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OPINION                                                                                                        DECEMBER 22, 2017 –  PAKISTAN LINK  –  P9

        n By Prof Dr Nazeer Ahmed, PhD    Signs from Allah: History, Science and Faith in Islam                                 them. Extremism begets extreme re-
                 Concord, CA                                                                                                    actions. Muawiya bin Abu Sufyan (d.

              istory is not created with a   39. Hijab and Women Sovereigns – Part 1                                            680),  who  fought  his  way  to  power
                                                                                                                                and  became  the  Caliph  in  661,  took
              big bang. It moves in subtle,                                                                                     the first step in this direction. He sur-
        Halmost imperceptible steps                                                                                             rounded himself with a guard as a
        in which all men and women partic-                                                                                      precaution against possible assassina-
                    ipate. It is an edifice                                                                                     tion. When he entered the mosque, the
                    on  which  the action                                                                                       guard ensured that the common folk
                    of  every  human,  no                                                                                       maintained a certain distance from
                    matter how humble,                                                                                          the  emir. The  Omayyad Caliphs  of
                    has left its imprint.                                                                                       Damascus, with the sole and notable
                    Great events do oc-                                                                                         exception of Omar bin Abdul Aziz,
                    cur,  but  they  merely                                                                                     followed this practice of surrounding
                    mark the milestones                                                                                         themselves with a guard. This was the
        in the continuing unfolding of his-                                                                                     first step in the bifurcation of political
        tory.                                                                                                                   space between the ruler and the ruled.
            In recreating the critical moments                                                                                      In addition to security concerns,
        in Islamic history that have molded                                                                                     the administration of a vast empire,
        and shaped the present, a student of                                                                                    extending over three continents, re-
        history cannot but be awestruck by                                                                                      quired a person of exceptional caliber
        the majesty of the human processes                                                                                      to organize, manage and provide over-
        that have led up to those moments.                                                                                      sight to the executive functions. This
        Much like the buildup of stresses in an                                                                                 person was called the vizier. The word
        earthquake fault, the actions of ordi-                                                                                  vizier derives from  mawazah, mean-
        nary men and women create tensions                                                                                      ing to facilitate. As such, the vizier was
        in the flow of history. When these ten-  on  a  platform  of  equity  and  justice,   with the injunctions of the Shariah.”   The Caliph occupied the central   the principal facilitator of the wishes of
        sions finally do culminate in historical   partners in the creation of a universal   In other words, it was to establish   stage in a four-dimensional religious-  the sovereign, chief among which were
        moments, they are very much like the   community enjoining what is noble,   divine  patterns  in  the  matrix  of  hu-  judicial-military-economic  space,  defense, administration, finance and
        sudden  shift  of  geological plates that   forbidding what is evil and believing   man affairs. The Caliphate was rule by   which was shared with all members   foreign affairs. During the Umayyad
        mark the onset of an earthquake.  in God. The Prophet built such a com-  law. It differed from the despotism of   of the community, men and women   reign in Damascus (661-750), with the
            Very often, in focusing on the   munity in Madina.      kingship both in its structure and its   alike. Through a process of consulta-  expansion of the empire in Asia, North
        deeds of mighty men who made war   The focus of life for this commu-  functionality. In a kingdom, the word   tion, Abu Bakr as Siddiq (r) became   Africa and Europe, the institution of
        and won battles, the mundane strug-  nity was the Prophet’s mosque, built   of the king was law; he could make or   the first Caliph of Islam. In the tradi-  the vizierate acquired enormous im-
        gles of ordinary men and women are   adjacent to his house and it was from   break it as he saw fit. In a Caliphate,   tion of the Prophet, the Caliph had   portance. The vizier became not only
        overlooked. Yet, it is from the ordi-  here that he elaborated on religious               four principal responsibilities. First, he   the functional arm of the empire, but
        nariness  of  these  struggles  that great   and social issues, adjudicated legal   Islam liberated women from the   was the religious head of the commu-  also its principal think-tank and chief
        events emerge. The lowly peasant is as   matters and discussed war and peace.   constrictions imposed by pre-  nity. As such he led the congregation   executive. He was privy to the Caliph’s
        much an actor in the drama of history   There are three important issues to   Islamic Arab society. It opened up   in prayer. Second, he was responsible   thinking as well as the inner workings
        as the mightiest king. It is in this con-  remember here. First, there was no   the spiritual, economic, social and   for the implementation of divine law.   of the court circles. The office of the
        text that one must examine the contri-  distance between the head of the com-  political space to them. Women   He  was  expected  to  know  the    Sha-  vizier continued when the Abbasids
        butions of women in Islamic history.  munity and members of the commu-  were bestowed an individuality.   riah  and to implement its injunctions   seized power (750) and moved the
            There have been great women,   nity. The young and the old, the poor   They were to live with men on a   in practice. Thus, he was the supreme   capital to Baghdad.
        those heroic ladies of the past, who   and the rich, immigrants and locals,   platform of equity and justice,   judge.  Third,  he  was  responsible  for   With time, the functions of the vi-
        made their way to the top of the his-  Madinites as well as foreigners had   partners in the creation of a   the  defense of  the  state. He led the   zierate were transformed. The Omayy-
        toric edifice despite the obstructions   equal access to the leader. Second, the   universal community enjoining   army in times of war. Fourth, he was   ad dynasty in Spain (760-1031), to put
        placed in their way. Their achieve-  leader of the community was not just   what is noble, forbidding what   responsible for the economic well-be-  a distance between itself and some of
        ments were even more remarkable   a political and military figure. He was   is evil and believing in God. The   ing of the community. He ensured fair   the unpopular aspects of the defunct
        when we measure them against a back-  also the religious and social authority   Prophet built such a community in   taxation, administered public works   Omayyads of Damascus, de-empha-
        ground of the gradual marginalization   who led the congregation in prayer   Madina       and arranged for correct and complete   sized the importance of the office of
        of women in Muslim societies. The   and had responsibility before the  Sha-               documentation of contracts and civil   the vizierate. This they accomplished
        exclusion of women from public space   riah. Third, the social, political and re-  it was the divine law that was the gov-  transactions.  by  splitting  the  vizierate into several
        occurred gradually over centuries and   ligious space in the mosque was open   erning paradigm. The Caliph was ac-  These functions of the Caliph   departments.  In place of  a  powerful
        must be understood in the broader   to women. Although congregational   countable before the law just as much   were  compromised  in time,  one  by   single vizier formerly serving the em-
        context of the fragmentation of the   prayer was not obligatory for women,   as the lowliest mendicant. Legitimacy   one, some by historical necessity, oth-  peror, there were now several viziers.
        unitary Caliphate and the separation   they were not prevented from praying   of rule originated from a consensus   ers for the convenience of the Caliphs.   This proliferation of the title had a
        of the masses from the rulers. When   in the mosque. Women prayed in the   of the community. The selection of   The first to fall by the wayside was the   secondary consequence. Coordination
        looked at in this context, the achieve-  mosque in rows behind the men. They   the Caliph was through a process of   religious function. The civil wars that   between the different viziers and com-
        ments of great women like Razia of In-  had equal access to the Prophet to seek   consultation. The political, judicial,   erupted after the assassination of Ca-  munication between the sovereign and
        dia and Shajarat al Durr of Egypt who,   counsel and advice on social, religious   economic, religious and social space   liph Uthman (r) (656) unleashed the   the  vizirates required  a new official.
        despite heavy odds, became Sultanas   and political matters.  was shared between the ruler and the   forces of extremism. The deadly at-  This official was called a hajib.
        and queens, stand out as even more   When the Prophet passed away,   ruled. Even the humblest of citizens,   tacks of the Kharijites on Caliph Ali   (The author is Director, World
        remarkable.                   the Companions reaffirmed the conti-  man or woman, could question the   ibn Abu Talib (r), Emir Mu’awiya bin   Organization for  Resource  Develop-
            Islam liberated women from the   nuity of Islam as an historical process   Caliph on his decisions, or demand   Abu Sufyan and Amr bin Al As (661)   ment and Education, Washington,
        constrictions imposed by pre-Islamic   by the establishment of the Caliphate.   justice in accordance with the law.    demonstrated that the person of the   DC;  Director, American  Institute
        Arab society. It opened up the spiritu-  As defined by Ibn Khaldun, (Muqad-  Thus, the Caliphate was fundamental-  Caliph was vulnerable to would-be as-  of  Islamic History  and Culture,  CA;
        al, economic, social and political space   damah, p. 476, op. cit.), “the function   ly different from kingship in its doctri-  sassins.   Member, State  Knowledge Commis-
        to them. Women were bestowed an in-  of Caliphate was to enable the ammah   nal underpinnings, its institutions and   The Kharijites were mortal en-  sion, Bangalore; and Chairman, De-
        dividuality. They were to live with men   (common folks) to live in accordance   its operations.  emies of anyone who disagreed with   lixus Group)
             n By Shahid Athar MD                     My Visit to the Rainbow Nation                                            the ruling whites. The cell where Pres-
                     IN                                                                                                         ident Mandella was kept for 27 years is
                                                                                                                                among one of the most popular tour-
            or many in the United States,   But there is also abject poverty in   Subsequently, with their hard work   dia ventures, such as Radio 786 that   ist attractions. The tour of the Rob-
            South Africa is identified with   the country. Not too far from high-rise   - many were merchants - they devel-  has an audience range of 1,000,000 lis-  ben Island jail offers a peek into the
        Fviolence, drugs, jungles, lions,   buildings,  super  highways,  and  huge   oped that area with the construction   teners. I was interviewed at this radio   oppression of fellow human beings.
        elephants, safaris, racism, and apart-  industrial plants are mud huts and   of nice houses, schools, and mosques.   station for one hour.  The island also has the mausoleum of
                    heid. The positive as-  people living under subhuman condi-  In Azaadville, there are many Muslims   The condition of Muslim women   Kiramat, a Muslim saint (Sayed Abdu-
                    pects of that society   tions. Similarly, as witnessed in other   who had settled in South Africa for   in South Africa is improving in terms   rahman Mutara) brought as a prisoner
                    are hardly known in   industrialized countries like the Unit-  centuries. Most of them are of Gujrati   of education and rights but they still   from Indonesia by the Dutch and kept
                       the USA.       ed States, drugs, violence, unemploy-  Indian origin brought as slaves about   feel that conservative men and clergy   there until his death. He preserved
                          South Africa,   ment and lack of education among the   200 to 300 years ago. Now their chil-  enjoy an upper hand.  Islam by his memory of the Qur’an
                    being the most indus-  black and poor are prevalent. Among   dren are professionals as well as highly   The South Africans were sur-  and wrote the first hand-written copy
                     trialized nation on   the  most deplorable areas is Swatto,   educated.      prised to learn that some 20,000 Mus-  of the Qur’an in South Africa in 1794
                    the continent of Af-  the ghetto where poor Africans live   South  African  Muslims  have   lims serve in the American Military.   which is displayed in the mosque in
        rica, is similar to the United States in   under subhuman conditions without   built  institutions  such as the Daru-  They are keen to know how Afro-  Cape Town.
        many ways. It accounts for 42 percent   electricity, water, or any shelter.  loom Zikrya, an Islamic college that   Americans look at South Africa, what   Even though Muslims  are less
        of Africa’s industrial output, manufac-  The white-enforced apartheid   teaches subjects such as astronomy.   the common problems are, and what   than 2% of the population they have
        tures 60 percent of Africa’s telephone   has created interesting social situa-  The campus also services community   the common solutions to both coun-  been emancipated from slavery and
        sets, produces 40 percent of Africa’s   tions. One is the Azaadville neighbor-  needs such as the site of the annual   tries are. A must see is Robben Island,   enjoy an enviable social and political
        food, and drives 50 percent of Africa’s   hood in Johannesburg, near Swetto.   convention  (ljtama)  of  the  Tablighi   a small island off the coast of Cape   position today. Ebrahim Rasool, who
        cars. South Africa’s GNP is three times   Muslims who were living in better   Jamaat,  the  Islamic  missionary  party   Town where for 300 years, lepers,   was a provincial Health Minister in
        that of Nigeria or Egypt and it is the   neighborhoods were forced to va-  that attracted 25,000 delegates from all   mentally sick, as well as political and   1997, is now the Chairperson of the
        world’s largest producer of gold and   cate their homes for the whites and   over the country and the world. The   religious prisoners, including Presi-  African National Congress of
        platinum.                     re-settled in this colony near Swetto.   Muslim institutions include many me-  dent Nelson Mandella, were kept by   VISIT, P28
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