Professor Jackie Ying


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A Life of Passion, Commitment and Hard Work: Professor Jackie Ying

Jackie Y. Ying is someone whose life defies expectations and stereotypes at every turn. In the largely male-dominated field of scientific research with few prominent Asians or Muslims, Professor Ying is a female, Chinese-Muslim whose work in the field of nanotechnology has earned her accolade after accolade throughout her career, earning her the position of Executive Director of the Institute and Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) under Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) in 2003 and a spot in the list of the 500 Most Influential Muslims, published annually by Jordan’s Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISSC).

Her Work and Achievements

At age 36, Professor Ying became the youngest full Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and two years later became the youngest member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the world’s oldest academy for medicine and natural sciences. In 2008, she earned a place as one of only eight women in a list of 100 Engineers of the Modern Era, compiled by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, honouring individuals who have made significant contributions to the field of engineering.

In 2003, she was handpicked by Philip Yeo, then Chairman of A*Star, to head the newly-formed IBN, where she still serves as Executive-Director. Her laboratory’s research in the field of nanotechnology has applications in biomedical sciences and the environment among others, with research including the creation of an artificial kidney, advanced solar cells and carbon sequestration. Professor Ying is also the Editor-in-Chief of Nano Today, a journal ranked 2nd in the Institute for Scientific Information’s (ISI) Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Professor Ying has 290 articles and 120 patents to her name, and presented more than 330 lectures at international conferences.

Her Life

Despite her prominence in her field and having been interviewed by the media both in Singapore and abroad, Professor Jackie Ying has been tight-lipped about her personal life, never divulging much information about her family, or her conversion to Islam several years ago.

Born in Taiwan, at age 7 Professor Ying came to Singapore, where her father was a lecturer of Chinese Literature at Nanyang University (the current Nanyang Technological University). Her passion for science developed during her teenage years spent both in Singapore, where she studied at Raffles Girls School, and New York, when her teachers instilled in her a love for chemistry.

Mentor and Role Model

Her desire to pass on her passion for science to the younger generation is apparent. Professor Ying credits her mentors at the chemical engineering department at MIT with providing her with invaluable advice and support, and she intends to cultivate this culture of mentorship to the next generation of scientists here in Singapore.

In 2003, IBN established the Youth Research Programme, to give secondary and tertiary level students the chance to experience life in the world of biomedical research through attachments, workshops and lab visits. The Youth Research Programme allows the institute to identify young talents and every year, 200 students are mentored by a researcher under the programme, with many keeping in touch with their mentors.

Professor Ying has spoken at Transformations, a forum organised by Mendaki on individual, familial, organisational and societal change, and the Young Muslims Scientist Seminar, organised by The W.R.I.T.E. Club, an initiative under Masjid Al-Istiqamah. She has also spoken at Creating a Nanotechnology Toolbox, a talk organised by the National University of Singapore Muslim Society (NUSMS), on nanotechnology as well as her experience in the field of research as a Muslim academic.

Professor Ying is also one of the mentors under Mendaki’s Project Protégé, mentoring and inspiring Muslim youth wanting to go into the field of science, and giving them the opportunity to immerse themselves in a research project carried out at her laboratory.

Passion and Hard Work

All of the above is just scratching at the surface of Professor Jackie Y. Ying’s life and work. With Professor Ying herself acknowledging that she puts in 70-80 hours a week at what she does, she is a living testament to the need to have both passion and a commitment to hard work when pursuing one’s goals. Professor Ying is an inspiration, not just to women or Muslims, but all people regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender or nationality.

The youngest Arab doctor


Graduating from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q), 20-year-old Iqbal El-Assaad is possibly the youngest Arab doctor ever.

Mohammed Yahia

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Iqbal El-Assaad is the youngest medical doctor to graduate from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) in its ten-year history. When Iqbal was a toddler, she learnt algebra by watching her older siblings study. Before El-Assaad’s fifth birthday, her favourite pastimes were reading books and solving mathematical problems.

Following her graduation, Nature Middle East spoke to Iqbal about what it’s like to be a 20-year old medical doctor and hear what she plans for the future.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?

I made the decision to be a doctor myself when I was 12 years old. Growing up as a Palestinian living in Lebanon, I saw much suffering among my people since the Palestinians in Lebanon did not have health insurance.

My family and I visited the camps and saw how harsh the conditions there were. I saw many parents who see their children suffering but they can’t help them because they don’t have the money to do that. These visits to the camps made me feel that it is my responsibility to study medicine and try to help these people. Many of them cannot even afford the medication they need.

What role did your family play in your decision to pursue medical school?

I am the youngest among my siblings and my father first noticed when I was two-and-a-half years old that I was keen to learn when he was teaching my brothers. For my dad, education is always number one – especially for a girl. He always said that the boys will eventually find work but education is a girl’s weapon in the future. We grew up on this idea and my dad always encouraged me that if I have a dream I want to pursue, my parents would always help me.

I went to a private school in Lebanon that was based on the Lebanese curriculum, not an American school. After paying my tuition for the first two years, the principal of the school gave me a full scholarship. I used to skip grades and I was always the youngest person in my class.

I graduated from high school when I was 12 and Khaled Abany, who was then the education minister in Lebanon, honoured me as the youngest student to ever finish high school. I told him that I dreamt of being a doctor and he promised to try to secure a scholarship for me. The next day he contacted Sheikha Mozah [the Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development] and she promised me a full scholarship to study at WCMC-Q.

Was it challenging being the youngest student in college?

The toughest time was when I first arrived in Qatar. I felt a lot of pressure because Qatar Foundation had given me the full scholarship without any tests. So I wanted to prove myself and prove that I was up to the trust people put in me.

The Lebanese education system prepares you very well for college so in terms of science and maths I found I was very well prepared.

I grew up with students who were always older than me so I am used to dealing with older people and I am mature enough to work with them. I always liked to study with friends in school and that carried on in college. This interaction has helped improve my way of thinking so that eventually people don’t even notice there is an age difference.

What is your next step now after graduation?

I am leaving soon for a three-year residency at the Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. After that I want to apply for a fellowship in paediatric cardiology, which will take three more years. I then want to come back to the Middle East and work between Qatar and Lebanon – to pay Qatar back. They have been sponsoring me for the past six years. I also want to go back to Lebanon to help my Palestinian people because they are the main inspiration for me to be a doctor and I would like to fulfil my childhood dream to make a difference to their lives.

Why paediatrics?

I can’t say exactly why, but I just love it. In our third year in college I found I was really happy to be able to help little kids. I also see the hardship of Palestinian children living in camps in Lebanon and that is part of the reason why I want to pursue paediatrics

Are you interested in doing any research?

I definitely want to pursue research. I did research during the summer of my second year and I fell in love with it. I even published at that time and was involved in two other studies. I really like the idea of discovering something new.

I hope in the future I can join an academic health centre where I can treat patients and also work in research.

What advice would you have to young people who would pursue medicine?

The only advice I would have is for students to study hard and make use of the opportunities in Qatar. Having world-class universities here in the Middle East is beyond imagination. This is the most important stage in their lives and they have to work for it.

For premed students, enjoy your lives now! It is a good time especially if you have good friends and it is not really too hard so you can get the best of both worlds.

Source : http://www.nature.com

Umar ibn al Khattab among the most influential people in history


Michael H. Hart wrote a book entitled “THE 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” in 1978. Several other authors have written similar books but this still remains a distinguished book in it’s category. The book is thought provoking and encourages the reader to see history from different perspectives.

He chose Prophet Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons which was surprising to many people. He said he chose Muhammad because he was the only person in the history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. Michael Hart went on to count the traits and qualities of Prophet Muhammad and his overall impact on human history and arrived at the conclusion that Prophet Muhammad should be the number one person in the filed of 100 influential persons in human history.

Another surprise to many people was Michael Hart’s choice of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab among the 100 influential persons, whom he not only included among these 100 persons but also put him as number two on the second half (51 to 100) of his choice. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab is 52nd on the list. He ranked him higher than such famous men as Charlemagne and Julius Caesar. He further says that Umar’s brilliant leadership was responsible for the expansion of the Islamic territory and the enormous extent that it did occur under him. He further says that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab ordered the Muslim armies to leave the natives of the conquered land in peace and ordered the military personnel not to force the natives to convert to Islam.

In the parenthesis Michael put his note, “From the above, it is clear that the Arab conquest was more a nationalist war of conquest rather than a holy war, although the religious aspect was not lacking”. Michael Hart further says that Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s achievements are impressive and it would be a grave mistake to ignore his contributions to humanity. It should be noted that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab’s brilliant leadership was responsible for permanence of the territories that came under the Islamic role at that time and are still part of the Islamic world today.

Umar Ibn Al-Khattab is a pioneering figure in the Islamic world. He was a leader, a statesman, a pious and God conscious Muslim who showed respect for all individuals including non-Muslims and he ordered the Muslims to treat non-Muslims with respect. He showed us how to apply the Quranic injunction “there is no compulsion in religion.”

Under the leadership of Umar ibn Al-Khattab Islam spread widely not by the sword but by virtue of its beauty, simplicity, transparency, openness and the leadership provided by him. Another reason for the rapid growth of Muslim community was the conversion of some high-placed religious personalities from among the Jewish and the Christian communities. These religious personalities saw Islam as a continuation and affirmation of the Abrahamic faith. Ardkun, the Bishop of Damascus, accepted Islam after the Islamic armies entered the city under Khalid bin Walid. The followers of Ardkun became attracted towards the new faith and became Muslim. The chief administrator of the city of Shata in Egypt, famous for its textiles manufacturing, left his town with two thousand men and went to city of Damietta where the Muslim army was camped and embraced Islam with his followers.

During the time of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the non-Muslims enjoyed freedom of religion. They were free to perform their religious rites, ring bells to start their religious ceremonies, take out the Cross in procession and hold religious fairs. Even treaties were signed during the time of Umar ibn Al-Khattab with non-Muslims that guaranteed freedom of religion. The writ of Hudhaifa bin al-Yaman to people of the region of Mahdinar says, “They shall not be required to change their religion, nor shall any interference be made in their religious practices.”

Umar ibn Al-Khattab followed the principle of equality very strictly and would not tolerate any kind of distinction. Once, Umar ibn Al-Khattab had a difference of opinion with Ubayy bin Ka’b. The matter was referred and brought in the court of Qazi Zaid bin Thabit. When Umar ibn Al-Khattab arrived at the court the Qazi, Zaid bin Thabit, vacated his seat out of respect for the Khalifah. Umar ibn Al-Khattab, after observing the situation, said that this was the first injustice Zaid has done to the suit. Then he sat down next to Ubayy, his opponent.

Umar ibn Al-Khattab always favored individual freedom and self-respect. By word of mouth and through his writings he made it very clear that every human being was born free and no one should have to abase himself in front of others. Once, the son of Amr bin As abused and beat up a Copt Christian; on hearing this Umar ibn Al-Khattab had son of Amr punished publicly by the hand of the victim Copt Christian. Then Umar ibn Al-Khattab addressed both father and son and said, “Since when have you turned men into slaves, whereas they are born free of their mothers?”

The people of many cultures who accepted Islam faced new challenges. More complex questions regarding the Islamic way of life cropped up at the same time. Many of the questions could not be answered because clear rulings of the Holy Prophet or the Holy Qur’an were not available. The Qadis and Muftis appointed in towns and cities were Companions of the Prophet, yet they referred complicated questions to the Khalifah. The famous Sahabis who referred the question to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab are Abdullah bin Ma’sud, Ammar bin Yasar, Abu Musa Ash’ari, Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah, Mughira bin Shuba and others. Umar ibn Al-Khattab gave his judgment after discussing these questions in the assembly of the companions. The discussions were conducted with the greatest freedom and acumen. Shah Wali-Ullah writes in Hujjatullah al-Baligha, “It was Umar’s practice to consult the companions and hold discussions with them, until the veils were lifted and conviction was attained. For this reason Umar’s dicta were accepted throughout the East and the West.”

It is said that his writings, his letters and official instructions were as powerful as his speeches. In a letter to Abu Musa Ash’ari he wrote, “People generally hate their ruler, and I seek protection of Allah, if my people should entertain similar feelings about me. Avoid vain suspicions and keep away from malice, and don not encourage people of cherish vain hopes, and be careful of Allah’s property, and guard yourself against evil men. If you find any people who are vindictively inclined towards the Muslim state, it is devilish inclination and must be put down by the sword, until they bow to Allah’s decision and turn to better ways”

In another letter to Abu Musa Ash’ari he said, “The thing that strengthens one in execution of work and that one should not procrastinate; for if you do so, your affairs will heap up and overwhelm you and you will not then be able to decide what to do and what not to do, and you will fail in your work.”

Umr Ibn Al-Khattab appointed Amr bin Al-As as the Governor of Egypt. Amr bin Al-As delayed remitting the revenue to the treasury. Umar ibn Al-Khattab wrote to him and reminded about the delay. Amr bin Al-As procrastinated. Umar ibn Al-Khattab sent him a strong letter, he wrote, “I understand that the thing that has kept you from replying is the fact that your subordinates are not good. They have made you a shield, and it is a disease for which I possess an effective remedy. I am surprised that I have written to you often and at length, but you neglected sending the revenue and have avoided giving straight answers. So Abu, Abdullah, don’t worry. Due shall be taken from you and you shall pay them, for as the river yields pearls, so will you have to render the dues.”

Umar ibn Al-Khattab used to end his speeches with following statement: “O God, let me not fall into an error, nor let me be called to account on unawares, nor let me fall into neglect.”

Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s actions speak louder about his character, his integrity and his love for the people in the Muslim state. He made rounds at night to gauge and evaluate the condition of the people. His achievements are reflection of his life.

Sayings of Umar ibn Al-Khattab:

Umar ibn Al-Khattab always had a sound opinion, which made him a very powerful leader who expected higher degree of integrity from the people working with him during his Khilafate. Some of his wise sayings are quoted here:

  • One who keeps his own counsel keeps his affairs in his own hand.
  • Fear him whom you hate.
  • The wisest man is he who can account for his actions.
  • Do not put off today’s work till tomorrow.
  • What regresses never progresses?
  • He who does not know evil will fall into it.
  • When a man asks me a question, I know his intelligence.
  • Don’t forget your own self while preaching to others.
  • The less of the world, the freer you live.
  • Avoidance of sin is lighter than the pain of remorse.
  • If patience and gratitude had been two she camels, it would have mattered little on which I rode. May God have mercy on him who sends me my faults for a present!
  • During his Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, Umar ibn Al-Khattab heard one of the camel drivers singing. People asked Umar ibn Al-Khattab as to why he did not stop the camel driver from singing. Umar ibn Al-Khattab replied, “Music was the camel driver’s provision for a journey.”

Some of the Achievements of Umar ibn Al-Khattab:

Umar ibn Al-Khattab established many institutions in the Islamic state’s administration. Historians have called his reforms as innovations. The achievements of Umar ibn Al-Khattab are numerous. The most important achievements are listed below:

  • Umar ibn Al-Khattab established the public treasury: Bait-ul-Mal
  • Established courts of justice and appointed judges.
  • Proposed and enforced use of the era of Hijra.
  • Assumed the title of Amir-ul-Mu’minin.
  • To engage the anti-Islamic forces he organized and established the War Department.
  • Placed army reserves on the pay-roll. In addition to this, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab improved the army administration by providing every army corps with an officer of the treasury, an accountant, and number of interpreters, physicians and surgeons. He instructed the army commanders to submit accounts of war expenditures and list of the spoils of war. Historical records show that in 16 Hijri Ziyad bin Abi Sufyan came from city of Jalula Ð after its conquest – and brought with him the records of the accounts to Madinah and submitted them for Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s perusal and review.
  • Established Land Revenue Department, ordered survey and assessment of lands and also ordered conducting census. This required maintenance of the land revenue records in Persian, Syriac and Coptic languages. The accounts were kept on long rolled-up sheets.
  • Founded cities: Kufah, Basrah, Jazirah, Fustat and Musal and undertook construction and building of canals.
  • Divided conquered countries into provinces.
  • Ordered collecting customs duties.
  • Appointed officials for the collection of tax on the produce of sea.
  • Gave permission to traders from foreign countries to conduct business in the Islamic territory.
  • Organized jails and enforced use of the whip.
  • Made rounds at night to gauge and evaluate the condition of the people. For relaxations he enjoyed lighter pursuits including poetry. Once he asked Abdullah bin Abbas to recite him poetry the whole night. At the time when dawn was breaking, he said, “Now recite the Holy Qur’an.” During one of his night rounds around the city he heard the sound of music. He stopped and listened to the music and then moved on.
  • Established military cantonments and had them located at strategic points.
  • Organized Police Department.
  • Set up a system to classify pedigree and non-pedigree horses.
  • Built houses on the road from Makkah to Madinah for the comfort of the travelers and also established guest-houses in different cities. At that time a system was established for the clearance of land, construction of roads, building of bridges and other operations which are carried out by sappers and miner in present day armies. The local people of the lands were recruited to perform these duties.
  • Provided stipends for the poor Jewish and Christian people.
  • Established schools and provided salaries for school teachers and public lecturers.
  • Proposed the principle of Qiyas and its formulation.
  • Proposed exact division of inheritance.
  • Proposed and inserted additional statement “Prayer is better than sleep” in the call for Fajr prayers.
  • Ordained performing taraweeh prayers in congregation.
  • Established law for the punishment of alcohol drinkers with eighty lashes.
  • Proposed a method for preparing trusts.
  • Obtained consensus of opinion for saying four takbirs in funeral prayer.
  • Made arrangements for providing lights in mosques at night. It is stated that until the Khilafate of Umar ibn Al-Khattab there were no arrangements for lights in the mosques. A person by name Tamim Dari made the arrangements and supplied lamps for the mosques with Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s permission.
  • Established a procedure to giving salaries from the public treasury to Imams and Muazzins.

Yacoob is an Industrial Engineer & an Engineering Proposal Analyst working at an Aerospace Company in Los Angeles, California

Remembering : Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (1938-2004)


Yassin who survived the Palestinian Disaster (Al Nakba) of 1948 learned an important lesson that impacted his intellectual and political life forever, a lesson that says Palestinians can only depend on themselves and arm their people without depending on other nations or the international community.

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Childhood

Ahmed Ismael Yassin was born in 1938 in the destroyed village of Al-Joura, Majdal district, near the present-day Zionist town of Ashkelon — or Askalan in Arabic. Yassin’s father died when he was five years old.

The young Ahmed Yassin joined Al Jora elementary school and continued studying there till the fifth grade until 1948. In 1948 Nakba or the usurpation of most of Palestine at the hands of Zionist gangs the young Yassin was forced to flee at the age of 12 along with his family and thousands of other refugees southwards to the Gaza Strip after Zionist forces overran his village and threatened to kill its inhabitants. This nightmarish experience seems to have had a particularly strong impact in shaping the psychological build-up of a boy who would later become one of the Zionists most trenchant enemies. His birthplace was bulldozed, along with nearly 500 other Palestinian towns and villages in 1948, following the occupation of Palestine.

Yassin who survived the Palestinian Disaster (Al Nakba) of 1948 learned an important lesson that impacted his intellectual and political life forever, a lesson that says Palestinians can only depend on themselves and arm their people without depending on other nations or the international community.

Education

Yassin graduated from secondary school in the year 1957/1958 and managed to get a job as a teacher despite objection to his health condition. In 1959 he went to Egypt where he spent some time studying at Ain Shams University. There he received a college diploma and, more importantly, was deeply influenced by the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1962, shortly after his return to Gaza, Yassin was briefly detained by the Egyptian authorities in connection with his activities within the Muslim Brotherhood in opposition to the regime of then Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser. He was put in a solitary confinement cell for a month, until he was released after he was proved not to be involved with the Brotherhood. His detention period affected him significantly, and “rooted the hate of injustice” in his soul, as he said in an interview.

Work under the life of agony:

In Gaza things changed and he and  his family  lived the life of refugees, similar to most of the Palestinians at that time, tasting the bitter feelings of hunger and deprivation. He used to go to the Egyptian army camps near Gaza to gather the soldiers’ leftovers and go back with it to his family.

Yassin quit school between 1949-1950 to support his seven-member family working in one of the restaurants in Gaza, and then returned back to school. In 1952, Yassin was injured while playing sport, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. However, paralysis did not put an end to his ambitions. He worked as an Arabic and religion  teacher and later a preacher in the Gaza mosques. He turned into one of the most vociferous and most famous Khatibs in the Gaza Strip following its occupation in 1967.

Political life

In his 20’s, Yassin participated in the demonstrations that broke out in Gaza to denounce the 1956 tripartite aggression on Egypt, and showed immense public speech and political intellect . He became actively involved in the calls opposing to an international supervision over Gaza, stressing the need to regain Egyptian administration on the lands again.

Working as a preacher in Gaza  allowed him to spread the  MB ideas and to gather hundreds of supporters who later came to form the nucleus of Hamas. The message he spread was that the loss of Palestine in 1948 was merely a symptom of the stagnation of the Islamic Ummah. The solution he demanded lay in the reinstatement of Islam as a unifying political force by overthrowing all existing Arab secular regimes which he described as un-Islamic or anti-Islamic.

After the 1967 war, in which the Zionists occupied all the Palestinian territories including the Gaza Strip, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin continued inspiring the Muslims and Palestinians from the Al Abbasi Mosque’s rostrum, calling to the resistance of the occupation. He turned into one of the most vociferous and most famous preachers in the Gaza Strip following its occupation in 1967. At the same time he was involved in gathering donations to help the families of the martyrs and prisoners, later to work as a president of the Islamic Complex in Gaza.

Sheikh Yassin follows the principles and ideology of the Islamic Brotherhood that was established in Egypt in 1928 by the Imam Hassan Al Banna.

Yassin Began to Work with Mujahedin

In 1982, Yassin started to form local resistance cells under the code name Majd, with the help of some prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures in Jordan who financed his weapon purchases. Soon afterwards the Zionist occupation authorities found out and Yassin was arrested and sentenced to 13 years in prison for forming a resistance group and possessing “illegal” weapons. He also worked as a chairman of the Islamic Complex in Gaza before his arrest in 1984

In 1985 he was released from Zionist custody as part of a prisoner swap between the Zionist entity and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command, headed by Ahmed Jebril.

The Sheikh Founded Hamas -1987

After his release, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founded the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in mid-1987, along with a group of Islamic leaders including Dr. Abd al Aziz al Rantissi in the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ aims  are to resist the Zionist occupation in order to liberate historical Palestine. Hamas had a significant role in the Palestinian Intifada that broke out at that time, and was known as “the revolution of the mosques”. Since that time, Sheikh Yassin was considered the spiritual leader of the movement. Hamas carried out a number of effective attacks mainly on Zionist occupation troops in the Gaza Strip, killing a number of Zionist occupation soldiers and officers.

Arrested again

As the Intifada stepped up its momentum against the Zionist occupation, the Zionists began to think of  means to stop Yassin’s activities, so Zionist soldiers raided his home on August 1988, searched it and threatened him of punishment to Lebanon.

In 1989, two years into the first Intifada, Yassin was again arrested by Zionist occupation authorities. This time he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, charged with calling to armed resistance and charges of inciting to kill and kidnap Zionist occupation soldiers as well as founding of Hamas movement and its military wing.

Disease but No Release

Yassin spent nearly eight years in jail where he suffered a number of other disabilities and diseases including loss of eyesight in his right eye due to Zionist blows during round of interrogations, in addition to weakness in his left eye, as well as chronic otitis and lung allergy, also caused by harsh detention conditions in the Zionist jails. He also suffered from chronic inflammation in his ear, lung infection and other stomach diseases.

On 13/12/1992 a commando cell affiliated with the Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas, kidnapped a Zionist soldier and offered to set him free in return for the release of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and a number of other detainees in Zionist jails including sick and elderly Arab captives. However, the Zionist government refused the offer and stormed the house where the soldier was held leading to his death along with commander of the attacking unit and two other soldiers before the martyrdom of the three members of that cell in Bir Nabala near occupied Jerusalem.

Released by Fate but it was not too late

In 1997, Yassin was freed from prison after the late King Hussein of Jordan insisted that the Zionist government of Benyamin Netanyahu release him in exchange for the release from Jordanian custody of two Mossad agents who carried out an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas contingency in Amman. Yassin’s subsequent triumphant return to Gaza significantly enhanced Hamas’ status and granted the movement the position of “second among equals” vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority.

Yassin and Oslo Accords

Yassin vehemently opposed the Oslo Accords, which he viewed as a “disgraceful capitulation” and “great deception”. Indeed, the intensive construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with the continued confiscation by successive Zionist governments of large swathes of Palestinian land, seemed to vindicate his views in the eyes of many Palestinians.

Yassin Rejects the Civil War

Prior to the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, Yassin was placed under house arrest, with severed  telephone communications  by the PA, which was under tremendous pressure from the United States and the Zionists to “rein in” Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Hamas leader was always careful not to allow recurrent frictions with the PA which may evolve into some kind of civil war, which he viewed as “the ultimate Palestinian red line”. Believing that a divided leadership would undermine Palestinian interests, Sheikh Yassin sought to maintain good relations with the Palestinian Authority and with other regimes in the Arab world.

Yassin insisted on the Palestinians Right of Peaceful life

During the ongoing Al-Aqsa Intifada, Yassin consistently held fast to the “robe of resistance”. He argued that freedom is earned, not granted on a silver platter, and that which is taken by force can be only recovered by force. He vehemently defended martyrdom bombings against the Zionist entity, explaining that they constituted only weapon available to the Palestinian people in the face of the enemy with far more powerful military capabilities that is hell-bent on exterminating and crushing the Palestinian people. He repeatedly demanded an end to all attacks targeting Palestinian civilians and un-uniformed Zionists. However, the Zionist entity consistently rejected all initiatives to that effect.

The first attempt to assassinate the Sheikh

Thousands of cheering supporters turned out to watch him vow revenge for the first Zionist attempt on his life in September 2003. This was mirror by millions of Muslims worldwide, having sent shock waves and new calls for Jihad throughout the Ummah.

However, for a staunchly ideological movement like Hamas — where the idea is more important than the leader — it is unlikely that Yassin’s death will seriously undermine the movement in any permanent way. In fact, he had already effectively stopped running the movement’s day-to-day affairs several years ago due to his deteriorating health and relatively old age.

Sheikh Yassin lived his life in his humble home in the Al Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City. He survived with minor injuries a failed attempt on his life by the Zionist occupying forces on September 6, 2003 while he was visiting a friend in Gaza. He was only lightly injured in his right arm. Nonetheless, he remained until his death the most effective and eloquent spokesman of Hamas and the entire Palestinian Islamic camp, despite his severe physical disability.

Imam Al-Nawawi, the Rulers and the Masses


Imam Yahya an-Nawawi was a great scholar who reached a high level in knowledge, asceticism and ordering good and eradicating evil.

Shaikh Jamaal Zarabozo, in his excellent “Commentary on Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi”, mentions few incidents in which al-Nawawi excelled in ordering good and eradicating evil. What follows is one of them:

“Sultan al-Dhaahir Baibars understood the dangers of the Mongols close by. Hence, he decided to do what he could to defeat them and drive them further out of the lands of the Muslims. He asked for a fatwa from the scholars that would allow him to take money from the citizenry in order to use it in his battles against the Mongols. The scholars of al-Shaam wrote such a fatwa for him. He asked if any scholar refused to write such a letter and he was told that only al-Nawawi refused. Al-Dhaahir Baibars had al-Nawawi brought to him and he asked him personally to sign with the other scholars. However, al-Nawawi refused. The Sultan asked him why. He answered,

I know that you used to be a slave of the Ameer Banduqaar and you did not have any wealth. Then Allah bestowed his bounty upon you and you became the ruler. I have heard that you have one thousand male slaves and each one of them has a girth [by which the horse’s saddle is tied] of gold. And you have two hundred slave girls and each of them has a portion of gold jewelry. If you spend all of that and you leave your slaves with straps and dyes instead of the gold girths, and you leave the slaves girls with their clothing and no jewelry, then I will give you a fatwa that you can take wealth from the citizenry.

Here, once again it is narrated that the Sultan got upset with him and had him banished from Damascus. He then left to Nawa. Perhaps, there was more than one event that led to the Sultan’s actual decision to ban al-Nawawi from Damascus, Allah knows best.

After he left to Nawa, the scholars said that he was one of their leading scholars and workers. He is someone whose example is to be followed. Hence, they went to try to bring him back to Damascus. However, he refused. He said that he would not enter Damascus if al-Dhaahir was still there. After a few months, Sultan al-Dhaahir Baibars died.”

[End quote from the Commentary on Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi]

Riyadus Solihin

Rashid al-Ghannushi–Leader of Ennahda Party


Rashid Al- Ghannushi is one of the most influential leaders among Muslim activists and intellectuals in Tunisia and the rest of the world who represents a moderate and progressive strand in Arab Islamist politics. His eventful life presents an example for all especially for the youth.

Shaikh Rashid Al-Ghannushi was born at al-Hama, in the Qabis province of southern Tunisia in 1941.After successful completion of primary and secondary education, he achieved the certificate of attainment degree, equivalent to the Baccalaureate degree from the University of Zaytuna in 1962. In 1964, he got admission in school of agriculture at Cairo University but left for Syria without completion his course due to the eviction of Tunisians from Egypt by Gamal Abdel Nasser and completed his graduation from University of Damascus in Philosophy in 1968. In the meantime, Dr. Rashid joined the European Socialist Party, but later entered an Islamic life and established an Islamic party.

After graduation, he spent a year at Sorbonne in France before returning to Tunisia and worked within a group called “Call Reporting And Advocacy Group” and founded an organization with other Tunisians to reform the Tunisian society based on Islamic Shariah.

Furthermore, his professional life was begun as a professor of Philosophy in Tunisia in 1969. In addition to his profession, this scholar tried to sermonize Islamic beliefs through lectures in classroom as well as mosque and writing articles in newspaper (Sabah-Morning), Magazine (The knowledge) and books.

Inspiring by the real spirit of Islam, he established an Islamic movement called “al-ittijah al-islami” or Islamic Tendency Movement in Manouba in 1979 which was renamed Hizb al-Nahda (or Hizb Ennahda) in 1989 or called as the Renaissance Party and began its activities without publicizing formally till 1981. Rashid proclaimed the news of newly founded party in 1981 through a press conference when the Tunisian Ruler Al- Borguiba gave the political freedom.

This Movement became much popular within few months because of its Islam loving, pacifist and patriotic mood as it called for a “reconstruction of economic life on a more equitable basis, the end of single-party politics and the acceptance of political pluralism and democracy. He also published a magazine called “Al-Ma’refah” to shield his ideals.However, an ideological conflict occurred between the government and Al-Ghannushi in the same year. As a result, by the end of July, Al-Ghannushi with his followers was arrested, sentenced to eleven years in prison in Bizerte, and were agonized. He was released in 1984 due to a large number of people including religious and secular community demonstrated for his release. But again arrested in 1987 and let out in 1988 after one year imprisonment. He moved to Europe as a political exile, and lived there from the early 1990s to the early 2011 and has returned home from London on 30 January in 2011 after 22 years in exile following the ousting of President Ben Ali earlier this month. In 1993 Britain granted him political asylum.In 1984, he obtained certificates of proficiency in search of the Faculty of Shariah and continued his doctoral thesis on the topic “public freedoms in the Islamic state” but could not finalize the doctorate degree due to the imprisonment.

In fact, Rashid Al-Ghannushi was determined to reform the Tunisian society and culture according to the light of Islamic Shariah consistent with the home culture. To insure social justice, equity and equality, he accentuated on worker’s rights, unionism, and women’s rights including women’s education, participation, respect, choice of home and marriage, political participation, ownership of property, and freedoms to follow Shariah and finally the democratic rights of general people.Women responded positively as they returned to Islam by expelling the western superficial liberation of women. Because Before the emergence of the Islamist movement, woman found herself in an unstable and decaying society whose “liberation” was purely superficial: nudity, eroticism, leaching the house and the intermingling of the sexes. But Islamists present the respectful position of women in the society and implemented that through participation in their organization.Al-Ghannushi is the author of many books on social, religious and philosophical issues, some of his important writings are : Islamic movements and Palestine, Public freedoms in the Islamic state, We and the West (jointly),From the experience of the Islamic Movement in Tunisia, So when Ibn Taymiyya,Rapprochement in the secular and civil society, The Islamic movement and the issue of change, The Palestinian issue crossroads between paths, Women between the Quran and the reality of Muslims, Citizenship rights in the Islamic state, The difference right , the duty to unity , The movement of Imam Khomeini and revival of Islam’s life.

Some of his books were translated into other languages including English, French, Turkish and Persian and have published in Egypt, Iran, Tunisia, Turkey, and Algeria.

He visited many countries including UK, Iran, Sudan, Lebanon etc.Finally, it can be said that, Rashid Al- Ghannushi faces different types of obstacles but could not bow down to the injustice. This is why some researchers submitted their doctorate studying on his thoughts called Azzam Tamimi (political thought of Ghannouchi). The life of Al- Ghannushi is the great source of learning for us.qa

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz: The Rightly Guided Caliph


Islam, meaning surrender to the will of God, is an eternal idea.

Muslims assert that it is the pristine faith of mankind, subscribed to by the first created humans, Adam and Eve and confirmed by the Messengers of God, including among others, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them).

Islam throws a challenge to the community of believers to create a society “enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong and believing in God”.

Islamic history is a perpetual struggle to meet this challenge in the matrix of human affairs. This struggle is continuous and relentless. Muslims through the centuries have struggled to rediscover the fountain from which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) drank. The corruption that surfaces with time is challenged time and again and a corporal attempt is made at a renewal of faith. Hence, revivalist movements in Islam provide benchmarks from which subsequent historical events can be measured and understood.

Before Umar’s Rule

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, also known in history as Umar II, was the first revivalist Caliph in Islamic history.

After Muawiyah, the character of the Caliphate changed and dynastic rule was established. The corruption of the Omayyads reached its crescendo with Karbala. The Omayyads built lavish palaces, surrounded themselves with servants and maids, accumulated enormous estates, treated the public treasury as their privy purse and lived like princes and kings. There was no accountability for their wealth or for their actions. The populace had no say in the affairs of the state. The Caliph was not nominated nor could he be questioned. The people were there merely to obey the strongman, pay taxes and serve in the armed forces.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz became the Emir (Caliph) by a coincidence of history. When the Omayyad prince Suleiman (714-717) lay on his deathbed, he was advised that he could earn the pleasure of God by following the example of the early Caliphs and nominating someone besides one of his own sons as the next Emir. He therefore dictated in his will that Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, a distant cousin, was to succeed him and Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was to be followed by Yazid ibn Abdul Malik.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was a man of polish and experience, having served as the governor of Egypt and Madinah for more than twenty-two years. He had been educated and trained by a well-known scholar of the age, Saleh ibn Kaisan. Before his accession to the Caliphate, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was a dashing young man, fond of fashion and fragrance. But when he accepted the responsibilities of Caliphate, he proved to be the most pious, able, far-sighted and responsible of all the Omayyad Emirs.

A Pious Reformer

Indeed, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz set out to reform the entire political, social and cultural edifice of the community and to bring back the transcendental values that had governed the Islamic state in its infancy. He started by setting a good example in his own person. When news reached him of his nomination to the Caliphate, he addressed the people saying: “O people! The responsibilities of the Caliphate have been thrust upon me without my desire or your consent. If you choose to select someone else as the Caliph, I will immediately step aside and will support your decision”. Such talk was a breath of fresh air to the public. They unanimously elected him.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz discarded his lavish life style and adopted an extremely ascetic life after the example of Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari, a well-known companion of the Prophet. Abu Dhar is known in history as one of the earliest mystics and Sufis in Islam who retired from public life in Madinah during the period of the Caliph Uthman and lived in a hermitage some distance away from the capital. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz discarded all the pompous appendages of a princely life–servants, slaves, maids, horses, palaces, golden robes and landed estates–and returned them to the public treasury. His family and relatives were given the same orders. The garden Fadak provides a good example.

This was a grove of palms owned by the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet’s daughter Fatimah had asked for this garden as an inheritance but the Prophet had declined saying that what a Prophet owned belonged to the whole community. Fatimah had pressed her claim before her father, Abu Bakr, but Abu Bakr had denied the request saying that he could not agree to something that the Prophet had not agreed to. After the Caliphate of Ali, Fadak had been made a personal estate of the Omayyads. Umar restored Fadak to the public treasury, as a trust for the whole community.

The Omayyads had no accountability to the treasury. To support their lavish life styles, they collected enormous taxes from Persia and Egypt. They compelled traders to sell them their merchandise at discount prices. The Emir’s appointees received gifts of gold and silver in return for favors. Umar reversed the process. Umar abolished such practices, punished corrupt officials and established strict accountability.

Some Omayyad officials, drunk with power, mistreated the conquered peoples. Oftentimes, their property was confiscated without due process of law. Contrary to the injunctions of the Shariah, even though people in the new territories accepted Islam, they continued to be subject to Jizyah (tax to be paid by non-Muslim citizens). Those who refused to pay the taxes were subject to harsh punishment. Umar abolished these practices and ensured fairness in the collection of taxes.

Gone was the oppression of Al Hajjaj in Iraq and Qurrah ibn Shareek in Egypt. The populace responded with enthusiastic support of the new Caliph. Production increased. Ibn Kathir, the Muslim scholar, records that thanks to the reforms undertaken by Umar, the annual revenue from Persia alone increased from 28 million dirhams to 124 million dirhams.

Following the example of the Prophet Muhammad, Umar ibn Abdul Aziz sent out emissaries to China and Tibet, inviting their rulers to accept Islam. It was during the time of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz that Islam took roots and was accepted by a large segment of the population of Persia and Egypt. When the officials complained that because of conversions, the jizyah revenues of the state had experienced a steep decline, Umar wrote back saying that he had accepted the Caliphate to invite people to Islam and not to become a tax collector. The infusion of non-Arabs in large number into the fold of Islam shifted the center of gravity of the empire from Madinah and Damascus to Persia and Egypt.

Knowledge Applied in Daily Life

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was a scholar of the first rank and surrounded himself with great scholars like Muhammad ibn Ka’b and Maimun ibn Mehran. He offered stipends to teachers and encouraged education. Through his personal example, he inculcated piety, steadfastness, business ethics and moral rectitude in the general population. His reforms included strict abolition of drinking, forbidding public nudity, elimination of mixed bathrooms for men and women and fair dispensation of Zakah (alms). He undertook extensive public works in Persia, Khorasan and North Africa, including the construction of canals, roads, rest houses for travelers and medical dispensaries.

Umar ibn Abdel Aziz was the first Caliph to commission a translation of the Quran from Arabic into another language. Upon the request of the Raja (king) of Sind (in modern day Pakistan), Umar ibn Abdel Aziz had the Quran translated into the ancient Sindhi language and had it sent to the Raja (718 CE). To put this event into historical context, this was within ten years of the conquest of Sind and Multan by Muhammad ibn Qasim and the conquest of Spain by Tariq ibn Ziyad and Musa ibn Nussair.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was also the first Emir to attempt a serious reconciliation of political and religious differences among Muslims. Since the time of Muawiyah, it had become customary for khatibs to insult the name of Ali ibn Abu Talib in Friday sermons. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz abolished this obnoxious practice and decreed that the following passage from the Quran be read instead:

{God commands you to practice justice, enjoins you to help and assist your kin and He forbids obscenity, evil or oppression, so that you may remember Him} (An-Nahl 16:90).

It is this passage that is still recited in Friday sermons the world over. He treated Bani Hashim and the Shi’a with fairness and dignity. He even extended his hand to the Kharijites. According to Ibn Kathir, he wrote to the Kharijite leader Bostam, inviting him to an open discussion about the Caliphate of Uthman and Ali. He went so far as to stipulate that should Bostam convince him, Umar would willingly repent and change his ways. Bostam sent two of his emissaries to the Caliph. During the discussions, one of the emissaries accepted that Umar was right and gave up Kharijite extremism. The other went back unconvinced. Even so, the Caliph did not persecute the man.

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was the first Muslim ruler who moved his horizons from external conquests to internal revival. He recalled his armies from the borders of France, India and the outskirts of Constantinople. There were few internal uprisings and disturbances during his Caliphate. Islam had momentarily turned its horizons on its own soul, to reflect upon its historical condition and replenish its moral reservoir. Faith flourished, as it had during the period of Umar ibn al Khattab. It is for these reasons that historians refer to Umar ibn Abdul Aziz as “Umar II” and classify him as the fifth of the rightly guided Caliphs, after Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali.

But greed does not surrender its turf to faith without a battle. The reforms of Umar “II” were too much for the disgruntled Omayyads and the rich merchants. Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was poisoned and he died in the year 719, after a rule that lasted only two and a half years. He was thirty-nine years old at the time of his death. And with him died the last chance for Omayyad rule.

Source: History of Islam.com – http://www.historyofislam.com

Book Review : Umar Abdul Aziz