Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Arab Time Capsule: Once You Were the Leaders of Islamic Civilization – Media Monitors Network (MMN)

Home / Headlines / The Arab Time Capsule: Once You Were the Leaders of Islamic Civilization – Media Monitors Network (MMN)

The Arab Time Capsule: Once You Were the Leaders of Islamic Civilization
by Mahboob A. Khawaja
(Tuesday, January 26, 2010)

“Are there any Muslim leaders open to listening and learning for their own good and capable to articulate a navigational change to serve the interests of the Muslim Ummah?”

“It is highly probable that but for the Arabs modern European civilization would never have arisen at all; it is absolutely certain that but for them, it would not have assumed that character which has enabled it to transcend all previous phases of evolution. For although there is not a single aspect of European growth in which the decisive influence of Islamic culture is not traceable, nowhere is it so clear and momentous as in the genesis of that power which constitutes the paramount distinctive force of the modern world and the supreme source of its victory-natural science and the scientific spirit.”

— Robert Briffault (The Making of Humanity).

This week (January 25, 2010), the London Museum of Science is displaying the historical achievements of the Muslim world. But the time period is not the 21st century but the golden age of Islamic civilization in Al-Andulus (Spain) from the 8th century to 16th century. Many Western scholars describe the scholarships and scientific contributions of the Arabs of the time distinctively as “people of the Quranic age.” While the Europeans lived in dark ages of barbarism, Muslims were the most advanced civilization in Southern Europe. The BBC news cast made me think deep and reflect on what I wrote two decades earlier “Why Muslims are a Divided People?” and “Towards Muslim Unity” widely published in English and Arabic versions in the Arab world (the Muslim World League Journal, Makkah al Mukarramah, Al-Muslimeen, and Al-Mujahtamah (Kuwait) and a weekly from New Delhi. The rationale of that article rekindled great deal of concerns to remind the Muslims – who they were, where they are, and where are they going to?

Once upon a time, the Arabs were the leaders in knowledge and human progress and the Islamic civilization was the pioneering civilization across Europe to become a role model for centuries to come. For eight hundred years the Arabs evolved the most advanced civilizations- the longest period that any civilizations is known to have flourished in human history. The London Museum of Science is facilitating the past, not celebrating the present or making the future to happen. Why? Simply put, Muslims have not been part of the progressive movement for change and development into the 21st century. They appear more like Muslims without Islam. The achievements over the centuries were the outcome of Islam as a system of thinking and living and nothing else. After the forced collapse and eviction of the Muslims from Al-Andulasia, they misconceived the future challenges and preferred to live in a time capsule of borrowed time and money. They continued to be dispersed, arguing about the past not THINKING about the present or the future, and remained “Scattered like Seeds” as Dr. Shaw Dallal ably describes in his book.

Two decades earlier, the Muslim masses were primarily concerned with the Palestine problem and to see it resolved peacefully into an independent Palestine state. But now their worry horizon has been extended to include Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula and its future. The Western strategy is at work to create new problems so that the original real problem will be sidelined. Nobody seems to care how much more Muslims have lost on all the major frontiers of human survival. How many more forcibly been made homeless and refugees in their own homes and shelters. The UN estimate indicates 90% of the world refugee population is of Muslim origin. No one thinks or questions as to WHY? Leaderless Muslims are more divided now and ruled by ex-colonial masters than at the time of formal imperialism. Analyzing the affairs of the Muslims two decades later, some of the egoistic and self- made Muslim rulers are caught in global trades-in, selling the Muslims and their interests to foreign powers for money and political favors to manufacture the myth of “Islamic extremism” and “terrorism.” Many petro-dollars surviving rulers call themselves “moderate” Muslims – an innovative way to give meaning and purpose to wickedness and treachery to the cause of Islam and the interests of the living Muslims across the globe, unthinkable in an Islamic system of ethics, laws and accountability. Masses are boxed-in at loss, helpless captives unable to think about themselves with all creative energies drained-out except worrying for the human survival, not knowing how to replace the dummies and cruel leaders imposed and aided by the colonial masters. If you will compare the contemporary Muslims to the time of Al-Andalusia Muslims, you could end up in painful disgust and on-going mental torture. The London Science Museum does not and cannot encompass this reality. The exhibition represents material, scientific and intellectual progress but not the reason for the decline, defeats and surrender at Cordoba, Granada and other Al-Andulusian locations and continued downfall of the Muslims to this day. If the present of the Muslim Ummah is mismanaged and uncertain or complete failure, how could we be optimistic of the future?

The Arabs created a pioneering culture of tolerance embodying varied ethnicities, faiths and linguistic convergence giving shape and form to knowledge and human development, invented mathematics, algebra, geometry, discovered new sciences, developed technology, astronomy, libraries, sense of civic society, medicine and hospitals, centers of learning that modern world cannot match, and they fought for Islam to establish the divine system of human success. “What Went Wrong” often Bernard Lewis contends, what he believes in, not what the Arab world or Muslims did in reality. At the beginning of 21st Century, it seems, the world has gone terribly benign and out of focus – the Western perceived reality has no reason for reality. If it is an absurd one-sided viewpoint – what the world should look like: Arabs and Muslims as “terrorist” while the real terrorist are called “men of peace”. Moderate Muslim spectators prefer ambiguity and silence as the body language to avoid standing for Islam in public and end up losing the official status and financial aid package.

Leaders create leaders. When Muslims were the leaders in faith and human values, they articulated a unique civilization tolerant of diversity and varied cultural ethnicities and built upon the unity of Islamic faith to embody peace and human growth. If you enlist the scholarly discoveries and contributions of the Muslim scholars, they are countless. Do you know any scientists or scholars whose contributions were used as text books for continuously six centuries in the European medical schools? Yes, that is Mohammad Hussein Bu Ali Sina’s Cannon of Medicine. The Europeans changed his name to Avicenna so that nobody would recognize that he was a Muslim scholar. It is said that Ibna Sina alone discovered and authenticated 36 pharmaceutical formulas which are used to this day. Marai Rosa Menocal (A Golden Reign of Tolerance: The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain), explains more: “The lesson of history, like the lessons of religion, sometimes neglect examples of tolerance. A thousand years ago on the Iberian Peninsula, an enlightened vision of Islam had created the most advanced culture in Europe….In Cordoba the library housed some 400,000 volumes at a time when the largest library in Latin Christendom probably held no more that 400.” The contemporary Western ruling elite have many functional problems; they do not know what peace means. If they had peace and they consciously knew about it – why would they be striving to attain it throughout the recorded history? Do you struggle for the goals that you do not have, or the ones you already possess? Arabs exponents of peace do speak but are unable to reach the majority of the media controlled humanity. The Arab religious scholars see the light just in mosques, whereas people live in darkness. What went wrong with the succeeding generations of the Muslims? Foremost, they ignored Islam and tried to copy the age of ignorance “Jahilliya.” Is it a crime or mismanagement of the human affairs?

Arab people are ancient, tolerant and enjoy credible history of civilization, whereas, Americans are new in civilization and rush to hasty conclusions, only to THINK after the facts and feel guilty for misleading the world to wage bogus wars on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Islam disciplined the Arabs to THINK in advance, not just the self, but good of the whole of the humanity. The Al-Qura’an identifies them as “the best people chosen to invite the humanity towards goodness and forbid evil.” When Arabs left the universal mission of “goodness”, they were defeated and continued to be so to this day. Could they regain the global leadership thru Islam? AbdulHamid Abu Suleyman (Crisis in the Muslim Mind), believes so: “the basis of Muslim strength and ability as well as creativity stems from faith….the early generations of Muslims understood this, and the result was that they were successful.”

Al-Qura’an stipulates, “Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.”

Muslims have a mission – a God given duty to invite the humanity towards goodness and real success – the consciousness of that they ignored under the disguise of oil based economy and oil-fed superficial prosperity – a naïve Western concept of prosperity that drained out the Arab cultural values, intellectual creativity and truism for One Ummah – One People, committed to the DEEN of Islam. Now, they appear divided between solid walls not mud-made huts, air conditioned edifice, chemically prepared unhealthy villas and dust built palaces, big automobiles polluting the environment, packed foods, foreign house-maids symbol of sex and exploitation and mind mapping via satellite dishes right into Arab homes and heartland. Consequently, the oil-based consumable “prosperity” of the Arabs, degenerated the will of the people by eliminating their inborn capacity to THINK and act like Muslims and to undertake a sustainable global mission – a futuristic Islamic goal for the best of humanity. Despite so many in numbers and countless resources, what have the contemporary Muslim leaders done for the interests of the Muslim Ummah? Opportunism is the hallmark of the 21st century smart moderate Muslims capable of consuming bread and butter without much effort. Building palaces on moving sand does not facilitate human progress. The Western strategists created an innovative time capsule to entrap the oil producing Arab leaders into the fantasy of a honeymoon bubble manufacturing an illusion of oil- linked economic prosperity. Its cultural impacts both short and long terms are shockingly unknown to the Arab captives replacing Islamic thinking, education, Arabic language and molding the Arab body and soul into a show piece of modern Arabs devoid of Islamic character and wisdom. But essentially imposing the non-Islamic thinking and values on the Arabian culture. The fantasy bubble is coming to an end with the peak oil forecasts as a visual reality. Power, prosperity and poverty are all trials in human affairs and transitory phenomenon. Was the discovery of oil a conspiracy (“fitna”) for the Arabs to change the originality of thinking, beliefs, values and passion for Islam as successful system of human life?

What went wrong with the Arab pioneers of the Islamic civilization across the European continent? Bernard Lewis (What Went Wrong) talks about the currents of history, primitive role-play, missing leadership and the impacts of political and technological advances of Europe to have curtailed the growth of Muslims influence. However, amongst many reasons, few shall suffice to explain the primary concerns:

* Neglect of Islam as a system of life and absence of proactive transformational leadership
* Change in the Originality of Thinking: absence of proactive vision for the good of the humanity –the role model to forbid evil and promote righteousness (“Ummah of Khair”- the nation of goodness)
* Systematic decadence in intellectual, moral and political leadership
* Dismantling of the Islamic institutions of thinking and political governance for change and development of One Ummah, and defiance to the role of reasoning and accountability
* Adaptability to colonial thinking, behaviors, and social norms that drained out Islamic unity, creativity and movement.
* Fluid and transitory prosperity – aftermath of the oil export revenues.
* Incurable illusions of the neo-colonialist elite that oil revenues are forever and their exclusive property
* Overwhelming materialism and consumerism: training of body and spiritual domain desperately needed training of the faith and a committed mind.

When the colonialism ended, the freedom movements ill conceived the continued role of neo-colonial leadership in Muslim societies mostly occupied by those who were uneducated feudal lords or tribal clan leaders seen as being ignorant, corrupt, and subservient to the neo-colonial master, not the much sought proactive leaders to make the future.

One wonders, if it is an accumulated disgust or considered failure of the contemporary Arab leadership? Generation after generations, Muslims have been defeated and submerged into other entities by the Western masters. So-called liberal democracy had no listing of Muslims as suitable creatures for progressive role-play in international community. Humanity in the West shrinked from intelligence to stupidity, whereas, Charles Darwin (Origin of the Species), was uplifted and honored, man (“insaan”) was degraded from all the possible entries of making the human civilization. Whereas, Islam focused on the man (“insaan”) as the primary object of change and progressive development. Alexis Carrel (Man the Unknown, 1936), appears to affirm the Islamic perspective on human development:

“Certain forms of modern life lead directly to degeneration….in the poor as well the rich, leisure engenders degeneration. Cinemas, concerts, radios, automobiles and athletics are no substitute for intelligent work. We are far from having solved this momentous problem of idleness created by prosperity, modern machinery or unemployment. By imposing leisure upon man, scientific civilization has brought him great misfortune. We are incapable of fighting the consequences of indolence and irresponsibility as cancer and mental diseases……after all the purpose of civilization is not the progress of science and machines, but the progress of man.”

But those Arabs and other Muslims, the pioneers of scientifically progressive civilization, became prisoners of foreign ideas – from freedom to human exploitation, just affixed on paper – phenomenon of exalted humanity – Alhambra palace to Taj Mahal, all transformed into digits and numbers to become an abstract reference in tourist guide, interpretive history full of material civilization, nothing else. The folly of deliberate pedagogy to conceal and distort the entire moral and spiritual progressive evolution of the mankind left to be interpreted in questionable terminology. While ignorance “jahiyillia” and arrogance rule across the globe, true knowledge and the Divine Wisdom live in denials.

How could the contemporary Muslims revive the cultural presence and leadership role in the global political arena? The 21st century is more enlightened and an age of information and knowledge-driven global culture of creativity, effective leadership and human progress. It is not reasonable for the ignorant to inherit kingship or a leadership role to be successful. The political imperatives call for the new generation of proactive educated and intelligent people to be in the leading role of planning of change and reformation of the old and obsolete inherited infrastructures of political governance unto new sustainable system of institutional development and nation-building and enriched to communicate effectively and represent the Islamic interests in a rational manner. The hard facts of life speak for themselves. There is not a single Muslim country to present a credible intelligent leader to the international community. Muslims are operative from a position of moral and intellectual weakness and deprivation, not of strength. To change the naïve political governance, Muslims in general and the Arabs in particular, must develop public institutions of the citizenry participation as Islam emphasizes the concept of “Shura”- consultation an important principle for societal decision making, of law, justice and accountability. Muslims as one Ummah could well have a common currency, economic productivity, an international organization – “Ummah Council” responsible to develop policies and deal with issues of security, peace and conflict resolution, and to represent the unity of the Muslim Ummah as an agent of influence to strengthen the Islamic perspectives in a challenging global politics. The powerful nations of the world have intelligent and powerful leaders to represent their national interests. Muslims are handicapped, misinformed and have failed to develop leaders like Syed Qutb, Jamaluddin Afghani, Abu al Alla Moudoodi, Mohammad bin AbdulWahab, Sultan Salahuddin Ayoubi, King Abdulaziz founder of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Soekarno of Indonesia, Dr. Allama Mohammad Iqbal, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Ayub Khan of Pakistan. The Muslim societies cannot escape the responsibility of collective failure to produce intelligent leaders. The consequences of living under authoritarian rulers and political turmoil are degenerating the Muslim’s’ energies, positive thoughts and creative abilities.

Leaders striving to be effective and successful must hold a vision of the future and be open to listening and learning, not rigid and hiding in remote palaces away from the people. Most often, they are aware of the best strategies to utilize their resources, of strengths and weaknesses of the people around them and a proactive vision to plan and make the future happen out of concrete ideas and ideals- facts of human life conforming to the Laws of God. When the contemporary Muslims left the assigned mission, they became victims of the modernity entrapment which led to their downfall and displacement from homes, shelters, and living habitats. Now, more and more are displaced people and refugees in their own homes and surroundings, a status never imagined but planned by the forces of “jahilliya” to victimize the believers. Islam emphasized the evolution of institutions in human progress but the authoritarian rulers diminished the development of public institutions of learning, administration, justice and accountability. The 21st century is marked by planned conflicts and wars of greed and political domination. Look at the Islamic world, there is not a singly institution or university in any Muslim countries to deal with the important issues of international security, peace and conflict management. If you propose to the rich oil exporting Arab leaders of the imperatives of building such learning institutions to enhance the bonds of Islamic civilization, they will get offended and would never respond to your suggestions. Simply, they are not open to listening to the voices of REASON as was the Shah of Iran, General Musharaf, Colonel Nasser, Saddam Hussein and so many others unaware of their own end. The so called leaders – military dictators, authoritarian kings and presidents and political thugs gained millions and billions from the planned devastation of the Muslim masses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan only to enrich their life style in the Western sponsored theatre of absurdity until they die in disgrace.

Being optimistic in encountering the harsh challenges of global peace and conflict management and ample opportunities to plan and change the course of somewhat backward Muslim affairs and to remake the promising future of the Muslim Ummah happen out of planned efforts, Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard (“TECHNOLOGY, BUSINESS AND OUR WAY OF LIFE: WHAT’S NEXT”), moved my thoughts and soul and fascinated me with her ideas and vision when recently I communicated to her on what she had stated years ago:

“There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world….

And this civilization was driven more than anything, by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers, and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body, and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars, and paved the way for space travel and exploration.

Its writers created thousands of stories. Stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things. When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them, and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive, and passed it on to others.

While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and enlightened rulers like Suleiman the Magnificent. Although, we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Sufi poet-philosophers like Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Leaders like Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership…. This kind of enlightened leadership — leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability diversity and courage — led to 800 years of invention and prosperity.”

Are there any Muslim leaders open to listening and learning for their own good and capable to articulate a navigational change to serve the interests of the Muslim Ummah?

Al-Qura’an spells out the rationale: “intelligent people always readily accept advice.”

Biswa Ijtema ends today

Biswa Ijtema ends today


Lakhs to join Akheri Munajat

slide showDevotees
are heading towards Ijtema ground on the bank of Turag yesterday. The
congregation will conclude today with the final supplication–Akheri
Munajat. Photo: Anisur Rahman

Biswa
Ijtema, the largest congregation of Muslims next to hajj, passed its
second day yesterday with Islamic scholars from different countries
delivering sermons on various aspects of Islam throughout the day.

Several
lakh devotees from home and more than 70 countries have gathered at the
venue of the three-day Ijtema that ends today, organisers said.

Akheri Munajat (concluding prayers) will mark the end of the
congregation held each year on the bank of the Turag river in Tongi.

Moulana Jobayerul Hasan of India is scheduled to lead the Munajat that begins in between 12:00 noon and 12:30 pm.

Meanwhile, five devotees died from Friday midnight till yesterday noon, said Tongi police.

They
were identified as Haji Makbul, 65, and M Shamsuddin, 60, of
Mymensingh, M Raziuddin Akanda, 62, of Barisal, M Sahar Ali Mollah, 70,
of Rajshahi and Nurul Islam, 65, of Cox’s Bazar.

The
Tablig-e-Jamaat has been organising the Ijtema since 1976. It mainly
concentrates on prayers and meditation seeking blessing from Allah.

President
Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Leader of the Opposition
Khaleda Zia, ministers and political leaders are expected to join the
Akheri Munajat. Separate platforms have been built for them.

Hasina
might take part in the prayers from atop Bata Shoe Company building at
Tongi and Khaleda from atop Atlas Bangladesh Ltd building.

Special security measures have been taken for them.

Besides
devotees at the Ijtema venue, scores of thousands more will join the
prayers from rooftops, open fields and roads around it virtually
turning a vast area into a human sea.

Meanwhile, a dowry-free
mass wedding programme was held yesterday at the Ijtema venue as in the
previous years. A total of 108 couples got married there in presence of
their guardians and relatives.

Later, guardians of the couples distributed date among those present at the programme.

Over
20,000 foreign devotees from over 70 countries taking part in the
congregation are staying in a camp set up for them on the northern end
of the Ijtema ground, said organisers.

A rush of devotees was seen at free medical camps in the Ijtema area yesterday.

The
Ijtema is being held under tight security. Around 18,000 security
personnel from different agencies and several hundred plainclothes law
enforcers have been deployed in the area.

Law enforcers rounded
up 37 pickpockets from Friday morning to yesterday noon. They were also
patrolling the Turag banks so that devotees do not use the polluted
river water.

The Afterlife

It is the story of a girl who, before embracing Islam, belonged to a family associated with extremist Hindu organization Shiv Sena. Here is a brief interview of the girl named Kavita. Her name was later changed to Nur Fatima when she converted to Islam.

Question: What was your name before embracing Islam?
Answer: My name was Kavita. While my nickname was Poonam.
Question: And what is your Islamic name?
Answer: I have been named as Nur Fatima after embracing Islam.
Question: Where were you born and what is your age now?
Answer: I was born in Mumbai and I am 30. But I consider myself as a five-year-old because my knowledge about Islam is not more than a five-year-old Muslim kid’s knowledge.
Question: Would you please tell us about your education?
Answer: After schooling from Mumbai, I went to the Cambridge University for higher education. After completing my masters there I did many a computer courses. I regret that I have attained a number of degrees for this world but have done nothing for the world hereafter. Now I want to do some-thing for the purpose.
Question: Would you share with us some facts of your life?
Answer: I had joined a school in Mumbai. The school is big enough and only children of royal families studied there.
Question: Where were you married and how many children you have?
Answer: I was married in Mumbai but later I came to Bahrain along with my husband. I’ve got two sons.
Question: How did you convert to Islam?
Answer: First of all I shall love to pay my gratitude to Allah for His blessings. As Allah’s Messenger? said: “When Allah wishes well for someone He grants him under-standing of Deen.” I say Allah has showered me with His blessings. The environment in which I grew up was extremist Hindu where Muslims were severely hated. I embraced Islam after my marriage but I disliked worship of idols since my adolescence. I remember that once I had removed an idol to a washroom in my house. When my mother admonished me on it, I replied that if it cannot protect it-self then why do you seek bless-ings from it? Why do you bow be-fore it? What does it grant you? There is a ritual in our family that when a girl is married, she washes feet of her husband and drinks that water. But I refused to do so on the very first day due to which I was severely admonished. As I told you that I had joined a school (for teaching purposes) and since I was alone and used to drive my car; I started visiting a nearby Islamic centre. I heard their conversation and knew that Muslims did not worship idols. They were seeking blessings from some other person. Their Bhagwan was someone else. I liked their views. I knew later that this is Allah Who accomplishes everything.
Question: How did you attract to Islam?
Answer: the prayer (Namaz) of Muslims impressed me. I did not earlier know that it is called as prayer. However, I was aware of the fact that all the Muslims do like that. At first I thought it was some sort of exercise. I learnt that it was called as Namaz when I started visiting the Islamic centre. I dreamed of one thing whenever I went to bed. It was a four-dimensional room that I dreamed daily. I would get harassed and wake up sweating. The same room would re-appear in my dreams when I would sleep again. I learned much later about this room.
Question: How your family learnt about your conversion to Islam?
Answer: After marriage I shifted to Bahrain which helped me a lot in understanding Islam. As it is a Muslim country, our house was surrounded by Muslims. I befriended a Muslim girl. She seldom visited me but I used to visit her mostly. One day she forbade me from visiting her for it was Ramazan, the month of worship. “My worship is disturbed due to your visit” she told me. As I wanted to know about the rituals of worship performed by Muslims I got more curious and requested her not to forbid me from visiting her house. I said: “Do whatever you want to. I shall just see you doing all that. I would say nothing and would rather hear whatever you would recite.” So she did not forbade me from visiting her house. When I would see her worshipping, I my-self would be attracted to copy it. Then I asked her about the “exercise.” She told me that they call it Namaz. And that the book she used to recite is the Holy Quran. I wished to do this all. I would lock a room of my house and copy my friend in private though I did not know much about it. One day I forgot to lock the room and started offering Namaz when my husband entered there. He asked me what I was doing. I replied: “Offering Namaz.” He said: “Are you in your senses? Do you know what are you saying?” At first I got harassed. My eyes were closing out of fear. But, suddenly, I felt a huge power in my inner self that made me courageous enough to face the situation. I cried out that I had converted to Islam so I was offering Namaz. He said: “What! What have you said? Would you repeat your words?” I repeated my words with an added emphasis: “Yes! I have converted to Islam.” Hearing this he started to beat me. Hearing the noise my sister reached there. She tried to rescue me. But when my husband narrated the entire story she too advanced to beat me. I stopped her saying: “You should not come in my way. I know what is good for me and what is bad. I shall walk on the way I have adopted.” Hearing this my husband got furious. He tortured me so much that I lost my senses.
Question: Where were your children when you were being tortured? What was their age? And how did you manage to escape from there?
Answer: My children were at home when this gory drama was being played. My elder son was in 9th and younger son in 8th at that time. But after this incident I was not allowed to meet anyone. I was locked in a room. Though I had not formally embraced Islam, I had uttered these words that I had converted to Islam. One night when I was there locked in the room; my elder son came there and burst into tears in my arms. I asked where the other family members were. He said they had gone to attend some function and no one was at home. (There was our religious festival on that night.) My son requested me to escape from the house for the family wanted to kill me. I consoled him that nothing such would happen. They would not hurt me. And he should take care of himself and his younger brother. But he continued to insist amid sobs that I should escape from the house. I tried to make him under-stand that then I would be unable to meet them. But he replied that you could meet us only if you were alive. “Go away, Mama, they will murder you.” At last I decided to leave. I could never forget those harsh moments when my elder son went to wake up his younger brother and said to him: “Get up. Mama is leaving. Meet her now for who knows that whether she will meet us again or not.” The younger one had met me after many days. He was rubbing his eyes while looking at me. But when I stepped forward, he clung to me and burst into tears. The children perhaps al-ready knew all. He just asked me, “Mama, are you leaving?” I nodded in affirmative saying we would meet again. My both sons were seeing me off on that dark and chilly night. I was crushing the love of mother under my own feet. On one hand was the love of children and their separation and on other was the love for Islam which was overcoming the former. I was moaning, clinging to my children…. crushing my love for them. My injuries were fresh. I was un-able to walk on foot. However, I somehow managed to do so. Both the children were waving their hands to me with tears in their eyes at the gate. I could never forget those moments. Whenever I recall this scene, I remember the Muslims who had abandoned their homes and families for Islam.
Question: Where did you go then and where did you embrace Islam?
Answer: From my house I headed straight to the police station. My biggest problem there was that they did not know my language. One of them, however, could understand English. I was out of breath and was unable to speak for I was nervous. I requested him to let me take rest until I collect my-self. Then after a while I collected myself and told him that I had left my house and wanted to embrace Islam. I was anxious to narrate all these facts. However, he consoled me and said that he too was a Muslim and would help me as much as possible. He took me to his family and provided me shelter in his home. In the morning, my husband reached the police station to seek help saying his wife had been kid-napped. But he was told that his wife had not been kidnapped rather she herself had come there. As she wanted to embrace Islam, he did not have any relation with her (being a non-Muslim) so she could not go with him. He insisted and hurled threats. But I myself refused to go with him. I said he could take all my jewellery, bank balance and property, but I would not go with him. At first he did not give up, but seeing my consistent refusal he got a written statement to obtain all my belongings.
The person who had given me shelter said that now your family would not harm you and you might embrace Islam. I thanked him and went to a hospital for my whole body was wounded. I remained admitted to the hospital for some days. Once a doctor asked me: “Where have you come from? No one from your family had ever visited you at hospital.” I remained quiet and did not reply. For I had left my house in search of only one thing…… Now I neither had any home nor any family….. Now my only relation was Islam which had extended me affection on the very first step…
The Muslim policeman had called me his sister and kept me at his home like a sister. He had provided me shelter on that chilly night when I had lost all my relations. I could never forget his favour. When I was hospitalized, I was anxious about my next step. Where to go in search of peace and protection? After being discharged from the hospital I straightaway went to the Islamic centre. There was no one at that time except an elderly person who perhaps lived there. I went to him and narrated my account. He hesitated for some moments and then said: “Daugh-ter! This sari is not the dress of Muslims. Go, wear headscarf and clad yourself like Muslims.” I had some money with me when left the police station. I purchased a suit with this money and returned to the centre. He told me how to per-form ablution. As I performed the ablution he took me to a room. Entering the room, I found a big picture hanging on a wall. Seeing the picture I halted as it contained the room that I used to dream in my dreams. I immediately cried out: “That’s it which I have been seeing in my dreams…..which have been disturbing my sleep.” He smiled and said it is the house of Allah. Muslims from across the world come to this house for Hajj and Umra. It is called Baitullah. I was surprised to learn it. I asked, “Does Allah live in a house?” He was answering my questions with a smile and affection. Perhaps he knew a lot about Islam. I was facing no difficulty in talking to him. He was explaining each and every thing in my own language. I was feeling a strange happiness which I could not understand at that time. He made me recite the Kalima and then told about Muslims and Islam. Now I was neither anxious nor feeling any burden on my mind. I was feeling myself very light. I felt like I had swum from polluted to clean waters. The owner of this centre where I had embraced Islam adopted me as his daughter and took me to his home. Later, he arranged my marriage in a Muslim family. My first desire was to see the “house of Allah.” And then I performed Umra.
Question: Did you go to India after embracing Islam?
Answer: No, I neither went to India after that nor I want to go there. My family has links in political as well as religious organizations there. They have announced head money for me. I am a Muslim, a Muslim daughter…. and I am proud to be a Muslim….. I want to lead my life in the light of Islam.
Question: What was your thinking about Mujahideen before embracing Islam?
Answer: We had been told that they were oppressors who had crossed every limit of oppression. We were made to hate them. But now I have come across the truth and have love for them. I offer prayers for their success in every Namaz. I also pray to Allah that if He blesses me with sons I shall love to see them lined up as Mujahid. I shall devote them for the glory of Islam. Inshallah.
Courtesy: http://www.islamway. com

Honey, Honey, Honey, Oh Honey, It’s a Qur’aan’s Word !!

Scientific research that is in accordance with Sharia has helped us a lot in understanding some honey issues in much greater depth. A Hadith points out a tradition that says, “If it is used at least thrice in a month at early morning, the one who uses it will remain safe from diseases.” Fresh honey is highly beneficial but should not be used with fish, vinegar, radish or melon. Always store honey in a glass jar that should not have even a single drop of water, as even a few drops of water can destroy honey’s value.

Beneficial for cardiac patients

The heart muscle works continuously and needs glucose to make up energy expended. When a very small quantity of glucose (0.1 percent) is added to physiological saline in which an isolated heart is immersed, the heart will continue working outside the body for four days.

Honey has a beneficial effect on the heart because it contains much easily assimilated glucose. It has been noted that it has an invaluable effect on the weakened heart muscle in various types of cardiac diseases. Even diabetics can take honey, since pure honey improves cardiac activity. Honey causes veins to expand and improves circulation through coronary arteries.

Anti-diarrheal properties

At a concentration of 40 percent, honey has a bactericidal effect on various intestinal bacteria known to cause diarrhea and dysentery such as Salmonella, Shigella and enteric pathogens like E. coli and Vibrio cholera. In one study, honey given with oral dehydration fluid was shown to reduce the duration of bacterial diarrhea in infants and children. (1).

Anti-tussive and expectorant properties

Honey’s anti-cough properties are related to its capacity to dilute bronchial secretions and improve function of the bronchial epithelium. Uncontaminated or pure honey is a natural, healthy, energy-rich and easily-digestible food. Observation of treatment for lung abscesses in professor F. A. Udintsev’s clinic at the Kiev Medical Institute has drawn attention.

Three patients were given 100 to 150 grams of honey a day, resulting in considerable improvement. They began to feel better, their appetites improved and they began putting on weight. Their hemoglobin increased, while the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) decreased. Patients coughed less and the amount of sputum decreased; they began urinating more during the day than at night (the opposite was the case before honey was given); and a beneficial effect also was noted on the gastrointestinal tract.(1).

Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties

These are well-established properties of honey. Undiluted honey inhibits bacterial growth such as Staphylococcus aureus, certain intestinal pathogens and fungi such as Candida albicans. At a concentration of 30-50 percent, honey has been shown to be superior to certain conventional antibiotics in treating urinary tract infections. (1).

Diabetic cure

A recent study published in the Journal of Family Practice reports the case of a 79-year-old man with Type 2 diabetes who developed foot ulcers. After 14 months of care costing $390,000, which included five hospitalizations and four surgeries, the ulcers measured 8×5 cm and 3×3 cm and were resistant to effects of the best antibiotics.

During this time, the patient lost two toes but refused below-the-knee amputation, despite being informed by two different surgical teams that without it, he likely would die. The patient eventually was discharged to his home at his request. He lost a third toe before consenting to a trial of topical honey.

Once-daily, thick applications of ordinary honey were smeared on gauze and placed on the wounds, which then were wrapped. Oral antibiotics and saline dressings were discontinued, but otherwise, treatment was unchanged. Dressing changes were painless and the serum glucose remained in excellent control.

New tissue appeared within two weeks, with the ulcers healing completely in six to 12 months. Two years have passed and the ulcers have not reoccurred. The patient moves about with a walker and reports improved quality of life.

Researchers state that as diabetes incidents increase, it’s important to identify effective strategies to reduce amputation rates, both to improve quality of life and decrease costs. They also recommend random controlled trials to determine efficacy and invite physicians to consider topical honey therapy for patients with refractory diabetic foot ulcers. (2).

Medical experts still dispute the topic, with some firmly believing that honey is a cure, while others say it’s injurious to diabetics.

The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) drank honey in the early morning and in the afternoon. The Sunnat is a blessing if one has no doubt. The user achieves two advantages simultaneously: one is physical, which is a cure, and the other is spiritual blessing.

Sayedna Abdullah bin Abbas provided the Hadith, “You have sources of cure and remedies – Qur’an and honey.” This Hadith is a forceful categorical reply to arguments based on the opinion of medical experts who disallow honey’s use for diabetics. Honey provides the quickest energy boost for longer endurance without a big drop in blood sugar later.

Wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties

Al Shaikh Al-Rais, Abi Ali Ibn Sina, considered honey to have absorbing properties, recommending a waterless ointment of honey and wheat flour to treat wounds. Honey is of value in treating burns, infected surgical wounds and decubitus ulcers in that honey is very viscous, thereby enabling it to absorb water from surrounding inflamed tissue. It also has been suggested that honey may be useful in treating chronic, foul smelling ulcers seen in leprosy. Honey is unique and has an excellent “track record” – more than 4,000 years’ usage as a wound dressing.

Dr. Peter Molan, a leading honey researcher for the past three decades and a biochemistry professor at New Zealand’s Waikato University, says of honey’s anti-microbial properties: “Honey speeds healing of open wounds and also combats infection. Modern science now acknowledges honey as an anti-microbial agent, meaning it deters growth of certain types of bacteria, yeast and molds.

“Honey and beeswax form the basis of many skin creams, lip balms and hand lotions. Thanks to honey’s ability to absorb moisture from the air, it facilitates the healing process and prevents scarring because it stimulates growth of epithelial cells that form the new skin covering a healed wound. In this way, even in the case of large wounds, honey may eliminate the need for tissue transplantation.” (1). (3). (4).

Quick burn treatment

Random trials have shown that honey is more effective in controlling infection in burn wounds than silver sulfadiazine, the antibacterial ointment hospitals use most widely (Honey against infected skin lesions). A 1991 study by Dr. Subrahmanyam compared results of topical honey application on burns with conventional burn treatment using silver sulfadiazine. Results showed that within a week, 91 percent of infected wounds treated with honey were free of infection, compared to less than seven percent of silver sulfadiazine treated burns.

Gastroenteritis and stomach ulcer treatment

Research by Haffejee and Moose (1985) found that honey treatment shortened the duration of diarrhea in patients with bacterial gastroenteritis, in that patients treated with honey had an average recovery of 58 hours compared with 93 hours for control patients.

Additionally, research conducted by Somal, et al (1994) at New Zealand’s Waikato University showed that Manuka honey successfully inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the organism responsible for upper gastro-intestinal dyspepsia in stomach ulcers.

However, it should be noted that research is ongoing in this field, and although initial results are promising, full clinical trials are yet to be completed. As well as its other therapeutic properties, the presence of potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium means that honey is capable of neutralizing body acid, thus maintaining the acid-alkaline balance. (5) (6)

Allergy relief

At the University of Connecticut Health Center-Farmington, immunologist T.V. Rajan, M.D., Ph.D., is studying simple honey’s healing powers to treat seasonal allergies. The study is based on the theory of oral tolerance, which reasons that humans become accustomed to things they ingest. So if people eat local pollens via pollen-rich honey, allergic pollen reactions in the spring and summer should diminish. Study subjects receive either a tablespoon of local honey, non-local honey as a placebo or their usual allergy medications.

University of Illinois researchers reported in the 1998 Journal of Agricultural Research that antioxidants in 14 honey varieties are highest in the darkest honeys (Manuka honey is very dark). Antioxidants are important to the diet because they slow production of free radicals that cause DNA damage and have been implicated in age-related illnesses like arthritis, stroke and cancer.

Enhance exclusive pleasure

In the East, ginger has lived up to its reputation of being a powerful herb. Indian literature recommends a mixture of ginger juice, honey and half-boiled eggs, taken nightly for a month, as a remedy against impotence. Taking a teaspoon of honey and milk before hitting the fire increases virility and is even said to cure premature ejaculation. According to traditional Indian herbal medicine, it also increases masculine power.

Powdered cardamom seeds boiled with milk and mixed in a glass with a spoon of honey is believed to be an excellent remedy against impotence and premature ejaculation, as well as recommended as an ointment for recovery from impotency (Qaratis Yamaniyah manuscript written Hijra year 871).

Honey and the eyes

Honey long has been considered a most effective remedy for many eye diseases. Only sterile honey from the honeycomb should be used on the eyes and only under doctor or ophthalmologist supervision. Honey applied as a kuhl (eye ointment) strengthens weak eyesight. If used by those under age 40, it improves vision and also removes their need for glasses. An added benefit is that honey has no side effects.

Cure for dental problems

Dentists have no doubt about the harmful effect of sweets on teeth. It has been established that the remains of sugar in the mouth increase bacteria’s effect, leading to slow but considerable teeth decalcification and cavities. Honey, on the other hand, has active antibiotic properties and in fact disinfects the mouth.

Pure honey may refine with age, but its food value remains unchanged. Various honey varieties taste differently, depending on its source: clover honey tastes like clover, while citrus honey has a citrus scent.

Honey is Allah’s gift to humans. No medicine can ever equal its cure and benefits. If you’ve not tasted honey yet, now is the perfect time to benefit from it. Firm faith is indispensable in the commandments of the Qur’an and “Sahib al Qur’an.” It is highly beneficial to recite prayers before and after taking honey to cure any disease. If we judge with full justice, the divine commandments are sweet to the taste, sweeter even than honey.

Dr. Qazi Shaikh Abbas Borhany is an attorney at law in Karachi, Pakistan and a member of Pakistan’s Ulama Council.

(1) Bees & the Hidden Miracles of Honey, Dr. Monzur Ahmed, MRCP (UK), M.D. Muslim Technologist, November 1990.

(2)Topical honey for diabetic foot ulcers, Jennifer J. Eddy, M.D., Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin Medical School, 617 W. Claremont Ave., Eau Claire, Wis. 54703.

(3)Effects of topical honey on post-operative wound infections due to gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria following Caesarean sections and hysterectomies, N.S. Al-Waili, K.Y. Sallom. European Journal of Medical Research, 1999, Vol. 26, pp. 126-30.

(4)Using honey as a dressing for infected skin lesions, C. Dunford, et al. Nursing Times, 2000, Vol. 96, pp. 7-9.

(5)The Curative Properties of Honey and Bee Venom, N. Yoirish. New Glide Publications (US), 1977, pp. 46-54.

(6)The Antibacterial Effects of Honey: Medical Fact or Fiction? J. McCarthy. American Bee Journal, May 1995.

Bangladeshi Muslim cabbie in NY returns cash left in taxi

Bangladeshi cabbie in NY returns cash left in taxi

Mukul Asadujjaman: “I did the honest thing”

A Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City has gone out of his way to track down the person who left thousands of dollars in cash in the back of his cab.

Mukul Asadujjaman, a medical student, drove nearly 80km (50 miles) to an address he found with the money.

He left his phone number when he found no-one at home. The money belonged to an Italian grandmother visiting the US.

Mr Asadujjaman was offered a reward, but he turned it down saying that as a devout Muslim he could not accept it.

Felicia Lettieri, of Pompeii, Italy, and six relatives had taken two cabs on Christmas Eve, Newsday newspaper reported.

Mrs Lettieri, 72, left her handbag behind, with more than $21,000 of the group’s travelling money, jewellery worth thousands more, and some of their passports.

Her sister, Francesca Lettieri, 79, of Long Island, said the honest driver had saved her family’s vacation.

“We really love what he did,” she said.

‘Be honest’

A gracious Asadujjaman was quoted by the newspaper as saying that he may be broke, but he was also honest.

“My mother is my inspiration. She always said to be honest and work hard.”

Mr Asadujjaman called a friend with a car and drove to a Long Island address he found in the handbag.

No-one was at home, so he left his phone number and a note, the report said.

His phone rang a short time later and he drove back to return the bag.

“They were so, so, so happy,” Mr Asadujjaman told the paper.

Asked if he was tempted to keep the cash, Mr Asadujjaman said the money would have allowed him more time to study, “but my heart said this is not good”.

He also turned down a reward, saying he could not accept it as a devout Muslim, Newsday reported.

“I’m needy, but I’m not greedy,” he said. “It’s better to be honest.”

Mr Asadujjaman is not the first honest American-Bangladeshi cabbie to hit the headlines for noble behaviour.

In 2007, driver Osman Chowdhury returned a lost bag containing diamond rings worth $500,000 to the rightful owner.

American Muslims raising funds to repair Malaysian churches

American Muslims raising funds to repair Malaysian churches

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American Muslim group has donated the first $1,000 to an account it established to pay for repairs to Christian churches that have been firebombed in Malaysia.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, says CAIR is asking American Muslims and other people of good will to contribute.

Nine churches were attacked in recent days after Malaysia’s High Court struck down a government ban on non-Muslims using the word “Allah” to refer to God in their literature.

Hooper suggests that the ban was wrong-headed, since “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God.

He says donations to the fund will be turned over to the Malaysian embassy for repairs to the damaged churches.

On the Net: http://www.cair.com

Sound:

<<CUT …367 (01/12/10)>> 00:11 “damaged in Malaysia”

Ibrahim Hooper

Ibrahim Hooper says the Council on American-Islamic Relations wants to help repair the churches that have been attacked in Malaysia in recent days.

<<CUT …368 (01/12/10)>> 00:12 “the word “Allah” (second reference)”

Ibrahim Hooper

Ibrahim Hooper says the controversy in Malaysia is needless.

<<CUT …369 (01/12/10)>> 00:11 “worshipped by everyone”

Ibrahim Hooper

Ibrahim Hooper says “Allah” is just the Arabic word for God.

<<CUT …370 (01/12/10)>> 00:18 “repair the damage”

Ibrahim Hooper

Ibrahim Hooper says CAIR has contributed the first $1,000 to an account it opened to repair the damaged Malaysian churches.

Israel opens organ theft hearing

Israel opens organ theft hearing

Israel’s parliament opened testimony on Wednesday over the organ theft allegations  [AP]

Israel’s parliament has begun hearings on the theft of human organs from Palestinians, Israelis and foreign workers without their relatives’ permission.

Israeli health officials testified on Wednesday that Israeli authorities harvested organs from the dead bodies of Israelis and Palestinians in the 1990s for transplant purposes.

The testimony came three days after the government admitted to the practice, following previous denials.

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Jerusalem, said Wednesday’s hearing was not the first time Israeli officials have had to face difficult questions in parliament about the organ theft issue.

“What we tended to see in the past was officials trying to skirt around the issue, really not wanting to confirm or deny that organ theft took place,” she said.

“What we had on Wednesday was a very public admission by an Israeli official that organ theft was in fact taking place.

“But the health ministry said it was a practice that happened in the past and is no longer a problem.”

Practice ‘continuing’

However, Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Palestinian member of parliament, told the assembly on Wednesday that he had evidence that organ theft was still taking place.

“You said that it was ended in the ’90s. But Fadul Ordul Shaheen who was from Gaza passed away. He died of diabetes this year.  When his body was given back to his family, his eyes were bleeding and there was a deep cut through his body,” he said.

In depth


 Video: Israel angered over Swedish ‘body parts’ story
 Video: Israel in ‘organ theft’ row
 Palestinians seek organ theft probe

“The family is saying that both the corneas and the kidneys were taken.

“I am asking you if you’re willing to look into this complaint and see if this activity is continuing, if organs are being harvested from Palestinian prisoners.”

Yaacov Litzman, the Israeli deputy health minister, said he would investigate the case “with all seriousness” to determine if any wrongdoing was committed.

Tibi later told Al Jazeera that he would continue to pursue the health ministry for answers for the families of those who were affected.

‘Highly informal’

The government’s admission this week followed the release of an interview with Jehuda Huss, the former head of Israel’s forensic institute, in which he said that workers at the institute had harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers.

In the interview, which was conducted in 2000 when Hiss was head of Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, he said: “We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who conducted the interview, said that she made the article public because of the controversy last summer over allegations of organ harvesting made by a Swedish newspaper.

In August the Aftonbladet newspaper ran an article alleging that the Israeli army had stolen body organs from Palestinian men after killing them.

Israel denied the claims, calling them anti-Semitic, and the incident raised tensions when Sweden refused to apologise for the article, saying that press freedom prevented it from intervening.

 Source: Al Jazeera

Israel admits to organ thefts

Israel admits to organ thefts

Harvested organs were alleged to have been used by the military and in public hospitals [File: AFP]

Israel has admitted that it harvested organs from the dead bodies of Palestinians and Israelis in the 1990s, without permission from their families.

The admission follows the release of an interview with Jehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel’s forensic institute, in which he said that workers at the institute had harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers.

In the interview, which was conducted in 2000 when Hiss was head of Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, he said: “We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who conducted the interview, told Al Jazeera on Monday that Hiss had said the “body parts were used by hospitals for transplant purposes – cornea transplants. They were sent to public hospitals [for use on citizens].

Guidelines ‘not clear’

“And the skin went to a special skin bank, founded by the military, for their uses”, such as for burns victims.

The practice is said to have ended in 2000.

The interview was also reported on Israel’s Channel 2 television, which quoted an Israeli military statement that said: “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer.”

Israel’s health ministry said in the Channel 2 report that at the time the guidelines for transplants “were not clear” and that for the last 10 years “Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law”.

Scheper-Hughes, who is a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said that she made the interview public because of the controversy last summer over allegations of organ harvesting made by a Swedish newspaper.

In August the Aftonbladet newspaper ran an article alleging that the Israeli army had stolen body organs from Palestinian men after killing them.

Israel denied the claims, calling them anti-Semitic, and the incident raised tensions when Sweden refused to apologise for the article, saying that press freedom prevented it from intervening.

‘Conflict deaths’

Donald Bostrom, the journalist who broke the story in Aftonbladet, told Al Jazeera: “UN staff came to me and said that you have to look into this very serious issue. Palestinian young people were disappearing in the areas and five days later they appear back in the villages with an autopsy done on them against the will of the families.

“We need to know who are the victims. Mothers need to know what happened to their sons.”

Bostrom said that there is no proof that people were killed for their organs but that an investigation is needed to find out whether there was a policy in place or if the bodies used were random.

Bostrom added that Hiss is the “main key” to solving such unanswered questions, but that there would also be other people involved who could help uncover the truth.

Scheper-Hughes said that some of the dead Palestinians from whom organs were harvested were killed during military raids.

“Some of the bodies were definitely Palestinians who were killed in conflicts,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Their organs were taken without consent of families and were used to serve the needs of the country in terms of hospitals as well as the army’s needs.”

‘Technically illegal’

She said that Hiss told her “that the people who did the harvesting were sent by the military. They were often medical students”.

“He did it informally and without permission, and it was technically illegal,” she said.

The military establishment gave their “sanction and approval” to the procedures, according to Scheper-Hughes.

During his interview with Scheper-Hughes, Hiss said that the eyelids of bodies were glued shut to prevent the removal of corneas being found out.

Hiss was dismissed as head of Abu Kabir in 2004 over irregularities in the use of organs, but charges against him were eventually dropped. He still holds the position of chief pathologist at the institute.

 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Israel admits to organ thefts

Israel admits to organ thefts

Harvested organs were alleged to have been used by the military and in public hospitals [File: AFP]

Israel has admitted that it harvested organs from the dead bodies of Palestinians and Israelis in the 1990s, without permission from their families.

The admission follows the release of an interview with Jehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel’s forensic institute, in which he said that workers at the institute had harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers.

In the interview, which was conducted in 2000 when Hiss was head of Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, he said: “We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who conducted the interview, told Al Jazeera on Monday that Hiss had said the “body parts were used by hospitals for transplant purposes – cornea transplants. They were sent to public hospitals [for use on citizens].

Guidelines ‘not clear’

“And the skin went to a special skin bank, founded by the military, for their uses”, such as for burns victims.

The practice is said to have ended in 2000.

The interview was also reported on Israel’s Channel 2 television, which quoted an Israeli military statement that said: “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer.”

Israel’s health ministry said in the Channel 2 report that at the time the guidelines for transplants “were not clear” and that for the last 10 years “Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law”.

Scheper-Hughes, who is a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said that she made the interview public because of the controversy last summer over allegations of organ harvesting made by a Swedish newspaper.

In August the Aftonbladet newspaper ran an article alleging that the Israeli army had stolen body organs from Palestinian men after killing them.

Israel denied the claims, calling them anti-Semitic, and the incident raised tensions when Sweden refused to apologise for the article, saying that press freedom prevented it from intervening.

‘Conflict deaths’

Donald Bostrom, the journalist who broke the story in Aftonbladet, told Al Jazeera: “UN staff came to me and said that you have to look into this very serious issue. Palestinian young people were disappearing in the areas and five days later they appear back in the villages with an autopsy done on them against the will of the families.

“We need to know who are the victims. Mothers need to know what happened to their sons.”

Bostrom said that there is no proof that people were killed for their organs but that an investigation is needed to find out whether there was a policy in place or if the bodies used were random.

Bostrom added that Hiss is the “main key” to solving such unanswered questions, but that there would also be other people involved who could help uncover the truth.

Scheper-Hughes said that some of the dead Palestinians from whom organs were harvested were killed during military raids.

“Some of the bodies were definitely Palestinians who were killed in conflicts,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Their organs were taken without consent of families and were used to serve the needs of the country in terms of hospitals as well as the army’s needs.”

‘Technically illegal’

She said that Hiss told her “that the people who did the harvesting were sent by the military. They were often medical students”.

“He did it informally and without permission, and it was technically illegal,” she said.

The military establishment gave their “sanction and approval” to the procedures, according to Scheper-Hughes.

During his interview with Scheper-Hughes, Hiss said that the eyelids of bodies were glued shut to prevent the removal of corneas being found out.

Hiss was dismissed as head of Abu Kabir in 2004 over irregularities in the use of organs, but charges against him were eventually dropped. He still holds the position of chief pathologist at the institute.

 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Families of disappeared accuse Moscow of dirty war

Families of disappeared accuse Moscow of dirty war

This Nov. 12, 2009 photo shows Leila Pliyeva holding photos of her son Alikshan Pliyev in the city of Nazran in Russia's Ingushetia region. Pliyev was talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend one autumn afternoon when two dozen masked men in uniforms stormed into his family's house, grabbed him and began to hustle him away. He hasn't been seen since. Officials in Ingushetia say they don't know anything about Pliyev's abduction, one of scores in recent months that have caused fresh outrage and grief in a region already scoured by years more than 15 years of armed conflict. (AP Photo/Douglas Birch)
This Nov. 12, 2009 photo shows Leila Pliyeva holding photos of her son Alikshan Pliyev in the city of Nazran in Russia’s Ingushetia region. Pliyev was talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend one autumn afternoon when two dozen masked men in uniforms stormed into his family’s house, grabbed him and began to hustle him away. He hasn’t been seen since. Officials in Ingushetia say they don’t know anything about Pliyev’s abduction, one of scores in recent months that have caused fresh outrage and grief in a region already scoured by years more than 15 years of armed conflict. (AP Photo/Douglas Birch) (Douglas Birch – AP)
  Enlarge Photo  

By DOUGLAS BIRCH

The Associated Press
Sunday, January 10, 2010; 4:30 AM

NAZRAN, Russia — Aliskhan Pliyev was talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend one autumn afternoon when two dozen masked men in uniforms stormed into his family’s house, grabbed him and began to hustle him away.

The 30-year-old construction worker’s three sisters screamed, demanding to know where the intruders were taking him. “None of your business!” a man in a black mask shouted, before Pliyev was driven off in a convoy of cars and vans escorted by an armored personnel carrier. He hasn’t been seen since.

Officials here in the Russian region of Ingushetia say they don’t know anything about Pliyev’s abduction, one of scores in recent months that have caused fresh outrage and grief in a region already scarred by over 15 years of fighting.

But the young man’s kidnapping in the outskirts of Ingushetia’s largest city bears the hallmarks of what rights activists call Russia’s “policy of state terror,” a shadow war against violent Muslim separatists in the North Caucasus, a strategic crossroads of Europe and Asia.

A central tactic in the war, activists say, is forced disappearances – the brazen snatching of young people from their homes or off the street, often by gangs of masked men who move freely, even in areas heavily patrolled by Russian military and police. The pace of forced disappearances has doubled in the past year, following a spike in militant attacks on police and authorities, including suicide bombings, ambushes and assassinations.

The lucky ones are brutally interrogated and released. Some turn up dead, their bodies bearing the marks of torture. Other families face the anguish of never knowing the fate of a father, brother or son.

But critics say the kidnappings have aggravated rather than reduced tensions along Russia’s southern border.

Some analysts warn that, after five years of relative calm, anger over the latest rash of kidnappings could inspire a fresh wave of terror attacks in Russia, a country that supplies the world with much of its oil and gas and has one of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.

Khamatkhan Makhloyev, 62, a retired Soviet construction manager, says more than 20 masked soldiers in unmarked uniforms burst into his family’s red brick home in the quiet Ingush village of Sleptsovskaya at 4 a.m. in late October.

They stormed straight to a third-floor bedroom, savagely beat one son, Ibragim, and dragged off his elder brother, Maskhud, a 27-year-old factory worker. Maskhud hasn’t been seen since.

Sitting somberly in his dining room last month, the elder Makhloyev said he was certain Maskhud was not a militant and bitterly accused security agencies of acting like “wild animals.” His appeals to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Ingushetia’s regional president Yunus-bek Yevkurov, he said, have been in vain.

The authorities “are strengthening the militants” through their brutal tactics, he said. “They don’t kill dogs in this way.” His wife Aminat, 55, a frail woman with dark circles under her eyes, sobbed beside him, silently fingering x-rays of Ibragim’s broken bones.

It’s not clear why intruders grabbed Maskhud, one of six children. But his father said the raiders seized family heirlooms, a kinzhal knife and a lambswool astrakhan hat, symbols in the Caucasus of the 19th-century guerrillas who fought the imperial Russian army.

Later, standing in the dark courtyard of his home, the elder Makhloyev looked around and shook his head. “I hoped someday to have weddings here, and not just funerals,” he said.

Russian officials have repeatedly rejected charges that security forces engage in systematic rights abuses. Instead, authorities blame militants for abductions and murders, calling them “provocations” intended to turn citizens against Moscow.

A day after the July kidnapping and slaying of rights activist Natalya Estemirova in Grozny, the capital of neighboring Chechnya, President Dmitry Medvedev called accusations that security forces were involved “primitive” and “unacceptable.”

“It’s a deliberate provocation,” he said.

Alison Gill of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch said Medvedev’s remarks “set a limit on the investigation” into Estemirova’s forced disappearance, exempting authorities from scrutiny.

Rights groups say Muslim separatists attack civilians in the Caucasus, often on religious grounds. There have been assaults on fortune tellers, prostitutes and merchants selling alcohol, while a rebel Web site has threatened school principals and teachers with death if they ban headscarves or seat girls next to boys in classrooms.

But activists also accuse the government of forced disappearances, illegal detentions, extra-judicial killings and house burnings. In a report last month, the Moscow-based human rights organization Memorial called for an end to “the massive and systematic human rights violations by the security agencies.”

In recent months kidnappers have increasingly targeted activists like Estemirova, in what rights groups fear is part of a plan to intimidate them into silence. In Ingushetia and Chechnya, where thousands of people have disappeared during post-Soviet Russia’s two wars against separatists, dozens of people who once monitored rights violations have stopped working or fled.

“All rights activists are uneasy,” said one Ingush activist, who spoke on condition he not be identified because he feared for his life. He was planning to leave for France, he said, after security officials approached him and warned him he might be killed.

He said one officer told him: “We are with the special services, we are not simple cops. Think about that.”

Lidia Yusupova, a Chechen human rights lawyer and 2009 candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, told The Associated Press she may have been a target of the same shadowy men who abducted and killed Estemirova.

Two suspicious men staked out her apartment in Grozny and questioned neighbors the day before Estemirova was killed, her friends told her. She wasn’t home at the time.

“It could not be just a coincidence,” she said in an interview in the cramped offices of a Chechen rights group in central Moscow. “Maybe they had an order to take away some well-known rights activist.”

Some are abducted, activists say, after their names surface during brutal interrogations. Often, kidnappers target the relatives of known or suspected militants.

In some cases, the disappeared seem to have the wrong friends, attend the wrong mosque or otherwise raise suspicions, for example, by having a wolf call ring tone on their cell phone. In the Caucasus, the wolf is a symbol of resistance to Russian rule.

Alikshan Pliyev’s mother, Leila Pliyeva, a white-haired medical technician at a government health clinic, said she was baffled by her son’s abduction. He could not be a religious militant, she said, because unlike most other youths here he never attended mosque.

As in the case with most disappearances, police and government officials told her they had no idea what happened to her son. But she said she is sure government forces were responsible. “It can only be the special services,” she said sadly.

Her son could be among the lucky ones who are eventually freed, she says, sounding as though she is trying to persuade herself.

“I have hope,” Pliyeva said, as tears welled in her eyes. “But do you see how it is with us?”

 

Historic Water Pump in Al Fayoum City

Water Pump in Al Fayoum City

This picture is of a water centrifugal pump (water Wheel) in Al-Fayoum City 120 KM away from Cairo, Capital of Egypt. This circular water pump elevates water from a depth of 10 meters. It is said to be constructed by design and supervision of Prophet Yousuf (Alihi Ssalam) almost 3500 years ago. There are three such pumps seemingly made of wood still intact!

 

The wonder is that no electricity or external power source is used in this machine! This is a great achievement considering the age at which it was constructed. Also it indicates that old civilizations were much more technically advanced than we common people in this modern era presume.

 

The water so elevated is used for irrigation. It is known that this whole city was constructed during era of Prophet Yousuf (Alihi Ssalam) in 1000 days. The name Alf-Youm in Arabic means 1000 days and so is the city named.

 

This picture was taken during our recent trip to Egypt. Sorry for the “clarity” of the picture as we reached Al-Fayoum late in a cold night after a long day visit in many historical places and monuments in Egypt.

?ui=2&view=att&th=12613c58938f505d&attid=0.1&disp=attd&realattid=ii_12613c58938f505d&zw