Campaign to stop misuse of Prophet’s name

Updated 05 February 2014
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Campaign to stop misuse of Prophet’s name

One type of the manifestation of our deep respect and love for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is to show the utmost respect to his name and preserve its sanctity by preventing its use for any common purpose such as calling expatriate workers ‘Muhammad’ just because we don’t know their names.
A group of students from the Faculty of Economics and Administration in the King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU) in Jeddah recently started a campaign aimed at honoring the name of the Prophet (pbuh) and are trying to halt the spread of the phenomenon where Saudis use his name to call any stranger, even non-Muslims, in restaurants or supermarkets. The name of the Prophet (pbuh) has come to denote inferiority when used in this manner and the speaker usually has a sullen expression which is not only impolite but an insult to the Prophet (pbuh).
The students started to garner support for their campaign by sending text messages via social networking services or through the mobile phone’s “WhatsApp” application where the message reads, “Assalamu alaikum, this is a campaign carried out by the Saudi community aimed at honoring the name of our Prophet (pbuh) and stopping the use of his name to call people whose names we don't know, workers and sometimes even non-Muslims.”
As a result of this misuse, the name Mohammad has come to be associated with any person whose name we don’t know and denotes inferiority which contradicts our love and respect for the Prophet (pbuh).
A long time ago, we used to call unknown people with the term, “Oh brother” or “Mr.” So why don’t we use those instead of calling the person with the name of our Prophet (pbuh).
Commenting on the campaign, Saleh Salem, a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in the KAAU, said: “It is a commendable initiative by our students who are aware of the malpractices of some people in our community and are willing to change this phenomenon by raising awareness in society of the importance of showing the ultimate respect to our Prophet (pbuh) in all possible ways.”
He said the campaign was expected to be launched by the students of the Islamic Studies Department in the faculty, but the students of the Economics Department beat them to it.
“The prevalence of using ‘Mohammad’ in this inappropriate way surfaced around 15 years ago and I remember we never used this name to call unknown people or workers before. Unfortunately, we as Muslims and members of the Saudi community disregarded the sanctity of the name until we arrived at a point that we began to use it to show our resentment toward strangers,” he said.
Khalid Al-Madani, a flight attendant, told Arab News that he gets annoyed when some passengers call him Mohammad. He said that when someone does that he usually points to his badge implying that he be called by his name.
“I know that it is such an honor for every Muslim to be called by the name of the Prophet (pbuh). However, the name in our society has regrettably come to denote a lowly person,” said Madani.
Well-known Saudi scholar Sheikh Abdullah Al-Muslih told Arab News in a telephone interview that any initiative based on Islamic rules, which aims to honor the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or any aspect related to him including his name is regarded as praiseworthy and is rewarded by Allah.
To the specific question whether it is permissible under the Shariah to call someone whose name is not known Mohammad, Al-Muslih said: “Calling a Muslim person whose name we don’t know with the word Mohammad was originally considered an honor. Moreover, it is not prohibited to do so for a Muslim as he is a follower of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). As for non-Muslims, it is better to call them with a title such as ‘Fellow’, ‘Friend’ or even ‘Abdullah’ as we are all servants of Allah.
“However, if the use of the name of our Prophet (pbuh) has conventionally become a norm or sign of contempt when calling unknown or low-class people and workers, it is unacceptable in Islam and could amount to a lack of respect for the Prophet (pbuh) and his honorable name,” expounded the sheikh.
Tawfeeq Al-Saqqa, an Egyptian engineer, said that when he came to Saudi Arabia 10 years ago he was surprised at seeing many people here using the word Mohammad to call workers or cleaners. He said that in his country people use “Man” or “Brother” to call unknown people.
“My son told me that his friends at school just shout ‘Hey, Mohammad’ at the canteen’s Nepalese guy, a non-Muslim, when they want to buy something. My son asked me why people didn’t call the canteen guy 'Ammo' (uncle) as we usually do in our schools in Egypt. I really commend this campaign for preserving our Prophet’s name,” concluded Al-Saqqa.
Usamah Al-Ajlan, a Saudi businessman, said that we should never ever use the name of our Prophet (pbuh) in this inappropriate and unacceptable way which indicates a lack of Islamic and religious basics of respecting our Prophet (pbuh). He said that in his frequent travels around the world on business trips he has never heard people in the West use Jesus as a common name or to call unknown people by that name.
“We, as Saudis living in this country of the Two Holy Mosques, should be the first to show the utmost respect to the name of Prophet (pbuh) and preserve it from any misuse. I support this campaign wholeheartedly. I have received the text messages on my cell phone and forwarded them to as many contacts as I could. I also suggest that the campaign be supported by the local media and senior scholars,” added Al-Ajlan.


Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019
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Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


EVENTS WATCH

1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.


The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.