Tuesday, February 15

A blessed Ashura - 10th Muharram 1426 (19th Feb 2005)

6 Muharram 1426 / 15 February 2005

Significance of fasting on the Day of Ashura’ i.e. the 10th day of Muharram, and the day before

Lets fast!

It is reported in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari and other authentic collections of Hadith that the Prophet -peace be upon him- and the Sahabah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram while they were in Makkah (before the Hijrah).
It was a day on which people of Makkah used to change the covering (Kiswah or Ghilaf) of the Ka’bah. The Quraish also used to fast on this day. (al-Bukhari, Hadith 1489 and 1760). After the Hijrah when the Prophet -peace be upon him- came to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah also used to observe this day with fasting. The Prophet asked them the reason of their fasting on this day. They said, “This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Moses fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.” The Prophet -peace be upon him- said, “'I have a nearer claim to Moses than you have'.” He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day. (al-Bukhari, Hadith 1865). In another report it is mentioned that Jews of Madinah used to celebrate this day as an Eid. The Prophet -peace be upon him- told the Sahabah to fast instead. (al-Bukhari, Hadith 1866).

Some say that, in order to distinguish it from the Jewish fast, Mohammed (pbuh) said, "Fast on the ninth and the tenth"; according to others, "Fast on Ashura, but fast also on the day before and the day after." Another tradition is that he did not want it celebrated in as joyous a manner as did the Jews, who were accustomed to deck out their wives with their finest jewelry and dresses.
But there were those who, according to the commentators to the Quran (sura ii. 46), connected the original celebration of Ashura with Noah, who was said to have landed on Mt. Judi on the tenth of Muharram and, out of thankfulness, to have fasted on that day (Baidawi, Comm. on Koran, i. 435; Zamahshari, "Al-Kashshaf," i. 614). Still others, according to traditions gathered by Al-Biruni, said that on this day God took compassion on Adam; Jesus was born; Moses was saved from Pharaoh, and Abraham from the fire of Nebuchadnezzar; Jacob regained his eyesight; Joseph was drawn out of the ditch; Solomon was invested with the royal power; the punishment was taken away from the people of Jonah; Job was freed from his plagues; the prayer of Zacharias was granted, and John was born to him (Al-Biruni, "Al-Athar al-Bahiyyah," ed. Sachau, p. 326).

There is a great reward in the ‘Ashura’ fast. There are many Ahadith that mention its blessings and virtues. It is good to fast on this day, although it is not obligatory.

To summarize we can say:

Ashura, (derived from hebrew word 'asor' meaning 'tenth' of Muharram) is a special day due to it's religious/islamic historical significance that makes it a blessed day.
‘Ashura’ fasting was an ancient tradition in Makkah.
It was also found among the Jews of Madinah
First the Prophet commanded the Sahabah to fast on this day
Later when Ramadan fasts became obligatory, ‘Ashura fast was made optional.
Now it is optional but it is recommended to fast on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram.

Ref: http://www.pakistanlink.com/ religion
http://www.jewishencyclopedia. com

Wednesday, February 2

'Humpty W. Dumpty sat on a wall...'

2020 Vision

A CIA report predicts that American global dominance could end in 15 years.
By Fred Kaplan

Who will be the first politician brave enough to declare publicly that the United States is a declining power and that America's leaders must urgently discuss what to do about it? This prognosis of decline comes not (or not only) from leftist scribes rooting for imperialism's downfall, but from the National Intelligence Council—the "center of strategic thinking" inside the U.S. intelligence community.The NIC's conclusions are starkly presented in a new 119-page document,"Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National IntelligenceCouncil's 2020 Project." It is unclassified and available on the CIA's Web site. The report has received modest press attention the past couple weeks, mainly for its prediction that, in the year 2020, "political Islam" will still be "a potent force." Only a few stories or column shave taken note of its central conclusion: The likely emergence of China and India ... as new major global players—similar to the advent of a united Germany in the 19th century and a powerful United States in the early 20th century—will transform the geopolitical landscape with impacts potentially as dramatic as thosein the previous two centuries. In this new world, a mere 15 years away, the United States will remain"an important shaper of the international order"—probably the singlemost powerful country—but its "relative power position" will have"eroded." The new "arriviste powers"—not only China and India, but also Brazil, Indonesia, and perhaps others—will accelerate this erosion by pursuing "strategies designed to exclude or isolate the United States"in order to "force or cajole" us into playing by their rules.America's current foreign policy is encouraging this trend, the NIC concluded. "U.S. preoccupation with the war on terrorism is largely irrelevant to the security concerns of most Asians," the report states.The authors don't dismiss the importance of the terror war—far from it.But they do write that a "key question" for the future of America's power and influence is whether U.S. policy-makers "can offer Asian states an appealing vision of regional security and order that will rival and perhaps exceed that offered by China." If not, "U.S. disengagement from what matters to U.S. Asian allies would increase the likelihood that they will climb on Beijing's bandwagon and allow China to create its own regional security that excludes the United States."To the extent that these new powers seek others to emulate, they may look to the European Union, not the United States, as "a model of global and regional governance." This shift to a multipolar world "will not be painless," the report goes on, "and will hit the middle classes of the developed world in particular" with further outsourcing of jobs and outflow of capital investment. In short, the NIC's forecast involves not merely are calibration in the balance of world power, but also—as these things do—a loss of wealth, income, and, in every sense of the word, security.The trends should already be apparent to anyone who reads a newspaper.Not a day goes by without another story about how we're mortgaging our future to the central banks of China and Japan. The U.S. budget deficit,approaching a half-trillion dollars, is financed by their purchase ofTreasury notes. The U.S. trade deficit—much of it amassed by the purchase of Chinese-made goods—now exceeds $3 trillion. Meanwhile, China is displacing the United States all across Asia—in trade, investment,education, culture, and tourism. It's also cutting into the trade markets of Latin America. (China is now Chile's No. 1 export market andBrazil's No. 2 trade partner.) Asian engineering students who might once have gone to MIT or Cal Tech are now going to universities in Beijing. Meanwhile, as the European Union becomes a coherent entity, the dollar's value against the euro has fallen by one-third in the past two years(one-eighth just since September). As the dollar's rate of return declines, currency investors—including those who have been financing our deficit—begin to diversify their holdings. In China, Japan, Russia, and the Middle East, central bankers have been unloading dollars in favor of euros. The Bush policies that have deepened our debt have endangered the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency.What is the Bush administration doing to alter course or at least cushion the blow? It's hard to say. During Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings last week, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D–Md., raised some questions about the nexus between international economics and political power. Rice referred him to the secretary of the treasury.The NIC issued the report a few weeks before Bush’s inaugural address, but it serves to dump still more cold water on the lofty fantasy of America delivering freedom to oppressed people everywhere. In Asia, the report states, "present and future leaders are agnostic on the issue of democracy and are more interested in developing what they perceive to be the most effective model of governance." If the president really wanted to spread freedom and democracy around the planet, he would (among otherthings) need to present America as that "model of governance"—to show the world, by its example, that free democracies are successful and worth emulating. Yet the NIC report paints a world where fewer and fewer people look to America as a model of anything. We can't sell freedom if we can't sell ourselves.

(Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate. He can be reached at war_stories@hotmail.com )