1- About Repentance in Islamic Spirituality
Prof. Assoc. Dr. Atif Khalil, Department of Religious Studies, University of Lethbridge, Canada
In the early spiritual tradition, Tawba (Repentance), was understood not only as a departure from individual sins, but also as a whole process of turning to God. At the stage that it constituted the beginning of the journey, it signified death and rebirth, an “internal conversion”, in which nominal attachment to one’s religion by birth, was replaced by a full and steadfast devotion to spiritual life, which brought about in itself “aversion” and “turning aside” from everything that gets in one’s way to God. Marking the first stage of spiritual ascension, it was only natural that most broad treatments of this concept were focused on practical considerations (muamalat), supporting and encouraging the seeker to overcome the seductive power of vice and sin. To this end, early masters provided specific methods that would aid the traveler in his endeavors: from encouraging separation from bad society and shady food, according to Shariah, to practicing silence and redirection of thoughts towards nobler goals. Since repentance was understood to be a comprehensive process of cleansing and purification, authorities urged the repentant to eradicate not only “sins of limbs” but also “sins of the heart” through a return to the inside or “internalization” of conscientiousness. However, despite early tradition’s emphatic focus on practice, spiritual authorities did not entirely avoid investigating complex theoretical or esoteric issues of sin and penance, especially when it came to address the high paths, where the line between practice and gnosis, between muamala and mukashafa, clouded.
2- Knowledge of self
Ebu Hamid El-Gazali
Man belongs, on one hand to the world of creatures, and on the other to the commanded world. The soul has no space, size or color, therefore it cannot be defined; meanwhile the order (kun) is his way. Some have thought that the soul has no beginning and they are wrong. Others have said that the soul is a coincidence and they are wrong because coincidence does not exist in itself but follows another. The soul is the root of the sons of Adam. Its formal side only follows him. Some have said that the soul is an organism and they are wrong because an organism accepts division. The soul which we have called heart is the place of knowledge of Allah, the Almighty, and it is far more transcendent than angels; knowledge of the soul is extremely difficult. Every individual is like a country; hands, legs and other organs are this country’s assets. The heart is the king, while the brain is the minister. The king decides and oversees the work to achieve harmony, order and tranquility in power. If the king leaves them out of control, they will probably ruin the country. In order to achieve this, he has to consult the minister (the brain). This is how the state is regulated and the law and order maintained. In other words, the heart consults the mind in order to force lust and anger to obey and serve him so that the individual may be free and without any obstacles in his path of happiness, and this is Knowledge of the Divine Presence. If it occurs that the mind (minister) leaves control and falls under the influence of lust and anger, the individual is destroyed and the soul (heart) will be unhappy in the Hereafter. Beware that lust and anger are bound to serve the body power maintenance, the spousal life and the activity of our senses. These senses serve each individual and are instruments of the mind and under its control. The mind (akl) is the center of all activities, while the heart is the light by which the mind sees the Divine Presence. The mind is a servant of the heart, while the heart has been created to see the beauty of the divine Presence. Who understands this art, he is a true slave.
3- Jizyah in Islam and in the actual context
Mr. Sc. Bahri Curri, Kosovo
Human rights are inalienable and universal. This means that within the legal and democratic state human rights must be respected for all people, regardless of gender, color, place, religion, wealth, or education. Those who enjoy human rights equally and without any kind of civic discrimination, are the ones who live within the jurisdiction of the state.
The state is an expression of the need felt by society for the existence of an organized power, equipped with appropriate means of coercion and capable of directing the society itself, imposing the solutions that it finds reasonable through legal norms.
The personality of the individual in the Islamic State is pronounced. The individual enjoys all the rights guaranteed by Islam, because what Islam guarantees is the Islamic State. The enjoyment of individual rights is considered the greatest guarantee for the support of the Islamic State, a sound building and capable of building its own goals. Hence, the State ensures that the individual enjoys his or her rights as if they are concerned about such rights. The state absolutely has no interest in usurping these rights because it is designed to enable individuals to live dignified lives.
The enjoyment of rights is not limited to Muslims, but includes non-Muslims as well. In this context, various obligations are also included. Within this is the issue of jizyah.
In Shari’ah, Jizyah means a certain amount of wealth, which is taken by non-Muslims as material proof of their loyalty to the state and their satisfaction as they live under Islamic rule and in its shelter. As a reward they will be confident about their lives, wealth and honor and will not be forced to accept Islam, nor will they be prevented from performing their ceremonies and liturgy.
4- Ferit Mustafa Vokopola through another approach (In the context of the 100th anniversary of Lushnja Congress)
Prof. Assoc. Dr. Rahim Ombashi, Dean of Faculty of Human Sciences, University College Bedër
The youngest of the 40 signatories of the National Independence Act, only 25 years old. This significant fact alone would suffice to make Vokopola take his place of honor in our national history and letters.
He was the man of call for unity, for mutual understanding and an implementer of such ideas.
Although condemned silently, mastering a few oriental languages, he made a significant contribution as an external associate of the Institute of History and as a translator of Ottoman historical documents.
Little has Ferit Vokopola been asked for or researched, given the need and the questions arising out of it, which stimulate and open up space for genuine study.
5- Symbol and tradition – The story of Rozafa under the Light of Symbols
Fatos A. Kopliku, Washington DC, USA
Whether phonic, visual, o literary, the symbol points to meaning, ideas, and archetypes. Just as the letters of the word rose carry the meaning rose, so is the material world full of with meanings that descend from that of Ideas and Archetypes. This is especially true of human language as it is largely analytical, and like human reason, it seeks to fit the pieces in a logical chain. The words reason, field, division refer to division, that is, dividing into parts (fields) in order to form a hole. Symbol in language, on the other hand, invites intuition to create an instant synthesis transcending the fields of reason. Genuine poetry is one of the most powerful forms of language precisely because it uses symbols as a bridge, a quality that separates it from tradition, myths, and especially scripture. Wherever it is, the symbol has one purpose: to equip the intellect to fly towards meaning.
In this article we will take the legend of the Rozafa castle in Shkoder to illustrate the language of symbols present in it. At first glance as an event, especially for our sensitivities overtaken by modern world values, it is a morsel that cannot be swallowed. Some see it as an indicator of cruelty towards women (the burial of Rozafa), some as an indicator of our nation’s infidelity (two out of the three brothers breach their promise), others as a triumph of mediocrity over values… However, we have reasons to deem such interpretations superficial and moralistic since the main theme of the story has nothing to do with morality, although it contains a moral message. The legend carries keys that open doors to meanings “hidden under the veil of strange verses”, as Dante says in his “Divine Comedy”. These meanings mainly refer to man’s spiritual adventure, his coming from or returning to Origin.
If we regard spiritual traditions, including ancient ones, as rivers that flow from a source and run into a sea, then it is possible to see the differences in the lands where the rivers flow without losing sight of their purpose. If we regard them as languages that tell us about a meaning, then it is possible for us to translate words and phrases which are written and sound differently. Since Albanian spiritual heritage is Abrahamic, the examples we will bring are largely from the spiritual tradition of Christianity and Islam.
6- El-Biruni’s (973 – 1048) contribution to the science of geography
Msc. Artan S. Mehmeti, Kosovo
El-Biruni’s contribution to the field of geography consists of studies on geological explosions, research in metallurgy, measurements of longitude and latitude, as well as methods for determining the relative distance of one place from another. He also studied and explained the nature of springs and artisanal wells with hydrostatic methods as well as the communication of these wells through underground canals.
Practically, El-Biruni undertook an initiative that had never been taken. With the system he had built, he was able to calculate with an almost negligible margin of error the space coordinates between Gaza and Baghdad, cities that were separated by a distance and space of more than 2000 km.
In addition, el-Biruni had adequate skills to compile city maps and to calculate distances between them. These were cities located in the Middle East and the West Indian subcontinent.
7- An “accidental” event
It was little to say that he was happy. He was not overjoyed simply because he had not lost his hard-earned fortune but because he managed to overcome the darkness of anger when he found out about the missing amount. How would he face the ones he might have accused now that the truth turned out totally different? How many things might have changed because of a moment’s haste? The self-restraint, patience and sacrifice of personal fortune to preserve justice had yielded their fruit. How much we patience need in life and how many are those who have lost it. The consequences are obvious and only those who have eyes and do not see, have ears and do not hear, have hearts and do not understand, cannot see, hear or understand.
8- Analysis of the phenomenon of emigration in Albanian society
PhD Cand. Klodjan Shaqiri & Dr. Matilda Likaj Shaqiri
The influx of youth as a workforce outside Albania is reflected on the lack of population dynamics and the anemia in the society’s socio-cultural structure. Social anemia are reflected both on social cohesion and on the development of society. In addition, emigration of some family members may lead to occurrence of imbalances in the social structure and formation of complexity of each member’s role in the family as a social institution. However, one dynamic opportunity that reflects in a positive way is economic growth and prosperity of remittances. This enables the development of the country and has impacts on social, cultural and economic structures. These impacts restore economy and influence political stability. Therefore it should be emphasized that these factors of Albanian emigration have dynamically influenced the structure of Albanian society, the socio-cultural transformations, reconstruction of the identity of Albanian emigrants as well the family structure in our society.
The purpose of this study is to analyze the dynamics of emigration, the transformations this phenomenon brings to a society, and its impacts on major social institutions.
9- Confucius for the Albanian public administration: an ethico-political approach
MSc. Melsen Kafilaj, University of Tirana
One of the main specifics of the Confucian thought, besides practicality, is its institutional dedication. Confucius himself, but also his disciples, have paid a particular attention to the cultivation of administrative ethics or, in contemporary terms, “public ethics”. Since evil, regardless of the environment in which it operates, is everywhere the same, we think that his universal pedagogy is a good medicine to cure the gangrenization of Albanian public administration. The purpose of this paper is not only to identify those issues but also to address them through this conceptual perspective. Confucius worries about the sense of justice and links this notion to Ethics and the Public Good. The question arises as to what this ethics-justice rapport will be like within the institutions and what quality services the individual or the political body (the People) will benefit from the public administration. This paper is conceived in two parts. The first part provides an introduction to the socio-historical context in which this outlook was perceived and some considerations about its social role and contribution. The second part addresses the Confucian concept of public administration in parallel with Albanian public administration in terms of recruitment, organization, and functioning and draws relevant conclusions.
10- Hajji Hafiz Sabri Koçi (1921-2004)
The First Head of Albanian Muslim Community after Communism (1990-2003), “Honorary Citizen” of Tiranë, 2005 and Shkoder, 2012
In religious language, this type of man, is called Mujahid, that is, a man who sacrifices himself for the sake of God. It is truly an honor to have had such a missionary amidst us, who did not spare even his life for the preservation and spread of Islamic moral standards and norms, so fiercely fought by the dictatorship of the world’s first atheist country.
11- Brotherhood and equality in Islam
In Islam, there is a strong preference for devotion. But what does devotion mean? Does it mean to devote oneself to God only and give up the works of this world?
Islam does not preach about this; it preaches about working and settlling down, and performing our acts and deeds within Divine commandmment and profetic counsel.
Our future is like a garden which we must grow with our own hands, and if we waste our time in vain, then we will have nothing to harvest; generousity and good deeds are as secure as the day that comes after the night. This is proclaimed by every little wheat plant which we can understand if we pay close attention.
Muslims are but brothers – this does not mean that Muslims live in brotherhood only with one another and not with those who practise another religion. However, it is obvious that in Islam there is not only brotherhood; a Muslim does not look down on a person who follows a different religion; on the contrary, he considers him his brother. Especially Albanians, who belong to three different religions, must have brotherhood and unity so that they can improve, enlarge and adorn their small country.
This magnificient brotherhood has not remained a theory only; it has become a force with real vigour thanks to the noble examples of the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions and followers.
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