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Syria’s new Grand Mufti condemns the Iraqi Resistance

July 18th, 2005 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Syria has a new Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassun. In his first statement he has strongly criticised the kidnappings and suicide bombings in Iraq.

He said he is working with all Muslim sects to prevent the growth of fundamentalism.

“I am in contact with the Sunni and Shiite associations of Ulama (Muslim scholars) in Iraq to ask them to avoid kidnappings, because (it) is a crime that distorts Islam,” he said.

His words come days after British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on British Muslim leaders to block the path to fundamentalism, in the wake of the London bombings.

The Sheikh was appointed after the death of his predecessor Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro – a Kurd. Hassun studied at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and has been Aleppo’s Mufti since President Bashar Al-Assad came to power in 2000.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Fadi // Jul 18, 2005 at 2.04 pm

    I think that your title is misleading. There are 2 distinct actions going on in Iraq right now:

    1- The terrorists activities: killing civilians for sectarian and twisted ideological reasons.

    2- Legitimate resistance activities: Fighting the occupation as as a national human right granted by UN charter.

    The difference between those 2 actions are so clear to most Iraqis/Arabs/Muslims I’ve met. Westerners have a problem making this distinction because of biased media hypes.

    I read the mufti’s statement. It was not about the Iraqi legitimate resistance. It was condemning the actions of people committing terrorist crimes against civilians and hiding behind the name of Islam to justify their actions.

  • 2 Imam Tariq A. Aquil // Nov 17, 2005 at 11.05 pm

    Islam!
    The Next Level

    ?Moving from Preaching Religion – To Establishing The Life?

    How To Stop

    • Terrorist Attacks
    • Suicide Bombings &
    • The Radicalization of Islam

    The next level for Islam in America is not so much talk … it is the physical establishment of economic, academic, social and cultural institutions based upon the pillars of Al Islam. The next level is the actualizing of the tenants of our faith expressing them by establishing businesses, schools, and centers of culture.
    We know the Islamic pillar called “Charity” is more than giving a few dollars to someone on the street. It is also the establishment of an economic system that demonstrates “Charity” by giving dignity through academic establishments, economic development, all of which gives a sense of dignity and human worth to the individual.
    Before, after and throughout we have to accept the responsibility that Almighty God gave each Muslim to demand of themselves and their brothers/sisters correct adherence to Islam. When it comes to addressing acts of terror and the radicalization of Islam, the proverbial “buck” stops with each and every Muslim.
    The First and last thing on our minds each day must be have I done all that I can do personally, socially and in the community to help perfect the life according to the pattern established for all humanity by Almighty God.
    Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil, Sr.

    “Islam – The Next Level” ?July 11, 2005 – By Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil Sr,
    All Rights Reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any way
    Without written Permission of the author.
    Preface: The title starts with the Arabic word Islam, which is associated with the religion of Muslims. The term Islam is used here in its general meaning, which is “willing submission to the will of Almighty God.”
    The specific meaning of Islam is the name of the religion practiced by the worlds 1.5 billion Muslims. By the general definition of the term Islam in the Arabic language, anyone that consciously and willingly strives to submit himself or herself wholeheartedly to Almighty God, without associating any other deity with Almighty God, in Arabic is called Muslim.
    The natural world, such as trees, stars and the universe is all called Muslim. Meaning that which is in obedience to the Will of its creator and does not resist or alter the nature in which it was created. Prophet Mohammed [pbuh] said, all people are born Muslim, and it is the society or other factors that invites them into the division we see in the world today.
    The rationale for addressing Muslims more specifically here is because Christianity and Judaism are much further along on the road of establishing the Next Level of their faith traditions in their social, academic, cultural, political, and economic aspects.
    A couple of years ago I spent a week in Jerusalem. I stayed in a hotel in Jerusalem that was filled nightly with Jewish couples and their children. As I stood by the hotel elevator I noticed that no one pressed the buttons to indicate which floor they wanted to go to. After I inquired about it someone explained to me that during the Sabbath no practicing Jew performs work – not even to the extent of pressing an elevator button to indicate the floor they want. Therefore the Jewish businesses that design hotels and the elevators in them have designed these elevators so that the cars on the right hand side of the lobby only went to even number floors and the ones on the left only went to odd numbered floor. The person need only remember whether their room is on an odd or even numbered floor and board the appropriate elevator car.

    The very design of the hotel elevators was done with the religious observances of the Jewish people in mind. That is a very simple example of what it means to take the religion to the next level to its practical applications in the social life of the people. It was not necessary to say to anyone that this was a part of what the Jewish people believe; the function of their social infrastructure accommodated their religious belief.
    A leading movement among Christians is the Unification church led by Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Among the core teachings of unification is the concept of “Living for the sake of others.” Reverend Moon and the members of the unification movement translate this concept from a verbal utterance into social foundations and establishments in the global society. In nearly every major country of the world they have hosted interfaith conferences affording an opportunity for interfaith dialogue, cooperation and networking towards the establishment of world peace. They have invited thousands of people representing almost every nation on Earth and paid all expenses. In the political arena the unification movement under Reverend Moon has established the IIPC, The Interreligious International Peace Council, which is a positive presence at the level of the United Nations. At the community and social level they have established youth organizations that travel the globe volunteering their services in the war torn areas of the globe. In the area of cultural activities there is an annual sports and Cultural convention held in Seoul Korea that acknowledges and reaffirms the healthy role of athletes. Their youth and women Unification foundations for peace are very active worldwide. I was present in 2002 when they donated computers to the children in Palestine and Israel to further their educational goals in their local schools. This represents movement from simply preaching their beliefs and espousing ones faith traditions and is the actual establishment of those core beliefs in their practical social application.

    At the time of this writing there is a great debate in the congress of the United States of America regarding selecting a new Justice for the Supreme Court. Politicians as well as civic and religious organizations are promoting their concerns for who will replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day-O’Connor.
    One concern seems to hinge on whether or not the new Justice would follow the religious concerns of pro-life groups. This pro-life concern is rooted in religious scripture that recognizes the sanctity of human life. Another concern is related to the possibility that cases might come before the Court regarding the death penalty. Again, this is a concern that emanates from religious scripture. They question whether it is right to take a life according to the Mosaic Law of an “eye for an eye” or to forgive them according to teachings attributed to Jesus, [peace be upon them both]. What we are witnessing is the concern of Christians and other religious people in American society about the political and judicial expression of their religious beliefs.
    No one in modern time has been asked to participate in discussions or to vote on whether or not Sunday would be the day that all government offices would be closed. Most businesses that represent the State and Federal government are closed on both Saturday and Sunday. Why? Because these two days are held as Sabbath, Saturday by the Jewish people and Sunday by Christians. Again, these are very simple representations of the establishment of religious interest and concerns in the social and political framework of the society.
    Today, schools across America are being asked to include a concept called “Intelligent design” in their class curriculum; this is from religious scripture and intended to offer an alternative to the evolutionist view of human beginnings. The more existing institutions and their concepts are challenged and changed to conform to the balance rational religious teachings the more the society will resemble the revealed word of God. Not in rhetoric, but rather in its social, political, economic, academic and cultural establishments.
    In the late 1970’s I
    mam Warith Deen Mohammed, a prominent Muslim leader authored an article entitled “Man Means Mind.” The article addressed the natural stages of human development, indicating it started with “Words.” He said words make people. This statement forced many to revisit the fact that both the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Bible have statements that connect the spoken word with the creation or making of man. In the Bible, in the book of John the first chapter and first verse it says, “In the beginning was the word” – it goes on to say that that “word became flesh and dwelt among men.” In the Holy Qur’an Almighty God says, “The Originator of the heavens and the Earth: When He decreeth a matter, He Saith to it: “Be,” And it is. (Holy Qur’an 2:117)
    Each of these statements brings to light the fact that the human being comes into existence like clay, malleable and ready to be formed and shaped in its mode of thinking. It further acknowledges that language is the foundation of thought. We cannot conceive a thought that is not expressed in words, even if those words mean that what we are thinking is beyond intelligible expression. It logically follows that expanding human minds to grasp grander and more comprehensive concepts could be initiated by “Words.”
    It was with this in mind that several years ago, as the author traveled across the country – the idea was suggested to Muslims in business, that they might begin to advertise special sales on the occasion of the two annual Eid observances, as well as Ramadan. It was pointed out that no significant cost was associated with producing signs announcing pre-Ramadan sales, or Eid product discounts. No special license is required and no laws existed to prevent such actions. The objective was to expand the thought process and introduce a bigger vision of the role that Muslims could play in the business life of their respective communities. Without stating that the owner of a business is Christian or Jewish, we see Easter discount sales in stores all across America. We also see Christmas mark down sales.
    The storeowners are not asking customers to join their particular religious belief, but the buyer is aware that there is a financial benefit from that particular sale. They are also aware that people of that particular religious belief are in business in their community and are contributing towards the economic development of their life. As a whole Muslims have not done this simple thing. The idea was based upon this and upon the obligation Muslims have to be informative in regards to clear understanding of what is Islam. Also it would increase the business visibility and most likely increase sales and it would be a public demonstration of the healthy contributions that Muslim business makes in the community. After more than seventy years of Muslim presence in North America it would seem unnecessary to make these suggestions but that in itself shows the need for moving to the Next Level.
    Traveling across America one can see that there are many communities that have been formed based upon a common belief, held by the majority of those who desire to live in those communities. In the State of Illinois and in the state of Missouri for instance, there are cities mainly populated by Christians that have produced city charters based upon their “faith based beliefs.” This type of environment helps to reinforce their values and gives them an opportunity to raise their children in a social support system that is not in conflict with their faith. Again in Qur’an Almighty God Says, “Those who believe (in the Qur’an) and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah (God) and the last day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. “ (Holy Qur’an 2:62)
    For many years there has been talk among Muslims in America about developing communities where Islam is the dominant influence. Some small gatherings have come into existence but by and large that was it. There are some recent indications that a few out of the way communities have formed.

    In the Qur’an Almighty God says that He is the Lord of all the worlds. He says that Prophet Mohammed is a mercy to all mankind and that the Qur’an is guidance for all humanity. What part of that is local? Just for one person, one place, and one time? These facts speak to the holistic, global, and universal scope of Islam and those who apply it.
    Two years ago the author began to challenge the Muslims to think bigger and look for a city that they could purchase. The first response was laughter. How can you buy a city? In 2004, for the second time, the author found a city on the Internet web site Ebay that was for sale. The town of Amboy was listed for sale at 1.8 million dollars. The basic infrastructure was intake. A few general use buildings, a café, water supply, gas lines, telephone lines, good roads, and electric lines were all there. It would need a mayor, police chief, school board president, city business manager, and city treasurer, code enforcement, parks, and recreation. Muslims and Christians or simply God fearing persons interested in cooperative, interfaith life would fill all the functions of the small town. The author formed several groups to perform a feasibility study and to develop an infrastructure and development cost analysis. Two Muslim brothers licensed in real estate and knowledgeable in financial planning headed the city acquisition project. A think tank type group was organized to perform historical research on how to extrapolate the core religious beliefs into their social, political, academic, economic, and cultural application. A search of the natural resources in Amboy was undertaken to see what natural resources were there and whether the mineral resources could be used to leverage a loan to build the housing, job and business infrastructure. A committee was formed to initiate a national credential search for qualified persons to fill the positions in the city government. An Internet radio program host permitted the author to announce the idea on the World Wide Web radio, which resulted in several Christian churches that were exposed to the idea to express their desire to participate in such a city.
    Outside of the workers on the plan the general response to purchasing a city was met with doubt that it could be achieved. Ironically, the very day of this writing the city of Amboy was sold to a single person who said he would make it a memorabilia site due to the fact that the city sits on the famous route 66 in Southern California. In the Bible the book of Proverbs 29:18 there is a statement, which says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.”
    In order for Muslims to progress to the next level they must first embrace the vision or at least consider “The possibility” of expanding every core principal of Al- Islam into its practical social expression.
    In the first revelation to Prophet Mohammed [pbuh], Almighty God says to him, “Read! In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created – Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood?” [Holy Qur’an 96: 1, 2]
    Prophet Mohammed [pbuh] was not a man of worldly letters, but he was being challenged to read. The first revelation to our Prophet was to do something that he could not do before and to be something that he had not been prior to the revelation coming to him. There are two key statements in this verse; the first comes in the statement “in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher.” Proceed to read or proclaim this message on the authority of thy Lord, with the aid of thy Lord and Cherisher. Almost redundantly, but rather as clarification God Says to him, “Who created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood.” This verse speaks of process. The Arabic word for Lord is Rabb. It refers to the Creator Who after creating something clocks in that creation an evolutionary process towards its full development, while providing sustenance for it in e
    very stage of its development.
    In chapter Al ‘Alaq, [Qur’an 96:1, 2] the challenge to Prophet Mohammed [pbuh] comes with the reminder that man has gone through a process. Progressing from a clot of congealed blood to mans present form.
    The same One that brought humanity from its lowly start to its present physical development is reminding him and encouraging him that with the help of his Lord and Cherisher he can achieve the task.
    The challenge to Muslims in America today is to do something that we could not do before and to be something we were not prior to the revelation coming to us. This is a challenge that comes in our personal, community, and global life.
    A number of Muslims in America of African decent still suffer from the scars of slave mentality. This is seen in the lack of trust in same ethnic relationships, whether business or social. At the other end of the spectrum, far too many Muslims in America, that are from other countries; still suffer from that scourge that was supposed to be eradicated from Islam, which is the feelings of racial superiority. This feeling seems to especially apply when they are dealing with the African-American Muslims, who are indigenous to the American inner cities.
    The writer is not proposing something new. In fact what has prompted this entire thought process is the city of Medinah. What prophet Mohammed [pbuh] did after leaving Mecca in establishing life in Medinah, is a Model for all times. First he established a place of worship that would double as a place of learning. Next, he established an open market for business or economic expression of Islam. Then he coupled the immigrants, the Muhajirun, with the indigenous folk, the Ansaar. The prophet [pbuh] forged a bond of cooperation, trust, and brotherhood. This was a marriage of the manufacturers with the marketers. The Meccan’s were adept at trade and the Ansaar were essentially farmers.
    When the muhajurans, the immigrant brothers and sisters follow the example of the prophet [pbuh] and engage the indigenous brothers and sisters, the ansaars in a bond of cooperation, trust and brotherhood, then they both will have the combined resources to bring into reality the vision of the next level.
    It must be hastily added that regardless to whether this Medinah model is followed in regard to the cooperation between the Ansaar and Muhajirun, those who have invested their life, their blood and sweat in America [African-American Muslims] are duty bound to ferret out a unity that allows them to make a reality of the movement to the next level as Muslims in this country.
    One of the objectives herein is to cite models whether established or envisioned that will aid humanity in recognizing not only the possibility but the practical methodology for establishing the Next level of living the principals or Islamic pillars in their social, political, economic, academic and cultural expressions.
    Science will not accept as scientific fact anything that has not been replicated at least three times under identical conditions and rendered the same results. Any concept purported to be for holistic human application must demonstrate that it is a sustainable idea and should be held to at least the same high standard as science in that it must been rooted in and conform to established universal, social, scriptural and valid historical facts.
    If we start with Adam there are events that demonstrate a natural pattern in humanity as well as nature that establish the fact that there is movement from elementary to more advance levels in all of creation. We live in a creation set in motion by the Creator. Where there is motion we are able to calculate movement by assigning incremental numeral qualities – this we call time. Ironically, the movement of time is always forward. Herein is a historical, comprehensive outline of humanities social, moral, and spiritual development that supports the necessity for Islam [and the other monotheistic faiths] now moves to The Next Level!

    After many years of preaching, teaching and discussing the religion of
    Al-Islam, it is time to move to the next level. The Next level is the practical application of Al-Islam to the everyday life of the human being by establishing social, economic, academic, cultural and political institutions predicated on the practical essence of the pillars or principles of the religion of Al-Islam.
    The five pillars or principals, being, Tawheed, [the conscience awareness of the unity of God] salat, [the act of prayer or worship of God] fasting, [the abstinence of that which God has commanded] charity [the unconditional and unselfish actions that help self and others] and hajj, [participation in the universal observance of the common essence of humanity at the central site of monotheism].
    For Islam to become a social reality in contemporary society, it must be expressed in the common aspects of human daily life. It must be like the air that we breathe the water we drink; it must permeate every significant aspect of the life of the human being. It must be as common as the names of the streets that we drive our cars on, the financial operational system that our banks utilize the rational for the selections stocked by our local supermarket, the curriculum at our neighborhood school. It must be the logic that dictates what is showing at the Movie Theater.
    When it is understood that “Islam” means willingly acquiescing to the Guidance of Almighty God, then we can see that Islam the next level is not in conflict with those cherished original concept embodied in the American constitution. Nor is there any conflict with other faith traditions in America that have remained true to the original revelation from Almighty God and recorded in their sacred scriptures.
    Almighty God says in the Muslim’s Holy Book, “Seek the hereafter – but do not neglect your portion of this present life.”

    The Muslims call to worship or too prayer is a call to life. Hayya ala-salat means to hurry up and with liveliness come to the proper worship of Almighty God. It serves as a reminder that there should not be any more delay living the social, morally structured life as it is reveled in sacred scriptures. In the Holy Qur’an God Says that He is not in need of anything. Our correct worship of God is in fact the methodology for establishing the life and infrastructure for the support of the good human life.
    The next level requires a comprehensive and practical understanding of the core beliefs of Islam called its pillars. This calls for non-verbal expression. Establishing social institutions predicated upon those pillars. So that without verbal expression of the principal one can benefit from the essential design of the principal. Not just the ritual aspect but also the deeper holistic implications of those pillars. Islamic Scholars and other learned Muslims who have studied the five [some say seven] pillars of Islam and have an in-depth understanding of the fundamental concern at the root of those principles must form think tanks. The purpose of those think tanks is to identify the core concern of the pillar and extrapolate that concern into its social application. That is, show how it is applied and how it would be expressed as an established social institution. How it would be expressed in a practical way as the basis for an academic institution, as an enhancement to the political, economic, and societal concerns of all people, then and only then will the world see the emergence of Muslim society that not only speaks of Islam, but also lives the life within the structure of the religion. That life will be a support for the good and healthy life revealed in Christian and Jewish scriptures.
    How do we know when it is time for change? What are the signals, the indicators to support such a statement? The natural world answers us in many ways. Without over simplifying the issue, we start with human life. When do we know that its time to start feeding an infant solid food instead of the diet of mothe
    rs milk? when the milk is no longer sufficient to sustain the life of the baby.
    We can stubbornly cling to feeding the baby milk, but the movement of time as it changes what the baby needs will reveal serious consequences resulting in malnutrition, sickness, and possible death. When the place where we are and that which we have sustained ourselves with is either exhausted or is no longer able to foster growth and promote healthy life, then we know it is time to move to another place and/or another source of sustenance. In the instance of the baby as well as the animal life, both are still on this Earth. They do not leave the Earth; they move on or advance if you will to another level of sustenance. We are not supposed to, nor can we ever leave the revealed word of Almighty God, our source. But in His Great Wisdom and Mercy Almighty God has embedded more for our sustenance than we could ever extract in a million lifetimes. If only we chose to keep seeking, keep progressing and not sit in stagnation performing spiritual deforestation on topical approaches to deep concepts. Those who watch nature programs on television know that animals will eat from trees and foliage in a particular area and once it has exhausted the foliage on the periphery it is time to move deeper into the forest. One simply does not see an animal lying down under a tree once it has cleaned off all the leaves of that tree.
    But with people how do we know when those ideas, beliefs, and their interpretations have gone as far as they can in a particular understanding?
    Again, it is when our understanding of them as such no longer feed our mind when we are not able to see any sustainable growth or development from the past ways of seeing the concept or belief. The religious beliefs one holds must feed the serious side of human life. The community life, academic life, political, economic and cultural life must draw from the religious or spiritual sources and must be the catalysis for sustainable growth and development. If one does not see emanating from religious or spiritual teachings any significant movement, growth or application of those things that a healthy life requires then know it is time to take it to a higher level.
    Around what is commonly called the Muslim world there have been meetings, conferences and one discussion after another to understand why there has not been any significant growth in many years. Some try to attribute it to a conservative view of Islam claiming that they have been holding onto the old concepts of applying Islam and therefore they have not advanced or seen a need to change anything. This position is held in the face of modernity and the fact that the revealed word of Almighty God is constantly contemporary and applies to new and evolving issues almost daily.
    In the Qur’an Almighty God Says, “Behold, thy Lord said to the angels; I will create a vicegerent on Earth….” (Holy Qur’an 2:30) The word in Arabic that has been translated into the English word vicegerent is Khalifah. Some Muslims believe that the khalifah is a person, while others believe it is a community. The present state of humanity would differ with both beliefs. Khalifah means to succeed, to take the place of someone, to move forward but it also means behind, and to also look back. So Khalifah is the successor whose success is due to the ability to see what was established before. It is proffered here that khalifah is first a process. A process of making serious study of similar relevant past situations then analyzing present circumstances to determine the correct methodology for the proper implementation of those results to present circumstances. That is khalifah! That process will produce a social environment that will be conducive to the emergence of individual and societal khalifahs. But we are not there yet.
    Again with no intent of being simplistic, if the conservative Muslims logic were followed to its extreme we would see those who reside in the Middle East leaving their fine automobiles in the desert and seeking the services of camels. We are intelligent to move with the times within the framework of our beliefs. In America we would see the high-powered John Deere tractor abandoned in the field by the Muslim farmer and replaced with the traditional donkey.

    Instead, what we see is the acceptance of change towards that which is compatible with the times and which does not detract from the fundamental beliefs one holds. If we return to nature and observe how it speaks to us on the subject.
    The light that allows us to see is actually atomic particles called electrons that are moving at the rate of 186 000 mps. The air that allows us to hear is actually fluctuations of that air moving or vibrating at the rate of 1,120 feet per second or (750 MPH). The Earth we live on is rotating on its axis at the rate of 1,037 1/3 MPH and moving through space at the rate of 25,000 MPH. All of this is movement; we live in a universe of movement. Our life starts with movement from one stage to another towards a specific objective. In scripture Almighty God says that He created the human being to be the crown of the creation. Rhetorically the question is asked is the humanity to the point that they are the crowns, the pinnacle of creation, the vicegerent, that wonderful balanced human being that Almighty God created humanity to be. The answer is a resounding no! One can then safely, logically conclude that humanity is a work in progress towards that goal and until the time when humanity arrives at that goal the movement from one level to the next towards that goal is critical to humanities survival and development. There are consequences for refusing to move to the next level. Whether it is socially, economically, academically or in the religious life of the human being refusing to progress results in Social and spiritual malnutrition.
    If we view the world holistically, we can see the results of refusing to move to the next level. The world body or global society is subject to the same conditions of a single body. When there are insufficient vitamins and nutriments that body becomes malnutrition and is then subject to disease and illness.
    The global body needs the vitamins and nutriments to maintain good health and growth. Social vitamins are those fundamental institutions that feed the life of human society, our academic, cultural, economic, political, and cultural life.
    When these aspects of human society are rich in fresh vitality that motivates and invigorates the human being we have health and growth.
    When our understanding and application of those social vitamins is antiquated, perverted or neglected then the society becomes undernourished.
    Just as the human being suffers from malnutrition and the body becomes subject to contacting disease so too does the global body. When we hear that there is a social disease of crime, the disease of drug addiction, premarital sex disease, divorce disease, we are seeing the results of a social body that has lost its ability to successfully fight off or rid itself of social sickness and disease due to malnutrition. If we take a more holistic view of the global society we will understand that what Almighty God says in Qur’an has application here, when He says the creation of one of you is like the creation of all of you. When the human body is attacked by cancer what we are looking at? We are seeing the body actually attack itself. The human body is not recognizing itself and treats its own cells as foreigners and therefor begins to kill itself. This is what we see when there is fighting among Muslims, Christians, and Jews. It’s cancer that has taken hold of the global social body because that body has become weaken for lack of proper nutrients and vitamins that would usually be supplied by a healthy diet of rational and contemporary religious teachings. The global body has segmented itself beyond recognition of its member parts. In the Qur’an Almighty God says, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations
    and tribes, that you may know each other (not that ye may despise each other.) Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” [Holy Qur’an 49:13]
    The English translation of the Arabic word used in this verse for “may know each other” Leta arafu –to know! Arafu means not only to become acquainted with one another; it means to recognize each other. To know a person is very general. I know of you. I know about you.
    I have your business card; I have visited your office or business establishment, but when I recognize you that reflect a connection between us.
    I identify with you. I recognize our common hopes and aspirations. I recognize our common social and family interest. It is so wonderful that this meeting takes place on Mount Arafat, because it connects with progressing, rising up and getting to that next level. Once achieved, the body will no longer fight itself in a cancerous battle because now it recognizes the members as part of one body.
    Entering the Next Level of Islam demands that we establish social institutions that stand as non-verbal communication, social establishments, and institutions that speak to the mind of the human being without the use of the spoken word.
    During the early part of the civil rights era the American society was described as having institutionalized racism. This was a very descriptive paradigm for viewing social behavior and the institutions of the society. What is implied by “institutionalized racism” is that a consciousness of race has permeated the social fabric through the individual and collective thinking of the members of the society so that at the very core or at the inception of every action by the members of that society is the consciousness awareness of race. The end results are that eventually racial concerns are unspoken. But within the very fabric of the social order are mechanisms that reflect the racial concerns of that society. The policies for employment from their inception were established to reflect the concern for maintaining the superior position for one race over another. The determination of where a specific race could live, what they could wear, and what foods they could afford to eat, what level of health care they could obtain were all tied to their access to employment or other financial tools.
    The lending policies of the banking institutions were established from their inception upon the concerns for maintaining the upper position of one race verses another. The academic curriculum was developed upon the philosophy of the superiority of one race over another and so on.
    What finally emerges is a social order that has deeply embedded at its core the hidden concepts of racial superiority, yet race is no longer spoken of as it silently permeates the very essence of the society. That is institutional racism.
    The process of establishing race at a level of institutionalization was a choice. We have another choice and it is to establish at the very core of social development the life that God offers humanity.
    As a vital part of Islam! The Next Level, Muslims must demand truth and honesty from themselves with regard to what is taught in Islam.

    Tending to family matters – An end to terrorism!
    It is really unconscionable that outside powers and forces have had to respond to what is really a family matter. On more than one occasion the so-called super-powers have had to intervene in serious situations where one Muslim nation was violating the sovereignty of another Muslim nation. International human rights organizations have had to condemn serious human rights violations in Muslim countries. All the while Muslims have been either silent or tacitly approving the unIslamic actions of their brother Muslim nation. It is commonplace to visit a masjid and hear an Imam or kateeb eloquently expound of the Qur’an’s admonition that all believers are brothers one of another. There is always that golden standard; “none of you is truly a believer until he [she] loves for their brother [sister] that which they love for themselves.”
    Fantastic statement, great teaching or preaching, but when do Muslims show the world that these are not static philosophical concepts but rather dynamic practical beliefs? Frequently, Muslims are the silent insiders to Arabic language words and terms that the Television and newspapers use when reporting on tragic events in Muslims countries. For instance Muslim know that when the term Jihad [struggle, resist, fight] is used it is really a non-starter unless it is being used according to what Almighty God has described in Qur’an as approved rational for struggling or fighting.
    Muslims know that anyone that intentionally takes the life of an innocent human being is not going to heaven, they are not going to have 70 or 700 virgins in heaven or any other nonsense; rather they are consigned to hell fire. The killing of innocent people has no place in any religion. Imams and other religious leaders in Islam know this and it is incumbent upon all Muslims to remind each other of this fact. Allah says in Qur’an whoever helps in a good deed has a reward the like thereof and whoever helps in a bad deed has the like thereof. Not speaking out is the same as giving tacit approval.
    Allah says in Qur’an, “If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is hell, to abide therein (for ever) and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful chastisement is prepared for him.” [Qur’an 4:93]
    Muslims know that suicide is forbidden in Islam as it is in most other religions. It is certainly time to move to the next level where Muslims are no longer catatonic, unable, or unwilling to speak the truth even if it is against our own leaders, family, and circles of friends or associates.
    In reality, the highest position among human beings is not the position of President, company CEO, sheik, mullah, Imam or doctor, the highest position in all of creation is to be known and called a servant of Almighty God – to be a rational contributor to that which is progressive and healthy for the life of society and all humanity. This means one that strives with their person and possession to be the best human being they can be and to live in the society as positive contributor to the healthy life of that society. That is what the citizens of the Next Level will look like. Almighty God tells us that the humanity should be clothed in the garment of right conduct. Whether we live in Muslim countries under presidents or kings, or in America under an Imam, sheik, or a community leader, if that person is not following the command of Allah, to obey Allah, Obey His Messenger… then we must have the courage to speak out.

    Like the child in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, when the leaders of Muslims are not clothed in right conduct adhering to the word of Allah and following Allah’s prophet, Muslims must be willing to say “The Emperor has no clothes.”
    Each faith tradition has either a person or geographical location that is held out as worthy of reproduction or emulation. For Muslims that model is Medinah. Medinah is the embodiment of The Next Level. Medinah was Interreligious, International, and Interracial. There were Christians and Jews living in Medinah. People emigrated to Medinah from other countries to participate in the life of that city-model. The treaties that were entered into required all citizens to be moral, honest, productive, and peaceful.
    Moving to the next level means acknowledging that There are very clear verses in Qur’an that address the duties of Muslims when another Muslim, be it individual or nation, veers from the straight path of Islam. (Qur’an 49:9).
    The next level of Islamic expression will be consigned to a waning generation if the youth of today continue to be deceived into erroneous translations and applications of Islam. The youth of a nation have always been seen as their greatest natural resour
    ce for their future, so what does that say for Muslims who are selfishly allowing personal, cultural, and nationalistic wounds to be covered, not even healed, but literally covered with the bodies of young Muslim men and women. The next level requires honesty. Muslims must not pick and choose what portion of the Qur’an they will accept and what parts they reject. The Prophets followers said we believe in the book – the whole of it. The present tendency to mix culture from the various Muslim countries with Islamic teachings and practices has done more harm than good.
    Allah says in Qur’an, “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the last day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.” (Qur’an 4:59)
    The total embodiment of the most pressing issue with Muslims in the present level of Islamic expression can be found in this verse. The solution and gateway to the Next Level is found in this verse as well. The primary prerequisite is to obey Almighty God. The secondary prerequisite is to obey His Messenger and those entrusted with authority among the people. This actually forms what computer language refers to as a “loop.” If we start at the end we obey those in authority among us because they obey God and Obey Gods Messenger.
    The lack of action on the part of the Muslim world when it comes to correcting deviations from what all Muslims know to be revealed in Qur’an and ordered by His Prophet is a weakness spoken of in Qur’an. Allah Said, “And Obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering for Allah is with those who patiently persevere…” (Holy Qur’an 8:46)
    The Arabic word used in this verse from which is translated “power” literally means, “wind.” The commentator suggests that it means like the wind in ones sail will go out preventing progress or forward movement.
    Whatever the reasons are that we follow the hundreds and thousands of so-called knowledgeable leaders in Islam into this confused admixture of Islam today; Almighty God gives us the correct order of events.
    The first focus is on obedience to Almighty God, then obedience to the prophets that God has repeatedly sent to humanity, with this specific reference being to Prophet Mohammed and then obedience to those leaders that obey God and obey the messenger. The leaders’ ability to have our obedience can only be obtained based upon their obedience to Al mighty God and His Messenger.
    The failure of Muslims to follow this simple yet vitally important command from Almighty God has culminated into wrapped misrepresentation of what Islam is and what Muslims should and should not do. It has confused many inside and outside of Islam as to what the religion actually stands for.
    Some news media outlets have had a “grand old time” pointing out certain practices by Muslims that have nothing to do with the religion and are simply habits of cultural expression taken up by Muslims in their respective lands.
    To enter the Next Level Muslims must completely abandon a blind allegiance to any culturally based traditions that obviously retard and prevents the growth, evolution and full expression of the original concept embodied in that tradition. The stubborn refusal to move forward is detrimental and can signal the death kneel of the core function of those authentic traditions or beliefs. In Al-Islam some traditions are incontrovertible, such as those traditions that follow the chain of transmission through authentic sources and are inextricable from the correct practice of Islam. Other traditions are of cultural origin and only serve to divide the community. Often times there is more damage done due to the act of utilizing Islamic teachings to lend credence to and give the appearance of authenticity of a culturally obtained tradition. Thus we see the emergence of the admixture of Qur’an and hadith in support for what are actually cultural expressions of people rather than a support of some core principal of Al-Islam.
    When Muslims in the time of Prophet Mohammed strayed from the straight path Allah revealed to the Prophet, “If two parties among the believers fall into a fight, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah…” [Qur’an 49:9] The verse continues in pertinent part, “but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just).” [Emphasis added]
    This is not a call to civil war among Muslims or in fighting. It is a reminder that Islam demands mutual consultation, then selecting the best solution from the best minds on the situation and then reminding the offending party of their duty and obligation to fear the punishment of misleading themselves and others.
    Almighty God says it is the duty of Muslims to approach Muslims who have left the straight path and call them back and to do it collectively. Not one Imam or one nation, “all-together.” When Muslims enter the Next level of Islam, correcting one another based upon clear understanding of the Qur’an and hadith will be a given. And there will be no need for global embarrassment of having others act as peacemakers for a people who say “Salaam” more than any other folk on the Earth. When Muslims enter the next level, Muslim nations will no longer verbalize [preach] what they understand Islam to be but begin to actualize [living the life] of what Islam is! Then the social application of Qur’an will be the catalysis for resolving those horrific acts that stun the world almost daily and have Muslim in a constant mode of apologizing for acts of terror.
    To the best of human knowledge there are cycles to everything in the creation. There is a beginning, some stage where growth is demonstrated by development, a level of maturity and then the decay or death of that organism. This seems to stand true for everything, excluding the Creator. Whether one looks at the natural world, human social development or the products of rational psychological or philosophical development there appears to be a cyclical aspect to human life.
    The presence of this pattern in everything the human being can see and experience would indicate a rational and evolutionary process moving everything towards a stage of development or expression for which it was apparently created or designed. With the exception of those innate aspects of the human being, everything else seems to start outside of the human being, become assimilated within the human being and is then expressed externally in the physical world of the human being. It is ironic that of all the things we have laid claim to, up to this point in time, not a single person has claimed that they are responsible for the creation we see. No person has claimed to be the maker of the stars, the planets, the moons, the trees, the birds, the water, and that life which inhabits the water world.
    No one has taken responsibility for making the mountains, the rivers, or the air we breathe. This domain has been left to a Source outside of the human being through either the evolutionary theorist or creationist.
    The fact that a person views himself and the creation as the product of logical design [natural selection] or an intelligent creator, acknowledges that there is a purpose and objective for the entire creation. Everything around us suggests that whatever the purpose may be it is realized in stages of development. It is in fact incremental towards the objective of its creation.
    The first family, that nuclear family, comprised of Adam, his wife Eve and their children is not the final form or finished product that social scientist sometimes project. The first family was indeed a work in progress as humanity has been and cont
    inues to be to this time. The internal material innately deposited in the human being, although present from the start was not expressed externally in human conduct as a complete facility. Rather it has been the catalysis for growth and development in the serious aspects of the human life over time.
    By all scriptural accounts Adam and Eve hid themselves in the bushes of the Garden of Eden, apparently in recognition of their straying away from the Guidance of their Creator. They were innately aware of their disobedience. Without any external interjection, when their son, Cain killed his brother, his first act was to try burying Abel’s lifeless body to hide what he had done. Cain’s actions demonstrated an awareness that he innately knew what he had done was wrong. In many cases religious history parallels what is referred to as world history. As we look at the rise and fall of societies in general and Nations as a whole it is clear that humanity has been grappling with finding that perfect social model, a model that would provide humanity with the social and personal condition most conducive to producing a stable progressive and fulfilling personal and social life.
    Nations in the past followed ideas that produced corruption and finally lead to moral decay; history reveals the fall of that nation or social order.
    Apparently the most productive and progressive social orders were those that upheld moral and spiritual values that have their origin in those teachings and revelations credited to the Creator. Logic would dictate that an order started by an intelligent Creator would have either innately and/or through external sources, information on how to best benefit from the external material environment and the internal aspect of the human being. Most assuredly that information would be timely, meaning it would either anticipate its utility or be presented during the time its application was necessary. The historical record of scriptural revelation as well as social and technological ideas that have progressively advanced humanity reinforces this.
    World history clearly establishes that every nation, culture and race experienced a stage where guidance from the Creator was necessarily interjected by way of moral leaders, social reformers, or prophets. Sometimes the message and work of these individuals went on for their entire life. For others the social and spiritual reformation extended far beyond their lifetime.
    But what is the objective of the Creator. Can human beings know that objective as it applies to our existence? The answer is yes! In most faith traditions the rational for human existence is clearly spelled out. But most importantly the methodology for achieving the purpose of the human existence is also clearly delineated.
    The world has come to be dominated by three main faith traditions or religions, often referred to as the three monotheistic religions, namely Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Each of these three religions has numerous common threads running through their religious teachings. In fact the points they differ on, although critical to some, actually pales in light of their commonalties.
    For the sake of analogy let’s look at the world as being populated by patients suffering from a variety of ills and let’s view each religion as operating a hospital offering a curative regiment towards full recovery.
    In a manner much like the daily commercials one views on television and in newspapers, religions publicize their message as curative for the personal, social and spiritual ills that humanity suffers from today.
    Apparently at some point in time the “my house is better than your house” syndrome took over and ultimately became the focus. At that point religions were no longer acknowledging that their message came from a common Source [The Creator]. It became a competitive, bitter and often times an argumentative relationship. Unfortunately, this shifted the focus away from serving humanity.
    In His infinite wisdom Almighty God brought humanity to a point where seeking peace and clarity of how to live successfully in this life has become paramount. The answer is to seek the ways and means of achieving the next level of understanding, implementing and sharing the revealed word of Almighty God with all people. The fruit of this process is peace and justice.
    Ironically, the saying that is often seen on banners held by demonstrators is written differently. The signs say, “No Justice No Peace.” In reality it should read no Peace, not Justice. Justice grows out of an environment of peace. Peace is the pre-condition for realizing justice. As often as Muslim say As Salaamu’ Alaikum, May peace be on you, it must be remembered that this refers to the peace that can only come from Almighty God. One of the attributes of Almighty God is As Salaam! No one besides God can give you peace. Almighty God is the True Source of Peace. That peace, called sakinah in Arabic is a state of mind and condition of the heart that allows the soul to be at rest, at peace. In western civilization justice is shown as blind and symbolized holding the scales of balance. This is meant to convey that justice is derived from the balance application or dispensation of law.
    In the Qur’an God says, “Allah commands justice, the doing of good and giving to kith and kin, and He forbids all indecent deeds, and evil and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.” (Qur’an 16:90)
    The next level of Islam must be just that – “level.” It will never be reached without the inclusion of the Muslim woman. Most of what the world sees of the treatment [or mistreatment] of Muslim women is really a throw back from cultural inequities that have come to America with their male immigrants.
    All Muslims know that through revelation to Prophet Mohammed Almighty God established for all times the equity of women with men. The verse in Qur’an where Almighty God says that men are over women it is in the matter of family structure. God Says, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husbands) absence what Allah would have them guard.” [Holy Qur’an 4:34] Throughout the Qur’an Allah holds the believing man and believing woman to the same standard of morality and promises both male and female rewards for their good actions.
    Imagine the hypocrisy of a tradition where Muslim women in certain Muslim countries are prohibited from driving a car, while their satellite television programs show them other women, in other countries driving very well. Add to that the fact that when those same Muslim women migrate to America they show a remarkable ability to drive as safely as other women. What message is being sent to the women of Islam? Its no wonder Islam is seen by some to be abusive to its women.
    On the one hand women are spoken of, as being respected and precious while the actions of some Muslim leaders seems designed to relegate the Muslim woman to some second-class position in the society. Today Muslims must refuse to be permanently entrenched in the 14th century on the pretext that any movement into the 21st century application of Islam is some type of sin.
    The last inclusion must be our Muslim youth. If the next level could be viewed as a corporate structure it would have the elders, the scholars and learned among the global Muslim community as an advisory board to the Muslim youth as they take up their duty as leaders. The prerequisite for the Muslim youth, male and female must in turn hold to the formula “Obey Allah and His Messenger and those in authority among you [that obey Allah and obey the Messenger].
    The Muslim scholars, Imams, muftis should be an Advisory or consultant that the young Muslim men and women can consult as needed as they implement the progressive movement of Islam into the next level.

    Epilogue:
    The next level of
    Islam is not a panacea nor is it utopia. It is a renaissance.
    It is an exciting time that challenges all Muslims to be their best. It is an opportunity to make a reality of the verse in Qur’an where Almighty God Says, “Ye are the best people evolved for mankind…” Islam has at its core teachings that are a healing for many of the ills experienced by humanity today. But what chance does the patient have when the doctor is sick? It is really a case of physician heal thyself.
    We cannot pass on to others the responsibility to speak truth to power. No matter how long that power has been in office. No matter how many people that power has following them. No matter how popular that power is whether it is our esteemed Imam, the head of our beloved country or the neighbor down the street.
    It is an ugly fact of life in America, but at one time or another someone with a gun in their hand has approached an innocent person and said, give me your money. Imagine the audacity; “Give Me.”
    He is just a beggar who is so uncertain if you will comply with his request that he holds a weapon on you while he begs. If it were not so serious an act I would lobby for the crime to be called armed begging, instead of armed robbery. During October in America little children go from house to house threatening to play a trick on a person if that person does not give them a treat. I know you say oh it’s just a harmless child’s observance. Please follow the logic to its conclusion. Today there are people with Arabic names, living in Arab or so-called Muslim countries and declaring Islam to be their religion and they are saying to the world “Give me justice” or I will not allow you to have peace.
    When Muslims stop teaching and preaching Islam and begin the serious, structured implementation of the core beliefs in the daily life of humanity then we will have justice. When business, institutions of learning, financial institutions, and social institutions are established based upon the core pillars of Islam respecting all people then we will have justice. When Muslims act as a brotherhood then there will be no need to ask anyone outside of the community for justice. When Muslims entrusted with educating our Muslim youth get over their pain and bitterness for whatever ill treatment or atrocities they have experienced at the hands of others; and act only according to what Islam actually teaches then we will have justice. When Muslims see the apparatus for implementing their core concerns as others in America have done through self-determination, legislation and networking then we will have justice. When Muslims take down the barriers that separate the youth and women from their opportunity and obligation to be contributors to the healthy life of the Muslim community then we will have justice. When Muslims take seriously their role of being a service, not a hindrance to humanity then we will have justice.
    Because then we will have peace!

    Welcome to Islam! The Next Level.

    Appendix:

    Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil has participated in interfaith conference across America and around the world.
    In 2003, at a conference held in Jerusalem, he spoke on “Harmony among religions” as being a prerequisite for establishing peace in that region.
    In 2002 Imam Aquil presented a paper in Seoul Korea on the role of religion as humanity pursues global peace. Because the language of both presentations exemplifies the thinking and vision, of how Islam must be expressed and implemented on the next level, they have been added as an appendix to this book.

    1. Interreligious Harmony and Cooperation
    Pre-requisite for Peace
    Delivered in Jerusalam, Israel
    December 20, 2003

    2. The Role of Religion in Pursuit of Peace
    Delivered in Seoul, Korea – February 12, 2002

    Interreligious Harmony and
    Cooperation Pre-requisite for Peace

    Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil, Sr.
    Jerusalem, Israel – December 20, 2003

    Greetings! To the esteemed participants in the peace symposium in Jerusalem. A special greeting to the visionary’s who conceived it, the supporters whose efforts we see the results of today. We thank Almighty God for His blessings on this noble work and we seek His continued guidance in our pursuit of a sustainable global peace.
    Whether our faith tradition is rooted in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, we all regard this place as the “Holy Lands.” It is not so much because of what is done here now, but rather because of the historic events etched in the collective hearts and minds of all people attached to the Abrahamic faiths.
    Jesus (peace be upon him) is reported to have told his disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of heaven.” Theologians as well as serious students of scripture agree that this statement was not meant to imply that children populate heaven.
    The statement is a reminder that the kingdom of heaven or in broader terms the establishment of a social order that is God-Centered, predicated upon peace, mutual respect and appreciation for the diversity of Gods human and natural creation; will be achieved by those whose minds and hearts are like a child’s.
    Like a child in innocence and purity. Free from hate, discrimination, and being judgmental. A child is a possibility thinker. Children do not know that they cannot love their neighbor as themselves. Children do not know that people are to be viewed according to their skin color, size, shape, or religious belief. Unfortunately, once the adult world gets its way with them it deprives them of their innocence.
    Of course, we would be flying in the face of today’s reality to say that the world’s problems can be resolved so simplistically. The adult mind has evolved such a complex and layered global structure that it demands multifaceted holistic responses to resolve what we see today. I believe that in many ways we have become oblivious to the obvious. The Symposium theme “Interreligious harmony and cooperation are pre-requisites for peace” although hopeful is presumptuous. It presumes that religious folk are already harmonious and cooperative within their own faith traditions. And that they simply need to bring that harmony to the table and we will have peace. There is a long and tortuous history of religious groups trying to resolve wars and social conflicts.
    The fact that we are still searching for a solution is cause to re-examine the formula. It would be very convenient to simply push past what should be obvious in the statement, that to achieve peace we just need to all get along. But, any meaningful approach to this issue requires that we examine each component of the process so we can insure the desired results.
    Perhaps it is all the talk of love, forgiveness, freedom and sharing heard in religious circles that makes one think that religion will play some part in the pursuit for peace. I too believe that people, who hold adhering to God’s revealed word, as central to their life will indeed, play the leading role in pursuit of and establishment of peace. Putting that aside for a moment, we certainly have the language that would suggest religious people should be peaceful. That religious people would be in favor of freedom for the individual to worship, as they’re conscious dictates. We have the Holy Books and oft repeated scriptures that suggest the intent of religion is peace and cooperation with our fellow man or woman. Jesus (peace be upon him) ask the question, “how can you say you love God whom you have never seen, yet hate your brother who you see everyday?”
    Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) used these words; “none of you are truly a believer (in God) until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.”
    Yet, there is something illogical about a logical syllogism that has the love of God as its primary premise and has as its se
    condary premise the love for all God

  • 3 Omar // Dec 3, 2005 at 6.03 am

    The book Islam the next level by Imam Tariq Ansaar Aquil is over due. Thanks to the author for reminding us where we should be and what we as Muslims should be doing.

    Omar

  • 4 Anonymous // Aug 25, 2006 at 4.37 am

    I think this article is more relevant now than ever as the world seeks to solve the crisis in a rational and just manner

    http://www.forthosewhoreflect.com

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