The Latino Muslim Voice
The January-March 2008 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
By neQiniso Abdullah
Praise Allah, Mighty and great,
Praise Allah, Eternal and Wise,
Praise Allah, the Merciful One,
Praise Allah, the only God,
By Isa Lima
I feel so empty being away from you.
You revive what's in me with your peace and tranquility.
The Quran appears so understandably clear though I might feel blue.
The thing I don't understand at all anymore,
Imams Training in UAE Culminates with Hajj
By Imam Yusef Maisonet
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Allah blessed thirteen Muslims from the United States and one from France to attend a historical pioneer Imams Training Program in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently, after being randomly selected.
All Praise is due to The Creator that I was among those selected to be a participant in this program.
The Imams Training Program was put together by a brother with vision, Bro. Khalid Ahmed, who spent the last two years back and forth between the U.S. and the UAE, getting the logistics worked out. Dhabi sponsored this program, including the Hajj.
This historical trip started with a visit to the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC, where we were treated to first class hotel accommodations and given a meeting at the UAE Embassy with their Ambassador, who treated us with a taste of the UAE via a beautiful and tasteful dinner.
After the UAE Embassy's presentation and the question and answer session, we were ready to embark on this educational journey of a lifetime, which culminated with the true journey of every Muslim's lifetime Hajj.
From Washington DC, we flew to Doha, UAE, and then to the Abu Dhabi airport, where we were greeted by the Director of the Program, Khalid Marzouqi, and by Dawud Yasin, one of the instructors.
The Arab hospitality was exceptional, only made grander as we did not have any problems with Customs. A special bus took us to Al Ain, where the school was located. We lived three to a Villa in state-of-the-art facilities with great technology and Western modernities.
At the Oasis Hospital, we were given health checkups for the purpose of issuing health insurance and for any medial attention required while we were there.
The first three days were "getting to know you" days and introduction to this beautiful country and its people. We were treated to a local tailor for UAE-style thobes and sandals; we were made to feel at home.
Program participants included:
Before leaving for the UAE, we were warned by Bro. Khalid Ahmed to expect to gain a bit of weight because we would be "invited to many receptions and Arabs love to eat. It is nothing for them to slaughter several sheep for a reception in your honor."
We were featured at a reception honoring Ms. Michelle Siston, US Ambassador to the UAE, at a richly appointed traditional Bedouin tent on the campus of the Zayed House of Islamic Culture. The Ambassador and other dignitaries toured the new, beautifully furnished villas that house the program participants.
We had an opportunity to meet the US Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to U.S. Congress, before we left for the UAE. We not only had brunch together but we got to ask him about his views on different subjects. And, it was a wonderful feeling knowing that he is an American you can be proud of.
The welcome at the UAE was given by Khalid M. Al Marzouqi, Director of the Zayed House of Islamic Culture, who said, "Most welcome. Your participation adds much to the sincerest of our delights."
"We are pleased to welcome you to the Zayed House for Islamic Culture, where you can take pleasure in our fully furnished villas, equipped with all necessary facilities and amenities for your utmost comfort. We are looking forward to seeing our services meet your convenience."
On November 3, 2007, the classes started first with tajweed classes and Qur'an memorization, held after each Fajr.
These classes were held at the Masjid across from our Villas and held for about an hour. We then would go back to our Villas to get ready for school after going for breakfast. Classes were held in a location about 15 minutes from the Villas.
Classes there covered Aqeedah, Fiqh and Basic Arabic. The courses consisted of a six-week program that focused on Moderation in Islam, Fiqh for Muslim Minorities, Islamic Family Law, and Principles of Islamic Banking and Finance. Our teachers were from all over the world (English speakers) South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Canada and the USA.
We were regularly treated to events and activities outside the classroom to familiarize us with the history, culture, traditions and lifestyle of the UAE Gulf region. We traveled all over Al Ain and have made trips to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and a traditional desert tribal village.
We participants organized into an ummah and elected Curtis Sharif to the position of Amir to facilitate efficient communication between the group and Zayed House administrators. The group would hold weekly meetings and make every important decision using Shura and Consensus. Following each meeting, the Amir would meet with Zayed House director to review progress, goals, and resolve any outstanding issues.
The Zayed House of Islamic Culture is located in Al Ain, which is one of the cleanest cities that I've seen in all of my travels throughout the world.
Al Ain is a fertile oasis city located approximately 160 kilometers east of the Abu Dhabi capital. Its name ("the spring" in Arabic) derives from its originally plentiful supply of fresh water, which makes its way underground and across most of the plain that lies before the Omani mountains.
There are numerous farms of all sizes around the city, which produce an astonishing amount of salad crops tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and even strawberries. To describe all of the beautiful cities of Al Ain would require a book, of which I'm in the process of writing.
Our experiences have included tours of the Fort Museum, the Presidential Palace Museum, an oasis and date orchard, a livestock market, the traditional open souq market, a picnic at a mountain hot springs park, and prayers at Masahid all over the UAE, including the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Masjid in Abu Dhabi, which is under construction.
On one memorable outing, the group was treated to a one hour Safari over desert dunes in large four-wheel drive vehicles. One guest described the adventure as a "one hour roller coaster ride."
In the open air with my fellow American brothers, I became the first Latino Muslim to give a Khutbah in the desert between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. It was a wonderful day with clear skies; clear minds did not have the disruptions of the cars and buses found in the big city life.
Before leaving the US, we were told by Bro. Khalid Ahmed that some aspects of the program would be as follows:
In addition to being an academic religious studies program, this was also an Islamic cultural exchange program, so what did we, as Americans, exchange with them? We exchanged the love that we have for Islam from us, an American people, and the knowledge that we have received as students of Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
At least one-third of the group, including me of Latino heritage and a Muslim for 40 years, was from the community of Imam Mohammed. As students of Islam, we have learned that Muslims have to be about action. People get what they strive for, and if they don't strive, they will receive nothing at all.
As such, we did not go there empty handed. And in my estimation, we did a fantastic job in representing the Muslim American Ummah.
Program participants received a certificate from the UAE Ministry of Awqaf & Islamic Affairs. The closing ceremony was held on December 14. I spoke on behalf of the group.
"O mankind!e have created you from a single (pair) Of Male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you . And Allah has full knowledge and is well- acquainted (with all things)." - Al -Hujurat 49:13.
First, we want to thank the Zayed House of Islamic Culture for their unprecedented hospitality and also to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi for his support of this historical program, the first of its kind and all the teachers that took a lot of patience and time in dealing with us.
And, we would like to thank the Director of the Program Khalid Marsuoki, our good friends Saeed, Hammod, Ahmed and Rasheed, and also Sheikh Habib for his input with the program, and a special thanks and salaam goes out to our American Brother Khalid Ahmed, who with his patience and knowledge was able to see this program finalize.
We want to point out the cultural exchange that took place between the UAE and the American students. We brought something through our diversity as students, in general. Students were from or descendents of people from Bangladesh, France, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Chile, and African American brothers from all over the United States participated.
We know that you were not expecting this diversity. But Alhamduillah, although we have our different cultures, we were able to get along by Allah's mercy. And, I want to thank the students for allowing me to speak for all of us. We hope that this Imam Training Program will continue and that you will allow other students to partake of this rich and hospitable program.
We want to thank you from our hearts. May Allah (SWT) bless every single one of you. And, now we have to get ready to make this Hajj which will be a new experience for some of us and a blessing for those who are making this trip over again.
Again we thank you. As Salaamu Alaikum.
Based on the article with the same name that was originally published in "The Muslim Journal." MuslimJournal.net. 22 Feb. 2008. Vol 33. No 21.
By Imam Yusef Maisonet
I will remember this Hajj for the rest of my life. In my forty years as a Muslim, I have never expected anything like this. Hajj 2007 was my third time on hajj. The first was by myself and the second time was with my wife. However, this time, hajj had a special meaning to it because I was making a historical hajj with brothers from the Latino community, and I was making this hajj for a friend that had his intention on making this hajj and died before he could accomplish his goal.
We spent the last six weeks in an Imam Training Program. I was already an Imam but I wasn't certified. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi sponsored the program. This beautiful gift of hajj was a wonderful reward for finishing the program. We started our journey from Al Ain, UAE, where the Imam Training Program was held. As we arrived at the Abu Dhabi airport, we were all in a state of anxiety on making this historic trip. We were busy checking our bags that were giving to us. We had just enough clothes and toiletries to make this a pleasant trip.
We boarded on Qatar Airlines on one of their latest airplanes. It was beautiful just seeing all of these brothers and sisters going on hajj from the UAE. Our first stop was at Medina, the city of the Prophet (SAW). When we arrived, we were welcomed like royalty. The rest of the brothers who were attending hajj for the first time didn't notice. Because I had come to this side of the world many times, I already knew what to expect -the waiting, the lines customs, and sometimes the dislike for Americans.
By Allah's mercy, we were treated well with plenty of love. When we arrived at the hotel in Medina, we were the first occupants for the Hajj season. This brand new hotel was named Al Kareem Hotel. After putting our bags in our rooms, we headed to the Prophet's Mosque to offer two rakat. We had time to visit the Prophet's (SAW) tomb along with the tombs of Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A.). Al-Masjid an Nabawi was built by the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) himself next to his own house and now contains his tomb. After a well-deserved rest, we made Fajr prayer at the Prophet's Masjid. After eating breakfast at our beautiful hotel, we took a tour to some of the historical places in Medina.
The first place on the list was Masjid Al Qiblatain. This mosque has two Qiblas and is situated in Madinah just a few miles from Masjid an-Nabi. It is one of the oldest mosques in the world, and it contains two mihrabs. One is in the direction of Jerusalem and the other towards Makkah. In this Masjid, the Prophet Muhammad received revelation to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem towards the Ka'bah in Mecca.
"Verily! We have seen the turning of your face towards the heaven; surely we shall turn you to a prayer direction (Qiblah) that shall please you (Surah al-Baqarah; 2:144).
Then, we went onto Masjid Quba. It is also about two miles southwest from Masjid an-Nabawi. It is the first mosque of the Muslims. It is said that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions built it with their own hands on their migration to Madinah. While at the mosque, we made two rakat nafl. Doing so is said to be equal to one Umrah.
Then, it was on to Jabal-e-Uhud, which is about four miles north of Madinah. The battle of Uhud was fought in 3 A.H. The Prophet's (SAW) uncle, Hamza, and other companions are buried here. Afterward, we returned to Madinah. We had time to shop for some extra clothes before getting ready for hajj.
As we were making our tawaf and at the end of each circuit, we would say:
After the Umrah, we returned to our hotel and change into our regular clothes. We relaxed a little while we made every salat at the Kabah. Finally, the big day came on the 8th of Dhul Hijjah. We washed our bodies, put on our ihram, and made our intention by saying the talbiyah.
We went to Mina, and again we had excellent drivers. One of the drivers who was named Abdullah was an English student. During the hajj season, many students volunteer their time helping the Hajjis. We performed our Dhur, Asr, Maghrib, Isha and Fajr prayers at the proper times, shortening prayers from four rakat to two, but we didn't combine our prayers.
On the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, we proceeded to Arafat at sunrise and made Dhur and Asr. We shortened the prayers. We combined them during the time of Dhur with one adhan and two iqamas. One iqama for each prayer. We stayed in Arafat until sunset making dua all day for our friends, family, and members of the Latino community but mostly asking Allah (SWT) to forgive us and have mercy on us.
Afterward, we proceeded to Muzdalifah where we combined the Maghrib and Isha prayers. We shortened the Isha prayer to two rakat. When we arrived in Muzdalifah, we couldn't find the place that was reserved for us. Fortunately, we saw some of the brothers from the UAE, and we decided to camp with them after receiving their permission. After the Maghrib and Isha prayer, we laid out our sleeping bags and rested. Let me tell you it was cold.
Before sunrise, we proceeded to Mina where we picked up our seven stones to throw at Stone Pillar of Aqabah, which is the Jamarah closest to Mecca. With each throw, we would say "Allahu Akbar." This year you could see the improvements made to make it easier to perform. From there, we went by SUV to the biggest surprise. We went to a slaughterhouse. Each of the fourteen of us had a sheep ready to slaughter. Some could not see themselves doing it, so they gave others permission to slaughter for them.
After we shaved our heads, we returned to the hotel to change from our ihrams into our regular clothes. Then, we performed the tawaf's and sa'y. We would return to Mina for another two days to finish our stone throwing and to get to know each other better. After returning to Mecca to perform our farewell tawafs, we flew back to Al Ain UAE to pack our bags for our return to the USA. Meanwhile, we had gotten so close to one other during our stay at the school and from performing Umrah and Hajj together. It was hard saying goodbye, but I can safely say that this entire experience has given us all a sense of accomplishment. YES WE CAN!
Feelin' the Connection
By Siri Carrion
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
When you meet people from your home country or the city where you were born it feels so great! There is an instant connection, but when you meet another Muslim from your country or city, an instant bonding takes place that you cannot describe.
Alhamdulillah. The Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA) had its first meeting/lecture on February 16, 2008. My intention was to bring the Latino Muslim community together to put a face to a name and have dinner and just get to know one other. But you know Allah SWT is the best of planners.
My plan was to invite Hajji Yusef Maisonet from Mobil, Alabama to come and speak to our small Latino community and describe his experience in Dubai at the Imam training program. Inshallah, I wanted to hold the first gathering at the Masjid. As it turned out, one Masjid was scheduled to have its old roof taken off and a new one put on. I called in another favor from the Amir at another masjid. As it turned out, they too had an event already scheduled. Alhamdulillah, Bro. Franco and his wife suggested I have the meeting at his home. Well Allah knows best, and He is Akbar.
There were more than twenty people in Brother Franco's home. I had cooked a pot of pollo guisado and arroz con gandules. The brother had some food catered as well so no one would go home hungry. As we were eating, the sisters were able to share their stories about their children. And, the men discussed issues within Islam and were giving dawah. Around 4pm we got the presentation going. I introduced myself and my organization to the group while Hajji Yusef set up.
Hajji Yusef is a well-accomplished photographer and journalist. His DVD presentation was just beautiful. The pictures he chose where just magnificent. During the presentation, he narrated and described in more detail the pictures he had emailed to me. Well in my mind, I thought this would be the end of the show and that everyone would go home.
Well, Allah had another plan. Subhan Allah, several brothers from area Masajid attended. One brother in particular is the Vice President of ICNA for the southeast region. Subhan Allah. This brother was so moved with what I had put together. By the grace of Allah, he almost jumped out of his seat to dance. The short of it is this. He offered us the use of an extra room at their clinic located in a highly populated Latino community to do dawah, hold classes, or whatever else we want to do for the community.
Believe me, I did not know this small gathering would turn out to be so grand and beautiful. I was not asking for anything. I just wanted to bring people together to say we are Latino and Muslim. I just wanted to connect with my Latino Muslim brothers and sisters. In no way did I expect for these wonderful brothers to offer my small organization so much! ALLAHU AKBAR! That is truly a blessing.
As a result, the Latino Muslim community now has a place to meet and give dawah to other Latinos, and a place to simply reconnect with their culture. Inshallah. Allah will continue to bless those who are giving dawah for the sake of Allah. Ameen.
Inshallah. We will continue to be successful and see the Latino Muslim community grow by leaps and bounds. And, Allah knows best!
Shareefa Siri M. Carrion is the founder of the Atlanta Latino Muslim Association (ALMA).
Cumbre Países Árabes - América del Sur (ASPA)
Cumbre de Ministros de Relaciones Exteriores de los Países Árabes - América del Sur (ASPA)
Por Fernando Bazán
Treinta y cuatro representantes de naciones de América del Sur y de los países árabes se reunieron en Buenos Aires los días 20 y 21 de febrero en el Palacio San Martín, sede protocolar del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Argentina.
La reunión se enmarcó en la continuación del diálogo institucional abierto entre ambas regiones durante la Cumbre de Brasilia de 2005. En aquella oportunidad los puntos sobresalientes de la "Declaración de Brasilia" fueron el apoyo al reclamo palestino por la salida de Israel de los territorios ocupados y se exigió "el desmantelamiento de las colonias, incluidas las del Este de Jerusalén", además de reconocer "el derecho de los pueblos a resistir la ocupación extranjera".
La "Declaración de Brasilia", suscripta por los 24 países participantes, instaba a la Argentina y Gran Bretaña a buscar una solución en torno a la disputa de soberanía sobre las Islas Malvinas, en el Atlántico Sur.
Además de los reclamos territoriales y apoyos diplomáticos, la Cumbre de Brasilia dio el puntapié para un incremento del intercambio comercial entre ambos bloques con un notable desarrollo en esta área.
La ronda de Buenos Aires fue también preparatoria de la próxima Cumbre de Presidentes que se desarrollará en Marruecos este año. Intentó acercar las posiciones para un mayor crecimiento del intercambio comercial entre estos dos grandes bloques. También marcó el inicio de las consultas a nivel diplomáticos de las posturas en América del Sur sobre qué posición tomarán los diferentes Estados frente a la declaración de independencia de Kosovo y cómo esta afectaría el status de los intereses argentinos en la cuestión de las Islas Malvinas.
Brasil, la mayor economía del MERCOSUR, encabeza el intercambio comercial con la Liga de Estados Árabes que alcanzó los 14.000 millones de dólares en el 2007; comparado con 5.000 millones de dólares en el 2003 antes de la primera cumbre de presidentes de los dos bloques en el 2005.
Entre 1997 y 2004 el comercio entre ambos bloques regionales aumentó 40 %. Las exportaciones a los países árabes se incrementaron en ese período un 60 %, resultando en un saldo de balanza comercial positiva para el bloque sudamericano.
Por su parte, el Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo (CCG) firmó el acuerdo de preferencias arancelarias para abrir camino a negociaciones comerciales más amplias. El MERCOSUR está desarrollando un comercio dinámico y creciente con los países árabes a los que exporta entre otros: carne, pollo, minerales ferrosos, aceite de soja, maquinarias, café, azúcar de caña, papel, entre otros productos que representan más de 2.000 millones de dólares al año. En tanto, compra petróleo y sus derivados, algodón, textiles, frutas secas y otros productos por unos 1.500 millones de dólares.
En la primera cumbre América del Sur- Países Árabes, Brasil delineó las fronteras de una nueva geografía de petróleo e inversiones. Sudamérica recibía los colosales capitales de las monarquías petroleras del Golfo y los países árabes se abrirían a multinacionales como las brasileñas Vale do Rio Doce (minería), Petrobras (petróleo) o Embraer (aeronáutica).
"Los bancos árabes tienen mucho dinero en sus arcas para el mercado sudamericano de 300 millones de personas; todos necesitamos tecnología independiente y en el sur de América hay carne y cereales para todos, es un mundo nuevo que tenemos que compartir", señaló en Brasilia el líder de la Liga Árabe Amr Moussa. Petróleo por alimentos parece ser la fórmula principal de un eje que lo tiene todo para armar una sociedad casi perfecta.
Brasil se ubica en el liderazgo con el 80 % del comercio exterior con sus socios árabes. Los 22 miembros de la Liga Árabe importan alimentos por casi 150 millones de dólares al año, lo que conviene al bloque sudamericano, uno de los mayores productores de alimentos del mundo. En el 2005 sólo 3,5 % de las exportaciones de América del Sur se dirigía a los países árabes y solo el 1,5 % de las importaciones sudamericanas tenían origen árabe y la meta desde la Cumbre de Brasilia es revertir esta tendencia.
En el caso de Argentina, la segunda mayor economía de la región, el comercio global con los países árabes fue de 3.197 millones de dólares en el 2007, frente a los 1.683 millones del 2003.
"Si bien las estructuras de nuestros sectores productivos difieren, eso no es un obstáculo sino un incentivo. Los contactos son cada vez más fluidos y los intercambios han crecido y pueden hacerlo mucho más si exploramos todas las posibilidades," dijo el canciller argentino, Jorge Taiana.
Terrorismo y Territorios Ocupados
La Liga Árabe logró un apoyo en esta materia, de las naciones sudamericanas, que se sumaron al "rechazo a la ocupación extranjera ilegal" y reconocieron "el derecho de los Estados y pueblos a resistir" dicha ocupación. En el mismo tono manifestaron "su fuerte respaldo al multilateralismo y a los principios de la Carta de las Naciones Unidas" para la solución de estos conflictos, citados en los artículos 15 y 16 de la Declaración.
Si bien en la Declaración se omitió mencionar los Estados que violaban las normas internacionales la Declaración final igualmente contiene una mención explícita al Estado de Israel, pues le exige que se retire "de todos los territorios árabes ocupados" y se repliegue a las fronteras existentes al 4 de junio de 1967, cuando estalló la Guerra de los Seis Días. También reclama el desmantelamiento de los asentamientos israelíes en territorios palestinos y del cuestionado muro de separación.
Con respecto a la situación de Irak, el canciller saudita Saud Al Faisal, realizó una diferenciación: "La de Israel es una ocupación con asentamientos en territorios palestinos, mientras que en Irak hay un gobierno elegido por el pueblo que debe pedir el retiro de las tropas extranjeras", afirmó.
También se sumó una vez más a la Declaración - en el artículo 13 - un pedido expreso para que la Argentina y Gran Bretaña reanuden las negociaciones, a la mayor brevedad posible, para encontrar una solución justa, pacífica y duradera de la disputa por las Malvinas. Expresaron además que la inclusión de las Islas Malvinas, Georgias del Sur y Sandwich del Sur como territorios asociados a Europa en el Anexo II, Título IV "Asociación de los Países y Territorios de Ultramar" de la Parte III del Tratado que enmienda el Tratado de la Unión Europea y el Tratado Constitutivo de la Comunidad Europea no resulta compatible con la existencia de una disputa de soberanía sobre dichas islas.
Otro hecho significativo es la adopción del artículo 8 que señala una condena el terrorismo en todas sus formas y manifestaciones y rechazando cualquier vinculación entre el terrorismo y un pueblo o religión, grupo étnico o cultura específicos. Deciden, además, fortalecer la cooperación entre las dos regiones en la prevención y lucha contra el terrorismo a través del intercambio de información entre las autoridades y organismos competentes de cada país.
La Cumbre de Buenos Aires llegó en momentos particulares de la escena política de ambos grupos regionales que tienen fuertes demandas y específicas necesidades internas a las que deben dar respuesta en el corto plazo.
Por parte de la Liga Árabe, la situación cada vez más deteriorada de los palestinos y la crisis humanitaria desatada en la Franja de Gaza junto al fracaso al menos hasta ahora de lo acordado en Annapolis; la frágil estabilidad libanesa y los problemas para elegir un presidente que hacen pensar en inestabilidad a corto plazo; la realidad iraquí que no termina de encontrar un rumbo fijo y que cada vez depende más de la estabilidad que le proporcionan las fuerzas militares norteamericanas y sin dejar de lado la creciente influencia shiita pro iraní que ha aumentado su base de adherentes e influencia política son algunos de los problemas que enfrentan los miembros de la Liga.
Por el lado de los países sudamericanos, la falta de energía es la constante de las economías que plantean un creciente desarrollo económico pero que carecen de los recursos energéticos para afrontarlos.
La idea de avanzar en los intercambios de apoyos diplomáticos a las diferentes causas regionales (Palestinos, Malvinas, terrorismo, etc.) puede plantearse como un medio de acercamiento para las verdaderas cuestiones de fondo como son los crecientes intercambios comerciales a los que debe sumarse Argentina de manera más activa.
América del Sur ha desarrollado una oferta de materias primas y alimentos que los países árabes necesitan cada vez más y, por su parte, estos países poseen los recursos energéticos que las industrias y economías regionales sudamericanas necesitan con suma urgencia. Es menester plantear como política de Estado - dentro del MERCOSUR - un intercambio de los diferentes bienes regionales con los países árabes como una solución para colocar los productos en nuevos mercados y es también una alternativa a la futura escasez de insumos energéticos dentro del bloque sudamericano.
©2008. Fundación Centro de Estudios del Medio Oriente Contemporáneo (CEMOC)
¿Quién era Jesús (la paz este con él)?
Por Yahiya Emerick
Hay muchas preguntas que vienen a la mente cuando se menciona el nombre Jesús. Alguna gente dice que él era un profeta, otros lo llaman un dios, mientras que otros opinan que él era un hombre muy sabio. Pero sobretodo, una cosa segura es que él no era un hombre ordinario. Pero si hay algo especial sobre él, ¿por qué toda la confusión?
¿De todos modos, quién era Jesús?
Jesús vivió hace aproximadamente 2.000 años en Palestina antigua cuando el imperio Romano estaba en su cenit. No fue concebido en la manera normal, sino que fue implantado en la matriz de una mujer joven nombrada Maria. Dios ordenó simplemente, "sea" y él fue. En este sentido, él era "una palabra" de Dios y una señal especial para la humanidad. En hecho, él era el último de una línea larga de guías religiosos enviados a los judíos.
MARIA LA BENDECIDA
Maria era una mujer recta. Su madre la dedicó al servicio de Dios incluso antes de que ella nació. Como niña, ella vivió una vida marcada por la salud y rectitud, que otros señalaban con admiración. Ella fue criada por Sacaría, el sabio, que inculcó en ella un sentido hermoso de fe en Dios. Cuando ella se hizo una mujer joven, Maria intentó purificarse más antes de su Señor. Sabiendo que la prisa de la vida en las ciudades distraía, ella se retiró de su gente a un santuario en el este. Allí ella podría meditar en aislamiento y en paz. De repente, en un día que no se parecía diferente al resto, un ángel de Dios la visitó, disfrazado en la semejanza de un ser humano. Asustada de tan extraño una vista, Maria rogó para la protección de Dios, pero el extraño le tranquilizo y declaro que él era un mensajero del Señor para anunciar las buenas noticias de un hijo intachable. Maria, asombrada, pregunto cómo esto era posible viendo que ningún hombre la había tocado. Pero el ángel le contestó, "su Señor dice, es fácil para mí..." Pero cuando ella sentía al niño pequeño dentro de ella, ella huyó su santuario del miedo de lo que haría o diría su familia cuando ellos supieran las noticias. Maria, sin embargo, no iba ver dificultad. Cuando en su desesperación ella gritó hacia Dios para el olvido, una voz la calmó y ella encontró una sombra y un manantial fresco. Debajo de una palma de dátiles en el calor del verano tardío, ella hizo su vivienda y dio a luz a un niño desemejante de cualquier otro en la historia.
Después de eso, Maria volvió a su comunidad cargando el niño que iba ser llamado Mesías, Jesús, hijo de Maria. Cuando su gente la vieron con el bebé en sus brazos ellos no podían creer sus ojos, ni aceptar su palabra. Rechazaron creerla cuando ella dijo que un ángel vino y le dijo que sobretodo ella fue elegida sobre otras mujeres para llevar esta carga. La acusaron de infidelidad e implicaron que ella había arruinado el nombre de su familia. Maria, siendo abrumada, simplemente gesto hacia el niño humildemente.
El niño Jesús era el producto de un milagro y por lo tanto, cosas milagrosas comenzaron a suceder. En defensa de su madre y de la verdad, el niño Jesús declaró, "soy un siervo de Dios. Él me ha dado la Escritura y me ha hecho un profeta. Él me ha bendecido dondequiera que estoy y me ha dado el rezo y la caridad como mi deber mientras vivo." Esto le dio descanso a los detractores.
Durante su juventud, Jesús siguió siendo obediente a su madre y se desarrolló rápidamente en inteligencia, sabiduría, y piedad. Él asombró a los doctores de la ley y fue admirado grandemente por ésos alrededor de él que apreciaban sus talentos. Él exigía que era una señal de Dios y un mensajero a la tribu de Israel.
Su gente perdió el espíritu de la verdad y pusieron su confianza en el legalismo, de tal modo que enterraron su sentido de la misericordia debajo de ritos y rollos de pergamino polvorientos. Finalmente, cuando él llegó a la madurez, Jesús comenzó a viajar y predicar a través de la tierra de Palestina sobre volviendo a la verdad de las viejas revelaciones y de un rechazamiento de todo que el hombre había agregado. En esta tarea, el Espíritu de la Verdad, el ángel Gabriel lo apoyo.
El EVANGELIO, SU MENSAJE
Jesús (la paz este con él) enseñó que el amor y la misericordia superan el odio y el enojo y que solamente una fe verdadera y sincera en el Creador y la obediencia a su voluntad traerá la persona a la salvación en esta vida así como en la siguiente. Para reforzar su mensaje, que fue llamado "Inyíl" (las buenas noticias), Dios le concedió el poder de hacer milagros. Él curó al enfermo, levantó al apenado y revivió a los muertos. Toda esta cosas él hizo con el permiso de Dios, nunca tomando el crédito para él mismo.
El condujo su vida simplemente y piadosamente. Pronto él atrajo un circulo-interno de seguidores devotos que escucharon sus enseñanzas con fervor y humildad. Estos discípulos, entre ellos Pedro, Barnabas, y Juan, le ayudaron llevar el mensaje del amor divino a la gente. Ellos le ayudaron con su misión.
PRUEBA DE VOLUNTADES
No hay hombre piadoso de Dios sin pruebas y tribulaciones. Mientras que el mensaje de Jesús comenzó a ganar una aceptación más amplia, una pandilla pequeña de hipócritas u hombres con mal intenciones comenzaron a planear contra él. Ellos eran los sacerdotes y los líderes de los judíos cuyo posición y abundancia dependía de su lugar como los intérpretes únicos de la religión a las masas. Persiguieron a Jesús y a sus seguidores y lo capturaron eventualmente. Aunque abusaron de él, él nunca renunció su fe en el único Dios. En su odio, ellos trataron de crucificarlo en una cruz romana. Pero Jesús se deslizó de su apretón en el momento esperado, y todo el rato pensaron que habían tenido éxito. Estaban seguro que lo habían matado pero Dios contestó el rezo de Jesús y lo salvó de sus esquemas. Confusión alcanzó a la multitud y puede ser que hayan matado al hombre que traicionó a Jesús en lugar de él. En cualquier caso, Jesús se escapó de su agarro. Entonces Dios quitó a Jesús de este mundo y se lo llevo a otra dimensión, a un lugar con él, para no volver hasta otro tiempo en el futuro.
Con su profesor desaparecido, los seguidores devotos de Jesús intentaron mantener la pureza y la simplicidad de sus enseñanzas. Pero pronto fueron sitiados y alcanzados por una inundación de las influencias romanas y griegas, que enterraron las enseñanzas de Jesús eventualmente torciendo el mensaje de él en tal manera que solamente un poco de su verdad ahora sigue siendo. Doctrinas extrañas como la divinidad de Jesús, que él era un hombre-dios, que Dios murió, de la adoración de santos y de que Dios es compuesto de diversas partes se puso de moda y fueron aceptadas por muchos de los que tomaron el nombre "cristiano" siglos después de Jesús.
Los únicos archivos que nos han llegado referentes a Jesús son unos materiales biográficos incompletos, mal investigados y compilados, que no pueden de ninguna manera ser representante del mensaje completo y exacto de Jesús, el hijo de Maria. La época del mensaje final e incorruptible no era todavía actual. Sería dejado al profeta último de Dios, Mujammad (la paz esté sobre él), para clarificar la verdad de lo que el hombre agrego y borro.
Jesús enseñó el mismo mensaje eterno que fue enseñado por todos los mensajeros de Dios, desde Adán a Noé, Abrahán, Moisés y concluyendo con la misión del último faro encendido de Dios a la humanidad, Mujammad (la paz esté en ellos todos). Su venir fue previsto por Jesús mismo.
Cada nación y cada gente, desde los Aztecas a los Griegos, han recibido un profeta o mensajero de Dios. Jesús era el último de una serie de mensajeros enviados a los Israelitas. Los Israelitas antiguos constantemente se perdían de la vía recta de Dios. Cada uno de los muchos mensajeros de Dios habló una diversa lengua y siguió costumbres variados. Pero con todo eso, en base la fe que enseñaban cada uno era igual: el entrego de su voluntad imperfecta y voluble a la voluntad perfecta del Poder más grande. Usted entonces encontrará la paz y la libertad que solamente el Creador de todas las cosas puede proporcionarte. Entonces usted debe hacer lo correcto y bueno a sus compañeros en vida. Esta manera de vida se llama Islam (entrégate a Dios y hallarás la paz).
Un folleto del 1-877-Why-Islam (¿Por qué el Islam?).
Who was Jesus (pbuh)?
By Yahiya Emerick
There are many questions that come to mind when the name Jesus is mentioned. Some people say he was a prophet, others call him a god, while others say he was a very wise man. But whatever your idea is, one thing remains certain: he was not your ordinary man. So if there is something special about him, why all the confusion?
Just who was Jesus anyway?
Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago in ancient Palestine when the Roman Empire was at its zenith. He was not conceived in the usual way, but was implanted in the womb of a young woman named Mary. God simply commanded, "Be" and he was. In this sense, he was "a word" of God and a special sign for humanity. In fact, he was the last in a long line of religious guides sent to the Jews.
MARY, THE BLESSED
Mary was a righteous woman. Her mother dedicated her to God's service even before she was born. As a child, she lived a life marked by health and righteousness, which others pointed to in admiration. She was raised by the wise Zechariah, who instilled in her, a beautiful sense of faith in God. When she had become a young woman, Mary sought to purify herself further before her Lord. Knowing that the hustle of life in the towns was distracting, she withdrew from her people to a sanctuary in the East. There she could meditate in seclusion and peace. Suddenly, on a day that seemed no different from the rest, an angel of God visited her, disguised in the likeness of a human. Afraid of so strange a sight, Mary prayed for protection, but the strange being reassured her and declared that he was a messenger from the Lord to announce the glad -tidings of a faultless son. Mary, astounded, asked how this was possible seeing that no man had ever touched her. But the angel replied, "Your Lord says, it is easy for Me "¦". But when she felt the little child within her, she fled her sanctuary out of fear of what her family would do or say when they heard the news. Mary, however, was not to face hardship. When in her despair she cried out to God for oblivion, a voice soothed her and she found shade and a cool spring. Under a date-palm in the warmth of late summer, she made her dwelling and there bore the child unlike any other in human history.
Shortly thereafter, Mary returned to her community carrying the child who was to be called Messiah, Jesus, and son of Mary. When her people saw her with the baby in her arms they couldn't believe their eyes, let alone accept her word. They refused to believe when she told of an angel who came and told her she was chosen above all other women to carry this burden. They accused her of infidelity and implied that she had ruined the family name. Mary, being overwhelmed, simply motioned towards the child meekly.
Now the child was the product of a miracle and consequently, miraculous things began to happen. In defense of his mother and of the truth, the infant Jesus spoke saying, "I am a servant of God. He has given me Scripture and has made me a Prophet. He has blessed me wherever I may be and has made prayer and charity my duty as long as I live." This put the detractors to rest.
Throughout his youth, Jesus remained dutiful to his mother and developed quickly in intelligence, wisdom, and piety. He dumfounded the learned and was greatly admired by those around him who appreciated his talents. He claimed to be a sign of God and a Messenger to the Israelites.
His people had strayed from the spirit of truth and placed their trust in legalism, thereby burying their sense of mercy beneath dusty scrolls and rituals. Finally, when he came of age, Jesus began to travel and preach throughout the land of Palestine about a return to the truth of the old revelations and a rejection of all that man had added. In his task, he was supported by the spirit of truth, the angel Gabriel.
THE GOSPEL, HIS MESSAGE
He taught that love and mercy overcome hate and anger and that only a true and sincere faith in the Creator and obedience to His will can bring a person salvation in this life as well as in the next. To reinforce his message, which was called "Injeel" (Good News), God granted him the performance of miracles. He healed the sick, uplifted the distressed and revived the dead. All these things he did with the permission of God, never taking credit for them himself.
He led a simple and pious life. Soon he attracted an inner-circle of devoted followers who listened to his teachings with fervor and humility. These disciples, among them Peter, Barnabas, and John helped him carry the message of Divine Love to the people. They helped him in his mission.
A TEST OF WILLS
But no righteous man of God is without trial and tribulation. As the message of Jesus began to gain wider acceptance, a small clique of hypocrites and evil men began to plot against him. They were the priests and leaders of the Jews whose position and wealth depended upon their place as the sole interpreters of religion to the masses. They pursued him and his followers and eventually captured him. Though they abused him, he never renounced his faith in the one God. So in their anger they plotted to crucify him on a Roman cross. But Jesus slipped from their grip at the last moment, and all the while they thought they had succeeded. They were sure they had killed him but God answered Jesus' prayer and saved him from their schemes. Confusion overtook the mob and they might have killed the man who betrayed Jesus instead. In any case, Jesus escaped from their grasp. Then God removed Jesus from this world into another dimension, to a place with Him, not to return until a later time.
With their teacher gone, the devoted followers of Jesus tried to maintain the purity and simplicity of his teachings. But they were soon besieged and overtaken by a flood of Roman and Greek influences, which eventually so buried and distorted the message of Jesus that only a little of its truth now remains. Strange doctrines of Jesus being a man-god, of God dying, of saint worship and of God being made up of different parts came into vogue and were accepted by many of those who took the name "Christians" centuries after Jesus.
The only records that have come down to us concerning Jesus are some sketchy biographical material, poorly researched and compiled, which can in no way be representative of the full and accurate Message of Jesus, the Son of Mary. The time of the final and incorruptible Message was not yet at hand. It would be left to the last prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), to clarify the truth from man's additions and deletions.
Jesus taught the same eternal message that was taught by all the Messengers of God, from Adam, on through Noah, Abraham, Moses and ending with the mission of God's last Guidepost to humanity, Muhammad (peace be on them all), whose coming was foretold by Jesus himself.
Every nation and every people, from the Aztecs to the Greeks, have received a Prophet or a Messenger from God. Jesus was the last of a series of Messengers sent to the Israelites, but they consistently strayed from the path of surrender to God. Each of the many Messengers spoke a different language and followed varied customs. Yet the core faith taught by each was the same: surrender your imperfect and fickle will to the perfect will of the Power that is greater than you. You will then find the peace and freedom that only the Creator of all things can provide. Then you must do what is right and good to your fellow creatures. This way of life is called Islam (surrender to God and find peace).
A 877-WHY-ISLAM Brochure.
On Becoming Muslim
By Shariffa A Carlo
In the Name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful
The story of how I reverted to al Islam is a story of plans. I made plans, the group I was with made plans, and Allah made plans. And Allah is the Best of Planners. When I was a teenager, I came to the attention of a group of people with a very sinister agenda. They were and probably still are a loose association of individuals who work in government positions but have a special agenda - to destroy Islam. It is not a governmental group that I am aware of, they simply use their positions in the US government to advance their cause.
One member of this group approached me because he saw that I was articulate, motivated and very much the women's rights advocate. He told me that if I studied International Relations with an emphasis in the Middle East, he would guarantee me a job at the American Embassy in Egypt. He wanted me to eventually go there to use my position in the country to talk to Muslim women and encourage the fledgling women's rights movement. I thought this was a great idea. I had seen the Muslim women on TV; I knew they were a poor oppressed group, and I wanted to lead them to the light of 20th century freedom.
With this intention, I went to college and began my education. I studied Quraan, hadith and Islamic history. I also studied the ways I could use this information. I learned how to twist the words to say what I wanted them to say. It was a valuable tool. Once I started learning, however, I began to be intrigued by this message. It made sense. That was very scary. Therefore, in order to counteract this effect, I began to take classes in Christianity. I chose to take classes with this one professor on campus because he had a good reputation and he had a Ph.D. in Theology from Harvard University. I felt I was in good hands. I was, but not for the reasons I thought. It turns out that this professor was a Unitarian Christian. He did not believe in the trinity or the divinity of Jesus. In actuality, he believed that Jesus was a prophet.
He proceeded to prove this by taking the Bible from its sources in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic and show where they were changed. As he did this, he showed the historical events which shaped and followed these changes. By the time I finished this class, my deen had been destroyed, but I was still not ready to accept Islam. As time went on, I continued to study, for myself and for my future career. This took about three years. In this time, I would question Muslims about their beliefs. One of the individuals I questioned was a Muslim brother with the MSA. Alhamdulillah, he saw my interest in the deen, and made it a personal effort to educate me about Islam. May Allah increase his reward. He would give me dawaa at every opportunity which presented itself.
One day, this man contacts me, and he tells me about a group of Muslims who were visiting in town. He wanted me to meet them. I agreed. I went to meet with them after ishaa prayer. I was led to a room with at least 20 men in it. They all made space for me to sit, and I was placed face to face with an elderly Pakistani gentleman. Mashallah, this brother was a very knowledgeable man in matters of Christianity. He and I discussed and argued the varying parts of the bible and the Quraan until the fajr. At this point, after having listened to this wise man tell me what I already knew, based on the class I had taken in Christianity, he did what no other individual had ever done. He invited me to become a Muslim. In the three years I had been searching and researching, no one had ever invited me. I had been taught, argued with and even insulted, but never invited. May Allah guide us all. So when he invited me, it clicked. I realized this was the time. I knew it was the truth, and I had to make a decision. Alhamdulillah, Allah opened my heart, and I said, "Yes. I want to be a Muslim." With that, the man led me in the shahadah - in English and in Arabic. I swear by Allah that when I took the shahadah, I felt the strangest sensation. I felt as if a huge, physical weight had just been lifted off my chest; I gasped for breath as if I were breathing for the first time in my life.
Alhamdulillah, Allah had given me a new life - a clean slate - a chance for Jennah, and I pray that I live the rest of my days and die as a Muslim. Ameen.