International man of mystery.


The Struggle. What is Jihad?

The term “Jihad” is almost always mistranslated by westerners as “Holy War.” In fact, the term “Jihad” literally translates to “struggle against.” “Holy war” today is often misapplied to Jihad because of western orientalist and Christian cultural understanding of the Crusades. The First Crusade was launched in 1095 Pope Urban II preached a war ideology referring to it as a “Holy War” in order to garner Christian support to retake the “Holy Land” from the Muslims.

The concept of what is “holy” may seem like semantics over something petty but it is a significant part of understanding proper Islamic Aqeeda (Creed) and Tawheed (Purity, Uniqueness and Oneness of Allah). Often, Muslims who don’t have the knowledge, are trying to bridge the understanding gap on your own terms or are speaking from common cultural misunderstanding will misuse the word “Holy.” It’s important to know that in Islam nothing is “Holy” except Allah. Many Muslims often say “Holy Qur’an” or “Holy Prophet”, but this is misleading. In Islam, nothing that is part of creation, able to be corrupted, mutilated or annihilated, is “Holy.” We often say that the Qur’an or the Prophets are most deserving to be called holy, but they by nature are not Holy. Muslims with the understanding of this concept will call the Qur’an the “Glorious (or Noble) Qur’an” or the Prophet “Most beloved (or Noble) Prophet” or something similar. According to Islamic teachings, the worst failing in human history is war and war is certainly NOT “Holy.” Therefore, the concept of “Holy War” is alien to Islam.

The Arabic word for “war” is “harb” and the Arabic word for “fighting or killing” is “qital.” Neither harb or qital are Holy and according to the examples set forth in the Qur’an only engaged in AFTER extensive diplomacy by a form of “government” has failed. According to Islam the last resort act of state sanctioned war ceases and peace is re-established when there is hope of diplomacy succeeding and is re-established.

There are 3 types of Jihad in Islam:

  1. Jihad bil nafs – The struggle of the inner self relating to immoral of imperfect behaviour. It is closely related to the concept of “Ihsan” that I spoke about in my post entitled, “Islam is a 3 Dimensional Religion
  2. Jihad bil Qallam – The struggle of society through the pen or tongue (lisan) to establish justice in the land. In western analogy it can be comparable to the Edward Bulwer-Lytton 1839 quote, “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword.” It is one of the greatest forms of Islamic Jihad according to the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Jihad bis Saif – A “state level” self-defence permission in Islam which is given to an Islamic government that allows for a well-regulated standing military controlled by a diplomatic system of governance and refers to harb and qital when all possibility of diplomacy has failed.

Of the three types of Jihad, “The best fighting (jihad) in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler.” – Prophet Muhammad (Abu Dawud Book 38, Hadith 4330; Grade: Sahih)

Contrary to what you see misguided Muslim individuals, Muslim terror groups and criminal enterprises or even some Muslim controlled governments doing today, jihad or struggle (which is a defensive strategy) involving harb or qital, has very strict rules. These rules are more restrictive than most any modern government, including the United States, Britain and other governments.

According to Islam, both combatants and non-combatants, believer and unbeliever have rights that are not to be infringed upon. In all cases, no exception, these are just a few things which are expressly FORBIDDEN (haram or major sins) in Islam:

Vigilantism, force converting, enslaving, raping, torturing, killing non-combatants (civilians), committing suicide, attacking the wounded, executing prisoners, mutilating dead bodies or refusing to return them to their families, intentionally destroying buildings or property, looting, destroying agriculture/crops, and burning people with fire.

Islam is very clear that Muslims who do this are not martyrs, but criminals subject to punishment in this life and in the afterlife.

THE FIRST of men (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought [before the Judgment Seat]. Allah will make him recount His blessings (i. e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). [Then] will Allah say: What did you do [to respond to these blessings]? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought that you might be called a” brave warrior”. And you were called so. [Then] orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell.” – Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim; The Book on Government, Hadith 4688)

The purpose of Jihad as taught by Islam in all cases is to promote and establish justice in one’s own life or the life of others. Where there is struggle that does not include from start to finish the establishment of justice or the rules of this concept are not followed, there is no struggle (jihad) but sin and corruption.

“He will not enter Paradise whose neighbour is not secure from his wrongful conduct.” – Prophet Muhammad (Sahih Muslim Book 1, Hadith 74)


The Path. What is Shari’ah?

As recent politics has put Islam and Islamic Shari’ah into the spotlight of public discourse, there is every reason you all should know about the topic of Shari’ah. A ton of misinformation has been circulating about Shari’ah and I’d suggest paying close attention to this post and ask questions if you don’t understand something or wish clarification.

The word “Shari’ah” literally means, “an immense road leading to a flowing source of water.” It is literally the lifeblood of human social development, advancement, economics, enlightenment, culture and sophistication. Shari’ah guides us in every aspect of our lives such as our religion, culture, society and even as minute as personal hygiene.

There is no theocracy in Islam and as such Shari’ah as a whole is NOT God’s Law. Shari’ah consists of laws and interpretations codified by groups of ‘Uleema (scholars/judges) in legal judgments called fatawah (rulings or opinions) plural or fatwah singular.

These scholarly opinions are based in part on God’s revelations, the recordings of the hadith of Prophet Muhammad’s life collected 300 years after his death, modern social and cultural norms and new technologies. Scholarly opinions on Shari’ah are based in areas of study among various Islamic schools of thought.

Islamic Madhab – Schools of Thought

There are 5 main “Madhab” (pronounced “maḏhab”), or “Schools of Thought” that are based on Imam (scholarly thinkers; teachers) who lived over 1000 years ago. Each school interprets Islamic texts differently on various issues and our modern scholars often refer to them to make decisions of Shari’ah and issue fatawah (rulings/opinions). Some madhab are more predominant in some countries or regions than others. Prime examples of differences between the madhab are Saudi Arabia (Sunni; Hanbali) and Iran (Shi’a; Ja’fari school) which are both Muslim but have developed hugely different religious structure and viewpoints. You can see that many countries also share the same madhab. Some Muslim communities in the west may have representations of all of the schools of thought, like United States, United Kingdom and others. Muslims in the west are a melting pot of ideas not just in secular society but also often in their religious communities.

These are the 5 main Madhab (Islamic Schools of Thought):

  • Hanafi (Sunni)
  • Maliki (Sunni)
  • Shafi’i (Sunni)
  • Hanbali (Sunni)
  • Ja’fari (Shia)

Shari’ah on an issue in one group may not resemble the shari’ah in another. For example, the religious shari’ah rulings of the Hanafi school (South Asia) says Muslims should pray with their hands folded, while the Maliki school (North Africa) says to pray with the arms by one’s side. Such rulings that differ can be on social, political and national differences as well. Example of national differences might be Saudi Arabia (Hanbali) which may cut off someone’s hand for stealing whereas Malaysia (Shafi’i) may simply put them in prison and give a hefty fine.

There is no single book of Shari’ah. You cannot go to a bookshop and ask for “The Book of Shari’ah,” like you might the Bible or Qur’an or a volume of Hadith. It isn’t there. Shari’ah is a “science of interpretation” by groups of people (Uleema; Scholars or Judges) among the various schools of thought which appear in fatawah (rulings) that can be made on a regional, national or local level or even internationally agreed upon by consensus.

Many western antagonists like to pretend to know about Shari’ah and claim that the totality of Shari’ah is summed up in penal codes only acceptable in ancient times (such as the Roman Empire) but considered barbaric today. Shari’ah is made up of infinitely more than the few penal codes of certain repressive governments which they commonly point to today.

There are some “religious” aspects of Shari’ah that are internationally recognized as unchangeable and some of those rulings you have already read in my previous posts, like, “Islam is a 3 Dimensional Religion.” The very basic religious aspects of Shari’ah are agreed upon internationally by all Muslims and therefore unchangeable. To change or deny these religious ideals would be to deny Islam itself. So, it is ridiculous for an antagonist to ask a Muslim if they deny Shari’ah as a measure of religious “moderation, reform or modernization.” What part of it? Why would we deny “Shari’ah?”

For example, based on the Qur’an and Hadith, according to all scholars of Islam worldwide, there are 5 pillars of Islam. The first pillar of Islam is the very basic entry point to becoming a Muslim (Shi’a and Sunni) and to become Muslim one must recite with wilful conviction the Shahaddah (Confession of Faith). It is a requirement to be considered a Muslim by our peers. It is therefore, part of the Shari’ah that a person must understand that there is no other god except the One God and Muhammad is the Last Messenger and make a confession of their belief. Shari’ah goes on to detail the other pillars (like Prayer, Fasting, Charity, and Pilgrimage) and the requirements for successfully fulfilling those requirements. How to pray, how many times to wash per day, requirements for giving charity, how to make pilgrimage are all detailed by Shari’ah. Why would we be asked to deny these as a sign of “moderation or reform” when to do so makes us either a non-Muslim, like a non-Muslim or prevents us from carrying out our Islamic duties? To ask us to deny Shari’ah in light of this aspect is tantamount to asking a Christian to deny the articles of faith decided upon by their founding Church elders.

Shari’ah as a living breathing legal system that is interpreted differently by different people and a small portion of it actually defines religious duties. It is imperative to note that over 90% of Shari’ah does not relate to religious life or practice and is “dynamic” and able to change based on time, place, the people and technology. Social issues and criminal penal codes of shari’ah could and should be modernized. Often the only modernization we see is among western Muslim scholars and communities who live away from brutally repressive regimes. Under dictatorships that control Muslim populations today (like Saudi Arabia or Egypt) speaking publicly with new ideas that challenge, criticize or question social norms, the law and government could be a prison or death sentence. The state exerts absolute control over the religious establishment. Freedom of expression in the west has cultivated a new generation of scholars free to propose new ideas on modernization of Shari’ah that could not be done in nations like Egypt, Saudi, Iran, etc.

Shari’ah Courts; Halakkah Courts

A Beth Din is a Jewish Halakkah (Jewish Law) court that is set up in the United States, Europe and many other countries. These Jewish courts make rulings (like fatwah) on behalf of Jewish communities in the United States. One such ruling is for Jewish communities to establish the Eruv (a physical public barrier that encircles a township or area predominantly Jewish which allows certain religious rights to Jews) in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in non-Jewish countries. If one isn’t Jewish he/she wouldn’t even know what it is even if it was pointed out to them let alone know if one is present in the area they live in.

Despite the ancient Jewish practices (no longer practiced) of stoning homosexuals and adulterers (Deuteronomy 17:5; Leviticus 20:13), these Jewish courts in foreign countries (like the United States) function the same way Islamic Law courts do in many non-Muslim countries around the world today. The implementation of Jewish Law in a non-Jewish society has no bearing on non-Jews because Jews living in the west have modernized the portions of Jewish Law that is not necessary to faith, like barbaric penal codes once acceptable 3000 years ago. Like Jewish Halakkah courts, shari’ah courts operate in many countries Muslim and non-Muslim (including Israel) leaving behind the ancient barbaric penal codes.

In fact, the debate about allowing Jewish Law and Jewish Halakkah courts, especially on issues like the Eruv to be implemented in Jewish communities in the US (and even in Europe), has brought the same concerns from the public as with Shari’ah courts. Despite antisemitic fear mongering that has suggested in the past that the Jews were setting up a Jewish enclave in the US, it hasn’t created such issues like Jews stoning people in the streets, etc.

Shari’ah courts in a large number of countries (including many western countries) are offered on an “opt-in” basis and makes rulings between parties on issues of civil, divorce or inheritance. Some Muslim countries refer marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance to Shari’ah courts by default preferring unislamic (and barbaric) European colonial penal codes, laws and cultural attitudes for the rest. In some dictatorships, where freedom to challenge the ruling party does not exist these courts are used as a mouth piece of the Monarchy or Dictatorship to make religious and other rulings often nonsensical to most ordinary Muslims and often contrary to Islam itself and a violation of human rights.

Shari’ah and Shari’ah courts are not something to be feared by westerners. Islamic shari’ah is not divine, monolithic or rigid. Islam never allows compulsion in religion. Shari’ah is not imposed on non-Muslims and Muslims may opt in or out. Islamic shari’ah is as compatible with western law and way of life as Jewish Halakkah. The key to a successful and integrated Shari’ah is to foster religious freedom for Muslims to debate ideas and partner with us to help us promote human rights in our communities here and around the world. We will never “abandon our Shari’ah” because it defines and shapes our Aqeeda (Creed) and our religious practice. However, we can modernize, assimilate or shed outdated interpretations of Shari’ah, such as penal codes designed for a place, a time and a people that is far distant in the past. It is not against Islam but rather consistent with Islam, from it’s inception to its Golden Age, to replace old ideas with new modern values suited for the times and place we live in.

“O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” – Qur’an 4:135

Article by BrJimC © 2016



Concepts. What is Sunnah?

Among all Muslims worldwide these concepts are agreed upon. Although we all agree on the Qur’an and these basics, building past the very basic foundations of “Sunnah” (which also overlap historical events) is where the Sunni and Shi’a divide begins to take shape. I’m going to keep this simple so I don’t make this article too large or off topic. In an upcoming article I’m going to explain about the division in historical events, it’s effect on the followers of the religion and modern times.

There are three main usages of the word “Sunnah” among Muslims:

  1. “The Way” – In the earliest description of Jesus’ followers, before Paul’s mission to the Pagans where they were first called “Christians” in a derogatory sense, the movement of the original disciples of Jesus who were in the Synagogues was known as “the Way.” (Acts 9:2). Muslims carry on this tradition and description in the word “as-Sunnah” which means “the Way.” When we refer to the Sunnah (unless otherwise ascribed to another Prophet or Jesus Christ) we are generally referring to “the Way” of the Prophet Muhammad. The Sunnah in this sense refers to the things he is reported to have said, did or approved of in hadith. In the same way that we use it for the Prophet Muhammad, we can also apply this to others, such as the “Sunnah of Jesus Christ” or “the Way of Jesus Christ” based on what we know of the things he said, did or approved. We can apply the usage to “the Way” of any of the other Prophets or Messengers when refering to events in their lives.
  2. Reference – Sunnah is a reference to the collective recordings of Hadith. For example, the “Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad” says, “Messenger of Allah [Muhammad] said, ‘When any of you is invited to a meal, he should accept the invitation. If he is observing Sawm (fasting), he should supplicate for the betterment of the host and if he is not fasting, he should eat.’ (Sahih Muslim)” So, as an example, Muslims would say, “The ‘Sunnah says,’ it is better for us not to turn down an invite to a meal when invited.” Sunnah is a reference to any hadith in any of the recorded volumes.
  3. Legal Term – Sunnah is also a “legal definition” used by the ‘Uleema (Scholars/Judges) to classify if something is recommended for one’s own good. Legal classifications is where we get our concept of what is “sin” against God, ourselves, fellow humans, animals, planet, etc. In this case, there is 5 categorizations in Shari’ah:
  • Fardh (Mandatory; Get God’s blessing for doing and His punishment for not doing)
  • Sunnah (Recommended; Get God’s blessing for doing and nothing for not doing)
  • Mubah (Permissible; Don’t get God’s blessing for doing and don’t get his punishment for not doing)
  • Makruh (Strongly disliked though technically permitted; Don’t get God’s blessing for doing but get His blessing for NOT doing)
  • Haram (Forbidden; Get God’s punishment for doing and get His blessing for NOT doing)

The concept of Sunnah is integral to both sects of Islam, Sunni and Shi’a, as it guides us to better enlightenment by the example of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, whom we believe was sent by God as the “Seal” of “the Way” of the Prophet’s and Messengers and their Revelations before him.

Article by BrJimC © 2016


Secondary (or supplemental) books. What are hadith?

Similar to Judaism which has a core book (the Torah) and secondary oral traditions (the Talmud), Islam has a core book (Qur’an) and a recorded “oral tradition” that we call “ah-Hadith.” The Talmud and Hadith have been both recorded in many hundreds of volumes and both serve to supplement understanding of their respective core books (Torah and Qur’an) and build upon the foundation of religious practice.

The hadith are the “secondary source” after the Qur’an to which Muslims refer in order to supplement their faith, interpret Islamic Shari’ah or to form opinions on interpretation of our religion. They are a collection of writings that were passed down person to person by “word of mouth over 200-300 years” until they were compiled and written into central books by various scholars who collected them. We call this ‘isnad‘ (chain of narration) and this tells us that the people who narrated the hadith are trustworthy or not. Isnad does not tell us that what was recorded in the hadith is definitively what was said or happened. Hadith are basically hearsay evidence and have many classifications of authenticity of isnad, not accuracy of content. This is why the hadith are a secondary source that supplement the Qur’an. Keep in mind that although Muslims believe in the Bible (New Testament), we don’t rely on it for our belief system partly for the reason that the earliest writings are from 132AD (in Aramaic) and wasn’t canonized until 325AD (in Greek). More precisely, it has no isnad (chain of narration). That’s roughly 100 to over 300 years after Jesus. The Prophet never saw our books of hadith and Jesus never saw the Bible to authorize their authenticity. These books of hadith are commonly named after the scholars that compiled them, such as “Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim or Imam Abu Dawud.” There are collectively hundreds of volumes.

Unlike the Qur’an, the hadith were dictated by a chain of ordinary individuals about the things the Prophet Muhammad supposedly said (qawl), did (fi’l) or approved (taqrir). The Prophet Muhammad “never authorized or saw” these compilations or recordings. They were not preserved with the same integrity of the Qur’an. The hadith have errors, contradictions and are NOT considered “infallible.” The Qur’an is the primary authoritative source of all things in Islam. The hadith are secondary to supplement or clarify the Qur’an and subordinate to it.

Hadith are categorized based on what we call “Isnad” or trustworthiness of the “chain of narrators.” The three categorizations are:

  1. Sahih (Strong; Narrators were known to be reputable)
  2. Hasan (Good; Narrators may be questionable)
  3. Da’if (Weak; Serious problems with narrators or method of transmission)

It is important to note that a “Strong” narration may still have inaccuracies or have different narrations of the same event described in Islamic history. The categorization only speaks to the reputations of the individuals in the “chain” over generations or the method of transmission, were the individuals transmitting known to be liars, cheats, abusers or trustworthy people? Also, as we know, even a story told by the most trustworthy people in a chain of many individuals can come out on the other side of the chain a very different story than when it began.

In order to sort these out, we have to study the event in-depth according to hundreds of other hadiths, Qur’an and Islamic history to determine the outcome. There is no room for “clever slogans”, rash interpretations or assumptions that many deviant Muslims or anti-Islam proponents try to assert. It is why we call the study of hadith, “The Science of Hadith.” It takes serious long term study and every hadith that remotely can speak to a situation must be evaluated in light of each other.

Divisions among Muslims have risen over the existence of volumes of hadith, interpretations of hadith and even ascribed authors or recorders of hadith. Entire schools of thought have been formed and draw on some hadith more than others. The Sunni and Shi’a historical divide has been greatly amplified over the existence and interpretations of hadith.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about hadith is that Qur’an is more authoritative. If there is not a direct Qur’anic reference to cross reference and unequivocally confirm the hadith then the hadith holds less authority.

An example of hadith that would hold a great degree of authority in a valid interpretation of Islam can be seen in the Qur’anic verse that tells Muslims to establish formal prayers. The Qur’an does not tell us how to do that.

“Verily, I am Allah: There is no god but I: So serve thou Me (only), and establish regular prayer for celebrating My praise.” (Qur’an 20:14)

So, we have to refer to hadiths that directly describes the topic in order to learn how. Qur’an makes the mandate, the hadith explains the mandate.

Article by BrJimC © 2016


Mainstream core doctrine. Islam is a 3 Dimensional Religion

Islam means to “surrender ones will or submit” to God. It has a root word in the Arabic which is “S-L-M.” This root word S-L-M is the word for Salaama, meaning “Peace.” So, as a religion called “Islam” it is descriptively called in Arabic, “Of those who surrender to God and gain peace.” The word “Muslim” also has the same root word, S-L-M. So the word Muslim descriptively means “the one who surrenders his/her will to God to gain peace.”

The religion of Islam has 3 dimensions.

  1. Islam – “Submission” to God, implying obedience to His laws and following the acts of worship that are prescribed for Muslims in the Qur’an. Islam tells us what is required of us to obey God as a Muslim, which are described as the “Five Pillars of Islam.” Of these 5 pillars, not obeying them (save the 1st pillar) does not take one out of Islam. It just makes one not a very observant Muslim. Committing sin, minor or major, does not take one out of Islam or make them a non-Muslim, except if it violates the 1st Pillar of Islam.
  2. Iman – Translated as “faith” in God and in his description of the realm of the unseen. These are summed up in 6 basic beliefs.
  3. Ihsan – Translated as “working towards perfection.” This level is attained by the one who lives his or her life as if they are actually standing in the presence of God, like a child when he is in the direct presence of a parent will do everything possible to do good. Ihsan is a level of moral character of the highest caliber in which one has overcome egotistical desires and promptings, such as envy, jealousy, rivalry, deceit, and other characteristics which degrade our moral character.

DIMENSION 1 – ISLAM; The 5 Pillars are:

  1. Shahaddah – Confession of faith. This is the entry point which, through repentance (tauba), makes one a Muslim and the only pillar that if one rejects or alters makes one a non-Muslim. This confession of faith is “I bear witness that there is no god except The One God and Muhammad is the Last (Final) Messenger of God.” (in a line of Prophets and messengers before the Day of Judgment). The statement also implies that God does not have partners or equals, as Qur’an 5:73 states, “Those people who say that God is the third of three are defying the truth: there is only One God.”
  2. Salat – Prayer. 5 daily formal prayers. These are unlike informal prayers (du’a) which are encouraged, but are “formal” prayers with specific recitations and movements that are required at specified times of the day. Muslims believe they have a diret line to communicate with God, so during all forms of Islamic prayer (formal or not) Muslims only pray to God and never pray to, or in the name of, an intermediary such as Mary, Jesus or Muhammad (peace be upon them).
  3. Zakat – Mandatory charity. 2.5% of one’s residual wealth is required to give to the poor or needy. The Mosque or Islamic charity collection institutions cannot benefit from it, 100% of what one gives must go to the poor.
  4. Sawm – Fasting. Fasting for all able bodied persons for the 30 days of Ramadan.
  5. Hajj – Pilgrimage. Making journey to Makkah to pray at least once in one’s lifetime.

DIMENSION 2 – IMAN; The 6 Basic Beliefs are:

  1. Muslims believe that there is one true God, who is the Creator of the Universe(s) and everything in it. The Arabic word for God is Allah, which literally means “the One God” and directly refers to the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). So, God’s name isn’t just a name but very descriptive and exclusive to Himself. Arab Christians also use the word Allah for God. The word Allah, however, unlike the word God, cannot be made plural. Muslims also never attempt to physically portray God.
  2. Muslims believe in the realm of what is called “the Unseen”, which includes the belief in the Angels. Angels are considered another form of creation, who unlike humans do not have the free will to obey or disobey God, but rather, carry out His commands on earth. The Angels are programmed to obey God’s commands or praise God for His greatness. When they are not being commanded they praise God indefinitely. Most famous among the angels is the Angel Gabriel, believed to have brought revelation to the Prophet Muhammad and previous prophets.
  3. Muslims believe that beginning with the first human being, Adam, God sent down prophets and messengers to convey His guidance to the rest of humankind. Muslims believe in many of the same prophets one may find in the Old Testament, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus the Messiah (Christ). Muslims view Jesus as one of the many prophets sent with the same basic monotheistic message, but that he was miraculously born to the Virgin Mary. There is actually an entire chapter in the Qur’an named after Mary which describes his birth and other miracles. Muhammad is of course considered to be the last and final prophet until the Day of Judgment.
  4. Muslims believe that some of these prophets were also messengers in that they received a divinely revealed scripture or book, including the Torah revealed to Moses, the Psalms revealed to David, the Gospel revealed to Jesus, and the Qur’an revealed to Muhammad, may peace be upon them all. The Qur’an confirms much of previous revelation and contains similar stories of prophets, injunction and commands.
  5. Muslims believe that this life is not the final destination for humans, but rather a temporary place that eventually will come to an end, at which point all of us will be brought back to life and held accountable before God for our individual actions in this life. The Day of Judgment is where those whose good acts outweighs their evil will be rewarded with paradise, and those whose evil outweighs their good will be punished with hell. Muslims believe in God’s infinite mercy and justice.
  6. Muslims believe in the “Foreknowledge” of God, called Al-Qadar. This is part of the belief that God is in charge of everything. Mankind has freewill to do good or bad and choose his destiny however,
  • God knows everything, what will happen or has happened;
  • God has recorded all that will happen and has happened;
  • Whatever God wills to happen happens;
  • God is the Creator of everything.

God has created us and knows what decisions we will make given a certain set of circumstances. For a Muslim it basically means that everything that happens to them has a purpose. Since God is in control and not bound by the limitations of time and space, this also gives a Muslim a sense of patience when something bad happens, that it is part of God’s plan, and they should be patient with bad events, prayerful and thankful for good events.

DIMENSION 3 – IHSAN; The characteristics of a Muslim

Muslims are asked to perfect their faith. Ihsan is what makes a Muslim the type of person everyone would want to live in their community.

This involves different levels:

  1. One’s spiritual relationship with God. Ishan improves and refines one spiritually to bring alive the saying of the Prophet Muhammad which is described as “worshipping God as if one sees Him.”
  2. It is the purification of one’s intentions. Good verses bad intentions are extremely important in Islam, and a Muslim should strive constantly to purify his or her intentions.
  3. It is perfecting moral character. One of the main purposes of Islam is the perfection of moral character, especially when interacting with others. This can be summarized by the basic precept of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  4. Part of perfecting moral character is of course avoiding bad deeds and doing good.

One can find the same general precepts of most faiths such as, avoiding such vices as back-biting, lying, cheating, envy, in addition to the major sins such as stealing, killing, etc., and conversely encouragement for such recommended acts or qualities as generosity, kindness, honesty, forbearance, etc. Cultivating such qualities is the true goal of all faiths and is often, unfortunately the greater challenge for adherents to any religion.

In the Islamic community, you will find that Muslims are very generous (sometimes overly) and honest people who don’t drink alcohol, gamble, commit adultery and go through great extent to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing.

The importance of doing good deeds can’t be understated. There are many who are less fortunate, who get themselves in a bad situation or in some other way need our help. While cultivating our inner qualities we could not have Ihsan without helping others whether they be individuals, entire communities or other nations. Law enforcement, as well as firefighters and relief organizations, in the United States (Muslim or not) is devoted to a large part of this aspect of Ihsan in America.

Article by BrJimC © 2016


Core Book. What is the Qur’an?

Al-Qur’an – Literally translates to English as “The Revelation.” To start, it is a poetic work of art. If you listen to the recitation of it’s verses you will quickly discover that.

(Video recitation of Qur’anic Chapter: The Benificent)

It is comprised of “only the words of God” relayed through the angel Gabriel in a “1st person conversation” to the Prophet Muhammad about situations happening “in his lifetime 1424 years ago.” The words of Muhammad are not in the Quran, only the words of God. Muhammad did not write the Quran, nor author it. He was illiterate. He relayed it from the Angel Gabriel who is the angel in charge of relaying God’s many revelations to mankind throughout history (including the Torah of Moses and Gospel of Jesus; probable other faiths as well). As Muhammad relayed it, it was written down by many hundreds of companions and memorized by many thousands more. It was put in its current form 18 years after his death by his personal secretary Zaid ibn Thabit and original copies of that version dating to that time exist in museums today for us to identify that it has been preserved as authorized by the Prophet Muhammad.

For example, if you read your Bible, you may read this verse, Exodus 3:11-12, which says “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” The words of the narrator and of Moses do not count as the words of God. The only words of God here is “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” So, you must learn context to understand the real meaning of this verse or it may be misunderstood.

Likewise the Quran. Historical context isn’t a suggestion, it is “imperative” to learn in order to understand its verses and is not always evident in it because “there is no third party narration” in it’s text. It is not written in the 3rd person as a set of stories like the Bible. It is not a “User’s Manual” for Muslims like you would get with your new TV set. It is “not an instruction book” for every aspect of our lives. It is a guide that we interpret meaning from in order to find a way to live righteous lives using example of the historical context the situations that the Prophet dealt with 1400 years ago. It is subject to a variety of interpretations like any other ancient text because it is an ancient text.

It is our primary authoritative source of understanding Islam and extrapolating information that defines the 5 pillars of our faith (actions of a Muslim), six basic beliefs (beliefs of a Muslim) and us as Muslim people (characteristics of a Muslim; ihsan; working towards perfection).

Article by BrJimC © 2016

In this image, I attempt to show America in peril as the rights and freedoms of Americans and immigrants are enduring with ICE raid across America.

Many years ago, I used to view illegal immigration as a threat.  I believed that all immigrants were Mexicans and they brought violent crime and drugs.  I felt jealous that they were devaluing our wages, stealing our jobs and siphoning our social services without giving anything back.  They were unable to assimilate and learn our language.  They are law breakers who ‘jump the lines’ to immigrate illegally.

Today, I have traveled over 25 countries in the world and have seen similar immigration trends.  In Europe, eastern Europeans (people from the former Soviet bloc) are the main immigrants having this affect. In the Middle East and Asia, South Asians represent a similar population of immigrants.

In regards to the USA, the world immortalizes the liberty, freedom and opportunity that our country stands for.  Many people who live in abstract poverty (or refugees of war) are more than often in a pit of despair and like all immigrants seek a better life than is possible in their home countries.  They don’t leave because they don’t love their country but because they love ours and have to find a better life.  Wouldn’t we consider the same if we were in their situation?

What I have discovered in the US is that not all illegals are Mexican, from Central America or South America.  Many are also still Europeans.  I say ‘still’ because despite what we believe today, America has built it’s country on the ashes of the native Indian who originally inhabited this land.  They may have allowed the first colony at Plymouth rock to live instead of starving to death, as they certainly would have, but they did not have any desire to allow immigration from Europe at the expense of their own survival and well being.

Contrary to political rhetoric by Republicans the violent crime rate is lower among immigrants and immigrant crime is more commonly property crimes whereas violent crime among American citizens is double.  Of all crime tallied, immigrant crime has little impact on statistics.

It is true that illegal immigration devalues our wages, however they do not siphon our social services.  Immigrants do not steal our jobs either.  A large number of illegal immigrants are not ‘jumping’ the queue either, because there are laws in place and a path to citizenship for them called the DREAM Act.  Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t secure our borders but the problem is much bigger than that family that seeks to lift themselves out of poverty and enjoy greater freedom or ability for ICE to enforce the law.  The larger problem and the solution of illegal immigration lies in big businesses who employ them and with you, the American consumer.  Americans expect cheap products, food and consumer goods.  Businesses expect to meet bottom lines and increase shareholder earnings.  The government expects to grow the economy to keep you happy and congressional leaders can get (re)elected. None of these goals can be achieved by paying $7.25/hr (or the proposed $15/hr) minimum wage.  Instead, illegal immigrants, due to the fact that they are illegal, accept lower earnings.  The cost savings businesses pass on to you, the consumer, and you are happy to buy cheaper locally produced products.  The moment they become citizens, they are required by law to receive a minimum wage and the cost goes up and you will see it at the supermarket.  Legal immigration to the US, if you are not a refugee, asylum seeker or have family ties, requires a college degree and employment.  These are not the type of people who will work in a field picking strawberries for less than minimum wage.  Businesses, the economy and the American consumer are dependent on low skilled labor.

It’s also true that many illegal immigrants do not learn the English language proficiently.  However, this is a non-issue in my view.  I have seen many countries that have many ‘official’ languages and the language barrier is not an issue.  It is their kids that learn English well and help them conduct business and social interactions.  America has always had strong Spanish, French and English roots.  English is our common language and people should be encouraged to learn it, but not doing so is not a deal breaker or a threat to our society.  Americans are spoiled in the world and are one of the few countries where most citizens do not speak more than one language.  In an ever shrinking world, us Americans need to begin to learn more than one language proficiently.  I suggest Mandarin and Spanish, because China is the next global economic superpower, and Spanish because a huge number of our citizens are of Spanish speaking origin.  Spanish is also one of the romance languages that encompasses a large portion of Europe (including French).

Contrary to what the Republican layperson believes, illegal immigrants DO have constitutional rights.  One of those rights that is currently being abandoned by ICE is the right to a hearing.

Lastly, there is the humanitarian angle.  ICE raids across the nation have terrorized immigrants who are DREAMers, those who are by law able to remain in the US and seek the path to citizenship.  To go further, families whose children are legal and parents are not should never be split up.  The US citizen children have the right not just to remain in their country but also the humanitarian right to be with their parents.  Deporting them and requiring them to apply for citizenship on this basis is callous, unjust and leaves part of the family in abject poverty.  After deportation to a country they left because of poverty they will not likely to be able to afford the process.  It is unnecessary, cruel and likely to cost US citizens money that will be sent out of the country to support them.  These situations amplify the case for a path to citizenship while remaining with their family in the US.

Since World War II, the United States has been a beacon of hope for people around the world.  We have been viewed as the model system of government that people aspire to adopt.  Our liberty, freedom and opportunity has been legendary.  It is all changing with the new wave of white nationalist populism in the US. What the people of the world are seeing (and I have spoken to some), what they are talking about is not how wonderful America is, that shining beacon on a hill, but how wonderful it was and what it is becoming.  What they see, what we are showing them, is that we seem to have adopted the keen desire to be like other regimes who end up repressing their citizens (and others), a great nation that has become closed off, walled off, fearful, terrorizing, a once great beacon of liberty on top of a hill now happy to be reducing itself to be a fortified citadel happy to rest itself in the valley with the rest of the nations not known for their greatness.

I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: The first of men (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgment Seat). Allah will make him recount His blessings (i. e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allah say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought that you might be called a” brave warrior”. And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell.

(Sahih Muslim Book #020, Hadith #4688)

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

Qur’an 4:135 “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.”

 James Coates had learned of a plot involving the WhyIslam-Houston Media ‘in-charge’ and producer of ‘Ïslamic Perspectives’ cable public access television show (Kobie Williams) and the ICNA Relief-Houston ‘in-charge’ and general Whyislam associate (Adnan Mirza) to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight against US and coalition forces along-side of local insurgents as well as to send money to the Taliban via their families using local clinic in Pakistan.

James and his family had been living in Houston since 1998 and became an active part of the local Muslim community.  He participated in organizing community events, fundraisers and community outreach and soon became a leader among his peers.  Shortly after the tragedy of 9/11, James met Kobie Williams, now one of the defendants in the Houston Taliban case during one of these community events. They quickly became friends and worked on outreach projects together for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

On the way back from a holiday camping trip to Big Bend National Park around 2002, James and Kobie were stopped by US Customs and Border Patrol as part of a routine border check.  The border patrol noticed a copy of the Qur’an on the dashboard of the car and performed a detailed check of their vehicle where they noticed firearms (legal) which belonged to the men.  Therefore, due to the heightened security issues at the time they notified the local FBI field office.

The FBI visited both James and Kobie to inquire about their activities during the camping trip at Big Bend.  James assured the FBI that there was no use of the firearms and that it had been an innocent camping trip.  This was accepted by the FBI.  After that time, the FBI periodically called on James, due to his interaction with the community to see if there is anything of concern in which they should be aware.

When the FBI made contact with Kobie at his home, he initially shut the door in their face.  James encouraged Kobie to cooperate with the FBI as it was causing a lot of undue suspicion as they had not been doing anything illegal.  Whereas, Kobie and his wife opposed cooperation with the federal government in any capacity and in fact had demanded to be formally interviewed with a lawyer present about the Big Bend incident.

Several months later at one of their regular WhyIslam planning meetings, James and Kobie discussed general topics about the WhyIslam campaign as they had done ever since the following months after the September 11, 2001 attacks when the group was formed.  After the agenda was discussed, as often, they began to talk about non-related and more personal topics.  Kobie took the conversation into a new direction as he mentioned that he hatched a plan to go to Iraq to join insurgents in the fight against US and coalition forces.  He stated that he felt that this was part of his Islamic duty to defend Muslims from US aggression.

A few weeks later at another Whyislam meeting, this time with Adnan Mirza attending, Kobie and Adnan brought up the topic again.  This was the first time James realized they had spoken among themselves privately prior to the meeting and the plan had developed further.  Kobie had asked Adnan for help in making contacts in Canada that may help with a stay over prior to traveling to the Middle East and eventually on to Iraq, ideas of where to go, who to meet and ideas for how to train.  The stop-over in Canada was intended to help avoid travel suspicions by US authorities.  Adnan began engaging in the conversation with ideas to use ICNA Relief, which Adnan had control over in Houston, as a possible reason for travel and made contacts in Canada for Kobie who eventually did travel to Canada to meet them.

That night James discussed with his wife as to how serious the conversation had become and the implications of ignoring it.  If it was ignored and something did happen, he and his wife were concerned about the possibility of the government shutting down ICNA and WhyIslam if it came to light that this was done using ICNA via ICNA Relief or WhyIslam as a cover to do it or as a recruitment tool.  It would jeopardize ICNA’s future in the US and the plight of all Muslims in the greater Houston area.  It would jeopardize the very people and organizations that James had worked very hard to defend and advocate for in the media when difficult times came as a result of extremist Muslims actions (such as Al Qaida and the Taliban) worldwide.  Groups like Holy Land Foundation and others have been shut down entirely for alleged links to terror groups even though the allegations seemed convoluted at the time.  James was also concerned that if they had succeeded in getting to Iraq or Afghanistan they would have been drawn into the conflicts that were flaring up there and ultimately killing fellow Muslims or other innocent people.

James considered going to the ICNA leadership with his concerns, but was convinced based on previous experience with ICNA’s leadership that the situation would not be able to be handled from within the organization and it would simply cause the activity to go further underground. [See Note A]

Since 2002, prior to even first contact with the FBI, James spent countless hours trying to convince Adnan and Kobie that the Taliban were not good people, distorted Islam and were bad for the population of Afghanistan.  It became clear that the two were determined to support the Taliban with discussions often well into the early hours of the morning after regular Whyislam meetings.

Now the two had become disillusioned with the war in Iraq and soon began discussing their intention to go to Iraq to join insurgents in the fight against US and coalition forces. James knew the discussion to try to deter Kobie and Adnan from joining insurgents would be a pointless exercise and cause suspicion now that the two were talking about participating in armed jihad in Iraq and also sending money to support the cause in Afghanistan.

James deliberated for two months after Kobie mentioned his intention to go to Iraq. James considered Islamic and practical justifications for bringing the matter to the attention of the FBI and came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to go away without external help.  The next time James met with the FBI he mentioned it thinking that the FBI would talk to them about it and it would discourage them from taking it any further and endangering the entire community.

The FBI became keenly interested in it but could not get anyone in place in time for Kobie’s visit to Canada. There wasn’t time to interview them because Kobie had acted on his plan by securing tickets.  The FBI scheduled more interviews with James thereafter.  James was encouraged to assist with the investigation, promising that his name would not be released publicly which would destroy his local Islamic work and credibility with the community.  As he got more deeply involved and his FBI case handlers changed it turned out it was a promise that later would not be kept.

Kobie and Adnan continued having discussions among themselves often only informing James afterwards, typically revealing more details during WhyIslam meetings when the whole group would discuss Whyislam matters.  It became apparent that the plan had morphed from Kobie going to Iraq on his own to one where he would put together a Jamaat (group) instead.  They were concerned that they needed to learn to fight prior to leaving and in the meantime they decided that they could help in the cause by sending money to insurgents.  Since James owned and was experienced with firearms from years of hunting trips they decided that they would task him with conducting weapons training camps.  Adnan was tasked by Kobie to recruit additional members and send money to insurgents through the contacts he claimed that he had.

The group arranged to use a property partially owned by the Islamic Society of Greater Houston who were not aware of the group’s plans.  The training camp had a written agenda and was called the Khalid bin Waleed Camp, after a renowned figure in Islamic history Kobie had read about.

The group initially discussed traveling to Iraq and financially supporting Iraq insurgents through Adnan’s contacts in Kuwait.  After Adnan had determined that it was too dangerous to go through his Kuwait contacts, instead he decided to research the options for Afghanistan.

The group discussed recruiting a few trusted people for the purpose of going on armed jihad against US forces using word of mouth and the WhyIslam telephone campaign that Adnan had been maintaining for the Texas area.

An undercover FBI agent was then introduced to the group as a potential member.   Kobie and Adnan were deeply committed to fighting abroad did not show any signs of changing their mind, so James felt bound to continue to assist in the investigation.

Kobie and Adnan also went to a number of local scholars to see if they would act as spiritual support for the group including the ICNA Whyislam Coordinator West, Northwest Chapter (name withheld) and an Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH) scholar at the Mission Bend Mosque.  Although there may have been some sympathy for the plight of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan under occupation by the US, the scholars refused to be involved.

Approximately five combat training camps were held over the course of the year.  Attendees paid for supplies to attend and sometimes brought their own weapons.   Many people invited by Adnan attended the camps and practiced firearms training, but only two others were actually recruited by Adnan (and subsequently held to charges in connection with intent to violate federal laws).

With the evidence from the training camps and recorded conversations between Adnan, Kobie and the others in late 2006 the FBI had enough evidence to move forward with arrests.  The total number of people arrested were four including Adnan and Kobie.

One of the four was a young man recruited by Adnan into the group that James had tried hard to dissuade Adnan from recruiting him into the group due to his youth and James’ friendship with the family. However, Adnan insisted on bringing him in.

Ultimately, Kobie Williams plead guilty to the charges, while Adnan Mirza and his family claimed that he was entrapped.  All of the juries (and Kobie’s admission) in connection with the cases rejected the entrapment defence.

In an interview by Adnan Mirza from prison with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, he used his charity work to justify his claim of innocence and garner public sympathy. He further claimed that he was merely going hunting.  He went on to claim that he believes that he has been defrauded by Kobie.  He digresses further to state that he believes Kobie has an intellectual disability and should be diagnosed as having Aspergers or High Functioning Autism.  Adnan is not qualified to make such claims and Kobie is not mentally handicapped.  His claim is dubious at best.  Adnan also blames poor public defending on behalf of his counsel, but he has changed lawyers numerous times and is currently serving fifteen years because he would not accept a plea deal.  All of the other defendants have served their time and have been released.

A campaign by supporters of Adnan Mirza within ICNA has encouraged the leadership to ban James’ account, BrJimC, from the website forum where he spent years defending and promoting Islamic topics.  He also served as a moderator at the forum for some time.  Other members (Muslim and non-Muslim) who supported James during this event and people who since discussed the topic on the website have since been banned by the ICNA National Shurah Council in conjunction with the website’s Shurah Council that governs the administration of the website.  Many others have quit the forum in disgust.

A new position of “Forum Cop” has since been created in the wake of these events and members have reported a heavy hand against people who defended James during the organization’s crisis.  The website forum has since archived all of the posts leading up to these events and saved them for SEO purposes and can still be found on the website.  One of the easiest to find is the Story of BrJimC which lists first on google in a search for “Whyislam BrJimC”.

ICNA continues to condemn terrorism. However, as a result of his involvement in bringing this plot to the authorities, ICNA-National in consultation with ICNA’s Houston chapter expelled James from membership in the organization and all of the organization’s community services.

The plot topic and what happened to BrJimC is still a banned topic on their forums.

James maintains that these were not evil individuals and were at one time his friends who he liked and respected very much.  However, James felt very strongly that what they were doing was misguided and would put not only themselves into danger but other Muslims and perhaps non-Muslims as well.  James remains a committed follower of Islam and supporter of his local community.

Note A:  As an example, on an earlier occasion, James organized an event on behalf of ICNA Relief-Houston and WhyIslam-Houston to raise funds for a joint project to purchase property in the Third Ward area along side of the I-45/US 288 freeways.  The property was to dub as a soup kitchen for ICNA Relief-Houston and WhyIslam dawah activities.  It would also build and house a large WhyIslam campaign billboard seen by the highway.  At the fundraiser, Imam Siraj Wahaj was brought in to support the event that would be a grand effort to help local non-Muslims as well as the local Islamic community.  The event raised roughly $67,000 from local Muslims.  Soon afterwards, the money disappeared and the organizers learned that the person handling finances (Manzoor… lastname omitted) had stolen the money and sent it to one of his businesses in Pakistan.  After some many months, James had pushed the ICNA Houston chapter leadership to take the matter to the police and/or FBI.  Incredible effort was made and eventually the President of ICNA Houston (Abu Ahmad Hanif Harris) did go to the local FBI office with James to discuss how to proceed with such a case.  The decision was made by the ICNA-Houston Board of Directors that the President of ICNA Houston would not press criminal charges and involve the authorities.  Instead, they would try to beg the individual for the money back.  After some months, the individual agreed.  Instead of taking the money out of Pakistan, the individual used ICNA’s name (unauthorized) to go to many ISGH Mosques and raise money from them and individuals, under false pretence, claiming it was for a new ICNA Relief project.  He used this money to repay his personal debt to ICNA’s Houston chapter.  It was after this debt was repayed that the ICNA Relief/Whyislam joint effort was able to purchase the two properties on the I-45/US 288 corridor where they planned to eventually build what they named the “Charles Freeman Center” which would house the soup kitchen, ICNA Relief and Whyislam dawah projects.


“You shall strive for the cause of GOD as you should strive for His cause. He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in practicing your religion – the religion of your father Abraham…” Quran 22:78

Sahih Bukhari

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights.” (See Fath-ul-Bari, Page 102, Vol 1).

Sahih Bukhari

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said: “The deeds of anyone of you will not save you.” They said, “Even you, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).”

Sahih Bukhari 

Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As, God Told Mohammed :

You are neither hard-hearted nor of fierce character, nor one who shouts in the markets. You do not return evil for evil, but excuse and forgive. – Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 362

Sahih Muslim

“Extremists are fanatic zealots who exceed bounds in words and deeds” and “bigots” [Imam Al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim (16:220 and 7:214)].