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Monday, December 15, 2014

THE NATURE OF GOD, HIS PROPHETS, AND THE PROMISED REFORMATION OF ISLAM

         From the very beginning of man's spiritual self-awareness, God has always appointed -- and taught -- righteous human beings as His exalted prophets and messengers. Their missions have always been the same: to deliver to their people God's divine teachings and to also become living, holy examples and embodiments of those same divine teachings. The desired result is for people to be righteous reflections of God's Divine Attributes and love and serve God and His creation.

         There are over 100 Divine Attributes of God -- some of which are exclusively His, such as “The All-Knowing,” “The Eternal” and “The All-Powerful” -- but most of these are innate and we are meant to manifest them in our daily lives. These godly qualities include being Kind-hearted, Generous, Loving, Honest, Just, Peaceful, Truthful, Merciful, Forgiving and Patient.


When this happens, goodness and peace reign, and evil, hatred and strife are combated and dissipated. What this is, in a word, is “Love.” And it is this fostering of love -- for God and for all His creatures and His creation -- which is the ultimate purpose of all the prophets of God. And this is also why, in Islam, Muslims are commanded to believe in and respect all prior prophets sent by God because of just this divine, unifying purpose.

It is also a fundamental belief in Islam that God has always commanded His chosen prophets and messengers to proclaim to their people that God is not -- nor has He ever been -- a force of nature or celestial object, nor any created being (human or otherwise) nor any man-made idol -- but rather, that God is and always has been the Supreme Creator and Ruler of the Universe and its sole Deity. He is non-physical, wholly transcendent above His creation, and completely unbounded by it or contained within it in any way.

God  states this succinctly and clearly in verses 2-5 of the 112th chapter of the Holy Quran, called Al-Ikhlaas:


Proclaim: He is Allah, the One -- Allah, the Independent and
Besought by all. He begets not,
nor is He begotten; and there is
none like unto Him. [112:2-5]
         What these verses mean is that, fundamentally and eternally, God has always been and will always be only and singularly One, and that there is nothing and no one in heaven or on Earth like Him who is worthy of our worship.

         All other earlier teachings -- from whatever religion -- that present ideas contrary to this pristine Oneness can be shown to be deviations from that clear, divine commandment to believe in the pure, non-physical Oneness of God, which God Himself has stated so decisively in the Holy Quran and in previously revealed Divine Scriptures such as the Torah.


All that Islam adds to this is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) -- who represents and embodies all the eternal spiritual truths delivered by previous prophets -- is God’s all-encompassing messenger for all mankind and the last Law-bearing prophet sent into the world. No new Law-bearing prophet will be sent after Muhammad (pbuh), nor will any new Holy Law be given after the Quran.

What is promised by God is that He will appoint righteous servants as needed to rekindle in the hearts of mankind the cleansing flame of the pure love and worship of God. He will do this at His sole discretion as the Master of all Creation and the Day of Judgment, and in answer to the needs of mankind for its moral, spiritual and worldly reformation. The purpose of which is so that human beings may rediscover, comprehend and put into practice the true teachings of the Holy Quran and the life-giving example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

To that end, most Muslims -- both Sunni and Shia -- believe that God has done this by raising up and appointing spiritual, saintly reformers every century following the advent of Islam and the passing away of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) 1400 years ago.

And while most Muslims believe in the advent of a Divinely-Guided spiritual leader known as the Imam Mahdi, as well as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (pbuh), only Ahmadi Muslims believe both of these advents have occurred (as promised by Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Quran) in the person and writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India. Ahmad established the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in 1889 under divine decree and shortly thereafter -- again under divine decree -- proclaimed that he was, in fact, the Imam Mahdi for Muslims and the Second Coming of the Messiah.

“Love for All - Hatred for None” is the motto of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. We now have Chapters in over 200 countries of the world with total membership numbering in the tens of millions. We are striving for peace, justice, serving humanity (HumanityFirst.org) and bringing spiritual enlightenment and moral purification to all of humanity.

We oppose all forms of terrorism and oppression, be it of individuals or groups, and we condemn all such acts as being completely un-Islamic and against the teachings and example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). And while Ahmadis have frequently been the targets of extremist Muslim violence, persecution and even murder, no Ahmadi Muslim has ever responded in kind.

For all those peace-loving Muslims seeking the true face of Islam, they will find it within the members and in the spiritual leadership (Khilafat) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.   
 
And for all those non-Muslims curious to find the true face of Islam they, too, will find it in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and its system of Divinely-supported Khilafat. And finally, to all those who fear, hate or despise Islam, or who decry the silence of the peaceful Muslims of the world (or who do not believe such Muslims even exist), we invite them to study the original and pure teachings of Islam presented by the peaceful Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and embodied by its tens of millions of devout members from around the world.

Those who fear, hate or despise Islam will not find within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community or in its members any evidence of what they fear, hate or despise because Ahmadiyyat is the true Islam that we invite the world to discover, support and freely embrace, if they so wish.

May God open the hearts of all people living in ignorance or hatred or fear -- and all people who seek God -- so that true love and peace may enter into their hearts, and reign as Love Supreme.  
_______________________________

To learn more about Ahmadiyya Islam or to visit Ahmadiyya mosques in Southern California (Chino & Hawthorne), call 909-627-2252 or 1-866-WHY-ISLAM. To find an Ahmadiyya chapter near you, call 1-800-WHY-ISLAM or go online to: Ahmadiyya.us to see all Chapters. For information on Ahmadiyya, go online to: MuslimsForPeace.org  or Alislam.org

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SOLVING THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE "TROUBLES"

I was watching Al-Jazeera America this morning -- they had George Mitchell on talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said in Northern Ireland, on the eve they signed the peace accords that pretty much ended "The Troubles" there, 85% of those polled said they saw no hope for peace. Then they had it. The same thing can happen in the Israel-Palestine situation. 

Once the situation is in place, it can be maintained -- so long as people on both sides want that to happen. Therein lies the rub. To the Muslims in this situation, I say "Remember the Treaty of Hudaibiyya!" -- it was roundly criticized by the companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as unjust, a humiliation and an insult to their honor, etc. etc. but that did not keep Muhammad (pbuh) from signing it and choosing peace over war. The word "Muslim" means one who seeks peace with and submission to God, and by extension, His creation. You can't love God and hate your fellow man.

Islam also commands Muslims to not be the aggressors in a conflict, nor to attack or kill non-combatants (i.e., civilians), and to end aggression as soon as possible -- especially if the enemy calls for peace. In Islam, a Muslim government is required to cease hostilities and grant peace if so desired by the enemy. So as long as the Muslims violate these laws of God in the Quran and do not follow the sunnah (example) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), they will continue to be cursed with disunity, worldliness and ignorance among themselves, and suffer violence and oppression at the hands of their Muslim brethren (as in Syria and Iraq) and from others. 

And speaking of the Israelis, they must answer to God for their intransigence and evils as well. Ironic that a group who suffered at the hands of one group of oppressors 75 years ago can become oppressors themselves and see nothing wrong with that -- defend it even, in the name of "payback" and their survival as a state and a people. If what the Israelis do with their Jewish settlements is OK, then let them allow one Palestinian settlement inside Israel for every Israeli settlement they have in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Suddenly it's not so OK anymore, is it? 

Remove labels in any conflict and leave just the actions themselves and judge the good or the evil of it then. It will be easy and clear. Now keep the labels off and treat people as you would desire and deserve to be treated as a human being. Now put the labels back on. And now apply the required justice and righteous behavior as you would have it for yourself without the labels. Problem solved.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A GEM FROM THE MASTER, RAY BRADBURY. . .

I’ve been reading one of my great inspirations, Ray Bradbury – his collected non-fiction writings called “Bradbury Speaks”. . .  On pages 46-47 I found this wonderful gem [I can “hear” this in Carl Sagan’s voice]:

“The unknown celestial environment cries out to be known. We are the delegates of cognition whose task it is to witness and celebrate. The Cosmos thrives through us. The dead stuffs of planetary time are roused to life because we say it’s so. We pitiful worms have dreamed a cocoon of metal, glass, and fire and have come forth as homely moths and then fine papillons to cross space and annul time. Our conscious mind wonders at this. Our secret mind knows. It speaks. We listen and dream ourselves better cocoons.”                                                                                                                                   – Ray Bradbury

If, in the not too distant future, we survive our own lesser natures burning to destroy us, and succeed in building and manning the ships that cross the interstellar seas, it will be the greatest ingratitude if we do not christen our ships with the monikers of those envisioneers, those literary spellbinders named Bradbury, Burroughs, Wells, Asimov, Heinlein, Clark and others who have sailed there before us, taking us with them, that we may meet ourselves in their company at some far distant time in the silent expanse of solitude and destiny that is space, our final frontier. -- JMAG

Thursday, June 26, 2014

MY FAREWELL COMMENTS FOR IMAM SHAMSHAD

Here's a short video of my remarks at Imam Shamshad's Farewell Event at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, CA Tuesday, June 24th. . .  Imam sahib is now in Chicago as their new missionary. May Allah bless, guide and protect him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"UNDERSTANDING ISLAM" RADIO SHOW MP3 LINKS

Here are links to download MP3s of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's L.A. chapter weekly radio show “Understanding Islam with Imam Shamshad” which airs every Tuesday a little after 9:30 am (Pacific Standard Time) on KCAA 1050-AM and is simulcast on the Internet at www.kcaaradio.com and www.AhmadiyyaTimes.com – the latter having a worldwide readership of over 3-million. 

MP3s of “Understanding Islam” on KCAA 1050-AM (2009-present) and KSPA 1510-AM (2010-12) are available for listening or download at the following links:



KSPA 1510-AM archived shows:

Monday, June 16, 2014

FIREFLY / SERENITY CROSSWORD PUZZLE (LINKS)

Ni Hao. . .  For any fans out there of the cult Sci-Fi TV show "Firefly" (and its subsequent movie "Serenity" in 2005), here are links to (1) an online interactive Firefly-Serenity Crossword Puzzle I created, and (2) links to download the printable versions of the puzzle grid and the clues list.  "FF" stands for Firefly and "BDM" stands for Big Damn Movie, a shorthand term for "Serenity." If you've never seen Firefly or Serenity, you can watch them both at Netflix.com. Or look on YouTube. Enjoy! 

(Also, see link at bottom of page to read my "Firefly" Filk -- lyrics inspired by FF sung to well-known songs. Or just keep scrolling down through my blog. You'll see it soon enough.)
------------------------------------------------- 

Browser version:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/19398995/FF-BDM-CROSSWORD-WEB-MAG-1.htm
----------------------------------------------------

Here are links to download Word-loadable versions. . . 



I did this using Eclipse Crossword program which you download free from Download.com
==================

BONUS FUN: Link to my FF -inspired Filk: 
"Still Shiny After All These Years"

http://www.jonathanmaghaffar.blogspot.com/2014/04/still-shiny-after-all-these-years.html

Thursday, May 15, 2014

10 WAYS TO BE CLOSER TO GOD

Do you want God in your life in the most personal and rewarding way possible? Here are 10 ways to increase your love for God and His love for you. (For detailed “how-to” instructions, call the numbers listed below.) These ten actions are based on the teachings of Islam in the Holy Quran and from the life example of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him). These were written by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as conditions of initiation into the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which he founded in 1889 in Qadian, Northern India.

1. Do not associate any partners with God. This means believing that God is singularly One, the only Supreme Being and sole Creator of the Universe and everything in it. He has no children or partners or “persons” comprising His Eternal, non-physical make-up. There is only God alone. 

2. Keep away from falsehood, fornication, adultery, trespasses of the eye, debauchery, unrestrained indulgence in physical pleasures (especially drunkenness), cruelty, dishonesty, mischief and rebellion. Do not let yourself be carried away by passions, however strong they may be.

3. Regularly offer the five daily prayers in accordance with the command of God and the Holy Prophet (pbuh); and try your best to regularly offer the Tahajjud (pre-dawn optional) prayer, and invoke blessings of God upon the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Make it your daily routine to ask forgiveness for your sins, to remember the bounties of God and to praise and glorify Him.

4. Under the impulse of any passions, cause no harm whatsoever to the creatures of God and human beings in general, nor to those who are completely submitted to Him; neither by your tongue, your hands, nor by any other means. You should embody “Love for All – Hatred for None.”

5. Remain faithful to God in all circumstances of life -- in sorrow and happiness, adversity and prosperity, in good times and bad; and in all conditions remain steadfast to the Will of God and be ready to face all kinds of indignities and sufferings in His way and never turn away from it at the onslaught of any misfortune; on the contrary, march resolutely forward.

6. Refrain from following immoral, un-Islamic customs and lustful inclinations, and completely submit yourself to the authority of the Holy Quran; and make the Word of God and the Sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) the guiding principle in every walk of life.

7. Entirely give up pride and vanity and pass all your life in humbleness, cheerfulness, forbearance and meekness.

8. Hold faith, the honor of faith, and the cause of Islam dearer to you than your life, wealth, honor, children and all other dear ones.

9. Keep yourself occupied in the service of God's creatures for His sake only; and strive to benefit mankind to the best of your God-given abilities.

10. Enter into a bond of brotherhood with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad -- the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi -- pledging obedience to this humble servant of God in everything good, for the sake of God alone, and remain faithful to it until your last breath. Exert such a high devotion in the observance of this bond as is not to be found in any other worldly relationship and connections demanding dutiful devotion.

To learn how to do all these things in Islam, call 866-WHY-ISLAM or 909-627-2252 or 909-636-8332. Free daily and weekly classes are on-going at the Baitul Hameed Mosque at 11941 Ramona Ave. in Chino, just north of the 60 freeway. For on-line info, visit Alislam.org or Email Imam Shamshad at: shamshadanasir@Gmail.com

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[ with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir;appeared online at AhmadiyyaTimes.com on Thursday. May 15th at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2014/05/10-ways-to-be-closer-to-god.html and ran in an abridged form as: "9 ways to become closer to God" in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin "From the Pulpit" religion section on Sat., May 24th in print and online at this link:  ]

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ONLY LOVE CAN HEAL HATE

March was not a good month for religious minorities in Pakistan. But now days it can be said without fear of error that no month is safe for religious minorities in Pakistan -- it’s just that some months are worse than others. Here’s a sample of what should not have happened in March in Pakistan:
March 15th - A Hindu allegedly desecrates a Holy Quran in Larkana, Sindh province. Within hours a mob of enraged Muslims storms the Hindu temple where the reported desecration occurs and sets the temple on fire -- after first looting and vandalizing it, of course. Luckily, no one is killed. . .
March 27th - Yet another Christian is sentenced to death for blasphemy by a Muslim judge in Pakistan. The sentence is delivered to cheers from a courtroom packed with fanatic Muslim clerics and their zealous followers. Had the Judge ruled differently, the cheers would have quickly turned to howls of outrage and the blasphemy accused -- and the Judge -- would have most likely been murdered at the hands of vigilante Muslim mobs or assassins.   
March 28th - In Islamabad, Pakistan’s capitol, an Ahmadi Muslim college professor and his mother are viciously attacked and stabbed to death in their home by unknown assailants. The fact the murder victims are well-known Ahmadis, that there are no suspects, and no police investigation has begun leads observers -- especially the victims’ Ahmadi family and friends -- to the sad realization that these latest inhumane atrocities against Ahmadi Muslims will go unpunished, as usual. . .
March 31st – In Tando Allahyar, a town near Hyderabad, an Ahmadi prayer center is attacked and vandalized by a mob of Muslims on allegations of desecration of the Quran. The Ahmadi missionary in charge of the prayer center, Imam Tahir Ahmed, is brutally beaten by the mob, and when the police eventually arrive, the Ahmadi missionary and another Ahmadi man are promptly arrested on blasphemy charges. No one is arrested for viciously assaulting the Ahmadi missionary. . .
The common elements of cruelty, injustice and blatant disregard for the human rights and lives of others that characterize all four of these incidents can be summed up in one word: “blasphemy.”
Since 1974, when Pakistan’s Constitution was amended under pressure from the Muslim ulema (scholars) to officially declare Ahmadi Muslims to be outside the fold of Islam, the lives of Ahmadis, Shias, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and anyone else deemed an apostate or enemy of Islam (as determined by the Muslim ulema) have been in jeopardy from religious extremism and intolerance. And this situation is only getting worse.
Virtually all secular and religious scholars in Pakistan acknowledge it was the government’s 1974 Constitutional 2nd Amendment declaring Ahmadis non-Muslims, along with the 1984 penal codes known as Ordinance XX, that created and now foster the draconian environment of religious hatred, persecution and violence directed against Ahmadis, Shias, Christians, Hindus and others.
The fact that the vast majority of Pakistan’s Sunni Muslims don’t seem to have a problem with this sad state of affairs is a tragic barometer of both the denial and often deadly consequences of the growing fanaticism, intolerance and persecution directed against the country’s religious minorities. It’s like someone being told they have terminal cancer who insists they are perfectly healthy and have never felt better!
A fitting analogy is the “boiling frog” scenario, where a frog is placed in a pan of cold water on a stove. The heat is then turned on very low, so the frog thinks the water is only getting a little warm. The frog accepts and adjusts to the gradual rise in water temperature without realizing -- until it’s too late -- that his warm home is also his execution chamber.
This is exactly what is happening in Pakistan to those who support or deny or ignore the persecution and murder of the innocent, be they religious minorities or not. And this is exactly how Hell becomes an accepted way of life and how (like the frog in hot water) very few people wake up and recognize the seriousness of their plight. By the time the fire is raging at its hottest, it’s usually much too late to escape the inevitable.
Not everyone is waiting patiently in their ignorance or denial while they slowly get cooked. Some are trying (with varying levels of commitment and success) to stand up and fight against the barbarism of the blasphemy laws. This array of people includes the surviving victims of the blasphemy laws, secular and interfaith human rights workers, journalists with both conscience and backbone, and anyone else who can clearly see the moral, social, cultural and spiritual extinction that awaits Pakistan if the cancerous evil resulting from its blasphemy laws is not dealt with forcefully and soon.
The million-dollar question then becomes: how do you reverse Pakistan’s ever-increasing downward spiral into social chaos, religious intolerance, persecution and the state-supported extermination of the “infidels” -- a label with an ever-widening definition of who that is? And if this downward spiral is not reversed, the outcome for Pakistan and its people will be a sad but predictable social, political, moral and spiritual collapse into chaos. Some would argue that such a fate is well on its way to fruition.
 But I have not lost hope, in spite of all that I know about Pakistan, its history and its people. This is because I am an Ahmadi Muslim who still believes that Pakistan and its citizens can become what its name promises: the Land of the Pure. And I also still believe in a living God Who has all Power to change Pakistan and its people into an expression of the highest Good instead of a manifestation of the lowest Evil.
But, as God Himself says in the Holy Quran, He does not change the condition of a people until they change their hearts. This seemingly impossible requirement actually reflects our God-endowed ability to willingly choose to do good rather than evil. Unlike Christian doctrine, which teaches that man is born in sin with no ability to overcome its influence and effects, Islam brings the good news that man is born pure and sinless and can return to that state with sustained effort to love God and His creation, and by striving to become more and more righteous.
In short, it means that reformation and redemption from evil is possible -- in fact, it is God’s fundamental purpose for our existence here on Earth. We are designed by God to be capable of embodying most of His divine attributes so we may attain righteousness and nearness to God in this very life.
All that is needed to start this process is for us to want that reformation and redemption -- for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our country and for the world. We can start by praying for the people of Pakistan to want one thing: that God should love them and that, by their actions, they become deserving of God’s Love. We can all start with that one, simple step -- seeking God’s Love by repeating regularly this prayer of the prophet Da’ud (David):
O God! I ask for Your Love and for the love of those who love You,
and love of the actions that bring me close to Your Love. My Lord!
Make me such that Your Love is more pleasing to me than myself,
and my wealth, and my family, and cool sweet water.
                                                                                [ Tirmidhi Kitabudda’wat ]
          In this modern age of the internet and the ability to communicate with almost anyone anywhere in the world, let us use the power of social media and the power of prayer to start a positive change in the world by changing ourselves: “O God, I ask you for Your Love…” Pass it on.
[ with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir; appeared online at AhmadiyyaTimes.com April 25th, 2014 at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2014/04/perspective-only-love-can-heal-hate_27.html and in print in the May issue of Asia Today newspaper (www.AsiaTodayAZ.com); and an abridged version ran in the Al Akhbar Newspaper on April 16th, 2014 ]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

STILL SHINY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS [My first attempt at "Firefly"-inspired lyrics]

(Sung to the tune of Paul Simon's “Still Crazy After All These Years” but with more verses 'cuz Paul's original is kinda short – 3 verses and a bridge. This one's got 2 bridges and 9 BD verses. Oh, and it's from Mal's POV in case you hadn't sussed. Here's the link to the original post: http://www.fireflyfans.net/bluesun.aspx?bid=8865)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ---
“Still Shiny After All These Years”
I met my old nemesis on the street last night
He sang out “Mister Reynolds!” -- I just sighed
Man was nutty as a Reaver from all that torturin' and tears
but I'm still shiny after all these years
yeah, still shiny after all these years

       I'm not the kind of man who tends to socialize
in Alliance bars unless it's on U-Day
with my “on sale” brown-ish coat on and a few too-many beers
I'm still shiny after all these years
Oh, I'm still shiny after all these years

       My Companion is unveiled -- if you can pay her price
But I won't bother trying, 'cuz she won't
When she sleeps I look upon her, whisper 'nothings' in her ears
Still shiny after all these years
She's still shiny after all these years
     (1st bridge)

       Four in the mornin'
Inara's. . . out whorin'
breakin' my heart again
Why can't I tell her. . . how I feel?
It's all in the Black
     (instrumental)
 Now I sit in Wash's old chair and I watch the stars
and I imagine he's still flyin' this old Fei
and Zoe's raising their son –- he's a natural “born-to-steer”
and they're still shiny after all these years
yeah, still shiny after all these years

       Gave Zoe's job to Jayne after she left the ship
They say “Feed a dog – won't bite you” -- guess we'll see
River's got him by his chain here: “I can kill you with my brain, dear.”
Jayne's still shiny after all these years
Yeah, still shiny after all these years

       Y'know my Kaylee got a husband in that starchy Doc
Would've happened sooner, weren't so dense
Now there's critters underfoot here an' some smelly baby smears
But that's still shiny after all these years
Loud but shiny after all these years
     (2nd bridge)

       I do the job of. . . robbing – get paid
Is that all my life has been?
Feel like an Object. . . in Space. . .
Drifting. . .
I'm all Out of Gas
     (2nd instrumental, longer)

       Sometimes I think about the shepherd and I wonder why
God'll take the ones who love Him – but not me
Wo bu-dong wei-shemma Tian*. . . that's a train ain't never near
Am I still shiny after all these years?
God. . . Can I be shiny after all these years?

       Been so long at war with You -- don't know if I can quit
My enemy's been mostly just myself
So I smile into the Black and raise a glass to all my fears
I'm still shiny after all these years
Yeah, still shiny after all these years

       Now I got me one fine lady -- she won't never keen
My love for her's what keeps her in the air
And she ain't no fool for love songs that whisper in her gears
Still shiny after all these years
Yeah, still shiny. . . my Serenity. . .
Still shiny after all these years
(* wo=I, bu-dong=don't understand, wei-shemma=why, Tian=Heaven/God.
Wanted to put some Chinese in there so it'd be like the show, and the Chinese really fit the meter well, I thought. Hope it makes sense to all Native speakers out there, otherwise my apologies. My Mandarin is only “restaurant quality.” I let it trail off with the ellipses for poetical import, see? Anyway, hope y'all like. --M.A.Ghaffar)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SAYING "NO" TO THE CANCER OF WAR


There’s a well-known saying that goes: “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” It comes from the first line of a poem written in the 1930s by German playwright and author Bertolt Brecht. It became a catch-phrase to protest the Vietnam War during the 1960s. Ironically, the actual “message” of Brecht’s poem is not about pacificism but joining the “good fight” against political despotism and its inevitable military adventurism. The entire poem reads:

“What if they gave a war and nobody came? / Why, then, the war would come to you! / He who stays home when the fight begins / And lets another fight for his cause / Should take care: /
He who does not take part / In the battle will share in the defeat.
Even avoiding battle will not avoid battle. / Since not to fight for your own cause / Really means / Fighting on behalf of your enemy's cause."

And while Brecht’s point is borne out by the rise of Nazi Germany and the Second World War, it’s the sentiment contained in the first line that speaks to something timeless and morally significant: human beings do not like killing and do not, of their own accord, desire war. Fear of death is the usual cause cited in a person’s reluctance to go to war, and this is perfectly understandable.

But war has, as its primal reality to the soldier involved in actual combat, only two possible outcomes: being killed or being the killer. The destructiveness of the first event happens only once. The destructiveness to a person’s mental, moral and spiritual makeup caused by “being the killer” in the war equation is well known to all who survive it, and in many ways, those killed are considered the lucky ones, compared to those who have to live with the consequences and memories of war.

So why is it we seem to always be killing each other in so many conflicts in the world? Every cry by a government for war has always been met with reluctance unless the people are first motivated to support the war. And history shows that nothing rallies people to war as effectively as a horrific, unprovoked attack. Like 9-11, for example, or the Tonkin Gulf incident that catalyzed America’s massive troop commitment in Vietnam, or Pearl Harbor which resulted in our involvement in World War II.

The latest call to war has Iran and its nuclear weapons threat as its focus, with Israel leading the charge and America and Europe slavishly in tow. It’s been pointed out that Iran hasn’t attacked the U.S. or anyone else in well over a century and has no nuclear weapons or proven capacity to produce them. (U.N. inspectors monitored Iran’s nuclear program for two years and came to that same conclusion.)

Let’s review America’s recent war history. After 9-11, we invaded Afghanistan in search of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. Ten years later, Navy SEALs found bin Laden well-kept and safe in Pakistan, our supposed ally in the War on Terror. We also invaded Iraq in March of 2002 under the pretext of neutralizing Saddam Hussein and his “weapons of mass destruction” we were told beforehand didn’t exist and which we have yet to find. Cost in American lives: more than 5,000 so far. Cost in U.S. taxpayer money and borrowed money from China: $4-$6 Trillion and counting. (Iraqi and Afghani civilian deaths are difficult to estimate but are conservatively believed to be 2-3 times the number of American deaths.)

Which brings us conveniently to the big question: who benefits from all this killing for God and country? Principally, two camps: the people who loan the money to wage wars (often lending to both sides at the same time) and the makers and sellers of the implements of war. And as the revenues of war-funding institutions and war-profiteering industries readily attest, war is an immensely lucrative business. And therein lies the essential obstacle to “curing” the cancer of war -- if you are in the business of war, the last thing you want in the world is peace. And if the people in government are the same people in the war business (or are intimately connected with such people) then the levers of political power are effectively in the hands of those with a vested financial interest in having wars and not peace.

Just before leaving office, President Eisenhower warned America (and the world) about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.” But knowing about a threat is not the same as having the ability to resist it or defeat it. There are legitimate reasons to go to war. But those reasons never coincide with financial or political interests, only humanitarian and moral ones. In the long history of warfare, such valid reasons are few and far between, and most certainly absent in the case of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and what looks likely to be Iran if we don’t wake up and say “no” to the cancer of war for profit and power.

(Originally appeared March 2nd, 2012 on www.AhmadiyyaTimes.com at this link:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SECOND COMING OF JESUS ALREADY HAPPENED

          After the death and resurrection of Jesus (peace be upon him) as believed by Christians, nothing is closer to their heart or more central to their belief than his long-awaited Second Coming. Biblical prophecies about the Second Coming have been debated by Christian scholars for centuries. When Jesus failed to reappear at the dawn of the first millennium (AD 1000), a general consensus began to form that Jesus would return sometime in the mid-to-late 19th century. Numerous messianic and rapture movements started in fervent expectation of the return of Jesus in the 1800s. What if I were to tell you that those prophecies did indeed come true? Unbelievable, you say? Don’t you know me by now?
For all those devout, God-loving Christians who strive to be Christ-like and live their lives by his teachings and example and who await his Second Coming as he himself defined it -- through someone else who would come, not physically, but in his power and spirit -- the good news is, that Jesus Christ has already come!
He came as he said he would -- “like a thief in the night” -- born in India in 1835 and receiving his appointment by God as the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi (the Guided One) in the last quarter of the 19th century. His name was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835-1908).
Jesus said in Matt.23:39 that people would not see him again (i.e., recognize him in his Second Advent) until they said “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And so most Christians did not and do not “see” or “recognize” Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Second Coming of Jesus because they are not members of the religion that requires pronouncing blessings upon “he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Only Muslims say “Peace and blessings of God be upon him” whenever they hear or say the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). And it was Muhammad who received, memorized and recited for his followers the 114 chapters of the Holy Quran -- all but one of which starts with the words: “In the name of God (the Lord), Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.”
          All Muslims believe in Jesus as the true messiah for the Israelites. All Muslims also believe in the Second Coming of Jesus (pbuh). The difference between Ahmadi Muslims and all other Muslims is that non-Ahmadi Muslims believe (as do most Christians) that Jesus was taken up bodily alive into heaven 2,000 years ago, and that he will bodily descend back down to Earth in the latter days. In both non-Ahmadi Muslim and Christian camps, mass slaughter is promised for those who do not submit to Jesus -- see Luke 19:27 where Jesus says: “Bring all those who will not have me reign over them as their king and slay them at my feet.”
Only Ahmadi Muslims believe the Second Coming of Jesus will not be a blood-soaked killing spree, resulting in the deaths of billions of “disbelievers.” And only Ahmadi Muslims take Jesus at his word when he explained in Matt.17:12-13 that the prophet Elijah was not going to come again in his same physical body, but that Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, came “in the power and spirit of Elijah” to herald the appearance of the messiah.  Jesus clearly defines the real nature and form of Second Advents -- including, by logical inference, his own. And yet, virtually all Christians and Muslims await the literal Second Coming of Christ from 2,000 years ago. True, the world needs the messiah now, but the messiah Jesus from the 1st century AD is not coming back himself.
There is also the matter of the death of Jesus on the cross… Christians require it to fulfill their “death-as-atonement” salvation theology. Jews and Muslims, however, both view it as the clear sign of a false claimant to be the Israelite messiah. All Jews who have not accepted Jesus as their messiah and savior generally believe that Jesus did, in fact, die on the cross, thus proving (via Deut.21:23) that he was a false prophet and a false messiah.
Non-Ahmadi Muslims are usually taught (and thus believe) that because he was a true prophet from God and the messiah for the Israelites, there is no way God would have allowed him to die an accursed death on the cross. The majority of Muslims believe Jesus was taken up alive to heaven before he was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. These Muslims believe someone else (usually Judas) was made to look like Jesus and this imposter was arrested instead and later put to death on the cross.
Ahmadi Muslims believe Jesus was indeed put on the cross, but -- as a fulfillment of the “Sign of Jonah” which he gave to his enemies -- he survived the life-threatening ordeal of crucifixion, just as Jonah survived his life-threatening ordeal of being swallowed alive by a whale by coming out of it alive, not resurrected from the dead.
          Since the dawn of Islam, Christians have been accepting Islam. This will only continue as more and more Christians study the Bible and dare to question what they are taught in church. If, by seeking answers elsewhere, they investigate Ahmadiyya Islam (at Alislam.org), they will find the answers to their questions in the Quran and in the life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and in the advent of the Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
Some Christians at the time of Muhammad (pbuh), when they first heard the recitation of the Quran, recognized the truth of Islam and the fulfillment of the promised advent of a Law-bearing prophet like Moses (pbuh) as mentioned in Deut.18:18-20 and Deut.33:2. Here are three verses from the Quran (ch.5, vv.83-85) specifically about Christians:
. . .And thou shalt assuredly find those who say, “We are Christians,” to be the nearest of them in love to the believers [the Muslims]. That is because among them are savants [learned scholars] and monks and because they are humble. And when they hear what has been revealed [from the Quran] to this Messenger [Prophet Muhammad], thou see their eyes overflow with tears because of the truth which they have recognized. They say, “Our Lord, we believe, so write us down among those who bear witness…”   (Holy Quran, ch.5, “Al-Maidah,” verses 83-85)
Ahmadi Muslims are the only Muslims in the world who have accepted the First Coming of Jesus (pbuh) in the first century AD, as well as the Second Coming of Jesus (pbuh) in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in the 19th century. To learn more, I humbly invite you to investigate the truth about the First and Second Advents of Jesus at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino (909-627-2252 or 909-636-8332) and at Alislam.org and you can call-in with your questions to our weekly radio show on KCAA 1050-AM every Tuesday at 9:35am. The KCAA radio station can be heard via the Internet at www.KCAAradio.com. Click on the U-stream button to watch live or click on the Morning Show podcast button to listen to every Tuesday’s archived show.
In closing, if the Feb. 22nd religion column headline “Resurrection proves Jesus is God” is true, then it also proves Lazarus was God, along with anyone else Jesus or any of his followers resurrected.
Concerning the Mar. 15th religion column, which listed Trinitarian definitions of the Hebrew words “Eloh-im” and “echad,” it is noteworthy that no Jewish scholars of Hebrew translate them in support of a triune God. In fact, Hebrew derives its source meanings from Arabic -- “Eloh-im” comes from the Arabic “Allah,” while “echad” comes from the Arabic “ahad” -- and Judaism and Islam both share the exact same definition of the pure “Oneness” of God as having no partners or “persons” in a triune entity. Some Christian scholars will admit this and some Bible websites (BlueLetterBible.org for example) will show it in their language lexicons. They won’t translate the Arabic of course, but I will be glad to furnish the translation in English.
In response to the Mar. 22nd religion column which again presented the idea that Jesus died as a sinless atonement for our sins, I present the “aspirin argument.” If you have a headache and I take the aspirin, will your headache go away? The same logic applies to the problem of sin.  
I do appreciate all the responses to my columns that I’ve received over these past three months. In the end, though, the debaters on any issue rarely (if ever) change their positions. That choice is meant for those in the audience who may be questioning their beliefs or the reasoning they are given for them. It is these truth seekers I invite for further inquiry.


[ with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir; appeared online at AhmadiyyaTimes.com March 22nd, 2014 at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2014/03/perspective-second-coming-of-jesus.html and an abridged version of this ran in the Daily Bulletin religion section's "From the Pulpit" on Sat., April 26th, 2014 under the title "Second Coming of Jesus" at this link: http://www.dailybulletin.com/social-affairs/20140425/second-coming-of-jesus ]

JESUS' SECOND COMING HAS ALREADY HAPPENED (MAG's original 2K word ver.)

          Yes, you read that right. (By now, you should expect “outrageous and unbelievable” from me...) Before I explain the headline, I wish to comment on the latest responses to my previous columns questioning the Trinity and Jesus-as-God... My first comment is on the Feb. 22nd “From the Pulpit” column titled: “Resurrection proves Jesus is God” -- to which I humbly submit that, if this is true, then Lazarus is also God and so is every other person reportedly raised from the dead by Jesus and any of his disciples or later followers. Moving on...
Quite a few respondents told me that quite a few vigorous theological discussions took place (always a good thing) as a result of my three previous columns, but after reading the majority of responses and speaking by phone with several callers, I’ve learned that what I considered very clear and authoritative statements from God and Jesus about their natures and purposes are not viewed that way by many Christians (at least not the ones who responded to me). And especially not when such statements contradict or invalidate the Christian theology of salvation through the accursed death of Jesus for the sins of mankind. In the case of verses like Numbers 23:19 and Isaiah 43:10, the “New” Testament always trumps the “Old” Testament.
Most responded to my understanding of Numbers 23:19 (God is not a man that he lies, nor the son of man that he repents) by stating that, yes, God is not a man or the son of man -- until He incarnated as Jesus, and then he was still not just a man, but now literally and inseparably 100% God and 100% sinless man in human form as Jesus. (According to Catholicism, Mary’s Original Sin was cleansed from her at her immaculate conception, not at the conception of Jesus as many Protestants believe. This was done only for Mary so that Jesus could be born as a sinless, future sacrifice for our sins. The “why” of it only prompts questions such as: Why didn’t God do this for everyone and mercifully remove the unjust condemnation of Original Sin once and for all? But then there would be no need for Jesus to come and die for anybody’s sins...)   
Several respondents stated that Numbers 23:19 “proved” God’s immutability (unchanging form) precisely because God later became (changed into) a human! This is what Luke refers to in Acts 14:11 where he writes that “…these Greek peoples believed the gods came down in human form…” Now, if you ask any Christian (priest or layman) if the Greeks were correct in their belief about their gods coming down in human form, they will say this is absolutely false! Yet, when Paul introduces a new god (Yahweh) to the Greeks and Romans and tells them his name in human form is now Jesus instead of Perseus or Hercules, suddenly this idea is absolutely true!
Some of the responses by Christians to Numbers 23:19 said the straight-forward Hebrew meaning as understood by all Jewish Rabbis (and their congregations) for the past 3,500 years was true for the Jews up until the birth of their messiah, Jesus, at which time it was not true anymore because Jesus was God and also the Son of God and also the son of man -- a triple-play, as it were, that ended the Old Testament definition of God and inaugurated the New Testament definition of God. (Paul, take a bow.)
It was at this point of trying to digest this last idea that I knew my real audience was not those Christians adamantly defending their belief in God as a Trinity and in Jesus-as-God in the flesh as a Sacrificial Savior. These Christians do not take God Himself at His Word in Numbers 23:19 so how can I expect them to accept anything I say about it? No, the real audience for my questions is that group of people asking the same questions as I, and who desire answers that don’t go against logic, common sense, and historical and linguistic facts.
And so, it is also to this audience that my present column is addressed -- those who accept that Second Comings as explained by Jesus were spiritual and metaphorical, not literal. Jesus identified John the Baptist as the spiritual Second Coming of Elijah. Most Christians know this (or should), yet when it comes to the promised Second Coming of Jesus in the latter days, most Christians still fall prey to the same literalist expectation that Jesus will return in his physical body, just as the Jews awaited the Second Coming of Elijah in his physical body.
I won’t try convincing readers of my column with detailed expositions of Bible verses anymore; all the information I present from the Bible is generally well-known by academic scholars and regular Bible readers, and all of it can be verified from the language lexicons on Bible websites, such as www.BlueLetterBible.org (my favorite).  
In fact, I have found that a person is either open-minded enough to see the rationale of my position based on the verses I am referring to (without having to cite them), or else they will be dogmatically bound to the salvation theology promoted by standard Pauline Christianity and will refuse to consider any interpretation of Christ’s action, utterances and events surrounding his crucifixion that goes against standard Trinitarian, “Jesus-is-God” doctrines.
If anyone wants to discuss at length any of the topics I present, they are always welcome to contact me or come to the Baitul Hameed Mosque at 11941 Ramona Ave. in Chino. But I see no point in “debating” with someone who has no desire to see past the doctrinally-motivated positions they cherish, rather than explore what the Bible is really talking about. I assure you, there is a very real difference between the two, and those who insist on interpreting the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament will never accept the Judaic foundational beliefs and theological principals that have defined it with internal consistency since it was first recorded. 
The reason is apparent to all devout Jews and Judaic scholars: the first five books of the Old Testament (a Christian classification that is inherently dismissive and patronizing) was revealed by God to the Israelites to expunge idolatry from the Israelites and educate them in the understanding of God as a non-physical, un-created, all-powerful, all-knowing Supreme Being -- the exact opposite of what the Israelites had become corrupted into believing in as gods while they were enslaved in Egypt for four hundred years. The Torah did this fairly successfully, considering the near universal history of sustained, pure monotheism that has characterized the Jewish faith since the time of Moses. So what I’ve learned over these past three months of reading responses from Trinitarian, “Jesus-is-God” Christians is that it doesn’t matter how true or clear the meaning of a Bible verse or word is if that meaning threatens the sanctity or viability of a Christian’s promise of salvation.
If you doubt this, just look up Elohim in Gen.1:26 at the website www.BlueLetterBible.org. In the Hebrew lexicon section, it says Elohim comes from Allah in Arabic and is used to refer to the One, True God of the Israelites over 2000 times -- but you will never know this unless you can read the Arabic word for God because Strong’s H430 Hebrew lexicon entry doesn’t transliterate it into English so you can see the word “Allah.” Why don’t they tell you? Because then you would realize that Arabic, the language of the religion of Islam, is the source of the root meanings of Hebrew. And that the real Covenant in the form of a new Holy Law was transferred (as per Biblical prophecies in Deut. 18:18-20 and Deut.33:2) to the descendants of Ishmael -- the Arabs -- from whom the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was appointed by God as “the Holy One from Mount Paran” in Habakkuk 3:3.
And since the Arabic in the Quran says that God is singularly one (ahad as in Ch.112), without partners or “persons” in a Trinity, and that “ahad” in Arabic is the source for the Hebrew word for “one” (echad in Deut.6:4), it leaves no support whatsoever for the New Testament Greek idea of a Triune god comprised of God the Heavenly Father, a created human being as His Son, and a “Holy” Ghost.
Jesus was a monotheistic Jewish Rabbi, not a Greek-Roman polytheistic idolater. One would think that wouldn’t need stating since it’s such an obvious fact. That’s why agreement on the meanings of words is important. It is universally understood by linguists that language -- any language – can only work as a successful medium to communicate ideas when there is a uniform consensus of agreed meaning and comprehension of those ideas. But you can, of course, choose to ignore or dispute the meaning of the noun “fire” but we all know that fire will still burn you regardless of your acceptance or rejection of its meaning.
When it comes to religious ideas, it doesn’t promote tolerance, healthy dialog or increased spiritual awareness and morality if the fundamental definition of who is and who is not God can be rewritten and reversed by the hand of man. Whenever this happens, God sends down another prophet and, ultimately, another Holy Law to correct the manipulations and corruptions in earlier divine scriptures. Such is the case with the advent of the Holy Prophet of Islam and the Holy Quran. Those who objectively and open-heartedly study the life of Muhammad and the Holy Quran invariably come to this conclusion.
And so, for all those devout, God-loving Christians who strive to be Christ-like and live their lives by his teachings and example and who await his Second Coming as he himself defined it -- through someone else who would come, not physically, but in the power and spirit of Christ -- the good news is that Jesus Christ has already come!
He came as he said he would -- like a thief in the night -- born in northern India in 1835 and receiving his appointment by God as the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi in the last quarter of the 19th century. His name was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pbuh). Jesus said (in Matt.23:39) that people would not see him again until they said “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” And so most Christians did not and do not “see” or “recognize” him as the Second Coming of Jesus because they are not members of the religion that requires pronouncing blessings upon “he who comes in the name of the Lord” – the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the “Holy One from Mount Paran” mentioned in Habakkuk 3:3 and elsewhere in the Bible.  
Only Muslims say “Peace and blessings of God be upon him” whenever they hear or say the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). And it was Muhammad who received, memorized and recited for his followers the 114 chapters of the Holy Quran -- all but one of which starts with the words: “In the name of God (the Lord), Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.”
 (As for the Muslims, to this day most of them do not accept Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Second Coming of Jesus because nearly all Muslims except Ahmadis have adopted the Christian belief that Jesus was raised bodily alive to heaven (before the crucifixion), and that it will be this same Jesus from 2000 years ago who will bodily descend from heaven in the Latter Days and demand that all Christians become Muslims or be slain as infidels. Thankfully, this is not a true teaching in Islam, nor what Ahmadis believe about Jesus. You can learn more at: TombofJesus.com and at: Alislam.org/topics/messiah)
          I apologize for anything I’ve written here that some (or most) Christians find offensive or object to, and I apologize in advance for my column next month which will present information on the Ahmadi Muslim belief that Jesus, being a true prophet and the messiah for the Jewish people, could not and did not die an accursed death on the cross – but that he survived the crucifixion and went on to complete his stated mission to “gather the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.”

Ahmadi Muslims are the only Muslims in the world who have accepted the First Coming of Jesus (pbuh) in the first century AD, as well as the Second Coming of Jesus (pbuh) in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835-1908) in the 19th century. Discover the truth about both at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino (909-627-2252) and at Alislam.org and TombofJesus.com. Peace be upon Jesus and upon you.