Imam Zaid at GPU pics at Zaytuna

Some of the pictures I took of Imam Zaid are now uploaded to the Zaytuna Institute Community Window

.Imam Zaid Shakir at the GPU

“Did We not exalt your fame?”
reflections on the name “Muhammad”

For some time I have been thinking about the name “Muhammad” and how in recent times it is often repeated and mentioned and remains the name amongst names. No other name evokes as much emotion and interest as the name “Muhammad”.

In modern times the name “Muhammad” is not alien to Western ears and that is thanks largely, by Divine Providence, to the boxer Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali was the most famous man on the planet and still remains a famous and a universally loved figure, a man for all the people. The Prophet Muhammad was the man for all the people. Muhammad Ali was someone, for reasons other than religious, captured the international public’s imagination and earned their respect and honour. The name “Muhammad” spread to the far corners of the world even to the remotest of places and it became part and parcel of popular language and culture. SubhanAllah, this I believe is a Divine mechanism to ensure that the name “Muhammad” is not forgotten or fall into obscurity or become arcane, so that it remains fresh and familiar. This is also underlined by the fact that the second most popular name in the UK is “Muhammad” and so the name “Muhammad” is familiar right throughout society. Parents naming their child “Muhammad” should also be mindful of the sanctity and eminence of this name and when calling their child by this name they should be careful not to use inappropriate language when address their child by this name. They should also be extra mindful of their duties in instilling good character-traits into their child for it is a name that demands that the one who carries this name carry it with honour and dignity.

It seems to me that there is Divine Wisdom behind such controversies as the Satanic Verses affair, the cartoon controversies and more recently the teddy bear issue, no matter what the issue and no matter what the idiotic reaction of some Muslims, the only thing that abides is that non-Muslims seem to take a keen interest in the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and Islam after such events.

Consider then those who have this name and are anything but a credit to it, in fact there are those who bring shame and disgrace to such an honoured name but even this has no affect on the name “Muhammad” nor upon the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) whose rank, honour and fame are ever increasing and is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an:

1. Have We not caused thy bosom to dilate,
2. And eased thee of the burden
3. Which weighed down thy back;
4. And did We not exalt thy fame ?
5. But lo! with hardship goeth ease,
6. Lo! with hardship goeth ease;
7. So when thou art relieved, still toil
8. And strive to please thy Lord.

Chapter 94 Surat al-Inshirah – The Consolation

SubhanAllah, “Lo! with hardship goeth ease” is a lesson we should all learn from in times of tribulation.

Petition: Teddy Bear Teacher

The latest Muslim related controversy to raise its ugly head is the one about the British School teacher arrested in Sudan over allowing her schoolchildren to name a Teddy Bear “Muhammad”.

There are a couple of issues here that need to be looked at, not least that this incident seems to again make Muslims look like a bunch of idiots in the way it has been handled.

There is a clash of cultures in that in the West a teddy bear is an object of love and affection, they are often bought and given to newborns and small children and remain with them even into adulthood as symbols of happiness, love, affection and comfort, no negativity is associated with teddy bears. Even though it is inappropriate to ascribe the name Muhammad to something like a teddy bear or an animal, the intention in this case was not to blaspheme or cause offence and therefore I hope the Sudanese government will act with wisdom and mercy.

I have started a petition to highlight this case and to urge the Sudanese government not to pursue the case further as it will be detrimental to the image of Islam and Muslims everywhere. If you feel inclined and share my concerns please sign the petition. If anyone has an contact with the Ambassador for Sudan in the UK I would appreciate that they contact me regarding this petition.

Here is the text of the petition:

In the name of God the Most Gracious Most Merciful

as-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatAllahi wa Barakatuh
(Peace be upon you with the Mercy and Blessings of God)

We the undersigned,

Urge our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Sudan Government to immediately free school teacher Gillian Gibbons and treat the case with wisdom and mercy.

As Muslims we understand the sanctity of the name “Muhammad” but we feel that this incident was a result of innocence on the part of the children and an oversight and the part of Gillian Gibbons who intended no offence and has offered an unequivocal apology over the matter.

In the West the teddy bear is a symbol of love, happiness and joy and it is because of this fondness and love for the Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace) that the children chose the name Muhammad. The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who is not a Muslim seems to have been unaware of the problems this would cause and it is quite clear that she intended no offence.

We believe that any action to punish Ms. Gibbons will be to the detriment of Islam and Muslims everywhere and therefore urge our brothers and sisters in Sudan to show mercy and accept Ms. Gibbons’ apology on the matter and bring to a close this unfortunate situation.

On the Day of Judgement, each one of us will ask for the Mercy of God, no one will ask for the Judgement of God, since we all will fall short and it will be the Mercy of God that will save us. So let us be merciful to others! Indeed the Prophet Muhammad (God bless him and grant him peace) showed mercy to those who abused him deliberately, what then of a person who has done this innocently?

We hope that the Government of Sudan will look upon this request from their brothers and sisters favourably, we thank you for taking the time to read this plea.

The URL for the petition is:

Please spread the word.