June 17, 2009

Phrases for Muslim Travellers – Spanish

Filed under: Phrases for Muslim Travellers — abuaisha @ 1:44 am

Spanish Pronunciation Guide
Most letters are similar or same as they are in English, the main exceptions are explained below.

Z is pronounced as ‘th’ – like thin in English, and as ‘s’ in the southern areas of Spain.
C is pronounced like a ‘k’ when it is followed by an a, o or u. So ‘carro’ is pronounced like ‘karro.
C is pronounced like a ‘th’ when followed by an i or an e, and like an ‘s’ in the southern areas of Spain. So ‘cinco’ is pronounced as ‘thinko’ in the north and ‘sinko’ in the south.
CH is pronounced like ‘ch’ in English (as in chicken)
H before a vowel (unless as ch) is never pronounced, it is silent. So ‘hasta’ is pronounced ‘asta’.
J is pronounced like ‘kh’ in Arabic however it may also be pronounced as a ‘h’ and it will be understood.
G is pronounced like ‘kh’ in Arabic when an i or e follow it. So ‘gente’ is pronounced as ‘khente/hente’. However ‘guapo’ is pronounced as ‘gwapo’ with a hard g sound like in English.
LL is pronounced as ‘ly’. So ‘paella’ is pronounced as ‘paelya’. 

(La Oración)

May I pray here?
¿Se puede rezar aquí?

In which direction is the Qiblah?
 ¿En qué sentido es la Qiblah?

What time is Fajr?
¿Cuál es la hora del Faŷr?

(La mezquita)

Where is the nearest Masjid?
¿Dónde está la mezquita más cercana?

Where can I make wudhu’?
¿Dónde puedo hacer wudhu’ (La ablución)?

Where is the toilet?
¿Dónde está el baño?

Is there a section for women?
¿Hay una sección para las mujeres?

What is the name of this Masjid?
¿Cuál es el nombre de esta mezquita?

Who is the Imām of this Masjid?
¿Quién es el imán de la mezquita?

May I take photos of the Masjid?
¿Puedo tomar fotos de la mezquita?


Are you married?
¿Eres casado? (said to a man)
¿Eres casada? (said to a woman)

I am (not) married
No estoy casado (for a man)
No estoy casada (for a woman)

How many wives do you have?
Cuántas esposas tienes?

I have 1/2/3/4 wives
Tengo una / dos / tres / cuatro esposa/s

I am looking to get married
Estoy tratando de casarse

I am (not) interested in getting married right now
(No) estoy interesado en casarse pronto


Do you serve Halaal food here?
¿Sirven comida jalál aquí?

Where can I find a place which serves Halaal food?
¿Dónde puedo encontrar un lugar que sirve comida jalál?

Where may I buy Halaal meat?
¿Dónde puedo comprar la carne jalál?

Is this Halaal?
¿Esto es jalál?

No thanks, I’m fasting
No gracias, estoy en ayunas

Where may I buy dates from?
¿Dónde puedo comprar las fechas?


Where can I buy Islamic clothing?
¿Dónde puedo comprar la ropa islámica?

How much is this?
¿Cuánto cuesta?

Where can I find an Abayah/Thawb
¿Dónde puedo encontrar un Abaya / una Zaub (Ŷalabía)?

If I buy two can you give me a discount?
Si compro dos me puede dar un descuento?

Is there an Islamic Bookstore here?
Hay una tienda de libros islámicos aquí?

Do you have a copy of the Qur’an (in Arabic/English/Spanish)?
Hay una copia del Corán (en árabe / Inglés / Español)?




Excuse me
Con permiso

I’m sorry
Lo siento

Do you speak English/Arabic?
Hablas Inglés / Árabe?

I understand

I don’t understand
No entiendo

I’m sorry, this is against my religion
Lo siento, esto es en contra de mi religión

I’m sorry, I am not accustomed to this
Lo siento, no estoy acostumbrado a este

I prefer not to mingle with the opposite sex
Yo prefiero no se mezcle con el sexo opuesto

I do not make any physical contact with the opposite sex
No puedo hacer ningún contacto físico con el sexo opuesto

What is your religion?
¿Cuál es su religión?

I am Muslim
Soy Musulmán

This is forbidden in Islam
Esto está prohibido en el Islam

There is a difference of opinion about this
Hay una diferencia de opinión sobre este

I do not follow that opinion
No sigo esta opinión

This is kufr!
Esto es una blasfemia!

This is Shirk!
Este es el politeísmo!

This is (not) Haraam
Este (no) es Jarám

(Frases Islámica)

Jazākum ‘Allāhu Khayran
Que Dios te recompensa con buena

Wa Iyyākum
Y también a usted

Bārak ‘Allāhu Fīkum
Que Dios te bendiga

Sallallāhu `Alayhi wa Sallam
Que la paz y las bendiciones de Dios sobre él

Inshā’ Allāh
Si Dios quiere

June 7, 2009

How Musa Cerantonio Embraced Islam

Filed under: Multimedia,Points of Benefit — abuaisha @ 5:53 am

May 25, 2009

The Clothes Maketh the Imam

Filed under: Uncategorized — abuaisha @ 2:23 am

It is reported that Mark Twain said “The clothes make the man, naked people have little or no influence on society.”
(More Maxims of Mark, 1927)

Mr. Twain was correct in the first part of what he said. Societies place a great deal of importance on clothing, and anybody wishing to be someone who takes an important and active role in society must pay great attention to the ways in which they dress. To ignore these social norms would cause one to possibly be shunned or looked down upon within our societies.
Politicians hire people known as ‘Wardrobe Consultants’ to advise them in their choices of clothing, celebrities may make or break their careers based upon what clothes they are seen in, those considered famous will have fashion designers queuing up waiting to dress them in their finest new clothing. What we wear and how we treat others based upon what they wear is a constant throughout all peoples and societies.

So we ask.. What place does clothing have amongst the Muslim ummah? Are we different in the way we dress and regard our clothing to other peoples? To what degrees does what we wear influence others and what importance do we attach to the way we dress?

First, let us look at what the primary Islamic texts (ie. Qur’ān and the Sunnah) say regarding our clothing.

It was narrated from ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “No one will enter Paradise in whose heart is a mustard-seed of arrogance.” A man said: “What if a man likes his clothes to look nice and his shoes to look nice?” He said: “Allāh is Beautiful and loves beauty; arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.”

Based upon this Hadīth, we see that paying attention to what we wear is important. A Muslim should strive to make himself look beautiful in what he wears. As such, it is a good thing for a Muslim to want to look nice, not just for his wife or family, but also for those that he lives amongst, he should not wear clothes that are considered to be ugly or that will make him look downtrodden or unrespectable.
At the same time however, another Hadīth warns of over-dressing, or wearing clothes that attract attention in order to show off –

It was narrated from ‘Adullāh ibn Umar (may Allāh be pleased with them both) that Allāh’s messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “He who wears libaas ash-shuhrah in this world will be dressed in humiliating clothes on the day of judgment.”
(narrated by Ahmed & Abu Dawood, confirmed sahih by Al Albāni in Sahih Al-Jāmi’ 6526)

 The term used here in the hadith لباس الشهرة libās ash-shuhrah’ can be translated as ‘clothing of fame’, meaning that the one who wears it, does so as to draw attention to himself and to show off, doing so is an act of Riyā” (pride) which is not suitable for a Muslim to do.
Between these 2 statements of the Prophet we have an understanding of the way in which a Muslim regards his clothing. The Muslim does not go to the extreme of wearing clothing which shows himself off and purposefully tries make others see him and regard him highly because of his clothing, nor does the Muslim forget about his appearance and become lax in his clothing. The Muslim should be honourable in his appearance and never cause himself to be looked down upon or become a cause for mockery. Indeed the clothing of the Muslim helps to convey many of the ideals and understandings of Islam when we apply what has been commanded of us.

The Language of Clothing

Clothes, like words convey messages. Just as what we say is loaded with information about ourselves and carries meanings which will be recieved and understood by the recipient, our clothing also says much about ourselves and communicates with others.
Picture for example, somebody dressed in shabby clothing that looks like it has not been washed and is torn all over. We would naturally tend to assume that this person must be poor. Similarly we see often people wearing uniforms, in certain places a person wearing dark blue clothing emblazoned with a badge will be recognised instantly as a police officer, or a woman in white will be recognised as a nurse. This is because society has become accustomed to these uniforms, and their role in identifying the person is well known and as such fulfills what it aims to acheive.
Our clothing may tell others about ourselves, it may allow others to know where we come from, our socio-economic position, our religion, our interests and even such things as our marital status. Clothing can convey much about ourselves, it may be a window into ourselves or it may also be a way to paint a picture about ourselves.

Muslim Clothing and Islamic Clothing

Amongst Muslims, there exist many peoples living in different nations and societies. They share much in common in terms of customs and tradition and they also have much that us unique to themselves.
Just as we speak many different languages and live in different places, we also dress differently to each other.
What we do have however, are unifying and common factors. Whilst we all speak different languages, we all perform our 5 daily prayers in Arabic, whilst we live apart from each other in different cities, we all pray towards and make pilgrimage to the one city – Makkah. Similarly in our clothing we share common trends, be they items of clothing, styles of clothing or regulations on dress. There is no doubt that there exist certain things in regards to our clothing that are not only specific to ourselves, but have also become symbols of our ummah. Our clothing helps to identify ourselves and at times begins to shape and define us in our societies.

It happens often that we encounter other Muslims in the street and we use our clothing as a means to discern as to whether they are Muslim or not. Think for example, if we were to see a person with a long beard, we would not instantly assume that he must be a Muslim as many other people also share long beards, be they Sikhs, Hindus, Orthodox Christians or even bikies. What we usually then do is look for identifying markers that would give us a hint that the person is a Muslim. Such things we may look for may be headwear – Is he wearing a Kufi, an ‘Imāmah (turban) or any headwear associated with Muslims? Is he weaing a thawb, is he wearing a shalwar kameez, is his garment above or below his ankles? Is he wearing any gold or silk?
Within that split second we analyse all of these details in our mind, and we are so well acquainted with these things that we can usually come to a conclusion in seconds and have enogh time to greet them ‘As-Salāmu `Alaykum’.

What we are doing in such a situation is recognising the manifest symbols of Islam apparent in another person’s clothing. We are able to identify someone as a Muslim based upon what they wear.
What is considered as Muslim clothing may vary from place to place, for example a Peci in Indonesia is a very well-known item of clothing associated with Muslims and Islam, however the same item of clothing worn in Mauritania by a local would seem out of place.
(An example of this that I came across recently was when an Egyptian friend of mine told me that his father who works in Saudi Arabia was wearing an item of clothing which in Egypt is considered to be standard casual wear. The piece in question is a type of qamees, similar to a thawb except that it is short sleeved. One might find people going to the mosque or walking in the streets with this item of clothing in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia however it is considered to be a style of pyjama. His father found this out when trying to enter a building only to be refused entry by the security guard on duty who told him that he could not allow him to enter whilst he was wearing his pyjamas!)

There is no doubt that our clothing becomes somewhat of a uniform, something which displays our faith, it is like flying a flag to identify yourself amongst a crowd. Our clothing however may only be understood by those who are familiar with them to a degree.

For example, the niqab of a Muslim woman is well-known to be clothing item associated with Islam and Muslims due to prominence in media and the fact that it is easily recognisable and stands out means that almost anybody will know that its wearer is a Muslim.

What may cause an item of Islamic clothing to not be recognised would be if the person observing it were not familiar with the clothing as being ‘Islamic’. An example of this may be when a Muslim male is wearing silver rather than gold, I as a Muslim would know that a Muslim man should not wear gold, however many non-Muslims would not be familar with this so would not recognise this.

Amongst Muslims, due to the fact that we are familiar with the clothing considered to be symbols of Islam within our societies, we are able to not only recognise them, but lso add extra meaning to them. For example, a headscarf/jilbaab worn by a woman can convery further information about her. Not only her fashion in wearing it, but also things that may be picked up by those observant. A common example is of a headscarf/jilbaab which covers one’s chin is common amongst the Shi’a. When one is in a country such as Lebanon which is split in terms of Sunni/Shi’a population, covering the bottom of one’s chin is a symbol of their Shi’ism, and not covering the chin becomes  a symbol of being from Ahlus-Sunnah.
The problem with such things is that whilst they may generally be true, the wearer themselves may not be aware of what they are doing and may simply be following what they percieve as fashion. This is why its always good to not take the language of clothing as a hard and fast rule, as just as we may misunderstand each other in conversation, we may also misinterpret what we see as signs in clothing.

Social Norms in Regards to Certain Clothing

Some time ago, I was present at a masjid awaiting the Jumu’ah khutbah (Friday sermon) to begin. There seemed to be a great deal of activity amongst some of the people towards the rear of the masjid, so I went to see what the matter was.
It appeared that the Imam of the mosque was running very late and was not answering his phone, so they were deciding whether or not to have somebody else take the role of Khateeb. The problem was not who to find, as they had already agreed on who should give the Khutbah, but rather the problem was the way that the chosen person was dressed. Some argued that the clothing was innapropriate for a Khateeb, that it was too casual to wear. The others disagreed saying that the people should listen to his words, and not pay attention to his clothing.
Whilst the latter opinion would be ideal, the fact of the matter stands that had the Khateeb stood to give the khutbah wearing the casual clothing that he was wearing, the people in the jamaa’ah (congregation) would identify the clothing as being different from what is usual and some might even find it unsuitable for a Khateeb. Due to this, the fact that certain clothing becomes associated with certain roles, one wishing to fulfill such a role must be cognizant of these social norms for surely no person would wish to be seen as standing out unnecessarily when fulfilling such a major role. Could you imagine the Imam of the Haram on Makkah giving a Khutbah wearing a tracksuit outfit?!

Indeed a Muslim should be proud of what they wear and they should be cautious as to avoid clothing that is Haraam (forbidden) and they should avoid clothing that will cause them to be looked down upon amongst their people.
Especially for Muslims living in majority non-Muslim societies, the value of wearing clothing which identifies ourselves as Muslims becames very important. To recognise one another and to see symbols of our perfect religion prevalent where we are is a source of great joy for all Muslims. Whether it be a Kufi or a Jilbaab, a Thawb or an Abaayah, these things help us to identify each other and to increase brotherhood and to bring us closer to one another.

March 9, 2009

Puma Paranoia

Filed under: Muslim Urban Legends — abuaisha @ 9:21 am
Tags: , , , ,

A pair of shoes made by Puma have been alleged to contain the name of Allāh written on them in Arabic causing people to get angry and to demand that the shoes be taken down from store shelves and withdrawn from the market.

Sound familiar? It probably does.. Not so long ago some Muslims in the USA were alleging the same about a pair of Nike shoes. They caused quite a stir in the media and ended up with Nike pulling the shoes and promising Muslims to never make the mistake again.

Puma it seems didn’t take the same lesson that Nike did. They have gone and made some shoes bearing what resembles the name of Allāh written in Arabic on them, or at least that’s what some Muslims are again claiming..
Let’s be honest with ourselves, some Muslims really do have quite the imaginations. Let’s take a look at the ‘offending’ pair of shoes –

Now if you can’t read Arabic, you can take my word for it that the text in red does slightly resemble the Arabic word Allāh written in a stylised script, but what it really looks like to me is the English word ‘cool‘.
Is it really that hard to see or am I just an eagle-eyed fanatic?
Or now that I think about it, it almost resembles the Estrangelo Aramaic word ‘Lashu‘, and it might pass for the Hebrew ‘Vassi’ and if you put it in a mirror it looks like the Amharic ‘Namu‘.
How can I be so certain that what is written is none of the above? It is because every other word written on the shoe is not in Aramaic,  Hebrew or Amharic, but rather in English. Common sense dictates that therefore of all the languages to choose from, English would be the right one.
As can be seen in the image on the word that clearly says ‘you’ just below the blue circle, the letter o has an open top just like in the word cool. The font used on the shoe makes it a little bit less clear than ususal but the word is still as clear as daylight. One needn’t be a language scholar to make out the word cool on the shoe.

The anger of some people about finding a word which resembles the name of Allāh on a shoe is only surpassed by the fascination with finding similar writings on a plethora of obscure objects. Take a look for example at ‘Allāh’ written on –
a Rock, a Leaf, a Tomatoan Eggplanta BeanAurora Borealis

Sometimes its worth admitting the obvious, as fun as it might be to have your 2 minutes of fame as being the one who exposed the ‘secret threat’ of shoe manufacturers’ evil plot to discredit Islamic symbols. Let the shoes be, let’s show people that Muslims are logical, not just overly-emotional.

*Note – There is a large amount of comments coming through for this article, please note that I will not approve any comments not in English or containing abusive or foul language

February 8, 2009

The False Dajjāl

Filed under: Muslim Urban Legends — abuaisha @ 6:58 am
So another e-mail finds its way into my inbox. What could it be this time? Orders to boycott McDonald’s for the 1,000th time? Claims that Barack Obama is a secret alien bent on destryoing the Earth? Or perhaps something more mundane like an assurance that if I pass on this e-mail to another 100 people I will meet the love of my life in 1 week’s time.
None of the above. Rather I find a truly absurd e-mail titled ‘Is Dajjal has Born in Israel???(sic)
The e-mail states –
Alert Ummah, there is a 90% chance that we will see the Jewish Dajjal in our lifetime !!
One of the prominent events preceding the Day of Judgement is the appearance of Dajjal. We have been apprised of many aspects of Dajjal both in the Qur’an and the Ahadis. In fact, the Muslims have been more informed about the Dajjal by the Holy Prophet than previous nations by their respective prophets.   Dajjal will appear somewhere between Iraq and Syria , after the Battle of Istanbul takes place. The name in the Ahadis is Constantinople, which is the former name of Istanbul . Dajjal will be a Jew. His distinguishing feature is that he will be one-eyed and the word “Kafir” or “unbeliever” will be written on his forehead.  That he is a Jew is confirmed from another hadis, which says that his followers will be mainly of Jewish religion. …
Shock horror! A 90% chance of seeing the Dajjāl in our lifetime?! I wonder how they figured those odds out.. Only a 10% chance remains that we will not see this Jewish Dajjāl in our lives!
Ok, time to be serious.
This latest e-mail suggests that just recently, the Dajjāl was born in Israel. The Dajjāl of course is what we would refer to in English as the Antichrist. We have been informed by our Prophet Muhammad that this man would come towards the end of times and cause havoc on Earth and would be a time full of trials and great calamaties.
So is it true? Has the Dajjāl been born recently?
Of course not.. What rubbish. Any learned Muslim will tell you straight out after hearing this that the Dajjāl has already been born and is waiting to be unleashed, as is attested to in many statements of the Prophet and his companions.
So what evidence does this e-mail offer us? Primarily it shows a picture of the supposed Dajjal baby –
Any observant person will be able to see that this is no ordinary baby, primarily due to the fact that it seems to have one eye planted in the centre of its forehead. This is a birth defect known as cyclopiasynophthalmia or  synophthalmia, whereby the child is born with 1 undivided eye. It is very rare  but is documented and does occur in humans.
The assertation is that this 1 eyed baby must be the Dajjāl, based solely upon this fact. I fear for those who claim such things, for if it were true then we sure would have a lot of Dajjāls running around as 6 in 10,000 births are subject to this birth defect! Surely just having one eye is no qualifier to being the Dajjal not just due to its common occurance, but also due to the very clear fact that no Islamic text even claims that the Dajjāl will have 1 eye..!
This stems from a misunderstanding of the description given to us of the Dajjāl –
Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘… as for the false messiah, he will be one-eyed, with a wide forehead and broad upper chest, and he will be hunchbacked…’” (Narrated by Ahmad, no. 7564). 
By itself, this Hadeeth seems to suggest the ‘cyclops’ notion, however many others Hadeeths such as the one below demonstrate the exact understanding of ‘one-eyed’ showing that it refers to blindness in one eye and not cyclopia.
 From ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whilst I was sleeping, I saw myself performing Tawaaf around the Ka’bah, when I saw a dark man with straight hair, standing between two other men, with water dripping from his head. I asked, “Who is this?” They said, “The son of Maryam.” Then I turned and saw a ruddy-complexioned man, well built, with curly hair, blind in his right eye, with his eye looking like a floating grape. I asked, “Who is this?” They said, “This is the Dajjaal.” The person who looks most like him is Ibnu Qatan.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 6508; Ibn Qatan was a man from Banu Mustalaq from Khuzaa’ah).
So the Dajjāl will be blind in one eye, but not single eyed, and surely not a cyclops-like creature!
Further to this, the e-mail incorrectly asserts that the Dajjāl will be Jewish, claiming that the Sunnah has established this. Whilst there are suggestions that it may be so from those who have read into the texts, there is no clear hadeeth ever stating this so we cannot accept this claim to be true without an evidence. If there were such a Hadeeth we would need to read it ourselves, not just be told that one exists.
So who then is this baby in the photo?
It was a young girl born not in Israel, but rather in Chennai, India. She lived shortly then death came to her and she died as a young girl, as can be seen in this link. Her story was reported widely and it should be easy to uncover that this baby is in fact her due to its prominence in the global media (another link).
So we can rest assured, the Dajjāl is not a baby sitting in a hospital, nor is this little baby girl a malevolent tyrant waiting to strike her terror upon the world. This was a little girl born in Chennai who has since died. End of story.. Until the next unverified, absurd e-mail is concocted by somebody with nothing better to do than waste our times spreading lies and deceit over the internet.

January 15, 2009

The meaning and evolution of the word ‘Mosque’

Filed under: Islamic Terms,Muslim Urban Legends — abuaisha @ 1:03 pm

There has been in recent times much confusion regarding the origin of the English word mosque.
The word mosque is a translation of the Arabic word masjid (مَسجِد). The word masjid in Arabic comes from the verb sajada (سَجَدَ) which means ‘to prostrate’, and a masjid is the place in which people prostrate. It can loosely be translated more generally as ‘a place of worship’.

The conspiracy surrounding the English translation begins by asserting that the word ‘mosque’ carries with it an islamophobic history with its origins in the Spanish reconquista which saw the end of Islamic Spain.
I am not sure where it first came from, however a book entitled ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam’ (the name says it all doesn’t it?) was the first time I encountered this. The book  claims on page 14:

The English term mosque is derived from the Spanish word for mosquito and came into use during the Christian invasion of Muslim Spain in the fifteenth century. The forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella boasted they would swat out Muslim prayer houses like mosquitoes. Understandably, many Muslims prefer not to use this unfortunate name amongst themselves.

It may have been through this book which the rumour began, and it may be likely as the subsequent rumours all bear similar disinformation almost word for word.

To begin with, to say that the word ‘mosque’ comes from the Spanish word for mosquito is a bit of a no-brainer, considering that mosquito itself is a Spanish word. It is the diminuitive form of the word mosca which means ‘fly’ (like the insect, not the verb) and hence means ‘little fly’. From mosquito, the rumour then suggests that the word ‘mezquita’ evolved. Mezquita of course is the Spanish word for mosque. What could not possibly be explained from a linguistic perspective is how mosquito would become mezquita.
Arabic was spoken in the Iberian peninsula (Portugal and Spain) for approximately 800 years, and there is a rich amount of Arabic words that live on until today in the language. These Spanish words of Arabic origin were introduced during the reign of the Muslims which came to an end in 1942, the time in which it has been purported that the word mezquita was developed.

The problem however is that the word mezquita was being used long before the reconquista which ended in 1492. Mezquita was the word used for mosques in Spanish for the many hundreds of years that Muslims lived in Spain.
The Arabic word masjid may have entered into Europe by any number of means. It is likely though that the form of the word which later became mosque has its origins in either Spain or Italy (Southern Italy was also inabited and ruled over by Muslims for almost 200 years). The changing of the d to a t is indeed a characteristic of Italian adaptations of Arabic, like how Muhammad when translated into Italian becomes Maometto. As for the j in masjid, the Spanish language has no way to say the sound ‘j’, most Arabic words with a jeem (ج) became either:

ch – eg: enchufe < جوف/jawf
– (pronounced as – kh/خ)  eg: jarra <  جرة/jarrah

This is important to pay attention to, because many others have claimed that the word ‘mezquita’ must have come from an Egyptian pronunciation of the word (masgid) which is incorrect, as the vast majority of Muslims who were in Europe were not from Egypt and did not speak any Egyptian based dialect, rather they were from the Maghreb and the patterns of Spanish-Arabic words all show that there was never any Egyptian Arabic influence in Spain or Italy. There are no known examples in Andalusi or Sicilian Arabic of the letter Jeem being pronounced as a ‘g’.
This shift would have occured otherwise, we can see by examples of other words.
The word Spanish word jabalí (pronounced ‘khabalee’ (IPA /xabaliː/)) comes from the Arabic word jabalī (جَبَلِي). The Jīm in Arabic (ج) becomes a J in Spanish, pronounced as ‘kh’ or like the khā’ (خ) in Arabic. This shows how to begin with the j in masjid could have been turned into ‘kh’ sound. From there the sound would easily have became a hard k sound (represented by q and c in Spanish), especially as Spanish does not easily accomodate a kh sound after an s. Many Arabic words which had a ‘kh’ became like ‘k’, an example of this is the word nukhā` (نخاع) which becomes nuca in Spanish.
After all of these letter changes, we are easily left with our new word ‘mesquit’ (note that the Arabic ‘a’ in this case corresponds closer to the Spanish ‘e’ than ‘a’ and hence the e would be understandably used here). Then as with all Spanish words it must be turned into a noun, which means either an o or an a will be added to the end of the word. In this case it was an a, and so we now have the word – mesquita. Why did the s later become a z then? In southern Spain until even today, there is no differing between an s and a z. All letter z’s are pronounced just like an s is. It just may be that as the Spanish language began to re-adopt the latin script that the northern areas of Spain adjusted the s sound to that of a th sound, just like with how sifr in Arabic later became pronounced as ‘sero’ in Andalusia but ‘thero’ in the more northern areas. Many other Arabic words also saw a shift whereby the S sound evolved later into a Th sound, so whilst it may seem rather strange as to why certain words retained the S sound and others evolved into a Th sound, the sheer quantity of words seen to have done this show it was rather common.

From our final term Mezquita there would have arisen many of the variations around Europe that exist until today. Mosqueé for example in French, Moschea in Italian etc. It was from the French term mosqueé that the English language adapted the word that we use today – Mosque.

So we may rest assured, a mosquito remains a mosquito and a mosque remains a mosque. Neither Ferdinand or Isabella were ever recorded to have ever stated that they would squash the mosques like mosquitoes, and even if they did, they would have used the word mezquita anyway which was the word already established in Spain for a masjid.
It is unfortunate that I have on many occasions read ‘warning’ chain e-mails informing Muslims to desist in using the English word ‘mosque’ due to its evil origins.. This should serve as a reminder to at least attempt to properly verify such things, and a lesson to not believe everything we read (especially from books which self-describe themselves as being for idiots). Feel free to use the words mosque, mosqueé, mezquita, and ponder over the history of this word and how it carries with it part of our Islamic legacy and is a testament to the great Muslim nation of al-Andalus which for 800 years existed in Western Europe.

November 27, 2008

The Muslim Contribution to Afrikaans

Filed under: Islamic Terms — abuaisha @ 12:04 pm

 ان دي كُوْنِڠْ سْكَپْ اس بِيْدِيْ هُوْكَ الله تعالا ان ڨَارْلِكْ اللـه تعالا اِسْ بَاس فِـَرْ اَلْدِيْ اِتْسْ

“En die konungskap is by die hoege Allah ta`ālā en waarlik Allah ta`ālā is baas vir al die iets.”

(A sample of Arabic Afrikaans, quoting from the Qur’ān – Sūrat al-Mulk 67:1)

Afrikaans is a language that is spoken primarily in South Africa and Namibia, which has its origins in the Dutch and German languages. It evolved from the dialect of Dutch that was spoken by many of those Europeans who settled in South Africa around 1650-1700.

For many, it seems almost the antithesis of a ‘Muslim’ language. It was brought by the Dutch, coming from the Netherlands – a nation which historically had no interaction with Muslims, and they settled in the southernmost area of the African continent, which unlike the North, West and East of Africa was for the most part not greatly exposed to Islam. Very few Muslims lived in the South, especially not once you would pass Malawi.

So what then does this European language have to do with Muslims, and how could its history provide us with an insight into just how far Muslims had spread and had an influence in those remote areas to which they went?

Let’s take a look.

Long ago, the Dutch ruled over Indonesia and much of the Malay archipelago. The Dutch, like many European nations were colonialists, they would claim foreign lands as their own to rule over and gain great financial benefit from. These colonial ventures by the Dutch helped to spread the Malay people around the globe. When workers were needed in Suriname, one of the Dutch possessions in South America, many Malays were sent there. Because of this, we find today that 15% of Surinamese are Malays, and 20% of the population are Muslims.

A mosque in Durban, South Africa

When workers were needed then in Africa, the Dutch sent forth many Malays who were basically slaves to work. After some time, South Africa became somewhat of a refuge for many peoples escaping political problems in their own nations. People like Mahatma Gandhi left India to seek work in the new South Africa, also many Malays and Indonesians too left their lands to seek sanctuary there.

The society in which these Muslims lived was not one which granted non-Europeans many rights, they were regularly harassed by the Afrikaners, however they were allowed to live amongst their own societies and to build Islamic schools and mosques. The first ‘madrassas’ were run by the Malays, who we now refer to as the ‘Cape Malays’ due to their location in the Western Cape of South Africa. These Cape Malays were Shafi’īs in fiqh, so the Shafi’ī madhhab was taught amongst the people. Whilst Malay would have been the main language of instruction, the language of the wider public was a localized dialect of Dutch. Whilst all official business was carried out in the same Dutch as would have then been spoken in the Netherlands, the language of the street was what the Malays spoke. This language was non-standardised, it did not have a common way to be written or spoken, so when its speakers would use it there were no clear rules dictating how it should be spoken or spelt.

As Dutch was the formal language of the colonialists, the casual register used by the lower classes was viewed with some level of disdain. It was a slang speech which those running the country were not interested in.

It was at this time when the Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz decided to send over to Cape Town a Qādī (judge) and scholar named Abu Bakr Effendi. His role was to act as a teacher and Imam for the Muslims. Abu Bakr Effendi himself was a Hanafī who hailed originally from Makkah, and this fact did cause much confusion as his Hanafī teachings sometimes differed from the Shafi’ī school followed by the Malays. However it was through his teachings that the linguistic innovation which we wish to look at evolved.

Shaykh Abu Bakr wrote a book called Uiteensetting van die Godsdiens which translates as ‘Exposition of the Religion’ (بيان الدين).
This work was written in the language being spoken by the Cape Malays in their everyday lives. In the time in which it was written, the language we know of as ‘Afrikaans’ was still not known. The language was as mentioned, still seen as a lowly variant of the official Dutch language.

The fact that Shaykh Abu Bakr chose to write in this language was then rather innovative, not just for the fact that he wrote in a ‘new’ language yet to have a literary existence, but the Shaykh also managed to write the entire book with the Arabic script.

Just as the Turkish and Malay languages were also written at those times with the Arabic alphabet, Shaykh Abu Bakr developed a system of writing Afrikaans with Arabic letters.

As such, the first book to be written in the Afrikaans language was written not only by a Muslim, but also in the Arabic script.

One of the reasons why this is interesting to learn about is not only does it help to provide us with an insight into how early Afrikaans was spoken, however it also offers a chance to give us a different way of looking at the history of South Africa as a nation.

South Africa of course is a nation which has a dark history in terms of its racial relations. The apartheid system meant that the European Afrikaners maintained a system whereby they subjugated and oppressed the non-Europeans. After many years of campaigning for their rights, the local Africans and the other non-Europeans won their right (on paper at least) to be treated as equals.

Now in historical revision, those people who were once the oppressed are now discovering their own histories within Southern Africa. The Muslim peoples are seeing the literary legacies left by their forefathers who strived to establish a place for themselves to practice Islam, despite the many hardships they faced. From these discoveries there is the opportunity for linguists to discover more about the evolution of the Afrikaans language and a chance to marvel at the fruits of the Muslim scholars wherever they travelled to. The Muslims’ thirst for Islamic knowledge amongst their communities is so evident here and it has helped produce this gem in the field of linguistics. Afrikaans does not have to be viewed only as an oppressive colonialist language, rather we can be proud in saying that the literary founders of the language were Muslim Malays and a Kurdish scholar from Makkah. This helps us to re-evaluate and to better understand the history of Muslims in the world, it is a reminder of the legacy which Muslims leave behind them wherever they go, and a wake up call to eurocentric historians to realise that even in the most seeming European strongholds, one finds that even the ‘second class’ peoples have had so much to contribute to the societies of the past, we just have to dig it up and find it.

A look at Arabic Afrikaans

The script of the language uses Arabic letters and is most similar to the Malay-Arabic (Jawi) script.

Whilst the original texts did not extensively use vowel markings, a standard system has since evolved for writing the vowels.
The system is innovative in combining vowels together to produce the vowels not present in Arabic and hence not able to be presented normally in the Arabic script.

The letters E and O for example have no way to be written in Arabic, however Arabic Afrikaans uses 2 vowels together to represent each.
For E, the letters A and I are both written, meaning that both a kasrah ( ِ  ) and a fatħa ( َ  ) are merged to prodouce the E sound – اَِنْ is the way to write the Afrikaans word ‘en’ (which means and’)


For O, the letters A and U are merged, meaning that the fatħa ( َ  ) and damma ( ُ  ) are merged together to produce the O sound – پْرَُوفَِيت is how to write profeet’ (which means ‘prophet’)



To be continued –  Inshā’ Allāh

October 17, 2008

Manila – Amānillāh (امان الله)

Filed under: Islamic Terms,Muslim Urban Legends — abuaisha @ 2:46 pm

Earlier this year I visited the Philippines. The main port of entry to this country, capital city and most well known destination is as most would know – Manila.
Manila wasn’t a city which I greatly enjoyed, mainly because its suited for Western tourists and hence isn’t the most welcoming place for a Muslim to be in. I did however manage to find a few mosques in the centre of the city as well as a Muslim enclave in Taguig city which was relaxing to be in.

Manila is not a Muslim majority city, its barely populated by Muslims in fact. Almost all of the locals are Christians and other than a few bombings blamed on Muslim rebels in the city, Islam and Muslims are not very ingrained into the city’s identity nowadays.

It was in Zamboanga City however that I was reminded of something that I heard from a few years back – That Manila was once the capital of a vast Muslim Empire in the Northern Philippines, and that even its name has Islamic origins, it is a contraction of ‘Amanillah’ (امان الله) meaning ‘Security of God’.

When I returned to Australia, many Muslims repeated this to me upon hearing that I had been to Manila. Some even talked about the pity that Manila was once a thriving Muslim city and how the Philippines used to be a completely Muslim nation. The key to it all was that name ‘Manila’. It was proof of this secretive Muslim past that seemed to have been covered up by the Spanish conquerors who christianised the Philippines.

The mosque of Karim al-Makhdum today

Is it all true though? Did the Philippines once belong to a Muslim empire which stretched throughout the entire archipelago?
Well, yes and no.. Some parts of the Philippines were under Muslim rule, mostly the southern parts where Islam first entered the country when Karim al-Makhdum established Islam in Tawi-Tawi and in the general Sulu region (Southern Philippines), and there were also sultanates established in the Visayas (Central Philippines) and then there was also the sultanates of Rajah Sulayman and Rajah Matanda which were based in Luzon (Northern Philippines) and actually did cover what is today the city of Manila.
Islam was definitely well established, and Muslims held rule in much of the country until the Spanish conquerors came along. However much of the Philippines was still not under Muslim rule, especially in Luzon and those areas still until today have never really been exposed to Islam or Muslims. Modern day Philippines is of course the only Christian majority country in all of Asia and much of the population knows very little of their Islamic past.
I guess it is the Filipino populace’s ignorance of their history that drives Muslims to find relics of that past to remind people of this Islamic history, and what greater example than of their capital city having an Arabic name? Especially now as the Filipino army is waging a war against Muslims in the south and much of the population are not entirely sure why this is happening. Are the Muslims foreign to the Philippines? Are they a threat to the Filipinos? Or are they in fact the original inhabitants of the islands who were deposed and oppressed by the invading Spanish and Americans?

There is much available to see the history of the country and its Islamic past. The hero of the nation Lapu-Lapu who fought against Magellan and has a city named in his honour was a Muslim chief. The Tagalog language (which is the most widely spoken language in the Philippines) is littered with Arabic words such as Salámat (which means thank you). Muslim cultural practices and are widespread and have been integrated into Filipino society, and one will find many place-names which are drawn from Arabic (such as Curuan, from Qur’an). Add to that the fact that Muslims make up approximately 8% of the population and that the whole nation has a public holiday on Eid ul-Adhā and you will easily see that even on face value, the Muslim history of the Philippines is easily seen.

Mangrove trees

So what about Manila?

Well.. It actually comes from the word ‘Maynilad’ which is the original Tagalog name which means ‘place of mangroves’, as they grow abundantly in the Manila Bay.

I’m not sure how this legend spread so vastly without people actually reading up and checking it, but I guess that’s what also happened with the Filipinos who forgot their Islamic past and have not read up on it either.
It is knowledge and education which will let us reclaim our past and establish our future. So let’s remember the first word to have been revealed of the Qur’an and act upon it – اقراء Read!

September 9, 2008

Ramaḍān Glossary

Filed under: Islamic Terms — abuaisha @ 6:00 am

Ramaān (رمضان) –Ramaān is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered as a sacred month in which fighting should be stopped and focus should be on worship to God. During this month Muslims fast from before sunrise until sunset.
Ramaān comes from the word ram (رَمض) which coming from Arabic means ‘to become hot’ and refers especially to the stones in the desert which would become hot from the intense sunlight. When the months of the Islamic/Arabian calendar first fell, the month of Ramaān was especially hot, and that is how its name came about. In a general sense from the view of the fasting Muslims, Ramaān is a month in which during the daylight hours no food or drink is intaken, and as such parallels are drawn with the notion of the hot and dry desert setting from which the name of the month was drawn.

Eid ul-Fiṭr (عيد الفطر) – Eid (ʿĪd) denotes any event that occurs annualy or at regular intervals. In Islam, there are 2 annual Eids, Eid ul-Fiṭr and Eid ul-‘Aħā. Eid ul-Fiṭr marks the end of the month of Ramaān and also the end of compulsory fasting, which is where it gets its name from (Fiṭr – Breaking of the fast). The day falls on the 1st of Shawwāl, which is the month which follows Ramaān. On this day an Eid prayer is held and it is common for there to be festivities and families will go out to visit one another. It is forbidden to fast on the day of Eid.

Fidyah (فدية) – Fidyah refers to an amount payed in ransom for not having properly completed a task. In the case of Ramaān it refers to an amount payed by somebody who did not complete their fast for any day during the month. The fidyah depends on what it was that broke the person’s fast. A list of rulings regarding the fidyah can be found here. The most common fidyah is feeding the poor and needy.

Hilāl (هلال)The new moon. The hilāl is also known as the crescent moon, as when a new moon appears it is seen as a thin crescent. Because of this, the crescent moon is commonly used in depictions of Ramaān. More information on the new moon and the phases of the moon can be found at

Ifṭār (إفطار) Ifṭār literally means ‘breaking the fast’ and refers to the time at sunset (maghrib) in which fasting ends for the day and one may eat and drink. It is encouraged to eat immediately rather than delaying it, as this was the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and it is also preferrable to break one’s fasting with dates and water.

Iṭʿām (إطعام) – Iṭʿām literally means ‘to feed’ and this is one of the things which Ramaān is known for. It is a great deed to feed others and it is narrated that when one feeds another person who was fasting, the reward gained for fasting is granted also to the person who fed the one who had fasted. As such Muslims in Ramaān strive to invite others for Ifṭār seeking the reward in it as well as increasing brotherhood and sisterhood.

Iʿtikāf (إعتكاف) – Iʿtikāf refers to a voluntary isolation within the mosque. This is most commonly performed in the last 10 nights of Ramaān in an effort to increase one’s chances of gaining full benefit on Laylat ul-Qadr. One who performs Iʿtikāf stays within the confines of the mosque and does not leave at any time. They spend their time in worship, be it praying, reading the Qur’ān or making rememberance of God.

Laylat ul-Qadr (ليلة القدر) Laylat ul-Qadr means ‘The Night of Decree’. It is a night which falls in the last 10 nights during Ramaān. It is on this night that the decree for the coming year is descended to the lowest heaven. This night is specified in the Qur’ān is being ‘better than 1,000 months’.
As is mentioned in Sūrat al-Qadr, the 97th Surah of the Qūr’ān:

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ . وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ . لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ . تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ مِنْ كُلِّ أَمْرٍ . سَلامٌ هِيَ حَتَّى مَطْلَعِ الْفَجْرِ
Verily! We have sent it (the Qur’ān) down in the Night of Decree. And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is?  The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rūħ (the Angel Gabriel) by God’s Permission with all Decrees. Peace, until the appearance of dawn.

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) informed us that on this night we should make the following (supplication) –
اللهم إنك عفو تحب العفو فاعف عني
Allāhumma, innaka ʿafuwwun, tuħibbul-ʿafwa, faʿfu ʿanni
Oh Allāh, verily You are Forgiving, and You love to forgive, so forgive me.

There are differing opinions as to the exact date on which Laylat ul-Qadr falls. This is due to differing narrations concerning its occurence in the past. It was narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that it falls in the last 10 nights of Ramaān and that it is also on an odd night (21st, 23rd etc.) The fact that different reports from the companions of the Prophet appear is understood to mean that Laylat ul-Qadr does not fall on any one specific night however that it moves from year to year. As such one is encouraged to seek the night on the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th of Ramaān.

Qiyām (قيام) – Qiyām literally means ‘standing’. It refers to the optional prayers offered throughout the night, especially in the month of Ramaān. These prayers usually last longer than normal prayers and are prayed in a large number (usually 8 rakaʿāt + 3 witr). Many congregations aim to recite 1 juz’ (portion – approx. 1/30th) of the Qur’ān in each night of Qiyām, and as such much of the time is spent standing, listening to the Imām as he recites. This is where the name of Qiyām (standing) is evolved.

Raṭab (رطب) – Ripe or soft dates. These were the dates which the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to eat when he would break his fast.

Ṣawm/Ṣiyām (صوم / صيام) – Ṣawm translates as fasting, and Ṣiyām is its plural. Fasting in Islām is regulated clearly in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah and is prescribed for Muslims throughout the whole month of Ramaān. Its importance is immense, in fact it is considered as one of the five pillars of Islām.
When Muslims fast, they cease eating or drinking from before sunrise until sunset. The exact times are defined by the morning prayer (Fajr) and the evening prayer (Maghrib). This equates to just over half the day in which no food or drink may be taken, and one may not engage in any sexual relations or to abuse others. Whilst the Muslim fasts, he or she are urged to maintain good manners, desist from unnecessary arguing or fighting and to exert extra effort in performing good deeds.

Shahr (شهر) – Shahr is the Arabic word for ‘month’. Ramaān is one of the twelve months of the Islamic calendar. A common name for Ramaān is ‘Ash-Shahr ul-Mubārak’ – ‘The Blessed Month’.

Suħūr (سحور) Suħūr is the name for the meal which is eaten before the time for fasting begins, in the time before the early morning prayer (Fajr). The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) urged the Muslims to have this meal, as in it there are blessings.

تسحروا فإن في السحور بركة
Eat Suħūr, for verily in the Suħūr there is blessing.

Tahajjud (تهجّد) – Tahajjud is another term used for qiyām. It is sometimes used to refer specifically to the prayer performed late in the night or just before Fajr.

Some dates stuffed with almonds

Tamr (تمر)Date. Dates are recommended to be eaten when one is breaking their fast. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would break his fast with dates and water and so Muslims all around the world fulfill this Sunnah (tradition of the Prophet) when it comes time for breaking the fast.

Taqabal Allāhu minnā wa minkum (تقبل الله منّا ومنكم) – “May Allāh accept from me and from you”. This is a duʿā’ (supplicaton/prayer) made on the day of Eid. It is asking Allāh to accept the deeds of one’s self and also of the person to whom one mentions this duʿā’ to. Other greetings are commonly used on Eid, such as ‘Kullu ʿām wa ‘antum bi-khayr’ however these greetings are not from the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and as such it is preferable to many to use what was narrated from his tradition.

Tarāwīħ (تراويح) – Tarāwīħ is another term used for qiyaam and is used especially to refer to the qiyām of Ramaḍān. Tarāwīħ comes from the word راحة ‘rest’ as it is common for the Imām to rest after praying 4 raka’āt before continuing.

Zakāt ul-Fiṭr / Sadaqat ul-Fiṭr (صدقة الفطر / زكاة الفطر) – Zakāt ul-Fiṭr is a charity given to the poor and needy at the end of Ramaān. It is usually given in the form of food (rice, barley etc.) however in many countries it has become common to pay a set amount of money which would then be donated to the needy.

August 19, 2008

Ya Allah! – In Yahoo Font

Filed under: Multimedia — abuaisha @ 2:49 pm

I made a series of Islamic slogans etc. based upon well known logos. I will put them up as everybody who I have shown them to seems to like them.

The first one is Ya Allah written similar to the logo of Yahoo!

Ya Allah for those who do not know is an Arabic phrase (يا الله) which is calling upon God (Allah in Arabic). It is like saying ‘Oh God’ in the sense that you are going to ask something from Him. Eg. ‘Oh God.. Forgive me/Help me/strengthen me..’

As Muslims we believe that none should be called upon but Allah for such matters. We do not call upon Prophets (Moses, Jesus, Muhammad etc.) nor do we call upon Angels or spirits. Rather as we read in the first chapter of the Qur’aan:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (Al-Fātiħah 1:5)

As such, this short invocation of calling upon Allah is a reminder for us, not only that we should call upon God alone, but also that we should not abandon calling upon Him, for to ask from God is an act of worship, and unlike other humans, the more we call upon Him, the more he is pleased with us. God never tires of us turning to Him and asking Him for help.

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُواْ لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُواْ بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

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