Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

Monday 3 December 2018

Muslims in Non Muslim Countries: Brazil

I have been writing this series of Muslims and Non Muslim countries and have a mixed feeling of how Muslims are treated in most of the non Muslim countries. But Brazil, oh boy, what a fresh breeze I felt while reading about Muslims in Brazil, a South American secular country famous for its Football team and almost 60% of the entire Amazon rain forest, beside the Christ Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. 
"Muslims in Brazil are in a state where they are proud of their faith and more concerned about sharing their belief with people than defending it. Though the general public has limited knowledge of Islam, Brazilians hold no prejudice towards Muslims despite the infiltration of rhetoric echoing American Islamophobia. Moreover, despite a trend of Brazilians changing their name when they become Muslim, they are very much proud of their cultural and national heritage as Brazilians. Almost all agreed that what they love about Brazil is its tolerance, hospitality, acceptance of others, and just happy attitude to life," writes Ammar Asfour who has been exploring Islam in different countries around the world. [1]
The history of Muslims in Brazil begins with the importation of African slave labor to the country in the 16th century. The Muslim uprising of 1835 in Bahia by Malês, as African Muslims were known in 19th-century Bahia. The revolt, the largest slave revolt in Brazil and the largest urban slave revolt in the Americas, left fifty to a hundred dead. Fearing the example might be followed, intensive efforts were made to force conversions to Catholicism and erase the popular memory of and affection towards Islam. However, the African Muslim community was not erased overnight, and as late as 1910 it is estimated there were still some 100,000 African Muslims living in Brazil. 

Brazil received a lot of Arab immigrants after the world wars, specially from Syria and Lebanon. Our current President is of Arabic ancestry. In spite of that, the majority of Arabs that came to Brazil were Christians, Maronites and Melkites mostly. Don´t expect to find a lot of Muslims among the Arabic Brazilian society.[5]

The number of Muslims in Brazil, according to the 2010 Brazilian census, was 35,207. Muslim associations in Brazil, however, gave higher numbers of adherents: from 400,000 to 1.5 million. [2] According to a census conducted by the Brazilian institute for geography and statistics, the number of Muslims living in Brazil has risen by 29.1 percent between the years 2000 and 2010. 

The Muslim culture cane be felt and seen in the architecture. As for the cuisine, the second largest fast food chain in Brazil is Habib's, which serves Arab food. The diversity of influence also stretches to businesses such as the textile industry, which is mostly run by merchants of Syrian-Lebanese origin. The São Paulo city council has a Muslim Councilor by the name of Mohammad Murad, a lawyer. A number of mosques dot the greater São Paulo area, the oldest and most popular of these being found on Avenida do Estado. Since its establishment, the mosque has added a Quranic school, library, kitchen and meeting hall for various functions.

During the past 30 years, Islam has become increasingly noticeable in Brazilian society by building not only mosques, but also libraries, arts centers, and schools and also by funding newspapers.A growing number of people have converted to Islam in recent years in Brazil. According to local Muslims and media reports, conversions to the religion have contributed significantly to its spread in the country. A recent Muslim source estimated that there are close to 10,000 Muslim converts living in Brazil. Significant Muslim communities are located in the industrial suburbs of the city of São Paulo and in the port city of Santos, as well as in smaller communities in Paraná State in the coastal region and in Curitiba and Foz do Iguaçu in the Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay triborder area. There are over 150 mosques in Brazil and the number is growing.

Generally speaking, Brazil is much more tolerant than the United States or European countries when it comes to the coexistence with the Islamic religion. It is not common to see someone making the prejudiced association Arab-Muslim equals terrorism, as you see in other countries. The multicultural traces of Brazil (it is estimated that 15 million Brazilians have Islamic backgrounds) have shaped a society that can live just fine with differences, and this is not a cliché, but reality. [3]

As for Halal meat, something most Muslims look for when visiting a new country, Brazil is a big producer of halal meat, most part of it is exported. But despite that it is difficult to find the halal products, aside from metropolitan cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, that are very well supplied with halal meat. The rising Brazilian halal meat industry employs a lot of Muslim skilled workforce. In terms of food, Brazil’s second largest fast food chain is Arabic style restaurant Habib’s and, in Rio, traditional Arabic dishes such as hummus, kafta and felafel can be found everywhere. Another place to taste Arabic food is Amir restaurant, situated on the seafront of Copacabana.

Education for Muslim children is not much of a problem as they can study wherever they or their parents decide. Although many Brazilian private schools still teach based on catholic values and have catholic names, yet, the schools cannot forbid a Muslim student to take lessons there, what configures religious discrimination, punishable by Law.

There is no prohibition when it comes to people's garment. So, the use of hijab, niqab or burka (and its variations from Islam's culture to culture) is not forbidden, but it draws a lot of attention and curious glances, as Brazilians are not used to these costumes and habits. Women in those garments are free to circulate through absolutely everywhere in Brazil, inclusive public institutions. It is not legal for a Muslim to miss work or school etc, based on the Islamic holidays, but, of course, this can be agreed between the parties. [3]

How do Muslims of Brazil feel describe Islam and being a Muslim, well the answers are generally positive and reassuring.[1]
  • Kaab, a community leader who when asked about culture said, “I don’t really care much about culture. My culture now is my relationship with God and caring for the community.”  
  • Leandro is an impressively knowledgeable 26-year-old Brazilian lawyer says, "Islam means three things. It means a serenity and comfort at heart. It means a way of life through connecting with God. And, lastly, it means a balance that he references with a short verse in the Quran, “Thus We have made you a middle nation.” His favorite thing about Brazilian culture that he maintains as a Muslim is the hospitality of Brazilians and their family values. He also thinks that Brazilian culture loves and appreciates food and he loves to maintain that as Muslim.
  • Yousuf, a graphic designer, says he finds it reinforcing to his spirituality. It is as if his faith is a white dot in a sea of darkness which encourages him to focus on protecting it. For him, it is part of the Brazilian culture to have a strong guiding faith, regardless of what that religious belief is. “Brazilians have faith!” he says.
Sami Isbelle a spokesperson for SBMRJ [Sociedade Beneficente Muçulmana do Rio de Janeiro] in Rio de Janeiro, revealed in an interview with a Pakistani news network, “The number of Muslims in Brazil continues to grow and most are Brazilians who are converting. […] They are drawn to Islam for different reasons, such as marrying a Muslim, getting to know the religion through friends or the Internet or while searching for answers to spiritual questions.” [4]

31 year-old Fernando Celino, who converted to the Islamic faith from Catholicism in 2006, “It happened during my adolescence. I continued to believe in God but not religion. I first came across Islam through a Muslim friend and while at university I began to study the religion myself in greater detail. It explained things to me better than any other religion had.” [4]

I could go on and on sharing views of the Brazilian Muslims, but suffice to say all have similar experiences and aspirations as expressed by Kaab, Leandro and Yusuf above. So it is happy living for Muslims by and large, something not found in other non Muslim countries. They enjoy celebrating their religious events with full religious zeal and fervor. Herein under watch Muslims in Sao Paulo adapt for Ramadan:

Photo | References: | 1 | 23 |  4  | 5 |
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Monday 22 October 2018

Brief History of Compilation of the Holy Quran

The Holy Quran is the last of the holy scriptures that was revealed by the Allah Almighty to complete His commandments to the mankind. The Holy Quran, however, was not revealed in one go. It took 23 years to complete the Divine commandments on to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel). Generally speaking, one to two verses used to be revealed so that the Prophet of Allah could understand the Divine message correctly and then remember it. Also the Divine verses were revealed owing to the requirement of time and did not follow a set pattern. That is why after the first verses of Surah Al Alaq, the next verses that followed were that of Surah Al Muddaththir. Sometimes it so happened that a part of a particular chapter / surah was revealed in Makkah and the other in Medina after Prophet's migration to Medina.

During the time of Prophet of Allah, the Divine verses were either written down on goat or camel skin or memorized by heart by the selected companions of the Prophet to whom the Prophet of Allah would recite the verses no sooner were those revealed so that the divine message was saved in the hearts  of the companions of the Prophet of Allah.

The responsibility of the safety of this Holy Book is taken by Almighty Allah by Himself, as mentioned in the Holy Quran:

However, after the death of the Prophet of Allah and in the times of the first caliph of Islam Abu Bakar (R A), a large number of companions of Allah,  who had memorized the verses of the Holy Qur'an in a sequence as told to them by the Prophet of Allah, were martyred in the Battle of  Yamama. This gave a rise to fear among the Muslims of the time that if such waste continued, a day may come that no one would be there to know the complete Qur'an. So there arose a need to compile the Holy Qur'an in the form of book.

Therefore Hazrat Umar (R.A) suggested to the Caliph that the Quran should be collected and compiled into a single book in order to ensure its preservation.  Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A) liked the idea but showed his hesitancy to do so as the Prophet of Allah (SAW) himself had never taken this step and He (R.A) feared that this action might be considered a discrepancy. However, upon persuasion by the others, he had a change of heart and assigned the task of compiling the verses memorized by the remaining selected companions to Hazrat Zain bin Saabit (R.A) in the form of a book. 

Hazrat Zain and his team called all those who had earlier memorized the various verses of the Divine messages and commandments. The team also collected all the written portions on goat or camel skins and started compiling the Divine verse. The team would listen to each memorizer while all other memorizers listened and through cross questioning,  a book was formed.  Once the whole text was collected and compiled, the the team under Hazrat Zain carefully proofread it and certified that it was correct and present in its entirety. It was then presented to Hazrat Abu Bakar (R.A). 

However, during the time of the third caliph Usman (R A), a problem arose that of the recitation of the Holy Quran. although the there was no dispute on text, but its reading by different tribes who had a dialect of their own, it was feared that the meaning of the Quranic verses may change. The problem further compounded when every tribe or people of one dialect supported their dialect to be the superior to other and wanted their form of reading be approved. Had this been allowed to continued, there would have been a different Quran for each tribe and place which would have resulted into disparity in meaning. 

Thus caliph Usman ( R A) decided to approve one form of reading for its universal application so as not to created disparities. He thus requested Hazrat Hafsah (R.A), who was the daughter of the second caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab and who had the originally compiled book of the Holy Quran given to her by her father who had inherited from the first caliph Abu Bakar,  to provide the earlier compilation of Quran. 

He then formed a committee consisting of Hazrat Zain bin Haris (R.A) and a few other companions to make sure that they agree on the pronunciation of the original copy and produce more versions of that copy in the very same way. The commission prepared the text accordingly and then several copies were made and sent to different parts of the Islamic state with the instructions that only this should be considered the official and authentic text of Quran. Since that day the Holy Quran has remained in its original intact form and will remain as such in the future by the Grace and Blessings of Allah Almighty.

The world's oldest dot-less Qur'an - Uzbek capital, Tashkent [Photo]

However, there still remained one problem: The text was in the form of Arabic text that could only be read by those whose native language was Arabic. This form of writing was known as "Rasm" which was often used in the early centuries of Arabic literature (7th century - early 11th century AD). Essentially it is the same as today's Arabic script except for the big difference that dots and dashes (the i‘jām pointing) are omitted. In Rasm, the five distinct letters ـبـ ـتـ ـثـ ـنـ ـيـ are indistinguishable because all the dots are omitted. It is also known as Arabic skeleton script. [1]
The Kufic Samarkand Qurʾan that was from 1869 to 1917 in St. Petersburg shows almost only Rasm: Surah 7 (Al-Aʿaraf), verses 86 & 87 [Photo: Wikipedia]

But as Islam spread and the written Qur'an reached people on non Arabic dialects, it became difficult for them to read with the dots and the  diacritical marks. Thus a need was felt that dots and diacritical marks (fathah, kasrah, and dammah) should be included so that people could recite the text easily. Thus the dots and diacritical marks were added to the written text. 

The following details have been inserted as these have been given in "The Preservation of the Quran" by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani as published in IlmGate. However, any variations which are found would be based on difference of opinion by various schools of thoughts, for which one may consult own school for clarification and details. This scribe will in no case be held responsible for the information shared herein under.

Diacritical marks
It is however not clear as to who was the first to place dots on the Quranic manuscript.  Some claim they were first utilized by Abu ’l-Aswad al-Du’ali. Others give credit to Hajjaj ibn Yusuf who they say had appointed the task to Yahya bin Ya‘mur and Nasr bin ‘Asim al-Laythi (Tafsir al-Qurtubi 1:63). Keeping in view all the reports in this connection, it appears that: [2]
Diacritical marks were first invented by Abu ’l-Aswad al-Du’ali but these diacritical marks were different from how they exist today. Instead of the short vowel “a” (fathah), he would place a dot over the letter. For the short vowel “i” (kasrah) he would place a dot under the letter, and for the short vowel “u” (dammah) he would place a dot in front of the letter. To represent nunnation (tanwin) he would use two dots (Subh al-A‘sha 3:160). Later on, Khalil ibn Ahmad founded signs for the glottal stop (hamzah) and doubling (tashdid) (al-Itqan 2:171, Subh al-A‘sha 3:161). 
Afterwards, Hajjaj bin Yusuf requested Yahya bin Ya‘mur, Nasr bin ‘Asim al-Laythi, and Hasan al-Basri to place both the dots and diacritical marks on the Quranic letters. On this occasion the present forms of diacritical marks were chosen rather than the use of dots so that they would not be confused with the intrinsic dots of the letters. And Allah knows best.
Ahzab and Manazil
It was customary amongst the Companions and Successors to complete the recital of the entire Quran in one week. For this purpose they had fixed portions for their daily recitation. Each such portion is known as hizb or manzil (stages). In this way, the Quran was divided into seven stages, or manzils, of recitation. Sayyiduna Aws ibn Hudhayfah states that he once asked the Companions as to how the manzils of recital had been divided. They replied that the first hizb consisted of three surahs, the second of five, the third of seven, the fourth of nine, the fifth of eleven, the sixth of thirteen, and the final hizb from Surah Qaf to the end of the Quran. (al-Burhan 1:250)

Ajza’ or Parts
Today, the Quran is divided into thirty parts, or ajza’ (plural of juz’). This division in parts has no relationship with the meaning of the Quran. Rather, the division into thirty equal parts was meant to serve as a teaching aid for children. We may notice, therefore, that there are places where a juz’ ends with an unfinished statement. It is difficult to say with certainty as to who first introduced this division. Some people believe that during the second transcription of the Quran, ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) had it written into thirty folios and, therefore, the division dates back to his time. I have not been able to find any proof for this theory in the works of earlier scholars, however. Still, ‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-Zarkashi notes that the thirty parts of the Quran have been in popular use for a long time and that they have customarily appeared in Quranic manuscripts used in schools. It would appear that the division was introduced after the era of the Companions in order to facilitate teaching. (al-Burhan 1:250, Manahil al-‘Irfan 1:402)

Akhmas and A‘shar (Sets of Fives and Tens)
Another sign used in Quranic transcriptions during the early centuries was the placing of the sign خ or خمس after every five verses and the sign ع or عشر after every ten versesin the margins of the manuscript. The former category of signs were called akhmas and the latter a‘shar. Holding divergent views, some of the early scholars considered these signs permissible while others held them to be reprehensible. It is difficult to say with any degree of certainty as to who introduced these signs. According to one view, Hajjaj ibn Yusuf was its inventor. Another report claims that the ‘Abbasi Khalifah Ma‘mun first ordered that they be marked (al-Burhan 1:251). Neither of these views seem to be sound, however, since the idea of a‘shar appears to have been present in the days of the Companions as well. Ibn Abi Shaybah narrates in his Musannaf that Masruq said that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud considered the placing of a‘shar signs in the Quranic script to be detestable. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 2:497)

Ruku‘ or Section
Another sign that came into use later on and is still prevalent today is the sign of the ruku‘. It is identified by the sign ع which is placed in the margin at the conclusion of a verse. Despite all my efforts, I have not been able to locate anything authentic to help identify the originator of the ruku‘ nor what period it was invented in. Some people believe that the ruku‘s were fixed during the era of Sayyiduna ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him), yet no authentic proof to this claim can be found in the traditions.

It can be said for certain, however, that the purpose of the ruku‘ is to determine the average number of verses which should be recited in one unit (rak‘ah) of salat. This is why it is termed a ruku‘ (lit. to bow), since it indicates the time that one should bow from the standing position during salat. In al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah (1:94) it is mentioned:

The scholars have divided the Quran into 540 ruku‘ (sections) and placed its signs on manuscripts so that the Quran can be completed on the 27th night of Ramadan in the tarawih prayer.

Rumuz al-Awqaf or Stop Signs
Another useful step taken to facilitate recitation and phonetically correct pronunciation (tilawah and tajwid) was to provide verses with signs to indicate pauses. These signs are known as the rumuz (signs) or ‘alamat (symbols) of awqaf (stops). Their purpose is to help a person who does not know Arabic to stop at the correct spot during recitation and thus avoid incorrectly changing the meaning of the verse. Most of these signs were first invented by ‘Allamah Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad ibn Tayfur al-Sajawandi (al-Nashr fi ’l-Qira’at al-‘Ashr 1:225). The details of these signs are as follows:

ط : An abbreviation of the word waqf mutlaq (universal stop). It implies that the statement stands completed at this point. Therefore, it is better to stop here.

ج : An abbreviation of the word waqf ja’iz (permissible stop) and it implies that it is permissible to stop here.

ز : An abbreviation of waqf mujawwaz (permitted stop), which implies that stopping here is permissible but that it is better not to.

ص : An abbreviation of waqf murakhkhas (dispensation stop), which implies that the statement has not yet been completed but that, because the sentence has become long, this is the place to breathe and stop rather than elsewhere. (al-Minh al-Fikriyyah 63)

م: An abbreviation of waqf lazim (mandatory stop), which means that if a stop is not made an outrageous distortion in the meaning of the verse is possible. Some phoneticians of the Quran have also called this type of stop a waqf wajib (obligatory stop). Note that wajib here is not a legal term and therefore does not entail sin if it is abandoned. The purpose of the term is to stress that stopping here is the most preferable of all stops. (al-Nashr 1:231)

لا: An abbreviation of la taqif (lit. do not stop). It indicates that one should not stop at this sign but does not imply that stopping is completely impermissible, since there are certain places bearing this sign where stopping entails no harm and resuming from the following word is also permissible. Therefore, the correct meaning of this sign is: “If a stop is made here, it is better to go back and read over again. Initiation from the next word is not preferred. (al-Nashr 1:233)

As far as the origin of these signs is concerned, it stands proven beyond doubt that they were invented by ‘Allamah Sajawandi. In addition to these, however, there are also other signs that appear in Quranic manuscripts. For instance:

مع: An abbreviation of the word mu‘anaqah. This symbol is inserted at a place where a single verse has two possible explanations. According to one explanation, the stop will be made at one given place while according to another explanation the stop will be made at another place. Therefore, a stop can be made at either one of the two places, but once a stop has been made at one place it is not correct to stop at the other. However, if a stop is not made at both places it will be correct. This is also known as muqabalah. It was first pointed out by Imam Abu ’l-Fadl al-Razi. (al-Nashr, 1:237, al-Itqan 1:88)

سكتة : This is a symbol for saktah (pause), which means that one should stop here by breaking the sound but not the breath. This is generally inserted at a place where assimilated reading is likely to cause an erroneous projection of meaning.

وقفة : At this sign, called a waqfah, one must stop a little longer than at a saktah (pause) but ones breath should not break here as well.

ق : An abbreviation of qīla ‘alayhi ’l-waqf. It means that some phoneticians of the Quran identify a stop here while others do not.

قف : This symbol is the word qif which means “stop” (the imperative word-form) and is inserted where the reader may possibly think that a stop was not correct.

صلى : This is an abbreviation of al-waslu awla, which means that “it is better to recite here in assimilated continuity”.

صل  : This is an abbreviation of qad yusalu which means that “some stop here” while others like to recite on in assimilated continuity.

وقف النبي : This is marked at places where a hadith proves that the Holy Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) stopped here while reciting.

An effort has been made to compile the history of compilation of the Holy Qur'an from as many references as possible. However, there may be more details available, but the basics have been covered in as short as possible for easy reading. Details may be read from the references given below or can be searched o Internet. May Allah forgive me for quoting any wrong information. Aameen

Photo | References: | 1 | | 2 | 3 | 4 |
If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook
Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.

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