray us. So to whom should we turn? Read Appollonius or Virgil and Ovid or the King James version of the Bible or the Koran (Tarif Khalidi translation)? Read the lot, I say, and judge for yourself.

SOURCE: THE INDEPENDENT

Runs, Walks and Rides for Charity

Source: bradfordtimes.ca

There will be plenty of Runs and Walks for Charity this weekend - including the annual Run for Bradford (BWG) organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at of Bradford taking place this Saturday, May 24, 2014 - a 3 and 5K Run/Walk open to the community. In photo, start of the 2013 Run. MIRIAM KING/BRADFORD TIMES/SUNMEDIA

There will be plenty of Runs and Walks for Charity this weekend – including the annual Run for Bradford (BWG) organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of Bradford taking place this Saturday, May 24, 2014 – a 3 and 5K Run/Walk open to the community. In photo, start of the 2013 Run. MIRIAM KING/BRADFORD TIMES/SUNMEDIA

Lace up your running shoes. The 4th annual Run for Bradford (BWG), organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, will be taking place this Saturday, May 24, at the AMJ property on 10 Sideroad.

The event is a fundraiser for Bradford West Gwillimbury, this year benefiting the new Family Health Centre, Library, Leisure Centre, and local Heritage.

The entire community is invited to come out, to enjoy a day of fun that includes jumping castles for the children, volleyball, trails, refreshments, a BBQ lunch at a nominal price – and the 3K Run/Walk or 5K Run.

Register online at http://www.runforbwg.ca or at 3999-10 Sideroad on the day of the Run, before 9:45 a.m. Note: Road closures begin at 9:45 a.m., Run/Walk starts at 10 a.m. Registration fee is $20 for the 3K walk, $25 for the 3K Run and $30 for the 5K Run.

For more information, or to sponsor a great community event, contact 1-855-RUN4BWG (786-4294).

The 2nd annual Smiling Blue Skies Walk to End Canine Cancer will take place Sunday, May 25 – this year, at the Holland Landing Snowmobile Club, on bradfordtimes.ca