Islam and the Internet
Abdalla Uba Adamu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Department of Education
Bayero University, Kano
The United States of America presents a classical contemporary paradox, if such a thing were to exist. As the "Great Satan" of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, it is the Muslim world’s most hated country; yet it provides more freedom for the expression of Islam than any Muslim country. This freedom is provided through the platform of the Internet. In the first instance, of the 13 domain name root servers on the planet, through which every internet traffic passes through, 10 are located in the United States, one each in Japan, England, and Sweden. The root servers are maintained predominantly under the auspices of the US government.
Further, let us not forget, the internet itself is an American concept, created to sustain the American mindset — freedom of expression, and sharing of information, among others. This can only happen in an open society. In the Middle East and North Africa — seen as Islam’s cradle,
Governments have adopted various means to restrict the flow of information online. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates impose censorship via proxy servers, devices that are interposed between the end-user and the Internet in order to filter and block specified content. In many countries, including Jordan, taxation and telecommunications policies keep Internet accounts quite costly and thus beyond the means of many — whether or not this is the objective of these policies. Tunisia has enacted the region's most detailed Internet-specific legislation, which is in large part designed to ensure that online speech does not escape the government's tough controls on critical speech in other media. In the majority of countries where Internet-specific laws have not been enacted, legal or de facto constraints on freedom of speech and of the press have a chilling effect on what is expressed online, especially in public forums like open bulletin boards and "chat-rooms" (online discussions where participants communicate in real time).
And whereas countries like Saudi Arabia, are busy blocking internet access, including to Muslim sites considered "dissident", thanks to the First Amendment of the American constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, these same dissidents can voice out their malcontents from American Internet Service Providers, unblocked, and unprosecuted. The "Islamization" of the United States, particularly through the use of internet by the thousands of Muslim groups has created an alarm among mainstream pure blond Americans. According to a report,
"…Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the United States. Partly through conversion but mainly through immigration, the number of Muslims has now risen to three or four million. At current rates of increase, there will be more Muslims than Presbyterians within the decade. Early in the next century their numbers may well grow past six million, at which point there will be more American Muslims than Jews.
Islam is not a religion that attracts whites. Although there may be as many as 1,500,000 native-born Americans who have converted to Islam they are, almost without exception, black. Heretofore, black Muslims and immigrant Muslims have had little to do with each other, but they are beginning to build alliances. Militant blacks and Middle-Eastern fundamentalists are discovering common ground, bound together in a religion that, in its extreme forms, strives to dominate all aspects of society. For America's first 153 years, there was not a single mosque on United States territory. The first was built in Ross, North Dakota, of all places, in 1929, to serve Lebanese and Syrian peddlers who had settled there. There are now more than 1,100 mosques in the United States - with at least one in nearly every state - and 80 percent were founded in the last 12years.."
William Robertson Boggs, The Rise of Islam in America: Islam lies at a dangerous intersection between race and immigration, The American Renaissance, Vol 4, No 11, November 1993 (http://www.commonsenseclub.com/islam.html).
It seems freedom has its limits after all! Further American unease with Muslim presence is carefully documented in War on Islam, a 244 page book available free of charge in Adobe Reader format (http://www.twf.org/Library/woi2edL.pdf). It provides a scholastic view of how the current Western world perceives and attempts to deal with the issue of the rapid growth of Islam, especially in North America.
While quite a lot of the Islamic websites are created and maintained by Muslims, it is significant to note that most of the webmasters were either Arab-Americans, other Muslims (e.g. Asian Americans) or American Muslims who seize the opportunity of their skills and promote Islam in a way more effective than in any Muslim country. Thus there are numerous Islamic 'portals', presenting a selection of web sites based on their specific perspectives of Islam. The reader can suffer 'information overload' when visiting an extensive portal such as http://www.islam.org. It helps if you know exactly what information you are seeking about Islam on the Internet, in which case a dedicated Islamic search-engine such as http://www.musalman.com can be very helpful.
Information Overload and Portals of Knowledge
The Internet is the new mass media, with influences far more pervasive than any mass medium in the history of human expression. As with any mass media, it is both a double-edged sword, and an ideological weapon. Islam, already trampled and mauled by a coalition of Christian western-controlled conventional media stands to be further pushed to the ground in the new game. However, this was not to be.
The presence of Islam on the internet is truly impressive, and reflects one area where Muslims are keen to adopt a new technology in order to spread the message of their religion. To this end, one of the biggest compilations of Islamic websites is given at http://maranao.com/islamic_links.htm#18, which is a Filipino-maintained website. It provides an impressive alphabetical listing of the major Islamic sites, clicking on which will take you to the individual home page.
Similar lists were given by the "Mama List" (sic) of Islamic sites at http://www.jannah.org/mamalist, which lists 1,940 Islamic web-links. Perhaps it should be pointed out that on each web page are likely to be series of other web links exploring various aspects of Islam. The tedium of scouring through the net and testing credible links has been done by the mamalist webmaster, as stated in his introduction:
Over the course of 7 years and developing this website I have some observations for Muslims and those seeking information about Islam: First, BE CAREFUL about what you read. I've been through hundreds of sites and it is amazing that some will say "TRUE ISLAM" or even have nice Islamic titles, and they turn out to be wack information pages [many written by people against Islam]. You want to read "the other side", you say. Why read a page on Islam by a non-Muslim? Most contain inaccuracies, misconceptions and strategically present Islam in a bad light on purpose without giving the complete explanation and understanding of issues. Learn about Islam with an open mind from the sources of Quran and Sunnah and practicing Muslims and decide FOR YOURSELF what you think about it. The nature of the internet is such that anyone can publicly advance their views freely [a good thing] and claim to be anything, but make sure what you are reading is from authentic Muslim sources. The internet should only be used as a resource and anything suspect should be checked out and explored; better sources being your local Imam, knowledgeable Muslims, Mosque, Islamic center or Muslim Students Association.
This perhaps reflects the most sober statement in the use of Internet to understand Islam. It is often too easy to get carried away with the arrogance of cyberage, as most net whizs and computer nerds are wont to be. In the final analysis, the "mallam" sitting on his threadbare "buzu" surrounded by dusty dog-eared reference books is likely to be more credible than a massive website of inaccurate and distorted information.
The Mamalist is broadly categorized into 12 sections, with Educational links (http://www.jannah.org/mamalist/Educational/) having the largest share of 643 sites. For those who want to brighten up their desktops with free screensavers and wallpapers, the graphics category (http://www.jannah.org/mamalist/Graphics-Software-Audio/) is just the port of call, with 113 sites offering all manner of things free of charge.
Perhaps more surprising than any another surfing experience on the web is the massive resources available for studying Islam in all its aspects on the internet. Due to the fear and hostility towards Muslims held everywhere, and the media control by enemies of Islam everywhere, Islam has come to be associated with darkness, horror, jihad, and in Nigeria, lashing wayward lasses and chopping off heads and arms of thieves as portrayed in the southern Nigerian media. Thus many of the sites take a mega-portal approach providing an interface through which access to the more Islamic depositories can be gained. An excellent example of this service to Islam is the site maintained by Prof. Alan Godlas of the University of Georgia (http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/). As Prof. Godlas announced of his site,
This Islamic Studies website covers the areas of Islam, Arabic, and Religion (focusing on Western religions). It is particularly intended to be of use for students and teachers at all levels, as well for members of the general public who wish to get a non-polemical view of Islam (including Sunni Islam, Shi'ism, and Sufism) and to a lesser extent of Judaism and Christianity.
There are 12 broad sections on the site, and each will take you days, if not weeks to explore because of their depth, variety and richness of materials — and all free of charge!
Each of these gateways lead to a cave full of mostly free materials in form of books. These are not the casual beginners introduction to Islam either; they are they heavy-duty stuff, consisting of classic books translated into English by renowned scholars from the Islamic world. Let us take just one of Alan’s portals and delve further: Sufism, because of its controversy.
Sufism or tasawwuf, as it is called in Arabic, is generally understood by scholars and Sufis to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam. Today, however, there are many Muslims and non-Muslims who believe that Sufism is outside the sphere of Islam. The internet has become a battle ground on which to debate the issue. For instance, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the foremost contemporary scholars of Islam, in his article The Interior Life in Islam (http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/interior-nasr.htm) contends that Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam.
A common criticism of Sufism is that it is bid'ah (innovation) and thus is not authentically Islamic. A response to question Is Sufism Bid'ah? (http://sunnah.org/tasawwuf/sufisnk.htm) has been written by the American Muslim scholar, Nuh Ha Mim Keller.
Further criticisms often leveled at Sufis is that they withdraw from social and political activity. This is far from being true in Muslim central Asia, where in Chechnya, for example, Sufis have traditionally been very active in fighting against Russian invaders. This is seen in the following link on Sufis of Chechnya, (http://www.naqshbandi.net/haqqani/Sufi/sufis_chechen.html) which is comprised of numerous quotations from the book Mystics and Commissars: Sufism in the Soviet Union, by the scholars Alexandre Bennigsen and S. Enders Wimbush.
Subsequently, many links and sites exist to provide pro and against Sufism. Some of the more notable include: The Debate between Ibn Taymiya and Ibn 'Ata Allah http://sunnah.org/tasawwuf/scholr25.htm, which illustrates some of the medieval criticisms of Sufis and their responses. An on-line critique of Sufism, written by a Salafi Muslim, A. A. Tabari, is The Other Side of Sufism (http://www.qss.org/articles/sufism/toc.html). A rebuttal to this critique has been written by a Sufi scholar, Dr. Hesham Bazaraa. It is called The Other Side of Salafism (http://sunnah.org/publication/salafi/tosos.htm) — bringing to mind the famous medieval conjectures and refutations debate of Imam Al-Ghazzali and Ibn Rushd.
The Qur'an instructs Muslims to remember God, whose reality encompasses and pervades both the unmanifest and manifest worlds (al-ghayb wa-al-shahadah). Sufis have developed this into the quintessential Sufi practice of silent and vocal dhikr (remembrance). Questions on Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah) (http://sunnah.org/publication/encyclopedia/html/dhikr.htm) is an on-line book written by the as-Sunnah Foundation — which is affiliated with the Naqshbandi Shaykh Hisham as well as with his shaykh, Shaykh Nazim — discusses in detail many aspects of Dhikr.
In order to guide spiritual travellers and to express the states of consciousness experienced on this journey, Sufis produced an enormously rich body of literature, often using a specialized technical vocabulary, some of the terms of which can be found in the Glossary of Sufi Terms. (http://www.digiserve.com/mystic/Muslim/glossary.html). This journey is referred to as the path (tariqah). While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise (http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/bothworlds.html) -after death and the "Final Judgment"-- Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness--while one is alive.
The difficulties or obstacles to getting closer to God derive primarily from one's self or ego (nafs). In other words, it can be said that if one is not recognizing or experiencing God's "closeness" or presence, the responsibility for this condition lies with one's own self. An early text on the struggle with one's self is the treatise Jihad al-nafs, (http://sunnah.org/tasawwuf/jihad003.html) written by the al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi. Interestingly, a comprehensive listing of Sufi Orders on the World Wide Web is found at http://homepages.haqq.com.au/salam/sufilinks.
The traditional Muslim understanding of the history of the Qur'an is found at the History of Qur'an Site http://www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/scriptur/scriptq.htm and The Preservation and Transmission of Qur'an (http://www.uh.edu/campus/msa/qurhad/excel/uloom3.html). The major events in traditional accounts of the process that lead up to the production of the Qur'an as we know it are noted at the site, A brief History of the Compilation of the Qur'an at http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/compilationbrief.html. For a detailed recounting of the traditional Muslim view of the early transmission of the Qur'an see Transmission of the Qur'anic Revelation, see http://www.islamworld.net/UUQ/2.txt which is chapter two in Ahmad von Denffer's book 'Ulum al-Qur'an. See also chapter three in the same work, The Qur'an in Manuscript and Print, at http://www.islamworld.net/UUQ/3.txt, for a discussion of early Qur'an manuscripts. An online article that discusses early Qur'an manuscripts and includes numerous images of these is titled The Qur'an Manuscripts at http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Mss and was compiled by the Muslim scholars of Islamic-Awareness.Org, which is a website designed to educate Muslims about the issues often raised by Christian missionaries.
This last point started manifesting itself over the mid 1990s when Internet really took off for many lay persons. One of the most aggressive assaults on Islam on the internet is the setting up of a Christian website, www.answering-islam.org/ by Jochen Katz and his colleagues. One of their major publications at the site is a book titled Jam' Al-Qur'an: The Codification Of The Qur'an Text, written by John Gilchrist, of South Africa on 29th January 1989. In the introduction to the book, Mr. Gilchrist, a lay preacher, stated:
For many centuries Muslims have been taught to believe that the Qur'an has been preserved in its original Arabic text right from the time of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, down to this very day absolutely intact without changes, deletions or additions of any kind and with no variance in reading. At the same time they have also been taught that this suggested textual perfection of the book proves that the Qur'an must be the Word of God. No one but Allah, it is claimed, could have preserved the text so well. This sentiment has become so strongly established in the Muslim world that one will rarely find a Muslim scholar making a critical analysis of the early transmission of the text of the Qur'an and, when such analyses do appear, they are predictably unwelcome.
What happens, however, when an objective assessment is made of the facts available to us in respect of the original compilation of the Qur'an? When sentiment is gently put aside in favour of a rational evaluation of the evidences a very different conclusion must be reached. As this book will show, in the only records available to us from within the heritage of Islam itself, the Qur'an once contained a number of verses and, at times, whole passages that are no longer part of its text, in addition to an astonishingly large number of different readings in the earliest collections of the book made before the Caliph Uthman summarily consigned all but one of the manuscripts then in existence to the flames and destroyed them.
The response to this is the setting up of http://www.islamic-awareness.org/ by Dr. M. S. Saifullah and his colleagues. This is a heavy-duty site full of highly articulate philosophical arguments that take on orientalists and Christian missionaries head-on in a take-no-prisoners approach. As stated at their site,
The primary purpose of Islamic-Awareness website is to educate Muslims about the questions and issues frequently raised by the Christian Missionaries and Orientalists. You will find a variety of excellent articles and responses to missionary and orientalist writings. The material on this website is frequently updated with new articles, references and arguments. Please do check them out from time to time.
One of their first assignments was the rebuttal of John Gilchrist’s book posted at http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Gilchrist/. Another area Islamic Awareness has taken on polemicists of the Christian world is the issue of so-called historical errors in the Qur’an, especially with regards to the Pharaoh of Moses and Haman. In Qur’an it was reported:
Pharaoh said: "O Haman! Build me a lofty palace, that I may attain the ways and means- The ways and means of (reaching) the heavens, and that I may mount up to the god of Moses: But as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!" [Qur'an 40:36-37]
Haman is mentioned six times in the Qur'an and is referred to as an intimate person belonging to the close circle of Pharaoh. Western scholars have concluded that Haman is unknown to Egyptian history. The name Haman is first mentioned in the Biblical book of Esther, some 1,100 years after Pharaoh. The name is said to be Babylonian, not Egyptian. According to the book of Esther, Haman was a counselor of Ahasuerus (the Biblical name of Xerxes) who as an enemy of the Jews. It has been suggested by the Answering Islam site that Muhammad (SAW) mixed Biblical stories and Jewish myths of the Tower of Babel, the story of Esther and Moses into a single confused account when composing the Qur'an. Elias Karîm, Qasim Iqbal and M S M Saifullah Islamic Awareness then took the devastating approach of demolition this assumption by arguing that:
The whole basis for the Haman controversy is the appearance of a Haman in the Qur'an in a historical period different from that of the Bible. The claim that the Qur'anic account of Haman reflects confused knowledge of the Biblical story of Esther implies that any reference to a Haman must have come from the Bible. Furthermore, the assumption itself implies that either Haman is an unhistorical figure that never existed outside the Bible, or that if he was historical, then he would have to be the prime minister of the Persian King Ahasueus, as depicted in Esther. Their assumptions obviously excludes the possibility that the Bible has its information wrong concerning Haman. Thus, only if the Book of Esther can be shown to be both historically reliable and accurate, are the non-Muslims justified in making the claim the Qur'an contradicts the earlier, more "reliable" historic Biblical account.
Further debates — which actually started in the newsgroup soc.rel.islam (to view the postings, go via www.deja.com) between Saifullah, then a doctoral student at Cambridge, and Jochen Katz, a noted Christian missionary, particularly in the sri postings on September 27, 1997 — deal with issues of grammatical structure of the Qur’an.
Aisha Bewley’s site takes a different approach. She scours the net for translated Islamic classic books, or translates them herself and upload the lot on the site – free (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ABewley/), As she stated on the site,
This page is devoted to Islamic topics, in particular Maliki jurisprudence (fiqh), Sufism (tasawwuf) and some political and general Islamic topics. Most of the articles are transcripts of talks or translations from the Arabic.
Since she has to make a living, there are some books for sale, but quite a lot are free. These include Fatwa and Qada' [sentence] in the Maliki School; First Chapter of Bustan al-'Arifin, (The Garden of the Gnostics by Imam an-Nawawi); False Growth in the Credit-Based Economy, and Mu'awiya as a Model of Islamic Governance. Even our Muhammad Bello of the Sakkwato Caliphate gets a mention with his book, Awakening the Sleeper to Recognition of the Ways in which a Hajji Can Be Corrupted. Others include Al-Muwatta' by Imam Malik,The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad by al-Bukhari, Riyad as-Salihin by an-Nawawi. Did I mention they are all free?!
An Unsung Hero of the Muslim World
One of the most unsung heroes of the Muslim world is surely one of the most visible. The translation of the Holy Qur’an by Ustaz Abdullah Yusuf Ali has, over the years emerged as the most authoritative and popular translations ever undertaken; so much that the Saudi Arabian government has endorsed it.
Yet not many people know much about Abdullah Yusuf Ali. To begin with, here is his photograph. The internet also throws up more information on him. For instance, not many who admired his comprehensive and so traditional translation of the Qur’an know that he was a Shia Muslim.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali was the son of Yusuf Ali Allabaksh, also known as Khan Bahadur. This was an Indian Dawoodi Bohra family. Allabaksh had a civil service post in the Surat Municipality and in his obituary, the name "Shaikh Yusuf Ali Shujauddin" was used, a title which MAY have come from the Dawat. However, the father, who apparently spoke and taught Arabic, sent Abdullah Yusuf Ali to Anjuman-e-Islam, a modernist Islamic seminary.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, 1872-1953
According to a Shia-controlled website
Abdullah Yusuf Ali was never a Bohra because it is unlikely that he ever gave mithaq. He has eulogized Abu Bakr in his translation of the Qur'an and accepted the Sunni interpretations of some verses, such as the one with "Siddiq", so he must have shunned his Shia background. However, I cannot see Wahabism in his writing and he does not appear to have written anything against the Dawat. He seems to have completely ignored his Dawoodi Bohra roots.
He spent most of his life in the Western education system and was sufficiently well versed in western literature to produce a translation that is strongly focused on a western readership. Most scholars regard his translation as highly apologetic and consider him to be among Islamicists who, perhaps unwittingly, did more damage to the cause of Islam than furthering it. Having said that, his translation is also widely acknowledged as a classic work of scholarship.
Hudaifa Kapadia, Abdullah Yusuf Ali,http://www.bohra.net/archive/yusefali.html
However, the most comprehensive information about Abdullah Yusuf Ali is from a 1994 biography written by M.A. Sherif, Searching For Solace: A Biography Of Abdullah Yusuf Ali - Interpreter Of The Qur'an (Islamic book Trust, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 1994. pp. 314). The saddest aspect of his life was that he died a nonentity in a miserable situation. Monetarily, he was not in a bad position. He was a British pension holder and had other sources of income. But during the last days of his life, he became mentally sick and, at times was found roaming about in tattered clothes in the streets of London with no fixed abode. In the words of his biographer, M.A. Sherif,
"it was in a harsh winter of Britain on December 9, 1953, that a confused Abdullah Yusuf Ali was found out of doors, sitting in the steps of a house in Westminster. The police took him to Westminster Hospital. He was discharged the following day and a London County Council home for the elderly in Dovehouse Street, Chelsea, took him in. He suffered a heart attack on December 10 and was rushed to St Stephen’s Hospital in Fulham. Three hours after admission he died.
Thus ends on a sad note the story of an unsung hero of the Muslim world.
Islam, Music and Rap
Music maybe a universal message, but in Islam there are a lot of question marks about its validity. The internet is replete with arguments and counter-arguments abut this. For instance, in Music and Islam by Abu Bilaal Mustafa al-Kanadiat http://www.sbu.ac.uk/islamic/knowledge/music.htm, various arguments, including opinions from the four madhabs (Islamic jurisprudence) were presented. Two sites that provided opposing views of the role of music in Islam are http://www.answering-christianity.com/music_yes.htm, and the subsequent refutation at http://www.answering-christianity.com/music_no.htm Another view against music in Islam is that of Mustafa Sabri, at http://www.wakeup.org/anadolu/05/4/mustafa_sabri_en.html.
Thus while the issue of the role of music in Islam continues to draw the attention of scholars, there are many who choose to glorify the name of Allah or call to Islam accompanied by a musical instrument. It is a moot point whether this instrument is similar to the one used in the Prophet’s time or not; for, as some would argue, it is the pleasurable accompaniment that is important, not the specific instrument; in which case even a voice can be an effective instrument. In this argument, therefore, there are those who would use either tambourine ("bandiri"), bongo drums, or the guitar. Others choose rap music. One of the strongest proponents of using rap music during dhikr is an African-American rap group called Soldiers of Allah (www.soldiersofallah). Their song, Bring Islam Back, is a typical example of their call to Muslim unity:
When they drop bombs
On our brothers...It hits us
Where are we heading’?
We don’t mix action with our prayer
Oh Allah......forgive us!
Let us RISE up for Islam
Implement Allah’s blessing
Like we RISE UP for fajr at dawn
That’s what I am addressing
Uniting under one flag,
Apart from this kufur scheme
Using Islam as our only bond
Bring Islam back to the scene
Its time to take a STAND!
Let’s unite the Ummah!!
Follow ONLY Allah’s Commands!
Following only the Quran
Put Khilafah back on the MAP
And the Sunnah
ITS TIME TO BRING ISLAM BACK
Even if all the kafirs got together...
They still couldn’t stop this Ummah!
The full lyrics and other songs — more like poetry, like most rap music — are available at their site (http://www.soldiersofallah.com), while downloadable (very slow!) clips of their music in the form of mp3 are available at http://stations.mp3s.com/stations/148/islamified.html). Other portions of the lyrics reflect what might be called "militant" Islam, particularly of the Nation of Islam variety. Soldiers of Allah seem to have massive following across the internet; with special fan sites being created from them in the U.S., U.K. Europe, and interestingly, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bangladesh! However, SOA are not the only Muslim rap artists on the internet. Others include In Shallah, Project Confrontation, Peace JIHAD (a lot of swear words!), As Shu’ara, Tha Iron Triangle, The Hammer Bros (Arab-Palestinians) and An Nasr Productions.
Sisters of Mercy
Muslim gender studies tend to attract a lot of attention from non-Muslim scholars. It is not surprising, therefore, to find many Islamic sites devoted to informing the entire world about the status of women in Islam. Sites range from Sisters Net at http://www.msa-natl.org/SISTERS/articles/ which provides a series of articles on Islam and Women; to Status of Women in Islam at http://www.iad.org/books/S-women.html which takes a more direct approach in dealing with the issue. And if you have a wife, mother or daughter called Rashida, take comfort in knowing that a cyber-Rashida exists at Sisters Power! (http://www.rashidah.com/) with the more militant tone which balances itself between a Islamic feminist agenda and a more traditional perspective of women in society. Specifically, the site encourages women to seek for jobs, even if staying at home since they can "telecommute":
If you are a Sister interested in working from home, or a business looking for a practically untapped pool of talent, please use this site to look for or post available jobs. There is no charge for this service, and any employers posting positions should not charge the Sisters any fees of any kind.
Opportunities were then given for women to fill in their biodata so that it can be submitted to a career spider that will match the seeker and employers.
However, another group of women take a more debative approach. Their site is called Muslim Women Between Backward Traditions & Modern Innovations, with their url at http://www.ghazaly.net/Legacy/BooksOnline/WomanIssues/WomanIssuesIndex.htm, a site intended to indeed face the issue of "backward" traditions" and contemporary society and how it affects women. A supportive site would be Islam and Women's Rights, at http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/Islamwomen.html.
Naturally enough, most of the women sites have considerable focus on health, family and beauty. For instance, if keeping fit and beautiful using natural means, rather than enriching posh shops like Macys, Saks and Harrods (and, er, Mega Plaza?), is your bag, then a quick hop to Cyber Muslima- Natural Beauty, at http://members.xoom.com/CyberMuslima/beauty.htmshould provide more than sufficient clues about the virtues of henna. A good example of a family focus is that given by "Muslim Moms" at http://www.angelfire.com/az2/MuslimMoms/. Angelfire sites are free web spaces given by large web directories, in return, you have to put up with lots of advertisements — all of which you have no control over. It is thus common to see an advertisement for Casio online in the middle of an Islamic-themed Angelfire web page! Nevertheless Muslim Moms have embraced the free technology and use it to dish out advice on raising children in non-Muslim environments. Muslim Moms, of course, is based in the United States.
However, it is not all about buying Halal gripe water or Halal baby mush. Some of the sites tended to be by professional women. A vivid example is http://www.iopwe.org/ which hosts InternationalOrganization of Pakistani Women Engineers, a veritable site for anyone wishing to learn about the gains made by Muslim women in the engineering field. As stated on the site
We began as a group of women engineers of Pakistani backgrounds but have evolved to a dynamic group of individuals from varying backgrounds, countries, and disciplines who are passionate about changing the perception of women in our communities. We strive to become good role models for our future generations and provide whatever is necessary to increase the level of education of our sisters.
Incidentally, the organization is based in San Jose, California, not Karachi, Pakistan!
Another perspective of women’s achievements –— or lack of –— is given by Professor Farkhonda Hassan, a professor of Geology at the American University in Cairo. In an essay titled Islamic Women in Science at she argued forcefully about the barriers to Muslim women in science:
In many Muslim countries, gender-based discrimination, coupled with social and cultural barriers, limits access and participation of women in higher education. Some people attribute these barriers to the teachings of Islam, but this is false. The teachings of the Holy Prophet of Islam emphasize "the acquiring of knowledge as bounden duties of each Muslim from the cradle to the grave" and that "the quest for knowledge and science is obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman." One-eighth (that is, 750 verses) of the Quraan (the Muslim Holy Book) exhort believers to study nature, to reflect, and to make the best use of reason in their search for the ultimate truth.
And just to show that there is a significant diversity in Muslim women’s interest, the International Muslimah Artists Network resides at http://www.hammoude.com/and focuses attention on Muslim women artists. Come to think of it, how many non-Muslim women artists do you know?!
Other sites were not necessarily maintained by women, but provide excellent information on women. One such site that provides a comprehensive coverage of the Mothers of Believers, is Wives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) at http://www.angelfire.com/on/ummiby1/wives1.html. This beautiful essay starts with the following observation:
Is it not a great honor that the first person to embrace Islam was a woman? She was the first to bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that her husband was the Messenger of Allah. Her husband was our beloved Prophet Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and she was called Khadijah, (may Allah be pleased with her) She was also called Thaira, meaning 'pure'.
What followed then is an extremely detailed account of each of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which is really illuminating. Another longish essay, this time on the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to Aisha is located at among the articles covered http://www.muslim-answers.org/. Written by Abu Iman AbdurRahman Robert Squires, it starts off with this righteous thunder:
(P) to cAishah bint Abű Bakr when she was at quite a young age has been the focus of quite a bit of criticism in the West. Unfortunately, in this Neo-Colonialist Age of Smart bombs, MTV and the Big Mac, some of those who profess to be Muslims have themselves become critics. Many Muslims, faced with the juggernaut of allegedly "universal" Western liberal values that have permeated almost everyone around them, sheepishly avoid discussion of such "embarrassing" Islamic issues. It is a keenly true observation that even though the European powers have pulled their colonial armies out of Muslim lands and granted them "independence", an even worse plague continues. This curse is "Colonialism of the Mind" and it is more dangerous since it is much more subtle. Insha Allah, this article will be a contribution to making both Muslims and non-Muslims aware of not only the objective facts regarding the Prophet's(P) marriage to cAishah, but how to understand it in light of Islam and life in the "modern" world.
The marriage of the Prophet Muhammad
And it certainly did. I would urge anyone with internet access to download the essay for it is well balanced and finely crafted.
If you would rather see traditional feminism and Islam, then the 1996 book by Saudi scholar Feminism and Islam: Legal and Literary Perspectives http://endjinn.soas.ac.uk/Centres/Islamiclaw/Feminism_Intro.html) is a real bonus is the title of Saudi scholar Mai Yamani's 1996 book comprising the essays of a substantial number of women scholars who are articulating an emerging Islamic feminism.
One indicator of the potential transformational qualities of the Internet on Muslims is the presence of a broad range of 'sermons' on-line. For example, http://www.tanzeem.org.pk in Pakistan present a selection of recorded sermons for downloading. Other platforms creating on-line sermons for consumption by an international audience include the Taliban, Khutbah Online (http://dar-us-salam.com/khutba) and Al-Muhajiroun (http://www.almuhajiroun.com). Present technological limitations mean that it can take a substantial amount of on-line time to download a sermon. The future potential for such material is enormous, when technology (including bandwidth) improves to allow a surfer to rapidly listen to and view sermons and other information 'on demand', not just through a computer, but by digital television or WAP telephone.
The Internet already facilitates the propagation of Islam, with dawa organisations publishing materials in a variety of languages onto the web. For example, Ahmed Deedat (http://home.swipnet.se/~w-20479/Audio.htm) has put his talks on Christianity and Islam on-line (and was rebutted by the Christian web activists Answering Islam, http://www.answering-islam.org/Responses/Deedat).
People may now prefer to sit in a cyber-café and - if not distracted by other web content - learn the thoughts of (and be influenced by) a 'scholar' based thousands of miles away, in preference to listening to their local imam down the road. An extension of this networking is the development of the 'on-line fatwa'. Individuals can visit a wide range of sites, representing diverse perspectives, and search archives of questions and answers relating to significant interpretative questions and concerns. For instance, a typical dialog between a surfer and the cyber-Imam at Fatwa online:
Hajj and 'Umrah without a mahram
Question: Someone from Germany asks: In Germany, a number of Muslim sisters have recently embraced Islam, Some of them are old and others are young and many do not have a mahram from their own family as no-one else from their family has accepted Islam. Is it therefore permitted for them to make Hajj or 'Umrah with a group led by both Muslim men and women?
Response: It is not correct that we say that such women should make Hajj or 'Umrah because if a woman does not have a mahram, Hajj and 'Umrah are not obligatory for her. However, there is another issue here: Is it not obligatory for her to perform them or are they not even obligatory upon in the first place….
The response was as per the Fatwa on the issue delivered by Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen, whose biography on the site states: "Abu 'Abdullaah Muhammad ibn Saalih ibn Muhammad ibn 'Uthaymeen at-Tameemee an-Najdee was born in the city of Unayzah, Qaseem Region on 27th Ramadhaan 1347 A.H./1926 C.E. in a famous religious family." In this way, questions can be asked and the site owners provide the answers according to famous (Sunni) sheiks.
IANA (http://www.iananet.org/fatwa/fatwa.html) allows a surfer to send questions, or read a substantial archive of religious opinions on contemporary issues. Fatwa On-line (http://www.fatwa-online.com) contains a regularly updated listing of opinions responding to surfers' requests, drawing primarily on scholarship from Saudi Arabia. Family issues comprise a significant portion of this site's content, which has been enthusiastically received by petitioners who have inundated Fatwa On-line with questions.
The Internet is also a means through which Muslims can network between each other, and galvanise debate on issues of shared concern. The French TV news clip showing the shooting in September 2000 of Mohammad al-Durrah was quickly published and publicised on the Internet by diverse web sites, including the Muslim Directory (MDNet http://www.mdnet.co.uk/hr_postcards/hr.shtml) and Hamas (http://www.palestine-info.net) . A number of on-line discussions and responses ensued, and readers were encouraged to circulate data and start campaigning against Israel. Muslim dialogue and activism on a broad range of other issues takes place on-line through web sites, e-mail and long-standing chat rooms. New 'communities' of Muslims with shared interests are evolving on the Internet.
'Islamic' issue-centred Internet content should not distract from the fact that many aspects of Islamic pillars or core values are well represented on-line. Numerous versions of the translation of the meaning of the Qur'an can be found, linked into diverse commentaries and other materials, utilizing state-of-the-art technology. A good example is the site produced by Harf Information Technology (http://www.harf.com) which draws on the multimedia aspects of the Internet to allow recitations to be played alongside Arabic texts, English translations, and high-quality recitations. Considerable investment is being made by different organisations to establish their worldview on-line, in order to be well placed as use of the Internet continues to expand in the Muslim marketplace.
The issue of accessibility is a key one. Whilst the number of people able to access the web begins to rise globally, Internet Service Providers in several Muslim countries have attempted to apply filtering technology to restrict the type of material their users visit. Technically, there are ways around these controls, but in real terms one result is that Internet users are not able to access the diversity of worldviews relating to Islam. Controls may be introduced for political reasons, and there is also the potential for e-mail to be monitored. It should be noted that these filtering technologies work both ways: there is evidence that they have been programmed in some 'western' contexts to filter out as 'unacceptable' all references to 'Islam' and 'Muslims', thus placing Islam in the same 'dangerous' bracket as pornography.
Cyber-Badr: The Internet and Muslim Resistance Groups
Terrorism's younger relative, cyber terrorism, came out in the 20th century, with the mass popularization of computers and especially Internet. Cyber terrorism could be any kind of terrorism activity that is created or assisted with the usage of computer; it could also be any malicious attempt against a computer or a computer network.
Whether as "terrorists" or "freedom fighters", the various resistance groups that exist in the Islamic world have embraced the internet to wage an effective war against perceived enemies.
For instance, the bin Laden network appears to have widely adopted information technology. According to reporters who visited bin Laden’s headquarters in a remote mountainous area of Afghanistan, bin Laden allegedly uses satellite phone terminals to coordinate the activities of the group’s dispersed operatives, and has even devised countermeasures to ensure his safety while using such communication systems (satellite phones reportedly travel in separate convoys from bin Laden’s; the Saudi financier also refrains from direct use, and often dictates his message to an assistant, who then relays it telephonically from a different location).
Egyptian "Afghan" computer experts are said to have helped devise a communication network that relies on the World Wide Web, e-mail, and electronic bulletin boards so that affiliates can exchange information without running a major risk of being intercepted by counter terrorism officials.
Hamas also uses the Internet to share operational information. Hamas activists in the United States use chat rooms to plan operations and activities, and operatives use e-mail to coordinate activities across Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon. Hamas has realized that information can be passed securely over the Internet because counter terrorism intelligence cannot monitor accurately the flow and content of all Internet traffic. Israeli security officials cannot easily trace Hamas messages or decode their content.
The Internet is also used as a propaganda tool by Hezbollah, which manages three web sites—one for the central press office (www.hezbollah.org), another to describe its attacks on Israeli targets (www.moqawama.org), and a third for news and information (www.almanar.com.lb) .
Hezbollah Home page (www.hezbollah.org)
Hezbollah also regularly broadcasts footage of strikes carried out by its operatives through its television station, and has a sophisticated media center that regularly— and professionally—briefs foreign journalists on the progress of its military campaign against Israel. (John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, "Networks, Netwar, and Information-Age Terrorism," in Zalmay M. Khalilzad and John P. White, eds., Strategic Appraisal: The Changing Role of Information in Warfare (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1999).
The cyber war went beyond that: groups started targeting each other’s network facilities with virus, Trojans and other malicious code. According to a report,
"…in the Middle East, as tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have escalated in the streets, the tempo of attacks has also increased in cyberspace. Israeli hackers have mounted sustained "denial of service" assaults — shutting down Web sites by overloading them — against the Palestinian Authority and the pro-Palestinian groups Hezbollah and Hamas, and released destructive computer worms and electronic Trojan horses against other Palestinian sites. Palestinians have countered with a "cyberjihad" that temporarily shut down sites belonging to the Israeli Parliament, the Israeli Defense Forces, the Foreign Ministry and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. One group, operating under the name Unity, has outlined a four-phase strategy of escalation, which would eventually conclude with cyber attacks on communications systems and foreign targets…"
Thus battles are now being fought with HTML code with adversaries targeting each others’ networks and computer systems over the internet.
Bridging the Divide: Jews for Allah
But while Trojans, worms and other malicious computer code were being exchanged over the internet between Muslims and Jews, an unusual group exists to bridge the gap, and that is Jews for Allah (http://jews-for-allah.org/). This is a nice thought in bridging the divide between Jews and Muslims. As stated on their website, they are ethnically Jewish, religiously Muslim.
Jews for Allah Homepage (http://jews-for-allah.org/)
Considerable attention was then given to arguments about what it is like to be a Jew, and a Muslim. One of their links, http://jews-for-allah.org/jewish-mythson-islam/ provides a series of articles about Jewish myths held on Islam, including one the view that Islam was meant only for Arabs. In addition, they were also giving out free books, copies of the Holy Qur’an, both text and mp3 (sound files), as well as comparative religious links to Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism. All told, a much better platform for dialog between Muslims and Jews, than bullets and computer viruses.
Closely associated with efforts such as this are those aimed at those wishing to convert to Islam. The site, http://convertstoislam.org/ does just that: provides facilities for those wishing to convert to Islam from other religions.
Converts to Islam Home page http://convertstoislam.org/
Freebies and Fun, Islamically
One of the bugbears of computing especially in Arabic is the need for an Arabic operating system. This is fine as it goes; except that most software (e.g. CD burning software like Nero Burning Rom) would require a specialized Arabic version. So those requiring Arabic computing are forced to give up the use of other software that will not work with Arabic windows kernel. The internet is again a savior in the sense that many designers have created Arabic fonts that can work with any operating system, and they are free! One of the best source for such fonts is http://babel.uoregon.edu/yamada/fonts/arabic.html, as well as http://www.ummah.net/islamloads/apps3.htm. And if you have a project that requires pictures of mosques from all over the Islamic world, they are available free at http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~calmsa/images/images.html, which can be used as a s basis for wallpapers on the desktop. A personal free website, http://members.nbci.com/usame6666/index.htm, lists free Islamic screen savers for your Windows operating system — a much better alternative than the standard fare that comes with windows. If you have never been to Makkah and Madina, take consolation at http://www.geocities.com/hicaz2000/ where there are many pictures of the two holy cities, and http://www.arches.uga.edu/~godlas/prophmosq.html lists images of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) at Madina — a really stunning architectural masterpiece. For those who had been therefore before, it is a nice reminder of a pleasant journey.
There are many of us who would love to either polish their rusty Arabic, or learn it from the scratch. For the busy and harried civil servant too enmeshed in meetings to spare the two hours per day for such task, the internet provides a rich variety of sources of learning Arabic. Try, for instance, http://www.arabic2000.com/products/arabic.html, where you can download Arabic Tutor. And if you can already speak Arabic, then surely you need a dictionary. Fret not, at the Archive of Arabic-English Vocabulary (http://arabic.wjh.harvard.edu/vocab.htm) you have scholars from Harvard University, no less, making sure you get your grammar right. If this is all too advanced for you, then try Al-Lisan Al-Arabi(http://www.webstar.co.uk/~al-lisan) for a more down-to-earth starters course.
Still on the useful programs front, Al Muhaddith (http://muhaddith.com/) provides a lot of freebies, one of which is a prayer times program. This wonderful piece of software (totally free, remember?) calls your attention to prayer by issuing out the Azan at the appropriate time. It has geographical co-ordinates of over 2000 cities, so your corner of the world is likely to be catered for. It can also be set to read portions of the Holy Qur’an about 15 minutes before the prayer time.
If you are a brother into the Da’awa process, then enhance your knowledge of the activity by downloading free books at —in zipped format so you require WinZip in order to view them —http://www.ummah.net/islamloads/loads/text/dawa.zip, and
http://members.xoom.com/Sumair/Other/da'wah1.zip. Further, at Daily Ayat, http://www.muslimsonline.com/~ayat, you can download an appropriate ayat to everyday you log on to the Internet, or have many ayats downloaded and invoked from the Start group.
If you feel Yahoo! or Hotmail are too commercially-driven with their numerous add on your email page (what do you expect, after all, it is free), how about an alternative Muslim web-based email at http://www.muslimsonline.com/webemail.html? And while running away from Yahoo! or Microsoft’s eCards, many did not realize that there are free Muslim greeting cards at http://www.inminds.com/cardcentre.html, http://www.muslimdirectory.co.uk/, http://www.islamicart.com/vcards/, all with excellent graphics.
How about Ahmad Deedat while you work? His speeches are available –in RealPlayer format — at http://home2.swipnet.se/~w-20479/Audio.htm.
Community Majalisa: Online Groups
If you want to dodge the bullets, real or in the form of HTML code, then you can join the thriving internet community of Muslims. I find Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com) Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com) more honorable and reliable than other directory services (e.g. Alta Vista at www.altavista.com, or Lycos at www.lycos.com) so my discussion is based on Yahoo! It is also much faster than Microsoft Communities (http://communities.msn.com), although less pretty.
Yahoo! operates a service called Groups, in which individuals as small as two to as many as over ten thousand can get together and exchange information, opinions, news and perspectives on any aspect of their lives. The Islamic communities on Yahoo is a really thriving Majalisa. Last time I checked, there were 2,700 Islamic communities on Yahoo! Joining (or even starting) a Yahoo! group is free, subject only to the approval of the person who thought of the idea in the first place (called The Moderator). One group that that caught my attention was Minhaj As sunnah, with 10, 991 members, who stated their objectives as:
The achievements of the Sahabah in their time was the result of their love for Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala) and His Rasul (Sallallahu 'alahi Wasallam). Love was a great dynamic force in the lives of the early Muslims. It was this force that made them forego their luxuries, not care for their lives, give up their desire for wealth, ignore all afflictions, and have no fear of even death . There is no room for any other consideration except that of the beloved in the heart saturated with love. May Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala), through His mercy, grant us His own love and that of His Beloved Nabi (Sallallahu 'alahi Wasallam), so that we may be blessed with devotion in His worship and have a sense of comfort in all difficulties faced in His service.
If you are interested, use the following link to join them at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Minhaj_as_Sunnah/join.
Loose Cannons and Oddballs on the Islamic Internet: The Submitters
Like all families, Islam also has its share of black sheep. The internet, being gender, and religion neutral, provides the same freedom for these black sheep. Such groups also reveal the double-edged nature of the sword of the internet. There are groups who either do not believe in the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) or who doubt the existence of the Creator. The latter are clearly non-Muslims, so I will only focus on those who claim to be within the Islamic fold, yet find the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) difficult to accept in his entirety. The most articulate and comprehensive cluster of such black sheep are those who call themselves The Submitters, at http://www.submission.org. This is a world-wide organization with many adherents in all parts of the world, including Kano, Kaduna and Katsina.
Another of their names in Nigeria is Al-Quraniyyun; i.e. those who accept the Qur’anonly. Their credo is simple: they do not accept any Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). They do accept him as a prophet of Allah, and indeed in one of their essays they argue that if anyone rejects the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) he is no longer a submitter (their preferred word for Muslim). However, they claim that there was a considerable time gap between the Prophet and the compilation of his sayings; as such there could be errors in the narrations. They therefore took the simple, but deadly step of rejecting all the Hadith and concentrating all their worship on Allah’s injunctions in the Qur’an. As they argued,
The overwhelming majority of the "Muslim World" as well as the majority of the Muslims in this country do not follow the Koran which was revealed by God to Prophet Mohammad about 1400 years ago. Instead the majority of the "Muslims" in the world follow man-made books written by scholars called Hadith and Sunnah written 200+ years after the revelation of the Koran. http://www.submission.org/christians/Franklin_Graham.html#THANK
The central personality in the establishment of The Submitters was an Egyptian biochemist resident in Tucson, Arizona, United States. He was Dr. Rashad Khalifa. (more info on him at http://www.submission.org/khalifa.html). For some unknown reason, Dr. Khalifa decided to declare himself the messenger of God, although he was careful not to proclaim himself a prophet of God. He derived his "authority" from the following verse of the Qur’an (note, his translation):
GOD took a covenant from prophets, saying, "I will give you the scripture and wisdom. Afterwards, a messenger will come to confirm all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him." He said, "Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?" They said, "We agree." He said, "You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you." (Al-Imran 81, from Dr. Rashad Khalifa’s "Authorized" Translation of the Qur’an)
Interestingly, for Arabic grammarians and Islamic scholars, this is the translation of the same ayat, as in Abdullahi Yusuf Ali, the most widely distributed English translation of the Qur’an:
Behold! Allah took the covenant of the Prophets saying: "I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you an Apostle confirming what is with you; do ye believe him and render him help." Allah said: "Do ye agree and take this My Covenant as binding on you?" They said: "We agree." He said: "Then bear witness and I am with you among the witnesses." (Al-Imran, 81).
A careful comparison of the two translations will reveal glaring differences. Since Dr. Khalifa’s translation has never subjected to independent critique, except by his own Submitters, it is difficult to accept the veracity of his translations. This is even further confirmed by analysis of his other translations of the Qur’an. For instance, in Surat Al-Furqan, 56, Allah (SWT) said of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW),
But thee (O Muhammad) We only sent to give glad tidings and admonition.
Yusuf Ali’s translation of Surat Al-Furqan (25), 56.
Now take a look at Dr. Rashad Khalifa’s translation of the same ayat:
We have sent you (Rashad) as a deliverer of good news, as well as a Warner.'
Dr. Rashad Khalifa’s translation of Surat Al-Furqan (25), 56.
Thus Dr. Khalifa believed he was the "Messenger of the Covenant" sent to confirm the message of all the prophets who came before, and was careful to argue the difference between a prophet and a messenger.
Through Gabriel: I was commanded to make this announcement: AFTER I DIE MILLIONS OF BELIEVERS WILL KNOW that I represent the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for, the Christ Christians have been expecting, the Mehdi the Muslims have been praying for…I am God's Messenger of the Covenant[Malachi 3:1-8, Quran 3:81]. (http://www.submission.org/millennium/mahdi.html).
He accepted that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the LAST prophet as stated in the Qur’an. But, to them, he was not the last MESSENGER (http://www.submission.org/messenger/prophet.html). As he argued,
Verse 3:81, among many other verses, provides the definitions of "Nabi" (Prophet) and "Rasoul" (Messenger). Thus, "Nabi" is a messenger of God who delivers a new scripture, while "Rasoul" is a messenger commissioned by God to confirm existing scripture; he does not bring a new scripture. According to the Quran, every "Nabi" is a "Rasoul," but not every "Rasoul" is a "Nabi." It is not logical that God will give a scripture to a prophet, then ask him to keep it exclusively for himself, as stated by some Muslim "scholars" (2:42, 146, 159).
In his interpretation of this distinction between "rasoul" and "nabiy", Dr. Khalifa then proceeded to claim that he has been appointed "rasoul" of the covenant mentioned in Surat Al-Imran (81). The entire mechanism of this "appointment" is based on his "unraveling" the mathematical code of the Qur’an. In 1968, through computer decoding, Dr. Rashad Khalifa discovered that an extremely intricate 19-based numerical structure encodes and guards every aspect of the Quran (full details at http://www.submission.org/miracle/). Based on this 19-code matrix, in the May 1988 edition of Muslim Perspective (the in-house magazine of The Submitters, which later became The Submitter’s Perspective), he proclaimed, among others, his instrument of "authority" as a messenger of God’s Covenant:
el this mathematical code. My first name, "Rashad" is mentioned in the Koran twice in 40:29 and 40:38, my last name, "Khalifa" is mentioned twice; in 2:30 and 38:26. One "Khalifa" word refers to the "bad Khalifa" who was destined to corrupt the earth and shed blood, namely, Satan (2:30). The other Khalifa is the human, good Khalifa. When we add the numbers of the suras and verses where my first name , Rashad is mentioned (40+29+38) plus the sura and the verse numbers where the human Khalifa is mentioned (38+26) the total (40+29+38+38+26) is 171, a multiple of 19 (171= 19x19)….
"…The Koran itself has named me, by my first name and my last name, as the person destined to unrav
…The multiplication factor 45, happens to be my age when I was initially commissioned by God to be his messenger. I was born in 1935, which makes me 45 years old in 1980, precisely 1400 years after Muhammad and the next messenger is "seven pairs" of centuries (15:87). The year 1980 AD corresponded to the Islamic year 1400. All these are indisputable physical facts that existed in the Kuran since it was revealed 1400 years ago. Thus, God has provided factual, physical, proof in support of my identity as His messenger. Proclaim: "This is the truth from your Lord." Then, whoever wills let him believe, and whoever wills let him disbelieve. (Koran 18:29)…"
(The Muslim Perspectives, Archival Bulletin, May 1998, at http://www.submission.org/SP/#1988
And in case you think he is just another crank whose brain was boiled by the harsh Arizona desert sun, he cited other prophets and messengers, some of whose travails were detailed in the Qur’an, as others who came before him and whose messages were also doubted. As he quoted:
The disbelievers would say, "you are not a messenger." Say, "God suffices as witness between me and you; also those who possess knowledge of the scripture. [13:43] Nothing prevented the people from believing when the guidance came to them, except their saying, "How can God send a human messenger?" Say, "If the earth were inhabited by angels, we would have sent to them an angel as a messenger." Say, 'God suffices as witness between me and you. He is fully cognizant and seer of His servants." [17: 94-96]Joseph had come to you in the past, with clear signs. But you doubted what he told you. Then, when he died, you said, "God will not send another messenger after him." God thus misleads those who are transgressors, doubters. [40 : 34]
(The Muslim Perspectives, Archival Bulletin, May 1998
Note, all Qur’anic quotations of The Submitters is based on their own copy of the Qur’an. However, beside computer-coding of the Qur’an which "proved" to him that he was a messenger of God, there was the added "miracle" of his ascension, or miraj. According to his account:
During my Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and before sunrise on Tuesday, Zul-Hijjah 3, 1391, December 21, 1971, I, Rashad Khalifa, the soul, the real person, not the body, was taken to some place in the universe where I was introduced to all the prophets as God's Messenger of the Covenant. I was not informed of the details and true significance of this event until Ramadan 1408.
What I witnessed, in sharp consciousness, was that I was sitting still, while the prophets, one by one, came towards me, looked at my face, then nodded their heads. God showed them to me as they had looked in this world, attired in their respective mode of dress. There was an atmosphere of great awe, joy, and respect.
Except for Abraham, none of the prophets was identified to me. I knew that all the prophets were there, including Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Aaron, David, Noah, and the rest. I believe that the reason for revealing Abraham's identity was that I asked about him. I was taken aback by the strong resemblance he had with my own family - myself, my father, my uncles. It was the only time that I wondered, "Who is this prophet who looks like my relatives?" The answer came: "Abraham." No language was spoken. All communication was done mentally.
(Taken from Appendix 2 of Dr. Khalifa's Authorized English translation of the Quran, and available at http://www.submission.org/AP02.htm).
For someone who rejected the miraj (ascension) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) because its details came via Hadith, it is interesting how Dr. Khalifa was detailed and convinced about his own "miraj", which convinced him of his "messengership". This is more so because Dr. Khalifa ridiculed Imam Muslim for
"inventing an indefensible story about [Muhammad’s] ascension to the heavens on a horse, at the speed of light, and talking God out of 50 Salat prayers. At the speed of light, he would still be traveling within the Milky Way Galaxy."
Dr. Khalifa, Corruption of religions, at
It is also surprising how Dr. Khalifa seemed to transplant the persona of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) with his own, especially in his identification of his "filial" relationship with Ibrahim (AS) during his "miraj".
Upon his "return" to earth (more precisely, Arizona), he proceeded to translate the Qur’an according to his vision. He also started to address himself as "Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D, Messenger of God". The entire copy of this translated Qur’an is located at http://www.submission.org/qt.zip. Based on this "divine" directive, Dr. Khalifa was able to further confirm the mathematical code of the Qur’an by the computer in 1974. As stated,
"…. My mission as a divinely commissioned messenger of God is supported by physical evidence that will never be refuted by the objective and honest researcher. The evidence is in the form of a formidable mathematical code within God's final message to the world. This code is based on the number 19, and is clearly beyond human capability. It is impossible to give the details of the Koran's extensive mathematical composition in this preface. I have published five books on the subject. But I will present here sufficient examples to illustrate this 19-based miracle which is described by the Almighty Himself as "One of the greatest miracles" (74:30~35):
The word "God," the most important word, is mentioned in the Koran 2698 times, or 19x142.
When we add up the numbers of all verses where the word "God" occurs, the total comes to 118123, also a multiple of 19 (118123 = 19x6217). This proves the superhuman accuracy of the verse numbers.
The word "Koran" is mentioned in the Koran 57 times, 19x3
When we add the verse numbers where the .word "Koran" is found, the total is 2660, or I 9x1 40.
The word "Koran" occurs in 38 suras, 19x2.
When we add the number of suras where we find the word "Koran", plus the total of verse numbers reported above (2660), the grand total (2660+38) is 2698 which equals the number of occurrences of the word "God."
The Koran's famous opening statement (In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) consists of 19 Arabic letters,
Each component word in the Koran's opening statement occurs in the whole book a number of times which is consistently a multiple of 19.
The Koran consists of 114 suras, or 19x6.
The total number of verses in the Koran is 6346, or 19 x 334.
The famous first revelation (96:1-5) consisted of 19 words, and 76 letters (19x4).
The last sura revealed (sura 110) consists of 19 words…"
(The Muslim Perspectives, Archival Bulletin, May 1988) at http://www.submission.org/SP/#1988
He then devoted the rest of his life to attempts to enlighten the world about this miracle, attracting numerous followers all over the world, including Kano. As declared in the Muslim Perspective of July 1988,
In addition to numerous telephone calls from all corners of the world, the following letters were received from God's favorite creations, the extremely fortunate people who saw the truth of God's message, believers who uphold the Qur'an, the whole Qur’an, and nothing but the Qur'an:
From Kano, Nigeria: ...I totally believe in your teachings, and I humbly and totally submit to the will of my CREATOR, GOD ALMIGHTY who guided you to preach His message to the world.
Muslim Perspective, July 1988 (name of the "believer" not published).
Perhaps not surprisingly, he drew the ire of many noted Muslim polemicists, especially Ahmad Deedat who sent the following telegram to Dr. Khalifa on May 21, 1988:
TO RASHAD KHALIFA AL KAZZAAB I BESEECH YOU TO RENOUNCE YOUR FALSE CLAIMS TO MESSENGERSHIP OF GOD AND ACCEPT MUHAMMAD IBNU ABDULLAH AS THE FINAL PROPHET (NABEE) AND MESSENGER (RASOOL) OF ALLAH. IF YOU FAIL TO DO THIS THEN I CHALLENGE YOU TO AN OPEN DEBATE TO DISPROVE ALL YOUR FALSE CLAIMS AT THE MADISON SQUARE GARDEN NEW YORK THE CENTRE OF ACTIVITIES IN THE USA WE WILL PAY ALL THE COSTS INCURRED AHMED DEEDAT (SERVANT OF ISLAM)
Muslim Perspective, October 1988
Dr. Khalifa tactfully declined the invitation to appear live at the Madison Square Gardens. Instead, he issued another challenge to Ahmad Deedat for a closed circuit video debate!
The subsequent mission of The Submitters — who labeled themselves The Community of Rashad — through Dr. Khalifa’s teachings, were devoted to upholding their ideological belief in the Qur’an only, devoid of what they call "human interference". In issuing their new Qur’an, they cut off bits and pieces that do not tally with their mathematics. A striking example is their disagreement with the last two ayats of Surat Tauba. These last two ayats were more commonly referred to as "laqad ja’akum". In an essay titled Tampering with the Words of God (http://www.submission.org/tampering.html), they argued that
Nineteen years after the Prophet's death, some scribes injected two false verses at the end of Sura 9, the last sura revealed in Medina.
By removing Laqad Ja’akum, The Submitters were able to obtain the 19-code balance they were after in the Qur’an. Thus based on these teachings of Dr. Khalifa, the submitters came up with their own code of Islamic conduct — including their own mode of praying (two raka’at will do, not necessarily four, since it was never stated in the Qur’an how many raka’at one should do!), and their own special brand of the Kalimat — they believe there is no god but Allah. Full stop! Not that they don’t believe Muhammad (SAW) was not His messenger; but since he was not special to them (there are other thousands of other prophets to contend with, why single him out for any special mention?) They were also totally against al-salat ala al-nabi and al-tasleem. And if you argue that the details of almost all Islamic rituals were derived from the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the Submitters will disagree. They derive their details from Abraham.
The Quran teaches us in many suras that Submission (in Arabic "Islam") is the religion of Abraham (2:135, 3:95, 4:125, 6:161 and 22:78). Muhammad was a follower of Abraham, as we learn from 16:123. All religious practices in Submission (Islam) were given to us through Abraham; they include:
the five daily Contact Prayers (Salat),
the obligatory charity (Zakat),
the fasting during Ramadan, and
the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca.
Specifically, we learn from the Quran (21:73) that the Contact Prayers (Salat) and the obligatory charity (Zakat) were given to Abraham. Charity (Zakat) were given to Abraham. Numerous verses throughout the Quran inform us that the Contact Prayers were in existence, intact, and practiced before the advent of Muhammad (see for example 8:35 & 9:54). All positions of the Contact Prayers are found in the Quran, including the standing position (3:39, 39:9), the bowing and prostration positions (Rukoo' and Sajood) (2:43, 3:43, 9:112, 22:26,77). The Five times are specified in the Quran:
The Dawn Prayer is mentioned by name in 24:58. Before sunrise.
The Noon Prayer is specified in 17:78. When the sun declines.
The Afternoon Prayer is in 2:238. Midway between noon & sunset.
The Sunset Prayer is mentioned in 11:114. Immediately after sunset.
The Night Prayer is in 11:114, and is mentioned by name in 24:58.
(Note, all Qur’anic references are to the Submitters’ Qur’an)
Dr. Rashad Khalifa’s cult started not only to drew the ire of Muslims all over the world, but also the anger of those who take it upon themselves to defend Islam where ever it was slighted. Thus
"…in February 19, 1989 a group of scholars (38 members according to the newspaper reports) met in Saudi Arabia to discuss the issue of Salman Rushdie. When they issued their fatwa (religious decree) it became a headline news in Muslim countries…Their fatwa was: "both Rashad and Rushdie are apostate." The world knew Rushdie but who was Rashad? Dr. Rashad Khalifa, a biochemist resident of Tucson, Arizona became a popular figure in Muslim countries after he discovered a secret mathematical system in the Quran via computer analysis in the early1970s. The consequence of the mathematical code was too difficult to be accepted by the Muslim clergymen. Consequently, they issued fatwas calling for his assassination…"
Edip Yuksel, From the Perspective of a former Radical Muslim Leader: The Theo-political Roots of "Islamic Terrorism" at http://www.yuksel.org/e/law/terror.htm
On January 30, 1990, Dr. Khalifa’s problems on this planet were completely solved. On that day, he was stabbed to death in the kitchen of his Tucson, Arizona masjid, allegedly by a cell of Jama’atul Fuqra. Jamaat ul-Fuqra is an Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence. Operating from Pakistan and North America, Fuqra is led by Pakistani cleric Shaykh Mubarik Ali Gilani, who established the organization in the early 1980s. Gilani now resides in Pakistan, but most Fuqra cells are located in North America and the Caribbean. Fuqra members have purchased isolated rural compounds in North America to live communally, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture..
Jama’atul Fuqra was declared a "terrorist" organization by the US State Department. Although no specific person has been convicted of killing Dr. Khalifa, the person implicated in the killing was Wadih El-Hage, an associate of Osma Bin Laden. This is because,
Prosecutors have repeatedly implied El Hage knows who committed the murder and may have been involved. . .El Hage's family calls the claim ridiculous, saying El Hage was out of the country at the time of the murder. Prosecutors have repeatedly said El Hage at least should have contacted the authorities with what he knew after he found out that the man was murdered.
A Portrait Of Wadih El Hage, Accused Terrorist, at http://www.legalservicesindia.com/osama/terrorists.htm
Even in death, his followers were careful to point out the parallels of his demise with that of other messengers of Allah.
Refuting The Submitters
There are, of course, strong challenges to the claims Dr. Khalifa and his subordinates. The same internet the gave The Submitters freedom to proclaim Dr. Khalifa a messenger of the God, also provided platform for refuting his arguments. One of them deals with the issue of number 19, which was strongly disputed:
Allah Almighty never said that the number "19" is the number that the Noble Qur’an is based on. This is nothing but a nonsense that was invented by some mathematician who knew computer programming and wrote a code that generated some nonsense that he considered as statistical analysis on the Noble Qur’anic Verses and thought he could become a Messenger of Allah Almighty.
Debate Material Used In Defeating The Da'awah Of Rashad Khalifa
A second rebuttal of Dr. Khalifa’s 19 number theory is by Osama Abdallah at http://www.answering-christianity.com/19.htm,
My response to Rashad Khalifa's number 19 hoax is as follows: You can't prove or disprove a religion or Verses in a Holy Scripture through mathematical equations. This whole number "19" theory is a big hoax. Allah Almighty never mentioned anything about the number 19 being a "Holy Number". So what? He decided to put 19 guards or angels on the gates of hell;
"Over it are Nineteen. And We have set none but angels as Guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,- in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,- and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, 'What symbol doth God intend by this ?' Thus doth God leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind. (Al-Mudaththir (74), 30-31, Yusuf Ali translation).
What in the world does this have to do with the quantity of the Verses of the Noble Quran and their validity?! Each one of Angels is assigned a fixed number doesn't at all give the number 19 any holiness! It means that each one of them is assigned what we call today a "head count".
Osama Abdallah also wonders where we will end up if we begin to attach special mystical meanings to numbers as a basis for believing in the Qur’an. He further argues,
How about the number 7? Allah Almighty created Earth in 7 layers. How about coming up with some hoax theory that would remove a bunch of Noble Verses from the Noble Quran because their references are not multiples of the number 7?
How about the number 4? Did you know that the words "Allah", "Muhammad", "Jesus", and "Moses" are written in 4 letters in Arabic? "Allah" is written as "A L L H". "Muhammad" is written as "M H M D". "Jesus" is written as "E E S A". "Moses" is written as "M O S A". How about making the number 4 as a holy number in Islam and remove all of the Noble Verses in the Noble Quran which reference number is not a multiple of 4?
Allah Almighty never said that the number "19" is the number that the Noble Quran is based on. This is nothing but a nonsense that was invented by some mathematician who knew computer programming and wrote a code that generated some nonsense that he considered as statistical analysis on the Noble Qur’anic Verses and thought he could become a Messenger of Allah Almighty.
Further, it is significant to note that Dr. Khalifa’s main argument relied on a computer which was the instrument of unraveling the Qur’an’s mathematical code, as perceived by him. An analyst has debunked this perception. The original ayat that Dr. Khalifa derived his computer theory from is:
And when the Word is fulfilled against them (the unjust) We shall produce from the earth a beast to (face) them: he will speak to them for that mankind did not believe with assurance in our Signs.
Surat al-Naml (27), 82, Yusuf Ali translation
Dr. Khalifa translated this ayat as:
At the right time, we will produce for them a creature, made of earthly materials, declaring that the people are not certain about our revelations.
http://www.submission.org/qt.zip, 27 (82).
He then proceeded to interpret the "creature" as the computer! M. Zlatan refuted these arguments as follows:
This translation from Rashad Khalifa represent gross distortions of the original Arabic. First, "the root of the word "daabah" translated as the "creature", carries the meaning of moving — that is, it means "the creature that is moving"; and computers are not moving." Secondly, the phrase which RK translates as "AT THE RIGHT TIME," is "Wa itha waqa a alejhimul qawlu" in Arabic, which actually means "AND WHEN THE WORD IS FULFILLED AGAINST THEM." Significantly, a parallel phrase "wa waqa a alejhimul qawlu/And the Word will be fulfilled against them" appears in Quran 27:85:
"And the Word will be fulfilled against them (wa waqa al qawlu alejhim) and they will be unable to speak (in plea)." 27/85.
RK translates the SAME ARABIC PHRASE far differently in Quran 27:85 than in 27:82: THEY WILL INCUR THE REQUITAL FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS; they will say nothing.
M. Zlatan, A short essay based on Qur’anic verses, at http://www.crosswinds.net%20/~the19Deceit/19andcomputer.htm
That pretty about summarizes the core arguments (you can find more at http://www.answering-christianity.com/rk_cult_exposed.htm: Rashad Khalifa Cult Exposed).
Except that Dr. Rashad Khalifa was not as holy as he seemed, for he was at one stage of his career accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl. According to an account in Tucson Citizen," October 6, 1979, p. 2B (and reproduced at http://www.geocities.com/ocp274/rk.htm):
". . .a 16-year-old-girl testified that he [RK]raped her while supposedly recruiting her for a United Nations research project." "According to the girl, Khalifa recruited her to do research on the aura, a luminous radiation that supposedly surrounds the body, and met her Sept. 3 at an East Side office for that purpose."
"The girl said Khalifa asked her to remove her clothing so that it wouldn't interfere with her aura and after massaging several parts of her body, he proceeded to have sexual relations with her."
"...Khalifa admitted to the police that he had manipulated the girl's breasts during his research. . . ."
"Justice of The Peace James West held a three-day hearing, and found sufficient evidence to order Khalifa to "stand trial on charges of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and sexual contact with a minor."
Subsequent stories, verified by statements in Dr. Rashad’s newsletter, indicated his acceptance of this charge and his willingness to settle out of court. No other messenger or prophet of Allah has reduced himself to such lowly status of base humanity. It is even sacrilegious to think that a purified messenger of Allah, to whom Gabriel has been sent with messages for humanity can perform such unholy act (see, for instance, an unacknowledged article titled Infallibility of the Prophets (Part I) at http://www.al-islam.org/encyclopedia/chapter1b/2.html). This proves, if at all there is a need to prove anything further, that Dr. Khalifa suffered from delusions of grandeur which he shared with David Koresh, Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani Jim Jones and other religious leaders suffering from the Messiah Complex.
As I stated earlier, the internet is a double-edged mass media sword. Just as it can be used to spread the message of Islam, it can also be used to distort Islam. The case of the Suralikeit phenomenon (http://members.aol.com/suralikeit/), and the emergence of The Community of Rashad, or The Submitters (http://www.submission.org) indicate areas of challenges and controversies. Not to mention others such as Qadiyanis (http://www.ahmadiyya.com), the Nation of Islam (http://www.noi.org) and a host of others.
The fact of the existence of the internet reflects the political mindset of those who established it — freedom of information and its sharing. So far Muslims have embraced the Internet as a medium of communicating values and reinforcement of Islamic faith. There are problems with the political entity known as the Muslim World (visit, for instance, http://www.hrw.org/advocacy/internet/mena/index.htm for details)where the issues of censorship are still prevalent, and the concepts of freedom of expression and sharing of information are still tied to a more traditional worldviews.
There are, of course, pitfalls even to the liberal use of the internet to spread Islam. In the first instance, like all mass media, the information given on any web page is dependent upon the particular ideological leanings of the person providing the information. And where there could be common meanings and adherence to basic practices and beliefs, there are regional variations in other practices and beliefs. Some authors may not make these distinctions, and this can often cast doubt on the credibility of the information, especially if there are too many variations of the same views.
Again being a typical mass media, authors of websites, just like columnists of newspapers, are all trying to grab your attention and sell their point of view as being the best or the most appropriate. Luckily, this has not started manifesting itself within the Islamic internet. Even clusters of opposing interpretation of Islam, e.g. Sunni and Shia often focus on their main messages, prefering to ignore others.
Finally, despite the ease and comprehensiveness of the internet as a media resource, still for my money I would rather learn and continue reinforcing my Islam from the aged and graying "mu’allim" (Mallam) on his dilapidated "buzu" (ram-skin carpet), than interacting with a dancing flash object or struggling through a wayward java applet.
Abdalla Uba Adamu
Department of Education
Bayero University, Kano
January 7, 2002