Archive for March, 2013

Mike Ghouse: A Muslim Pluralist Celebrates Easter

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

At the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

A Muslim Pluralist Celebrates Easter

Posted: 03/29/2013 10:40 am

Huffington Post

Mike Ghouse

The first response from a few Muslims would be “no, no and no!” Muslims cannot celebrate resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not die, he and his message lives on!

They would argue: To be a Muslim, one has to believe in Christ, the one who brings life to the dead, the one who has the healing powers, and one who is likened to the Morning star that brings the good news. He will come back as the Messiah to close the chapter of human suffering and bring salvation to mankind by reconnecting them with God.

However, the insecure Christians and Muslims make a villain out of Jesus, “Yeah, he will come as Muhammad and slaughter every one and convert them to Islam.” On the other hand Muslims believe, “Yeah, he will come back and establish peace (Islam) on earth by forbidding evil and enjoining the good.” Shamefully those few on both sides are projecting Jesus in a political context.

Read more via Mike Ghouse: A Muslim Pluralist Celebrates Easter.


The Cost of the Syrian Uprising: Shaykh Al-Bouti

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
Shaykh al-Bouti

Shaykh al-Bouti (ra)

The Cost of the Syrian Uprising: Shaykh Al-Bouti

22nd March, 2013

By H.A. Hellyer

Thursday evening in Damascus saw a suicide bombing take place in Masjid al-Iman – one of the more famous mosques in Syria’s capital city. At least 42 people were killed; among them was a famous Sunni religious scholar (‘alim), 84-year old Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Bouti. Of Kurdish origin, he was a renowned scholar worldwide, with students from across the Muslim world, including within Muslim Western communities.

Read more of this article via The Cost of the Syrian Uprising: Shaykh Al-Bouti.

From Imam Salim: From my perspective this is a very well written article and well balanced in dealing with the confusing political events in Syria today. But one thing I would like to say is that whoever was the murderer who did this, the real reason he was killed is that Shaykh al-Bouti (may Allah (swt) raise him to a high station) possessed knowledge. Ignorance is an important tool of warfare no matter what side you are on. All groups in this conflict be they rebels, government, extremists, salafists, whomever – the one thing they are most afraid of is the people gaining true knowledge of Islam. Shaykh al-Bouti (ra) had that knowledge and was willing to give it to people. He was a true teacher. A thoughtful man of knowledge who imparted it to others and was truly loved for that. It is that which the killers wanted to kill. This way they can easily spread their false Islam, no matter from which side it might come. So whoever did this benefited not only themselves but all the “sides” except the one side which matters the most. The common man and woman who are caught in the middle of the conflict and who are suffering most from it. They had the most to loose by al-Bouti’s ( may God be pleased with him) murder. May Allah (swt) protect them and deliver them from this struggle safely, and soon, Ameen

Inna allahi wa inna allahi rajayun!


The Spirit Of China’s Sufi Shrines : The Picture Show : NPR

Friday, March 8th, 2013

One of the Uighur Sufi Shrines depicted in the story.

The Spirit Of China’s Sufi Shrines

by Claire O’Neill

March 08, 201312:20 PM

In 2002, photographer Lisa Ross found herself far away from home — in the remote Taklamakan Desert of western China, in what is known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

“I was looking for something,” she says, but “I didn’t know what I was looking for.”

Markers for saints in the desert are maintained by shaykhs, who dig out the sands that would otherwise cover them over time. The number of flags on a marker correlates to a saint’s power at performing miracles.

She had been visiting a friend in Beijing but ventured out to the desert on her own. That’s where she first encountered mazars: handmade holy sites in Sufi Islam, built to commemorate saints who are buried there.

Several trips to China and about a decade later, Ross now has a book out — as well as a show at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City: Living Shrines of Uyghur China.

The Uighurs (also spelled Uyghurs) are Muslims who live in this remote part of China. And these sites are tributes to saints, who in their lifetime were deemed to have healing power that they carried to the grave.

The shrines are located sporadically throughout the sprawling region and are often unmarked. Some of them, Ross says, are easily 500 years old. The sites serve as destinations for pilgrims — who leave offerings in exchange for healing.

But in Ross’s quiet, lonely photos, the pilgrims are obviously missing.

“Intimacy was very important to me,” she says. “I couldn’t really make intimate photographs of people I didn’t know. I wanted to photograph the landscape as if I were making a portrait.”

The shrines aren’t always easy to find — especially for an outsider. It’s not like there’s a handy map to the region. The closest thing Ross found was a 2001 hagiography (or a biography of saints) written in the Uighur language by local scholar Rahila Dawut.

With that as a basic guide, Ross traversed the desert by rickety bus, donkey and foot — accompanied first by historian Alexandre Papas, and later by Dawut and her students.

They managed to find dozens of shrines — but another thing Ross excludes from her photos is the specific location: “As much as it would be awesome for as many people to see these things in person, it would also endanger their existence.”

This part of the world is modernizing, and that could jeopardize some of these places and the traditions. But Ross has captured something that will endure: The spirit of a place.

via The Spirit Of China’s Sufi Shrines : The Picture Show : NPR.