As salam wa alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh
(Peace be with you, and Allah’s Mercy and Blessings)
Bismillah al Rahman al Raheem
(In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, most Kind)
As salatu wa salam alaika ya Rasul Allah
wa alaika wa sahabika ya Habib Allah
As salatu wa salam alaika ya Rasul Allah
wa alaika wa sahabika ya Nabi Allah
As salatu wa salam alaika ya Rasul Allah
wa alaika wa sahabika ya Rahmatul-Lil-Alamein
(salutations on the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him)
In the Quran, Allah (SWT) refers to his Beloved, the Chosen One, as the Mercy To All The Worlds (Rahmatul-Lil Alamein) emphasising the loving, compassionate character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
During this holy month, we celebrate the life of the Holy Prophet (SAW) through events such as this blessed gathering, Mawlid marches (juloos), singing beautiful naats and nasheeds, and reading the Seerah (biography) of the Holy Prophet (SAW). All of which are good and blessed things to do, but if we forget the divinely ordained message that Allah (SWT) gave to his Chosen One; that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) along with his blessed family and companions (sahabah), sacrificed so much for, in order to bring this precious guidance to us today, how are we honouring the Beloved of Allah (SAW)?
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) brought a message of love and kindness to all, to honour every son and daughter of Adam (AS). Instead, what do we see today, reported everyday in the media; Muslim media as well as the mainstream media, and also on the web… Muslims today are far to quick to call each other ‘kafir’ because of the group to which they belong, or the way they approach Islam, this is so far from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the Beloved of Allah, who taught us in his last sermon to, “Harm no one, that no one harms you.”
In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) states in Surah Al Anbiya (21), ayah 92, “Verily, this people of yours is a single people, and I am your Lord and Cherisher.” i.e. We are One Human Family – whatever religion we follow, or nation we come from, we are all members of the same Human Family!
The next ayah (93), points out that many people have forgotten this and have broke their relations with one another. But Allah (SWT) ends the ayah by reminding us, “… but they will all return to Us.” In other words, we must all return to Allah and will have to explain ourselves before the Almighty, if we haven’t been treating people well in our lives.
“Your Lord knows best what is in your hearts; if you do good deeds, He is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again (in true repentance) and honour the rights of their relatives, and those in need, and the traveller. But do not waste your wealth senselessly.” (Quran: Al Isra 17:25-6)
The blessings of Allah come to those who remember to take care of their families, communities, and those in need, like the work that Shaykh Muhammad Naqeeb-ur-Rehman has dedicated his life to; feeding those in need, educating those who cannot afford an education, and especially girls and women; who all too often are forgotten and denied their rights.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), honoured women and raised their station in society. He married a successful businesswoman, Lady Khadijah (RA) and later in his life married Lady Ayesha (RA), who became one of the first scholars of Islam, and even a political leader. In the early years of Islam there were so many prominently women held in high esteem; immensely respected by the early Muslims; they knew well, as Malcolm X said in more recent times that, “If you educate a man, you educate one person. When you educate a woman, you educate and liberate an entire generation.”
Women are half the community, we absolutely must make provision for them in our mosques and in all aspects of our communities; the Holy Prophet (SAW) wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The education of girls undertaken by Eidgah Sharif in Pakistan is an excellent start in this direction, but we mustn’t stop there; so much more is still to be done, in order to create the kind of Muslim community the Prophet (SAW) would want us to bring about.
The first part of being Muslim is being a decent Human Being; someone who other people, whether Muslim or otherwise, feel comfortable with. The real Muslim is someone who people can trust and feel safe around, knowing they will not be robbed or harmed in any way, as indeed the Holy Prophet (SAW) himself said.
We all to often forget this and forget ourselves, this is something we must watch in in our day to day lives. We honour the Holy Prophet (SAW) when we treat people well, are honest in our dealings, and don’t over criticise people (or worse), because of the Muslim group they belong to, or if of another religion, the religious group they belong to, or for having no religious beliefs.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) respected all people, and didn’t treat people badly because they followed a different religion. Even the pagans (mushrikeen) who didn’t attack the Muslims were treated with kindness and compassion; while the Holy Prophet’s relations with Jews and Christians were even better. Today, Muslims don’t even get on with each other, never mind with people of other faiths, or none.
We must respect all people if we are to honour the memory of the Chosen One, the Messenger of Allah (SAW), something we must remember and remind ourselves each and every day of our lives; as we, each and every one of us Muslims, are ambassadors for Islam, ambassadors of the Messenger of Allah, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
My salams and blessings to you all on this most auspicious Eid al Mawlid an Nabi.
(AS) = alayhi as salam; peace be upon him
(RA) = radhi Allahu anha; may Allah be pleased with her
(SAW) = salla llahu alayhi wa sallam; peace and blessing be upon him
(SWT) = subhanahu wa ta’ala; the Most Glorified and Exalted
kafir = often translated as ‘disbeliever’, but its true meaning is more along the lines of a ‘rejecter of manifest truth’.
By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Saint George, patron Saint of England. A figure deceptively familiar to us, St George is everywhere, in children’s story books, cartoons, religious iconography, place names. George is even a popular name given to children, including Prince George, bless him, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
One thing is for sure, there’s no greater symbol of England and Englishness than that dragon slayer, St George! Well now, hang on a minute… Let’s not get too carried away yet. Sure, it’s true, St George is the patron saint of England. But ask anyone where he was born? Where did he live? We invariably get blank looks, people googling, or asking Siri. Suddenly we realise, we don’t know as much about St George as we thought… Who was this guy, the man who became our patron saint?
Jacobus de Voragine relates in his book, The Golden Legend, that St George was a Roman soldier born in Cappadocia in Turkey, who lived during the 3rd Century CE. However, this document was written in the 13th Century CE, a millennium after St George. The oldest known records about St George are in Greek and Syriac from the 5th Century CE, these predate the Latin manuscripts of Acta Sancti Georgii drawn up by the Roman Church in the 6th Century. It is perhaps worth noting that these were turbulent centuries for Christianity…
Research by Laurence Gardner published in 2007, drew him to the conclusion that St George’s historical identity was in fact a Christian priest, George of Laodicea, who became the Bishop of Alexandria. George of Laodicea didn’t accept the then new Catholic take on Christianity. If this be true, it would explain why the Church altered his biography, to obfuscate what they considered a dangerous heresy and serious threat to their legitimacy, during that time.
Due to his Middle Eastern origins and the fact St George was a man who stood by what he believed, he is revered and greatly respected by many Christians and Muslims living in the region to this day.
“Some Palestinian Muslims, especially those from al-Khadr, also follow the practices. ‘It’s not only the Christians that appreciate him, the Muslims also feel the power and the miracles of St George,’ says Father Ananias.
‘When the church was built [in the Byzantine period] the neighbours were Christians. I don’t know when the local people became Muslims, but under the Turkish [Ottomans] they protected the monastery and remained very close.’
An old woman wearing a traditional embroidered dress and the Islamic veil tells me: ‘We all believe in al-Khadr, even my husband. I made a vow to light a candle in al-Khadr church.’
Many Muslim scholars suggest that a servant of God mentioned in the Koran as an associate of Moses, refers to the figure of al-Khadr, who is identified with St George.”
The suggested link with Al-Khidr “The Green One”, a prophet referred to in the Quran is interesting. The name George is derived from the Greek root ‘ge’ which means Earth, like the words geology and geography. Al-Khidr, the Green Man, is called this because of his link to life, Earth and nature. In Islamic traditions, the Earth comes to life with new plant growth wherever he walks… Could St George and Khidr be two versions of one myth? A reference to the same person or archetype?
In Turkey and neighbouring countries, they even celebrate a festival on 6th May, not long after our St George’s Day, called Hıdrellez in honour of Saint Khidr (Hızır in Turkish). Many Muslims in the region, including the late Mawlana Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani, regard St George and Khidr to be one and the same.
Everyone loves dragons these days, especially Game of Thrones fans! Did St George really fight a fire breathing dragon?
We need to take a step back, and realise the account we have of St George is mythologised. That’s not to say it’s not true… A myth is not something completely untrue, it is an account which conveys a message, a meaning in stylised form. Take Star Wars for instance, while in this case it is obviously complete fiction, it is a modern myth. There is much in Star Wars that is inspirational and resonates with people, as it contains truths about life, albeit through the artistic medium of cinema.
What then is the dragon that Saint George confronted? In European mythology, dragons symbolise the ego (nafs), that aspect of ourselves that if not properly trained, can lead us to destruction.
“The European dragon guards things in his cave, and what he guards are heaps of gold and virgins. And he can’t make use of either of them, but he just guards. There’s no vitality of experience, either of the value of the gold or of the female whom he’s guarding there. Psychologically, the dragon is one’s own binding of oneself to one’s ego, and you’re captured in your own dragon cage. And the problem of the psychiatrist is to break that dragon, open him up, so that you can have a larger field of relationships.
Jung had a patient come to him who felt alone, and she drew a picture of herself as caught in the rocks, from the waist down she was bound in rocks. And this was on a windy shore, and the wind blowing and her hair blowing, and all the gold, which is the sign of the vitality of life, was locked in the rocks. And the next picture that he had her draw had followed something he had said to her. Suddenly a lightning flash hit the rocks, and the gold came pouring out, and then she found reflected on rocks round about the gold. There was no more gold in the rocks, it was all available on the top. And in the conferences that followed, those patches of gold were identified. They were her friends. She wasn’t alone, but she had locked herself in her own little room and life, but she had friends. Do you see what I mean? This is killing the dragon. And you have fears and things, this is the dragon; that’s exactly what’s that all about. At least the European dragon; the Chinese dragon is different.”
The dragon then, was his ego. St George was a man who transcended his ego and lead a life of integrity standing up for his beliefs, for justice, challenging the bigotry and hatred of his time, increasingly affecting Christianity because the Church feared losing control and set itself on a path that eventually lead to the Spanish Inquisition, the persecution of Protestant Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Pagans…
St George did what he could to stand up for his beliefs in the face of this troubling transformation of the Church he loved. Indeed, in St George is a timely lesson and reminder for us all. Who will walk in the footsteps of this great man, stand for justice, and challenge bigotry and hatred today?