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Nothing but peace and good will

Reader comment on item: Did Michael Jackson Convert to Islam?
in response to reader comment: For mahfooz and Arabian imperialsim part deux and who is really a munafiq?

Submitted by Mahfooz-ur Rahman (Bangladesh), Nov 1, 2006 at 04:46

Dear Sister/Brother

I do not know how to address you, as you hide behind a pseudo name. I wonder what are you hiding from? You have emphasised on my Bengali (not Benghali, which is a misspelling) culture simply because I saw no reason to hide my name or my country - but I have no reason to hide my indentity at all. Though I am not a psychiatrist, I suspect that you have been wronged gravely somehow in your social or familial environment. Thus you are angry, and your anger has taken better of your reason. You have somehow transferred this anger and furstration onto your religion and on the religion of your forebears. I also suspect (please correct me if I am wrong) that you are a woman of Arab heritage, of noble birth, highly educated but frustrated because you perhaps do not find avenues to apply profitably your education and inclinations in the restrictive society that unfortunately has stifles your voice and your natural calling.

Whatever you said or will say to me, no matter, please know that I have nothing but respect for you. Do you know why? Because, by the grace of Allah, you were born on the land on which our Holy Prophet (SM) walked, suffered and preached for the salvation of mankind, and thereby consecrated it forever. You speak the same language in which Allah revealed the final testament and guidance, the final and universal Constitution if you like for mankind though His messenger Rasul-e Akram (SM). I can not bear ill will or be disrespectful to such a person whosoever she/he may be.

But please do not blame Islam for the ills that afflict you or the likes of you. I am sure and certain that Islam has not made you a Dhimmi - you are as liberated and as free as any human being under the Laws of Allah. Think again, and please do not blame divine laws for the societal ills created by human customs, practices and man-made laws. Islam in all its intellectual liberalism never advocated many practices that are the norms in countries such as Saudi Arabia. Islam is not the monopoly of the Arabs, nor it is the religion of only the Arabs, nor are the practices that are usual in many Arab nations are truly Islamic as per the dictates of the Sunnah. Numerous Semitic Arabs do practice many other religions such as Christianity and Judaism other than Islam, as you well know. Also Arabic language is not the sole property of the native speakers. That is a view, though grossly in error, you seem to take for granted and repeat ad infinitum (and, if you allow me, ad nausium)

A language is a skill that can be acquired by any one. I have a degree in English language from a British University and perhaps am able to teach it to most native speakers. I know of a professor of Arabic in the University of Medina who is a Bengali Muslim by birth. The famous Tafsir-e-Quran written in Arabic by the late Maulana Abul Kalam Azad of India, of which he was the Education Minister, is a textbook in many famous Muslim seminaries in the Arab world. One famous linguist and scholar of our country, the late Dr Muhammad Shahid-ullah, a comparative philologist, mastered 19 languages and was versed in over 50. It is little wonder that he had Masters Degrees in English, French, Arabic and Sanskrit, and obtained his PhD in comparative philology from the University of Berlin before the 2nd World War. His doctoral dissertation written in German was on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is written in ancient Hebrew. He was a Bengali by birth, and the same language was his native tongue but he became a scholar in many languages, both ancient and modern, by dint of his efforts, talents and hard work. Allah has not limited our knowledge and skills in only our local language or truncated fields of knowledge - mankind is free to master all aspects of knowledge in any subject or calling that he may choose freely. Thus Dr. Shahid-ullah was also a specialist in dead languages such as Aramaic, the native language of Joshua of Nazareth, our respected prophet Isa (RA). So, to assume that a language is the sole monopoly of a native speaker is rather naive and smacks of ignorance and bigotry. (Pardon me but no offence is meant, it is only a general statement of fact).

My late father, Habib-ur Rahman, gave me my name - I did not choose it by any means. In the Arab tradition, I would be called Mahfooz-ibn-Habib, but I am known by this name, as is the custom in our society. As to conversion, every Muslim during the Prophet (SM)'s time was a convert. There is no special merit in being born to a Muslim family. On the contrary, I feel one who converts to Islam by his/her free will are specially dear to Allah and the Rasul (SM) as he/she has chosen the right path by his/her deliberate choice.

You point out time and again that I do not know Arabic. It is true and a sad deficiency in my education that I freely admit. I know 4 languages well, including my native tongue, and speak couple of more. But owing to colonial tradition, my parents put more emphasis on learning English, which I did, and did not study Arabic formally in school, though I was taught to read the Quran as a child by a tutor versed in Arabic. But I am trying to learn it now and will not be discouraged by any contrary comments, Allah willing. Please do remember the last sermon (Khutabul Wada) of the Holy Prophet (SM) which I quote, in part:

" All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood."

Muslims take the last injections of the Prophet (SM), who was and will continue to be the embodiment of the mercy of Allah to mankind, as articles of faith and will not be distracted by adverse persuations or propaganda by the kafiroon and the mushriqoon. (Again I to revert to Arabic, in spite of your spiteful mockery to the contrary, as I find no appropriate words in English, because, of course, I do not know Arabic – an oxymoron, would you not say? (smile).

Lastly, I never called you or anyone else for that matter, a Munafiq. I have no right to. Allah forbids me to exceed limits, and I shall not. I bear you no ill will or grudge, my dear Sister (or Brother). I only seek Allah's mercy and kindness so that the anger and frustration that reigns in your heart is removed by divine wish and then you will see the world in the light of peace and tranquillity. Let us not talk of wars and conflicts, rather of peace and brotherhood. And you will see that your brother from Bangladesh, though not an Arab, has anything but good will and respect for you.

If this ignorant person, in peace, humility and in subservience to Allah, expects similar sentiments from you, one who hides behind a curtain, please do forgive him and pray for the salvation of his sinful soul.

With best regards, respects, good wishes and greetings from Bangladesh,

Your brother

Mahfooz

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