Seerah Lessons – Forgiveness is the secret

It is easy to teach high morals and lofty principles of love and mercy but quite another thing to practice them. The most distinctive quality of the Prophet was that he not only taught high principles to his people but also practiced them at a time when, as mentioned above, he was at the height of his power, something no man had ever done before him. He forgave those who had injured him, beaten him, abused him and done everything to destroy him and his faith. He even forgave the man who had injured his daughter, Zainab when she was leaving Meccah, an injury from which she later died.

All his deadly enemies, including Abu Sufyan, lkramah (son of Abu Jahl) and many other chiefs of Meccah, were among those who benefited from his forgiveness.

Prophet Muhammad extended his pardon to his bitterest enemies, who tried to expel him and his companions not only from his native land, but also from his last resort, Madinah. This ability of the Prophet to pardon is vividly illustrated in his precepts and principles. He said: ‘Moses, son of Imran, once asked:

“0 my Lord!Who is the most honorable of your servants to You?” He said: ‘He who pardons when he becomes powerful’” (Rahman, the encyclopaedia of Seerah, Vol. VIII, p178). Prophet Muhammad’s Teachings and Practice on Forgiveness. The Prophet practiced in his ordinary daily life what he taught to his people. According to ‘A’ishah, the Prophet never returned evil for evil, but would forgive and pardon (Tirmidhi, 2016). Regarding the words of Allah Most High: “Repel evil with what is better” (Qur’an, 4 1:34).

Ibn Abbas said that they meant showing patience when angry and forgiveness when badly
treated, for when people acted in this way Allah protected them and their enemy became as submissive to them as though he were a close friend . Ibn Mas’ud said: “I heard the Prophet
narrating the account of one of the Prophets of Allah who was assaulted and wounded by his people; while wiping the blood from the face, he prayed: ‘0 Allah! Forgive my people because
they do not know what they are doing’. This was further explained in the following words:
He who, in spite of having the capacity to avenge (a wrong), controls his anger (and forgives), will be singled out and called by Allah, the Holy, the Exalted, over and above the multitude, on the day of judgment, and given a beautiful reward. (Abu Dawud, 4777)

In the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet was wounded and his face was covered with blood, but he was saying, “0 Allah! Guide my people, for they are ignorant” (Bukhari). Once an unbelieving Arab Bedouin found the Prophet sleeping alone under a tree. He was holding a sword and saying to the Prophet: “Who will now save you?” The Prophet replied smilingly: “Allah, the All- Powerful.” Suddenly, the sword fell from the Arab’s hand and the Prophet, taking it in his hand, said to him: “Who will save you from my hand?” The Bedouin then pleaded for his life and the

Prophet showed his usual magnanimity and forgave him. Once the Meccans sent a spy to kill the Prophet. He was caught and brought to the Prophet. He was very frightened, but the Prophet told him not to fear saying: “Even if you want to kill me, you will not be able to.” Then he was pardoned by the Prophet and set free.

In the highest kind of nobility in the hour of his greatest victory over his life enemies, and in his graceful forgiveness of his staunch opponents at the height of his power is an eternal tribute to the overflowing and unmatched benevolence and kindness of the Prophet Muhammad. In this unparalleled and unique example of forgiveness is also a lesson for the dominant nations of theWesternWorld. It does not reduce their power, nor lower their status in the eyes of the world, nor does it minimize their greatness or undermine their authority; on the contrary, it adds tremendous moral strength to their action and greatly increases their stature among the nations of the world.

Learn some lessons from the example and practice of the Prophet, and see for ourselves that it pays in the long run. Justice must be administered equally and fairly between all, friend or foe. Benevolent and kind conduct will win over for you many friends who were your enemies before, and you will succeed in your efforts in peace—making in the world but the primary condition is benevolence and forgiveness to enemies and sincere advice to friends to stop their aggressiveness and cruelty. And if a super-power fails to learn lessons from history and continues to back aggressive iniquitous nations, it must know that the law of Nature does not distinguish between colors or races, or between East andWest. But falls mercilessly on alike.

Saudi Proxy War

Saudi Arabia appears resolute: It wants Bashar al-Assad out of Damascus. The Saudis view the fighting in Syria with the same intensity that they did the civil war in Yemen that raged in the 1960s — as a conflict with wide and serious repercussions that will shape the political trajectory of the Middle East for years to come.

The Syrian war presents the Saudis with a chance to hit three birds with one stone: Iran, its rival for regional dominance, Tehran’s ally Assad, and his Hezbollah supporters. But Riyadh’s policy makers are wary. They know that once fully committed, it will be difficult to disengage. And so they are taking to heart the lessons of another regional war that flared on their border 50 years ago.

The war in Yemen that broke out in 1962 when military leaders ousted the centuries-old monarchy and declared a republic quickly turned into a quagmire that sucked in foreign powers. The Soviet Union provided the new regime with air support. British airstrikes aided the royalists and the United States offered warplanes in a symbolic show of force.

More than anything else though, the conflict became a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which backed the deposed imam and his royalist supporters, and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, who supported the new republic. Nasser’s vision of a united Arab “nation” free of Western domination and sterile monarchies resonated across the Arab world. The Saudi monarchy, wary of this republican fever on its border, decided it was not going to stand on the sidelines. The kingdom used all available means to try to check Nasser’s ambitions — but it did not send troops.

By some estimates, Egypt sent as many as 55,000 troops to Yemen, some of whom became involved in fighting well inside Saudi territory, while others were accused of using chemical weapons supplied by the Soviet Union. Saudi Arabia provided money and weapons to the royalists. Yet neither side achieved its goals. Egypt’s war with Israel in 1967 led Nasser to withdraw his forces, but the Saudis were unable to turn the tide. Riyadh was eventually forced to recognize Yemen’s republican government.

Now as then, Riyadh sees the struggle in Syria as a defining moment. As the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, it perceives an opportunity to check what it sees as Iranian plans to encircle the kingdom with hostile Shiite-dominated regimes. As the war has taken on a more sectarian character, the usually reserved foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, has described Assad’s onslaught against his own people as “genocide” and Syrian lands as being “under occupation” — a clear reference to the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces.

It is no secret that the Saudis are supplying elements of the Syrian opposition with weapons. They all but admitted as much when the prince said a few weeks ago that “if the international community is not willing to do anything, then they must allow Syrians to defend themselves.”

The Saudis will use all tools available to oust Assad, while taking measures to ensure that the weapons they’re supplying to the rebels do not fall into the hands of extremists. Nevertheless, following the chemical attack on civilians near Damascus last month, the Saudi foreign minister spoke candidly about the inability of the Arab nations to put a stop to Assad’s campaign through force of arms, adding that any military effort to do so would likely involve actors outside the region. Recent suggestions that the Arab League should assemble a military force to check Assad’s aggression do not seem viable. Disagreements among the league’s member nations have prevented it from agreeing to even endorse a potential U.S. strike.

But on Monday, the Saudi Council of Ministers issued a strong statement making clear that it considered preventing another chemical attack by Assad to be only a short-term goal. In the long-term, he must be ousted.

Saudi Arabia will intensify its efforts to arm the rebels and to use its media outlets and diplomatic clout to rally support for a military strike. Although the kingdom is known for using its troops sparingly, it has done so judiciously in the past. Riyadh did, for example, send troops to Bahrain to show its support for the Sunni regime in the face of extended mass protests. Of course, Syria is not Bahrain, but neither is Saudi Arabia the same country that it was in the 1960s, when it failed to achieve its goals in Yemen.

The oil-rich kingdom of today wields far greater influence than it did half a century ago. There is no question that it will wield that influence forcefully, supporting the rebels with guns and diplomacy as it struggles to outmaneuver Iran, outflank Hezbollah and oust Assad.

Fahad Nazer is a former political analyst with the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Why Iran seeks constructive engagement, By Hassan Rouhani

Below is the text of the OpEd written by president Hassan Rouhani of Islamic Republic of Iran.

Three months ago, my platform of “prudence and hope” gained a broad, popular mandate. Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue. I’m committed to fulfilling my promises to my people, including my pledge to engage in constructive interaction with the world.

The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.

The international community faces many challenges in this new world — terrorism, extremism, foreign military interference, drug trafficking, cybercrime and cultural encroachment — all within a framework that has emphasized hard power and the use of brute force.

We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.

Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. More than a decade and two wars after 9/11, al-Qaeda and other militant extremists continue to wreak havoc. Syria, a jewel of civilization, has become the scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks, which we strongly condemn. In Iraq, 10 years after the American-led invasion, dozens still lose their lives to violence every day. Afghanistan endures similar, endemic bloodshed.

The unilateral approach, which glorifies brute force and breeds violence, is clearly incapable of solving issues we all face, such as terrorism and extremism. I say all because nobody is immune to extremist-fueled violence, even though it might rage thousands of miles away. Americans woke up to this reality 12 years ago.

My approach to foreign policy seeks to resolve these issues by addressing their underlying causes. We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.

At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program. To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved.

I am committed to confronting our common challenges via a two-pronged approach.

First, we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates. As part of this, I announce my government’s readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Second, we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions. A key aspect of my commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors and other nations to identify and secure win-win solutions.

We and our international counterparts have spent a lot of time — perhaps too much time — discussing what we don’t want rather than what we do want. This is not unique to Iran’s international relations. In a climate where much of foreign policy is a direct function of domestic politics, focusing on what one doesn’t want is an easy way out of difficult conundrums for many world leaders. Expressing what one does want requires more courage.

After 10 years of back-and-forth, what all sides don’t want in relation to our nuclear file is clear. The same dynamic is evident in the rival approaches to Syria.

This approach can be useful for efforts to prevent cold conflicts from turning hot. But to move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher. Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action. This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.

As I depart for New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, I urge my counterparts to seize the opportunity presented by Iran’s recent election. I urge them to make the most of the mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me and to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue. Most of all, I urge them to look beyond the pines and be brave enough to tell me what they see — if not for their national interests, then for the sake of their legacies, and our children and future generations.

Domestic imperialism in Middle East

Muslim world has been colonized by domestic imperialists. The systematic elimination of the civilizational concepts from the Islamic world is as clear as the blue skies swimming over the Persian Gulf.

The chess board of regional strategy has been in place since the fall of the last legal Islamic government in Istanbul, thanks to the treacherous revolts in the Hejaz.

What we see today in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, Jerusalem and San’a are consequences of not having a central leadership to guide the ummah as one united universal community. Instead of a united global village muslims have been broken up into small segments of statelets and sheikhdoms fighting with each other with weapons supplied by their “protectors”.

At the heart of Ummah’s sickness is the presence of a cancerous disease which is slowly turning the dynamic movement of ideas into a mummified body of stagnancy.

Below is an article worth reading:

Saudi Arabia miscalculated the ease with which US-led Western powers could quickly organize a military strike on Syria following the now-confirmed chemical attack of Aug. 21. The push for a quick strike stumbled in Washington, London and Paris, giving way to high-level diplomacy between the United States and Russia and disappointment in Saudi Arabia. The US-Russian framework for the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal appears to be a deviation from Riyadh’s immediate objectives. By focusing on the sole objective of removing the Bashar al-Assad regime from power, the Saudi leadership may have overlooked that despite having important resources and weight, regional powers like itself can today be constrained by the changing international environment.

About This Article

Summary :

Saudi Arabia, like Iran, has pursued a sectarian interventionist strategy in Syria that furthers the war and undermines a democratic transition.

Author: Madawi Al-Rasheed
Posted on:September 17 2013

Categories : Originals Saudi Arabia   Syria  

In Jiddah on Sept. 16, Crown Prince Salman Ibn Abdul Aziz presided over the Council of Ministers and warned the international community against reducing the Syrian crisis to the issue of chemical weapons. In anticipation of a UN Security Council meeting on Sept. 18 to discuss the UN report on the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons and pass a strong resolution, Salman called on the international community to strengthen the Syrian opposition and protect civilians, reminding it of the urgency of pushing for a new regime in Damascus. Saudi Arabia may soon find itself a spectator on the periphery, watching an international game in which it can only make noise, and possibly trouble, if its objectives cease to be a priority for other, more important international players with their own agendas.

The US-Russian framework unexpectedly eclipsed active Saudi diplomacy of the last weeks, during which it insisted on military intervention in Syria. While the United States continues to stress that this framework does not rule out future military strikes in case of noncompliance, this is simply not enough for Riyadh.

The Saudi leadership’s bewilderment over the changes that have swept the Arab world over the last three years has focused its foreign policy on two main objectives. First is sabotaging any glimpse of a democratic transition that might lead to the rise of new, unpredictable forces in Arab countries and consequently undermine its own grip on power domestically. From the Saudi perspective, any political change threatens to undermine a familiar status quo characterized by political stagnation and repression, defined by the Saudis as stability.

“Change” to the Saudis means unpredictability, chaos and loss of influence in a region that has been dependent on the integration of its failing economy into the Saudi oil empire. From subsidizing poor, loyal regimes to taking in excess labor migrants, Saudi Arabia has ensured that poor Arab countries remain within its sphere of influence. Yet this policy seems to be dependent on authoritarian and repressive regimes remaining in power and willing to play the Saudi’s game of loyalty in return for oil rent. The Arab uprisings threatened to destroy this formula, leading the Saudis to fight several battles in different places at the same time. From Bahrain to Yemen and Egypt, loyalty for oil must be reinforced because it is the only way the Saudis can remain relevant at the regional level.

The second objective is removing regimes that have distanced themselves from the Saudi sphere of influence and revolve in the competing Iranian sphere, as is the case with the Syrian regime. Only a military strike that promises to remove the current Syrian government will satisfy the Saudis and the Syrian opposition forces that have emerged under its patronage. Therefore, the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, albeit a welcome step toward weakening the regime and enhancing the chances of its rivals, falls short of meeting Riyadh’s urgent requirements.

What makes things more complicated and challenging from the Saudi perspective is the recent gradual rehabilitation of Iran as a major player that the international community seems to be willing to accommodate following the 2013 presidential election that brought to power Hassan Rouhani, someone believed to be willing to moderate Iranian foreign policy. Saudi influence will receive a great blow if the United States and Iran reach an agreement on the Syrian crisis.

Certainly the United States would prefer not to rely on only one regional power to guard its interest in the Middle East. So far, the Saudis remain a steady regional ally. A rapprochement between Washington and Tehran would be interpreted in Riyadh as a blow to its special relationship with the United States. Although the relationship has experienced serious challenges in the last decade, it has nonetheless remained firmly established through common interests. Today, neither the Americans nor the Iranians can afford to sustain their hostility and mistrust to satisfy Riyadh’s desire to remain the only regional partner on which Washington can depend.

Here one has to imagine the unimaginable. If Iran makes progress in negotiations on its nuclear program with the help of Russia, a great tension will have been diffused in the region. Security in the Gulf would be enhanced without the looming threat of future military confrontations that all the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, should be worried about, not to mention the rest of the world, whose livelihoods depends on the regular flow of oil from the Gulf.  

More important, maintaining a nonconfrontational balance of power between regional players like the Saudis and Iranians would no doubt have a positive impact on the tense sectarian situation that threatens the coexistence of Sunnis and Shiite communities across the region. Without falling into the trap of glorifying a peaceful coexistence in the past, it is accurate to say that peace between Sunnis and Shiites has only in recent times been shattered completely, under the pressure of regional rivalries. While beleaguered minorities have always been forced to look to outside patrons for protection, the willingness of powerful regional powers to espouse a cause for their own interest has tended to fuel more tension and massacres. It is urgent for the Saudis to understand that sectarian foreign policies are counterproductive. In equal measure, the Iranians cannot lord over the Arab world under the pretext of protecting their co-religionists.

The Arab world will remain a mosaic of sects as it has always been. Whether under the rule of empires or nation-states, this mosaic has endured, with no one group able to eradicate the other. It seems that in the Middle East, there is no room for “final solutions,” although several contestants might entertain such an idea. Religious pluralism will persist as a feature of the region regardless of who rules it.

The only safeguard against pluralism degenerating into sectarian war is an agreement between regional rival powers to refrain from interventions with the purpose of asserting their dominance at the expense of social cohesion and religious tolerance. Only an inclusive and representative democratic system can solve the problem of sectarianism and protect minorities. The current problem stems from neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran being truly interested in such a democratic system at home or nearby. Their intervention in Syria so far has seriously undermined the prospects of a democratic system emerging from the ashes of Syria’s cities. Their failure to conceive a democratic Syria has prolonged the misery of the Syrian people and led to perpetuating atrocities. One can hope that destroying Syria’s lethal chemical weapons under international supervision promises to be a step toward ending the saga regardless of whether it meets Saudi Arabia’s current wishes.

Madawi Al-Rasheed is a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has written extensively about the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalization, religious trans-nationalism and gender. On Twitter: @MadawiDr

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10 tips to build moral character in kids

It is one of those essential facts of life that raising good children–children of character–demands time and attention. While having children may be “doing what comes naturally,” being a good parent is much more complicated. Here are ten tips to help your children build sturdy characters:

1. Put parenting first. This is hard to do in a world with so many competing demands. Good parents consciously plan and devote time to parenting. They make developing their children’s character their top priority.

2. Review how you spend the hours and days of your week. Think about the amount of time your children spend with you. Plan how you can weave your children into your social life and knit yourself into their lives.

3. Be a good example. Face it: human beings learn primarily through modeling. In fact, you can’t avoid being an example to your children, whether good or bad. Being a good example, then, is probably your most important job.

4. Develop an ear and an eye for what your children are absorbing. Children are like sponges. Much of what they take in has to do with moral values and character. Books, songs, TV, the Internet, and films are continually delivering messages—moral and immoral—to our children. As parents we must control the flow of ideas and images that are influencing our children.

5. Use the language of character. Children cannot develop a moral compass unless people around them use the clear, sharp language of right and wrong.

6. Punish with a loving heart. Today, punishment has a bad reputation. The results are guilt-ridden parents and self-indulgent, out-of-control children. Children need limits. They will ignore these limits on occasion. Reasonable punishment is one of the ways human beings have always learned. Children must understand what punishment is for and know that its source is parental love.

7. Learn to listen to your children. It is easy for us to tune out the talk of our children. One of the greatest things we can do for them is to take them seriously and set aside time to listen.

8. Get deeply involved in your child’s school life. School is the main event in the lives of our children. Their experience there is a mixed bag of triumphs and disappointments. How they deal with them will influence the course of their lives. Helping our children become good students is another name for helping them acquire strong character.

9. Make a big deal out of the family meal. One of the most dangerous trends in America is the dying of the family meal. The dinner table is not only a place of sustenance and family business but also a place for the teaching and passing on of our values. Manners and rules are subtly absorbed over the table. Family mealtime should communicate and sustain ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives.

10. Do not reduce character education to words alone. We gain virtue through practice. Parents should help children by promoting moral action through self-discipline, good work habits, kind and considerate behavior to others, and community service. The bottom line in character development is behavior–their behavior.

As parents, we want our children to be the architects of their own character crafting, while we accept the responsibility to be architects of the environment—physical and moral. We need to create an environment in which our children can develop habits of honesty, generosity, and a sense of justice. For most of us, the greatest opportunity we personally have to deepen our own character is through the daily blood, sweat and tears of struggling to be good parents.

by Dr. Kevin Ryan