Kargador at Dawn

Kargador at Dawn
Work in the Vineyard

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Status of Non-Muslim in an Islamic State

The Non-Muslims in an Islamic State
By Eliseo ‘Jun’ Mercado, OMI
  1. Introduction:
            This write-up is meant to contextualize the debates on the status of non-Muslims living under Islamic rule. To begin with, Islamic rule is understood as the complete implementation of the Shari’a on both individuals and society as well. With the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)’s insistence in Islamic Rule and government, it is necessary to determine the status of non-Muslims in such a situation.
            The articulated MILF position is that the Islamic government shall ensure that the citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims, enjoy freedom, justice, equality and democracy and their human rights (Salamat Hashim’s Concept of Bangsamoro State and Government by A.S. Mansur Lingga). The MILF points to the fact that the people of the book are considered “protected people” (ahl-dhimma). But a simple reference to the concept of dhimma does not capture the essence of the concept and the praxis of the dhimma through the centuries.
            What we try to do is to research on the concept of dhimma as understood and practiced though the centuries and codified in variety of caliphal decrees and legal texts that contribute to the present corpus on the concept and praxis of dhimma.
  1. Concept:
              The concept of Dhimma evoked the idea of protection/covenant during the time of the prophet.   The prophet took upon himself and the Islamic government the “protection” of the people of the book beginning with the Christians of Najran.
                The people of the book (ahl - ad - kitab) are the Christians, Jews and Sabaeans. They are guaranteed life, liberty and, in a modified sense, property. They are called dhimmi (ahl - dhimma) or protected/covenant people.
                  In return for the “protection” accorded the people of the book, they have to accomplish the following:
  1. Each adult ‘sane’ male must pay a poll-tax (djizya).
  1. Non-Muslims must distinguish themselves from believers by dress, not riding on horseback or carrying weapons.
  1. Non-Muslims are not allowed to join the Islamic armies but they pay for the maintenance of Islamic armies.
  1. They must always have a respectful attitude towards Muslims.
  1. They are also under certain legal disabilities with regard to testimony in courts.
The Praxis of Dhimma
               On the praxis of Dhimma, one can only study as far back as the praxis during the times of the Caliphs and Sultans from the 7th century to the time of the Ottamans.
               The first example of Dhimma praxis is handed over by “Umar ibn Khattab, the second Caliph and companion of the prophet after Abu Bakr. The 7th Century Pact of Umar is still extant.
                The 7th Century Pact of Umar showed what the non-Muslims should do in exchange for the “protection” to be accorded to them by the Islamic State. This consisted in the following:
  1. They must not build new monasteries, churches, convents, or monks’ cells. No repairs in the existing ones if they fall in ruins.
  1. There shall be no public manifestation of religion nor convert anyone to it.
  1. They must always show respect towards the Muslims and seats must be given to them.
  1. They shall not mount on horseback, nor shall they gird swords nor bear any kind of arms nor carry them on their persons.
  1. There shall be no selling of fermented drinks nor forbidden food.
  1. There shall be no public display of crosses.
                  This pact was further refined in the 8th and 9th centuries as written in al-Shafi ‘ i ’s Kitab al Umm. Briefly the refinements are summarized in the following principles:
  1. The non-Muslims shall be subject to the authority of Islam and to no contrary authority.
  1. They shall not refuse to carry out any obligation that the Islamic State sees fit to impose upon them by virtue of this authority.
  1. If anyone of them speaks improperly of Muhammad, may God bless and save him, the Book of God or of his religion, he forfeits the dhimma (note: This is the basis of the Blasphemy Law of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran).

Modern Islamic Political Thought
               The status of non-Muslims in an Islamic State has remained the same until the coming of modern Islamic political thought during the 18th and 19th centuries reform by the so-called “Young Turks” Revolution of 1908.   The idea of freedom came into the scene in the 18th and early 19th century Ottoman Empire patently due to European influence.
                 Similarly, General Napoleon Bonaparte upon his arrival in Egypt introduced the French understanding of freedom on the basis of the French revolution’s slogan “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”.
                All these movements led to the reform edict of 1839, the first Ottoman Constitution in 1878 and the Young Turks Revolution of 1908. Freedom took roots during that period. This referred to individual as well as societal, political, social, economic and religious freedom. The people of the land, Muslims and non-Muslims, became co-citizens enjoying the same rights and privileges.   Nationality became the basis of unity and nationhood. Practically the entire Muslim world adopted this model with few exceptions. 
                  The dhimma was totally rejected since its concept and praxis put the non-Muslims in inferior positions. As a matter of fact, the Dhimmis were never considered citizens. The reform and the subsequent struggles for national freedom participated in by all citizens (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) gave birth to a new nation of citizens on the basis constitution or charter.
“Back” to Islam
                 There is an often-repeated Qur’anic obligation imposed on Muslims “to enjoin good and forbid evil” (al-amr bi’l - ma’ruf wa’l ‘an al-munkar).   By this injunction, a Muslim is required not merely to do good and avoid evil but also to enjoin good and forbid evil.   To fulfill this obligation, it requires the exercise of authority. And this has become the basis of the necessity that a Muslim has to be the head/chief of a community/state and the enforcement of Islamic Law. In short, it has to be an Islamic State! This movement is often labeled as “Fundamentalism”. Adherents of this movement struggle for the restoration of a truly Islamic society governed by Islamic Law and ruled by a Muslim leader. To them, this is the only true path to salvation and God.
                 The Islamic State is a community of believers.   Allah is the Sovereign of the state, the Qur’an is the Constitution and the Shari’a is the law of the land. The political and religious leadership was vested in God’s messenger who served as prophet and political leader of the Islamic community/state. Upon Muhammad’s death, his successors (Caliphs or Imam) assumed both the religious as well as the political leadership in the community.
                  The Shari’a or Islamic Law is based on the Divine Revelation (the Qur’an) and the Sunnah of the prophet. It provides a comprehensive code of life that included laws that regulate prayer, family, criminal, commercial and international law. The religious scholars (ulama) serve as the guardians of the Shari’a.     
                    The “return” to Islam movement is the paramount “cry” of the MILF. This movement holds that Islam is the ultimate norm in regulating the public, social and individual life of both the individuals and community. Islam under the MILF rule shall, once again (as in Medina), be the organizing principle of society. How this is to be done remains to be seen, since the MILF does not give a “model” of what they want as an Islamic State.
                    There are two elements/ingredients in their version of Islamic State. First is the rule of Shari’a in all things and second is the principle that leadership in an Islamic State is in the hands of Muslims. What needs to be discussed in the said Islamic agenda are the role and status of non-Muslims in governance, civil society and the religious practices.   No doubt, the dhimma is not acceptable to non-Muslims. The concept and the praxis of dhimma put the non-Muslims in an inferior status.
                       In modern social praxis, this is reverse discrimination. The dhimma is an anachronism today. No one, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, can accept nor tolerate the praxis of the dhimma.   It might have been good in the 7th and the 8th centuries, during the period of feudalism, but certainly people and citizens in this day and age cannot accept and tolerate inequality and denial of access to political power on account of religion and race. If the MILF position is to gain wide acceptance and support, it has to re-define its stance on governance, Shari’a applications and on the role and status of non-Muslims. (ERM 4/30/16)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

6th Sunday of Easter (C)

Reflection for the 6th Easter Sunday (C)

Readings: Acts 15: 1-2. 22-29; Revelation 21: 10-14. 22-23; John 14: 23-29
Selected Passage:  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. (John 14: 27)

 Reflection:  There are many things that bother us and cause us so many anxieties. The Gospel tells us ‘do not let our hearts be troubled or afraid’.  The Risen Christ remains with us in his words and in when we gather and remember his words and deeds, especially at the breaking of the bread.  The Risen Lord gives us PEACE!  www.badaliyya.blogspot.com

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus – A common Muslim-Christian Heritage

1. The Importance of the Site in Ephesus

The name Ephesus evokes the ancient Greek city in Asia Minor where the cult of Artemis (Diane), which preceded Christianity, manifested itself by a temple classed among the seven marvels of the world. But it is also inseparable from Saint Paul who preached on the agora in the year 57 of the Christian era, or from Saint John, who lived there (where the Basilica containing his tomb has been found), and of the third Ecumenical Council when the Mother of Christ was proclaimed Theotokos (Mother of God) in 431 of the Christian era.

Placed under the protection of Saint John, the Virgin would have accompanied him to Ephesus during his apostolate. It is likely that he settled her outside the ancient city on a neighboring hill where it is believed that her house was discovered. It is known today by the name Panaya Kapulu (that is to say, the "Port of All Saints").

In fact it is not on the edge of the shore, but well into the mountain that it is necessary to search for traces of the past. (The sea has receded from what was one of the biggest ports in antiquity). Not far from the building called Panaya Kapulu on the side of another hill, beside the tomb presumed to have been that of Mary Magdalene, one finds a sepulcher known by the name of the Cave of the Seven Sleepers.
2. The Origins of the Devotion to the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus

In 1926, research by the Austrian Archeological Institute uncovered the ruins of the basilica of the Seven Sleepers (built above the cave) which permitted them to specify the date. It dates back to the middle of the 5th century. Archeology was able to confirm implicitly the epoch evoked by an ancient writing that we can thus summarize. Seven young people from Ephesus were buried alive in a cave for having refused to deny their faith in God during the persecutions ordered by the Emperor Décius; they woke up after a long sleep of several hundred years and died several hours later after having testified to their experience.

They were seen collectively by the inhabitants who decided afterwards to build a sanctuary dedicated to them. The historian, Honigmann, established that this tradition was common to Melkite, Nestorian, and Jacobite Christians, and therefore precedes their division (5th and 6th centuries). As for the liturgical names of the seven saints, they were already reported in 530 by a Latin pilgrim from North Africa, Theodosis, in a Jacobite list in Nubia. In its liturgical calendar the Eastern Church celebrates the Seven Sleepers twice: October 22nd (Common of prayers to the Martyrs), and August 4th (the traditional feast day), while the Latin Occident celebrates them on July 27th.

But, what is more remarkable, the example of these martyrs for the faith is venerated beyond the limits of Christianity. In fact, Sura XVIII of the Qur'an read every Friday in the Mosques (and thus preceding the death of Muhammed in 632) is entitled al-Kahf, that is to say, the Cave. This Sura exalts the abandonment to God of these seven young Ephesians buried alive, describing their witness to fidelity in the face of an impious demand, then their ‘dormition' which it states was 309 years. Sura XVIII could be considered as the Apocalypse of Islam; not only does it magnify the attitude of the seven martyrs for their faith by their anticipated resurrection, but it also presents the announcement of the Last Judgement.

Muslims make exception for the Seven Sleepers and tolerate the building of sanctuaries to these martyrs because their temporary resurrection made them precursory witnesses of the Last Judgement, saints of the End Time. Shustari, one of the most interesting commentators on the Qur'an, said that, "All Saints lose their normal sleep and enter into the sleep of the Seven Sleepers".  (Geneviève Massignon)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Awliyâ'î - Close to God

Awliyâ'î (singular walî): i.e., those who are "close to" God, probably alluding to the famous Qur'ânic verses 10:62-64:"...the friends of God, they have no fear and they do not grieve...theirs is the Good News in this lower life and in the next (life)...that is the Tremendous Attainment"..

The same Arabic term--which also carries significant connotations of "protector", "guardian" and even "governor"--also appears as one of the more frequent Names of God (at 2:257; 3:68; 45:19; etc.).

In most branches of Shiite thought it is one of the many Qur'anic terms taken as references to the spiritual function of the Imams, while in later Sufism--most elaborately in the thought of Ibn cArabî and his successors--the term is usually understood to refer to the particular spiritual state of proximity to God (walâya) shared by the divine Messengers, prophets (anbiyâ') and saints, besides the different spiritual functions that distinguish each of those members of the spiritual hierarchy. (See the more complete discussion in M. Chodkiewicz, Le Sceau des saints: Prophétie et sainteté dans la doctrine d'Ibn Arabî, especially chapt. 1.)

In the influential poetic classics of the later Islamic humanities, this complex of Arabic terms is conveyed above all by the recurrent, intentionally ambiguous references to the "Beloved" or "Friend" (Persian Yâr or Dûst, and their equivalents in Turkish, Urdu, Malay, etc.).

There this relationship of walâya/wilâya becomes the central metaphor for the divine-human relationship and the theophanic nature of all nature and experience.
The intimately related theme of the spiritual virtues of poverty and humility stressed in this same divine saying is likewise reflected in many other hadîth, which together help explain the frequency of terms like faqîr and darvîsh (Arabic and Persian for "poor person", "beggar", etc.) to refer to the saints and their followers in later Islamic mysticism. www.badaliyya.blogspot.com

Badaliyya Prayer Session April 29th

Dear Friends,

In the years between 1947 and 1962 Louis Massignon prayed together with members of the Badaliyya in Paris on the First Friday of each month while Mary Kahil and members of the Badaliyya in Cairo joined them in spirit along woth many others around the world. The first Friday was a day of fasting, followed by Mass and the gathering of members of the Badaliya for their monthly prayer.

In keeping with Massignon's tradition, this year 2016 we will gather in prayers for our Badaliyya prayer on the last Friday, of each month, beginning the 29th of April 2016 here at the OMI Bolduc House Chapel at 32 Collates, Xavierville, Loyola, QC.  We begin our Badaliyya Session at 3 pm and conclude it at 4:30 pm.

We pray for peace in the Middle East and we reflect on Psalm 122 included below. Here is a portion of it that we will read together as part of our Badaliyya prayer. Please join us:

Psalm 122

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
Because of my relatives and friends
I will say,"Peace be within you"!
Because of the house of the Lord, our God,
I will pray for your good.

Peace to you.
Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI

Badaliyya - Philippines

April 21, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

5th Sunday of Easter (C)

Short Reflection for the 5th Easter Sunday (C)

Readings: Acts 14: 21-27; Revelation 21: 1-5; John 13: 31-33. 34-35

Selected Passage:  “I give you a new commandment: * love one another as I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13: 34-35)

 Reflection:  The new measure of our love for on another is the love of Christ for each one of us.  Jesus shows his love in the CROSS, that is, Jesus’ self-expenditure that we may have life to the full.  ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. By this kind of love, people will know that we are his disciples! www.badaliyya.blogspot.com

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Badaliyya Tradition

The Badaliyya Tradition…
By Dorothy C. Buck

In 1934 a renowned French Catholic Islamic scholar and an Egyptian Christian woman also prayed together before the altar of a Franciscan Church in Damietta, Egypt. In a passionate plea to the God of Abraham, father of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, they made a vow to dedicate their lives to pray for the Muslim people, to stand before God for them.

As a young man, Louis Massignon had lost interest in his Christian heritage. After an unusual conversion experience while on an archeological mission in Baghdad he became a devout Roman Catholic believer. Through years of research in the Arab world he came to love his Muslim friends and colleagues.

Mary Kahil was a Melkite Christian who grew up in Cairo, Egypt where she became active in the Muslim women's political and social causes.

Louis discovered the roots of his spirituality and his faith life in his belief that to be a follower of Christ we must substitute our own lives for the salvation of others as Jesus did.

Thus the vow that Louis and Mary made in Damietta on February 9th, 1934 was grounded in a deep conviction of the heart, a call to what Louis named the Badaliyya, an Arabic word meaning substitution.

In 1947 Louis Massignon and Mary Kahil received official approval from Rome for the statutes of the Badaliyya. They attracted many members in Cairo as well as those joining in solidarity with them, like Cardinal Montini, the future Pope Paul Vl, and many others in monasteries and church communities around the world.

In the statutes they agreed to pray for the Muslims, to treat them with respect, affection and kindness, and to personally live the gospel message of love in their daily lives. Like Mary they devoted themselves to the Muslim community by volunteering in organizations where they could live out the spirit intended by the Badaliyya.

They met once a week for an hour. Guided by his relationship with Charles de Foucauld, Massignon invited them to begin their gatherings with a prayer in solitude before the altar called adoration. Then they read the spiritual writings of Foucauld or others, and ended by praying together.

Louis Massignon's understanding of what he called mystical substitution traced back to earlier church traditions. The many saints who were often martyrs for their faith were said to unite their sufferings and death with the passion and death of Christ.  In the medieval church some extraordinary mystics felt called to pray to take onto themselves the physical and emotional afflictions of those who came to them for healing.

These examples seem far from our contemporary experience of faith and appear exaggerated and foreign. Yet, Louis Massignon's vision of such immense love of
God, even at the expense of one's own life or health, evolved into a profound and intense spirituality of compassion for others.

In a letter written on January 16, 1955 to Mary Kahil he described the spirit of the
Badaliyya: (All Massignon references are from L'Hospitalité Sacrée, Ed. Jacques Keryell, 1987. Author's translation.)

"...They say that the Badaliyya is an illusion because we cannot put ourselves in the place of another, and that it is a lover's dream. It is necessary to respond that this is not a dream but rather a suffering that one receives without choosing it, and through which we conceive grace. It is the visitation [by the spirit of God], hidden in the depth of the anguish of compassion, which seizes us as an entrance into the reign of God. It certainly appears powerless, yet it requires everything, and the One on the cross who shares it with us transfigures it on the last day. It is suffering the pains of humanity together with those who have no other pitiful companion than us."

Badaliyya - Philippines
April 17, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Reflection on the 1st Commandment


But how do we—believers, Christians, sincere churchgoers—break the first commandment? How do we have strange gods before us?

The answer is not easy. The idolatry that afflicts us has little to do with worshipping icons, misguided devotions and other such things. It is more subtle. It has to do with the false images of God to which we give obeisance.
Allow me to name 10 such false gods whom we habitually substitute for the real God, Yahweh.
1. The arbitrary god of fear.
2. The insecure, defensive, threatened god.
3. The dumb, non-understanding god.
4. The exotic god of special places.
5. The ascetic god who Christ does not proclaim feast.
6. The emasculated god of unbalanced piety.
7. The orthodox god of strict theological formulation.
8. The unholy god in our own image and likeness.
9. The overly-intense, wired, god of our own neuroses.
10. The anti-erotic god, anti-enjoyment god of our guilt.

Monday, April 11, 2016

4th Sunday of Easter (C)

Short Reflection for the 4th Easter Sunday (C)

Readings: Acts 13: 14. 43-52; Revelation 7: 14b – 17; John 10: 27-30
Selected Passage:  “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (John 10: 27-28)

Reflection:  The newness of Christianity is the FAMILIARITY and the FRIENDSHIP we established with God. We hear his voice, recognize and know God. God knows each one of us and He calls each one by name. And he gives us eternal life. www.badaliyya.blogspot.com