By: Nabila Ikram Detroit, MI
Over 3,000 Muslim athletes and officials are said to be present at the Olympics taking place in London this year. As in every Olympic game, there are a couple of significant aspects of this year’s events.
The first and foremost, is the mere fact that the games are taking place during Ramadan. All the athletes are managing their time in different ways. For example, some athletes are continuing to fast, such as those on the Moroccan team. Others, such as the Egyptian team, have been advised by religious counselors that they are exempt due to the fact that they are traveling and in a foreign land. Yet, others plan on giving to charity enough for 60 needy people to make up for their voluntary missing of their fasts. The organizers of the Olympics have also been accommodating athletes by providing snack packs to the athletes that include items such as dates.
Another significant attribute of this year’s games is the continued involvement of Muslim women. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei have sent female athletes to the Olympics for the first time ever. The women faced incredible political and social difficulties as they fought for the honor to represent themselves and their nations. For example, Wojdan Shaherkani, 16, who competed in Judo was labeled the “Prostitute of the Olympics” by ultra-conservatives in her home country of Saudi Arabia.
Many of the athletes wore hijab, or the headscarf, and modest clothing, which in itself was a challenge for some women as their home countries required them to wear traditional attire, while the Olympics Committee required them not to. Therefore, after much discussion, a compromise had been made between the two to allow athletes to continue wearing the scarf or modest attire, but with some modifications to meet sport safety and other rules. Regardless of the obstacles, the women made it to the games and although most did not last long, their efforts and appearances were noted by the international community and have begun to pave the way for future female athletes.
The diversity of the games in which Muslims, males and females, are competing range from track, swimming, rifle competition, weightlifting, and many other areas.
The BBC has been covering the Olympics in much detail. The website has a comprehensive list of all the participating countries with profiles of their athletes and Olympic-related stories. Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/olympics/2012/countries/
By: Noor Salahuddin Chicago, IL
Surah Furqaan in Quran – e – Majeed is the 25th surah (chapter) with 77 ayaat (verses). Furqaan means the “criterion” or the “standard”, and the meaning of this word is to distinguish between good and bad. In this surah, Allah taala (the Greatest) helps us distinguish between the two so we may become better at judging our own actions.
And the servants of the Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth Hawna, and when the foolish address them they say; "Salama (peace).'' And those who spend the night in worship of their Lord, prostrate and standing. And those who say: "Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily, its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Hell is described as an evil abode and as a place to rest in. And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy, but are in a just balance between them [Surah alFurqaan 25:63-67]. Allah taala dislikes extremes in anything and that is evident in this ayah. What is meant here by Hawn is serenity and dignity, as the Messenger of Allah said: When you come to the prayer, do not come rushing in haste. Come calmly and with tranquility, and whatever you catch up with, pray, and whatever you miss, make it up.
These are the attributes of the believing servants of Allah, those who walk on the earth Hawna, meaning that they walk with dignity and humility, not with arrogance and pride; similar to the Ayah: And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance... [17:37]. One should always be humble and fear Allah, as we are reminded in this ayah.
As mentioned, these people do not walk with conceit or arrogance or pride. This does not mean that they should walk like sick people, making a show of their humility, but rather that they should not be overbearing. It is said that the Prophet Adam used to walk as if he was coming downhill, and as if the earth were folded up beneath him.
Moving on to the next part, and when the foolish address them they say: “Salama”). If the ignorant people insult them with bad words, they should not respond in kind, but they forgive and overlook, and say nothing but good words. This is what the Messenger of Allah did: the more ignorant the people, the more patient he would be. This is as Allah says: And when they hear Al-Laghw (evil or vain talk), they withdraw from it [28:55]. Allah rewards patience and perseverance and this ayah reminds us that we must not lose patience or hope in times of adversity.
Then Allah says that their nights are the best of nights, as He says: And those who spend the night in worship of their Lord, prostrate and standing. This means worshipping and obeying Him. This is like the Ayat: They used to sleep but little by night. And in the hours before dawn, they were asking for forgiveness [51:17-18]. Their sides forsake their beds... [32:16]. Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord... [39:9].
Allah says: And those who say: "Our Lord! Avert from us the torment of Hell. Verily, its torment is ever an inseparable punishment” meaning, ever-present and never ending. Al-Hasan said concerning the Ayah, Verily, its torment is ever an inseparable, permanent punishment. Everything that strikes the son of Adam, and then disappears, does not constitute an inseparable, permanent punishment. The inseparable, permanent punishment is that which lasts as long as heaven and earth.
This was also the view of Sulayman At-Taymi: Evil indeed it is as an abode and as a place to rest in, meaning how evil it looks as a place to dwell and how evil it is as a place to rest.
And those who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor stingy... The best Muslims are not extravagant, spending more than they need, nor are they miserly towards their families, not spending enough on their needs. But they follow the best and fairest way.
The best of matters are those which are moderate, neither one extreme nor the other, but are in a just balance between them. This is like the Ayah, And let not your hand be tied to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach. [17:29]
Source: Tafseer Ibn Kathir
By: Sara Khan Wayne State University
There have been many changes taking place in the Arab World ever since the emergence of the Arab Spring. One outcome that has been clearly noted is that all paths in the Arab world lead to Islamism. The Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) recently released a new report titled “The Moroccan Path to Islamism” authored by Muqtedar Khan, an ISPU fellow.
In his report, Khan talks about the rise of Islamism throughout the Middle East. Islamism is defined as “Islamic militancy or fundamentalism.” The electoral success of the moderate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Al-Noor Party in Egypt, of the Justice and Development party (PJD) in Morocco, and of Al-Nahda in Tunisia confirms what has long been suspected: If and when democracy finally comes to the Middle East, Islamism will triumph because it is the only game in town. The Islamists are strong, well organized, politically popular, and willing to privilege pragmatism over ideology. Both the PJD and Al-Nahda are Islamist-leaning parties, but both have insisted that they believe in democracy, are willing and even eager to share power with the secularists, and are more focused on good governance than ideological and symbolic gestures. This moderation is a key ingredient of their success.
Three different pathways to political change have emerged in the region as a result of the Arab Spring. The first path is that of peaceful revolution as exemplified by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, which more or less inspired the rest of the disenchanted Arab masses to rise up and demand political change. The second path is the Libyan way: that of a violent armed revolution that turned into a successful joint venture with Western allies, that eventually resulted in regime change. Both pathways to political reform necessitated regime change.
The formula here is simple. The goal is to gradually make the “constitutional” stronger and the “monarchy” weaker in the constitutional monarchy. Jordan is also following this path; perhaps even the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will follow. But regardless of what path is taken, the destination for all Arab states seems to be the same: governance under political Islam.
Many of the region’s secular intellectuals and politicians fear that the Islamists will use the democratic process to transform countries in the region into Islamic states and undermine the civil and political liberties of those who do not share their vision. Tunisia has made considerable strides in terms of granting women equal rights, and there is a genuine fear among its young women that Al-Nahda may now seek to transform Tunisia into another Iran. Needless to say, the party and its leadership denies such allegations as fear mongering and insist that they are just another party, albeit one that places a greater emphasis on the fact that Tunisia is a Muslim country and believes that Islamic values can contribute much wisdom to political governance.
Ever since 9/11, the media has planted a fear of Islamism into the minds of most people by portraying Muslims as a group of terrorists with evil intentions. The success of Tayyib Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey has given hopes to secularists that Islamist parties elsewhere can thrive in a democratic context without undermining or endangering democracy. It has also given Islamist parties a roadmap to legitimacy. Observers in the region and in the West are asking whether Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, and Libya will gradually follow the Turkish model and become Muslim democracies in which secular and Islamist parties compete to provide good governance to their people.
Khan based his report on research he obtained during a visit to Morocco in the summer of 2011 while the constitutional reforms were being debated, and during November 2011. While speaking to the people of Morocco, Khan came to find that most people believed Islamists to be just politicians, no different from the rest. In response to this, Khan notes, “For someone who is fed on the daily diet of western fears of Islamist victories…this particular sentiment was both amusing and enlightening.”