“Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful” – Surah Az-Zumar (39:9)
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmattu allahi barakathu and Ramadan Mubarak to Muslim all brothers and sisters in Islam.
It is said that this holy month is one that inspires forgiveness, self-restraint, compassion and God-consciousness.
Over the last few days, the Muslim Youth Officers in the UNC Youth Arm observed with great interest the public disclosure and confirmation by Opposition Senator Mr. Faris Al-Rawi that he is a direct descendent of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him)
Mr Al-Rawi’s boast is clearly meant to increase his prominence and appeal to a wider cross-section of society, specifically the Muslim and Arab demographic. This is cheap political strategy as the focus of this particular claim was made in a woefully inappropriate manner and one which completely disrespects the religion of Islam.
In an article in the newspapers, Mr. Al-Rawi asserted that “We are descended from the Prophet Muhammad, my 43rd grandfather directly”. He later added that he possessed irrefutable evidence in the form of official documentation, which somehow substantiates his lofty claims.
Mr. Al-Rawi insisted that he and his family are ‘Sayeds’ which refers to male descendants from the Prophet’s (PBUH) daughter, Fatima and son-in-law Ali, specifically through their children Hassan and Hussayn.
The Muslim Youth of the UNC have researched this matter extensively and we concluded that the name ‘Al-Rawi’ does not seem to be appear on any official or confirmed list of ‘Sayeds’ in Iraq. According to the available literature, it is common knowledge that over the centuries, thousands of persons forged documentation and personal records in order to lay claim to the Prophet’s (PBUH) lineage. This would have ensured immunity from state taxes in addition to various forms of financial benefits especially in communities that did not know them and could not confirm nor deny their ‘records’. In Iran and Iraq this particular con was quite common, so that even modern day records cannot be used as indisputable proof.
In response to the issues raised by Islamic leaders, Mr. Al-Rawi immediately distinguished himself and his family as Sunni Muslims from the Shi’ite Muslims who differ in way they revere ancestry. Mr. Al-Rawi admits his pride in being an Iraqi and an Arab, yet demonstrates a detestable lack of understanding on the dangers of uttering such potentially divisive statements regarding these two groups. The current civil unrest and deadly violence in both Iran and Iraq stem from exacerbated tensions between Shi’ites and Sunnis based on such differences in belief.
Technicalities aside, Mr. Al-Rawi proudly refers to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) yet completely omits the honorific addendum of sending peace and blessings, as is required by all Muslims. Of course, non-Muslims are obviously exempt from such tradition, but if Mr. Al-Rawi is not a Muslim, then by virtue of his proclaimed heritage he should have at least shown a more respect to the multitude of us who are.
In Islam, an individual’s worth is judged solely on the strength of their piety and in the purity of their thoughts and actions, none of which Mr. Al-Rawi exhibited when he sought to misuse his ‘heritage’ for the singular purpose of political gain. It is exceedingly unethical and utterly disrespectful for a public figure to advertise an ancestral bond with the Holy Prophet (PBUH) yet openly participate in thoroughly un-Islamic behaviour such as serving or consuming alcohol, pork and other haraam fare.
The Muslim Youth Officers of the UNC Youth Arm therefore requests that Mr. Al-Rawi refrain from further exploiting his so-called heritage, where it refers to the sensitive nature of religion and religious icons.
We take this opportunity to wish the Muslim community and the rest of Trinidad and Tobago, Ramadan Mubarak. May the spirit of this holy month illuminate our hearts and as we bow in humility, prayers and thanksgiving, may we find true peace and harmony.