Archive for September, 2010

Leaders of Sidney, tiny upstate town, demand Muslims dig up bodies at cemetery on land they own

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
The leaders of a tiny upstate town some 180 miles from Ground Zero are demanding that a Muslim group dig up and remove two bodies they buried on their land.
Read more from the Daily News article.

Scales of Justice

This really got my goat, astaghfir’allah! Such an obvious case of ignorance and bigotry as I just find it has to be commented on. A few years ago I was asked to look into providing a cemetery at the intentional spiritual community where I live, also in upstate New York. At the time I contacted the New York State Division of Cemeteries and was informed that the state does not regulate religious cemeteries. As long as there is no zoning restrictions then there should be no problem. I contacted the town and at the time cemeteries were an allowed use in residential zoning. (Now I think they have redone the zoning and a special use permit is needed.) I also contacted my county’s health department and an official there told me there is no special restrictions as to location of a cemetery but that there were certain requirements about the way the grave should be prepared. However those were waived if there was a religious reason.

When I saw the headline of this article I was quite surprised. Any town “leader” who makes such a statement or demand without knowing the law is already proving him or herself to be a liability. With all due respect if I were in that position I would make sure that at least I was informed about the pertinent laws and then try to be conscious of my motives before making such a declaration.

As you read the article you will find that the group did follow all the necessary regulations of the town, filed all the proper papers and in every case were approved for the burials and for the placement of the cemetery. If there were any problems with this, the town would have objected then, when the applications were made.

I think it is clear that this is a case of religious bigotry. The timing of the demand being one of the incriminating factors and the singling out of this group is another. I am quite sure that the town leaders did not go around to any other religious organizations such as local churches or synagogues or camps and retreat centers and ask them to remove bodies from church side graveyards, which could also be said to exist on “private property”. Fear is a strong motivator and when combined with ignorance and hate it becomes dangerous.

I will keep following this story, I hope that the sufi group refuses and stands up for their rights. I think the town leaders owe the Naqshibandi group an apology. I also think that all the religious leaders in the town and county should write to the Town of Sydney leaders and demand an apology. If you want to write to the town of Sydney leaders here is their address:

Town of Sydney
Sydney Town Hall
Civic Center, 21 Liberty Street
Sydney, NY 13838

Supervisor – Bob McCarthy
Town Clerk – Lisa French
Town Council – Eric Wilson, C. Peter Cordes, John Schaeffer, Paul Hamilton, Sr.
Code Enforcement Officer – Dale R. Downin

Dr. Susan Corso: ‘Untold: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad’: Demystifying Islam’s First Women

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Dr. Susan Corso: ‘Untold: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad’: Demystifying Islam’s First Women.

Susan Corso says in her review:

“Tamam Kahn, a Sufi, has written a remarkable book. Just as Anita Diamant gave us the Jewish matriarchs in “The Red Tent,” and just as Marion Zimmer Bradley gave us the perspective of the women of the Arthurian legends in “The Mists of Avalon,” Tamam Kahn teases out, uncovers and re-imagines the women who surrounded Muhammad.”

This book was also reviewed here on this blog a few weeks ago. And although slightly different in approach, I am glad that the book is getting the notice that it deserves. Tamam Kahn did a wonderful job in her research and in her ability to connect with these people from so long ago and bring them to life again in this century. The book is available on for those of you who wish to purchase it.


Blessings on Yom Kippur

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Blessings on Yom Kippur

Wishing all blessings on this most holy day of atonement. The ten days of awe in the Jewish tradition are a parallel with the first ten days of Muharram in Islam which also culminate on the tenth day, Ashura. Fasting on both Yom Kippur and Ashura is recommended. I celebrate the commonalities of our two great faiths! Shalom, Salaam.


Book Review – The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson « Darvish

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Book Review – The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson « Darvish.

This link takes you to a great review of this book. Highly recommended.


Dreams in Islam – #1 – Seeking Protection from Bad Dreams

Sunday, September 12th, 2010
bismillahir rahmanir raheem

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Abu Qatada reported Allah’s Messenger (saw) as saying: A good vision is from Allah and a bad dream (hulm) is from the satan; so if one of you sees anything in a dream which he dislikes, one should spit on one’s left side three times and seek refuge with Allah from its evil and then it will never harm him. Abu Salama said: I used to see dreams weighing more heavily upon me than a mountain; but since I heard this hadith I do not let it burden me.  (Sahih Muslim – 5616)

This hadith (also reported in Sahih Bukhari) and many others like it with minor variations in both isnad and matn, illustrates that dreams and the interpretation of their content was important to the prophet Muhammad (saw) and the group of righteous companions, may Allah (swt) be pleased with them. Indeed, in other hadith that we will explore there are accounts of interpretations and traditions that were followed in making those interpretations. The science of Islamic dream interpretation dates back to those times and borrows from traditions that pre-date Islam. There are also examples of dream interpretation in the Qur’an (notably the story of Yusuf) and other passages which support the desirability and permissibility of interpretation by qualified individuals.

In this case we see that seeking protection from the bad dreams influenced upon us by Shaytan is allowed and encouraged. The influence of bad dreams in our life is one that, as Abu Salama reports, burdens us as if the weight of a mountain is upon us. Probably all of us can relate to this, after having awakened from a nightmarish vision. It is true that its impact on us seems very real.

At these times we remember that there is only one true refuge for us. That refuge is in Allah (swt). So with a clear conscience and with faith we can turn to Him and ask for that protection. Rasul Allah (saw) goes so far as to tell us in this hadith that doing so, in the manner prescribed, will prevent any harm from coming from the dream. A revelation that eases Abu Salama’s mind and should relieve ours as well when faced with the bad dream.

The hadith tells us that when we awake from such a dream in fear of what we have seen we should spit three times on our left side (if you are married make sure your spouse is out of the way when you do this), and seek refuge in Allah (swt) from its evil. The words to repeat to ask for this protection are:

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم

a’udhu billahi min ashaytanir rajim (I seek protection in Allah from Shaytan, the rejected)

And Allah (swt) knows best.