Welcome
Login / Register

Latest Articles


  • The Data Says “Don’t Hug the Dog!”

    Modified from a Peter Kemmer photo, Creative Commons LicenseThe Data Says “Don’t Hug the Dog!”

    I had brought my dogs to be part of a “Doggy De-Stress Day” on the campus of a local university. These are becoming more common for many colleges in North America and are usually held during midterm exam or final exam periods. The way it works is that dogs, often therapy dogs, but sometimes just well behaved pet dogs, are brought to campus and students get a chance to pet and interact with the dogs. The rationale here is that during exam periods stress levels run high in the student population, however there is ample evidence which shows that dogs can reduce stress levels (click here for more about that). So this seems like a simple method of making students feel a bit less hassled before and between their tests.

    At one point during the event a small Asian girl came over to my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy and gave him a hug. At the time he was just about six months old, and like most puppies he was relatively tolerant of any form of interaction. Nonetheless, in response to the girl’s hug he turned his head to break off eye contact, his ears slicked down, and he gave a small stress yawn. I leaned over and said to her, “You really shouldn’t hug a dog. They don’t like it and it raises their stress level.”

    The girl looked at me with an expression of disbelief, “I’m studying developmental psychology and there’s lots of evidence which says that hugging is important and pleasant. When a mother hugs her child the child gets a surge of the hormone oxytocinand so does the mother and that hormone is associated with loving and bonding. There is evidence which says that if parents don’t hug and touch their child a lot, that child can grow up to be emotionally stunted. So how can you tell me that hugging isn’t good for dogs, especially for a puppy?”

    The real answer to her question is, of course, that dogs are not human children. Dogs are technically cursorial animals, which is a term that indicates that they are designed for swift running. That implies that in times of stress or threat the first line of defense that a dog uses is not his teeth, but rather his ability to run away. Behaviorists believe that depriving a dog of that course of action by immobilizing him with a hug can increase his stress level and, if the dog’s anxiety becomes significantly intense he may bite. For that reason certain websites which try to educate children and parents in order to reduce the incidence of dog bites (such asDoggone Safe) make a point about teaching children that they should not hug dogs. Furthermore, a few years back when a children’s book entitled “Smooch Your Pooch” recommended that kids hug and kiss their dog anytime and anywhere theAmerican Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) felt that it was necessary for them to release an official statement which said that they strongly advised parents to avoid purchasing the book since “This information can cause children to be bitten.”

    Given how well accepted the idea is that hugging is not something which dogs like, and that hugging a dog may be associated with increasing the likelihood of a dog bite,  I was surprised that a search of the scientific literature produced very little experimental evidence to support that belief. I did find two articles which showed that getting bitten on the face was much more likely if you were hugging or kissing a dog but the authors of both studies seemed to suggest that it was the proximity of the person’s face next to the dog’s mouth which the most important factor, rather than something like the hug itself. For that reason I decided that perhaps I could collect some data on this issue.

    The signs of stress and anxiety in dogs are well-established, and are easily observable, at least by trained individuals. Obviously at the high-end of stress we have dogs who bare their teeth, however there are more subtle indicators. The most common sign of anxiety is where the dog turns its head away from whatever is bothering or worrying him and this is sometimes accompanied by closing the eyes, at least partially. Alternatively dogs will often show what is commonly called a “half moon eye” or “whale eye” which is where you can see the white portion of the eyes at the corner or the rim. One common visible sign of stress or anxiety is when the dog’s ears are lowered or slicked against the side of the head. Lip licking or licking a person’s face can also be signs of anxiety as can yawning or raising one paw. These signs and other similar ones should be easy to detect in stressed dogs. All that I needed then to conduct the research was a source of photographic material showing people hugging their dogs.

    Fortunately for me the Internet abounds with photographs of people and their pets. If you put the search terms “hug dog” or “love dog” into something like Google Image Search, or Flickr, you will get a virtually infinite scroll of pictures of people and their children hugging their pet dogs. I decided to look at a random sample of 250 such pictures. I used a variety of criteria to try to keep the data as clean and precise as possible. I only used photos where the dog’s face was clearly visible. I also eliminated situations where one might expect the dog’s stress level to rise because of factors other than being hugged (such as when a large dog is being lifted off the ground while being hugged). Each picture received one of three possible scores: (1) it could be judged that the dog was showing one or more signs of stress or anxiety; (2) alternatively it could be judged that the dog appeared to be relaxed and at ease; (3) finally it could be decided that the dog’s response was ambiguous or neutral. Two examples of dogs that were scored as stressed while they were in the process of being hugged are shown below.

    Modified from a Humane Society of Greater Rochester photo, Creative Commons License
    Source: Modified from a Humane Society of Greater Rochester photo, Creative Commons Licensedog
     
    Source: Modified from a Peter Kemmer photo, Creative Commons License

    I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs. In total 81.6% of the photographs that were scored show dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could be rated as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.

    I suppose that one aspect of the data which struck me as interesting comes from the fact that the photographs that I used were obviously posted by individuals who wanted to show how much they cared for, and shared a bond with their pet. This means that the people who were doing the Internet posting probably chose those photos in which they felt that both the person and the dog looked happiest. Nonetheless, around 82% of the photographs show unhappy dogs being hugged by their owners or children. This seems consistent with other research which suggests that people, especially children, seem to have difficulty reading signs of stress and anxiety based upon their dogs facial expressions (click here for more about that). Much more relevant for the current question, is the fact that these data clearly show that while a few dogs may like being hugged, more than four out of five dogs find this human expression of affection to be unpleasant and/or anxiety arousing.

    The clear recommendation to come out of this research is to save your hugs for your two footed family members and lovers. It is clearly better from the dog’s point of view if you express your fondness for your pet with a pat, a kind word, and maybe a treat.

    Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs; The Wisdom of Dogs; Do Dogs Dream? Born to Bark; The Modern Dog; Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History; How Dogs Think; How To Speak Dog; Why We Love the Dogs We Do; What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs; Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies; Sleep Thieves; The Left-hander Syndrome

    Copyright SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd. May not be reprinted or reposted without permission

    Read more »
  • The first Muslims in England

     

    Sixteenth-century Elizabethan England has always had a special place in the nation's understanding of itself. But few realise that it was also the first time that Muslims began openly living, working and practising their faith in England, writes Jerry Brotton.

    From as far away as North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, Muslims from various walks of life found themselves in London in the 16th Century working as diplomats, merchants, translators, musicians, servants and even prostitutes.

    The reason for the Muslim presence in England stemmed from Queen Elizabeth's isolation from Catholic Europe. Her official excommunication by Pope Pius V in 1570 allowed her to act outside the papal edicts forbidding Christian trade with Muslims and create commercial and political alliances with various Islamic states, including the Moroccan Sa'adian dynasty, the Ottoman Empire and the Shi'a Persian Empire.

    She sent her diplomats and merchants into the Muslim world to exploit this theological loophole, and in return Muslims began arriving in London, variously described as "Moors", "Indians", "Negroes" and "Turks".

    Before Elizabeth's reign, England - like the rest of Christendom - understood a garbled version of Islam mainly through the bloody and polarised experiences of the Crusades.

     

    No Christian even knew the words "Islam" or "Muslim", which only entered the English language in the 17th Century. Instead they spoke of "Saracens", a name considered in medieval times to have been taken from one of Abraham's illegitimate offspring who was believed to have founded the original twelve Arab tribes.

    Christians simply could not accept that Islam was a coherent religious belief. Instead they dismissed it as a pagan polytheism or a heretical deformation of Christianity. Much Muslim theology discouraged travel into Christian lands, or the "House of War", which was regarded as a perpetual adversary of the "House of Islam".

    But with Elizabeth's accession this situation began to change. In 1562 Elizabeth's merchants reached the Persian Shah Tahmasp's court where they learned about the theological distinctions between Sunni and Shi'a beliefs, and returned to London to present the queen with a young Muslim Tatar slave girl they named Aura Soltana.

    She became the queen's "dear and well beloved" servant who wore dresses made of Granada silk and introduced Elizabeth to the fashion of wearing Spanish leather shoes.

    Hundreds of others arrived from Islamic lands and although no known memoirs survive, glimpses of their Elizabethan lives can still be gleaned from London's parish registers. In 1586 Francis Drake returned to England from Colombia with a hundred Turks who had been captured by the Spanish in the Mediterranean and press-ganged into slavery in the Americas.

    One of them, known only as Chinano, is the first known Muslim to convert to English Protestantism.

    He was baptised at St Katharine's Church near the Tower of London, where he took the name William Hawkins, and insisted that "if there were not a God in England, there was none nowhere".

    Perhaps he meant it and relished his new Anglican identity, or he knew what to say to his new English masters. Whatever the truth, like many of his fellow Turks he quickly disappeared into London's bustling life, taking with him his true religious beliefs.

    How sincere Chinano's conversion was may never be known, but he was not alone, and others like him were clearly keen to make a living in diverse urban occupations.

    They included weavers, tailors, brewers and metalsmiths. Other registers record Muslim women being baptised like Mary Fillis, a "blackamoor" daughter of a Moroccan basket-maker who after working in London as a seamstress for 13 years and "now taking some hold of faith in Jesus Christ was desirous to become a Christian".

     

    Source:-  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35843991

    Read more »
  • The top ten of the Most Beautiful Mosques

    1.  Al Haram Mosque – Macca, Saudi Arabia

    Beautiful Mosques
    The Qur’an said that this was the first house built for humanity to worship Allah. The most famous monument in the world, Al Haram mosque or “Grand Mosque” is located in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds one of Islam’s holiest places, the Kaaba. The mosque is also known as the greatest Mosque. Current structure covers an area of 400,800 square meters (99.0 acres), including outdoor and indoor praying spaces and can accommodate up to 4 million people during the period of the Hajj, one of the largest annual worship of the Muslim in the world.

    2.  Al-Masjid an-Nabawi – Medina, Saudi Arabia

    Beautiful Mosques
    Al Nabawi Mosque, often called the Prophet’s Mosque, is a mosque built by the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) situated in the city of Medina. It is the second holiest site in Islam (the first being the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca). It was the second mosque built in history and is now one of the largest mosques in the world after the al-Haram mosque in Mecca. One of the most important place of this mosque is Green Dome (the center of the mosque), where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is located. In 1279 AD, a wooden cupola was built over the tomb which was later rebuilt and renovated multiple times in late 15th century and once in 1817. The dome was first painted green in 1837, and later became known as the Green Dome.

    3.  Al Aqsa Mosque – Jerusalem, Palestine

    Most Beautiful Mosques
    Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as Al-Aqsa and Bayt al-Muqaddas, is the third holiest site in Islam and an Islamic shrine located in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the mosque itself is part of Al-Haram ash-Sharif or “Sacred Noble Sanctuary” (together with the Dome of the Rock), a site which is also known as Temple Mount as the holiest site in Judaism, because it is believed to be The Temple of Jerusalem once stood. Muslims believe that the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Night Journey. Islamic tradition states that Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) led prayers toward this mosque until the seventeenth month after the emigration, when Allah ordered him to turn to the Kaaba.

    4.  Hassan II Mosque – Morocco

    Beautiful Mosques
    The Grande Mosquée Hassan II, located in Casablanca, Morocco. It is the largest mosque in the country and the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s tallest at 210 metres (689 ft). It was completed in 1993. The minaret is 60 stories high topped by a laser, the light from which is directed towards Mecca. The mosque stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, the sea bed being visible through the glass floor of the building’s hall. The walls are of hand-crafted marble and the roof is retractable. A maximum of 105,000 worshippers can gather together for prayer: 25,000 inside the mosque hall and another 80,000 on the mosque’s outside grounds.

    5.  Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque – Brunei

    Beautiful Mosques
    Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is a royal Islamic mosque located in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei. The mosque considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific and a major landmark and tourist attraction of Brunei. The building was completed in 1958 and is an example of modern Islamic architecture. The mosque is built in an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer, the “village in the water”. It has marble minarets and golden domes with courtyards and lush gardens full of fountains. The mosque is surrounded by a large number of trees and floral gardens which in Islam symbolizes heaven. The mosque unites Mughal architecture and Italian styles.

    6.  Zahir Mosque – Kedah, Malaysia

    Beautiful Mosques
    The Zahir Mosque is Kedah’s state mosque. It is located in the heart of Alor Star, the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia. It is one of the grandest and oldest mosques in Malaysia. The mosque was built in 1912, funded by Tunku Mahmud, son of the Sultan Tajuddin Mukarram Shah. The architecture from the mosque inspired by AZIZI Mosque in the city of Langkat in north Sumatra, Indonesia. The mosque was founded with five large domes symbolizing the five main principles of Islam. The state’s Quran reading competition is held annually within the premises of the mosque. This mosque has been voted the top 10 most beautiful mosques in the world.

    7.  Faisal Mosque Islamabad – Pakistan

    Beautiful Mosques
    Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the biggest mosque in south east and southern Asia and the fourth largest mosque in the world. It was the largest mosque in the world of 1986-1993 before defeated measure by the completion of the Mosque of Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco and after the expansion of Masjid Al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca and the Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi (Prophet’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Mosque) in Medina, Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.

    8.  Taj ul Mosque – Bhopal, India

    Beautiful Mosques
    Taj-ul-Masajid literally means “The Crown of Mosques” situated in Bhopal, India. The mosque is also used as a Islamic school during the day time. It is one of the largest mosque in asia. The mosque has a pink facade topped by two 18-storey high octagonal minarets with marble domes. The mosque also has three huge bulbous domes, an impressive main hallway with attractive pillars and marble flooring resembling Mughal architecture the likes of Jama Masjid in Delhi and the huge Badshahi Mosque of Lahore. It has a courtyard with a large tank in the centre. It has a double-storeyed gateway with four recessed archways and nine cusped multifold openings in the main prayer hall.

    9.  Badshahi Mosque of Lahore – Pakistan

    Beautiful Mosques
    The Badshahi Mosque or the ‘Royal Mosque’ in Lahore, commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world. Epitomising the beauty, passion and grandeur of the Mughal era, it is Lahore’s most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction. Capable of accommodating 55,000 worshippers in its main prayer hall and a further 95,000 in its courtyard and porticoes, it remained the largest mosque in the world from 1673 to 1986 (a period of 313 years).

    10.  Sultan Mosque, Singapore

    Beautiful Mosques
    Sultan Mosque, located at Muscat Street and North Bridge Road in Kampong Glam Rochor District in Singapore is still considered one of the most important mosque in Singapore. Sultan mosque has stayed essentially unchanged since it was built, only with improvements made to the main hall in 1960 and annex added in 1993. It set as a national monument on March 14th 1975.

     

    SOURCE---www.wonderslist.com

    Read more »
  • World’s Largest Women’s University Opens in Saudi Arabia

    Covering an area of over 8 million square meters, built for a capacity of 50,000 students, 15 colleges, a 700 bed university hospital. All built in just 2 and half years; for women. More precisely, for the women of a Muslim country.

     

    Unfortunately, the opening of Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman women's university7 earlier this month in Riyadh, largest of it's kind in the world, did not make international headlines. Looking at the attention received by other issues surrounding women, such as the driving ban, I felt that the building of this university  refuted any claims that the some laws are imposed to mistreat women or lower their status in society.  Personally, driving is a barely a concern when the women of a country are deemed deserving of such a great institution.

    If the establishment of this university is of no or little concern to the same media sources whose pens hastily move at any chance to discuss the 'oppressed' lives of the women of this country and neighboring Muslim countries, then I can only be led to question their motives. Why is it that topics of veils and male guardians turn their heads, as they feel a need to 'free' Muslim women, yet an educational institute dedicated to the same women does not seem as important?

     

    The opening of this university, should be applauded not only by Muslims, but by anyone who is truly concerned about giving Muslim women their rights. It is true that many women around the world have received the right to education, but this university goes beyond that, as it provides women the right to study in the field of their choice in an environment free of the pressures, temptations and challenges presented in a co-ed environment.

    Princess Noura university is a leading example to Muslim countries, if they truly seek to educate their women, whilst protecting and honoring them. As a Muslim woman, I am proud that the initiative to build the world's largest women's university was undertaken by a Muslim country. More so, a country that witnessed the revelation of a Religion that has always held the status of women in high esteem.

    http://muslimmatters.org/…/worlds-largest-womens-universit…/

    Read more »
  • Iran billionaire sentenced to death for corruption after sanctions-busting for previous regime

    Iran billionaire sentenced to death for corruption after sanctions-busting for previous regime

    Babak Zanjani was accused of pocketing billions of dollars of oil revenues during Mahmoud

    Ahmadinejad's presidency 

    By 

    One of Iran's richest men has been sentenced to death for corruption after being accused of making billions by sanctions-busting for a previous regime.

    Babak Zanjani, who once claimed to possess a personal fortune of £9.5 billion, was arrested in Tehran in December 2013 - four months after his ally, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left office as president.

    Zanjani, 44, has now been convicted of "fraud" and "economic crimes" and sentenced to be hanged, said a spokesman for the judiciary. The businessman has also been ordered to repay "one fourth of the money that was laundered".

    Zanjani was first arrested one day after Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, promised to target "privileged figures" who had "taken advantage of economic sanctions". His downfall is another sign that Mr Rouhani is trying to dismantle Mr Ahmadinejad's legacy and purge associates of the former president.

    Zanjani was almost unknown until December 2012 when his name appeared on a European Union sanctions list. He was accused of being a "key facilitator for Iranian oil deals and transferring oil-related money"

     

     

    Zanjani was then owner and chief executive of Sorinet Group, a Dubai-based conglomerate. The EU said that "some of its companies are used by Zanjani to channel oil-related payments".

    During this period, Iran was subjected to an EU oil embargo and crippling financial sanctions. The countries which still bought oil from Iran often had no legal way of paying for shipments.

    Western governments believed that Zanjani was arranging to sell Iranian oil and then channelling the payments back to Tehran via the web of companies in Sorinet Group, in breach of financial sanctions.

    This would not have been an offence in Iran, but the authorities suspected that Zanjani was making handsome profits by keeping a large slice of the money. When he stood trial last year, he was accused of retaining $2.7 billion (£1.7 billion) of revenues that should have been paid to the oil ministry.

    For as long as Mr Ahmadinejad was in office, Zanjani appeared to be safe and the government unwilling to probe his affairs. Once the presidency transferred to Mr Rouhani, however, the situation changed.

    Zanjani has always protested his innocence, portraying himself as nothing more than a successful businessman. During a rare BBC interview in 2013, Zanjani said that he was "proud of working as a businessman for the Islamic Republic of Iran", adding: "I don't do anything political, I just do business."

    In January, Iran was relieved of the toughest international sanctions, including the EU oil embargo, after the country scaled back its nuclear programme in accordance with last year's agreement.

    Mr Rouhani and his ministers have spoken publicly about the corruption that flourished during the era when Mr Ahmadinejad was in office - and sanctions were at their tightest.

    Last October, Bijan Zanganeh, the new Iranian oil minister, delivered a blistering public attack on middlemen in oil deals. In a speech that coincided with Zanjani's trial, the minister said: "We despise the corrupt parasites that want to suck the nation's blood even in this situation."

    Mr Zanganeh added: "I recommend to foreign companies to stay away from these corrupt individuals. They will tell you that until you give us our commission you can't get your work done. Don't believe them."

    source;- http://www.telegraph.co.uk

    Read more »
  • Saudi family bids farewell to housemaid with gold, roses

    RIYADH — A Saudi family has organized a farewell party for their Ethiopian housemaid who worked with them for four years and had to go back home finally for personal reasons.

    The family, according to Al-Riyadh newspaper on Wednesday, described their housemaid as a role model of loyalty and dedication.

    The family members agreed to organize the farewell party in the presence of a number of their relatives and friends who all appreciated her good manners and fine treatment of everyone.

    Um Mufleh Al-Balawi, the housewife, said addressing the housemaid: “You have served our family with sincerity and dedication. We wished so much that you could spend many more years with us.”

    The housewife said her maid’s personal circumstances back home obliged her to leave though they did not have enough of her.

    “You have left behind a good impression about expatriate housemaids who are keen to make a honorable living in the Kingdom,” she said.

    Al-Balawi said during the farewell party, her maid was showered with gifts, including gold, money and roses. “This was in appreciation of what she has done for us,” she said.

    SOURCE: http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/saudi-family-bids-farewell-to-housemaid-with-gold-roses/

    Read more »
  • Mandla Mandela's conversion to Islam sparks South Africa 'disquiet

     

    Traditional leaders in South Africa have expressed "disquiet" over chief Mandla Mandela's conversion to Islam.

    The Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa) told the BBC that being Muslim could affect his ability to uphold Xhosa traditions.

    Mandla Mandela, who converted to Islam late last year, got married in a Cape Town mosque last week.

    He inherited his position as chief of Mvezo in the AbaThembu clan from his grandfather, Nelson Mandela.

    He is believed to have converted in order to marry Rabia Clarke, a Muslim.

    This is the fourth marriage of Mr Mandela, 42.

    Africa Live: BBC news updates

    Contralesa's spokesperson Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane said Mr Mandela's new religious affiliation could present a conflict for his subjects.

    "There is nothing wrong with a traditional leader following any faith he chooses but we are concerned about whether he will be able to continue performing his responsibilities as a chief," he said.

    Traditional chiefs sometimes lead thanksgiving rituals for ancestors, which would include presenting slaughtered animals to them in prayer.

    Such practices are not considered to be in line with the beliefs of many Muslims.

    Analysis: Pumza Fihlani, BBC News, Johannesburg

    Chief Mandla Mandela may find himself at a crossroads - forced to choose between his new bride and his loyal subjects.

    Nelson Mandela's heir, who prides himself on being a man of tradition, may face some tough questions over his decision to convert to Islam.

    The conversion has implications for him not because of the religion itself but because it creates uncertainty about the chief's loyalties.

    And it seems the secrecy has caused concerns within the AbaThembu Royal family, who now question the chief's commitment to upholding time-honoured traditions.

    In rural South Africa, away from many of the trappings of modern life, traditional leaders play a key role in their communities.

    This could be in the form of ceremonies or day to day decisions on how to resolve conflicts. While this is the chief's fourth marriage, it is the first to pit him against tradition - the very core of who he is.

    Mr Nonkonyane says Mr Mandela has already gone against traditional by assuming his wife's culture.

    "According to African tradition, it is the woman that must become part of the family she is marrying into. When she accepted Mandla's proposal, the expectation was for her to adopt the ways of his people," he said.

    He married Ms Clarke in a ceremony that was not attended by members of the royal family, leading to reports they were not happy with the union.

    Mandla Mandela's wives:

    • Married Tando Mabunu-Mandela in 2004. They are reportedly still entangled in a bitter divorce
    • Wed Anais Grimaud, from Reunion, in a traditional ceremony in 2010. Marriage annulled after reports that she had an affair with his younger brother
    • Married Mbali Makhathini in 2014. Marriage annulled by court after first wife opened charges of bigamy
    • Wed Rabia Clarke in a Cape Town mosque in 2016 after converting to Islam

    Source: South Africa's Times newspaper

     

     


     

    But Mr Mandela seems content with his decision.

     

    "Although Rabia and I were raised in different cultural and religious traditions, our coming together reflects what we have in common: We are South Africans," he is quoted as saying at the ceremony.

     

    Mr Mandela is also an MP with the governing African National Congress.

     

    Read more »
  • What is Islam

    (A) RELIGION OF UNITY

    (1) Unity of God
    Islam teaches the purest form of Monotheism and regards polytheism as the deadliest sin. A Muslim addresses GOD by His Personal Name: ALLAH --- the word "god" and its equivalents in other languages being unstable in the matter of connotation. Allah, according to Islam, is the One God, who is Indivisible in Person and Who has no partner: wife, son or daughter. He is the Matchless and "naught is as His likeness". "He begetteth not, nor was He begotten". He is the First, the Last, the Eternal, the Infinite, the Almighty, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent. He is the Creator, the Nourisher, the Cherisher of all things. He is the All-just, the Avenger of the wrongs done to the weak and the oppressed, the Compassionate, the Merciful and Loving, the Guide, the Friend, the Magnificent, the Glorious, the Beautiful and the True. In short, He is the Possessor of all Excellence.

    Speaking of the conception of God in Islam, Gibbon, the famous western historian, says: "The Creed of Hazrat Muhammad is free from the suspicion of Ambiguity and the Qur’an is a glorious testimony to the unity of God. The Prophet of Mecca rejected the worship of idols and men, of stars and planets, on the rational principle that whatever is corruptible must decay and perish, that whatever is born must die, that whatever rises must set. In the Author of the universe his rational enthusiasm confessed and adored an infinite and Eternal Being, without form or place, without issue or similitude, present to our secret thoughts, existing by the necessity of His own nature, and deriving from Himself all moral and intellectual perfections. These sublime truths …are defined with metaphysical precision by the interpreters of the Qur’an. A philosophic theist might subscribe to the popular creed of the Muhammadans."

    (2) Unity of the Universe
    From the Unity of the Creator, according to Islam, proceeds the Unity of the Universe, i.e., Unity of Creation and Unity of Purpose. In other words, the Cosmos is a Moral Order.

    (3) Unity of Mankind
    Islam regards the whole of mankind as an "organic unity" --- a single family, and emphatically says that the distinctions on the mundane plane, the distinctions, namely, of race, colour, language or territory, cannot form the ground for claims of superiority of one group over the other. The only distinction that has "value" is that which arises at the moral and spiritual planes – namely, the distinction of "taqwa", or, "piety and righteousness".Prof. H.A.R. Gibb, the famous English critic of Islam says, "…..Islam…..possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and co-operation. No other society has such a record of success in uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity and of endeavour so many and so various races of mankind… If ever the opposition of the great societies of East is to be replaced by co-operation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition." (Whither Islam? p.379).

    (4) Unity of Religion
    According to Islam, the human intellect, though a great and powerful asset, has its natural limits, and, therefore, neither the normative nor the empirical sciences are capable of leading humanity to a sure knowledge of ultimate truths and the code of life based upon them. The only source of sure knowledge open to humanity is, consequently, Divine Guidance, and that course has been actually open ever since the beginnings of human life on earth. Allah raised His "Prophets" and "Messengers" and revealed His Guidance to them for transmission to humanity. Coming from the same Source, all revealed religions have, therefore, been one, i.e., ISLAM.

    Allah's Prophets and Messengers continued to come to every country and community to work in their respective limited fields. Time after time, the revealed Guidance was either lost or corrupted through human interpolation, and new Prophets with fresh Dispensations were sent, and humanity continued to advance from infancy to maturity. At last, when the stage of maturity was reached – when humanity was practically to become one family --- instead of sectional Guidance, a perfect, final and abiding Revelation, addressed to entire mankind and for all time, was granted in the seventh century of the Christian era. That Revelation, which recapitulates all former Revelations and thus sets a seal on the Unity of Religion, is ISLAM; the Scripture which enshrines it is the HOLY QUR’AN; and the Prophet who brought it is the Leader of Humanity, Hazrat Muhammad (Allah bless him!).Thus all the Prophets of God, from Adam down to Hazrat Noah, Hazrat Abraham, Hazrat Moses and Hazrat Jesus (peace be upon them all), are the Prophets of a Muslim the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him!) being the Last and Final one, and all the Divine Scriptures are the Scriptures of a Muslim, though he follows only the Holy Qur’an because it alone exists in its original purity and it alone contains the religion of Islam which has been followed by all rightly-guided people since the day the first human being came into existence.

    (5) Unity of Sexes
    Differentiation of functions have misled certain cultures of the world to regard woman as a being who belongs, so to say, to a different and inferior species: and to meet out to her inhuman treatment accordingly. Islam emphatically repudiates that notion and teaches that both man and woman have sprung from the same essence and the same source and consequently possess the same human status. Their functions and interests, instead of being antagonistic, are meant to be mplementary. The natural relation between the sexes, in all its aspects, is therefore, that of love and harmony, without which no true human progress can be possible.

    (6) Unity of Classes
    Islam aims at the creation of a classless society by eliminating all possible social conflicts (through revolving the different interests).
    In the sphere of economics, Islam lays down the principle that wealth should not be allowed to circulate among the wealthy only, and envisages, through its laws and institutions, a "Cooperative Common-wealth of Talents".

    In the political sphere, Islam stands for the "Cooperative Commonwealth of the Pursuers of Righteousness".
    Taken as a whole, the Islamic state is a "welfare state" where sovereignty belongs to Allah alone and no human being has a right to govern other human beings except in the name of Allah and according to His Will, and where nobody, not even the Head of the State, is above the law. Absolute Justice is the watchword and the Establishment of Righteousness is the goal.

    The merits of Islam’s social ethics have elicited praise even from the otherwise hostile critics. For instance:H.G. Wells says: "Islam created a society more free from widespread cruelty and social oppression than any society that had ever been in the world before" (Outline of History, p.325).

    H.A.R. Gibb says: "Within the Western world Islam still maintains the balance between exaggerated opposities. Opposed equally to the anarchy of European nationalism and the regimentation of Russian communism, it has not yet succumbed to that obsession with the economic side of life which is characteristic of present-day Russia alike." (Whither Islam? p.378).

    Prof. Louis Massignon says: "Islam has the merit of standing for a very equalitarian conception… It occupies an intermediate position between the doctrines of bourgeois capitalism and Bolshevist communism." (Whither Islam? p.378).

    (7) Unity of Human Activity
    Islam conceives of the human personality as a "unity" and consequently regards the distinction of "secular" and "religious" as unscientific, irrational and absurd. The life of a Muslim, both in its individual and social manifestation, is a life lived for God and God alone.

    "Islam," says Dudley Wright, scholar of Comparative Religion, "is no mere creed; it is a life to be lived. In the Qur’an may be found directions for what are sometimes termed the minor details of daily life, but which are not minor when it is considered that life has to be lived for God. The Muslim lives for God alone. The aim of the Muslim is to become God-bound, and to endeavour to advance the knowledge of God in all his undertakings. From the cradle to the grave the true Muslim lives for God and God alone."

    (B)RELIGION OF "SUBMISSION TO THE DIVINE WILL"
    The word "Islam" means "submission" and, as a religious term, it connotes "submission to the Divine Will and Commands". As such, ISLAM is co-extensive with NATURE. For, everything in Nature submits to the Divine Will without demur. The only exception is man. He has to choose "Islam" through his free will and thus to attain his destiny by falling in line with the rest of God’s Creation.

    Goethe, the renowned poet-philosopher of Germany, says:"Naerrisch, dass jeder in seinem Falle Seine besomdere Meinung priest! Whenn Islam Gott ergeben heisst, Im Islam leben und sterben wir alle" viz:"It is lack of understanding that everyone praises own special opinion;(for) Islam means submission to God and in Islam we all live and die."

    (C) RELIGION OF NATURE
    The above statement brings out, and the Holy Qur’an emphasises in clear terms, that to be a Muslim is to live and grow in accordance with true human nature and in harmony with the Nature around. Islam, thus, means conformity to the Natural Law.

    (D) RELIGION OF DISCIPLINE
    The concepts of Submission to the Divine Will and Conformity to the Natural Law, when actively realized in human life, give rise to the healthiest form of ISCIPLINE and Islam is the religion of Discipline par excellence.

    In his famous book; First and Last Things, H.G. Wells says:
    "The aggression, discipline and submission of Muhammadanism makes, I think,… fine and honourable religion for men. Its spirit, if not its formulae is abundantly present in our modern world... I have no doubt that in devotion to a virile… Deity and to the service of His Empire of stern Law and Order, efficiently upheld, men have found and will find salvation."The German Orientalist Friedrich Delitzsch admits that the Muslim shows "owing to his religious surrender to the Will of God an exemplary patience under misfortune and he bears up under disastrous accidents with an admirable strength of mind." (Die Welt des Islam, p.28).

    (E)RELIGION OF TRUTH
    The concept of "Truth" forms the keynote of Islamic ideology and pervades the entire universal order presented by Islam. Not only is "truthfulness" a fundamental value in the elaborate Islamic Moral Code – a value which forms the foundation-stone of Muslim character, but God Himself has been mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as "The Truth", or "the True", the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (God bless him!) as the "Bearer of Truth", the Qur’an itself as "the Truth", and the abode of the righteous after death as the "Seat of Truth".

    (F) RELIGION OF TEMPERANCE
    Islam is the religion of Purity and Temperance par excellence. It stresses purity not only of the mind and the heart, which certain other religions also stress, but also of the body, its fundamental principle being the harmonious development of human personality. Consequently; it strictly prohibits the use of all drinks and foods which might be unhealthy and injurious to the body, or the mind or both. Thus its prohibitive injunctions cover not only all the intoxicants, e.g., wine, opium, etc., but also those foods which are harmful to healthy human growth. Ultimately, Islamic Temperance covers all evil thoughts, feelings and deeds.

    (G)RELIGION OF BEAUTY
    Unlike certain religions, Islam is not the religion of contempt for the world, of the negation of any fundamental value. It is positively and definitely a religion of fulfilment – fulfilment of all the faculties and positive capabilities with which God has endowed man. Aesthetic culture, therefore, forms part of Islamic life – of course, governed and controlled by Islam’s moral and spiritual principles. In Islam the concept of "Beauty" permeates the entire human activity – nay, the whole cosmic order, "Allah," says the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (peace be with him!), "is Beautiful and loves what is beautiful." Beauty in thought, words and deed, and beauty in all creative activity is the Islamic ideal.Islam permits the creation of Art, within the limitations of its spiritual and moral framework. But its motto is not "Art for the sake of Art" but "Art for the sake of Life", whereby alone a true blending of spiritual, moral and physical beauty – the rational and harmonious goal of human life – is achievable.

    (H) RELIGION OF REASON
    Islam regards Reason as man’s distinctive privilege and God’s noble gift, and the Holy Qur’an has repeatedly exhorted mankind to employ Reason in the matters of social and natural phenomena and in understanding its Message and practicing its Guidance, thus giving to "personal judgment," its due place in the life of a Muslim."Intellectual Culture" in general, forms one of the noblest pursuits of human life in Islam and the acquisition and cultivation of knowledge has been made obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman.

    (I) RELIGION OF THE NEGATION OF SUPERSTITION
    Islam is a positively rational religion and stands opposed to the mystery cults and religions of mysterious dogmas whose acceptance is generally claimed on the basis of blind faith.

    Speaking of the negation of superstition and the affirmation of Reason in Islam, Godfrey Higgins says: "No relic, no image, no picture, no mother of God disgrace his (Hazrat Muhammad’s) religion. No such doctrines as the efficacy of faith without works, or that of a death-bed repentance, plenary indulgences, absolution or auricular confession, operate first to corrupt, then to deliver up his followers into the power of a priesthood, which would of course be always more corrupt and more degraded than themselves. No indeed! The adoration of one God, without mother, or mystery, or pretended miracle, and the acknowledgement that he, a man, was sent to preach the duty of offering adoration to the Creator alone, constituted the simple doctrinal part of the religion of the Unitarian of Arabia." (Apology for Hazrat Muhammad).

    Read more »
RSS