Books and Documents
Islam and Politics

Ramadan, Beijing Style

Though concentrated in western China, Islam is practiced across the country, with more than 23m adherents. Having spread to China along land and sea trade routes as early as the 7th century, Islam is embedded in Chinese history and society. Beijing alone has an estimated population of 250,000 Muslims, most classified by state demographers as Hui but who, apart from religious belief, are largely indistinguishable from the majority Han Chinese population. Islam in China tends to be practiced with broad flexibility……


Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, has just begun — but a number of China’s 23 million Muslims won’t be allowed to participate in the daily fast that is so central to the holiday, and in some cases are even barred from entering mosques. Authorities in Xinjiang, a largely Muslim semi-autonomous region in China’s northwest, have sharply limited Ramadan observance for Muslim students, teachers, and civil servants, who are now prohibited from “fasting and other religious activities.” “China has taken draconian steps to smother Islam as a means of subordinating Uighur nationalist sentiment”….

The Principle of Survival Defines the Middle East
Rami G. Khouri

There is no single thread that explains the turbulent Middle East today, no single map being redrawn, no one dominant force that motivates the actions of hundreds of millions of agitated people. The drivers that make individuals behave in certain ways are multiple and fluid – including economic needs, social stresses, sectarian fears, nationalist aspirations, material greed, religious protective actions, anti-colonial and anti-occupation resistance and others……


World Is Wrestling With A Variety of Events, All Classed Under the Name of Islam
Ooi Kee Beng

Given the hierarchic and caste-based nature of the many ancient Indic kingdoms that dotted the archipelago, Islam came as a liberating ideology for the lower classes. This democratization of religious consciousness did not go very far, and traditional authoritarian structures of power did in fact prevail. The nine sultans in Malaysia and the Brunei Sultanate are a case in point. Culturally, however, a sense of Islamic cosmopolitanism, inclusiveness and liberation was enhanced over time. Such had been the peaceful historical nature of Islam in Southeast Asia…..

In Other Parts of the Muslim World, Religion and Politics Just Might Be Working
Jonathan Steele

Mustapha al-Khalfi, minister of communications, says that four factors explain Morocco’s stability: political pluralism and the wisdom of the mainstream parties in refusing to join revolutionary movements; the effectiveness of civil society; the consensus behind a road map for reform via the new constitution; and the central role of the monarchy in leading the reforms.  “We’re not here to challenge his Majesty but to work under his leadership in co-operation with others.  We’re not going to succeed unless we do it in a gradual manner. The monarchy is not the problem.  It’s the solution,”….


The Arab Millennials Will Be Back
Juan Cole

Over the next two or three decades, as they come into their own politically, expect big changes in the region.  Someday, there will undoubtedly be an Arab Summer and the youth of this era will be honored for what they did against all odds.  Mubarak’s hired thugs attempted to ride them down with camels.  That regime isn't there anymore and the Millennials are biding their time.  We haven't heard the last of their generation......


Simple answer; the embrace of Wahabism in Malaysia is a source of radicalisation among Muslims here. In 2001, the PBS news programme Frontline noted that Saudi Government has been franchising Wahabism all over the globe; disguising their operation by funding charity work, education and religious institution....


The Negative Results of Envero-Islamism in Turkish Foreign Policy
Ihsan Yilmaz

The results clearly show that Turkey must jettison the Envero-Islamist foreign policy and return to its soft-power diplomacy, which enables Turkey to talk to everyone in the region and to act as an impartial referee. ....


Ban on Jamat-ud Dawah: Possibilities and Apprehensions
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

As for the Jihadi organisation of Jamat-ud-Dawah, it was initially formed for jihad in Kashmir and during the strife in Kashmir; thousands of fighters of Lashkar-e-Taiba fought Indian forces which brought the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue and the nature of the dispute between the two countries to prominence. In Pakistan Lashkar-e-Taiba got special appreciation when two professors of Lahore Engineering University, Prof. Hafiz Sayeed and Prof. Zafar Iqbal contacted donors in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to establish an educational centre called Markaz-ud-Dawah wal Irshad. The tense situation between India and Pakistan also proved beneficial for this and in a very short period of time, a powerful organisation and a religious madrasa came into existence……

Remains of the Hate: Denial Has Reached Surreal Proportions in the Paradise Island
Frances Harrison

Sri Lanka has just experienced the worst communal violence in decades but you wouldn’t always know it from the behaviour of its politicians. Six members of the main Opposition party went on a fact-finding mission to look into the well-being of the animals in Dehiwala Zoo, in particular the deaths of lions and hippopotamuses. No matter that four humans had just died, 80 injured and hundreds of properties including at least 17 mosques attacked, leaving thousands homeless. A few days earlier, Muslims living near the zoo had been planning to evacuate after wild rumours spread that their houses could also be attacked by the extreme Sinhala chauvinist group, the Bodu Bala Sena....

Oh, Muslim Awake!
Harun Yahya

Oh, Muslim Awake!
Harun Yahya

The seemingly endless conflicts pitting brother against brother in the Muslim world has been a significant problem for years with no appropriate solution in sight. Western countries disregard this internal turmoil and conflict to the extent that even the resultant casualties are essentially of less importance to them. Numerous media organizations that make the death throes of a beached dolphin or whale their main story in their news bulletins and even dispatch an army of reporters to cover it, regard the bloodbath in Muslim countries as falling into the category of third page reports……

Turkey and the ISIL Nonsense
Taha Özhan

As such, the question of what exactly Turkey did to bring about the chaos in Syria seriously needs to be attended to. An analysis - beyond the public diplomacy and intelligence manipulations that do not rely on any evidence - is needed. It is highly probable that such an analysis will state that despite minor conjectural and tactical errors, Turkey not only did not contribute to the crisis, but to a great extent it absorbed the impact of the crisis…..


As Iraq Dies, Kurdistan Is Born
Tarek Fatah

Iraq is imploding in a fiery mess as it nears its expiry date, and from its ashes a new nation is raising - Kurdistan. While pundits debate who is to blame for this "unforeseen" crisis, it has little to do with the ill-fated invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the George W. Bush-Tony Blair team, or the limp foreign policy of Barack Obama. What is emerging today is a result of seeds planted nearly a century ago…..

Saudi Arabia Sees Allies among Iraq's Sunni Tribes
Abdulmajeed al-Buluwi

The most catastrophic scenario from the Saudis' perspective is the actual partitioning of Iraq into a south dominated by Iranian-controlled militias and a west and north dominated by jihadist organizations headed by ISIS. In other words, Riyadh does not want an Iraq in which it’s Sunni and Shiite radical adversaries each control portions of Iraq’s border with Saudi Arabia…..


'Brother, Brother, Do You Believe That There Is Hope For The Muslim Ummah?' Asked a Young Man Dressed In Traditional Afghani Pashtun Attire
Ramzy Baroud

“Brother, do you believe that there is hope for the Muslim Ummah?” He inquired about the future of a nation, which he believed we both indisputably belonged to, and anxiously awaited as if my answer carried any weight at all and would put his evident worries at ease. Perhaps more startling than his question is that I was not surprised…..


Monsters of Our Own Making
Aijaz Zaka Syed

Watching the latest fun and games in Iraq and the fine mess that the empire has made of the fabled Mesopotamia is both edifying and sobering. This is where it all began: civilisation, society, culture, art and perhaps life itself. The home of Euphrates and Tigris, the cradle of civilisation. This is the land of Dar Al Hikma, the house of wisdom from where the light of knowledge shone across the world and saw the Muslim civilisation touch the pinnacle of its glory......

About a decade ago, George Bush had destroyed Iraq on the pretext of WMD and its relations with Al Qaeda. But today a branch of the same Al Qaeda has attacked Iraq ironically with the US help. This has made the hypocrisy of the US on terrorism flagrantly evident. Today, soldiers and common people have come out in the support of the rebels due to the hypocritical policies of the US. The dirty politics played by the US in the region and the destruction of the region socially, politically and economically by the US has turned the people against the US and they want a government which is free from the influence of the US so that they can rewrite their own destiny. For this purpose, they are willing to support any force that could challenge the American hegemony. This is the reason they have extended their support to a Takfiri militant organisation....

The Myth of Sykes-Picot and Its Shortcomings
Nuray Mert

ISIL may believe in its own fantasies about the history of the Middle East and claim that it is “smashing the Sykes-Picot borders,” but we need to be more literate about the past and more sober about the present. Enough is enough about the myth of Sykes-Picot. It is true that the infamous secret agreement was more or less reflected in the drawing of the borders of a number of modern Arab states after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire….

A glance at the state of Egyptian women today, in contrast to their role in Egypt's national struggle across eras, if not epochs, reveals how far Egypt has regressed in the last 40 years...


Turkey's Best Ally: The Kurds
Mustafa Akyol

Yet the masters of the New Turkey seem to have their own ideological constraint — Sunni Islamism. They should be able to outgrow that, and instead of taking a side in the region’s growing Sunni-Shiite divide, they should champion reconciliation, be more wary of Sunni extremists, and reach out to non-Sunni Muslims…..


The Old Partition of the Middle East Is Dead
Robert Fisk

The Islamic Caliphate of Iraq and Syria has been fought into existence — however temporarily — by Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters who pay no attention to the artificial borders of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or Jordan, or even mandate Palestine, created by the British and French.  Their capture of the city of Mosul only emphasises the collapse of the secret partition plan which the Allies drew up in the First World War — for Mosul was sought after for its oil wealth by both Britain and France…..


Momentous Week: Coupled With Full Civilian Backing for Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the Military May Be Sufficiently Assuaged To Rein In the Troika
Najam Sethi

It has been a momentous week. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan launched one of its most audacious attacks to date on Karachi airport and exposed the state’s brittle security framework. This compelled the civil-military leadership to stop prevaricating and finally launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan. This persuaded Imran Khan to patriotically line up behind the military and cancel his “disruptionist” rally in Bahawalpur. This nudged Maulana Tahirul Qadri to postpone his “revolutionary long march” to Islamabad to overthrow the Sharif regime. This emboldened Shahbaz Sharif to signal a show of force against Tahirul Qadri’s base in Model Town Lahore. This ignited Tahir ul Qadri’s supporters against the police. This provoked the police to charge into them. This outraged Tahirul Qadri to exhort his supporters to embrace martyrdom.....


The Rise Of ISIS: Do The Answers Lie In Islam?
R Jagannathan

Islam is not just a religion; it is also a system of accumulating and consolidating political power. Its ideology is perfectly suited for these goals. This is what explains how a rag-tag bunch of thugs and extortionists morphed into an all-conquering army and now holds several towns and large territories in Iraq and Syria. Soon ISIS could be creating a caliphate - a dream aborted in Afghanistan after the American invasion pushed Mullah Omar out. If ISIS succeeds, it will become a new power centre for political Islam…..

Abdication Has a Price
Charles Krauthammer

By 2009, al-Qaeda in Iraq had not just been decimated but humiliated by the U.S. surge and the Anbar Awakening. Here were aggrieved Sunnis, having ferociously fought the Americans who had overthrown 80 years of Sunni hegemony, now reversing allegiance and joining the infidel invader in crushing, indeed extirpating from Iraq, their fellow Sunnis of al-Qaeda….


A Twisted Version of Democracy Poses Real Danger to Afghanistan
Nushin Arbabzadah

Democracy can be a dilemma if you happen to be Afghan but not exactly a member of the nation’s kleptocratic elite. Take the example of the rural men from Herat, who ended up hospitalised after the Taliban chopped off their index fingers to punish them for voting. There was something absurd about the fact that these men had voted as citizens of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan only to be punished for voting by the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban……

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