Important Sites: The Prophet’s Mosque

Medina, in Saudi Arabia, houses Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, the Prophet’s Mosque. This mosque is the second holiest site in Islam after the Kaba and the Sacred Mosque in Mecca. It was built after the hijra from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E. Many Muslims performing the hajj will try to go visit this holy mosque as well. The focus of this post, the second in a series on important sites, is the Prophet’s Mosque.

The Prophet’s Mosque today stands on the site of the mosque first built by the Prophet Muhammad near his house in Medina. Originally, the mosque was an open-air building made of palm trunks and mud walls. The Prophet included a section in the mosque called the suffah, a shady place where strangers and needy people could take shelter. The mosque served several purposes: a place of worship, a community center, a court, and a religious school. Initially, the prayers faced Jerusalem; however, the qibla was later changed to Mecca. Continue reading

Important Figures: Abu Bakr

Abu Bakr in Arabic

One of the most well-known figures of Islam is Abu Bakr. Many Muslims up to the current day will name their children after this man, who was a very close companion of the Prophet Muhammad and after his death became the first caliph, according to Sunnis. Abu Bakr was also the father of Ayesha, one of the Prophet’s wives. My focus in this post, the first in a series on important figures in Islam, will be the life of this man who has influenced Islamic tradition immensely. Continue reading

Islamic New Year

This past Saturday, November 26th, was the Islamic New Year 1433. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle so it is shorter and moves every year. The hijra, the migration of the small Muslim community from Mecca to Medina in 622 of the western calendar, marked the beginning of this calendar. This migration is one of the most significant events in the history of Islam.

Prior to the hijra, Muslims in Mecca constituted a small group of followers of the Prophet Muhammad. They practiced Islam privately out of fear of persecution, which many of the early followers endured. With the hijra, the situation of this small group of believers changed, as well as the course of the Muslim community as a whole. Continue reading

Pakistani Supreme Court Leads the Way

Dawood Ahmed is a lawyer from London. He is a graduate of Oxford University and is currently a doctoral candidate in law at the University of Chicago

Pakistani hijras, or transgendered men, at a function near the army garrison city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan Photo: Declan Walsh

Amidst the commonplace pattern of negative news cycles related to Pakistan, a rather landmark human rights development there passed by largely unnoticed. On April 25, the Pakistani Supreme Court ordered the government to recognize a third gender on government issued ID cards for transgenders (commonly known as hijras in South Asia) instead of the rather inappropriate and demeaning ‘male’ or ‘female.’ To put into context how ground-breaking the change is, consider this: very few countries in the world recognize a third gender in similar circumstances.

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