Tuesday, 23 November 2010

From 'The Light of Truth'


Just over a century ago it was British rule in India that allowed Indians to freely practice and preach their religions.  Whereas it was not so under the earlier Sikh dominions and under Muslim rule the founder of Ahmadiyya may have been killed for claiming to be the Promised Messiah and the long-awaited Mahdi.  

The recent protesters who burnt the poppy in Hyde Park are happy to receive British Citizenship and all the benefits and freedoms that come with it and yet they fail to show any respect or decency towards the people of this country.  Such barbaric acts have nothing to do with any true religion.  The poppy they burnt symbolised the remembrance of soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their countries.  Islam teaches that one should show complete loyalty to one's country and be grateful to those who do good to you.  On the other hand the Royal British Legion praised members of the Ahmadiyya Youth Organisation who raised thousands of pounds by taking part in the Poppy Appeal Fundraising.


It was Britain which provided the Ahmadis refuge when they were oppressed (and Muslim countries legislated to deprive them of their fundamental Human Rights) as it had served as a refuge for the followers of the earlier Messiah.  For Ahmadi Muslims the prayers of the Promised Messiah عليه السلام are the spiritual forte behind the strength and survival of the British Monarchy and it is about this country that it was prophesied:
So I can claim that I am peerless in rendering these services and I can state that I am alone in this support and I can say that I am a talisman and a refuge for this government which safeguards them from calamities and God granted me the tiding saying 'God is not such as to wipe out with chastisement those among whom you dwell.'  So this government will soon come to know if it has an inkling of recognizing people that there is no other person who can equal me in exemplifying well-wishing of this government and in helping them.
Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Noorul Haq. (Mustafai Press  Lahore, 1894).  Roohani Khazain viii.  45.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Reply to an Argument Regarding the Interpretation of 'Seal of the Prophets'.

Muhammad is not the father of any of you men but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has full knowledge of all things. 
    The Holy Quran.  al-Ahzab [The Coalition]: 41.
In his book With Love to the Ahmadis of the World, Farhan Khan has referred to a passage in the book Finality of Prophethood by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad.  In the chapter about the statements of Shaykh Muhiyudeen ibn al-'Arabi, Mr. Khan alleges that Ahmadi Muslims interpret an 'isolated quote' of the Great Shaykh to suit their own understanding of the term Seal of Prophets.  First of all, it seems that either the references given (to ibn al-'Arabi) in this book have not been understood by Mr. Khan or he has deliberately chosen one small section of the quoted text so as to deceive his readers.  

There is an Hadith [Tradition] of Prophet Muhammad narrated in Sahih Bukhari that is mentioned by Shaykh ibn al-'Arabi in the course of this discussion in his magnum opus Futûhât al-Makkiya [The Meccan Revelations] that the Prophet of Allah said that 'When this Caesar will die, there will be no Caesar after him. When this Khusroe will die, there will be no Khusroe after him.  By Him in Whose Hand is Muhammad's soul, surely you will spend their treasures in Allah's Cause.'  Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV says:
That is to say, their glory, their pomp and show will be destroyed by the Muslims. In this Hadith, the Holy Prophet in his unique wisdom has clearly explained the meaning of word la [no] by saying  Fala Kaisera Ba’ada Hoo ['There will be no Caesar after him'] and Fala Kisra Ba’ada Hoo ['There will be no Khusroe after him'], there would be no Caesar after him (after this Caesar) and there would be no Khusroe after him (after this Khusroe). He [ibn 'Arabi in Futûhât al-Makkiya] makes it clear that La [no] used in this context does not signify the exclusion of an entire genus. Rather, it is used to emphasize that there would be no one who would attain their majesty and their magnificence.
          Accordingly, we had Caesar succeeding a Caesar and a Khusroe succeeding a Khusroe for a thousand years after the Holy Prophet but they never attained the glory and grandeur of the Caesar and Khusroe of the times of the Holy Prophet
Let us now look at the passages quoted by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad in full and then let every sane person decide themselves whether the Ahmadiyya interpretations regarding the Finality of Prophethood in the writings of ibn al'Arabi stand up to scrutiny or that of Mr Khan:
We know this with certainty that in the Muslim Ummah there will be individuals whose status, according to Allah, will be of prophets but such prophethood will be without any new law or Shariah.  
              Prophethood will continue in mankind till the Day of Resurrection although prophethood bearing a new Shariah or law has come to an end. It must be realized, however, that bringing a new law is one of the many duties of prophethood.
         The prophethood which came to an end with the advent of the Holy Prophet ﷺ was Law-bearing Prophethood - a prophet with a new book and new law. There is no room for such prophethood after The Holy Quran. This is the correct meaning of the Tradition, which contains the Holy Prophet’s saying that there is to be no prophet after him. The Tradition only conveys that after the Holy Prophet, there can be no prophet who will replace his Sharia with another one.  Henceforth, whenever any prophet comes, he will be subordinate to him and his Shariah. 
                   When the Imam Mahdi makes his appearance, none other than the Orthodox Ulema and theologians would be his most ardent and open enemies.  
                  Futûhât al-Makkiya [The Meccan Revelations].  Chapter 73. 
Commenting upon the Quranic verse:                 
And there is none among the People of the Book but will believe in it before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection he [Jesus] shall be a witness against them - 
                    The Holy Quran.  al-Nisa [The Women].  160.
Shaykh Muhiyudeen ibn al-'Arabi writes in the same book:        
Jesus (peace be on him) shall descend amongst the Muslim Ummah as an arbritator without a new law. Most surely, he will be a prophet. There is no doubt about it.  He is bound to descend in the Latter Days in a new physical form.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad points out:
Here you would note Hadhrat ibn-'Arabi states emphatically that the Messiah would be a new Messiah and that he will be a prophet. Despite all this evidence, our opponents would continue to insist that there will be no new prophet. 
For further readings into Ahmadiyya understanding about the idea of the Finality of Prophethood see 'I am the Master of the Bezels: Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad on ibn 'Arabi', by the author.

© Rehan Qayoom, 14 November 2010.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Maryam Hashemi - Exhibition at the Broadway Theatre, Barking.

Last week I went to see an exhibition of paintings by the artist Maryam Hashemi at the Broadway Theatre. I first saw her recite some Ghazals with great passion and feeling, by the fourteenth Century Persian poet, Hafez at the event organised in his honour by Poet in the City on National Poetry Day. I have attended quite a few of their events in the past (I was at the Poetry Breakfast with Jo Shapcott that very morning) and this was one of their best.

Maryam Hashemi has a wonderful command of subject in her artwork, blending mythology with current every-day things that people of all ages can relate to in their own lives. I was particularly taken by the striking variety of colours. The strong projection of national heritage in her work is carefully constructed as well as sublimely universal and evokes an exceptional sense of place. Her paintings give a powerful message but they do so gently and with a remarkable clarity of vision. Do check out her website.

Monday, 11 October 2010

'Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match' by Johann Zoffany, (1788)


Zoffany accompanied Warren Hastings to Lucknow in 1784.
 
It was at such a cockfight that Mir's first meeting with Nawab Asafud Daulah took place.  He wrote in his autobiography:
After 4 or 5 days, it so happened that the Nawab came to the mansion [of Salar Jang] to enjoy a round of cock fights.  I was present there and paid my respects.  He intuitively recognised me and said, 'You must be Mir Mohammad Taqi.'  He then embraced me with utmost kindness, took me with him to where he was to sit and addressing me, recited some of his own verses.  I said, 'Praise be to Allah.  'A king's verse is the king of verses.' '  Out of extreme kindness, he then pressed me to recite some verses too.  That days I merely recited some couplets of a Ghazal.  At the time of the Nawab's departure, Salar Jang said to him, 'Now that Mir has come here at your excellency's command you are his master.  You may assign him a position and send for him to keep you company whenever you wish.'  The Nawab replied, 'I shall fix a salary and let you know.'  After a couple of days,  he sent for me.  I went and presented myself and read the panegyric I had written in his praise.  He listened to it and, with utmost graciousness, accepted me into his service.  And he showers on me such kindness and consideration. 
(Zikr  e  Mir. Mir Mohammad Taqi Mir. 1773.  Translated by C. M. Naim. Oxford University Press, 1999).  118, 119.

Friday, 8 October 2010

From 'In the Mood for Love', (2000).


It is a restless moment.
She has kept her head lowered,
to give him a chance to come closer.
But he could not, for lack of courage.
She turns and walks away.

That era has passed.
Nothing that belonged to it exists any more.

He remembers those vanished years.
As though looking through a dusty window pane,
the past is something he could see, but not touch.
And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

'The Treatise on Being', by Shaykh Muhiyudeen ibn al'-Arabi

A commentary on the Prophetic Tradition 'Whoso knoweth himself knoweth his Lord' which has also been rendered 'He who knows the truth about himself surely knows God.' It is a statement of the fact of the essential unity of all existence, addressed to the most intimate consciousness.

The Andalusian author Shaykh Muhiyudeen ibn al'Arabi (1165 - 1240) is one of the greatest of Islamic saints and mystics.  He says: 'This discourse is with God, not with other than God, and not with the blind. For he who attains this station knows that he is not other than God. And our discourse is with him who has resolution and energy in seeking to know himself in order to know God, and keeps fresh in his heart the image of his seeking and longing for union with God; and not with him who has neither aim nor end.'  This short treatise can be read here.  An audio mp3 file of the book can be downloaded here.

www.ibnarabisociety.org

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Joan Jackson, Steven Bach, Edward Woodward, Dilys Dimbleby

Joan Jackson, better known as ‘Joan Hunter Dunn’ passed away on 12 April 2008. She was the inspiration for John Betjeman’s most famous poem ‘A Subaltern’s Love Song’. She was born on 13 October 1915 – The daughter of a GP, George Hunter Dunn from Farnborough. Her grandfather Andrew Hunter Dunn was the bishop of Quebec from 1892 – 1919, whose brother Edward Dunn was bishop of British Honduras and Archbishop of the West Indies. Her great-great grandfather William Hunter (the grandfather of both her father’s parents) was Lord Mayor of London from 1851 – 1852. Her mother Mable Liddelow died in 1916. She was educated at Queen Anne’s School, Caversham from the age of 16 where she was head girl, captain of the lacrosse team and played tennis. She subsequently joined the catering department of London University. Betjeman recalled the story of their encounter on numerous occasions. When Peter Crookston asked if Betjeman would mind her being photographed from a Sunday Times article he was delighted and wrote back explaining how he came to write the poem:
At the beginning of the war I was employed in the films division in the Ministry of Information. The raid that went on then drew us together in the evenings. She was employed by London University. She was second-in-command of the catering department, under Mrs Bruce, and she wore a white coat and had a clean, clinical, motherly look, which excited hundreds of us. She had bright cheeks, clear sun-burned skin, darting brown eyes, a shock of curls and a happy smile. Her figure was a dream of strength and beauty. When the bombs fell, she bound up our wounds unperturbed. When they didn’t fall, which was most of the time, she raised our morales without ever lowering her morals. When I first saw her I said to my friends Osbert Lancaster and Reginald Ross-Williamson, ‘I bet that girl is a doctor’s daughter and comes from Aldershot’. When I got to know her I found I was right and it is my only experience of poetic prescience. I wrote the verses in the character of a subaltern in Aldershot, but they were really my own imaginings about her. When I showed her the poem, she told me she lived at Farnborough, Hampshire, but I considered that near enough to Aldershot to count. Her father was a very distinguished doctor and she had an uncle who was a bishop. Cyril Connolly kindly printer the poem in Horizon and I had to ask her permission for this to be done, which she agreed. Her name in the last line I had printer in capital letters in Cyril’s magazine, but when I had again to ask her to be allowed to print the verses in a book of my poems, she asked me not to have her name in capital letters. Of course I obeyed. She was one of the most cheerful, sweet and gentle girls I ever knew. I have not seen her from those days to this, though we have corresponded. You had better consult her about what I have written, if you think she might object. Oh Goodness, I wish you had seen her striding about the Ministry. The spirit of Surrey girlhood, and a pine-scented paradise.[1]  
Lord Snowdon who took the photos remembered her as ‘very jolly, handsome and still played tennis – I photographed her on the court in shorts …. She had a very good, strong, friendly and welcoming face’. Betjeman said that she was very different from the other ‘pale green intellectuals at the Ministry': 'I have fallen in love with a girl in the catering department here who is a doctor’s daughter from Aldershot.'[2]

Betjeman once heard that he was in the same building as her 'He had lost track of her. He was wildly excited – Only stayed with me a minute or so longer – raced off to see her.'[3]

On his visit to Belfast in 1942 he saw Miss Hunter Dunn at breakfast on his last day in England and wrote to Cyril Connolly that he thought about her a good bit in the warm aeroplane.[4]  When Betjeman left the Ministry, his secretary Hazel Sullivan wrote to him (on 19 July 1944) – ‘Since you have gone Miss J. H. D. no longer smiles at me …’[5] In a letter to Roland Pym, he wrote:
Miss Hunter Dunn (that was her name, she is now Mrs Wycliffe-Jackson and lives in Ashley Gardens and you ought to go and see her, she is a lovely sturdy creole type with curly hair and strong arms and strapping frame and jolly smile and soft laughing voice, a girl to lean against for life and die adoring). Well anyhow Joan Hunter Dunn lived with her sister Betty and younger brother (who went to Stowe) at The Red House, Farnborough (the Aldershot one, not this one), where her father practices as a doctor. I think you want to get a feeling of open-airness about the house – nothing Victorian – rather Letchworth and Welwyn, with toothbrushes airing at open bathroom windows and certainly rhododendrons and evergreens – and the wire netting of a tennis court enclosure. I have never seen the house. I have merely imagined it. I believe its date was 1910.[6]
   
Volume 2 of the Hillier biography also discusses other versions of the circumstances of their meeting and other aspects of their relationship[7]. At her funeral, John Heald of the Betjeman Society recited Betjerman's famous poem.

*

Marlene Dietrich’s biographer Steven Bach died from cancer on 25 March. He was born on 29 April 1938 and taught Film Studies at Bennington College and Columbia University. He also wrote the biography of Leni Riefenstahl Leni: The Life & Work of Leni Riefenstahl, (2007).

*

Edward Woodward passed away on 16 November. His most famous role was as Sergeant Howie in the cult classic The Wicker Man which is also one of my favourite films, made in 1973. He was born on 1 June 1930 and went on to have a distinguished career in theater, film and television, even appearing as Tommy Clifford in Eastenders in March 2007. Woodward’s first marriage was to the actress Venetia Barrett (born Venetia Mary Collett) in 1952, they divorced in 1986. She bore him 3 children: Tim Woodward (born 1953), Peter Woodward (1956) and a daughter Sarah Woodward (1963). Woodward had a relationship with Michele Dotrice who played the character Frank Spencer’s wife in Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, they had a daughter (Emily) in 1983 and married in New York in January 1987. Woodward underwent triple bypass surgery in 1996, it was announced in February 2003 that he had prostate cancer; he died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

*

Dilys Dimbleby passed away on 18 November. She was born on 16 January 1913, the daughter of the barrister A. A. Thomas. She married Richard Dimbleby in 1937 and they had 3 sons David, Jonathan and Nicholas. After Richard’s death in 1965, she married Ron Travers. On her ninetieth birthday she danced until 3 o’clock in the morning. She lived in Dittisham village in Devon where her memorial service was held at the parish church on 15 December. She has 14 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.


[1] Betjeman, Sir John.  To Peter Crookston, 12 May 1965. Letters 2: 1951 – 1984. Edited by Candida Lycett Green. 
      (Methuen, 1995). 290, 291.
[2] Betjeman.  To Sidney Gilliat, 30 December 1940. Hillier, Bevis. John Betjeman: New Fame, New Love. (John Murray, 
      2002). 178.
[3] Ibid. 202, 203.
[4] Betjeman.  To Cyril Connolly, 6 June 1942. Letters 1: 1926 - 1951. Edited by Candida Lycett Green. (Methuen, 1994). 
      302.
[5] Ibid. 326.
[6] Ibid. 440.
[7] Hillier, 180, 181.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

To Hannah Shah, author of 'The Imam's Daughter'

Dear Hannah.

It has come to my attention that you have repeated a number of misconceptions regarding Islam in your book.  You must know that the Quran says very clearly
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ 'There is no compulsion in matters of faith' that is: everybody should be free to believe what they want:
There is no compulsion in religion.  Surely guidance and error have been clearly distinguished; so whoever refuses to be led by those who transgress and believes in Allah has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking.  For Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing.
The Holy Quran.  al-Baqarah [The Heifer].  257.
Then it states:
Say 'It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will believe and let him who will disbelieve.'  Verily We have prepared for the wrongdoers a fire already covering them like a canopy.  If they cry for relief it will be with water like molten lead which will scald their faces.  How dreadful the drink and how evil the resting place!
The Holy Quran.  al-Kahf [The Cave].  30.
Yet another verse runs thus:
Those who believe, then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve and become increasingly defiant, Allah will never forgive them nor guide them to any way of deliverance.
The Holy Quran.  al-Nisa [The Women].  138.
If according to your understanding an apostate were to be put to death then there arises no question of having the opportunity to join Islam again. This verse mentions apostates who repeatedly accept and recant their Islam as the group of Munafiqin [Hypocrites] did at the time of the Prophet so as to intentionally make a mockery of faith.

Moreover The Holy Quran states: 'Verily, this is a Reminder; so whoever wishes may take the way that leads to his Lord.'  [al-Dahr {The Time}.  30].

Please see the following links for further information and clarification:

Punishment of Apostacy in Islam.  By Hazrat Sir Chaudhry Muhammad Zafrullah Khan.
'Freedom of Conscience in Islam.'  By Imam Bashir Ahmad Rafiq.
The Truth about The Alleged Punishment for Apostasy in Islam.  By Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad - Khalifatul Masih IV.  Video.
Several of the chapters in Murder in the Name of Allah by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad - Khalifatul Masih IV also deal with this issue from an historical perspective.  In short The Holy Quran takes up the issue of apostasy 11 times and nowhere does it prescribe that an apostate should be killed (or for that matter, punished by any individual).

The verse that you refer to in the book about beating of wives is mistranslated. This is the verse: 

Men are guardians over women because Allah has made some of them excel others and because the men spend of their wealth. So virtuous women are obedient and safeguard the secrets with Allah's help. And admonish those of them on whose part you apprehend negligence. Leaving  them alone in their beds so as to chastise them. Then if they incline towards you seek no pretext against them. Surely Allah is the High the Great.
            The Holy Quran. al-Nisa [The Women]. 35.
Your website states that you have a degree in Theology and Religious Studies so I find it hard to believe however much I want to that you have innocently and unknowingly repeated these false allegations against Islam. I can only pray that Allah may remove the hatred of Islam you have in your heart because having studied religion you carry on attributing false things to the Quran.
Yours Sincerely,
Rehan Qayoom.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad on Sir Philip Sidney

Thus when, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Philip Sidney was injured during the siege of the fort of Zutphen in Holland, and he was in the death throes and extremely thirsty, a cup of water was brought to him which was very scarce there. Near to him was another injured soldier who was thirsty. He started looking at Sidney with much envy.  Seeing his desire, Sidney did not drink the cup himself but, by way of sacrifice, gave it to that soldier, saying “Your need is greater than mine”.

It is quite clear that Sidney considered the soldier to be more valuable than himself for 2 reasons. Firstly, that Sidney was about to die and the soldier could have been more useful while alive. Secondly, that the soldier was a brave fighter. That is why Sidney said: “Your need is greater”.

This is an example of bravery and the quality of sacrifice shown by Sidney, the conclusion from which is that a greater man laid down his life for a lesser one.
Kitabul Bariyya [The Acquittal].  (Ziyaul Islam Press, 1898).
Khwaja Kamaluddeen narrated to me and I have myself read this story that when Sir Philip Sidney was injured during the siege of the fort of Zutphen in Holland during the reign of Queen Elizabeth,and he was in the death throes and extremely thirsty, a cup of water was brought to him which was very scarce there.  Near to him was another injured soldier who was thirsty. He started looking at Sidney with much envy.  Seeing his desire, Sidney did not drink the cup himself but, by way of sacrifice, gave it to that soldier, saying “Your need is greater than mine”.  Just as some people do not desist from affectation even at the time of death.  However even charlatans can usually do such works from foppery, who wish to display a pretense of their grand morals. 
31 January 1898.  Malfoozat: i.  138.