Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,
Assalaamualaykum I'm ZafarBangash. Welcome to Ramadhan journey- a program that has been looking at the various dimensions of the month of Ramadhan, the month of fasting as well as the noble Qur’an which is intimately linked with the month of Ramadhan. Of course we know from our history of revelation that the first few ayaat of the noble Qur’an were revealed to the noble Messenger of Allah in the solitude of the cave of Hira’ and thereafter over a period of twenty three years. Ramadhan is also linked with building our taqwa. There were such important events such as the battle of Badr as well as the liberation of Makkah but what we really need to do in this month is to engage the noble book of Allah in a more profound way than we have perhaps been doing so far. In order to help and guide us along this path we have with us Imam Muhammad Al Asi who is a fellow in the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, a scholar, an author of many books the most well known of which is his tafseer- the multi-volume tafseer: The Ascendant Qur’an- Realigning Man to the Divine Power Culture. Six volumes of this tafseer have already been printed. The seventh is nearing completion and other volumes will insha’Allah follow soon. So in order to guide us along this Ramadhan journey we'd like to welcome Imam Muhammad Al Asi. Imam Muhammad Al Asi welcome again to our program, thank you so very much.
Zafar Bangash: Now, Al Quds or Masjid Al Aqsa is a very important aspect of Islamic existence and something Muslims are very close to. Of course, in the present time it is under Zionist occupation and it is causing a lot of heartaches to the Muslims worldwide. I'd like to ask you what is the significance of Masjid Al Quds in Islamic history and for all Muslims.
Imam Al-Asi: Al Quds is a story to be told. Al Quds is at the heart of many historical developments and is still at the heart today, probably at the center of world developments in our current generation and time. There is a counter propaganda in the world emanating from hostile political entities along with all of the military establishments that go with them that want public opinion to believe that Al Quds is secondary if not tertiary, (in their own words), in the Islamic religion or in Islamic history. This is very insulting to the Muslims because as the Muslim viewers should know we belong to all the Prophets of Allah. Those who want to portray Al Quds as a Jewish possession or as a Christian possession in exclusion to the Muslims are in fact saying “ Muslims don't belong to Musa and Musa does not belong to them; Muslims don't belong to Isa and Isa does not belong to them” (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon these two Prophets and the rest). Anyone who knows anything rudimentary and elementary about Islamic history and the past and the Qur’an and the Prophet know that we are a continuation of the message of all of these Prophets from Allah.
Zafar Bangash: And Muslims accept and respect all of the Prophets of Allah without exception.
Imam Al-Asi: We have no bias, we have no prejudice, we have no discrimination among all of the scriptural, biblical known and unknown Prophets.
Zafar Bangash: In the Quran at least twenty five Prophets are mentioned by name but according to one hadith of the Prophet there were probably around a hundred and twenty four thousand Prophets- so we believe in all of them. They are all our Prophets and Islam is a continuation of their message.
Imam Al-Asi: And the ayah to that end says
لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ
… we make no distinction between or among any of Allah's Apostles, Messengers and Prophets… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 285)
So in that regard when someone comes from a Jewish background or a Christian background and they either insinuate or bluntly state “ Muslims belong in Makkah and Madinah and they have no business claiming or having an affinity with Jerusalem” that strikes at an area in which they are trying to have Muslims believe that “you are not connected to this other prophetic and scriptural history” and this flies in the face of everything we know about Islam and iman, about the Prophet and about the Qur’an.
Zafar Bangash: They want to define our deen for us?!
Imam Al-Asi: Unfortunately because many of us see them in powers of worldly and material power then we submit sort of to their definition of who we are. It is about time we break out of these imposed definitions and be ourselves and in that regard we are the ones who are going to offer them equality and recognition when they are unable by their policies of today to offer us equality and recognition. So Al Quds being that everyone submits to the fact that it is a city of Prophets, it is the city of the Old Testament and the New Testament and, (this is where we part company with reading history with our scriptural kins, the Jews and the Christians), it also figures very solidly in Islamic history. As a reminder, Muslims at the beginning of our Muhammadi history were praying for around sixteen months towards Al Quds. It is called our first Qibla. The reason why it did not work out that Al Quds remains our Qibla has to do with our inability… This was a brotherly gesture of inclusivism to have all of the followers of these “Abrahamic faiths” facing towards one city but it turned out in the development, (and this is outlined in the first volume of the tafseer), that certain decision makers and leaders in the Yahudi community of the Arabian Peninsula at the time when this Qur’an was revealed over fourteen hundred years ago could not live with this inclusivism that we demonstrated in facing towards Jerusalem in our prayers. So when it was established during that time that the Yahud in particular were unable live with us in a climate and a spirit of equality, of inclusiveness, of sharing history and Prophets then the line was drawn. The ayah in Surah Al Baqarah says
قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا
We see the way you are looking in the direction of the skies and the heavens changing from one direction to the other but We shall indeed orient you towards a Qibla- Al Masjid Al Haram- that will satisfy you… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 144)
This ayah is describing how at that time when the Yahudi character of the Jewish community in the Arabian Peninsula began to make fun of the Muslims- look, they say that “they are Muslims and they have a Prophet of their own but look they are facing towards Jerusalem which is a city of our Prophet.” Listen to and detect the exclusivisim, the bias and the hubris in this mentality and in this attitude. So when that became the defining moment the Prophet as the ayah says
قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ
… he was looking towards the heavens as if to seek a point of reference and direction for the Muslims… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 144)
So Allah says at this moment due to this real, human, lively, down to earth practical experience with “others” who are supposed to be our brethren in the Abrahamic faith, in the source of faith that we all identify with; when that gesture was turned down then the fact was established that Al Masjid Al Haram is our Qibla and is our Haram.
Zafar Bangash: I'm going to stop you there. We'll continue this discussion. We are looking at a very important aspect of Islamic history and Islam's development and of course the issue of Masjid Al Aqsa or Al Quds as it is referred to and Imam Muhammad Al Asi is shedding light on that for us and bringing out some historical aspects that Muslims ought to keep in mind and understand exactly what and how we ought to be looking at it. We'll take a short break but please don't go away we'll be right back insha’Allah after these messages. You are watching Ramadhan Journey.
Zafar Bangash: Assalaamualaykum. Welcome back and if you have just joined us I'm Zafar Bangash and you are watching Ramadhan Journey. If you have been following us in these episodes over the course of this month my guest has been Imam Muhammad Al Asi who has been guiding us and explaining to us not only the importance of Ramadhan but also shedding light on various concepts and themes in the noble book of Allah, the Quran, which we will continue to explore.
Imam Muhammad Al-Asi before we took a break for some messages you were at the point where you explained that initially Muslims had faced Masjid Al Aqsa for about a period of sixteen months and then of course the exclusivist attitude of the Yahud sort of thinking that Allah was theirs alone and not the God of the Muslims and then the Qibla was changed from Masjid Al Aqsa to Masjid Al Haram in Makkah.
Zafar Bangash: Please proceed with that explanation that you were offering us.
Imam Al-Asi: So what we understand from this lesson in scriptural history is that the particular leadership of Yahudi community in the Arabian Peninsula was not willing and was not comfortable in sharing an equality of faith and recognition with the Muslims.
Zafar Bangash: Even though the Muslims had offered them that equality and welcomed them and in fact extended a hand of friendship and amity with an open heart.
Imam Al-Asi: That's right. This is what qualifies a leadership and a people to be responsible for others this very same inclusiveness that opens up the message of Allah to all people and considers everyone there in on an equal civil par. We have our differences obviously with the current understanding of scriptural history and of Prophets- no doubt, we have our differences with Jews and with Christians; but that does not mean because we have these differences we are going to exclude them or we are going to develop this mentality that we are superior to them and they are inferior- that doesn't exist in the Qur’an or in the Prophetic history that we have and we understand or some of us should understand. So it even developed to the point when the Muslims finally on instructions from Allah reoriented themselves to Al Masjid Al Haram in Makkah which was built by Ibrahim and his son Isma’eel (alayhima as salaam) which is still in the Prophetic history within the Prophetic scriptural frame of reference, etc. Then at that time to add insult to injury these Yahudi mouth pieces in the Arabian Peninsula began to say this is a confused Prophet. They began making fun of Allah's Prophet. They said look, at one time they are facing towards Jerusalem and then another time they turn around and they face towards Makkah. For those of us who understand geography a little this was taking place when the Prophet was in Al Madinah and Al Madinah is North of Makkah and it is South of Jerusalem. So it’s like making a hundred and eighty degree turn. If you are in Madinah and you are praying towards Al Quds you are praying Northwards but in Al Madinah when you are praying towards Al Masjid Al Haram in Makkah then you are praying Southward. So it’s not like you’re taking a twenty degree turn, you are making a hundred and eighty degree turn. So they began making fun of this which adds to their breakaway character and their confrontational attitude with the Muslims. They can’t even, first of all, recognize that the Muslims did this in goodwill and then after doing this in goodwill and that resulting in the breakaway and the irredentist attitude of the Yahudis at that time and in order for the Muslims to have their independent character they turned around and said this is a confused Prophet- astaghfirullah. But you know that's part of our history and you know we are conscious of this but anyways back to the issue of Al Quds. Al Quds in this regard is part of a Prophetic history and part of scriptural history and we belong in total to that Prophetic history and to that scriptural history therefore Al Quds is one of the three Harams. First of all we said it was the first Qibla and then it is the third Haram. It is the third sanctuary or sacred place to the Muslims after the Haram in Makkah which is Al Bayt Al Haram, the Ka’bah; the second Haram which is Al Masjid An Nabawi in Al Madinah Al Munawwarah and the third Haram which is Masjid Al Aqsa in Al Quds, Jerusalem. There's a hadith of the Prophet that says you gear yourselves to travel to three, meaning, holy sanctuaries- Al Masjid Al Haram, my Masjid here and Al Masjid Al Aqsa. The Prophet is saying that three holy journeys are to be to these three designated places, the holy sanctuary in Makkah, my Masjid meaning here in Al Madinah and to Al Masjid Al Aqsa the remote Masjid in Jerusalem; Al Quds.
Zafar Bangash: So they tend to believe that that third holy sanctuary is denied to the overwhelming majority of Muslims because it is under occupation these days.
Imam Al-Asi: Yes, that's true. In my reading of things three Harams are under occupation, the Haram in Makkah, the Haram in Al Madinah and the Haram in Al Quds- all of them are under occupation. Its just that the Haram in Al Quds is under a vicious military occupation whereas the two other Harams in Makkah and Al Madinah are under a more sophisticated and a more subtle type of occupation whereby it is only three weeks in a year that Muslims are permitted to go there and then they have to obtain a visa to go there- as if a human being has to give another human being permission to go to the Hajj or to the Umrah?!
Zafar Bangash: Which is commanded by Allah for them.
Imam Al-Asi: Yeah. There are many ayaat and many hadith that give the meaning and the impression that these are open places at all times of the year in which Muslims should have the freedom of movement and accessibility to go there.
Zafar Bangash: It's just like if someone wanted to enter a Masjid to pray and there was somebody standing outside and says “unless you don't get permission from me you cannot enter the Masjid to go and pray.”
Imam Al-Asi: Exactly. That would be the analogy of what is happening to our Hajj and Umrah. But anyways that is all part of it. Muslims would be remiss and at fault to try to look at these three Harams in a separate manner. They all belong to the same context and this context is that they are located in scriptural and historical facts that relate to all of us as Muslims. Al Quds right now as we said is under military occupation. Many Muslims are denied access to Al Quds if they, (I guess you know this also fluctuates from time to time), but roughly speaking between the ages of eighteen and forty five years especially during the month of Ramadhan as is the case every year and I expect it to be the case this year- there will be very intensive security, Israeli Zionist forces that surround the Haram in Jerusalem and deny Palestinians access to Al Masjid Al Aqsa during the final ten days of Ramadhan when Palestinian Muslims want to go to Al Aqsa for i’tikaf. Forget about other Muslims from other parts of the world, those are obviously off limits except for propagandistic purposes and then during the salat al jum’ah where there is a court of security and military forces in that area that prohibit access to Muslims who are in their prime of life to go and pray in Al Masjid Al Aqsa and during the nights that are designated as the most likely nights of laylat al qadr in the last ten days also becomes like a warzone (or) military zone around this blessed place designated by Allah.
Zafar Bangash: We will continue our discussion on Al Quds because there are a number of other issues that we need to discuss but for now we will have to conclude this episode. We've been talking about Al Quds and it's importance in Islamic history and in fact its significance for Muslims because we are the bearers of Allah's last and final scripture- the Quran and we believe in all of the Prophets of Allah unlike other people that have an exclusivist attitude towards scripture and towards the Prophets of Allah.
That's all the time that we have for this particular episode. You have been with us on Ramadhan Journey. My guest has been Imam Muhammad Al Asi. We will insha’Allah continue our journey through Ramadhan in discussing various aspects of the month of Ramadhan as well as lessons from the noble Qur’an that we ought to be engaging in a much more deeper and profound way in order to seek guidance because this is our book of guidance.
I'm Zafar Bangash. Thank you, Wa salamualaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.
ms as:.la��S �DS /i> Quds day (that) Muslims observe on the last Friday of the month of Ramadhan as Imam Khomeini (may Allah rest his soul in peace) had designated and there are rallies observed throughout the world- Muslim as well as non Muslim world. That is all the time we have for this particular episode of Ramadhan Journey. We hope that you have been journeying with us through this month and have found this program thought provoking and informative and we hope you will join us on another episode at the same time. Thank you. Wa Salaamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
We desire to expand and build on the designation of the day of Al Quds (designated by the late Imam Al Khomeini to be commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadhan in recognition of the suffering meted out to the Palestinians and the oppressed peoples of the world), and will be insha'Allah be running a weekly additional Khutbah on Al Quds. We pray that Allah raises the awareness of people regarding the suffering of the people of Quds and the other oppressed peoples so that the designation of the last Friday to ensconce the realities in the lives of oppressed people in our minds will culminate into a daily occurrence.