This Struggle Has Re-awakened Our Imagination

November 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Arundhati Roy

Text of a speech given by Arundhati Roy at the People’s University in Washington Square, NYC on 20 November, 2011.

india-arundhati-at-mike3Tuesday morning, the police cleared Zuccotti Park, but today the people are back.

The police should know that this protest is not a battle for territory. We’re not fighting for the right to occupy a park here or there. We are fighting for justice. Justice, not just for the people of the US, but for everybody.

What you have achieved since September 17th, when the Occupy movement began in the United States, is to introduce a new imagination, a new political language into the heart of empire. You have reintroduced the right to dream into a system that tried to turn everybody into zombies, mesmerized into equating mindless consumerism with happiness and fulfillment.

As a writer, let me tell you, this is an immense achievement. And I cannot thank you enough.

We were talking about justice. Today, as we speak, the army of the United States is waging a war of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. US drones are killing civilians in Pakistan and beyond. Tens of thousands of US troops and death squads are moving into Africa. If spending trillions of dollars of your money to administer occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan is not enough, a war against Iran is being talked up.

Ever since the Great Depression, the manufacture of weapons and the export of war have been key ways in which the United States has stimulated its economy. Just recently, under President Obama, the US made a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – moderate Muslims, right? It hopes to sell thousands of bunker busters to the UAE. It has sold $5 billion-worth of military aircraft to my country, India, which has more poor people than all the poorest countries of Africa put together. All these wars, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, have claimed millions of lives — all of them fought to secure the “American way of life”.

Today, we know that the “American way of life” — the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards — has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and their jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations — American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182 billion.

The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India’s richest people own assets worth one-quarter of the country’s GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day. Two hundred and fifty thousand farmers, driven into a spiral of debt death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified. We have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.

The good news is that people have had enough and are not going to take it any more. The Occupy movement has joined thousands of other resistance movements all over the world in which the poorest of people are standing up and stopping the richest corporations in their tracks.

Few of us dreamed that we would see you, the people of the United States on our side, trying to do this in the heart of Empire. I don’t know how to communicate the enormity of what this means.

They, the one percent, say that we don’t have demands” perhaps they don’t know, that our anger alone would be enough to destroy them. But here are some things — a few “pre-revolutionary” thoughts I had — for us to think about together:

We want to put a lid on this system that manufactures inequality. We want to put a cap on the unfettered accumulation of wealth and property by individuals as well as corporations. As “cap-ists” and “lid-ites”, we demand:

One, an end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.

Two, natural resources and essential infrastructure — water supply, electricity, health, and education — cannot be privatized.

Three, everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.

Four, the children of the rich cannot inherit their parents’ wealth.

This struggle has re-awakened our imagination. Somewhere along the way, capitalism reduced the idea of justice to mean just “human rights”, and the idea of dreaming of equality became blasphemous. We are not fighting to just tinker with reforming a system that needs to be replaced.

As a cap-ist and a lid-ite, I salute your struggle.

13-48

The Love of Your Child

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karima Friedemann, TMO

There is nothing more intimate than the love between mother and child. Marriage is an interesting learning experience, but it cannot compete with the total human sacrifice it takes to produce a child. After bearing the stress in one’s womb for months and months, feeling the weakness and hunger, and finally the labor which cannot ever be described, a new human being arrives. This being suckles on you until your bones ache so that you cannot sleep at night, and yet you long for another one. This is love. This is true love.

“What is love? Does anybody love anybody anyway?” sang Howard Jones, a UK artist, when I was in Junior High School. I still don’t know the answer to these questions.

“The mothers shall give such to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear God and know that God sees well what ye do. (Quran 2:233)”

He shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. These are actually reasonable requests. God laid it down.

So now that we have got that straight, what have we now? A financial exchange. But is there more to life than that? I don’t know yet. But there are people who go through this life never knowing what it was like to fall asleep at their mother’s breast. There are so many of us, especially children of the 70’s, who just never knew that. When we had a nightmare, we had to “understand” that no one was going to cuddle us. We faced this world alone, without any sense of having any rights.

Even the most emotionally detached mother could fall asleep with her child, and this skin contact could even save a child’s life. For life. A scientific study in Brazil showed that mothers who “wore” their premature babies under their clothes with constant skin contact (instead of keeping them in an incubator) were rewarded with higher rates of weight gain and overall health of their babies. Love boosts the immune system. And if you don’t know how to love yet, the first step is lots of long hugs to increase the sense of emotional security, which gives bursts to all the healing hormones your body can release.

Close physical contact is part of Islam. I invited some neighbors to a local iftar and my friend’s husband, who was from Spain, commented that, during the prayer, he had never been so physically close to other men in his entire life. He kind of liked it.

There are so many things we could do wrong in our lives, but if we could at least give our children the emotional security of skin contact at a very early age, we could do well. Even if we are not nursing, how about putting your arm around your child? If you give it a few minutes, he or she might even fall asleep. What’s most important, even more important than the mother’s milk, is knowing that somebody cares. Somebody is there.

We come into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. Nobody will be able to help us. We have only a short time to love one another. Whomever we love, they may be gone tomorrow. We might be gone tomorrow. We need to set boundaries against disrespect, but we must keep an open door policy for those whom we love.

We should never think that our actions will not affect another human being. If we let a child cry himself to sleep, we might think he’ll never remember, but in fact this might be the deciding factor in whether he believes in himself or not. It actually takes someone else to help you realize that you have the right to take up space in this world, when you are new here. No one can do it alone. People who are mistreated or neglected all their lives often curl up and die. In any case their immune system takes a hit.

Christians and Muslims have a dispute because Christians say, “God is Love,” whereas Muslims say, “God is the Lover.” This is a grammatical problem, not a basic issue. There are so many beautiful people out there. Why not love them all?

Love comes from Allah alone. You can never force or will someone to love you back. It is entirely out of your hands. And there is a certain element of comfort in that.

There is somebody who will never refuse your love. That is your child.

13-30

Ukrainian Boxer Turning Heads

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

sillakh-584“Bernard Hopkins, here we come!” That is the cry from the camp of light heavyweight up-and-comer Ismayl Sillakh, the Ukrainian with the curious nickname “The Black Russian.” The six foot three inch Ukraine is cruising through the light heavyweight ranks with an eye toward the big boys. At 26 years of age, Sillakh is already 16-0 with 13 knockouts. Most recently he took out Hamza Wandera Ouma in Russia in three rounds. Sillakh is managed by Ivaylo Gotzev and trained by Shadeed Suluki. “If [Hopkins] is not available, a guy who always has something to say is Jean Pascal. We would love to take him on,” Gotzev told PhilBoxing.com.

Sillakh has traveled the world to fight, from Ukraine, where he had a phenomenal amateur record of 302-16, to Moscow, to the United States. He has made Southern California his unofficial new home, training in the northern Los Angeles area of Van Nuys at the new International Fight Center (IFC). So, other top light heavyweights cannot say that that haven’t heard of him or cannot find him. He’s right in their backyard. “…It’s no coincidence the division’s champions or their promoters never bring Sillakh’s name up. It’s because they’re all afraid to fight him, it’s that simple,” states Gotzev.

13-26

Libya’s Oil Chief Ghanem Defects, in Rome Now

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Deepa Babington

ROME (Reuters) – Libya’s top oil official Shokri Ghanem appeared in Rome on Wednesday, saying he had defected because of relentless bloodshed under Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.

A tired looking Ghanem, whose whereabouts had been unknown for several days, made a brief statement to a few reporters in the basement of a Rome hotel that he had resigned as National Oil Corp chief because of the “unbearable” violence in Libya.

“The continuous blood spill, continuous war and loss of life make it impossible for anyone to work in this environment,” said Ghanem, one of the most senior officials to desert Gaddafi.

“I left the country and decided also to leave my job and to join the choice of Libyan youth to create a modern constitutional state respecting human rights and building a better future for all Libyans.”

Ghanem, a familiar face to oil reporters with whom he enjoyed friendly banters at energy conferences, appeared tense and a shadow of his former effusive self, politely answering questions briefly before leaving.

“We will see what will happen, it’s too early to say,” he said, when asked what he would do next and if he would join the rebel movement. “I need some sort of few days rest.”
He said he had left Tripoli two weeks ago, and that some of his family remained there.

“Lot of Pressure”

Born in Tripoli, Ghanem has decades of experience in the oil sector and took the helm of Libya’s National Oil Corp. in 2006. Considered a reformer, reports emerged in 2009 that he had resigned in a turf war, but he was back at his post weeks later.

In Rome, he said had not seen Gaddafi “for months,” but still hoped for a peaceful solution to the leader’s fate. Gaddafi has shown no signs of stepping down since rebels in the east rose up against his four-decade rule in mid-February.

Asked if he thought Gaddafi would be willing to negotiate, Ghanem said: “Well he is negotiating sometimes. A few days ago he met with the South African president but of course we don’t know what is going to happen.”

When asked what the mood within the Gaddafi government was, he said: “What’s happening in Libya is that there is a lot of pressure from within and from outside.”

Ghanem, who normally led the Libyan delegation at OPEC, said oil production in Libya was “coming to a halt” because of the international sanctions.

“Very little is produced because you cannot export — if you cannot export, you cannot produce,” he said.

He added he would no longer represent Libya at OPEC.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

13-23

Osama bin-Laden and Us

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Charlotte (N.C.)–May 5th–Coming home from the Southeast of the United States, I find myself in the Charlotte (North Carolina) airport.  Charlotte’s is the Seventeenth largest city in the United States.  In the last several years, Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center, now the second largest after New York City, and the shenanigans here — such the executives of the Bank of America headquartered there, etc. — were partially the cause of the collapse of the housing market and the recession which followed from which, now, the B. Hussein Osama Administration is fighting to emerge.

Charlotte is referred to as the Queen City because the surrounding County was named after the Princess Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the Queen Consort of the (infamous “mad”  English) King George (the III) of American Revolutionary fame.  So, Charlotte is an (old for an American) city.  It is close to both the Appalachian (Mountains) and the Atlantic (Ocean).

Charlotte is not my story, but I was there when Osama bin-Laden was finally hunted down, and “slaughtered,” and, by the time I reached home on the North American Pacific Rim, he had been buried at sea; so, like Hitler last century, there would be no place for like-minded people to pilgrimage.

Arriving home last night, one of our regional (Oakland, Calif.) local evening news shows did a man-on-the-Street “survey” segment of (San Francisco) Bay Area (U.S.) citizens reaction to the “assassination” of an (undeniably) mass murderer (if you reject the conspiracy theories over 9-11 which I, personally, do).  There was one extremely thoughtful response from a Vietnam veteran: “Look., I was forced to take human lives, and sometimes this is necessary, but there is no pleasure in it!”  He is quite right.  While on this earth, life is the most valuable thing we can have, for it is only during life we can repent before Allah (SVT), and prepare ourselves for a righteous entrance into Paradise.  Bin-Laden had taken human life unmercifully, and his bloody ending is what a life of violence will lead.  That is, by his actions, his early death was inevitable.  

Fortunately, in my (forced) service as a young man, I never had to slaughter another soul, or, for that matter had been eradicated myself by an alien-commissioned “adversary.” either!  God is, indeed Great (and mercifully compassionate) to me!

Further, as an Afro-American woman interviewed on the aforementioned program, who had lost her son in battle in Afghanistan, said, because she was a Christian, she could take no delight in his passing, and Muslims, also, should not take delight in such a dispatch because he made the lives of American Muslims Hell, and worldwide more Muslim than non-Muslims had died from his policies! 

Although an evil and dangerous man, there is no joy in his death, for while we are alive we can repent before Allah (swt).  I cannot bemoan his passing, even though this man was responsible for so many — especially civilian deaths — in my natal land, and  began a tragic  war — like the Fuhrer in Germany.  I cannot delight in his death because like the Vietnam veteran, it has come to this.  I celebrate the bravery of the (U.S.) elite SEALS who accomplished what they were trained to do for their citizens!  According to reports, they did attempt to take him alive; so, we could see his sins of cruelty (or not); thus, the world could judge him in the bright light of day, and pronounce fitting justice in the cold thoughtfulness like the aloof International Courts in Nuremburg after the Second World War.

13-21

Family Planning in Islam

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO
In every bed, there is a promise.     – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Politicians like to talk about “freedom of choice.” They are talking about abortion. The assumption is that if a woman chooses not to have an abortion, then the blame, and thus, the financial and emotional responsibility for the child, rests squarely on her shoulders.

Yet, others take another approach. I’ll never forget my Italian teacher in college giving us undergrads a lecture on morals. She said something I’ve never heard anyone say out loud. “When you choose to have sex, you have made that choice.” God bless her for her audacity to speak out in the face of the victimization of women and children!

Does anyone have any idea how many poor yet honest men all over the world are living without love for months and years at a time, often going to another city for work so they can send money home to their families?

Can you imagine the terrified lifestyle of a typical Afghani woman existing on a couple bags of rice, taking care of her children alone, in the middle of a violent war, waiting for her husband to come back with some groceries in a few months?

Many families who are blessed to be together are very much together. As in, living in one room. Sharing a house with their siblings and their spouses and their children. Many families, even in Europe, live in a one room apartment. During the night, the living room becomes the bedroom.

If you have never witnessed childbirth, let me explain something to you. It really hurts. It turns your body inside out. For a woman to choose to let a man put his “gushing fluid” inside her is the voluntary personal choice to go through an experience that feels about as pleasant as having a bus roll over your body very, very slowly.

Pregnancy is a time of such sickness that if she were a man, he would choose not to work that day. Childbirth can last for days. It takes a woman three years to get back the full use of her body after having a baby, if she exercises daily. No matter what, she permanently loses the strength of her eyesight and teeth. What an unthinking man might have thought was simply a beautiful moment, for her it was a life investment. There is no such thing as “accidentally” getting someone pregnant.

In Islam, men are the maintainers of women. There is none of this weird American marital squabbling about who pays what. Motherhood is a full time job. A loving woman carries the child in her womb for nine months and then nurses the child for two years, sacrificing her calories, her strength, and her free time. A mother cannot come and go as she pleases. She cannot fall asleep whenever she feels tired. And it’s not a question of whether she wants to do it or not. Women are biologically programmed to suddenly wake up on emergency alert if her baby so much as coughs in his sleep.

Full responsibility for a baby deprives the caretaker of REM sleep.

People who are deprived of sleep for a prolonged period of time spend a lot of energy merely “coping.” But somebody has to get the bills paid while someone maintains the living standard of the home. That is why parenting is a shared responsibility. There should be no burden on the woman in addition to the full time job of raising a child in a clean and safe environment. The least a man can do is pay all her expenses.

If he cannot afford to buy his family a house, his wife and the kids can share one mattress like the majority of people in the world. Even if a man is sleeping outside, he can put a tarp over his family’s head.

Because every soul born is someone that God commanded to be born and a man must take full responsibility for his family. Anything a woman spends on household expenses is rewarded by God like donating to charity, while anything a man does to help in the home is rewarded by God as charity.

In Islam, even if the marriage does not work out, the children are still the man’s full financial responsibility. He has to keep them alive and well – not just send their mother a “donation” per month.
Women have to start taking themselves more seriously. Motherhood is a full time career worthy of a six digit income. Find a man who will do everything he can to find a way to love the mother of his children, provide them with food and a roof over their heads, and if they cannot work things out he would be aware of what it costs to raise a child.

This is what you need to be thinking about on your first date. Does the man value his future offspring? Does he have a sense of personal honor?

A man must provide for his children, not only out of some ambiguous and fluctuating emotional attachment but because they are his flesh and blood, part of his lineage. A good man is looking for a good woman who has the qualities he wants in his descendants. He is always thinking long term about how to put his DNA to proper use. The sure sign of a no good man is a man who just lets things happen. Some men think that a crime is less criminal if it’s done in the heat of passion. Yet, the act is still a deliberate act. Don’t do it without getting married first.

13-18

Shakh Tahir Qadri’s Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and Terrorism

April 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

(Continuation from last week–part four)

The Quran says:

“(Say to the people:) ‘Listen, sincere obedience and worship is only Allāh’s due. And those (disbelievers) who have taken (idols as) helpers other than Allāh (say in false justification of their idol-worship:) ‘We worship them only that they may bring us near to Allāh.’ Surely, Allāh will judge between them concerning the matter in which they differ. Certainly Allāh does not give him guidance who is a liar, very ungrateful.”

(Al-Quran, 39-3)

When the idolaters of Makka were asked the reason of idol-worship, they said the idols would get them into Allah’s proximity. The intention to attain to Allah’s nearness is good, but idol-worship is blasphemy and disbelief. The idolatry, therefore, cannot be justified because of good intention.

Similarly, the terrorists’ claim of reformation too cannot be accepted because, practically, they prove bloodshed and violence instead of some constructive work and reformation. Allah Most High says:

“And among people there is also someone whose conversation seems to you pleasing in the life of the world and who calls Allāh to witness that which is in his heart, but in truth he is most quarrelsome. And when he turns away (from you), he runs about in the land to do (everything possible) to rouse mischief and destroy crops and life. And Allāh does not like mischief and violence. And when it is said to him (on account of this tyranny and violence): ‘Fear Allāh,’ his arrogance stimulates him for more sins. Hell is, therefore, sufficient for him. And that is indeed an evil abode.”

(Al-Quran, 204-206)

These verses too describe that many people will make conversation appearing delightful in the perspective of superficial arguments. They will swear on their good intentions, and declare Allah witness to their noble objectives and pious aims. Despite their assertions and testimonial claims, however, Allah has declared them miscreants and evil-mongers to face the torment of Hell. So their swearing on their intentions has been refuted because they are doing sheer terrorism, violence and strife. Their crimes, therefore, cannot be forgiven due to their good intentions and noble designs declared on oath. This is the basic principle drawn from the Quran and Islamic Law.

These Quranic verses explain the same point:

“When it is said to them: ‘Do not spread disorder in the land,’ they say: ‘It is we who reform.’ Beware! (Truly) it is they who spread disorder, but they do not have any sense (of it) at all.”

(Al-Quran, 11-12)

Here again the mischievous and criminal mentality has been described that the miscreants never take their activities as disruption, violence and strife; rather, they call it Jihad and deeds of reconstruction and reformation. They presume that the tyrannous activities they perpetrate are aimed at greater good of society. Today’s tragedy is that terrorists, murderers, mischief-mongers and rioters try to prove their criminal, rebellious, tyrannous, and brutal blasphemous activities as a right and justified reaction to foreign aggression under the garb of defense of Islam and national interests.

They should know that, as good intention can never prove an unlawful act justified, pious designs can never prove blasphemy as righteousness, and virtuous objectives can never prove an impure act wholesome, the intention to perform Jihad, in the same way, can never prove violence and terrorism lawful and permissible. The intention to protect Islam, erect defense against foreign aggression and avenge the wrongs and excesses inflicted upon Muslim Umma is one thing, and brutal mass murder of innocent citizens, vast destruction of civil property, ruthless target killings and destruction of mosques and markets and businesses is altogether a different debacle. The former can never prove the latter lawful. The one has nothing to do with the other; there is no relevance and congruity between the two. Terrorism, carnage and mass destruction can never be justified in the name of any intention of enforcing Islamic commands and judicial system. Nor can these condemnable activities be any exception to the rule, or be overlooked, or forgiven.

The in-depth study of the Quran and Hadith makes one dauntlessly declare that Islam makes it conditional to realize the lawful objectives only through lawful means, to attain to the noble targets only through permissible resources and reach the sacred destinations by treading only the righteous ways. A holy goal can never be attained by following an evil and criminal path. Constructing a mosque is a pious act, but it cannot be proved lawful to do it by looting a bank. The objectives of mercy cannot be achieved through cruel and oppressive ways. The designs of an exalted pious person cannot be materialized by adopting blasphemous methodology. In sum, good cannot be earned by evil means. Fair is fair and foul is foul. This is Satan who says, ‘fair is foul and fouls is fair.’ This is the majesty and purity of Din that it has purified and reformed both the destination and its path. It has made both objective and method pure and upright.

The people who base their argument on the Hadith, ‘actions are judged according to intentions,’ in order to justify their brutal ways and cursed means, make false and heretic implications. They cannot set a wrong thing right. This Hadith signifies only those actions that are proved pious, permissible and lawful. Their acceptability has been based on trueness of intention. If the intention is pure, they will be accepted, or they will be rejected. If the intention is not good, or the coveted intention does not exist, the actions will not be considered acts of worship, despite their apparent righteous value. They will be rejected or discredited. But the actions that are forbidden, unjust, unlawful and blasphemous cannot be made permissible, lawful, just and creditable by even extremely good intentions joined together. This is such an Islamic principle and legal formula as no one of the Companions, pious predecessors, Imams, and authorities of hadith and exegeses has departed from to date. Some scholars have also interpreted this hadith, ‘actions are judged according to intentions,’ as pointing to manifestation of deeds according to intentions. The actions take shape according to the intentions. So a terrorist’s actions speak of his intentions. His killings and destructive activities refer to his foul intention and condemnable ideas and beliefs. His heinous actions cannot stem from pious intentions and beliefs. The bloodshed he causes refers only to a cruel man inside him and not any kind and merciful soul. It is, therefore, evident that whatever false implications and foul justifications these rebels, criminals, evil-mongers, tyrannous brutes may put forth to prove their atrocities as act of Jihad, they have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.

The Holy Quran has vividly described them in this verse:

“It is those whose entire struggle is wasted in worldly life, but they presume they are doing very good works.”

(Al-Quran, 18: 104)

12-14

M.K. Gandhi and the Birth of Israel

March 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Gandhi1 Oakland–My Pakistani friends have no great respect for the “great soul,” because they are of the opinion that his great political skills dominated his moral authority, but it must be remembered that, although a Hindu, he supported the Caliphate Movement (the Sultan of Turkey as the temporal leader of Islam) during the 1920s.  Further, he gained the ire of international Zionism’s claims to Palestine which was an exacerbating point to South Asian Islam, in addition.  Therefore, your essayist has decided to write about the ideas of this great man on Palestine.  It must be remembered that he spoke up for the welfare of Muslims as well as Hindus in India.  If many of his ideas had been incorporated at the birth of an independent South Asia, there may not have been a Partition, nor would we be staring down a nuclear “gun” in that region, too.

Your author starts his composition with a remembered reading of “The Jews in Palestine” (Harijan of November 26, 1938: Collected Works, Volume 74).   As remembered, it permitted some room for a one-State solution in Israel-Palestine, but reading it closely again, there is not; yet, in a comment to a reporter, shortly before his death the profound man gave a suggestion for a solution to resolve the conundrum.  If that proposal had been taken seriously, the crisis in the Middle East might not be before us today.

Gandhi’s mind was a curious mixture of the practical and impractical.  His ideas on the Abrahamic “Holy Land” bear this out.  “I cannot…say…I have made a…study of the…religion [Judaism], but I have studied as much as a layman can…” (Interview in The Jewish Chronicle, London, Oct. 2nd, 1931).  In fact, he makes no references of the traditional Indian Jewish communities — the Cochin, the Bombay and the Baghdadi.  He seems to have known little about them.  In fact, as he states in his article we shall be discussing, he knew “…the Jews…in South Africa…” (“The Jews in Palestine,” the Harijan Nov. 26th 1938).  Incidentally, South Africa was where he developed his methodologies on non-violence.

Although he states that he will be talking about the “Jewish Question” in relation to Palestine and Germany, he knows very little about European Jewry and Palestine itself.  He states in the same commentary as mentioned above:  “I should love to go… [to]…the Holy Land…”  Much of what he does know about contemporary European Jewry and Palestine comes from Central European (German) and Zionist itself propaganda.

The whole question of a one-State resolution of the Israeli issue, which I do not personally hold, came in a conversation I had with Richard Falk, the United Nations’ Human Rights Rapporteur to (Israel’s) Occupied territories (Palestine) [Muslim Observer, March 19, 2009].  The Legal Doctor stated “The two-State solution is being undermined…because of the expansion of the Settlements and house demolitions…” Although some Palestinian intellectuals themselves are beginning to come to this position, too, such as Ali Abunimah who founded and maintains the Electronic Infitada (see his One Country).  A one State solution would not work well in my opinion because the Israeli right would repress it due to the fact that Israel would cease to be a Jewish State.  Within Israel itself, it has support within their Left, though.

Curiously, Falk had not read Gandhi’s central essay which we shall look at, and he made a note to do so.  In other collections of what M.K. Gandhi said and in Zionist replies to the piece the subject is often called the “Jewish Problem.”  Most scholars who discuss it today note this is not how we speak of it today.  No way is Judaism a “problem,” but a perversion of it, Zionism, is.  Most politicized aspects of all religions do have a “perverted” wing, also.  Politics and religions make devious bedfellows.

First I shall go through an exegesis of his text “The Jews in Palestine.”  He refers to it as the “Arab-Jewish” question – not the Palestinian issue.  Moreover, in accord with my statement above, when Gandhi applies the words “Jew” or “Jewish,” etc., please mentally replace it with ”Zionist” or “Zionism” to avoid the sectarianism of the time.  The founding and maintaining of the State of Israel was a Zionist project that involved only a small part of the Jewish people.  Furthermore, the function of Christian Zionism cannot be ignored although it is not relevant to this paper; and, thus shall be ignored in this paper.

Mohandas Gandhi, ever the adroit politician, states, “My sympathies are…with the Jews,” Then, he switches his position “…my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice.”  He points out the “mythical” basis for the demand for homeland for the Jews in Palestine within the text of the Bible itself.  Clearly, he states his opposition to a Jewish State with these famous words, “Palestine belongs to the Arab…[as]…England belongs to the English or France to the French.  It is wrong and inhuman to…impose the Jews on the Arabs.”  Further, the Mahatma, as in his struggle in India, appeals to his readers’ ethical sensibility:  “What is going on…cannot  be justified by any code of conduct.”  It is quite apparent here that Gandhi’s perceptions are still relevant in this century.
More importantly, “It would be a crime against humanity to reduce the…Arabs…that Palestine can be restored to the Jews…”  This is a pretty strong attack upon the Zionists of the time since the principle of “crimes against humanity” had not been established in International Law.  Strangely, Gandhi had accused Zionists of collaboration with the Nazis as Lenni Brunner’s book (Zionism in the Age of Dictators), written in our generation, does.  Gandhi states in the essay under discussion, “…a cry for a national home affords a…justification for the German expulsion of the Jews…” to which, curiously, the archives of the Third Reich, that Brenner utilizes in his book, attest. 

M.K. Gandhi goes on to damn the National Socialist regime in Berlin.  He asks “Is England drifting towards armed dictatorship….?”  Here he is  equating his struggle in British India and the conflict in West Asia.  He makes assumptions that often are inaccurate because he cannot get away from his Indian environment.  He applies the Jewish concept of God with his Hindu perception of the Divine:  “…Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, Mussalmans [another word not used much anymore because it is in bad taste] or the Hindus.”  Gandhi’s theology is quite mistaken here.  Muslims and Christians look to a most personal God, too.  All three religious systems deriving from the Numen of Abraham share this principle.  Therefore, for Mohandas Gandhi “…the Jews ought not feel helpless.”  Further, “The same God rules the Jewish heart…[that]…rules the  Arab heart.” 

M.K. Gandhi felt that the Jews (Zionists] were going about it the wrong way.  He does not say that they cannot emigrate there, but they have to do so under Palestinian law. “The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract.”  This is, also, true for non-indigenous Muslims and Christians — except for their sacred places.  Thus, it is mere a locality “…in their hearts.”

“…it is wrong [for the Zionists] to enter it under the shadow of the British bayonet…”  Here Gandhi is speaking in terms of the Indian reality again, and, I believe, does not fully understand the crisis in the Levant of his period in history!

“ They can settle in Palestine …by the goodwill of the Arabs.”  That is under their law and permission, and it follows that they can only buy the land that the Arabs may alienate – not grabbing it violently from the Palestinians as they have proceeded to do!  He advises them to “…seek to convert the Arab heart.”  Further, he emphasizes the commonality between the two peoples, “…there are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they [the Zionists] discard…the…British bayonet.”  (Again he is in looking at Palestine from the perspective of India once more, and considers the two resistances as one against the same Imperialism,) but the Mahatma accuses the Zionists that “…they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling…people who have done [them] no wrong…”  For the Mahatma his interest and attraction for Palestine is that they are both English “possessions,” which is only partly accurate.  For him what pushes this view askew is the Zionist factors that are actively plotting to steal the land when the Colonialist leaves.  Fortunately, this was not true in South Asia where the dominant demand was just as disrupting – a homeland for the Muslims.  Gandhi seems to have envisioned Palestine as a Muslim majority Mandate, which in actuality it was not so.  Although the United Kingdom invented the census for British India, they never had a chance to apply it to their Middle Eastern jurisdictions.  The best estimates are that before 1948, 45% of the population were native Christians; next the Muslims; then Palestinian Jews. 

It was a multi-sectarian State or Province that worked!  There was little tension between the three groups.  The establishment of the State of Israel lowered the Christian population to 7%; the Muslims now dominate the Occupied Territories, and the Arab Jews there were forced into Israel proper where they are treated rather shabbily for being “Oriental.”  Historically, the Jews were treated better in Islamic dominated areas than in Europe.  The Christian less so probably because of the mistrust generated from the Crusades.  After the establishment of Israel, unfortunately, Jews in other Islamic lands became highly resented.  Israel itself, also was perceived as a European neo-colony in the midst of Arab territory, and a threat to all of Islam.

Although Gandhi did not approve of the ferocity of the Arab defiance, for he wishes they had chosen non-violence, under the circumstances, “…nothing can be said against the Arab resistance…”

M.K. Gandhi concludes his important essay by urging the Jews to employ non-violence in Germany since it had been effective in India, but, realistically, would not in Germany.  Unfortunately, Zionism itself was entwined within the fascist goals by destabilizing the British Empire in the Middle East.  In his last paragraph Gandhi says “[The Jews] can command…[the] respect of the world by being [truly] the chosen creation of God instead of the brute beast…forsaken of God.”

Shortly before the end of his life, when it was likely that a State of Israel would be formed, a Doon Campbell of Reuters (the news gathering agency) asked our subject, “What is the solution of the Palestine problem?  Gandhi replied, It “… seems almost insoluble.  If I were a Jew, I would tell them:  Do not…resort to terrorism [in which the Zionists were engaged at the time].  The Jews should meet the Arabs, make friends with them, and not depend on British [non-players now]…or American aid.” (A.K. Ramakrishnan, The Wisdom).  How much different would the world be if we followed Mohandas Gandhi’s words, and that includes the Islamic world in the Middle East! 

M.K. Gandhi, a South Asian thinker has had a tremendous influence worldwide during the last century into this century.  Although his solutions were or seemed impractical, many of them can be re-examined now to see if we can extract anything practical for our times.  Though he had never been to West Asia, if his suggestions had been factored into the equation, the crisis that presently threatens a World War, which, most assuredly, would bring in the West, would never have unfolded in such a dangerous manner.  Still, what he replied to Doon Campbell’s question is even now applicable.  Washington should step aside from acerbating the conflict, and let the two parties negotiate amongst themselves.  At this point both sides should follow non-violence to allow the talks to proceed, and the West can enforce non-violence only if it has to do so.  M.K. Gandhi even at this time has much to say to our world.

12-13

Shakh Tahir Qadri’s Detailed Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and Terrorism

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Leading Islamic Scholar’s Detailed Fatwa Against Suicide Bombing and All Forms of Terrorism – Shaykh Tahir Qadri

Shaykh-Tahir-Qadri A torturous spate of terrorism that continues unabated for last many years has brought Muslim Umma in general and Pakistan in particular into disrepute. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Muslims on the whole oppose and condemn terrorism in unequivocal terms and are not ready to accept it even as remotely related to Islam in any manner. However, a negligible minority amongst them seems to give it a tacit support. Instead of openly opposing and condemning terrorism, these people confuse the entire subject by resorting to misleading and perplexing discussions. Injustice being currently meted out to the Muslims in certain matters, double standards displayed by bigger powers and their open-ended and long-term military engagements in a number of countries, under the pretext of eliminating terror, form some of the fundamental local, national and international causes that underpin terrorism, and add a punch to the war cry of militants.

Similarly, the terrorists’ recourse to violence, indiscriminate massacre of humanity, suicide bombings against innocent and peaceful people, and bomb blasts on Mosques, shrines, educational institutions, Bazaars, governmental buildings, trade centers, markets, security installations, and other public places, which are heinous, anti-human and barbarous steps in their very essence, have become a routine affair. These people justify their actions of human destruction and mass killing of hundreds of innocent people in the name of Jihad and thus distort, deform and confuse the entire Islamic concept of Jihad (holy struggle against evil). This situation is causing Muslims in general and the Muslim youth in particular to fall prey to doubts and reservations besides muddling their minds in respect of Jihad because those perpetrating these atrocities are from amongst Muslims. They practice Islamic rituals, perform acts of worship and wear appearance delineated in Sharia. This has put not only the common Muslims but a dominating majority of religious scholars and intellectuals too into a paradox, bewildered to know truly the exact and precise Islamic injunctions about the way of workings, methods and measures these individuals and groups have adopted to cause the havoc.

Furthermore, the Western media is in wont of over-projecting the incidents and episodes of terrorism and extremism about the Muslim world, and does not at all highlight positive and constructive aspects of Islam, its peaceful teachings and anthropological philosophy and orientation. So much so, that it does not even reflect hatred, condemnation and opposition towards extremists, militants and terrorists that permeate the Muslim societies. The negative outcome of this attitude has appeared by way of bracketing both Islam and terrorism together. Consequently, the western mind starts conjuring up the picture of terrorism and extremism at a slight mention of the word ‘Islam’, putting the Western-bred and educated youth in a quandary, leaving them more beleaguered than before. The present generation of Muslim youth in the entire Islamic world is also falling victim to mental confusion and decadence intellectually, practically and in the domain of beliefs and religious tenets.

Because of this situation, two kinds of negative responses and destructive attitudes are forming up: one in the form of damage to Islam and the Muslim world, and second a threat to the Western world in particular and entire humanity in general. The damage to Islam and Muslim world is that the Muslim youth, not completely and comprehensively aware of Islamic teachings, regard terrorism and extremism as emanating from religious teachings and attitudes of religious people under the influence of media; hence, they are getting alienated from religion. This misplaced thinking is leading them to atheism, posing lethal dangers to the Muslim Umma in future. Contrary to this, the damage threatening the Western world in particular, and entire humanity in general, is that the above-mentioned policies and racial profiling of the Muslims is inciting negative response among some of the Muslim youths who regard these forays against Islam as an organized conspiracy and enmity by some influential circles in the western world. By way of reaction, they are either gradually becoming extremists, militants and terrorists, departing moderation and poised outlook on life, charged with hatred and revenge, or are being grown and groomed into the design. Thus, the Western policies are instrumental in producing and inducting new potential terrorist recruits and workforce, with no end in sight. In both the cases, the Muslim Umma as well as humanity are heading towards a catastrophe.

Moreover, these circumstances are heightening tension, creating larger trust deficits between the Islamic and the Western worlds. The increase in terrorism is paving the way for greater foreign interference in and pressure on the Muslim states. This widening gulf is not only pushing the humanity towards inter-faith antagonism at the global level but also reducing to nothingness the possibilities of peace, tolerance and mutual coexistence among different human societies on the globe. We thought it necessary, under these circumstances, to put the Islamic stance on terrorism precisely in its right perspective before the Western and Islamic worlds, in the light of the Holy Quran, Prophetic traditions and Books of Jurisprudence and Beliefs. We want to put across this point of view before all the significant institutions, valuable think tanks and influential opinion-making organizations in the world so that the Muslim and non-Muslim circles, entertaining doubts and reservations about Islam, are enabled to understand Islam’s standpoint on terrorism more clearly and unambiguously. The contents of this research work have been summarized here briefly.

The first chapter of this document, explaining and elaborating the meaning of Islam, discusses its three grades i.e. Islam (peace), Iman (faith) and Ehsan (Spiritual Excellence). These three words, both literally and metaphorically, represent peace, safety, mercy, tolerance, forbearance, love, affection, benevolence and respect for humanity. It has been proven in the second chapter of this document through dozens of Quranic verses and Prophetic traditions that the mass killing of Muslims and perpetration of terrorism are not only unlawful and forbidden in Islam but also denote the rejection of faith. Through reference to the expositions and opinions of jurists and experts of Exegeses and Hadith, it has been established that all the learned authorities have held the same opinion about terrorism in 1400-year-old history of Islam.

The third chapter of this edict describes the rights of non-Muslim citizens quite comprehensively. The opinions of all the leading jurists have also been listed in the light of various Quranic verses and Prophetic traditions.

In addition to that, the most important point this research study has undertaken to make revolves around the thought, ideology and mindset, which pits a Muslim against another and finally leads him to massacre innocent humanity. Such a mindset not only regards the killing of women shopping in markets and School-going girls permissible but also a means of earning rewards and spiritual benefits. What power or conviction rouses him to kill people gathered in the mosque, and earn Paradise through carnage? Why does a terrorist decide to end his own life, the greatest blessing of Allah Almighty, with his own hands through suicide bombings? How he comes to believe that, by killing innocent Muslims through suicide bombing, he would become a martyr and enter Paradise? These are the questions whirling in the mind of every person possessing common sense. While furnishing befitting answers to these emerging questions, we have resorted to those historical facts, besides scholarly arguments, which the Holy Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) himself identified. Undertaking the comprehensive analysis of signs, beliefs and ideologies of Khawarij through the Quranic Verses, Prophetic traditions and jurisprudential opinions of jurists, we have established that the terrorists are the Khawarij of the contemporary times.

After declaring this forbidden terrorist act rebellion, gory brutality on earth and an act of infidelity, we have drawn the attention of all the responsible powers and stakeholders under the topic, “Call to Reflect and Reform” to the need of eliminating all the factors that cause people to entertain doubts, and reinforce the hidden hands actively engaged in spreading the plague around. Another theme under discussion these days emphasizes that since foreign imperialist powers are making unwarranted and unjustified interference in Muslim countries including Pakistan, the so-called Jihadi groups have come in their way to launch the offensive, inflicting upon them a devastating blow. Their action though not right and justifiable, they should not be reviled and condemned because their intention is to defend Islam. In our view, this is an awful witticism and a deplorable stance. To remove the misconception, we have specified a brief portion of the treatise in the beginning to this subject as well, bringing to the fore the fact in the light of the Quran and Hadith that evil cannot become good under any circumstances, nor can oppression transform itself into virtuous deed due to goodness of intention.

After these explanatory submissions, we also regard it our fundamental duty to let everyone know without any grain of doubt that we are going ahead with the publication of this research work solely for the sake of respect and dignity of Islam and service of humanity. We do not mean to condone or approve the unpopular and unwise policies of global powers through this Edict, nor do we aim to justify the wrong policies of any government including that of Pakistan. We neither seek pleasure of any government, nor tribute or appreciation from any international power or organization. Like always, we have taken initiative and are performing this task as a part of our religious obligations. Our objective in doing so is to wash off the stain of terrorism from the fair face of Islam, familiarizing the Muslims with real teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunna and try to rid the suffering humanity of the raging fire of terrorism.

May Almighty Allah bless this endeavour with His benevolent acceptance through the holy means of His Beloved Messenger (s).

– to be continued –