Posts Tagged ‘light’

“Oh God! If you save me I will work for you.”

~ Exclaimed Cat Stevens when his leisurely swim off the coast of Malibu turned into a nightmare. He was busy drowning.

21 of July 1948, Steven Demetre Georgiou who would later be known by his stage name Cat Stevens was born to a Greek Orthodox father and Swedish Baptist mother. “I was born to a Christian family which revered money and I did the same, I felt in admiration for singers to the extent that I made of them my supreme god , then decided to become one of them. I ended up becoming one of the biggest Pop stars, and media made of me an icon, bigger than life itself and will live forever.” He said.

Cat Stevens is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, and philanthropist. He had been a pop star since his teens. Under the name “Cat Stevens”, he has sold over 60 million albums around the world since the late 1960s. The world famous British pop singer used to earn sometimes more than $ 150 000 a night. Cat Stevens had everything most people aspire to achieve: fame, talent, wealth, good looks, and strong magnetism towards the opposite sex, yet he felt something was seriously missing. Living a fast-moving pop-star life, Stevens for once, received a call to spiritual awakening.  He became very ill with tuberculosis and a collapsed lung. Consequently, Cat Stevens got hospitalized for a long period, an experience that made him search for the meaning of life.

In 1976, Stevens received yet another call to spiritual awakening. This time, at the coast of Malibu, California, where he nearly drowned. He shouted in the bid to conform with the constant calls, “Oh God! If you save me I will work for you.” This near-death experience intensified his long-held quest for spiritual truth. Cat Stevens had looked into other spiritual formulas including Buddhism, Zen, and I Ching, Numerology, Tarot cards and Astrology. He writes:

My quest for truth continued in parallel with my artistic career, till the day when a friend of mine who came back from a trip in the East told me that he found serenity inside a mosque which he didn’t in a church, which led me to shift my interest to that religion and bought a translated Koran. At last I found answers to my questions: Who I am? Where I come from? And what is my goal in Life? Through my several readings of this holy book, I concluded that there is only one God with whom we can communicate directly without any interference.

It was the Qur’an that gave him the peace he was searching as he says, “. . . I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur’an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) we will be successful.”

He further states:

Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur’an; it asks you to reflect and reason….When I read the Qur’an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt the only answer for me was the Qur’an and God had sent it to me.

He formally reverted to the Islamic faith in 1977, and took the name Yusuf Islam in 1978. After reverting to Islam, Yusuf Islam denounced his pop career calling music un-Islamic, auctioning his guitars and gold records and used the proceeds for Islamic charities. He even urged record companies to stop stocking his music, some of which he viewed as “immoral”. Talking about the need for dropping out of music, he said, “. . .  I had another agenda to fulfill; I had to learn my faith and look after my family, and I had to make priorities.”

Estimating in January 2007 that he continues to earn approximately $1.5 million USD a year from his Cat Stevens music, he decided to use his accumulated wealth and continuing earnings from his music career on philanthropic and educational causes in the Muslim community of London and elsewhere such as supporting orphans in Bosnia. In 1982, he and other concerned Muslims were troubled to see their children not getting proper Islamic education in Britain. Hence they founded the Islamia Schools’ Trust, a registered British charity which led to the opening of a Muslim primary school in London the following year and secondary schools later.

Yusuf Islam was famed for publicly endorsing the death sentence issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie in February 1989. “Salman Rushdie, indeed any writer who abuses the Prophet or indeed any Prophet under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death,” he said at the time, stating the punishment for blasphemers required under Islamic law.  Showing that blasphemy is a capital offense according to God’s standards, he said; “If you ask a Bible student to quote the legal punishment of a person who commits blasphemy in the Bible, he would be dishonest if he didn’t mention Leviticus 24:16.” The verse reads: “And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.”

Yusuf Islam has been given several awards including 2004 Man for Peace Award presented by Mikhail Gorbachev for his dedication to promote peace, the reconciliation of people and to condemn terrorism; (2005), Honorary Doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire for services to education and humanitarian relief; (2007), The Mediterranean Prize for Peace in Naples, Italy; Honorary Doctorate (LLD) by the University of Exeter (10 July 2007), in recognition of his humanitarian work and improving understanding between Islamic and Western cultures.

He lives with his wife, Fauzia Mubarak Ali, and five children in Brondesbury Park, London and spends part of each year in Dubai. In response to those who take black-sheep’s of Islam as the benchmark for its truth, Yusuf Islam said:

It will be wrong to judge Islam in the light of the behavior of some bad Muslims who are always shown on the media. It is like judging a car as a bad one if the driver of the car is drunk and he bangs it into the wall. Islam guides all human beings in the daily life – in its spiritual, mental and physical dimensions. But we must find the sources of these instructions, the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet. Then we can see the ideal of Islam.

Websites:

www.mountainoflight.co.uk

www.yusufislam.com

www.yusufislam.org.uk.

Contact Information:

Mailing address

2 Digswell Street,

London N7 8JX,

United Kingdom.

 

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{Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant”. Buy the eBook  for $1.9 and the paperback for $9. Just click here to buy the book}

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Buy Ebook Smart

[References: Islam, Yusuf. “My Journey from Cat Stevens to Yusuf Islam.” Mountain of Light, 2001; Islam, Yusuf.  “Questions for Yusuf Islam.” By Deborah Solomon. The New York Times 7 Jan. 2007; Craig R. Whitney. “Cat Stevens Gives Support To Call for Death of Rushdie.” The New York Times May 22, 1989; Brown, George. Cat Stevens: The Complete Illustrated Biography & Discography. George Brown, 2006; Islam, Yusuf. “Yusuf Islam.” an interview by Nigel Williamson. Billboard magazine 25 Nov. 2006; Paphides, Pete. “Notions of Islam.” The Times 6 July 2007; “Cat Stevens-one man, two identities.” The Sydney Morning Herald 24 Sept. 2004; Schwartz, Stephen. “Why Yusuf Islam was turned away from the United States.” The Weekly Standard.  22 Sept. 2004; “Cat Stevens becomes Yusuf Islam.” video.google.com 16 Feb 2006. <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6157965900354777626&gt;;”Prince goes pop to praise school.” bbc.co.uk 10 May, 2000. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/743894.stm>%5D

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“The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter—it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

~ Mark Twain, Letter to George Bainton

 

Just as the best manual to operate the Nokia phone should be made by the Nokia Company and not ShoeLace Company similarly the best manual for man should be from the Creator of Man and not “We the People”. It is common knowledge that God communicates through revelation sent to His chosen Messengers. From God’s Scriptures is where man gets all the answers to the dilemmas of life.

The person who uses his intelligence will undoubtedly affirm that man is naturally greedy and selfish. In his book, Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes described man as cruel, greedy, and selfish, and if not caged, they would fight, rob, and trouble each other.[1]An intelligent person knows that man can do anything to serve his personal interests. Man is a potential anything. Man is a potential truthful person, man is also a potential liar. Anyone can be anything. That man you respect and trust could one day be a thief, a liar, corrupt, rapist . . . . Immanuel Kant, the German writer and philosopher echoes the same thoughts by saying: “Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild.” Therefore, a smart person knows that God’s scripture can be a victim of man’s corruption. Like any other valuable commodity, scripture can be counterfeited. Unless there is divine intervention, man can corrupt the Holy Scripture for reasons best known to this greedy man. If some people can interfere with a country’s constitution to suit their vested interests, it should not be a surprise for the same materialistic people to alter God’s scripture. Placing your salvation on the wrong scripture is like leaning a ladder against the wrong wall, the steps you take, slowly but surely, gets you to hell.

I sometimes feel like crying when I go to a bank and see the teller passing the money given through a Bank Note Detector. Because the same person would go to Church and be given a book called the Bible and without passing it through an authenticity detector, he/she blindly believes it to be a genuine word of God! Sometimes I believe people will go to hell because of double standards. You work hard at work, but you don’t want to work hard in religion. You don’t accept money till you verify its authenticity but you accept scriptures without verification. The way we have genuine and fake notes, we also have genuine word of God and fake scriptures. But the ignorant thinks that religious scriptures can’t be forged by professional counterfeiters such as Satan and his allies. “Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books” Maimonides cautioned long time ago, “for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen.” The one who uses his brains will investigate the scriptures at his reach to verify if the scripture is free from fabrications inserted by corrupt men. How would someone be given a scripture and without careful scrutiny he completely believes in it. The world is a den of evil men. Maybe the righteous are outnumbered by men of evil. Eleven centuries before Thomas Hobbes* told us that “man was cruel, greedy, and selfish”, the Qur’an had already declared: “And truly, most of men are rebellious and disobedient.” [Q 5:48] Maybe the scripture you are reading is in fact a man’s masterpiece and not God’s revelation. The halfwit are those who are unaware that man is capable of committing the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues. The smartest don’t accept any scripture without scrutiny. How wonderful are these words of wisdom echoed by Buddha:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Bart D. Ehrman, a leading scholar of the Bible cogently suggests not to even accept the ilk of the preceding quote without rational evaluation:

In my opinion, people need to use their intelligence to evaluate what they find to be true and untrue in the Bible. This is how we need to live life generally. Everything we hear and see we need to evaluate—whether the inspiring writings of the Bible or the inspiring writings of Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, or George Eliot, of Ghandi, Desmond Tutu, or the Dalai Lama.[2]

We have blindly accepted the scriptures as unchallenged authority without verifying whether the authority is indeed unchallenged or not. “If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?” so said Steven Wright. Right as he was, I take the pleasure to paraphrase that and say, “If a word in the Bible/Qur’an were concocted, how would we know?”

At least the Qur’an doesn’t shield its readers from rational inquiry by mandating people to have the Holy Spirit for them to study it. The Qur’an, without bashfulness, invites men and Jinn to examine and analyze it and probably that is because truth fears no questions. The Qur’an claims to be the word of God and asks mankind to prove it wrong. I am sure you agree that no one is listening until you make a mistake. Now imagine a situation where your college lecturer announces: “In this semester you will never hear any mistake as I lecture, mistakes in facts, grammar, even a mispronunciation . . . notify me if you spot one!” Going with human trend, we should not be surprised to see the students coming in for the lectures with an extra notebook written on it “Mistakes in Lecturer’s Speech”. Anyone knowing  that “human is to err” would be very confident to emerge successfully in such bold challenges. Let me add another example. If at the end of his answer sheet, a student writes: “This answer is perfect. There are no mistakes in it. Find one if you can!” Do you think the teacher marking that paper would take it lightly. No way, he will not sleep until he finds a mistake. He will try to find even a slight mistake such as a spelling mistake. Qur’an challenges men saying, “Do they not consider the Qur´an (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein Much discrepancy.” [Q 4:82]. In other words the Qur’an says if you think that it’s not a God’s revelation; find any faults (discrepancies) in it! To paraphrase that, it would be something similar to, “this Qur’an is a perfect word of God and you will not find even a single mistake in it, prove me wrong by finding any faults (be it contradictions, scientific errors, grammatical errors, false prophesies, linguistic deficiencies, whatever . . . .” The Qur’an has presented itself clean and transparent. Now, with the Bible’s case, are we going to examine it objectively’? Billy Hughes was not objective when he said “when having my portrait painted I don’t want justice, I want mercy.” However, for us to know whether the Bible is the Right Revelation, we should analyze it with the lens of justice not mercy. Truth be told, if we examine the Bible unblinkingly we will agree that love may be blind but Faith has 20/20 vision. For those who would want to rephrase the preceding Qur’anic verse in the context of the Bible, I think it would read something like this: “Do they not consider the Bible (with care)? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found therein Much discrepancy.” I challenge anyone who claims the Bible to be an inerrant word of God to go to the nearby bookshop and buy Bart Ehrman book Jesus, Interrupted. If absence of discrepancy in scripture is a hallmark of divine revelation, then by the time you finish reading Jesus, Interrupted, you will certainly agree that the Bible is not an inerrant word of God.

Muslims acknowledge that the Bible is a mixture of both the true word of God and man’ s corrupted insertions and hence they disdain the Bible because they are extremely cautious of half truths, they don’t want to risk getting hold of the wrong half. And since it is twice as hard to crush a half-truth as a whole lie, the propensity of distancing away from the Bible increases even further. Moreover, Muslims will argue that since the central purpose of life is to worship God, then there is an uncompromising need of using an error-free,100% accurate manual of worshipping God. No one doubts that in the Bible, mankind can extract amazing advise and information but if we go with Thomas Fuller’s adage: “Good is not good where better is expected”, Muslims will evidently show that the Qur’an is a 100% pure, unadultered word of God, and that it should be followed by anyone who has a habit of making smart choices. Let us not be like those men who when in love with a woman’s dimple, they make the mistake of marrying the whole girl but let us only admire the good part of the Bible and refrain from the ugliest segments. “I had started seminary as a born-again fundamentalist,” the Bible scholar Bart Ehrman says, “by the time I graduated (i.e. with master’s of divinity Degree) I was moving toward a liberal form of evangelical Christianity, one that still saw the Bible as conveying important teachings of God to his people, but also as a book filled with human perspectives and mistakes.”[3] This is the intellectual honesty which is fraught and applaudable in Qur’anic text.

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{Excerpted from Salim Boss’ book “They are either Extremely Smart or Extremely Ignorant”. Buy the eBook  for $1.9 and the paperback for $9. Just click here to buy the book}

…………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..     …………..
Buy Ebook Smart

REFERRENCES:


[1]. Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. 1651.

* Thomas Hobbes died in 1679 A.D. By the time Muhammad died in 632 A.D. the Qur’an had been fully revealed.

[2].  Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted. Kindle Edition. HarperCollins e-books, 2009.p.281-282    

[3]. Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Interrupted. Kindle Edition. HarperCollins e-books, 2009.p.16