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Reflections on the Life of Omar ibn Said – Dr Hadia Mubarak

Dr Hadia Mubrak shares her reflections and thoughts on the life and legacy of Omar ibn Said.

 

In our public discourse, the term “Muslim” tends to be synonymous with words like “foreigner,” “immigrant” and “refugee.” Yet the historical reality of Muslims in America depicts a completely different portrait. The first Muslims to come to America were Africans, chained, forced into bondage and stripped of their heritage, religions, and families.
The history of Muslims in America begins with people like Omar ibn Said, a Muslim scholar who was brought to Charleston, SC in 1807 and was later imprisoned in Fayetteville, NC for running away from his slave master. A few months ago, the Library of Congress made virtually accessible his autobiography, the only one of its kind, to the world, noted in the PBS video below.As a Muslim American, I feel personally indebted to the legacy of Omar ibn Said. I cannot fathom what it must have been like for this 37-year-old Gambian scholar of Islam to arrive to a new land, forced to contend with a new culture, religion and language and be stripped of one’s freedom and identity. The autobiography of Ibn Said speaks to his faith, wisdom and perseverance.
His decision to write his autobiography in Arabic – the only extant autobiography in Arabic by an African slave – is not incidental. By writing his autobiography in Arabic, a language that neither the slave masters nor the dominant society could understand, Omar ibn Said was asserting an autonomy of identity. He, and not his slave masters, would have the final word on his own narrative. Further, Ibn Said’s reference to the 67th chapter of the Quran, the Chapter of Dominion (Surat al-Mulk), in his autobiography is revealing. It reflects the faith of a man who internalized the ultimate reality of God’s dominion over all things; it reflects the knowledge of man who recognized that the only Master in this world is the Creator of the heavens and earth and everything in between.
It is worth considering how Omar ibn Said’s mastery of the Quran paved his way to living the rest of his life honorably, removed from a life of arduous labor under ruthless conditions, to which most slaves were subject. By writing passages of the Quran in Arabic on the walls of his Fayetteville prison cell, Ibn Said was recognized by those in power to be an educated man. As a result, Ibn Said was not subject to the laws applied to runaway slaves. Saved from punishment, he was instead transferred to the home of General James Owen, the brother of North Carolina’s governor, and treated very well, according to Ibn Said himself. It was not Omar’s decision to run away from slavery nor to seek shelter in a church that turned his fate around. Rather, it was his decision to write passages of the Quran on his prison cell walls that turned his fate around, attracting the attention of state authorities.
As the Library of Congress makes virtually accessible Ibn Said’s autobiography to the world, I cannot help but wonder whether he had ever considered the possibility that millions of people would one day read his biography. As an educated, literate and well-read scholar, his decision to select high quality paper for his manuscript indicates that he was writing for posterity. Could he have imagined, however, that millions, maybe billions, would read his words nearly 200 years later? We can never really know.
The public release of his autobiography reflects the redemptive nature of history, a history in which the marginalized, the oppressed and the voiceless are given the final word. As a Muslim, I interpret this as God’s acceptance of Ibn Said in His divine favor, and God knows best.
The stories of Muslim African slaves like Ibn Said’s offer just a glimpse into a part of American history that we’ve neglected to tell. And by the way, Ibn Said’s story represents not African American history nor Muslim American history, but American history. The personal accounts of enslaved Muslims like Ibn Said, who felt compelled to publicly convert to Christianity – the official religion of their slave masters – shifts the overall story we have told ourselves about religious freedom in U.S. history. Without question, America offered refuge from religious persecution for scores of immigrants who came to U.S. shores of their own volition. Yet this was not the case for over 300,000 enslaved African men and women. The personal accounts of folks like Omar ibn Said should occupy the center, not the margins, of American history.

Dr. Hadia Mubarak is an assistant professor of religious studies at Guilford College. Previously, Mubarak taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Davidson College. Mubarak completed her Ph.D. in Islamic studies from Georgetown University, where she specialized in modern and classical Qurʾanic exegesis, Islamic feminism, and gender reform in the modern Muslim world.


Rare Autobiography by Omar Ibn Said, An Enslaved West African Scholar

The Library of Congress has recently discovered a rare manuscript, an autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, a slave hailing from West Africa.

The autobiography is 15 pages long, and is written in Arabic. He describes his life in West Africa, in a place called Futa Toro, between modern-day Senegal and the Gambia.

Omar Ibn Said was a wealthy man, and a practising Muslim, praying five times a day, fasting in Ramadan, and giving zakat. He documented the names of his teachers, saying that he had sought knowledge for 25 years.

In 1807, he was captured and brought by ship to South Carolina, where he was badly beaten and abused by the man who had bought him. He ran away, and was jailed. Eventually, he ended up in North Carolina,  in the house of someone called General John Owen, whose brother was the governor of the state.

Omar Ibn Said owned a copy of the Qur’an and the Bible. Although he was baptised to fulfil the social norms around him, he filled his autobiography with verses from the Qur’an and mentions of Allah. In his Bible, he wrote phrases such as, “All good is from Allah,” indicating that he had never really left Islam, despite what he had to do to conform. He died in 1864, only one year before slavery was abolished.

You can view the digital copy of his autobiography here. You can read the original article here.


Living the Ihya in South Africa – Shaykh Seraj Hendricks Full Interview

Are We Beyond Slavery? Not even close.

Debt: How It Destroys Lives, How You Can Fight It

RizqwiseThe good folks at Rizqwise have a very worthy multi-part series on debt that you should really listen to.
If you haven’t got the time, this concluding episode is not to be missed. Rizqwise speak to Rehan Huda, a prominent investment banker and leading authority in Islamic Finance, about some of the key lessons we can learn from the long history of debt.
Don’t forget to subscribe to their email newsletter to stay up to date.

Debt: The Full Rizqwise Series

  • How Debt Destroys Lives, Communities, and Civilizations
    Duration: 53:11
  • How to Stay Out of Debt (For Good)
    Duration: 33:58
  • Ask Risqwise: Is investing in the stock market risky?
    Duration: 27:51
  • How to Get Back on Track With Your Debt Elimination Plan
    Duration: 29:16
  • 5 Tips to Stay Motivated While Paying Off Debt
    Duration: 29:09
  • Ask Rizqwise: Should I pay off loans before investing?
    Duration: 18:45
  • Avalanche vs Snowball: Two Very Different Ways to Pay Off Debt
    Duration: 29:51
  • Ask Rizqwise: How do I go “all in” on debt?
    Duration: 26:14
  • How to Set Your Debt Free Date
    Duration: 27:31
  • The Critical First Step to Eliminating Debt Once and For All
    Duration: 20:18
  • Ask Rizqwise: Why Credit Cards Make You Spend More Money
    Duration: 20:58
  • The Great Debate: Active vs Passive Investing
    Duration: 29:21
  • Ask Rizqwise: Getting Married and Out of Debt
    Duration: 25:38

 

Resources for seekers:

 

Are We Beyond Slavery? Not even close.

In the first of a series of articles, Qanit Takmeel puts forth the proposition that slavery, contrary to popular opinion, is very much alive. Rasoolullah’s (upon whom be peace) time in this duniya was limited, however, his ummah is expected to inherit the mission, and see it through, to fruition. Allah Most High says, “And we have not sent you [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” So, it only behooves us as Muslims today, who claim that we love a man, whom we never met in person, more that our mothers, that we manifest our love for him (upon whom be peace) by establishing what he (upon whom be peace) sought to do, even before that fateful hug from Gabriel (upon whom be peace) – fight for social justice.

“Since when did you enslave people though they were born free of their mothers in freedom” – Amir al Mu’mineen Abu Hafs Umar ibn al-Khattab

lisa_kristine_human_slavery_14As I sat in the mosque with two Muslim brothers, waiting for Isha, I noticed that one of them referred to the other as Bilal. Upon enquiry, I was told, “Because he is black and Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) was black”. This hurt me, because a little more than half a decade ago, when I was flirting with the idea of Islam, it was Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) who was shown to me in my dream… I don’t remember his skin colour, but I do remember beautiful eyes and an even more beautiful voice proclaiming Allahu Akbar (God is great).

And here I was sitting in a company that had reduced the great companion of Rasoolullah (saw) to a mere skin colour. His struggles in the burning sands of Arabia, with a rock on his chest, with every whip taking part of his skin and exposing his flesh to the dry desert sand, his cries of Ahadun Ahad that reverberated through the streets of Makkah, that were to eventually become the battle cry in Badr, had been forgotten. To me, that distinguishment based on skin colour are remnants of slavery.

Merely chattel slavery is a thing of the past

However, the idea that one person is inferior to another, based on his or her birth, over which he or she had no choice over, is far more pervasive than the mere personal conversation that I recorded above. Among the greatest misconceptions of today in every society is that slavery is a thing of the past. What people mean by that, however, is that chattel slavery is a thing of the past. Slavery, in its core, warrants the belief that a person is inferior to the other, and therefore, partial or complete ownership over the person can be exercised by the “superior” person. In the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery of the United Nations, forced or compulsory labour, debt bondage, serfdom, servile marriage, child servitude, and trafficking were included in the definition of slavery.

I have heard firsthand accounts of farmers in India, taking loans from moneylenders at abnormally high interest rates (at times, 400%) who have been forced to sell their daughters or wives to the moneylenders, so that the moneylenders could make money off them. The issue of farmers committing suicide to escape money lenders, and at times the trauma of having to sell their daughters and wives to settle debts is not uncommon (1).

HumansOfNewYork-Pakistan-SlaveryHumans of New York in August ran a series of posts about brick kilns in Pakistan, and how men and women, for generations are forced into debt slavery. Forced marriages is common across many societies, developing and developed. The developing world is replete with stories of children being forced into bonded labour. Perhaps, the most pitiable of these situations is human trafficking, which according to the US State Department’s 2010 Human Trafficking Report, contributes to the disruption of 12.3 million lives each year. More than half the victims are women, followed by children, who are eventually forced into bonded labour or prostitution.

The situation worsens if one looks at some of the regions of the world torn up by civil strife or war. For example, close to 50,000 women who fled Iraq and entered Syria, were forced to become prostitutes to sustain themselves. In my personal conversations with Ahmed Elkhaldy, Director of Community Development at Mercy Without Limits, many Syrian widows, in desperation to feed their children have taken up prostitution in Jordan and Lebanon.

Ubiquitous in the Muslim world

While these social issues, which fall under the definition of slavery, exist worldwide, their presence in the Muslim world seems to be ubiquitous. For example, in Saudi Arabia, the kidnapping and sexual exploitation of women from Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, and other countries is commonplace. The inability of Muslim societies in a post-colonial era to have conversations in an academic manner, the taboo associated with such conversations in our societies, and social stigma (ref: 2 to 5) which prevents victims from speaking up are among the main reasons that have made these social injustices ubiquitous in the Muslim world.

This situation is ironical since among the maqasid of Islam is the elimination of slavery, and Rasoolullah (saw), via divine guidance had sought to eliminate each of the categories of slavery mentioned in the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery. The hadiths about the rewards of foregoing a debt, about helping another to pay off his debt, about freeing a slave, and the like are many.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A man would give loans to the people and he would say to his servant: If the debtor is in hardship you should forgive the debt that perhaps Allah will relieve us. So when he met Allah, then Allah relieved him.” Sahih Bukhari.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and the Hereafter.” Sahih Muslim

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever frees a Muslim slave, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the (Hell) Fire as he has freed the body-parts of the slave.” Sahih Bukhari

Salman al-Farsi (ra) and Zaid ibn Haritha (ra) were, in effect, victims of human trafficking. Saffiyyah bin Huyyay (ra) and Juwayriyyah bint al-Harith (ra) could have ended up in the situation of the thousands of refugee women, but instead, Rasoolullah (saw) gave them the ultimate honour.

Allah Most High says, “Righteousness is in… giving wealth… for freeing slaves” in Sūrat al-Baqarah. Perhaps discussions among the ulema on the freeing of slaves in modern times, and whether freeing each one of these slaves would be considered a kaffara needs to be held. But on a more personal level, since slavery and consumerism have been undeniably linked (ref: 6 to 8), next time someone has the urge to throw away a plate of food, it would do well to remember that a farmer somewhere spent four months in growing that. Or before disposing off a perfectly fine electronic gadget, one should remember the factory worker in China. Or before buying clothes that we don’t need, we should remember our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh, working in inhumane conditions, to make that bit of clothing.

References

1. R. Schurman, Journal of Peasant Studies 2013, 40, 597.
2. R. Weitzer, Politics & Society 2007, 35, 447.
3. J. Doezema, Gender Issues 1999, 18, 23.
4. S. Huda, International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 2006, 94, 374.
5. J. Chuang, Harvard Human Rights Journal 1998,
6. B. Heath, African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter 1997, 4, 1.
7. Z. Bauman, Work, Consumerism and the New Poor, Open University Press, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, 2005.
8. C. Parfait, The Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852-2002, Ashgate, Aldershot, Hampshire, England, 2007.

Resources for Seekers:

ISIS, Sex Slaves and Islam – reflections from Imam Zaid Shakir

As-Salaamu Alaikum,

Today’s New York Times’ (NYT) article highlighting ISIS’ sexual enslavement of Yazidi women has cast a critical light on the issue of slavery and Islam. The ensuing implications should concern all Muslims. This is so owing to the fact that ISIS presents its practices as normative Islam and accuses the masses of Muslims who reject their draconian interpretation of the religion as ignoramuses or cowards who are afraid to identify with “real” Islam.

ISIS’ practices and fatwas are based on a type of literalism that has never been part of normative Islam, both during its formulation and after its maturation. Why is this so? Normative Islam is based on both rulings and interpretive principles. Those who, like ISIS, separate the rulings interpretive principles both misrepresent Islam and open the door to varieties and degrees of harm that the religion strictly forbids.

The idea of understanding rulings in light of interpretive principles is implied by the Prophet, peace be upon him, when he stated, “Whosoever Allah desires good for, He gives him a good understanding of the religion.” By implication, one Allah desires to ruin is left void of any understanding. The relevant point here is that merely knowing a particular ruling is not sufficient. One has to understand it.

The first thing we should understand about slavery is that it is not an integral part of Islam such as praying, fasting, the prohibition of interest, etc. As such, it is amenable to being rejected without any sin falling on the one rejecting it. For this reason, every Muslim nation has legally outlawed slavery and there have been no noticeable protests or accusations of sin or disbelief levied at the ministries and scholars who oversaw the drafting of the relevant legislation. We remind Bernard Haykel that these prohibitions occurred long before the advent of ISIS, so they were not motivated by embarrassment.

The fact that slavery is not an integral part of Islam also means that fatwas associated with it are amenable to change with changing circumstances, something that factored into the prohibitions mentioned above. We can cite the following as an example of an issue calling for a change in a fatwa associated with sexual slavery. For those who argue that Islam has retained sexual slavery as a deterrent to other nations from going to war against Muslims; in the current context, the actions of ISIS are being used to fan the flames of war against Muslims as hatred and fear of not just ISIS, but Muslims in general grows. In that the ruling to re-institute slavery has lost its deterrent power, the ruing itself collapses. The legal principle relevant here is the following: “A ruling is associated with its legal rationale, implemented when the latter is present, voided when it is absent.”

The widespread rejection of slavery among Muslims approaches the level of irreproachable consensus as it has become the ‘Urf or convention of the Muslim people. In this case, such convention has legal authority. One indication of this is that ISIS had to publish articles rebuking its hesitant minions who were repulsed by the idea of enslaving and raping Yazidi women and girls.

Another relevant legal principle is consideration of the future harm resulting from implementing a ruling. This principle is subordinate to the principle of removing the means that lead to an unlawful end, even if those means, in some cases, are themselves lawful. In the case of ISIS and slavery, one of the frightening implications of their actions is that it is turning people away from Islam in droves, including many Muslims. Combined with the rise of an organized and aggressive Atheist movement, the murderous and rapacious actions of ISIS are becoming the poster child used to highlight everything that is wrong with religion in general and Islam in particular, in the view those attacking Islam from this angle.

The first and highest objective of Islamic law is the preservation of religion itself. When an action, such as sexual slavery, which in no way, shape, or form could be described as an essential of the religion, is undermining the religion, that action is to be rejected. Hence, we reject these repugnant actions of ISIS and urge all Muslims to do the same.

Our religion is not this hideous Frankenstein-like creation being cobbled together by ISIS and their ilk and endorsed by some Islamic studies professors at Princeton University. It is a beautiful gift of a sophisticated civilization, however, that gift will not be understood or understandable when the principles that allow us to make sense of various rulings are cast aside. May Allah grant us all understanding.

This was originally published on Imam Zaid Shakir’s Facebook page.

 

Resources on ISIS, sex slaves and related issues for seekers:

Is It Permissible to Buy Sex Slaves?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I wanted to ask if a Muslim could buy a sex slave as slavery is allowed in Islam. For example, in my country, they have human trafficking where they sell slaves. Can a Muslim have sex with them after buying them? If not, can a Muslim at least buy them to free them. Would a Muslim be rewarded for such an act?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

Slavery is illegal, by agreement and treaty of all countries.

As such, enslavement is invalid and owning slaves is invalid and impermissible. This is a good thing, by the standards of the Shariah, and a reality Muslims should take the means to uphold and protect.

If there is illegal human trafficking, then Muslims should strive against it. The collective and individual effort to free humans from enslavement carries the reward of freeing slaves.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

A Balanced Explanation of the Banu Qurayza Controversy

Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question 1: Assalamu Alaykum,

My questions relate to the treatment of Banu Qurayzah after they committed treason during the time of the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). First, how do we explain this hadith:

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi: I was among the captives of Banu Qurayza. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair. (Abu Dawood)

How do we explain this when those who just reached puberty were still very young and most likely not directly involved in the treason?  Also, there may have been some older males who were not involved in the treachery? Were both of these groups were killed?

Answer:

In the Name of God, Most Merciful and Compassionate,

Wa alaikum as-salam,

Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing your question. It is very important to seek clarification if any doubt enters one’s mind, and the treason and subsequent sentencing of the Qurayza tribe is a topic which many people grapple with due to a lack of understanding of the event, its context and the realities of pre-modern tribal warfare. God-willing, we will address each question briefly, with some explanation.

The Realities of Pre-Modern Tribal Warfare

Firstly, in the norms of ancient tribal warfare, all able-bodied males were considered combatants. Fighting for one’s tribe was a collective duty for survival, and in ancient societies when life expectancy was not as high, the onset of puberty was often the mark that a young male was ready to be initiated into the tribe as a warrior (or for adulthood in general).

The Qurayza, a tribe who lived in Medina alongside the Muslims, had broken their treaty of non-hostility with the Muslims at the height of the Battle of the Trench, and intended to attack them from within, but before they could, the siege on Madina suddenly ended, leaving the Qurayza alone and caught red-handed. They quickly fortified themselves, and finally surrendered after a 25-day siege of their fort.

Those punished for treason were all who qualified as fighting men of the tribe, since they were the ones who would have taken part in the hostilities out of tribal obligation. Excluded were the pre-pubescent boys, and one elderly man (though he later chose punishment voluntarily).

Some of the Qurayza and their families had broken ranks with their tribe early on and left to seek protection from the Muslims, and they were granted it; others were afforded amnesty through the intercession of some Muslims, due to some good deed they had done in the past. The rest, even though those who now regretted and disagreed with the treason, chose to be judged with those guilty out of tribal loyalties.

The Mosaic Penalty is Pronounced After Arbitration

As for choosing the sentence, the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) gave the Qurayza tribe the choice of whom from amongst the Muslims they desired to judge the punishment for their treason. They selected Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, the Ansari chief who was a former ally before Islam, but was now on his deathbed after being wounded during the Battle of the Trench, which the Qurayza helped provoke through their treason. [al-Salihi, Subul al-Huda wal-Rashad]

Sa’d swiftly pronounced that all fighters would be executed, and the women and children become captives. He claimed his decision was based on the Mosaic penalty for their crime; some say he was referring to the passages of Deuteronomy 20:12-14. As a hadith in Bukhari narrates, this was the second time the Qurayza intended hostilities towards their Muslim neighbors; after the first incident, they had been forgiven, while another affiliated tribe was expelled from Madina. The second violation, however, was an existential threat, as it was an act of treason in the thick of a siege by the Meccans.

Question 2: Also, what happened to the women prisoners of war afterwards. It says in al Raheeq ul Makthum, the famous biography, that “Women captives were sent to Najd to be bartered with horses and weaponry.” Were the children also sent to Najd to be bartered? Why would these groups be punished if they took no part in treason?

Please assist in explaining these events has they have caused some doubts in my faith.

Answer:

The Treatment of the Captives

The women and children were not harmed because they were true non-combatants, and it was one of the hallmarks of Islam that in times of war, the Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) forbade their killing. The one exception was the capital punishment of a woman from Qurayza who had killed one Muslim man during the war.

Hence, this incident was not a genocide or massacre or extermination as some would try to portray, nor was it about religion. It was about tribal warfare and treaties, and the punishment for treason during a time of war with an external enemy.

In ancient tribal warfare, when one tribe lost a war, the surviving captives would often be used for manual labor, or sold into slavery elsewhere, which was that situation that Islam found the world in at the time of its inception. After all the warriors of the Qurayza tribe had been executed, in ancient Arabia, a tribe of now-defenseless women and children would have been impossible to maintain, and in those times, they saw bondage as a way to forcefully integrate a subdued tribe into their society.

Slavery is not a positive thing in Islam, and it is a blessing that it has been abolished in most of the world. According to the ancient world-order however, the Prophet’s (Allah’s peace be upon him) treatment of the captives was exemplary and unheard of. A mother and her children were forbidden to be separated; under-age siblings were to be kept together also [Waqidi, al-Maghazi].

Captives were given food and drink, and were not ravaged nor abused. No mainstream Muslim scholar says, however, that just because there were laws governing the treatment of slaves in pre-modern situations, that Islam justifies slavery today.

Some of the captives were distributed amongst the Muslims, many of which were later freed due to the exhortation that Islam gave to the emancipation of slaves. Others were ransomed to individuals from fellow Jewish tribes of outlying areas, such as Khaybar and Tayma. Still others were purchased by polytheist tribes in the Najd (who later became Muslims), in exchange for weapons and equipment that would go to ensure that such an existential threat and treason would never occur again to the nascent community. [al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi]

Many of these captives would go on to lead free lives and thrive in Muslim society, and the early Muslim biographical works list some of their descendants, such as Muhammad ibn Ka’b al-Qurazi, who became a prominent scholar and narrator of hadith. [al-Dhahabi, Siyar A’lam al-Nubalaa’]

The Responsibility Falls on the Shoulders of the Leaders

One of the unfortunate aspects of warfare, both then and now, is that the people collectively suffer for the mistakes of their leaders. It was the corrupt leaders of the Qurayza tribe who planned the treachery and broke the covenant, thus bearing responsibility for what they led their people into.

Even in modern times, the soldiers of a dictator often suffer a collective punishment for the crimes of their misguided leadership, while innocent people become collateral damage, while each individual’s intention cannot be looked into. The blame falls squarely on the leaders, who lead their own people to destruction in trying to further their twisted motives, and this was the case with the Qurayza tribe also.

Dealing With These Types of Incidents

The treason and subsequent sentencing of Banu Qurayza is indeed a difficult topic from many to grapple with in our times for a number of reasons, which unless addressed, will prevent them from understanding and coming to terms with what took place.

Firstly, there is a lack of knowledge of the complete context and details of the incident; secondly, since we are far removed from the pre-modern realities of tribal warfare, we tend to selectively judge this event based on contemporary conventions of war, which have developed greatly since then (often while overlooking warfare in the Bible, for example); thirdly, due to contemporary political situations, the event is often taken out of context and used to demonize Muslims, so Muslims themselves begin to see their own history in this way; and fourthly, there is a fear that if we come to terms with this difficult event as it occurred in its own time and context, it means it is applicable in our time and context, and this is simply not true, and others need to be reassured that history is history, and today, Muslims are interested in working towards a peaceful co-existence with others .

Finally, as believers we must strengthen our faith and certainty that the Messenger of God (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) was right and true in everything he did, even if we do not have a full understanding of the details. Others might never agree with us on some things, but we don’t seek to validate our faith through their value systems and opinions. This comes only through actively increasing one’s faith through learning, and loving devotion.

We must also learn about the over-arching human values which Islam teaches and embody them, so that we are confident in its truth and can be a benefit to mankind, and not feel disturbed when someone tries to claim otherwise. And we leave the final knowledge of all things to Allah Most High.

Wassalam,

Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani