It is About Sharing

Knowledge is for sharing. Do not keep your knowledge to yourself alone. Let it grows. The more you share, the more you learn and in the end you become a better person.

Surah Yaasin Amazing Recitation

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Al-Fatihah

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can the Word "Allah" be Translated?

Much has been debated on the issue of the Catholic newspaper, Herald using the word “Allah” as a translation for the word “God” in their weekly publication (Malay version). The government had banned the newspaper from using the word “Allah” in their weekly publication but the newspaper had filed a civil suit against the government.
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Among the arguments by the newspaper/its Editor to support their usage of the word “Allah” in their weekly publication is: -
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(a) the newspaper has been using the word “Allah” as a translation for God for centuries in Malaysia;
(b) Munshi Abdullah, the father of modern Malay literature translated the bible into Malay in 1852 and he also translated “God” as “Allah”.
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There a lot of people who gave their opinion with mostly find it nothing wrong for the newspaper to use the word “Allah” as a translation for the word “God”. This is because they claimed that the word “Allah” is an Arabic translation for the word “God”. I feel sorry for these people for their ignorance in this subject matter.
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The fact that Islam was revealed through Prophet Muhammad, who was an Arab and Al-Qur’an was revealed in Arabic transcript does not at all mean that Islam is only for the Arab people. As such, there are terms in Islam which does not belong to Arab people but it belongs to Islam such as “Allah” and “Al-Qur’an”. There is no translation for these 2 words in any other language. That is why when you see the translation for azan (calling for prayer) in television, “Allahu Akbar” is translated as “Allah Maha Besar” (Allah the Greatest) and not “Tuhan Maha Besar” (God is the Greatest).
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As a simple comparison, the Prime Minister of Malaysia is Abdullah. While the phrase “Prime Minister” may be translated into any other language, the name “Abdullah” should remain as it is. It should not be translated as “Hamba Allah” (the servant of Allah). So, the same thing goes to the word “God” and “Allah”. “Allah” is the God for Muslims. While you can translate the word “God”, you can’t translate the word “Allah”.
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“Allah” is a PROPER NOUN and PROPER NOUN should not be translated into any other language. It is special. Do we call “George Bush” as “George Semak” in Malaysia? Would you understand if I say that I watched a film entitled “Pelabuhan Mutiara”? People will ask me, what movie is that? I will say, it is “Pearl Harbour”. So, a PROPER NOUN should remain as it is and should not be translated into any other language.
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By the way, for the benefit of those who are ignorance of the Arabic word for “God” (since I said earlier, it is not “Allah”), the correct word is “Rabb”.
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My question to the publisher of Herald and its Editor, Lawrence Andrew – Since the publication is in Malay, why do not you use the word “Tuhan” which is the direct translation for the word “God”? Unless you have other hidden motive, you will agree with me that you should use the word “Tuhan” and not “Allah”.
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Read also a posting by Calvin Ngan entitled “God, Allah, Tuhan and The Catholic Weekly’s Herald Print”. He presented good points except on the translation of the word God” in Arabic. Click here http://www.misterhobbes.net/god-allah-tuhan-and-the-catholic-weeklys-the-herald-print/
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And after reading Calvin Ngan, you will be ashamed to read Marina Mahathir who, despite her ignorance, has confidently and ignorantly said that “Allah” is the Arabic translation for the word “God”. She said this in response to the following comment by Buyung Adil in her blog http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-i-grew-up-reading-quran.html : -
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Hi Kak Marina, what is your opinion on whether we should allow our east malaysian christian friends to use their bible in the malay language? Do you think it's dangerous that they continue using words that are also found in the Quran?
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And this is her reply: -
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Buyung Adil, two separate things there. I agree that Allah is the Arab word for God and that it is mostly Muslims who use it. In Malay, the word is Tuhan, just as in French, the word is 'Dieu'.
However, I don't think it is dangerous to have similar words given that firstly, both Holy Books came from the same cultural origin. And secondly and most importantly, I believe Muslims do know which is which and should not get confused based on a few familiar words. If Muslims do not know that the first Surah is Al-Fatihah, then I don't know really....
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What!!! It is not dangerous to have similar words? What does she mean by "mostly Muslims who use it???!!! What!!! The Bible and Al-Qur’an came from the same cultural origin? What does she mean by that “same cultural origin”? We all know that (perhaps Marina does not know) Bible is not the divine revelation from Allah. Allah revealed Injil and not Bible. Unfortunately, there many people out there who believe in what Marina has to say or what she has said.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Question Has Matured

During the KT by-election campaign period, the BN candidate, Wan Ahmad Farid was interviewed by The Nut Graph. Click here for full interview http://www.thenutgraph.com/surviving-perception.
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After answering the first question of the interview and refused to answer the final question of the interview, which he described as “premature”. I guess, now he should be able to answer the question is now matured.
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The first question and answer: -
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TNG: If you become MP, how do you propose to eradicate poverty and improve living conditions for the poor in Kuala Terengganu?
Wan Farid: I have discovered while on the campaign trail that people want more opportunities. They do not know that we have so many facilities and so many things they can participate in. My concern is to make sure they are well informed of these opportunities.
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The last question: -
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TNG: If you lose, what are your plans?
Wan Farid: I'm not going to talk about that. It's premature.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Read the Qur'an Campaign

There is a campaign in the blogsphere, initiated by Marina Mahathir and 3 of her friends called “Let’s read the Qur’an”. I have read the campaign and though it sounds like a good effort, it is not the right campaign and it must be stopped. I urge the readers in my blog to spread it over to all your friends, colleagues, family members, etc not to participate and support such a campaign. You can also link this posting to your blog of forward this posting in email form.
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Among others, the campaign is about encouraging the people, regardless of their religion status to start reading Al-Qur’an in whatever language that they are familiar with. Meaning to say, if you can’t read the Arabic transcript, then you read in Malay language and the same goes to Chinese, Indians and others. You can read the Qur’an in your own language. That is what the campaign is all about and more and more bloggers have participated in such a campaign, and come to think about it, it is very scary in deed. Marina has also, to certain extend, associated the campaign vis-à-vis the Qur’an and the celebration of Valentine’s Day, as the campaign period started from 15/1/09-14/2/09 and she even wish “Happy Valentine’s Day”. It is indeed an insult to Islam and Al-Qur’an in particular and the Muslims community as a whole for Marina Mahathir to associate Islam and Al-Qur’an with Valentine’s Day, which is totally unIslamic.
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Below is my explanation as to why such a campaign should be called off immediately. The same has also been posted as my reply at Marian Mahathir’s blog. You may also go to www.rantingsbymm.blogspot.com to see for yourself such a campaign but please, please and please do not fall for it.
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Dear Marina,
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It is good to have such a campaign to encourage the people to read the Qur’an. However, some of your suggestions need to be revisited because to understand the Qur’an better, you need to have an in depth study on Al-Qur’an (‘ulumul Qur’an). By mere reading of the Qur’anic translation and try to understand what it means may lead to deviation from the true meaning of the Qur’anic verse.
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In Qur’anic studies, to interpret and get the true meaning of the verse, we need to know few things such as the reason of revelation (asbabun nuzul), the type of verse (makkiah or madaniah), the repealed verse and the verse that repealing (nasikh mansukh) as well as good linguistic (arabic) knowledge (to determine whether the verse is an instruction or a mere statement, etc).
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Another thing is that there is only one (1) language for us to read the Qur’an i.e. the Arabic language. Other than the Arabic language, we call it translation. As such, it is wrong for you to encourage people to read the Qur’an in any language that they understand most because there is no such thing in Islam.
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To give you a simple example is the Qur’anic verse where Allah said, “la ikraha fiddin” which means “there is no compulsion in religion (Islam)”. If we are to translate it literally (and that is what most people have been doing), the verse would mean that in Islam, we are given the freedom and choice whether or not to do what is obligated upon us to do such as praying, fasting, paying zakat etc and no one can force us to do those obligations. However, there is a reason for revelation of the said verse as reported by an acceptable Qur’anic verses translator (al-mu’tabar) by the name of Imam Mujahid whereby he reported that the reason for the revelation was that there was a man from the Ansar tribe
Who owned a slave by the name of Subaih. The man (Ansar) has forced the slave (Subaih) to convert to Islam, thus the verse was revealed. So, based on the reason the verse was revealed as explained above, the true meaning of the verse is that in Islam, we can’t compel the non-Muslim to convert to Islam. This is also in line with another Qur’anic verse i.e. “lakum diinukum waliyadiin” which means, “for you your religion and for me is mine”.
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There are also various verses in the Qur’an which have been repealed by other verses and the repealed verses are no longer has any effect. However, they still remain part of the Qur’an. As such, it is wrong for us to rely on the Qur’anic verses that have been repealed. It is like a provision of the law which has been repealed. Once the said provision has been repealed, it is no longer has any effect.
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So, whether one is Muslim or non-Muslim, you can’t get the true meaning of the Qur’anic verse by just reading the translation and try to understand its meaning.
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As such, I strongly suggest that you and your friends, as the initiators of the campaign to call off the campaign in the name of Allah and for the sake of the Muslims community. I also suggest that you request those bloggers who have put in the campaign in their blogs to remove such a campaign.
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As an alternative, if you really want to learn about Al-Qur’an, go and learn it from the Ulama’ and not to learn it all by yourself.
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Below, is one of the reasons why such a campaign should not exist and should not be opened to the non-Muslims.
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Michelle said: I decided sometimes last year that I’d read the Qur’an too. Good to know about this campaign. Looking forward to many interesting posts from you guys.
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CKGord said: I’m joining this campaign. Already posted the ICON. What’s the limit of our discussion??? Can I tell joke accompanying it?
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These two comments can be found at the blog below: -
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http://asylum60.blogspot.com/2009/01/blog-campaign-let-read-quran.html#comments
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I wonder if what Michelle means by her starting to read Al-Qur’an sometimes last year is that she was just reading the translation part of the Qur’an. That is not reading the Qur’an, that is reading the translation of the Qur’an. As for CKGord, realize it or not, it is just not ethical and insensitive for him/her to think that he/she can make joke out of Al-Qur’an.
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There was also another respond by Michelle (perhaps different Michelle) in Marina Mahathir’s blog which says, “Those who are bent on splitting hairs and those who are unable to counter an argument would insist that the mortals should always use the correct interpretation in the original Arab script as if Islam is only for those literate in Arabic.”
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My reply is, Al-Qur’an was revelead in Arabic transcript and as such, we need to understand it from Arabic transcript perspective. As such, it is not a matter of people’s inability to counter argue any argument, it is about Al-Qur’an. That’s it and full stop.
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So, Marina, it is you and me, as Muslims to stop this misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims as well as non-Muslims on the contents of the Qur’an. If you think that you know nothing about Qur’an, it is better for you to remain silent than proposing something that could cause misunderstanding, confusion, deviation and whatever you call it. As the Prophet said in his hadith, “man kaana yu’ minu billahi wal yaumil aakhir, fal yaqul khairan au liyasmut” which means, “whoever among you believe in Allah and the day of hereafter, say good things or keep quiet”.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Boycott US Products? Part II

This is what was reported in the Star today. Statement made by Najib serves as an answer to my questions in the previous posting i.e. “Boycott US Products?” In my “Boycott US Products?” article, I have asked the following questions to determine whether or not we, the government and the Malaysians at large are ready to punish the US and should the answers are in negative, it means that we are not ready or perhaps the people are ready but not the government: -

1. Is our government prepared to revoke the licence to sell their products?
2. Is our government prepared to severe ties with the US?
3. Is our government prepared to act without fear and favour in “punishing” the US and helping the innocent Palestinian?

Najib has answered all the questions above in negative.

In the report, Najib was also quoted as saying that “we can have demonstrations, make statements but it may not necessarily have any impact”.

So, Najib is fully aware that even the resolution passed by Parliament yesterday will not have any impact, so, I wonder whether the government is really serious in tackling this issue or is it just a formality to show that we are a “caring and concern” citizens.

I reproduce the report by The Star below: -

KUALA LUMPUR: It is up to the individual whether or not to boycott Israeli and US goods, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
As a consumer, you have to make the decision,” he said after opening the Third Islamic Economic Congress here yesterday.

Some people, he said, would feel strongly about supporting the call to boycott Israeli and US goods because of Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip but others would view the matter as a grey area.

“Some of the American products are in the franchise system. Some of the franchisees here are Malaysian companies and even bumiputra companies,” he said.

He said the economy existed in a “very complex and very intertwined” world.

“For a small nation, what do you do? We can have demonstrations, make statements but it may not necessarily have any impact.

As consumers, they want to show unhappiness (over the Gaza situation). But let that be an individual choice,” he said.


http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/13/nation/3000808&sec=nation

Monday, January 12, 2009

Boycott US Products?

Since Israeli’s inhuman attack and illegal invasion on Palestine recently, many parties from all over the world have urged some kind of actions to be taken on Israeli’s government. While NGOs and individuals have started campaigning to boycott the US’ and Israeli’s products, the governments have to go through, what is perceived as proper channel, the United Nations. I have very little idea on how things work in the UN but what I can say for sure is that the UN is nothing but the puppet for the US Government. Sometimes, I do wonder whether we need the UN, which is powerless and inferior to the United States. From my understanding, UN should be the most powerful agency in the world but it seems that all the times, it is the US government who dictated the UN of what need to be done and when. When George Bush alleged that Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction, despite the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) proving otherwise, they (the US) still proceeded to attack Iraq, only to find nothing (on weapon of mass destruction) and yet, no action was taken by the UN on the US government. In fact, the US was allowed to cause more damage to Iraq, even till now. What was the function of the UN in Iraq’s issue? They are functionless. I do not have to talk on the US/UN one sided policy in openly supporting Israel in their inhuman attack and illegal invasion on Palestine because it is a judicial notice. Everybody knows that. When the US is attacked, they called the attackers as “terrorists”. But when the Israeli’s government illegally attacked and invaded Palestine, that they (the US) called it “fight against terrorism”. Do I need to say more?

As such, I strongly feel that it is a total waste of time and effort for any government to table any motion or session or whatever they call it to the UN because at the end of the day, it is up to the US to decide and there is no way for the US to make any sanction on the Israeli’s government. People may have high hope on Barrack Obama to bring the change of policy on the Israel-Palestine issue but I doubt he will. Whoever the US President is, whether he/she is republican or democrat, the fact remains that he/she is an American.

So, what is the best way to teach the US and Israel a very good lesson? I strongly believe boycotting their products is the best way because this is the only action (at least that I can think of) that we can take without the US being able to retaliate. And this is what has been urged and promoted by many quarters. But the question remains on how far we will go to boycott their products and how effective/successful it will be.

It must be understood that (taking Malaysia for example) the US products like KFC, Starbucks, Mc Donald etc have been in Malaysia for a very long time and the people in Malaysia are, to certain extent used to it and depended on it. So, when the supply is made available, what will be the success rate for the campaign to boycott the US and Israel’s products? I strongly believe that if at all there are people who boycott the US and Israeli’s products, the success rate will be very low, as there will be more people who do not boycott than those who boycott, which in the end it bring no impact on the US and Israel. It is like serving lobsters to a group of people, say 10 of them. It is very tempting for them to eat the lobsters and they are told that they can eat the lobsters but at the same time they are advised not to but if they do eat, there will be no action taken against them. So, out of 10 people, how many do you think will resist the temptation to eat the lobsters? I can safely say, if not all, majority will eat the lobsters.

So, in order to ensure that the campaign to boycott the US and Israel’s products to be a real success, I strongly believe that we need a very strong government support by either revoking the business license of the US products outlets or by not renewing their licence. Well, some may argue that there are thousand of Malaysians who work in Coca Cola, KFC, Mc Donalds, etc in Malaysia and these innocent individuals may lose their job and is it fair for us to punish this group of individuals for the sake of achieving our objective in punishing the US and Israel? But let me ask this question – what is the objective of boycotting the US and Israel’s products? By boycotting their products, it means that we do not buy their products and when we stop buying their products, it means no sale and no business for them. When there is no sale and no business, it means no profit. When there is no profit, it means they have to close shop. When they close shop, it means that there are thousands of innocent Malaysians who may lose their job. So, obviously, there is no difference.

Now, the question is, how prepared is our government in assisting the Malaysians to boycott the US and Israel’s products? Is our government prepared to revoke the licence to sell their products? Is our government prepared to severe ties with the US? Is our government prepared to act without fear and favour in “punishing” the US and helping the innocent Palestinian?

If the answers to all the questions above are in the negative, then I think we can forget to expect the high success rate in the campaign to boycott the US products. We are not yet ready to seriously helping the Palestinian.

On the same note, the boycott should go on continuously whether or not there is illegal invasion and attack by Israel on Palestine. Boycotting on seasonal basis is useless and a waste of effort because if Israel moves out from Palestine and cease fire for 10 years for example, we will also stop boycotting the US products and for 10 years they will really make business and profits. The profits for 10 years is enough for the US to continue their undivided support to Israel and for Israel to again, attack Palestine. So, next time when Israel attacks Palestine, we will again boycott their products. It just doesn’t work that way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Reply to "The Muharram Dilemma" by Marina Mahathir

This posting is in deed my reply to an article by Marina Mahathir entitled "The Muharram Dilemma". "The Muharram Dilemma" can be read by clicking on the address below.

http://www.thenutgraph.com/the-muharram-dilemma

This is my reply to Marina...

Assalamualaikum Marina,

First of all, allow me to clarify that there is no such thing as Arabic Calendar as mentioned by you in your article. However, if in deed there exist Arabic Calendar (perhaps I am not aware of), the Arabic Calendar referred to in your article is actually Islamic Calendar or also known as Hijrah Calendar. That is why Awwal Muharram (which means “the first day in the month of Muharram”) is alsk knows as “Ma’al Hijrah”. Ma’al Hijrah means “moving together”, which is in conjunction with the historic journey of the great Prophet Muhammad pbuh with his followers from the city of Mecca to the city of Medina 1430 years ago.

It is too much for you to say that Hijrah Calendar is “not very useful” especially when it comes from a Muslim because Hijrah Calendar is very important in our life as a Muslim. Our life is based on the circle of Hijrah Calendar. As Muslims, we fast, pray perform pilgrimage, etc and all these are based on Hijrah Calendar. So, the fact that Gregorian Calendar is being used in the world does not make the Hijrah Calendar less important and “not very useful”.

It does happen where Eidul Fitri is celebrated on different days in different countries in the world. However, please bear in mind that among the factors that cause such thing to happen are the earth movement and that the Hijrah Calendar is based on the movement of the moon and by falak. So, if the crescent (for Syawal) is not seen in Malaysia but can be seen in other countries, then other countries will celebrate Eidul Fitri one day earlier than Malaysia and vice versa. It is as simple as that.

You also mentioned that until it is actually upon us, you can’t tell when Awwal Muharram is. The same goes for the Prophet’s birthday and because of that, you deem the Hijrah Calendar as impractical, which makes these events less important. Once again, I would like to mention here that it is too much for you to make such an unwarranted statement, more so it comes from a Muslim. Have not you thought what will happen to the Gregorian Calendar new year and Christmas if the people in the world are using the Hijrah Calendar instead of Gregorian Calendar? Do not you think that the Christmas and the new year are moving every year and not static? Are you then going to say that the Gregorian Calendar is not relevant?

In Islam, there are only 2 festivals i.e. Eidul Fitri and Eidul Adha. The other celebrations such as Ma’al Hijrah, Maulud Nabi (birthday of the Prophet) etc are just a celebration in remembrance of the event that took place on that particular days many years ago and it is not stated in the Qur’an. As such, it is only the Muslims own initiative to celebrate the events as a symbol of respect for the events. Thus, the fact that the celebnration for these occasions are not as merrier as the 2 festivals have got nothing to do with Hijrah Calendar.

Your statement at the end of your article is uncalled for, embarrassing and very mush regretted when you are happily said that we as Mulims should not feel too bad not knowing when is Awwal Muharram, as the Orthodox Church are in disagreement on the Christ birthday. Why and why we as Muslims need to use other religion as a benchmark and compare it with our religion? The movement of the Hijrah Calendar and the indecisiveness of the birthday of Christ are not interrelated in any manner whatsoever and it is indeed an insult to Islam. Are you then suggesting that we, as Muslim should feel bad about Hijrah Calendar if the Cristians are in agreement on Christ birthday? I feel sorry for you.

By the way, I wonder what do you mean when you said that “we shouldn't feel too bad about not knowing when Awal Muharram is”? Because I believe the majority of Muslims in the world know that Awwal Muhraam falls on every first day of the month of Muharram.

Please remember this, the Prophet pbuh said in his hadith, “Al-Islammu ya’lu wala yu’la ‘alaihi” which means, “Islam is high and nothing is higher than it (Islam)”.