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Readers' Opinion

Tussle between mythology and history: the dilemma of Muslim believers

By Jamal Hasan

E Mail :

I have been enjoying reading Mr. Ahmad W. Zaman’s essay on Prophet Muhammad’s wives in NFB’s Opinion column (May 20, May 21, 2003). I just perused the two parts and much to my amusement I found out that the Islamic scholar was making a desperate but futile attempt to rationalize all those irrational texts of Hadiths, many of which are assumed authentic by great majority of world’s Muslim population including Islamic scholars.

A well-intentioned Mr. Zaman questioned the reliability of certain writers of Islamic history. That is swell with me. However, he most certainly had undermined the works of such well-known authors like Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Abd-al-Malik Ibn Hisham, Muhammad ibn Umar al-Waqidi al-Aslami and Muhammad ibn Sa’d. Have you noticed that his beguiling comment was backed by precise argumentation? The way Mr. Wahid Zaman was downplaying the works of the titans, it reminded me of the good old Bangla adage, "Lome baachte kombol ujaar." In other words, if those authors were not authentic, then whom can we confidently say were authentic Islamic scholars. Amazingly, Mr. Zaman endeavored to provide us with a decisive way for judging the authenticity of narrators. After invalidating the renowned Islamic historians, Mr. Zaman changed his tune suddenly as evident from the following narration. Here is the excerpt from Mr. Zaman’s essay, part I:

Islamic method of judging the Narrators:

"Muslims alone, among the nations of the world, may claim the credit of having established a far superior standard of writing history."

"The first principle the Muslim historians laid down was that the incidents to be incorporated should be such as have been reported by a person who has personally witnessed the event. If this is not the case, the name of all the intermediaries have to be serially mentioned up to the man who had been an actual participator or eye-witness.

The important thing was to see the type of persons the reporters were, what calling they followed, what character they bore, how they stood in the matter of memory and judgment, and whether they were reliable or untrustworthy, had a keen intellect or a shallow mind, were well-informed or ignorant."

"It was almost impossible to know all these details. Still, hundreds of workers in the field devoted their lives to this arduous task. They went door to door, traveled from place to place, met persons who had anything to narrate, and gathered all possible information regarding their life and character. If the person had been dead, inquiries were made from those who had known him when living."


Readers, should I say now, it is party time? Mr. Zaman began his essay attacking the authenticity of certain giants among Islamic historiographers (they are more like hagiographers to me!), then he outrageously put forward the opinion under quotation that "Muslims alone, among the nations of the world, may claim the credit of having established a far superior standard of writing history." What a contradictory position!

Mr. Wahid Zaman did not give us any reference to the above paragraphs under the title of Islamic method. We can only assume that the texts were extracted from a typical propagandistic book where propaganda superseded rationality. His self-contradictory position casts a shadow of doubt on the validity of this so-called reference material. Anyway, I would raise the issue of the last paragraph of the text. The sentence under quotation mark is, "… Still, hundreds of workers in the field devoted their lives to this arduous task. They went door to door, traveled from place to place, met persons who had anything to narrate, and gathered all possible information regarding their life and character. If the person had been dead, inquiries were made from those who had known him when living."

As I already mentioned earlier, the writer failed to give any reference to this text. So, we are in dark about the historical significance of the narrative. Any curious reader may ask such questions, "When and where such door-to-door surveys occurred?" "Was the survey methodology done following modern scientific survey?", "Was there any random sample?", "How far distance the survey takers traveled and what was the method of their data collection?" I have serious doubt if Mr. Zaman has any answer to these pertinent questions.

A great majority of world’s Muslims believes certain aspect of Islamic history as mystical scenario, which can hardly be tested under scientific scrutiny. Subconsciously many of them realize that Islamic myths may fail the test of time, yet they like to grasp irrational or unscientific matters a la blind believers. One case in point is Prophet Muhammad’s Meraj journey. The following link will lead to the text about Buraq, a mythological animal. No anthropologist, paleontologist, or evolutionary zoologist would ever attempt to find the traces of such weirdly described animal. Scientists know this very well that Buraq exists only in fertile imagination and is a figment of imagination.

Following the brief account of this event One night prophet lying the Hateem. Hateem is portion of ka'bah was left open at time of its reconstruction of Ka'bah, when the two angels Gabriel and Michail (peace be upon them) come to him and asked him to accompany them. They mounted him on Buraq. Buraq ia an animal of the paradise.

The speed of the Buraq was such that its one stride covered a distance equal to its range of vision. With this fast speed they took him first to Mashid-i-Aqsa in syria. Here Almighty Allah had gathered all the Prophets of the past (as a miracle) for the reception of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Gabriel, on his arrival here, made a call for prayer the prophets and the messengers of Allah all stood and arranged rows, but everyone was waiting for the one who would lead the prayer. Gabriel, the trustworthy, held the hand of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and put him ahead of all others. He led the prayer for all the prophets and messenger of Allah and the angels.

Up to this place of the world, the journey was covered by Buraq. After it he was taken from Masjid-i-Aqsa to the heaven. Prophet's met Adam (peace be upon him) in first heaven, Jesus adn Yahay (peace be upon him) in the second, Yousaf (peace be upon him) in the third, Idrees (peace be upon him) in the fourth and Ibraheem (peace be upon him) in the fifth heaven. Thereafter, Prophet went towards Sidra-tul-muntaha. A tree in the seventh heaven. On his way Prophet passed by the spring 'Kausar' and the n entered the paradise. There prophet saw such wonderful and strange things made by the Divine Hand, which nobody had ever seen or heard of No human imagination could reach there. Then he was shown the Heel full of torment of every kind and filled with such a raging fire that hard things lie iron and stones melted in no time therein. …..

Mr. Wahid Zaman ridiculed two widely popular Hadiths, which although irrational and unscientific, became part of the belief system of the world’s billion Muslims. Here Mr. Zaman commented under the title Circumstantial evidence and its value: "Another great problem is whether a report that contradicts reason or an established fact, or surpasses all likelihood in view of circumstances definitely known, is to be accepted simply on the ground that the narrator’s integrity is recognized and chain of reporters unbroken. Ibn al- Jauzi has declared that reports that go against reason should be rejected without enquiring into the character of the narrators. Reason is an elusive term. Advocates of the school that relied on reports argue that the word "reason" when allowed an extensive application, is sure to give anybody a free licence to reject any report on the ground that, in his opinion, it did not stand to reason."

2) "Al-Bukhari has a report that God created Adam sixty yards in height. Ibn Hajar, while commenting on this saying has remarked: "This created a difficulty. The extant relics of the ancient races, like the residences of the Thamud and ‘Ad prove that the size of those people was not so colossal as mentioned in the foregoing Hadith. Till this time I have not been able to explain away this enigma."

3) "There is another report by Amr ibn maimun to the effect that in the days of paganism he had seen a monkey committing adultery, for which the monkey was stoned to death by the another monkeys. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, a very famous tradionist refused to accept it on the ground that animals are not bound by religious laws, hence neither could they be accused of adultery nor could they be punished for that."

Mr. Zaman attempted to pull Adam-Eve mythology in the context of modern anthropology. I am not sure if he is aware of the mere fact that this would be nothing but an exercise in futility. Who does not know that mythology coated Creationism and Darwinian Evolution are so much juxtaposed, it is irrelevant to analyze Adam and Eve in the sphere of modern anthropology? Then the relevant questions will come, "When did Adam and his partner come to earth?" or "Could they be categorized Homo rudolfensis or Homo habilis?," "Which tribe of people they belonged to?" etc. etc. Mr. Zaman should have been aware of a simple truth that religious belief does not have to answer to rational inquiry.

That is why the monkey business depicted in Hadith could be as irrational as the ever intelligent "Ababil" (a flock of) birds mentioned in the Koran in Sura Fil (the word Fil was even borrowed from Persian language!) or the incredible animal Buraq, which was privy to the most crucial part of Islamic belief system. Let me be believer’s advocate with my concluding remark in Bangla, "Bishwashay milayi basthu, torkay bahu dur".

Jamal Hasan writes from Washington DC. His email address is

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Al-Ansar Centre presents a conference entitled:


Date: Saturday 19th July
Time: TBA
Venue: Al-Ansar Centre, 833 Ilford High Rd, Goodmayes, IG3, Essex
Directions: Come off A12, then turn off at sign for Goodmayes.

Buses: 86, 364, 387

Rail: Goodmayes (from Liverpool St)

The conference will consist of the following talks:

Islam: Clash of Civilisations?

by Nadeem Amin

E Mail :

This is a provocative and in-depth analysis of the state of world politics after the fall of Communism. In this incisive talk, it will explain the driving force of global politics today and offer an analysis of possibilities of future events.

* The Muslim Reloaded: A Quranic Deconstruction of The Matrix

by Dr. Mustapha Saeed Ali

This talk will unravel the false mindset set up by the society that has blinded many people from the truth. It is this mindset that that has led people to fall to their fears and self-doubt. This talk exposes this ideology and helps people to free themselves to live up to their full potential.

* Axis of Evil: Fascism, Freemasonry and the Dajjal

by Abdul Karim (Creator of The Shadows)

In the early 90s, the powers that be declared that a New World would be established after the fall of communism. The next stage of this plan is being implemented as is seen in the "Axis of Evil" scheme. This talk will explore the hidden agenda of this and it's Freemasonic and Dajjalic connections. Delivered by Abdul Karim the creator of the Shadows tape, it is talk that will be thought provoking and an eye opener to all that attend, insha'Allah.

The conference is free of charge and will accomodate both brothers and sisters.

For more information contact:

Tel: 020 8597 5092


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Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA)

110 Maryland Ave, NE Suite 510

Washington DC, 20002

202 547 4700

The Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights

B M Box: CDLR, London, WC1N 3XX, United Kingdom


Office of Chairman, Governmental Affairs Committee

FIACONA, Wahsington DC

May 23, 2003

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has a new Hindu face.

There are over one billion Hindus in the world. Hindus are a majority in India and Nepal, but they are also minorities in many African, Middle Eastern and European countries. There are over 2 million Hindus in the US and Canada alone. It was brought to the attention of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that there was no Hindu representation on the Commission, in spite of the above facts. Jewish, Islamic and Bahai faiths are/were represented in the Commission.

The Senate Democratic leader Senator Thomas Daschle appointed Ms. Preeta Bansal, a Hindu woman from Nebraska, today to the US Commission on International Relgious Freedom. She is the first Hindu woman to be appointed to that position.

Ms. Bansal graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1989. She was a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review while she was in college.

Ms. Bansal previously served in the Clinton administration as a special counsel in the White House Counsel's office. She was also a counselor to the assistant attorney-general in charge of the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice. She has worked as a United States Supreme Court law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens from 1990-1991. Recently she served as the Solicitor General of the state of New York.

Immediately prior to her appointment as solicitor-general, Ms. Bansal was an attorney with the New York City firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher where she specialized in media and First Amendment as well as intellectual property and constitutional litigation issues.

Mr. Jayachand Pallakonda, the President of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America said, "I am very impressed with Ms. Bansal's law background. She has very impressive achievements. I hope Ms. Bansal also has a good understanding of the religious issues confronting South Asia especially India and that would help her to be a strong voice to speak out against persecution of religious minorities there".

Mr. Shrikumar Poddar of the Hindu Vaishnav Center for Enlightenment in Michigan said that he spoke to her tonight after her selection was conveyed to her from Washington. He said her background and understanding of the US Constitutional law would help articulating her advocacy for free speech and freedom of religion for all people in the world and not only in the US.

Mr. J. Prabhudoss, the Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee for the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, mentioned that he is looking forward to working with Ms. Bansal in highlighting very pressing issues such as the plight of Kashmiri Pandits in the hands of Kashmiri Muslims and the plight of the Christian and Muslim populations in the hands of the Hindutva ideologues in India. He is very appreciative of the Commission's work in the past in this area. However he said he is concerned about some Hindutva extremist elements in the US might try to influence Ms. Bansal's opinion. He said Ms. Bansal would be strong enough to reject any such attempts during her tenure at the USCIRF. He said he spoke to her last night after she was informed about her nomination and congratulated her on her successful bid to the USCIRF.

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Seeking Assistance of BUET Alumni

Content-Type: text/html
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

Dear friends of BUET origin,

Follwoing letter was circulated from Directorate of Students' Welfate (DSW) office , BUET.

Please try to help the initiative. Thanking you all.

Syed Ishtiaq Ahmad, PhD

BUET, Dhaka 1000


Seeking Assistance of BUET Alumni

in the Career Planning of BUET Graduates


Dear BUET Alumnus,


Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) has recently taken an initiative to assist its students in their career development endeavors. As part of this initiative the Directorate of Students’ Welfare (DSW) wants to assist BUET students who are planning to pursue graduate study in foreign universities. We believe you can be of great help in the overall career planning of our students in general, and in the planning of their graduate studies in particular.

While many of our alumni are already providing assistance regarding admission and financial aid to our graduates, primarily through personal contacts, we would like to broaden the scope of such assistance so that more students can benefit from our strong alumni community across the world.

We believe that one way to do this is to establish effective contacts between the office of DSW, BUET and our alumni engaged in teaching/ research/ graduate study in foreign universities. To begin this process, we would request you to send us (at the address below):

(1)   Your personal information, including contact address [we would later use this information in preparing an Alumni Directory]; and

(2)   Any information that may be useful to our graduates in securing admission and financial assistance in your university.

I would also request you to send us comments regarding this initiative of the office of DSW, BUET and your suggestions for assisting our graduates more effectively in their career/ education planning.

Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely yours,

 Dr. M. Ashraf Ali

Deputy Director, Directorate of Students’ Welfare, and

Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, BUET, Dhaka 1000

E-mail: , Fax: 880-2-9665623


P.S. Please make an effort to circulate this message among BUET alumni

[M:MS]All responses will be forwarded to the Director, Directorate of Students’ Welfare at BUET.

Info courtesy : www.

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Red Cross Red Crescent launches appeal for Algeria quake victims

Abdul M. Ismail

E Mail :

from :

22 May 2003

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched a preliminary appeal for 2 million Swiss francs (US$ 1.5 million) to assist the victims of Wednesday evening’s devastating earthquake in Algeria.

Around 800 people have been killed and 6,000 injured in the earthquake, which measured 6.7 on the Richter scale. The number of casualties is expected to rise as more bodies are found under the many buildings that have collapsed in the capital, Algiers and other towns.

Under the proposed operation, the Algerian Red Crescent will provide shelter and distribute food and other relief items for at least 10,000 people, as well as providing psychological support to the traumatised population.

Algerian Red Crescent staff and volunteers were quick to respond to the disaster and continue to take part in the search and rescue efforts, to provide first aid, transport the injured to hospital and mobilize people to donate blood.

The International Federation has dispatched a Field Assessment and Coordination Team to Algeria to help evaluate the damage and the needs of the population, as well as to coordinate international Red Cross and Red Crescent assistance. Based on this assessment, the appeal is likely to be revised in the coming days.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Denis McClean, Head, Media Service - Tel: + 41 22 730 44 28 / + 41 79 217 33 57

Media Service Duty Phone - Tel: + 41 79 416 38 81

The Geneva-based International Federation promotes the humanitarian activities of 178 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies among vulnerable people. By coordinating international disaster relief and encouraging development support, it seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The Federation, National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together, constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Donate by clicking the following link!

Abdul M. Ismail, Owner & Chief Engineer INTERPLANETARY EXPEDITIONS (IP-eX) 100 Greenhill Road
Mossley Hill, Liverpool  L18 7HN England, UNITED KINGDOM


Tel : +44 (0) 151 280 8858
Mob : +44 (0) 79 76 63 19 46

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Authorities urged to treat incident as hate crime

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/22/03) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on local and federal authorities to treat the beating of an 8-year-old Muslim child in Bensalem, Penn., as a hate crime. The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group says the child was allegedly beaten earlier this month by three 13-year-old boys who made remarks such as "go back to Iraq" and "Saddam Hussein helper" during the attack.

According to the Muslim boy’s family, he came home with a bloody mouth and spent one night in the hospital for observation. He is now terrified to go outside and cannot sleep at night. The alleged attackers, whose names are apparently known to police, have not been taken into custody.

"A disturbing pattern seems to be developing in which ordinary American Muslims, Arab-Americans and those perceived to be Middle Eastern, are subject to attack merely because of their religion, ethnicity or distinctive attire," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. "Law enforcement authorities at both the local and national levels can help discourage these types of assaults by treating them with the seriousness they deserve."

In a similar incident on Monday in Pennsylvania, a 14-year-old Iraqi-American girl says she was beaten by a classmate while a crowd of students stood by yelling anti-Muslim comments. The victim said her attackers shouted "kill the Muslim girl…that’s what she deserves" during the assault.

Also this week, a Sikh man who may have been mistaken for an Arab, was shot in Phoenix, Ariz. The victim said he heard his attacker shout "go back to where you belong," just before being shot. Police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

CAIR is encouraging victims of hate crimes to fill out report forms, which are available for download at:, or by calling 202-488-8787. CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.

CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726

NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist’s window to the American Muslim community. Subscribers to the list, called ISLAM-INFONET, receive news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance to our society.

To reach the list moderator, send a message to:


Council on American-Islamic Relations

453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.

Washington, D.C.  20003

Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726

Fax: 202-488-0833



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