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The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
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Islam,Terrorism and Jihad
13 Dec 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com
Religion of the Jahiliya: Jihadism is Kufr, not Islam - Pakistani Jihadists revealed plans for Indian Muslims in 1999

 

By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Recent terror attack at Mumbai has reminded us once again that Pakistan Army, or one of its agencies Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at any rate, is determined to change the very character of Islam, turning it into the pre-Islamic religion of the Jahiliya (Arabia in the Dark Ages). It had indeed given us ample evidence of its anti-Islamic character during the Kargil war by reminding us of the Battle of Uhud where a woman of Jahiliya, Hinda, had mutilated the dead body of Prophet Mohammad’s uncle, Hazrat Hamza. The Prophet [peace be upon him] had not only forgiven her but had made it a point to forbid the practice in every Muslim gathering thereafter for fear that the Muslims, too, might do something similar in retaliation. Blood feud and vengeance was rampant in the Arab world of the Jahiliya. One couldn’t help being reminded of that when reports came that one of the terrorists mentioned vendetta for Gujarat and demolition of Babri masjid by Hindutva forces as the justification for the killing of innocents at Mumbai.

 

Pakistani “Islam” would indeed appear to be completely unrecognisable as Islam to a Muslim in any part of the world. Slowly but surely what appears to be a completely new religion seems to have caught the imagination of many people in Pakistan.  Its followers don’t, of course, consider it a new religion. Indeed this religion insists that it is Islam; in fact it calls itself true Islam or real Islam. But it can best be described as Jihadism, as its central belief system is based on a wilful misinterpretation of the Islamic concept of Jihad. It can also be called Talibanism, as the Taliban of Afghanistan, who studied in Pakistani madrasas run by the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan are its most avid practitioners.

 

By and large, the western-educated liberal Pakistani intelligentsia, as I found out during several visits, hates this religion and is frightened of it. But as one by one all institutions of governance are succumbing to its growing power and its capacity for evil, they are getting scared to death. Some of them are simply planning to migrate to some non-Muslim majority country. No one is really fighting this malignant force, though some journalists and human rights activists still have the courage at least to express their horror and outrage at grave personal risk. The new democratically-elected government’s commitment or that of President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent plea in a New York Times article rings as hollow as did that of President General Musharraf before that despite their seeming cooperation in the US-led war on terror. The reason is that Pakistan’s moderate secular class has never had the guts to stand up to obscurantist Mullahs right from the beginning of the establishment of the country. Pakistan was carved out of a united India in 1947 by the secular Muslims – almost all religious parties were against the idea of Partition and Two-Nation Theory – but in independent Pakistan the latter were soon able to force the former, the real architects of Pakistan, to pass an Objectives Resolution declaring the country as an Islamic republic to be run by a narrow, sectarian interpretation of Islamic Sharia.

 

One only needs to read the report of the Justice Munir commission of enquiry into the anti-Ahmadiya riots of early 1950s to learn about the shenanigans of the secular, Westernised class of Muslim Pakistanis and how they surrendered before the then isolated Mullahs and conceded to them centre-stage in policy-making. If they could not do it then, it is very doubtful if they can do that now by arresting a few Jihadist Mullahs and putting them under comfortable house arrest.

 

It is Islamists, however, the true practitioners of Islam, if any in Pakistan, who should have been fighting this malignant growth. It was their primary duty to keep Islam from being maligned and turned into a religion of the Jahiliya. Some of them indeed are. (One prominent name is that of Maulana Haider Farooq Maudoodi, the son of Jamaat-e-Islami founder Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi.) But they don’t have the resources to counter the powerful Jihadist rhetoric backed by vast petrodollar resources. Muslim masses are by and large ignorant and poor. It is not difficult to either sway them emotionally using Jihadist rhetoric based on Islamic terminology or even to buy them with promises of goodies on earth and in Heaven. The terrorists and killers of around 200 innocent people in Mumbai are no doubt doomed to be consigned to Hell, as even Indian Islamic scholars have testified in their unanimous judgment, but they had clearly been brainwashed into thinking, as one of them is reported to have revealed that they were destined for Heaven.

 

What is Jihadism?

 

The basic belief of Jihadism is that all non-Jihadists are kafir and deserve to be killed. As a result, they have so far killed about a million Muslims in Afghanistan and at least 50,000 Muslims in the Kashmir valley. They have also killed non-Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. But their present and main long-term target is the Muslims of India. Beginning from the Bombay blasts in 1993, they have made several attempts to provoke massive anti-Muslim violence in the country. The recent Mumbai massacre is the latest in this series.

 

Indeed a prominent ex-militant Kashmiri leader told me just after Zuhr prayers in the Shah Faisal mosque in Islamabad that the first person to attack the Babri masjid on December 6, 1992, was a Jihadist from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) who had joined the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) some time ago and was part of Mr. L. K. Advani’s rally along with several of his co-religionists. My informant was also a Jihadist once, but perhaps not completely devoid of the milk of human kindness and thus not a true Jihadist. He retained affections for his wife and kids stranded in the valley and his Hindu and Muslim classmates in Delhi where he had studied up to graduation. He was clearly not happy with the visions of an impending holocaust in India and tried to warn me.

 

Another warning came to me from a Jihadist during the Kargil war (May-July 1999) on a brief visit to England. I met him outside London’s Finsbury Park mosque after the Friday prayers. Exultant after the Pakistani Jihadists had reportedly downed two Indian planes in Kargil, he was more direct: “You Muslims (Indian) are cowards. Rivers of blood will flow in India soon and you will have just two choices: either become a true Muslim (i.e. Jihadist) or perish.” Revealing future Jihadist plans, he said: “You are completely devoid of leadership. We will provide you leadership under which you will become true Muslims (i.e. Jihadists).”

 

It is not some anonymous Jihadists alone who have been giving me these warnings, though they were more forthright than the so-called responsible leaders of this group. Prof. Khursheed Ahmad, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan, for instance, told me in Islamabad in a recorded interview that Indian Muslims have been shirking their duty on Kashmir and they will have to answer before God on the Day of Judgement as to why they did not support the “Jihad” in Kashmir. Hurriyat Chairman and Kashmiri Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani has, of course, been taunting Indian Muslims regularly for their supposed cowardice on Kashmir.

 

I believe Providence would like me to convey these warnings to the nation. Muslims in particular must beware: they should take care not to allow any one to provoke them into any indiscretion, particularly at a time when the country is involved in a bloody fight with the enemy.  It must be clearly understood that in the present case, the enemy is not only the enemy of our country but also the enemy of our religion. As realisation seems to be dawning among larger sections of people in Pakistan that Jihadism is their enemy as well, it is possible that we are able to fight it a little better.

 

Muslims must remember that they have to consult the Holy Quran for guidance in their day-to-day affairs. The model they have to follow is Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and not terrorists like Ajmal Amir Qasab or destroyers of mosques in Kashmir like Mast Gul. Islam did not allow its followers to pick up a weapon even in their defence for the first thirteen years even though they were facing the worst possible persecution in Mecca. They were “permitted” to defend themselves for the first time in Medina when they were facing aggression from Meccans. Had they not defended themselves even then they would have been surely wiped out from the face of the earth, thus sounding the death-knell for the religion of Islam as well. But only a few years later, when the Prophet had become powerful enough to wage a war with Meccans, he chose peace even on terms that were considered humiliating by most of his followers. He signed a peace agreement known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya. And then when he entered Mecca victorious, a year later, facing no resistance, he chose to grant a general amnesty for all, even for those who had mutilated the dead bodies of his close relatives like his beloved maternal uncle Hazrat Hamza.

 

Vendetta, vengeance, blood feud, mutilation of dead bodies, etc. are mediaeval pre-Islamic practices of the Jahiliya, practices Islam came to fight against. Those who perpetrate such acts in this day and age cannot claim to be Muslims. They must give some new name to their Faith. In any case Muslims cannot accept them as their co-religionists.

Note: This article is based on an earlier write-up published in 1999.

13 December 2008

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,terrorism-and-jihad/religion-of-the-jahiliya--jihadism-is-kufr,-not-islam---pakistani-jihadists-revealed-plans-for-indian-muslims-in-1999--/d/1048

 

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COMMENTS
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai, India

Date:    Thu, 29 Jan 2009 11:58:22 +0530 [11:58:22 AM IST]

From:   ghulam muhammed  

To:       sultan Shahin <Editor@NewAgeIslam.com>

 

Subject: A running thread of deep saffron - By Christophe Jafferlot - The Indian Express

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/a-running-thread-of-deep-saffron/416409/

 

A running thread of deep saffron

 Christophe Jaffrelot

Posted: Jan 29, 2009 at 1107 hrs IST

 

The people behind the Malegaon terrorist attack fell into three categories — Sangh parivar cadres, army men and old Savarkarites. The first person to be arrested by the police, Pragya Singh, was a sadhvi and former ABVP leader. A second group of the accused comprised army men, retired or not, related to the Bhonsle Military School (BMS). Major Ramesh Upadhyay, a former defence services officer was arrested first, but the key figure was Lt Col Prasad Purohit, who had approached Upadhyay when he was posted at Nasik as liaison officer. Purohit and Upadhyay imparted military training to young activists — including bomb making — and were instrumental in getting arms and explosives.

Most of the training camps took place in the BMS, which had been directed by Rtd Major P.B. Kulkarni between 1973 and 1988, andwho had been associated with the RSS since 1935. In fact, the Bajrang Dal organised training camps in the BMS (Nagpur) as early as 2001. The five accused mentioned above were all members of Abhinav Bharat, a Pune-based movement initiated by Purohit in June 2006, whose working president was Ramesh Upadhyaya but whose president was none other than Himani Savarkar, V.D. Savarkar's daughter in law, who also headed the Hindu Mahasabha. 

 

The people, the places and the modus operandi are revealing of the continuity that underlines the Hindu tradition of terror, harking back to V.D. Savarkar. The young, revolutionary Savarkar had created the first Abhinav Bharat Society in 1905. The movement drew its name and its inspiration from Mazzini's 'Young Italy', but was also influenced by Frost Thomas's Secret Societies of the European Revolution, a book dealing mostly with the Russian nihilists. The movement was dissolved in 1952, but ten years back, just before finishing his term as Hindu Mahasabha president, Savarkar had created the Hindu Rashtra Dal, another militia whose mission was to impart military training to the Hindus in order to fight the Muslims, Gandhi's followers and the Mahatma himself. This movement cashed in on the work of the same institution — the Bhonsle Military School, started in 1935 by B.S. Moonje, another Nagpur-based Savarkarite, after a European tour which had exposed him to Mussolini's Balilla movement.

 

Like the Abhinav Bharat of today, the Hindu Rashtra Dal attracted Hindutva-minded Maharashtrian Brahmins — especially from Poona — who found the RSS insufficiently active. Some of them also had connections to the British Army.

 

Nathuram Godse and N.D. Apte, the two main architects of Gandhi's assassination, are cases in point. Godse thought that RSS strategy contented itself with "organisation for the sake of organisation". The Hindu Rashtra Dal, by contrast, organised training camps where volunteers learnt how to manufacture bombs and use guns from bicycles and cars. The key instructor was N.D. Apte who had served the army as Assistant Technical Recruiting Officer. In this capacity, he could use the War Service Exhibitions — which were intended to attract young Indians to the army — to initiate Hindu Rashtra Dal members into the art of modern arms.

 

The Hindu Rashtra Dal's terrorist agenda culminated in the assassination of Gandhi, who had already been a Savarkarite target before — in 1934, they threw a bomb in Poona Municipal Town Hall where Gandhi was making a speech against untouchability. 

 

While today's Abhinav Bharat belongs to an old tradition harking back to Savarkar and even Tilak, the new element here lies in the implication of one serving officer of the Indian army. Certainly, any institution can have a black sheep. But was he that isolated? He has already named other officers who would have been his more or less passive accomplices and his colleague, Upadhyay, who once headed the <Mumbai unit of the BJP's ex-servicemen cell. The BJP, indeed, inducted ex-army men in large numbers since the 1990s. After the BJP came to power in 1998, two dozens ex-servicemen more joined the party. This inflow of ex-army men may reflect the increasingly communal atmosphere of the institution. In December 2003, a survey by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies for Tehelka, one of the first among army men — and probably the most comprehensive — showed that 19 per cent of the soldiers interviewed felt that the army practised some religious discrimination — and 24 per cent of the Muslims among them shared this view.

 

Instead of distancing itself from the Hindu terrorists, as it had done in the 1940s, this time the Sangh Parivar has decided to support the Malegaon accused. Bajrang Dal chief Prakash Sharma declared that "policy makers should be worried if the Hindus were taking to arms because of the government's skewed approach to war on terror" and admitted that the Bajrang Dal was running training camps too "to boost their morale [the Bajrang Dal's members]. The country wouldn't get its Abhinav Bindras if there were no armed training for the youth".

 

In a way, the RSS, with the Bajrang Dal, has created a buffer organisation to handle the dirty work that the Sangh was earlier obliged to do itself — work similar to that of the Savarkarite organisations, whether they are called Hindu Rashtra Dal or Abhinav Bharat.

 

The writer is a political scientist and South Asia specialist at CERI, Paris

Sohail Arshad

Mr Sultan Shahin's article RADICAL ISLAM AND JIHADISM questions the very basis on which the jihadist forces are fighting a war within Pakistan.The people whom they are fighting or killing are innocent Muslims.Exploding human bombs is not Islam.Islam has never exhorted people to take their won lives in the name of jihad.Islam has declared suicide in any form kufr that anti Islam.However,there is nothing like Pakistani Islam or Indian Islam or Islam in any other country.Islam is Islam in which ever part of the world it is.It is the followers of the Islam who present it in bad or good light with what ever they practice.Islam has always believed in moderate path and forgiveness.It has also iterated that for long term gains short term gains can be compromised as was shown in Sulhe Hudaibia.

Sohail Arshad from Kolkata,India.

Mubashir Inayet

 

How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe

 

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

 

Avi Shlaim 

 

The Guardian, Wednesday 7 January 2009

 

The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

 

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

 

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

 

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

 

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

 

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

 

Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

 

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

 

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

 

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

 

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

 

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

 

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

 

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

 

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".

 

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

 

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

 

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

 

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

 

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

 

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

 

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.

Gulzar

Taliban’s Swift Justice

By DR. GHAYUR AYUB

Friday, 23 January 2009.

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—It was during a visit to Peshawar that I met a senior police officer. He narrated a story which was brow-raising. He told of a person from Bannu who lent Rs. 40,000 [approx. U.S. $500] to a man he knew, who promised that he would return it within a specified time. He told the borrower that he had saved up the said amount to help pay for his children's education. When the agreed time lapsed, he asked him to return the amount. The borrower started making excuses and after a few months he flatly refused and challenged the lender to do what ever he could. There is a Pukhtu word for it ‘Laas Da Azaad De’.

The man went from pillar to post to seek justice but with no result. The police proved incapable as the borrower was a powerful man with strong connections. When he tried to knock on the door of the court for justice he was dismayed to hear that it would take months for the case to come to a hearing and years to reach a final judgment. After all that, the chances were that the verdict would go against him as he was up against powerful people. To top it off, he was told he had to pay Rs 1000 upfront every time he wanted to put his case forward for a hearing. This amount did not include the amount he was going to pay the lawyers. When he calculated it, the approximate amount turned out to be more than the actual amount he was going to seek justice for.

At the end of every day, he would go back home heart broken; cursing his luck to be living in a country where there was no justice for the middle or poor classes. He tried to persuade the borrower by pleading with him, explaining how desperately he needed the money for his children’s education. He even offered a discount or to split the amount into installments, but all in vain. It was like hitting a brick wall. He felt dejected, helpless and powerless to see his children suffering just because he came from a stratum of a society pushed against the wall. 

One evening, he heard a knock on the door. He opened it and saw two strangers with bushy beards standing outside. Thinking they were there to collect charity, he asked with irritation what they wanted. They told him that they saw him crying in the mosque and on enquiry they were told that someone was refusing to pay his money back. With a surprised look on his face, he asked them who they were.

“We are local Taliban,” they said. Then they asked if he would let them have his side of story. He saw a ray of hope and ushered them in. After listening to his story, the Taliban told him that the borrower had committed an un-Islamic act, and if he wanted they could persuade him to return the said money. “We want your permission”. His heart jumped with flickering optimism and immense joy and without any hesitation, he gave them his consent. Before they left the premises they asked for 72 hours.

According to the police officer, the Taliban went to the influential man and told him it was un-Islamic not to pay the amount he had borrowed from the man. They threatened that if he did not pay the debt back within 48 hours; he would bear the consequences. They also told him how Taliban had previously dealt with people like him. Shivers went through the spine of the ‘powerful’ man as he knew what their threat meant. With a dry mouth, frightened face and shaking body he nodded his head in agreement, promising he would return the amount. The next day, he went to the house of the lender and paid back the full amount he had refused up until then. He apologized for the delay and requested him to tell the Taliban not to harm him or his family and to let them know that he had returned the money. The Taliban never went back to ask whether he got the money back, but they must had been watching the development. From that day on, according to the police officer, that man became a strong supporter of Taliban. Could anyone blame him?

Another related story about quick and effective justice comes from the Bugti tribe of Balochistan. According to electronic media, a man named Nazim Ali was refused his share in a dispute. According to him, he spent a lot of money to get justice from the court but failed because of corrupt practices. So he went to the tribal chief who referred him to the Jirga. The Jirga decided that he should walk on fire and if he was telling the truth he will not be burned. Nazim Ali agreed to it and in front of onlookers he walked on red hot coal. After the walk, people saw that his soles were not burned. The chief decided in his favour and he was given his due share.

There are countless other stories of parallel justice systems running in Pakistan in the present day. These systems seem to be nippy and effective satisfying their poor clients. Some are Taliban style, others tribal style, sharing one commonality; they are swift, just and not stained with corruption.

In my discussions with different walks of people living in the troubled parts of FATA and NWFP the vast majority agreed that the justice provided by Taliban is fair and quick. They might not agree with other activities related to Talibanization such as discouraging western education, burning of schools, gender discrimination etc; but they do appreciate the provision of justice served at the doorsteps with efficiency, audacity and honesty. Swift justice is the major achievement which attracts the poor people of Pakistan to Taliban.

Dr. Ayub can be reached at turi555AThotmail.com

Mubashir

To get hung over 9:29 is not the way to go. Those verses were in response to specific incidents 1400 years back when a budding Muslim community was being overtly and covertly attacked.

The rule of dealing with those who mean to harm to Muslims is found in 60:7 where they are told to deal with kindness and compassion and decency with those who don't mean any harm to them.

 

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