The Power of the ‘Minbar’

MUSCAT, OMAN (9 May) – In a recent post-Marawi conflict analysis workshop I co-facilitated, the third session was devoted to the identification of enablers and inhibitors of radicalization that leads to violent extremism. It can be noticed during the presentation that the madrasah and religious leaders or scholars (‘ulama) were identified in the three groups as either among the enablers, or the inhibitors, while at the same time, none of the three groups ever identified the institution of the masjid (mosque) as either an enabler, or inhibitor, as the case may be.

Why? Does it mean that the mosque is seen as merely a typical adjunct of the madrasah, or just a common platform of the religious leaders?

Or, is there something amiss, or missing?

As was exemplified by the Mosque in Madinah built by Prophet Muhammad and the first generation of Muslims, the mosque is supposed to be the nucleus of society and the center of sociopolitical activities and intellectual discussions of the community. In geological parlance, it is considered the ‘epicenter’ of attention, devotion and inspiration of the flock of believers.

One important element or section of every mosque is the mihrab (niche) which is located at the foremost front. Indicating the qiblah (direction of the Ka‘bah in Makkah where the Muslims face while praying), mihrab is actually semicircular in shape in the wall of a mosque. It is where the imam (prayer leader) stands to lead the congregation in every prayer.

Another crucial element of every mosque is the minbar (pulpit), which is located at the right rear of the mihrab. Derived from the Arabic root-word (نبر) (elevate), the minbar is originally a three-step pulpit, and later on, many more steps have been added in some mosques. It is the elevated platform where the khatib (preacher) stands while delivering his khutbah (sermon). Though conveniently translated as ‘preacher,’ khatib accurately means the one who delivers the khutbah.  Both khatib and khutbah are derivatives of the same root-word (خطب) which means ‘to deliver’ or ‘to speak’. The imam (prayer leader) is usually the khatib but it is not necessarily case all the times.

No doubt, the minbar, which has been an elevated platform since prior to the advent of the microphone, is a symbol of authority, and the khatib who occupies it is a holder of that authority. In the Friday congregational prayer, the deliverance of, and listening to, the khutbah is the substitute for the two cycles (rak‘at) of the four rak‘at of the daily dhuhr (noon) prayer during the rest of the days.

Possessing such a unique spiritual-political authority, the khatib could move a large size of a congregation into action of utmost significance – be it political, socio-cultural, economic, or spiritual.

As a prediction of the eventual misuse of the minbar after his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad lamented seeing in a vision some men leaping upon his minbar like monkeys and making the people trace their steps. Thereupon Archangel Gabriel came to him with this verse (Qur’an 17:6): “We did not appoint the vision that We showed you except as a test for the people and the tree cursed in the Qur’an. We deter them, but it only increases them in great rebellion. (See Ibn Abi’l-Hadid al-Mu‘tazili, Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah, vol. 2, p. 376; Tafsir al-Razi,  chap. 17, part 5, pp. 413-414; Tafsir Dur al-Manthur, vol. 5 under the commentary of verse 17:60; Bidayah wan-Nihayah, vol. 10, p. 49; Tarikh al-Damishq, vol. 57.)

No wonder, when ISIS overran the city of Mosul in Iraq on June 2, 2014, among the first institutions they had overtaken as the Grand Mosque of the city. Ten days after (June 12), they had executed Imam Muhammad al-Mansuri, the Grand Mosque’s imam and khatib. Three weeks afterward (July 4), The ISIS leader Abubakr Baghdadi mounted the minbar to deliver his khutbah.

The minbar is indeed so powerful that hate speeches and blatant lies masqueraded as khutbahs could potentially animate people and mobilize them for violent extremism. Even long after their deaths, YouTube ‘khatibs’ could still inspire ‘lone wolves’ to execute their missions and soon meet their damsels in heaven.

Such a power is supposed to be utilized for the original function it had. Of course, prior to its utilization, there is need for awareness and appreciation of the same.

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Rose-garden of Knowledge and Virtues

During this spring season, I can see another set of flowers that bloomed after fiver years in the Chosen One’s Rose-garden of Knowledge and Virtues.
Hail to the roses and kudos to the gardeners and cultivators!
For your journey ahead, these three can be your alimentary provisions: (1) visionary mindset, (2) working attitude, and (3) moral aptitude. In my understanding, these provisions may also be among the needed qualifications of the distinguished
builders and citizens of the ‘Compassionate Government’ (dawlatin karimah) which we refer to in a supplication (du’a).
May the neighborhood benefit from the garden’s greenery and the roses’ scent of knowledge and beauty of virtues!
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Writing Ventures in the Pipeline

These are the titles I’m currently working on:

“Embayuka Tanu! Maguindanaon Proverbs, English Translation and Annotations”

“30 Questions Young Muslims Asked: Everyday Religious, Emotional, Educational, and Financial Inquiries”

“Having an Affair with Hemorrhoids: Let My Love Life be Your Lesson!”

“Combo Trip to Colombo”

“Hugging the Hague: Winter Stint at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations”

Which title do you want to be published first?

Let me know your views and suggestions!


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“Hijab and Mental Health” eBook Now Published!

Author: ‘Abbas Rajabi
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Pages: 178
eBook Price: US2/P100



Statement of the Problem and Necessity for Research
Operational Definitions

Chapter 1: History of Ḥijāb
A Brief History
1. Women’s Covering in Ancient Greece and Rome
2. Women’s Covering in Ancient Persia
2.1. Median Period
2.2. Persian (Achaemenian) Period
2.3. Parthian Period
2.4. Sassanid Period
3. The Women’s Dress Code in Major Religions
3.1. Ḥijāb in the Sharī‘ah of Prophet Ibrāhīm (‘a)
3.2. Ḥijāb in Judaism
3.3. Ḥijāb in Christianity
3.4. Ḥijāb in Islam
4. Ḥijāb and the Lawfulness of the Relationship between Man and Woman in the Qur‟an
5. Ḥijāb and the Lawfulness of Relationship between Man and
Woman in the Traditions
6. The Muslim Jurists’ View on Women‟s Covering
7. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women after the Advent of Islam
7.1. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Rule of the First Four Caliphs until the End of the Umayyad Caliphate (11-132 AH)
7.2. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Abbasid Caliphate (132-656 AH)
7.3. The Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Samanian Rule
(261-389 AH)
7.4. Ḥijāb of the Iranian Women during the Āli Būyeh Rule
(320-447 AH)
7.5. Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the ‘Alawī Rule of Ṭabaristān (250-316 AH)
7.6. Ḥijāb of Iranian Women during the Ghaznawī Rule
(351-582 AH)
7.7. Ḥijāb of Women during the Mongol Rule (616-736 AH)
7.8. Ḥijāb of Women during the Safavid Rule (907-1135 AH)
7.9. Ḥijāb of the Women during the Qājār Rule (1193-1344 AH)
8. The History of Combatting Ḥijāb in Iran
9. Ḥijāb in Our National Islamic Culture

Chapter 2: The Innateness of Ḥijāb and Woman‟s Adornment Instinct
The Innateness of Woman‟s Dress Code
The Instinct of Ostentation and Adornment
1. This Instinct as Exclusive to Woman
2. The Need for Setting the Legal Parameters of the Instinct of
3. Excess in the Instinct of Ostentation and Adornment

Chapter 3: The Relationship between Ḥijāb and the Woman’s Mental Health
Ḥijāb and Mental Health
1. Safety
2. Psycho-social Development
3. Women‟s Acquisition of Value
4. Regulation of the Instinct of Ostentation and Adornment
5. Enhancement of the Sense of Self-worth
6. Protection of the Woman‟s Feelings
7. Adherence to the Human Moral Principles
8. Preservation of the Strong Family Bond
8.1. Effects of the Spread of Obscenity and Promiscuity in the
Shattering of the Family
8.2. Excess in the Consumption of Beautification Products
8.3. Sexual Frigidity

Chapter 4: Mental Health and Anxiety
Mental Health
Definition of ‘Mental Health’
1. Historical Background
2. Definition of ‘Anxiety’
3. Signs of Anxiety in the Different Dimensions
4. The Adolescent‟s Reaction to Anxiety
5. The Formation of Anxiety in the Process of Growing-up
6. Theoretical Points of View on Anxiety
6.1. Psychodynamic Theory
6.2. Etiological Theory
6.3. Humanistic and Existentialist Theory
6.4. Cognitive Theory
6.5. Behavioralist Theory
6.6. Socio-cultural Theory
7. Empirical Background of the Research

Chapter 5: Results of the Field Research
Research Methodology
Statistical Population
1. Sampling Method
2. Sampling Size
Other Findings

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Philosophy of Religion – In Amazon Now!

Author: Muhammad Taqi Ja’fari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Pages: 464
eBook Price: $5.994
The one-volume encyclopedia concisely, yet profoundly, deals with such subjects as definition of religion (essentialist, psychological-sociological, utilitarian-moralist, etc.), scope of religion, scope of jurisprudence, historical roots of secularism, science and religion, physics and metaphysics, and religious pluralism by meticulously examining the pertinent views of a wide array of Muslim and Western philosophers including, but not limited to, Aston, Geisler, Spencer, Muller, Bonhoeffer, Ellis, Spengler, Tylor, D’Holbach, Santayana, Otto, Cassirer, Sartre, Dewey, Oxford, Jastrow, William James, Jung, Herder, Schleiermacher, Feuerbach, Kaufmann, Samuel King, Goldziher, Rainach, Rupele, Frazer, Koestenbaum, Freud, Bultmann, Durkheim, Feaver, Jefferson, Barth, Ritschl, Tillich, Martin, Whitehead, and Johnson.

Excerpt of the Book:

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The Revival of Islamic Thought

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Price: US$3.99

Table of Contents:
About the Author
Chapter 1 – Iqbal and the Revival of Religous Thought
The absence of the Islamic spirit among Muslims
The logic of railway train
Solidarity as a sign of life

Chapter 2 – Past and Present Thought of Muslims on the Role of Action in Man’s Felicity
The roots of distortion of our way of thinking about Islam
Action as the bedrock of Islamic training and education
The role of the Umayyads in the emergence of this distortion
Why the idea of holding action in contempt came into being
What is faith [īmān]?
The Murji’iyyah
Two accounts
Twisted way of thinking
The issue of sanctuary
Two Prophetic traditions

Chapter 3 – Dull vis-à-vis Vibrant Thinking
Physical and spiritual life
Fiṭrah or the essence of human life
Life means to have insight and ability
Life itself as not identical with its characteristics
Reliance on Allah [tawakkul] as a vibrant and dynamic concept
Distorted and twisted tawakkul
Asceticism [zuhd] in Islam
Negative asceticism
The issue of guardianship [wilāyah] of a tyrant
Asceticism as a spiritual strength and not an economic weakness
Our ascetics as morally bankrupt as well as economically handicapped
The Imam and Productive works

Chapter 4 – Islamic Thought on Asceticism and Abandonment of the World
Asceticism and abandonment of the world
Is asceticism a natural disaffection?
Two types of asceticism unacceptable to Islam
Another misconception about asceticism
The real meaning of asceticism
Aims of Islamic asceticism
1. Self-sacrifice
2. Sympathy
Tradition on the philosophy of asceticism

Chapter 5 – The Philosophy of Asceticism (zuhd) in Islamic Thought
Story about sympathy
3. Freedom and liberty
Naturally essential conditions
Conditions within man’s freewill
Habit brings about attachment and attachment leads to captivity
Freemen always lead simple life
The philosophy of modesty and simplicity in the life of leaders
Pretensions, or limitations, restrictions and captivity
Asceticism of Gandhi
4. Consistency with the demand of time
5. Apprehension of spiritual pleasures
The enlightened ascetic according to Abu ‘Ali ibn Sina (Avicenna)

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The Power of International Quds Day in the Cyberspace – In Amazon Now!

Alternative Title: “Barry Barnes’ Theory of Power as Social Order: The Case of International Quds Day in the Cyberspace”
Author: Mansoor Limba
Pages: 237
eBook Price: US$4.99
An Excerpt of the Book:…

Amazon Link:

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Research Design
Statement of the Problem
Review of Related Literature
Power and Social Order
Cyberspace and International Quds Day
Secondary Questions
Objective and Significance of the Study
Theoretical Framework
Scope and Limitation of the Study
Research Methodology
Outline of Contents

Chapter 2 – Power and Social Order: The Theoretical Framework
Nature of Power
Approaches to Power Analysis
Cyberpower or Power in the Cyberspace

Chapter 3 – International Quds Day
Prior to Announcement of International Quds Day
The Announcement of International Quds Day
Subsequent International Quds Day Messages

Chapter 4 – Demonstrations on International Quds Day: The Routine (Afghanistan, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, United States, Zimbabwe)
The Routine
The Anti-Routine

Chapter 5 – International Quds Day as Demonstrations: The Knowledge
Cyber-Demonstrations: Their Various Forms
1. Messages/Statements
2. Invitations
3. Feature articles
4. Web sites and pages
5. News and Audio/visuals
Cyber-Demonstrations: Their Merits and Demerits
1. Global
2. Real-time
3. Permanence
4. Virtual freedom
5. Anti-hierarchy
6. Variety of demonstrations
1. Limitation of participation and audience
2. Censorship and control
3. Illusion of permanency

Chapter 6 – International Quds Day as Muslim Holiday: The Social Order
Social Order and Holiday
Quds Day as Muslim Holiday—the Social Order
Campaign for Removal of Quds Day from Online Calendars—the Counter-Current

Chapter 7 – Empirical Data: The Results of Opinion Survey

Chapter 8 – Conclusion

Appendix 1: Questionnaire
Appendix 2: Calculation of Mean
Appendix 3: Calculation of Standard Deviation

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Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Number of Pages: 192
eBook Price: $3/Php150

About the Book:

“Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition” is a translation of the Persian book “Fitrat” (Tehran: Sadra Publications, 2006) by the great Muslim thinker and reformer, Ayatollah Murtada Muttahari. “Fitrah” is the theme of a 10-session lecture series given the martyred thinker in 1976-77 in the presence of teachers in Nikan School in Tehran, and apparently due to his involvement in the Islamic movement and his increasing social activities, it was not continued. With ample citations from the Qur’an and other traditional Islamic sources, Mutahhari discusses the concept of ‘fitrah’ or man’s natural disposition. The author does not confine himself to Islamic references as he continuously engages with the views of a wide range of philosophers including Plato, William James, Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Spencer, Will Durant, and Durkheim, among others. Mutahhari’s ontological discussion covers a range of issues, including the literal and technical meaning of ‘fitrah’, sacred inclinations, love and worship, and the evolution of human originality. He also examines materialism and provides a theistic approach to some issues pertaining to the theories on the origin of religion, evolution of human society, intrinsic and acquired guidance, and intuitive and sensory dispositions.

Murtada Mutahhari was a leading theoretician of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. As an accomplished scholar of Islamic sciences, he played a pivotal role in forming the modern Islamic discourse which served as the foundation of the revolution. With close to ninety works to his credit, he is considered one of the leading thinkers of the global Islamic movement in the twentieth century.

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Chapter 1 – The Meaning of Fiṭrah
Chapter 2 – Man’s Dispositions
Chapter 3 – Sacred Inclinations
Chapter 4 – Love and Worship as Proof of Human Inclinations
Chapter 5 – Spiritual Love: Marxism and the Permanence of Human Values
Chapter 6 – The Evolution of Human Originality
Chapter 7 – The Foundation and Origin of Religion
Chapter 8 – Love and Worship
Chapter 9 – The Innate Nature of Religion
Chapter 10 – An Examination and Refutation of Durkheim’s Theory
Chapter 11 – The Qur’anic View on the Origin of Religion

Read more »

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My Magic Wand While Lecturing on Federalism in Maguindanao

As the 2018 Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) International Conference draws to a close, last weekend I reluctantly accepted – as I’m still recovering from a minor surgical operation – the invitation to be the resource person of a three-hour “Municipal Orientation on Federalism” of a Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-recognized Drug-free municipality in Maguindanao and a recipient of 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Award.

When I grabbed the microphone, the sound system turned to be uncooperative! What a timing! So, the attention of the person in charge was immediately called upon to fix the problem. While everybody was anxiously waiting and sitting idly, I suddenly stood up again in front and shared a Maguindanaon ‘bayuk’ (proverb):


(Translation: “The sea dried up at the time of high tide, while the ocean turned into a draught during rainy season.”)

I was trying to allude that sometimes something undesirable happens at the most unexpected moment – an uncooperative sound system at the beginning of a program, as a good example. 

“Now, what shall we do?” I rhetorically asked the audience. Then I answered it myself through another ‘bayuk’:


(Translation: “Ride on the boat of patience and take asylum in faith, for it is but natural for the darling to be tested.”)

As I sensed that the audience’s silence transformed into smile, laughter and even giggle, I pulled another ‘bayuk’ out of my sleeve, so to speak, followed by another, until the problem with the sound system was fixed.

Apart from a general overview of the federal system of government, I also informed the 250 or so members of the audience – including the mayor, vice mayor, municipal councilors, employees, barangay officials, civil society organizations’ (CSOs) representatives, and military and police personnel – of the current proposals and debates on federalism at the national level, particularly the PDP-Laban Party’s proposed constitutional amendments.

“Let’s not think of federalism – the upcoming carabao in the national political field – as an automatic panacea. It’s not necessarily ‘manna and quail from heaven’. It’s up to us to make a paradise or hell, as the case may be, out of it,” I concluded. 

During the open forum, the time for the transition mechanism, the possible scenarios if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) lags behind the government’s agenda for federalism, and the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) vis-à-vis the so-called Equalization Fund were among the issues and concerns raised by the audience.

As I was reflecting on the lecture while on board the aircraft in my way to co-facilitate a conflict analysis workshop in another city the other day, I realized the importance of the law of connection in public speaking. In the said experience, just a few lines of Maguindanaon proverbs unexpectedly served as a magic wand for me to catch the Maguindanaon audience’s attention, and more importantly, their sympathy.

In short, when you are invited to speak, do not ever forget to bring your magic wands.

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Philosophy of Ethics

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Number of Pages: 272
eBook Price: $3/Php150

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Part One
Chapter 1 – What is Ethics?
Chapter 2 – Natural Action and Moral Action
Chapter 3 – Theory of Emotionalism and the Muslim Philosophers’ Theory
Chapter 4 – Conscience Theory
Chapter 5 – Theory of Beauty
Chapter 6 – Theory on Worship
Chapter 7 – Islamic Ethics and Morality
Chapter 8 – Self and Non-self
Chapter 9 – Knowledge of the Self
Chapter 10 – Spiritual and Moral Crises in the Present Age
Part Two
Chapter 11 – The Criterion for Moral Action
Chapter 12 – Communist Morality and Russell’s School of Morality
Chapter 13 – Question of the Self in Ethics

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