Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Mongol Miracle

Sarfaraz A Rehman: The Mongol Miracle: Early in the thirteenth century, fresh from re-establishment of authority over Jerusalem, the Muslim world could have been forgiven for...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Mongol Miracle


Early in the thirteenth century, fresh from re-establishment of authority over Jerusalem, the Muslim world could have been forgiven for feeling strong. There was no immediate challenge. The newly established Mamluk Sultanate in Cairo, the fledgling rise of the Afghan slave dynasty in India and the strong Shah of Khwarezm in Central Asia/Khorasan seemingly in control of the then world.  

Covertly, there was disunity within the Islamic rulers and lack of the fervour, which had led the Muslims out of Arabia and taken them as far as Spain and China. This was now an aging civilisation, some six hundred years after the Prophet (saw).     
   
Unbeknownst, the greatest ever challenge to Islam to-date, was brewing at its northern borders. Temujin, a small time chieftain of the Mongol tribes was just beginning to unite the wild nomads into a beast of an army. The Mongols were to call Temujin, ‘Khan’ and history noted him as Genghis Khan. In a few years beyond 1206, Genghis Khan was to professionalise the army, combine it with the Turkic hordes and invade the great Chinese Jin dynasty. Moving with speed never seen before, he poured past the Chinese wall and sacked Beijing. 
In a few years due to Khwarezm intransigence, he turned westwards and destroyed this great empire and chased Jalauddin Shah a thousand miles, to exile beyond the Indus in India. In his wake, cities were massacred and burnt. The Islamic world simply wilted against a cataclysmic force. 
            
It was at this time that the Khan fell ill and chose his third son (there were four, all warrior like and ferocious) Ögedei as his successor. Ögedei managed the Mongol hordes for a quarter of century, without much split, and expanded conquest into Eastern Europe. However, Jochi one of the sons of Genghis, never forgave his father for this rejection and withdrew northward into safe territory away from the main hordes and he did not participate in the expansion. This small event was to save Islam over three decades later.
After Ögedei’s death, his successors turned their attention to the rest of the Muslim world, with the stated intention of destroying Baghdad (Abbasid Caliphate) and Cairo (Mamluks) and eventually wiping out Islam as a force. It is estimated in the Mongol battles and conquests from 1210 to 1260, an approximate 5% of the population of the world perished. The majority of these were Muslims. 
     
Helagu Khan, one of the successors of Ögedei, destroyed Baghdad and the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, thus plunging the world into an age of ignorance for a period, as all knowledge was burned in the libraries of Baghdad. His army then proceeded towards Cairo. In the Battle of Ain Jalut (Goliath’s Spring) in 1260, Kitbuqa, henchman of Helagu, finally suffered defeat at the hands of the Mamluks. But only just. There was a Mongol miracle happening behind him, which saved the Mamluks and Islam.   
         
The forgotten son of Genghis, Jochi had spawned descendants. One of whom, Berke Khan had converted to Islam, when he met a Muslim caravan during his conquests. Berke Khan became a devout Muslim and when Baghdad was sacked, swore revenge on Helagu (his cousin) and to put a stop to any further conquests. The Blue and Golden Hordes of Mongols converted in significant numbers under the leadership of Berke Khan. Harried at the back by Berke and having lost strength, Helagu lost the Battle of Ain Jalut. This was the beginning, and subsequent defeats by Berke Khan weakened Helagu and he finally settled in his lands and forgot further conquests.   
The many Mongol and Turkic hordes settled all over as their power and fear declined. They slowly converted to Islam and in the next century, were to spawn the Ottoman Empire and the Tamerlane Empire (which eventually led to the Mughals of India). The Mongol conversion miracle was to sustain Islam as the dominant force for a further five centuries. But it all began from a small miracle of the disaffection of a son of the great Khan and was sustained by a chance encounter of one Prince with a caravan of Muslims.

Temujin - Genghis Khan, great leader of Mongols
Ögedei  - son and successor of Genghis Khan
Jochi - disaffected son of Ghenghis Khan  
Helagu Khan - one of the successors of Ögedei 
Berke Khan - son of Jochi 
Kitbuqa - general of Helagu 
Mamluk dynasty - rulers of Egypt, Hijaz and Syria 
Khwarezm- Kingdom Central Asia, Persia & Khorasan 

*picture is from Pinterest

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Huxley or Orwell - Indulgence faces Extreme Control

One so often hears the fears related to Orwell’s ‘1984’. Especially for Liberals, their one fear is that somewhere, sometime in the future, a strong hand will control the people of this world. That control will be exercised for reasons of efficiency and betterment, but will lead to human society facing extreme subjugation.

Perhaps Orwell had a communistic society, strengthened with technology, in his mind. He definitely painted a very dark picture in that ‘1984’ world, of everything being absolutely monitored and controlled. So freedom was sacrificed for some sort of stability. 

It was a fear which was a constant in the pre-1990 world. All my peers grew up in that sort of culture, where a fear of Soviet Russia and Communist China clamping down on the worlds freedom was constant. The Vietnam war was propelled on that fear and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan became heroes on its back. The liberals never quite left that fear behind, and much of the liberal agenda today continues to be just that. A constant fear of control. They see the present semi-turn towards the far right in the West, as just such a story. Perhaps, society will take that type of regressive backwards step, to what it was a hundred years ago.    
   
As so happens, Aldous Huxley’s lesser known story of The Brave New World, is the opposite side of the coin, and would suit our world today. A picture of society of extremes, converted by human society to a pursuit of the trivial, the unnecessary. There is little bond left in humanity, because individuals are self-indulgent. Now what does all that remind one of? Does not human society run after trivia, while there is much depravation elsewhere. Expensive indulgences, while others starve. Does not trivia and fake news control reality, restricting the very freedom which liberal society aspires to? 
Huxley saw this world of triviality, where self indulgence will be rife and be the signature of society. Our extreme consumerism, absolute involvement in creating our own image and brand, narcissistic pursuit of fame (on social media) and the mutated search for innovation (rather than for advancement, we innovate for growth of profits and out of boredom) has marginalised society. 

It’s now not about everyone, it is about the self. This has led to extreme indulgence everywhere. The fake part of the world is just a side effect which no one could imagine. Fakery (is there such a word?) has created pursuits which has warped the whole. We are spending our lives faking it.

Back in 1931, Huxley had a vision which maybe coming to fruition in our brave new world.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Lesson from a Dars

Last year I was listening to a Ramadan dars. Some Lessons for life. I had listed them down for social media. Came across the list and thought it might make a simple blog list. So here they are.

- Stay simple 
- Love each other as humans
- Do not fall into firqaa/ we are one
- Love your parents
- Love your spouse and children
- Take care of neighbours and relatives
- Give charity
- Say prayers
- Marry with consultation
- Allow your children to marry with consultation 
- Do not lie
- Do not steal
- Do not consume sood
- Help others


Sounds like good advice. If all of us apply it, this will be a great world. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Maulana tackles Iblees

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Maulana tackles Iblees: I heard a wonderful talk from Maulana Tariq Jameel today. It was an analysis of how to tackle Iblees, when he attacks us humans. And ...

Maulana tackles Iblees


I heard a wonderful talk from Maulana Tariq Jameel today. It was an analysis of how to tackle Iblees, when he attacks us humans. And all the defence centres around the practice of fasting. 

Iblees attacks us from four directions. He will never attack from above, because   he is scared of Allah being above us humans. Nor will Iblees attack from below, because his pride does not allow him to be below us humans (the original sin still prevails in his mind). So, his attack comes from our front, back and from the left and right.

Front  

So what is in front? In front of us is the image of Qiyamah, of Jannah and Dozaq.

It is a travesty that a significant portion of the human race do not believe in the existence of the hereafter. Another significant portion of us, believe that in the hereafter they are going to be blessed, as Allah (swt) will excuse them and send them to Jannah. So we are left a smaller portion who realise that this life is a balance of good and bad. In the final analysis a weighing scale and a judgement will happen, for us humans. The rehmat of Allah (swt) might prevail after the judgement, nevertheless a judgement will occur.

This is the frontal attack from Iblees and he has succeeded in taking out a major portion of the human race.  

Back 
The next attack is from the back and that involves an exquisite image of the world. So much so, that we start equating the world and this life with Jannah. In this fabrication, we fall into a struggle.  Because we are built for focus, this diversion creates a loss of faith and breakdown of our purpose. We are lost in a diversion. We have taken an alternative route and the road not taken is the righteous one.  

Left

The third attack comes from the left side. The angels Raqib and Atid sit on our shoulders overviewing us and recording our actions. In their presence, Iblees entices us with evil. This is the attack where actions like murder, robbery, adultery, lying, cruelty etc happen. It is the easiest to understand and is most likely the lowest level of attack, as most humans who are involved, are those who have lost the front or back battles already.  

Right

So what is on the right? On the right is belief, faith and righteousness.

This is Iblees at his most insidious. He is using your very strength in faith and your goodness and converting that to evil. This is the evil whisperer who lets you feel knowledgeable, superior and critical of others actions. Unfortunately, we see many examples of this today. A scholar who feels above question. A scholar who thinks of ordinary humans as inferior. One who despises others actions based on a superiority complex etc. All of us see many examples of this arrogance. It is the route to a huge fall into an abyss.  

The shield.

In all the above we have our faith as our protection. But, only one of all our ritual allows us protection against a direct attack of Iblees, it is not namaaz, zakaat or Hajj which is a strong defence. No, it is fasting. It is the only time when a human voluntarily sacrifices on a personal basis and it pleases Allah and it simply kills Iblees. He keeps a distance. That is why in the month of Ramadan, we find it so much easier to do goodness. 

So from above, it is quite obvious why our fasting is good for us in a spiritual sense. This is leaving aside matters of health, where it has been shown that fasting for a month has huge positives for us in physical terms.

This article is simply paraphrasing and translating the words of Maulana Jameel. May Allah (swt) guide us and excuse me in case of any errors.

* picture is from Pinterest.com 


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Attributes, not Skills

Sarfaraz A Rehman: Attributes, not Skills:   This world is changing and the speed is accelerating. The evidence of that change is all around us. Our next forecast change is two f...