Islam and Politics
Bad times have visited the Arabs before, but 2014 was a year from hell. The region stretching from Beirut to Basra continued to slowly disintegrate, with people clinging more than ever to their primordial identities as if the colonial constructs of the Nation-States that emerged after the First World War were only a passing moment. Most Arabs in that part of the ephemeral Arab World are now seeing themselves and are being seen as Sunnis and Shiites, while others are stressing their Christian, Druze, Kurdish, and Turkoman identities….
The fact of the matter is: Pakistan is guilty of genocides, of unrest and terrorism not only in its own land but in neighbouring India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. And it is high time we owned up to it, recognised the terribleness of ourselves, and made it criminal to deny our state’s shortcomings and brutalities. We must start making it criminal to deny our own genocides. Make it criminal to be a Taliban apologist, ostracise and hold accountable anyone who does not outright call their entire cause terrorism and differentiates between “good” and bad Taliban…….
The Muslim world is in the grip of the “foreign hand”, which usually means America. The current myth is that the Islamic State (IS), by killing Shia Muslims in Iraq and Syria, is actually working for the Americans because “it is a creation of America”. In Pakistan, add India. Or better still, tag Israel too. At times, it is amazing how inspectors general of police will insist on the “foreign hand”, even after the Taliban has owned up to a big hit. The message behind their insistence is that the Taliban is actually an agent of America, India and Israel. Hafiz Saeed has recently used this device; only this time, no one in Pakistan is prepared to listen….
The term "Takfiri" refers merely to a notion — there is no evidence of Islamist groups misjudging others. For anyone who acknowledges God and the prophet is not an infidel. We cannot know what is inside people's hearts. Death sentences like these must be supported by evidence and witnesses. They must be issued with confidence, not by suspicion….
Successive governments have spent billions of rupees on madrasa reform projects, since a number of notorious militants were associated with various seminaries before they went on killing sprees “in the name of Islam.” The top management of the Wafaq has always rejected allegations of spreading extremism and preaching violence….
There is an Arab saying about depriving people of options. It says: “Don’t break a full loaf of bread and don’t eat from a broken loaf -- but feel free to eat as much as you want.” This is the international community’s response to Palestinian efforts to end the unjust 47-year-old Israeli occupation. When Palestinians use armed resistance, which is legal by international law, they are called terrorists and asked to refrain from acts that endanger the lives of Israelis whose offensive actions against the people of Gaza are “legitimate” self-defence….
Some 23 defendants in 20 cases have been indicted to date, most from Jamaat-e-Islami, which had opposed independence. The tribunal has so far handed down verdicts on 14 defendants – all found guilty of offences including crimes against humanity, murder and rape. Eleven were sentenced to death, two to life in prison and another to 90 years in jail. Two of them have died in prison. The trials of the remaining eight are in progress….
Eyad Abu Shakra
Amid this mood of goodwill Tunisia is taking its first steps on a long path, however we must also keep some interesting facts in mind. Foremost among which is that Tunisia, the pioneer of change in the “Arab Spring”, entered its latest elections in a state of relative stability and broad national consensus. Some may belittle the role of the forces of civil society in achieving this by pointing to the fact that Tunisia has learnt a lot from the tragedies that other countries suffered during this period of momentous…
Even with four Arab states in the throes of chaos – Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; with Israel hammering Gaza and colonizing the West Bank; with Jordan and Lebanon engulfed by the fallout; there has not been one coherent Arab peace plan. Israel, Turkey and Iran still look the players most able to define the agenda even though they too like their Arab counterparts, declining influence and status internationally. Inter-Arab rivalries are, if anything, worse and often bitter and personal….
Thirty-four years ago, the people of Konya had to take to the streets to shout "Death to the Jew," wave Palestinian flags and chant all possible Quranic slogans -- and clash with the military for doing it. Today, they enjoy the Islamist ritual at the regional congress of the country's ruling party, with "a son of their city" running the show from the seat of the prime minister. Thirty-four years ago, their hearts and minds were united with their Palestinian brothers, but a public "Jerusalem meeting" could earn them a jail sentence.....
Across Indonesia, religious minorities, including Christians and Shia Muslims, have increasingly been harassed, threatened and attacked by Sunni Islamist militant groups like the Islamic Defenders Front. Indonesia’s Setara Institute, which monitors religious freedom in the country, recorded 220 cases of violent attacks on religious minorities in 2013, an increase from 91 such cases in 2007……
Driven by Cold War goals, the Western countries, along with Pakistan, supported and glorified non-state violent groups fighting in Afghanistan against the former USSR. They called their fight a “jihad,” in stark contrast to the real meaning of the word. Thus, the perverse political strategies of these countries, rather than religion, have contributed to making terrorism so common over there. Dumped subsequently by their state supporters, many of these rebels and their followers still scout the subcontinent and beyond, searching for new causes….
This year, the Islamic State (IS) movement emerged as the main jihadist group in Iraq and Syria. Unlike al-Qaeda’s slow-paced approach to jihad, the group employs “total war” and “mass casualty” approaches, giving it credibility within the jihadist community. The brutal reputation of IS fighters on the battlefield have further inspired radical-minded individuals seeking instant outcomes and combat experience to join the notorious terrorist group. In Indonesia, the operational dynamics of IS have had a profound impact, radicalizing local Muslim youths and drawing many to the theater of conflict…..
Khaled Abu Toameh
These groups are opposed to the resolution not only because of the purported concessions it offers on the issues of refugees, prisoners, Jerusalem and borders, but also because it calls for a resumption of peace talks with Israel under the auspices of the US….
Erdogan appeared on TV, reading -- in an unusually soft voice -- a letter by the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed al-Beltagy. The letter was written to Beltagy's daughter Asmaa, a 17-year-old girl, who had been killed in Cairo when security forces stormed two protest camps occupied by supporters of the deposed president. Poor Asmaa had been shot in the chest and back. "I believe you have been loyal to your commitment to God, and He has been to you," her father wrote in the letter. "Otherwise, He would not have called you to His presence before me." Erdogan's tears were visible.....
Muslims cannot even begin to deal with the malignancy in their midst until they disown the inherently capable-of-mutating legacy of Wahhab, al-Banna, Qutb and Maududi, purge themselves of the idea that while a secular state is a compulsion where Muslims are in a minority, an Islamic state is the ideal. Perhaps they should get better acquainted with Hassan al-Banna’s younger brother, Gamal, who died last year. According to Gamal, Middle Age interpretations of the Quran “should be thrown into the sea”. In 2008, he wrote a book arguing that all sayings attributed to the Prophet that are misogynistic, against freedom of religion or promote violence, must be rejected since they are not consonant either with Quranic teachings or the life of Mohammed.......
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
For the Muslims, the present age is, in essence, one of struggle. This period commenced in 1799, when Sultan Tipu of India (then undivided) was killed by the British army in Mysore. From that point onwards the Muslims launched themselves on a course of violent and unceasing struggle. Yet, after more than 200 years of such strenuous endeavour, there has been no positive outcome. In this long, hard and violent struggle, the whole Ummah has been involved, some passively and others actively. But after a monumental sacrifice of life and resources, this struggle has failed to produce the desired result. At the present juncture, there is no justification for continuing with this pattern of conflict. Now, ultimately, the time has come for Muslims to re-plan their strategy.....
Abdullah's decision to keep spending at all-time highs reflects the House of Saud's conviction that the greatest danger to its survival is at home from disaffected citizens. The Saudis are much more worried about internal unrest than most outside observers — of course the royals know more about internal stresses than most outsiders. With the king and Crown Prince Salman in poor health, this is not the time for social disorder or risky experiments in political reform. Not opening the door for women to drive is one reflection of the conservative mind set…..
The struggle between good and evil never ends. We should stand against evil, not the people. We should raise our voices against evil practices, not against a single person or a party. If we want to live in harmony we should condemn evil in a chorus. The evil today is autocracy, one-man rule, the undermining of rule of law and the use of hate as a political strategy….
The paradigm of conflict resolution has to change from reaction to prevention, and transformation from state-centred to human and people’s-centred perspective in analyzing and addressing conflict. Acehnese had prayed in silence for too long. In wars their voices had been silenced. Today, in peace, the downtrodden, especially the women, are still not able to have their voices heard. They still have to pray in silence.....
Turkey is probably no more wanted in the SCO than in the EU or among Arab nations in the Middle East. The SCO's heavyweights are Russia and China, both of which support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan's one-time best regional ally and presently his regional nemesis. During Putin's high-profile visit to Ankara at the beginning of December, Erdogan had to admit that Turkey and Russia "keep on falling apart" on the issue of Syria. For Russia, Turkey means $$$$.......
Tunisians have a rich civil experience that saved them - the legacy of the late Habib Bourguiba who established a civil culture based on justice, laws and on mutual respect. This culture obstructed religious fascist movements who sought to take over governance by using democracy and disrespecting its rules - just as similar groups have done in Egypt and just as other groups are currently doing in Libya in their bid to forcefully take over the parliament and presidency…..
Nadeem F. Paracha
There’s a war on in Pakistan and it’s largely existentialist in nature. It’s a war for the mind, body and soul of the idea that drove the ‘Pakistan Movement’ and succeeded in creating a separate and sovereign Muslim-majority enclave in South Asia. It’s not a recent war. It’s been raging between various political, intellectual and religious sections of the enclave’s polity and society for over six decades now…..
In Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, the candle-like minarets of the Central Mosque look out over streets and alleyways filled with a plethora of churches and cathedrals. Yet these two Abrahamic religions do not co-exist quite as peacefully in many other parts of Nigeria, which is about half Muslim and half Christian; bouts of violence have broken out periodically since the 1960s, mainly in the northern and central parts of the country, many of which are under Islamic law, or Sharia ….
Saudi effort to tone down its clerics is mild, hesitant and belated compared to what some Muslim states do. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan already routinely use cameras. Kuwait has long installed tape-recorders to monitor Friday sermons. Preachers in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates need not write their own sermons…..