Invasion of Paganism into Monotheism by Materialism
About 3500 years ago, the Pharaoh of Egypt had declared himself Lord, ruling his nation as if life and death were in his hands. There were people in Egypt, mostly the Israelites, who believed in One God, but were made slaves and severely persecuted to the extent that their boys were killed as they were born. The land was also filled with magicians and witchcraft was the fashion of the day. Paganism was prevalent including the cow worship.
Centuries have passed since the Pharaohs ruled Egypt and much has changed. The scientific and technological advancements have made us live luxuriously in many ways. Many in America believe in One God, live in prosperity and are far removed from the like of the persecutions of the Pharaohs of the past. At the same time, magic and witchcraft still exist in the American life, but in ways which are very different from the time of the Pharaohs. An example of such presence can be seen in the Harry Potter books and paraphernalia. Paganism also has its presence, for example, in the customs of Halloween. The Holy scriptures acknowledge existence of magic, but forbid its practice.
"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)
The story of Prophet Moses’ encounter with the magicians appears in several places in the Holy Scriptures. Below is one such narration:
Moses said: "O Pharaoh! I am an apostle from the Lord of the worlds,- One for whom it is right to say nothing but truth about God. Now have I come unto you (people), from your Lord, with a clear (Sign): So let the Children of Israel depart along with me." (Pharaoh) said: "If indeed thou hast come with a Sign, show it forth,- if thou
tells the truth." Then (Moses) threw his rod, and behold! it was a serpent, plain (for all to
see)! And he drew out his hand, and behold! it was white to all beholders! Said the Chiefs of the people of Pharaoh: "This is indeed a sorcerer well-versed. "His plan is to get you out of your land: then what is it ye counsel?" They said: "Keep him and his brother in suspense (for a while); and send to the cities men to collect- And bring up to thee all (our) sorcerers well-versed."
So there came the sorcerers to Pharaoh: They said, "of course we shall have
a (suitable) reward if we win!" He said: "Yea, (and more),- for ye shall in that case be (raised to posts) nearest (to my person)." They said: "O Moses! wilt thou throw (first), or shall we have the (first) throw?" Said Moses: "Throw ye (first)." So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them: for they showed a great (feat of) magic. We put it into Moses' mind by inspiration: "Throw (now) thy rod":and behold! it swallows up straight away all the falsehoods which they fake!
Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect. So the (great ones) were vanquished there and then, and were made to look small. But the sorcerers fell down prostrate in adoration. Saying: "We believe in the Lord of the Worlds,- "The Lord of Moses and Aaron."
Said Pharaoh: "Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this is a trick which ye have planned in the city to drive out its people: but soon shall ye know (the consequences). Be sure I will cut off your hands and your feet on apposite sides, and I will cause you all to die on the cross." They said: "For us, We are but sent back unto our Lord: "But thou dost wreak thy vengeance on us simply because we believed in the Signs of our Lord when they reached us! Our Lord! pour out on us patience and constancy, and take our souls unto thee as those who bow to thy will! (The Holy Quran, 7:104-126)
Moses exposed the falsehood of the sorcerers. The sorcerers repented, gave up magic and became true believers of the God Almighty. Can the same happen with the makers of Harry Potter? The books are in effect promoters of paganism. They glorify magic and paganism while non-magical people, called Muggles, are despised and portrayed as boring, narrow-minded, and paranoid of magic. Not surprisingly, the main characters in the story have few noble qualities; they lie with impunity, use profanity, don't respect their elders, break rules regularly, and are unrepentant. And for all these qualities and more, the books are popular and are having an effect. Children have also gone crazy over Harry Potter memorabilia, surrounding themselves with Harry Potter T-shirts, posters, toys, costumes, wands, hats, etc.
Welcome to the world of materialism and paganism, where superstitions and the occult reign supreme in the hearts and minds of people, and where the twin forces have forged an "alliance of the willing" that is doing its "magic" on a global scale. This alliance however is not limited to Harry Potter books.
Halloween has been tied to pagans, like the Druids. Samhain was the name of the Druid god of the dead. The Druids were a religious order amongst the Celts. On October 31st they would try to appease their lord of death. These Druids also believed that witches rode on broom sticks and that ghosts were the cause of supernatural occurrences. The belief was that on the eve of the Celtic New Year (which for them was October 31), the souls of the dead people roamed the land of the living. The Devil, spirits and witches were also believed to be moving about and at the height of their power.
Halloween activities have found their roots in almost every walk of life. Driving around neighborhoods shows a large number of homes with Halloween displays. School teachers hold special Halloween parties. There may not be a single store, office or institution left without a display of Halloween. The entire nation appears to be celebrating Halloween. It is, therefore, not difficult to conclude that those who believe in monotheism are also participating in these activities. I leave it to the rabbis, pastors and imams to give their verdicts based on the Holy Scriptures, but I do have to ask those who believe in One God to read the Ten Commandments just one more time, especially the phrase, “…for I the Lord your God am a jealous God …”
What did Moses do when he found his nation made a calf? What would Moses do if he were among us? Deeds have no value without Faith and yet Faith demands obedience in action. Satan did not say that he does not believe in God. He disobeyed God and became the lowest of the low!
by Ishaq Zahid
Oct 21, 2007
Note: Some text about Harry Potter is taken from Khalid Baig's article. Some text about Halloween is taken from www.soundvision.com article on Halloween.
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
(4:148) Allah does not like speaking evil publicly unless one has been wronged. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
(4:149) (Even though you have the right to speak evil if you are wronged), if you keep doing good -whether openly or secretly -or at least pardon the evil (then that is the attribute of Allah). Allah is All-Pardoning and He has all the power to chastise.
[Taken from Introduction to Islam by Muhammad Hamidullah (Centre Culturel Islamique, Paris, 1969), with some changes to make it more readable. The changes are marked by pairs of brackets like around this paragraph.]
IN the annals of men, individuals have not been lacking who conspicuously devoted their lives to the socio-religious reform of their connected peoples. We find them in every epoch and in all lands. In India, there lived those who transmitted to the world the Vedas, and there was also the great Gautama Buddha; China had its Confucius; the Avesta was produced in Iran. Babylonia gave to the world one of the greatest reformers, the Prophet Abraham (not to speak of such of his ancestors as Enoch and Noah about whom we have very scanty information). The Jewish people may rightly be proud of a long series of reformers: Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, and Jesus among others.Read more...
Analysis: More than Bad Rulers and Corrupt Societies
Posted: 18 Safar 1424, 20 April 2003
In the past centuries the Muslim world was much more integrated than we realize. It was one social, cultural, religious and economic domain. Its language, system of education, currency, and laws were the same.
When British journalist Robert Fisk said that in the face of disaster Arabs act like mice, he was being polite. He could have said that the Muslims act like mice. The question is why?
It is easy and customary to blame the current Muslim rulers for this sorry situation. No doubt the Iraq invasion would not have been possible without their acquiescence and support. If they refused to open their lands, waterways, and airspace to the invasion, it could not have taken place. Neither would the slaughters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosova, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Palestine have been possible if the Muslim rulers had their act together. But was it only because the Muslim rulers happened to be immoral, coward, and unscrupulous characters? Is the 1.2 billion strong Ummah suffering only because there are fifty-four corrupt persons who are ruling it?
These rulers do not carry out all their plans personally. They have armies of compliant soldiers, bureaucrats, and other staffers at every level of government that do the dirty work. Further the societies at large produce, nurture, and sustain the corrupt machinery of the corrupt governments. As we continue our investigation, we find that our problem is corruption; not only of the rulers but also of the ruled. Today we have strayed from the Shariah in our personal lives; we lie, cheat, steal at a higher rate than ever before; we exploit and oppress in our small spheres. In short, our problems are caused by our moral corruption.
But there is something more. And it is getting scant attention in the Muslim discourse.
Islam teaches us the correctness of belief is even more important than correctness of deeds. There is an implied message here: The corruption of ideas is far more devastating than the corruption of actions. This may be happening here. We complain about the particular tribal leaders that happen to be there today but forget about the tribalism that sits at the root of all this. This tribalism of the nation-states has been enshrined into the constitutions, legal structures, bureaucracies, and the entire apparatus of government in every Muslim country. Its language and thinking, though anathema to Islam, has gained widespread acceptance. While we condemn its outcome, we do not sufficiently examine or challenge the system itself.
We complain about the particular tribal leaders that happen to be there today but forget about the tribalism that sits at the root of all this
We constantly talk about the Muslim brotherhood and the need for Muslim unity. We assert that Muslims are one Ummah. Simultaneously --- and without much thought --- we embrace the symbols, ideas, and dictates of its exact opposite. We have lived under our nation-states, celebrated our national days, and sang our national anthems all our lives. As a result the realization that the gap between the idea of the nation-state and that of one Ummah is wider than can be patched with good leaders of individual nation-states does not occur easily. We do not realize that we may be trying to simultaneously ride two different boats going in opposite directions.
So let us consider some real life situations. In Pakistan, the provinces of Sind and Punjab share the Indus River. Available water is less than their combined needs and Punjab is situated upstream while Sind is downstream. Quite naturally, there is constant bickering over the distribution of water. The conflict is resolved by the presence of a central government and by the realization that both provinces belong to the same country. Now imagine that the two provinces had been transformed into two separate countries. We can be certain that the small issue that no body in the world knows about or cares about today would become a big international conflict. And it may matter little whether they were called Islamic Republic of Punjab and the Islamic Republic of Sind! The logic of a sovereign country is very different and once you embrace that there are consequences that good intentions and good people alone cannot overcome.
When completed Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project, (GAP in Turkey) will reduce water supply to Syria by 50% and to Iraq by 90%, selling it instead to Israel through the so-called Peace Pipeline. A comparable situation would be Punjab denying water to Sind and then selling it to India.
To understand that let us move from the Indus basin to the Furat-Dijla (Euphrates-Tigris) basin. What is presented as a hypothetical situation in the former has been turned into an unfortunate reality in the latter. Both Dijla and Furat originate in Turkey, pass through Syria, and end up in Iraq where they join to form the Shat-al Arab that then discharges into the Persian Gulf. Mesopotamia means the land between the two rivers, the two rivers having been the source of civilization since the ancient times. Add the artificial international borders between Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and the same life giving water turns into an explosive that could rock the area. In 1974 there was a near war between Syria and Iraq as Syria began to fill the reservoir that has become Lake Asad, decreasing the flow of the river to Iraq to as little as 25 percent of the normal rate. Armies were moved and threats were exchanged, though finally diplomatic activity by the Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia defused the situation. In 1990 tensions ran high as Turkey stopped all flow in Furat for one complete month as it started to fill the Ataturk Dam.
Today Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project, (GAP in Turkey) is promising a much more serious conflict in the days to come. The multi-billion dollar GAP includes more than 20 dams and 17 electric power plants, which will reduce water supply to Syria by 50% and to Iraq by 90% when it is completed in another twenty years. Even more bizarre is the plan Turkey has for part of the water that it denies to Syria and Iraq seriously endangering their agriculture and economies; it will sell it to Israel through the so-called Peace Pipeline that will run through the Mediterranean. The agreement with Israel was signed in 2001. "We have declared that we can sell water to whichever country needs water, regardless of its language or flag," said Cumhur Ersumer, Turkey's energy minister at that time. "It looks like Israel will be the first country to buy Turkey's water." That is the logic of the nation-state as articulated by Suleyman Demirel: "Neither Syria or Iraq can lay claim to Turkey's rivers any more than Ankara could claim their oil. This is a matter of sovereignty."
We can be sure that accountants in Turkey can show that Turkey will benefit economically by doing what it plans to do. And even a so-called Islamist party in Turkey will be driven by those calculations pledging, as it does, allegiance to "Turkish national interests." A comparable situation would be Punjab denying water to Sind and then selling it to India. No matter how corrupt leaders in Pakistan become (if they have not already reached the limit) it is just impossible to imagine that outcome. And yet the same situation is not only possible, it is there in the other case. Such are the wonders of the corrupt ideology of nation-state!
Conflicts of interest between any two entities are normal and natural. What is crucial is the mechanism and structure for resolving them. Islamic laws of inheritance highlight this fact. Conflicts could develop even among close relatives over distribution of inheritance. Since Islam values very smooth relations and does not like even the slightest bickering there, the Shariah has provided the detailed rules for this distribution. Neither the people involved, nor the government can override this distribution. Thus a solid mechanism has been provided for resolution of these conflicts.
In case of two provinces of the same country, the mechanism for the resolution of their conflicts remains in the form of the central government as well as firm realization on the part of everyone that they are riding the same boat. However when they turn into independent countries, both of these are lost.
How the definition of the self-interest can change with a change in the frame of reference can be seen through another example. When the US gave the Pakistani ruler the choice of either joining the invader or joining the target he did not hesitate for a minute to choose the first option. It can be criticized as much as one wants, but the fact remains that under the frame of reference under which Pakistan and all Muslim countries operate today, that was an option. But can we imagine the US demanding, or Pakistan conceding the support for attacking Baluchistan? This would clearly be seen as preposterous by everyone. As far as the Shariah is concerned, the two situations are exactly alike. But in the system of nation-states they are not.
The gap between the idea of the nation-state and that of one Ummah is wider than can be patched with good leaders of individual nation-states
That the opposition to what the Pakistani president did was manageable is also a reflection of the fact that Muslims the world over have generally and unwittingly bought into the philosophy of this nationalism.
The imposition of embargo on Afghanistan and Iraq is another example of the clash between Islam and the nation-state. Islam teaches that it is not a believer who eats while his neighbor goes to bed hungry. The system of the UN on the other hand, ordered its member-states not to supply any food or medicine to those dying of hunger and disease in Iraq. Again, the fact that Muslim countries have complied with the latter without any consternation or serious opposition is a reminder of our subconscious acceptance of the nationalist ideology.
We can see why world Muslims acted like mice in the face of disaster. The Qur'an warned us not to engage in disputes and infighting or we would become weak and powerless. But we have not only done the exact opposite, we have given a permanent structure and legal cover to the arrangement for that infighting in the current political organization of the Muslim domain.
This exposition of the ideology of nation-state invariably faces a mental block; namely that all this is impossible. This argument runs like this. We had a Khilafah centuries ago. Since then we have had a checkered history of nominal Khalifah, Sultans, and Nawabs running their own kingdoms and fiefdoms. Today we have fifty-four states and there is no way we can change that in our life times. Yes and no. While we had more then one centers of political power for centuries, the Muslim world was much more integrated then than we realize. It was one social, cultural, religious and economic domain. Its language, system of education, currency, and laws were the same. There were no restrictions on travel, or movement of capital or goods. A Muslim could take up residence and start a business or get a job anywhere. Ibn Batuta traveled from Tunisia to Hijaz, East Africa, India, Malaya, and China, covering 75000 miles without traveling the same road twice. During the twenty-five year journey he took up residence where he wanted to; got even government assignments as Qadi and even as ambassador in China for the Sultan in India. If that was possible then, it should be easier now because of the huge advances in the communication and transportation technologies alone.
The corruption of ideas is far more devastating than the corruption of actions.
No one is suggesting that we can dismantle the fifty-four Muslim governments overnight and replace them with a Khilafah. But we can gradually breakdown the barriers between the Muslim states in travel, trade, and all exchanges at personal levels. With free flow of people, goods, capital, and ideas throughout the Muslim domain, a quite revolution can begin. We could realize that this domain is much more self-sufficient and strong then we have ever realized. That its various parts complement each other's needs and strengthen each other. That it is the artificial borders between Muslim lands drawn by colonial powers that have terribly weakened it!
While we recognize that the barriers to that vision are real and very serious, we must also realize that the most serious barriers are mental and psychological. We must break through the mental straitjacket and realize that another world is possible. Only then we will begin to see how to get there. It may take a generation or many generations. But we will never get there if we do not know that is where we want to go. Today sometimes Muslims say out of frustration that Muslim governments should form their own United Nations. The suggestion does capture our deep desire for unity as well as our deep running confusion about it. For it has one s too many. The Islamic discourse should be about a United Nation of theirs and not United Nations.
The Qur'an on Self-Discipline
Indeed, even if we were to limit ourselves to a discussion of only a portion of what the Qur'an contains by way of self-discipline and morality, much more would be needed than a mere chapter of a book. Suffice it to say, therefore, that no writing has ever called man to do the good works and elevated the virtuous life as the Qur'an has done; that no book has elevated the human soul to the level to which the Qur'an has raised it; and that no book has emphasized virtue, mercy, fraternity and love, cooperation and harmony, charity and kindness, loyalty and trustworthiness, sincerity and good intention, justice and forgiveness, patience and forbearance, humility and submission, virtue and goodness, the commandment to good and the forbiddance of evil with as much power, persuasion, and sublimity as the Qur'an has done. No book has ever spoken against weakness and fear, favoritism and jealously, hatred and injustice, lying and libel, avarice and prodigality, false witness and perjury, aggression and corruption, cheating, treason, and all vice as profoundly and persuasively as the revelation which came to the Arab Prophet. The reader will find no surah in the Qur'an in which the call to virtue, the commandment to good, the forbiddance of evil, and the pursuit of perfection are not central. Every surah raises the reader to the highest level of moral awareness and tension. Let us mark well God's statement regarding tolerance: "Respond to the evil deed with a good one . . . . The good deed is certainly not the equivalent of the evil one. Repel the evil deed with the good one. Instantly, your enemy will be transformed into a warm friend." [Qur'an, 23-96; 41:34] This toleration to which the Qur'an calls, however, does not proceed from weakness but from magnanimity of spirit, a will to compete in good deeds and to avoid lowly ones. God says: "And if you are greeted, respond with a better greeting or, at least, with the same." [Qur'an, 4:86] Further, God says: "And when you punish, inflict the same punishment as was meted out to you. But if you refrain out of patience, it is better for you." [Qur'an, 16:126] All these verses clearly establish that the Islamic call to tolerance is at the same time a call to virtue unspoiled by any weakness. It is indeed the consequence of a self-transcendence that is pure and unalloyed.
Tolerance from strength and virtue, to which the Qur'an calls, is founded upon brotherhood which Islam places at the root of its civilization and which it holds to be absolutely universal. Islamic brotherhood integrates justice and mercy without weakness or sufferance. It arises from equality in right, goodness and virtue, unaffected by utilitarian advantage. Under its aegis, the Muslim prefers his fellows to himself even though they be far inferior to him. He fears God and none other; consequently, the Muslim is the model of pride, dignity, and self-respect. And yet he is the model of humility and modesty. He is truthful and fulfills a covenant once he has entered into it. He is as patient when tragedy strikes as when he receives good fortune and new power. Faced with calamity, he thinks, feels, and prays "We are all God's, and to Him we shall all return." He never abases himself to anyone, and yet he has no false pride. God has protected him against avarice and stinginess when they are directed toward himself. He never reports falsely about God or about His servants; he never approves of adultery and always seeks to avoid transgression and crime. If he ever goes into a rage, he seeks God's mercy and forgiveness, sublimates his rage and fury, and forgives his offenders. He avoids suspicion, spying, and reporting secretly about his fellows. He does not violate the wealth of his fellows, nor allow the rulers to do so unjustly. He stands beyond jealousy, strategy, deceit, gossip, and every kind of misdemeanor.