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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 8

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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 8

Dear Editor:

The South Africa Jamaat in

Central Asia

A South African Jamaat of four

brothers left from Nizamudin,

India to the USSR. The journey

also took us to parts of Central


This is a report of that part of our

inspirational journey. Although

the political situation in the

USSR, including Central Asia,

has changed since our visit, the

spiritual needs of the people

have not.

After traveling through parts of

the USSR, we went to Samar-

kand. It is a historical city which has been greatly influenced by

Islam. It is the resting place of Kutham ibne Abbas (R.A.), the cousin

of the Prophet (SAW) and brother of Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA) who

collected Ahadith from various Companions (RA).

The family of the famous King Taimur (Tamerlane) is buried around

Shah-e-Zindah (RA). Here also is the resting place of Abul Laith

Samarkandi (RA) whose story appears in the Fazail Al Ahmal. The

famous Registan Square complex is in the heart of the city.

A Darul Uloom, the jaame masjid and a university was once housed

in this complex. But today it is only a tourist attraction. Eid-ul-Adha

Salat was performed here this year after many years.

Masjid Namaaz, 25 km away from Samarkand is the resting place

of Hazrat Imam Bukhari (RA). Muslims from all over USSR come

here. The Imam of the masjid opened the room where Hazrat

Imam Bukhari used to perform Itikaaf. The Imam served us tea

under 4 large and high trees that were grown about 500 years ago.

From Samarkand we went to Bukhara. We stayed in the Masjid

Madressa complex of Imam Bukhari (R.A.). Salat in one section of

the masjid had started only 2 months before. About 225 students

from all over USSR are staying and studying here.

It is said during the glorious days of Islam, nearly 10,000 people

from all over the world used to listen to the discourses of Hazrat

Imam Bukhari (R.A.) in this Masjid.

This is the city from where emanated the most authentic Kitab

(book), Sahih Bukhari. But alas, we cried when we saw tourists

walking with their shoes inside the masjid and taking photos.









The Imam of the masjid still remembers the first jamaat from India.

He asked one of the brothers to perform the Jumha Khutba. He

gave us a guide who took us to the tomb of Hazrat Bahauddin

Nakhshbandi (R.A.), founder of the Nakhshbandi Sillsila.

30 km from here is the resting place of the famous mathematician,

philosopher, doctor and astrologist, Ibn Sina, who is known to the

Western world as Avicenna.

In Samarkand and Bukhara the work of inviting was established

in a few Masjids. Imams and local brothers told us that jamaats

from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, U.K., and Arab countries have

been coming since many years and have found their effect to be


When we returned to Tashkent, Sharif Bhai suggested very strongly

we go to Mongolia. Unlike Russia, in Mongolia not the slightest

trace of Islam was left. All Masjids and madressas were destroyed.

Islam was totally wiped out. Only a few old people remember the

broken words of Kalima Tayyiba.

There are about 180,000 Muslims out of a total population of 2.2

million. They are mainly in a province on the Chinese border.

Ulan Bator is the capital. 10,000 Muslims are known to live here.

We went for local invitation efforts for two days but did not meet

any Muslims. We then went to Bayan-Ulgi where there are about

80,000 Muslims. There are no Masjids or madressas; people know

nothing about deen (religion).

The only thing they know is that the South African Jamat was

Muslim. Nobody knows when Ramadan starts or ends. No Islamic

calendar. We went to a few houses and demonstrated how to pray

Salat, perform wudu and Azaan. They have igloo type houses with

wooden floors and coal stoves. They are very warm inside. About

50 people can perform salat in them when empty. We also visited

some of the 15 Muslim villages around here. A jamaat from UK

worked here.

We taught many children Surah Fatiha, Surah Ikhlas, Attahiyaat, etc.

The only thing we could do was to make the people repeat Kalima

Tayyiba. We cried when we left Mongolia, knowing the condition

of our Muslim brothers and sisters. We hope another jamaat could

go there as soon as possible.

The last town we went to was Ashkaba in the republic of Turkmen-

istan. We had a seven hour delay because we missed a flight when

their taxi took them to the wrong airport. However, this gave us

an opportunity to meet Muslims from many parts of the world at

airport and to pray Zuhr and Asr with them.

We arrived at Ashkbad at

We had no addresses of Muslims

or Masjid, but Urazmurad, a brother we met on the flight took us

in. He awoke his entire family at midnight, cooked food and slept

with us in one room. The next day the Sheikh and other people of

his town were invited for lunch. About 40 years ago an earthquake

destroyed this town.

Three new Masjids are being built. Many old people have Sunna

beards. Ladies wear veils to observe the Muslim custom of mod-

esty and Muslim schools have started. This concluded our visit to

Central Asia. From here, we returned to Tashkent in the USSR to

complete our work.

[To be continued]







Web Address:


Editor, Islamic Bulletin

P.O. Box 410186

San Francisco, CA 94141-0186, USA

by C. Pedrick

Twenty one years ago, Rosario Pasquini (Danilo) was a heavy

smoker, drank more whisky than was good for him and led what

he now describes as a nightmare existence, tormented by the stress

of having to succeed in his job as a lawyer in the busy northern

city of Milan. Pasquini, born in Fiume in 1934, graduated from the

University of Milan in 1957 and became a Muslim in 1974. Now

in his 50s, Pasquini calls himself Abdurrahman. He leads the Friday

Prayer at the Mosque of Il Misericordioso and is a teacher of Arabic

and Islamic culture. He is also the author of L’Islam Credo, Pilastri,

Vertice e Perfezione and Muhammad, L’Inviato di Dio.

Abdurrahman still lives in Milan, but he has traded his lawyer’s

briefcase for something that gives him more satisfaction. He is

now editor of a newspaper called “Il Messagero del Islam”, (The

Messenger of Islam) an eight page tabloid written for the growing

numbers of Italians who, like the former lawyer himself, decided

to convert to the Muslim faith.

In Italy the ranks of Christians who have converted to Islam are

swelling daily. Just as in France and England whose most famous

convert is the former pop singer Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), a growing

number of Italians are turning to the Muslim faith for spiritual solace.

“Every day, people come in wanting to know more about Islam and

the conversion process,” said Abdurrahman, who edits his newspa-

per from an office at Milan’s Islamic Center. “Yesterday it was one,

today there were two. They come from all over, from different classes

and backgrounds, and they all have different reasons for doing it.”

Italian Christians who have decided to embrace Islam include en-

gineers, artists, intellectuals, students and even a nun. Some have

taken the step because they married a Muslim, while for others it

is a purely intellectual or religious choice. But whatever the initial

reason, converts say their final decision has almost always been

accompanied by a feeling of frustration with too much consumerism

and stress, and a yearning for a spiritual dimension that has become

lost in most of Western society. Some of the people who decide to

become Muslims do so because, like me, they are going through a

very difficult period in their life,” he says. “Others have family prob-

lems. There are even some who are high school students and have

converted in secret because they are scared to tell their parents.”

Abdurrahman himself received support and understanding from his

own family. He says, “They took the view that I was old enough to

make my mind up for myself, and let me get on with it. In fact, my

mother, who is 85 years old and has remained a Catholic, recently

said to me: “I Praise Allah, because if you had continued to live the

way you did before you converted, you would be dead by now.”

He continues, “At the time I was prey to a terrible mental stress,

brought on by the competitiveness that is so prevalent in our type

of society. After a long period of searching, I finally arrived at

Islam which says that no one except God has the right to judge

and dominate other men. This is what I was looking for. For me it

represented a liberation from a society which believes itself to be

free, but which instead forces its members to bow under the yoke

of many, many different demands.”

Like many converts, Abdurrahman embraced his new faith whole

heartily. He learned Arabic so he could read the Quran and par-

ticipate in mosque life without having to rely on translations. His

command of the language has become so good that he now teaches

it. The former lawyer’s interpretation of the Muslim faith is strict

and unyielding. As well as announcements of births, marriages and

conversions, his Muslim newspaper carries advice on how Italian

converts should behave. For example, he advises that a woman

who intends to drive her car beyond the boundaries of her own

neighborhood should make sure she is accompanied by a relative.

One of the factors that contributed to his conversion was a meeting

that developed into a strong friendship with Jordanian born, Ali

Abu Shwaima, then a medical student, now the director of the

Milan Islamic Center. Shwaima’s wife is also Italian. Like Pasquini,

she decided to convert to Islam and changed her name from Paola

Moretti to Khadija, after the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife. To-

day, she recalls with some amusement the first time she ventured

out into the streets wearing a veil. That was 15 years ago, when

Italians were far less used to seeing Muslims than they are now. “I

felt everyone’s eyes on me. It was rather embarrassing,” she said.

“I could hear the other women in the supermarket whispering things

like, “who is she, a nun?’ Or ‘Maybe she belongs to some sect.’ But

that kind of attitude no longer bothers me, she said. I’m sure of

the choice I made. It certainly wasn’t easy at the beginning, when

I made my conversion. But wearing the veil is a duty for women. I

couldn’t accept one part of the Quran and not the other.”

Guiuseppina, now known as Fatima, was a Roman Catholic nun,

studying theology and living in a convent in Modena in central Italy.

She began reading the Quran, and as her interest grew she started

having doubts about her own religion and vocation. She took to

visiting the Islamic Center in Milan, and finally after a great deal of

soul searching, she renounced her vows and converted to Islam.

Today, she is married to a fellow Muslim.

Daniela was born in Sicily and became a convert nine years ago,

when she married an Egyptian. She willingly obeys all the rules of

her new faith. “When I go out, I always wear a scarf over my head

and I keep my legs and arms covered,” she said. “A woman should

keep all parts of feminine beauty covered, because only her hus-

band has the right to see them. It seems perfectly right to me.” In

spite of her acceptance of what other Western Women might see

as limitations, Daniela claims her relationship with her husband is

one of absolute equality.

Franco Leccesi, who prefers to be known as Omar, claims the precise

rules laid down by Islam help a person gain greater self discipline,

which in turn leads to physical and spiritual improvement. Looking

back to the old days before he converted seven years ago, he said:

“I always used to try to impose my own self discipline, but it never

lasted very long,” added the 42 year Neapolitan artist, “but in the

past six years I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in myself. If you

pray five times a day it also forces you to break off from the daily

treadmill. It makes you stop and reflect and prevents you from

becoming an automation, who lives his life mechanically.

“One thing that strikes me very deeply is the dramatic difference

between old people in many Muslim countries, and those in the

West.” he added. There, the elderly are often far more lucid and

energetic, right up until old age, they often have remarkable phys-

ical and mental powers in comparison with people of the same age

over here. It’s largely due to the lifestyle they learn from childhood,

which enables them to eliminate stress and to do without the kind

of things that poison our systems. We westerns have lost so much

of the spiritual dimension of our lives. It’s as though we’ve fallen

into a deep sleep. We’re living in a world that is so empty- it’s very

frightening to contemplate.”