As a student at Harvard Law School, then-bachelor Barack Obama’s practice of wearing a gold band on his wedding-ring finger puzzled his colleagues. Now, newly published photographs of Obama from the 1980s show that the ring Obama wore on his wedding-ring finger as an unmarried student is the same ring Michelle Robinson put on his finger at the couple’s wedding ceremony in 1992. Moreover, according to Arabic-language and Islamic experts, the ring Obama has been wearing for more than 30 years is adorned with the first part of the Islamic declaration of faith, the Shahada: “There is no God except Allah.” The Shahada is the first of the Five Pillars of Islam, expressing the two fundamental beliefs that make a person a Muslim: There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s prophet. Sincere recitation of the Shahada is the sole requirement for becoming a Muslim, as it expresses a person’s rejection of all other gods Egyptian-born Islamic scholar Mark A. Gabriel, Ph.D., examined photographs of Obama’s ring and concluded that the first half of the Shahada is inscribed on it. “There can be no doubt that someone wearing the inscription ‘There is no god except Allah’ has a very close connection to Islamic beliefs, the Islamic religion and Islamic society to which this statement is so strongly attached,” Gabriel said. Dreams from My Real Father” producer Joel Gilbert, an Arabic speaker and an expert on the Middle East, was the first to conclude that Obama’s ring, reportedly from Indonesia, bore an Islamic inscription. Photographs published last week by the New Yorker from Obama’s time at Occidental College, taken by fellows students, indicate that the ring Obama wore three decades ago is the one he is wearing in the White House. In July, previously published photos have shown Obama wearing a gold band on his wedding-ring finger continuously from 1981 at Occidental, through graduation at Columbia in 1983, in a visit to Africa in 1988 and during his time at Harvard from 1988 to 1991. But none, until now, have displayed the ring with enough detail to identify it as the one he currently is wearing. As it has been reported a satirical edition of the Harvard Law Review published by students in 1990 contains a mock Dewers Scotch profile advertisement poking fun at Obama. Among a list of Obama’s “Latest Accomplishments” is: “Deflecting Persistent Questioning About Ring On Left Hand.” The comment suggests the ring was a subject of student curiosity at the time and that Obama was not forthcoming with an explanation. He still has not explained why he wore the band on his wedding-ring finger before he married Michelle. Gabriel, born to Muslim parents in Upper Egypt, grew up immersed in Islamic culture. He memorized the Quran at age of 12 and graduated in 1990 with a Masters degree from the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the preeminent Sunni Muslim institution of learning. He explained that on Obama’s ring, the declaration “There is no god except Allah” (La Ilaha Illallah) is inscribed in two sections, one above the other. On the upper section, “There is no god” is written in Arabic letters, from right to left: Lam, Alif, Alif, Lam, Ha. On the lower section is “except god,” written in Arabic letters from right to left: Alif, Lam, Alif, Alif, Lam, Lam, Ha. In the lower section, the word “Allah” is written partially on top of the word “except,” noted Gabriel, the author of “Islam and Terrorism” and “Journey Inside the Mind of an Islamic Terrorist.” It is common in Islamic art and Arabic calligraphy, especially when expressing Quranic messages on jewelry, to artfully place letters on top of each other to fit them into the allotted space. The exhibit below shows how the Arabic inscription fits over the two parts of the Obama ring.
First-rate accent’ In an interview during the 2008 presidential campaign, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof questioned Obama about his Islamic education in Indonesia, where he lived from 1967 to 1971. After acknowledging that he once got in trouble for making faces during Quran study classes in his elementary school, Obama recited for Kristoff the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, the Adhan. The prayer incorporates the Shahada, the expression of Islamic faith, with each line repeated twice: Allah is supreme! Allah is supreme! I witness that there is no god but Allah I witness that Muhammad is his prophet Kristof noted Obama recited the prayer in Arabic “with a first-rate accent.” “In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as ‘one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset,’” Kristoff wrote. Gabriel told WND that a person wearing a ring with “There is no God except Allah” demonstrates the significance of Islam in his life. “Christians never use the statement,” he pointed out. “By wearing the Shahada on jewelry, a person communicates that Allah is in control of all circumstances. Allah controls you; Allah is the one and only one.” Obama, who attended Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago for two decades, has repeatedly insisted he is a Christian.