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Sunday, October 20, 2013


A common question asked by non-Muslims is: what is the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca? There are specific rituals a Muslim is required to perform, but to explain them all would take more space than I have. On its most fundamental level, the Hajj is an individual Muslim’s demonstration of complete humility and submission before God -- in a gathering of 3-million other Muslims doing the same thing! It is also the greatest annual public event held in remembrance of one man who was tested by God and proven true in his love and obedience and who has been remembered throughout history. That man was Abraham (peace be upon him), a messenger of God.
Islamic history tells us that 4,000 years ago, Abraham and his son Ishmael rebuilt the Ka’aba on its original foundation from the time of Adam. Muslims believe the Ka’aba is the first house of worship built for the one, true God. After rebuilding the Ka’aba, Abraham prayed to God (Quran, 2:129-130) that his future generations be given a prophet to teach them their ways of worship and keep them righteous and submitted to God. Muslims believe that, in the 7th century AD (600 years after Christ), God fulfilled this prayer of Abraham by raising Muhammad (pbuh) in Arabia as the final Law-bearing prophet from the progeny of Abraham for all mankind.
When the Prophet and his followers became triumphant after 23 years of brutal persecution by the idol-worshiping Meccans, the first thing Muhammad (pbuh) did was enter the Ka’aba to cleanse it of all its idols. From that time on, the Ka’aba has remained the House of worship for only one God -- the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
The Quran clearly defines Islam as “the religion of Abraham” in five separate verses (2:131,136 & 4:126 & 6:162 & 22:79). This is because Islam is not a new religion, but a fulfillment and completion of all earlier beliefs and of Judaism and Christianity in particular. This is why Muslims are required to believe in and respect previous messengers from God such as Jesus, Moses, Noah and Abraham. Muslims are also required to respect and protect against destruction the holy sites and houses of worship of other faiths. (Google “Charter of religious freedom for Christians” online for an example of this requirement to protect the worshipers and houses of worship of other faiths.)
Some outside observers question the slaughtering of animals as part of the Hajj ritual, calling it barbaric, cruel and unnecessary -- yet these same people will enjoy a steak they bought at the market without ever questioning the pain and cruelty involved in bringing it to their dinner plate.
At the Hajj (and elsewhere in the world where Muslims slaughter an animal as part of the ritual), the Halal method of slaughter is virtually painless, and Islam decrees that one-third of the meat be given to the poor, one-third to neighbors, and one-third kept for one’s family, friends and relatives. And during the Hajj, almost all the meat slaughtered there gets frozen and shipped all over the world to help feed the poor and needy. 
Aside from the humanitarian act of providing food for hundreds of thousands of people, the sacrifice of animals also symbolizes a Muslim’s determination to kill his worldly and low desires and become more spiritual and devoted to God and to the service of His creation. The focus on sacrifice should also remind a Muslim of the service and sacrifices of the members of our armed forces, hospitals, police and fire departments. Their dedication and willingness to make sacrifices for others is something we should all be thankful for and strive to emulate and embody in our lives.
The lesson that Abraham teaches us is universal -- anyone can say they believe in God, but are they prepared to sacrifice what is most dear to them to prove it? It is never a real test of one’s faith if all that is required is a mere verbal profession of belief in God or one’s readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of God. Until a person is actually put to the test, even that person cannot know for sure if God comes first. And, ultimately, that is the reason for such a test from God – to prove to the person being tested whether or not they are truly and completely submitted to God.
In the Islamic version of the famous Bible story, Abraham has a recurring dream where he is slaughtering his first-born son, Ishmael, as a sacrifice to God. When Ishmael attains the age of reason (12 or 13), his father tells him about the dream and asks him what he thinks. Ishmael does not hesitate but tells his father he is ready to submit to whatsoever his father believes he must do to please God. And because Abraham believed that it was his heavenly Father who was instructing him to sacrifice his earthly son, Abraham proceeded to ritually slaughter Ishmael.
Then, just as Abraham is about to sacrifice his son, God stops him and tells him to replace his son with an animal as a sacrifice instead. God does not desire human sacrifice – never has – but requires man to sacrifice his ego and carnal passions. The required slaughter of an animal in substitution (in both the Jewish and Islamic rituals) supports this belief. It also reflects God’s Mercy to mankind by forbidding human sacrifice and using the sacrifice of animals as the reminder of that Mercy.
Islam proclaims itself to be the religion of Abraham, and it is by living the lessons of Abraham that we can create the common ground where the seed of mutual respect and understanding can take root and blossom into the flower of peace. The children of Abraham are still one family. May we all learn from Abraham how to sacrifice our egos and worldly fears and concerns and submit ourselves completely to God. In that way, we can all live together in peace. 
[ Ghosted with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir; ran in slightly edited version in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin's From the Pulpit (religion section) as: "Pilgrimage honors Abraham" on Sat., Oct. 19th, 2013 and online at at this link: ] 

Friday, October 4, 2013


A Christian friend of mine recently sent me an Email detailing the medicinal benefits of myrrh. I was aware in a general sense of the healing properties of this famous resin, which has long been known and used by doctors throughout the ancient world, but it was enlightening to see just how powerful a medicinal substance myrrh truly is. Below is an extract from that Email with a comment to the sender on how this supports a primary contention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, that Jesus (peace be upon him) survived the crucifixion – i.e., he never actually died on the cross, but was only unconscious when taken down from it – and that he completed his stated mission to gather and preach to the Lost Tribes of Israel. More information on this important topic can be found at: and . .   
– Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar

[Note: In the Email I received, the botanical oils company “DoTerra” was referenced as a source for myrrh and other essential oils used for medicinal and massage purposes. Here is their website: This is not an endorsement of that site, merely a referral for your information.]


Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha) has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-depressive, anti-infection, anti- parasitic, expectorant, moderates the thyroid, anti-aphrodisiac, anti- inflammatory, properties. It is one of the oldest medicines in the world, with healing properties similar to those in Frankincense.

Myrrh is a blood vitalizer that regulates all secretions of the body. It is good for improving stagnation and general circulatory weakness. It is effective for stimulating menstruation, therefore, according to Dr. Hill, it is safe to use during pregnancy, but heavy usage of Myrrh during pregnancy should be avoided.

Myrrh stimulates the regeneration of cells. It is soothes and softens rough, cracked, and chapped skin and is good for wrinkles and aging skin.

Myrrh has strong anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic powers, which explains why it works so well in liniments.

Myrrh tones the digestive tract and stimulates reduces stomach gas and acidity, and alleviates stomach pain, etc.

Myrrh boosts immunity by stimulating the production of white blood cells. It fights infections and speeds recovery from illness, and aids in healing cuts and wounds.

Myrrh promotes inner awareness, stillness, clarity, focus, strength and peace. It helps create a sense of power and is good for relieving apathetic, no-motivation, and restless and mundane energy. Myrrh eases grief and sorrow and helps close emotional wounds caused by the loss or rejection of a loved one. It can provide a boost to help pull you through difficult troubled times.

Myrrh is excellent for healing a wide variety of conditions, including:
acidity (makes body more alkaline) - arthritis - dysentery - hyperthyroid - candida (kills harmful yeast) - cholesterol (can lower levels) - cuts - diarrhea - flu - fungal infections - fungus - gas - gingivitis - gum infection - hemorrhoids - Increases Appetite - Infection - inflammation - laryngitis - lungs - mucus (helps expel it) - pain (good for shadow pain after the loss of a limb) - paralysis - prostate issues (reduces inflammation) - respiratory system - skin (healing and restorative) - scars - stretch marks - throat issues - thrush - wounds - wrinkles - women’s health - uterine disorders.

[My response to my Christian friend Jim, the sender of the Email…]

Thank you, Br. Jim for sending me this important info on the medical properties of myrrh. . . 

Now you need to ask yourself: why on earth were aloes and myrrh (80-100 lbs.!) listed as what were put on the body of Jesus (pbuh) by Nicodemus after the crucifixion? Ahmadi Muslims have long contended that the reason was simple: they are HEALING substances and were used to heal the wounds of Jesus (pbuh). Remember: the Jews -- like the Muslims -- do not anoint the bodies of their dead. They wash the body, wrap it and bury it within three days. 

So there has to be a MEDICAL reason to apply a HEALING ointment in such a large quantity. If no other conclusion is drawn, the conclusion that Jesus MUST have been alive after they took him down from the cross is the only one that makes any sense. Otherwise, if Jesus (pbuh) was already dead, there was no need to "anoint" the body with healing salves. 

This "Jesus survived crucifixion" scenario presented by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community also complements perfectly the "Sign of Jonah" -- the only Sign Jesus (pbuh) gave to his enemies, whom he called "an evil and adulterous generation." Everyone knows Jonah was alive when he went into the belly of the whale, that he was alive while in the belly, and alive when he was carried to and deposited at Nineva, where God had sent him to preach. Once there, Jonah preached to the Ninevites and they repented and were forgiven by God and His divine punishment was averted.

Jonah's unwillingness to go to Nineva was not out of fear of the Ninevites, but out of his desire that God should punish them for their sinfulness and disobedience to God. This is why Jesus (pbuh) only gave the Sign of Jonah to his Jewish enemies -- they knew immediately what Jesus (pbuh) was saying to them -- he was comparing them to the Ninevites who deserved to be punished by God. It was a huge insult to the Jews who opposed Jesus (pbuh) and sought to put him to death by crucifixion to make him "accursed of God" and thereby a false messiah so they could ignore him.

Only Ahmadi Muslims present a scenario that saves Jesus (pbuh) from this accursed death (which Pauline Christianity affirms as its main tenet of salvation), while keeping him alive here on earth so he can fulfill his stated mission (Mat. 15:24) to gather and only preach to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. 

Other Muslims believe that God raised Jesus (pbuh) bodily alive to heaven before the crucifixion and that another person (usually said to be Judas) was made to look like Jesus and this person was then arrested, tried before Pilate, and put on the cross where he died. All without once protesting that they had the wrong guy! And not only the wrong guy, but a previously dead guy, as Judas committed suicide after betraying Christ. God would have had to first raise Judas from the dead in order to make him look like Jesus (pbuh) and thus have a live body to put on the cross to be put (again) to death. But since most Muslims don’t know the New Testament or its characters, this piece of news is news to them.

The only reason Christians -- and Christian texts and doctrine -- stubbornly cling to the "Jesus died on the cross for our sins" is because they are taught that this is why Jesus came down in the first place, and that without this "scenario" they have no means of salvation.  

It's easy to understand how a Christian will believe anything -- regardless of evidence in their own scriptures and the words of Jesus (Mat. 9:13 for example) that contradicts it -- if the alternative is to lose their salvation and entry into heaven. 

As has always been my position in this matter, if all the evidence were consistent and backed by clear statements by Jesus (pbuh) that he came expressly and with no other purpose than to die on the cross for the sins of mankind so they could be reconciled with God, I could at least say the Christian position was clear and consistent. 

But all I have to do is go to the words of God Himself in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:30-34, Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 43:10-11, Deut. 6:4) and those of Jesus (pbuh) in the New Testament (Mat. 15:24, Mark 12:28-29, Mat. 9:13, John 4:24-28, 14:1, 17:3) for clear counters to every statement made by Paul and every doctrine of Christianity that purports that Jesus (pbuh) is divine, the literal Son of God, God in the flesh (as many Christians assert from John 1:1-14 ), and that he came to die for our sins as a sinless atonement.    

The reason people are converting to Islam from Christianity in droves is precisely because of discrepancies and inconsistencies such as the ones cited above, and for the main reason that the majesty and pure, unadulterated Oneness of God is upheld and glorified in Islam and in the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and in the Holy Quran. 

God as presented in Islam is still the God who does not sleep, is omnipotent and all-knowing, has all power over His creation but is not bounded by it in human (or any other) form, and most importantly, He has all power and ability to forgive sins out of His infinite Mercy and Love and He does not require the help of anyone to accomplish this or anything else. 

God employs prophets and messiahs as he has done from the beginning of Adam to communicate his message in the language of the people they are sent to and to act as role models of His teachings and expected level of righteousness. Only Islam presents a picture of God and His ways and Laws that is in harmony with human nature, reason and justice. 

I have always held that any belief in the ways of God that is clearly inferior to the highest morality and sense of righteousness attainable by man cannot be a true depiction of the ways of God. 

The perfect example is the belief that God sent his innocent and only begotten son to die an accursed death for the sins of mankind. If any human father were to send his own son -- willing or not -- to be punished by death for the sins of another, that father would be guilty in the eyes of every rational person of a crime against his son and against justice, for it is a given that the guilty party would not be punished. No civil court or moral society operates on that unjust idea. How then could God's court operate on such a principle? Especially when God Himself says it does not (Exodus 32:30-34): the innocent are not punished for the sins of the guilty.

This example of the injustice of God presented as His highest mercy is what turns people away from Christianity, and in many cases, drives them to atheism. As Thomas Paine is quoted as saying in reference to the doctrine of Jesus' innocent vicarious atonement for sinners, "Any belief that shocks the mind of a child cannot be true." I'm with Tom on this one.

[ Appeared on on Oct. 4th, 2013 at this link: ]