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Islamic World News ( 26 Jan 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Muslim Women turn tide, win more scholarships

Swat:Taliban summon government officials to Sharia courts by Bill Roggio

New Delhi: Indian Muslim women win turn tide, more scholarships by Parul Chandra

Cairo: Al-Azhar Hails First Female Interpretation of the Quran

Is Political Islam a Threat to the West? By Wajahat Ali,

Saudi School Textbooks Incite Hatred and Violence by Dr. Sami Alrabaa

Can Islam Save The Economy? By Nathan Schneider

Religion of Peace? (Book) by Gregory M. Davis

Islamic body opts not to ban smoking in Indonesia by Olivia Rondonuwu

Mogadishu: Women's basketball event excites war-weary Somalis by Ibrahim Mohamed

Some Arab 'friends' need a lesson in democracy by Irfan Yusuf

BAGHDAD: Iraqi prime minister lectures against sectarianism by SAMEER N. YACOUB

Saudi Arabia- Shariah index shows increasing trends toward Islamic investment

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Indian Muslim women turn tide, win more scholarships


By Parul Chandra

New Delhi: Jan. 25: Muslim women are busy turning on its head the perceived notion that their parents are not interested in allowing them to pursue their studies. An indication of this is the large number of Muslim girls who are coming forward to apply for Central government scholarships meant for the minorities and bagging them too.


This isn’t all. They also seem to be outshining the boys not only from their community but from other minority communities too when it comes to getting these scholarships.


They also seem to be going beyond the 30 per cent of scholarships reserved for them simply due to merit.


Statistics collated by the Union ministry of minority affairs speak of the academic achievements of Muslim women students for 2008-09. Take the post-matric scholarship scheme in which the percentage of minority women who bagged it was 56.09 per cent, of which the majority were Muslim women, said ministry officials.


They seem to have bettered this performance in the case of the pre-matric scholarship scheme. Of the 58.57 per cent of minority women who were awarded this scholarship, again the majority were Muslim women students.

In the case of the merit-cum-means scholarship, too, of the 31.27 per cent of scholarships that went to women from minority communities, a majority were Muslim females.


Ministry officials admitted that Muslim women are breaking a lot of ground in a quiet way, evident in the manner in which they are receiving these scholarships. The number for the merit-cum-means scholarship was smaller though as it is meant for those pursuing professional courses like law, medicine, engineering and architecture, the officials added.


"The myth about Muslim women not studying is being shattered," remarked a ministry official. As the Sachar Committee report had noted: "There is also a common belief that Muslim parents feel that education is not important for girls and that it may instil a wrong set of values. Even if girls are enrolled, they are withdrawn at an early age to marry them off. This leads to a higher dropout rate among Muslim girls."


The report also noted that among the many reasons for this could be the non-availability of scholarships for girls "as they move up the education ladder". But now that scholarships are available, Muslim women seem to be making the most of it.

Source: Asianage


Swat Taliban summon government officials to sharia courts

By Bill Roggio, January 25, 2009


The leader of the Taliban-controlled district of Swat in Pakistan's northwest has ordered more than 50 political and tribal leaders to appear before a Sharia court within a week or face "dangerous consequences."


Mullah Fazlullah, Swat's radical Taliban leader, issued the order in a broadcast over his illegal FM radio channel after convening the Taliban shura, or council.


"They (the political leaders) have destroyed peace in Swat and they should be tried in the Taliban's sharia courts," Fazlullah said in the radio broadcast, according to a report in The Hindu. "If they do not appear in the courts, they will face dangerous consequences."


Fazlullah ordered political leaders in the Northwest Frontier Province, including members of the provincial and national assemblies, provincial ministers, the mayor of Mingora, and leaders of the Awami National Party, the Pakistan People's Party, the Pakistan People's Party, and the Pakistani Muslim League - Qaid, and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and Islamist party. Tribal elders were also summoned to appear before the shura. [See list]


The Taliban declared sharia law throughout Swat and have dispensed punishments ranging from public whippings to beheadings.

Late last week, Fazlullah offered "conditional amnesty for social and political workers and public representatives from target[ed] killings" if they promised to halt opposition to the Taliban rule in Swat. Members of the provincial and national assemblies have been excluded from the amnesty. The offer was also made on Fazlullah's illegal radio station.


The federal government admitted the Swat, neighbouring Shangla, and several other districts outside of the tribal areas are under Taliban control. The Taliban have control over the district of Swat save the main town of Mingora, which is under siege.

The military has failed to suppress the Taliban insurgency. The police have been rendered ineffective due to assassinations and desertions, while the Army has been incapable of defeating the Taliban. More than 70 police and 120 soldiers were killed in Swat last year.


The Taliban have conducted a wave of targeted assassinations against tribal leaders and politicians in Swat. Local, provincial and federal politicians have fled their homes after the Taliban conducted attacks against their homes and murdered their families. Most recently, the leader of a tribal group opposed to the Taliban was murdered and his body was desecrated as a warning to others.


Pakistani forces have been fighting forces aligned with Fazlullah, a radical cleric of the outlawed Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM - the Movement for the Implementation of Mohammad's Sharia Law) for almost two years.


The TNSM is known as the "Pakistani Taliban" and is the group behind the ideological inspiration for the Afghan Taliban. The TNSM sent more than 10,000 fighters into Afghanistan to fight US forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001. Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the TNSM, was released from a Pakistani jail in a failed peace agreement with the Swat Taliban.


Fazlullah merged with Baitullah Mehsud's Tehrik-e-Taliban, or the movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, in December 2007.

Fazlullah has successfully organized a campaign opposing polio vaccinations and has forced the closure girls' schools throughout the region. More than 200 schools have been destroying in Swat since fighting began in 2007.

The fighting has destroyed Swat's once thriving tourist industry. Fazlullah's forces have burned down the popular ski lodge and bombed the lifts.



Al-Azhar Hails First Female Interpretation of the Quran

Jan 25, 2009


Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Al-Azhar Scholars have welcomed the publication of the first Interpretation of the Quran [tafsir] written by a woman, saying that it confirms the equality between men and women in Islam.


Kariman Hamzah, the author of this Quranic interpretation and a former presenter of an Islamic television program in Egypt, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Interpretation is the culmination of her 35 years working in the media. The Islamic Research Academy, the highest authority at the Al Azhar University, approved the printing and distribution of the first Quranic interpretation written by a woman, and which will appear in local bookstores soon.


Sheik Mohamed Al Rawi, head of the Quranic Interpretation Committee of the Islamic Research Academy stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that any work dealing with the Holy Quran must be subject to careful review, and is not approved until it is examined letter by letter and word by word, and has to be approved by all the scholar in the field of Quranic studies and Quranic interpretation. Therefore Muslims can be assured of the authorship of any interpretation approved by the Islamic Research Academy, and need not hesitate in accepting what has been written.


Sheik Abdul-Zaher Abu Ghazala, Director of the Islamic Research Academy's Research, Translation and Publication department revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the academy had approved a 20-part Quranic Interpretation by Kariman Hamzah, and that there were no inconsistencies between this Quranic interpretation and Islamic Shariaa Law. He confirmed that Kariman Hamzah's Quranic Interpretation was carefully reviewed before it was granted approval.


Sheik Abu Ghazala added that Kariman Hamzah's interpretation of the Quran is fully consistent with previous Quranic interpretations, and that it contained no inconsistencies or contradictions with Islamic Shariaa Law. He denied that this is a new Quranic interpretation providing a female point of view, emphasizing that this interpretation addresses men, women, the youth, and children, just as the Quran itself speaks to all. Therefore there is no such thing as a "male interpretation" or a "female interpretation" of the Quran; he said that "what is important for us is that the interpretation is consistent with the Quran itself, and does not contradict Islamic Law."


Sheik Abu Ghazala concluded by revealing that the Islamic Research Academy had recently approved a number of Quranic interpretations by women including one written by a paediatrician Dr. Fatin Al Faliki, and one by Mrs. Fawqiyah Ibrahim of Alexandria, Egypt.


Sheik Mohamed Al Birri of Al Azhar University welcomed Kariman Hamzah's Quranic Interpretation, saying that it shows the awakening of Muslim women, and their emulation of the female Companions [of the Prophet]. He added that the Quran makes equal between men and women in every way, including religious education, as well as the task of spreading the message of Islam.


Dr. Mustafa Al Shakaa, a member of the Islamic Research Academy of the Al Azhar University said that Al Azhar's approval of Kariman Hamzah's interpretation shows the equality between men and women in Islam, and confirms the women's right to religious education in Islam is the same as a man's. He added that Islamic Shariaa Law gives Muslim women the right to be religiously educated and make religious decisions in the same way that the female Companions [of the Prophet] did in the time of the Prophet (PBUH), and this refutes the rumours and slander which describe the Islamic religion as a religion that restricts the freedom of women, at the fore-front of this a woman's right to education.


The author of the first Quranic Interpretation to be written by a woman, Kariman Hamzah, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this work is the culmination of 35 years of work whether it was presenting religious programs on television, or writing Islamic articles in newspaper or magazines, and which allowed her to witness a large proportion of Islamic culture. She emphasized that the object of this undertaking [of writing a Quranic Interpretation] was to serve Islam and spread its message.


Kariman Hamzah said that although she is not a graduate or Al Azhar, or another religious institute, her love for spreading the message of Islam has called her to enter this field [of Quranic interpretation]. She said that in writing her Quranic Interpretation she relied upon simplicity and clarity in the explanations and interpretations, and an easy and accessible language, in order for it to be understood by both the young and the old. Her Quranic interpretation is entitled "A Clear Interpretation of the Quran for the Youth."


She added that she relied upon a number of essential sources in order to complete her Quranic Interpretation including; Al Muntakhab Quranic Interpretation which is a selection of Interpretations by Al Azhar scholars, Sayyid Qutb's "In the Shade of the Quran" and "A Thematic Commentary of the Quran" by Sheik Muhammad Al Ghazzali, as well as "Mukhtasar Al Qasimi" by Salah Al Din Ergodan, and the Quranic interpretation by the former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheik Hassanayn Makhluf, amongst others.


Kariman Hamzah added that her Quranic Interpretation was written for all ages, but especially for young people, who she is keen to address. Her interpretation, which is a series of 20 books, will be published soon




Can Islam Save The Economy?

By Nathan Schneider, January 26, 2009


In the midst of a global financial crisis one sector has yet to suffer the fate of the rest. Islamic finance, or Sharia-compliant banking, offers strict moral guidelines for dealing with money. Thus far Dow Jones and others have offered an Islamic Index for tracking these businesses, but it might be time to get the muftis on the phone.

Governments worldwide are struggling to manage the global financial crisis, with no end to the downturn in sight. But at least so far, one sector has been unscathed: the $1 trillion-and-growing business of Sharia-compliant banking.


That's right, Sharia. The same combination of medieval Islamic law and modern post-colonialism that makes the terrorist clique supposedly so hateful of Western freedoms. Where finance is concerned, most muftis—Islamic religious scholars—agree that God prohibits charging any amount of interest on loans. Trading debt and risky speculation are off-limits too, as is investment in immoral enterprises like gambling and prostitution, as well as weapons in most circumstances. Transactions should be highly transparent and risk, as well as return, should be shared by all parties. You can't trap people into owing more than they can pay. Basically, most everything that caused the current mess isn't allowed. "Given their constraints, they actually don't hold any conventional debt or conventional mortgages," explains Samuel Hayes emeritus professor of investment banking at Harvard. "They don't have any of these derivatives or outright sub prime loans. There's no doubt that they have weathered this better than the conventional banks."


For a world in need of fast, creative solutions to a cascading crisis, might this financial subculture offer a way out? Duke University economist Timur Kuran calls for caution. "I think it's going to be a year or two before we have enough data to really know if it is the case that the banks are doing better and what explains it." One way or another, says Bill Maurer, an anthropologist at U.C., Irvine who studies alternative economies, "this is a really interesting moment for Islamic banking."


Sharia-compliant banks began appearing in the 1970s, but the concept dates to mid-century in South Asia and the Middle East, as Muslims newly independent from European rule sought to create an Islamic identity that would permeate all aspects of life, public and private. The first banks were small partnerships and development initiatives. In 1975, the Islamic Development Bank was founded by 23 Muslim countries (now 56), combining a World Bank-style mission with interest-free loans to member governments. It lent legitimacy and visibility to the approach. That decade's oil boom gave a jump start to a new crop of commercial Islamic banks, particularly in the Persian Gulf states. By the 80s, Pakistan, Sudan, and Iran were making efforts to Islamize their entire economies.


In the last decade, the industry has expanded dramatically. Dow Jones now offers an Islamic index for tracking halal businesses. Networks are growing among the religious scholars who sit on the banks' regulatory boards. The sharia-compliant line of financial instruments continues to grow, each known by its Arabic name: {takaful} insurance and {sukuk} bonds are already feeding the construction boom in the Gulf States. Islamic banks are opening across the Muslim Diaspora, in places like London and Pasadena, California. Even big conventional banks are feeling the Islamic fever. Citicorp, Deutsche Bank, and HSBC have all opened Sharia-compliant subsidiaries. In 2006, the BBC reported that socially-conscious, non-Muslim Londoners were opening Islamic accounts to keep their money from financing immoral businesses.


Meanwhile, governments that fear the power of Islamist movements, such as Egypt and Tunisia, have been reluctant to put their support behind the industry. There are some loose connections to radicalism. Sayyid Qutb, a hero of Osama bin Laden's, was an early advocate. In Iraq, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, the father-in-law of Muqtada, made important theoretical contributions on the Shia side of the movement. The fledgling Islamic banks in the United States have come under increasing official scrutiny since 9/11. But aside from the cadre of vigilantes whose sense of purpose depends on seeing a never-ending "Islamofacist" threat, observers agree that there's no credible link between these banks and Al Qaeda-type bad guys. Read the founding theorists of Islamic economics, in fact, and you'll find a decidedly pacifist tone.


A golden age, in theory


From the view of Islamic law, writes Umar Chapra, a leading economist in Saudi Arabia, "while economic growth is essential, it is not sufficient for attaining real human well-being." Rather, we depend on "spiritual health at the core of human consciousness, and justice and fair play at all levels of human interaction." Much more than a business model for specialty banks, he and many others believe that Islamic economics offers a much wider vision. The conventional view of the {homo economicus}—super-rational, selfish utility maximizer—dehumanizes people, denying the divine stamp on our nature. A truly Islamic economic theory, they believe, should restructure consumer preferences, ensuring that basic necessities are plentiful and luxuries come only after everyone is provided for. People should feel motivated to work by knowing that they share equitably in the produce of their labours. Sharia guidelines for inheritance distribute wealth among families in ways that prevents too much accumulation. More than an economics in the usual "dismal science" sense, this is a comprehensive guideline for playing well with others. It also claims its authority from God.


The theory has something in mind for governments as well. They are responsible for administering the zakat tax, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Though often translated as "almsgiving," it literally means "that which purifies." Though believers are encouraged to give over and above, the classical jurists developed a system of minimum annual requirements for a person's accumulated wealth. The rate of zakat varies depending on the resources one owns; it can range between 2.5% and 20%. These funds should be directed primarily toward redistributive purposes, to soften the market's burden on the poor. However, they can also be used to fund religious causes, a fact which medieval regimes sometimes used to usurp zakat funds for expansionary warfare. But modern Islamic economists, by and large, discourage military spending wherever possible.


The distribution of charitable giving is one of the many high hopes Islamic economists have for government. There is, in the literature, expectation for a kind of elixir effect. "The question of dishonest practices in the case of zakat is quite unexpected," writes the Pakistani economist M.A. Mannan, "because of zakat's religio-economic character." This, at least, is an impression they share with the Taliban and the ayatollahs: if you make the society religious in name and appearance, it automatically becomes religious in character. With corruption so widespread across the Muslim-majority world, it isn't hard to see the appeal of such a pious panacea.


Islam, the theorists believe, offers a distinct alternative to the other big-picture political economic options, capitalism and communism. By incorporating both markets and redistribution, they see it as the best of both worlds. After the two mega-ideologies spent the Cold War fighting over the allegiances of Muslim countries, the Soviet Union collapsed and now global capitalism is grinding to a halt as well. Islamists suspect that the reason Muslim countries remain impoverished is a fundamental incompatibility between these Western economics systems and the values that Muslim cultures hold dear. Now, perhaps, is the time for a third option to have its chance.

At the very least, suggests Boston University anthropologist Robert Hefner in a recent essay, these theories "provide a fascinating point of entry into the thoughts of Muslim leaders on global capitalism."


Are the fundamentals sound?


The most tangible outgrowths of Islamic economic thought, the banks, tend to be rather quiet about the visionaries' grand ambitions. Their spokespeople sound like bankers anywhere: optimistic, practical, and fond of jargon (in this case, specialized Arabic terms mixed in with the English vocabulary of international finance). By peppering business deals with the language of the Qur'an, the transaction seems to take on the endorsement of a higher power. Preachers take on the role of marketers by exhorting their congregations to purify their savings from interest. "Is 'Islam' merely a sort of brand name attached to products for marketing to a Muslim niche?" asks Bill Maurer in his book, Mutual Life, Limited.


If it is, the brand has its consequences. "In their investing options and the lack of diversification that they have to live with," Samuel Hayes says, Islamic investors "pay a price, no doubt about it." On a large scale, risk-sharing arrangements mean slower growth and, potentially, less short-run security for individual depositors. In one Muslim country, Jordan, the central bank has been reluctant to approve many new Islamic institutions for fear that they might add an unstable element to the bourgeoning financial industry. The banks that already do exist there have poor reputations. Because of cases like this, most observers doubt that Islamic finance will broaden its appeal beyond the pious. But according to Mohammad Ismaeel, the Director of Global Marketing for HSBC's Islamic arm, this may be changing. He claims that more than half of his bank's customers in the Asian market are non-Muslim Chinese. "They haven't come to us for Islamic reasons," he insists, "but because it is a sound financial product. They've taken it on for those reasons and those reasons only."


In the process of becoming competitive, though, Islamic banks may have lost some of the values they claim to be founded on. The theorists' original hopes for fostering more ethical consumer preferences haven’t taken hold in the banking culture. Bill Maurer, who has studied Islamic banks in South Asia and the United States, says these institutions aren't much different from other banks, despite some conspicuous signs of piety like prayer rooms and conservative clothing. Working at one doesn't mean joining a monastery. "A lot of the time," adds Maurer, "it's the same kind of drudgery and tedium that any old bank employee is dealing with."


Among those in the West who have been following the progress of Islamic finance, Turkish-born Timur Kuran is the most sceptical. "Endeavouring to implement Islamic economics," he writes in his book Islam and Mammon, both bankers and governments inevitably "recognize its unrealism." While the earliest experiments depended on genuine partnerships and risk-sharing, the bulk of today's Islamic transactions use instruments that differ only in name from what a conventional bank offers. In one of the most popular and long-practiced of these, murabaha, the bank buys an item for the client, who then in turn buys it from the bank, along with a premium that cleaves suspiciously close to the conventional interest rate. Religious scholars agree that the transaction is acceptable, even if the bank owns the item for just a millisecond. Pure in God's eyes, perhaps, but there is nearly no difference in economic terms. Kuran and others have also pointed out that during the medieval period, when the Sharia guidelines for commerce were developed, nothing resembling a modern bank existed. There was no legal provision for such an institution to outlive individual owners, as nowadays a bank of any scale must.


In light of the Islamic sector's competitive disadvantage, and even questionable adherence to its own ideals, Kuran advocates for making its target audience more aware of the risks. Potential customers should know, he believes, that "its political importance and symbolic importance is more important than its economic essence." But symbols and politics are never far from the machinations of economy. One need look no farther than the vagaries of investor confidence or the political imperatives that shaped the bailout plan this fall.

From constraints to creativity


Kuran nevertheless suspects that there is something to learn from the experience of Islamic finance and that the current crisis would be a good time to learn. "It may be possible through Islamic banking, or something similar to it," he says, "to reach out to the sub prime borrowing population in a safer way, in a way that makes the risks more transparent and allows better risk diversification." With or without the utopian theories, the constraints imposed by interpretations of a bygone religious law have given rise to a laboratory for different ways of doing business. Because of its religiously-obligated client base, Islamic banking remains insulated, in part, from the conformity that competition enforces on the rest of the financial industry.


Maurer agrees, but he doubts that anybody from the Federal Reserve will be calling up the muftis. "What I think will happen," he says, "is that people in the conventional finance world are going to arrive at things that may look more like Islamic banking as it has already been practiced." Advocates of Islamic finance will probably celebrate the change as triumph for their convictions, even if the resemblance is coincidental. "Depending on where you stand, they're right, or not."


Maybe it is time to get the muftis on the phone after all. In the United States, at least, religious leaders and politicians have deferred some of society's most pressing ethical concerns to the wisdom of the market. Calls that the "end of history" lies with neoliberal capitalism are being heard as far as the People's Republic of China. Not without reason, the 20th century's question of why free markets has been replaced, especially in the developing world, with how to get there. But this year's collapse is one more reminder that the market won't be our brother's or our sister's keeper for us. The shock waves of harm spread through global markets in ways that "love thy neighbour" doesn't seem to equip us for. Now is a good time to tinker with alternatives, and keeping an eye at models that already exist at the fringes of the global economy are a good way to begin. Peculiar conditions give rise to possibilities that couldn't develop on their own in the mainstream. Looking more closely at what Islamic economic thought has to offer, too, opens the door to more of the elusive "dialogue among civilizations" that leaders talk about but rarely do.


"Certainly asking questions about the ethical boundaries of finance is in order," says Ibrahim Warde, a professor of political science at Tufts University. There is any number of ways to think about economy in terms of right and wrong, but the Islamic case is different in an important way. "Unlike other pockets of ethical finance," he points out, "it does exist in institutions," which are competitive enough to survive and available for study.

Warde makes sure to add, "We should not go overboard, though."



Is Political Islam a Threat to the West?

Wajahat Ali, January 25, 2009


As the world witnesses Muslims frequently embracing "Islamic" political parties in the Middle East, many ominously foresee this trend as an inevitable threat to "the West."


This contentious issue anchored last week's prestigious Doha Debates moderated by veteran BBC journalist Tim Sebastian in Qatar, which hosts controversial topics in front of a diverse, engaged audience of 350 people. The motion "This House Believes that Political Islam is a Threat to the West" was defeated by 51% to 49% following a vote from the passionate audience, which included several members from the "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference" who were invited to observe and participate


In support of the motion, Maajid Nawaz, a former leader of the radical Hizb ut-Tahir who has since totally renounced his affiliations, stressed that Muslims and Islam are not inherently undemocratic or extremist, but rather the modern politicisation of Islam creates a dehumanising ideology soaked in separatism and violence. As he told me after the debate, "Political Islam is an ideology. They believe in exporting this divisive ideology to Muslims in the West...Terrorists emerge from these parties. They don't believe in our same democratic values."


However, Shadi Hamid, a research fellow at Stanford University debating against the motion, disagreed: "With the exception of Hamas or Hizballah, every single mainstream Islamic party has renounced violence."

Hamid's debating partner, Sarah Joseph, Editor of the Muslim lifestyle magazine Emel, won over the audience by vocalizing her frustration at the nebulous and generalized definitions of the "West" and "political Islam."

Meanwhile, Yahya Pallavicini, an Italian Imam and government adviser, argued for the motion lamenting the misuse of religion by Islamist political parties who selfishly hijack theology to "legitimise violence" and demonise women.


The debate highlighted a glaring problem when discussing this powder-keg issue. Namely, these conversations routinely obfuscate the highly complex and diverse citizenry of the world by carelessly lumping them into simplistic categories, such as " The West" and "Political Islamists," purely for the sake of rhetorical convenience and ideological propagation.


Following the debate, I asked Maajid Nawaz to clearly define "The West." He replied: "By 'The West' I mean America and Europe."


It must be comforting for some to know that the late Samuel Huntington's antiquated model parcelling the world into fictitious, neatly carved regions is still the hallmark for enlightened debates on global relations.


To be fair, the side arguing against the motion did not articulate the complex variety of "political Islam" either. Instead, they spent an inordinate amount of time on Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as a model of non-violent Islamism.

Without nuance, one can never understand the difference in the mindset between mainstream, practicing Muslims engaging the political arena, such as Muslim Americans for Obama, as opposed to certain "political Islamists,” such as Hamas or Muslim Brotherhood. After the debate, Hamid offered clarification: "For the latter, Islam is the primary motivator for their politics. They want to see Islam and Islamic law play a larger role in public policy." They are unlike the former who merely vote like other Americans citizens based on their candidates' respective platforms, instead of a passionate desire to implement Sharia.


Sadly, many incorrectly equate the vastly different intentions of both groups merely due to their tangential nexus of being identified as "Muslim."

Moreover, right wing, xenophobic political ideologues, especially in the United States and Europe, recklessly connect all versions of political Islam with Al Qaeda as a dire warning to those who dare let such political parties gain influence and popularity. Haroon Moghal, Director of Public Relations at The Islamic Centre at New York University, underscores the key differences: "Al Qaeda has no real political goals. Its main interest seems to be in killing lots of, women, children, Muslim or not." Mona Al-Oraibi, a British-Iraqi Muslim journalist, concurred and like many in the audience, both Muslim and Non-Muslim, lamented over the fact that "all Islamic political expression is lumped into 'terrorism' and 'extremism."


Also, if all "political Islam" is defined as those who use the democratic system to exalt a polarizing and violent version of Islam inspired by Sharia, then how do we explain Turkey's successful AKB party: a pro-Western, democratic party that won the popular vote due to its adherence to conservative, Islamic values.


Although Islamist extremists used terrorism in Bali [2002 Hard Rock Café Bombings] and home-grown British citizens committed the atrocious 7/7 bombings in London, those acts should not be wholly imputed to the vast majority of diverse Muslim citizens worldwide committed to peacefully promoting their religious values by proactively engaging the democratic system.


Indeed, if the United States and UK truly embrace the democratic ideals they preach, they must eventually respect the wishes of a voting Muslim population, even one that freely elects hard-line Islamist parties, such as Hamas. The U.S. must engage them -- at least diplomatically -- as to not commit an affront towards the fundamental principles of free democratic elections or to the Muslim citizens that participate in them.


Furthermore, by supporting repressive regimes such as Hosni Mubarak's Egypt and Saudi Arabia's royal family -- instead of democratically elected Islamist leaders -- the U.S. reveals its glaring hypocrisy and double standards in dealing with the Middle East. This shameful Machiavellian foreign policy follows a disturbing legacy in which U.S. has deliberately circumvented Middle Eastern democracy for its owns selfish initiatives; most notably in overthrowing Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mosaddeq in favor of the brutal tyrant, Muhammad Shah Pahlavi, in 1953. Mosaddeq's crime? His desire to nationalize his country's most important resource, oil, and wrest it from U.S. and European control and exploitation.


However, observing the debate with the "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" and hearing their diverse range of opinions, one should emerge hopeful that the bulwark of reactionary, monolithic thought [whether it be "Islamic" or "Western" -- whatever you wish those terms to mean] will be stifled by this emerging generation. As Hussein Rashid, a PhD candidate in Harvard University's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, remarked, "One thing to keep in mind is that 'Islam doesn't speak, Muslims do.' It is Muslims who define what Islam says and does, within broad parameters. The new generation is engaged, informed, and articulate. It scares the Islamists, because [the new generation] won't fall for the ideologues."


Ultimately, the debates highlights the utter complexity and inter-connectedness of the modern, globalise terrain; one where simplistic talking points no longer suffice to have meaningful discussions about political Islam's relationship with itself and the world. As with any political ideology and process, the threat or benefit is ultimately derived from its adherents who must wield the power to use it proactively as a moderate, enlightened shield of self-determination rather than a poisonous, lacerating sword of intolerance and separatism.



Religion of Peace? (book)

By Gregory M. Davis

Is the "War on Terror" Based on a False Hope?


In the days following 9/11, George W. Bush assured America and the world that Islam was a "religion of peace" and that the violent followers of Osama Bin Laden had twisted the true Muslim faith. Acting on this belief, President Bush and other Western leaders sent troops to the Middle East in an effort to bring freedom and democracy to the Muslim world.


But what if this "understanding" of Islam is based not on fact, but instead on equal parts wishful thinking and Islamic deceit? It would mean that the entire War on Terror is based on a faulty--and increasingly deadly--premise.

In “Religion of Peace? Islam's War Against the World”, author and filmmaker Gregory M. Davis rebuts the notion that Islam is a great faith in desperate need of a Reformation. Instead, he exposes it as a form of totalitarianism, a belief system that orders its adherents not to baptize all nations, but to conquer and subdue them. Islamic law's governance of every aspect of religious, political, and personal action has far more in common with Nazism than with the tenets of Christianity or Judaism.


Davis details how Islamic thought divides the world into two spheres locked in perpetual combat: dar al-Islam ("House of Islam," where Islamic law predominates), and dar al-harb ("House of War," the rest of the world). This concise yet thorough book leaves no doubt as to why most of the world's modern conflicts are connected to Islam--and calls into question why Western elites refuse to acknowledge Islam's violent nature.


Virtually every contemporary Western leader has expressed the view that Islam is a peaceful religion and that those who commit violence in its name are fanatics who misinterpret its tenets. This widely circulated claim is false.

Relying primarily on Islam's own sources, “Religion of Peace? Islam's War Against the World” demonstrates that Islam is a violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation and destruction of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government. Further, it shows that the jihadis that Westerners have been indoctrinated to believe are extremists, are actually in the mainstream.


"Religion of Peace? Islam's War Against the World" is nothing less than a wake-up call to all civilized nations--and one they ignore at their peril.


“A fascinating thesis,” says William F. Buckley Jr. about "Religion of Peace?" You will surely agree.

Don’t miss this book!

NOTE: Purchasing "Religion of Peace? (Book)" from WND's online store also qualifies you to receive three FREE issues of WND's acclaimed monthly print magazine, Whistleblower. Watch for the FREE offer during checkout.



Women's basketball event excites war-weary Somalis

By Ibrahim Mohamed, January 25 2009


MOGADISHU, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The stadium was packed for the women's basketball tournament in the bombed-out capital of staunchly Islamic Somalia.

Sports events are an unusual and welcome diversion for many residents of Mogadishu, torn by a two-year-old insurgency of suicide bombings, assassinations and indiscriminate artillery attacks.

But women's tournaments are even rarer in the Muslim country, attracting droves of eager spectators who filled the seats of the crumbling, colonial-era Italian stadium of Ex Lucino more than an hour before the start.

Supporters of two rival teams from the city -- Heegan and Horseed -- began cheering "Defeat them! Defeat them!", long before the players appeared on court for the semi-final of the contest that ends this week.

Faduma Yareey, 22, plays for Heegan. Two years ago when she started playing basketball, she told Reuters, some of her neighbours had condemned the practice as against the Koran.

"But now there are no problems," Yareey said, warming up for the game in a headscarf, soccer shirt and tracksuit pants.

"We're improving. We exercise every morning and afternoon, and we'd even like to play in the evening too if there was electricity. I hope we will make it to the national team."

The Horn of Africa nation is a failed state. Islamist insurgents have waged an Iraq-style campaign against a weak Western-backed interim government that has killed more than 16,000 civilians since the start of 2007.

Another 1 million Somalis have been driven from their homes.

The United States has long feared the anarchic country could become a safe haven for radical militants, and it says Somalia's hardline al Shabaab rebel group has close ties to al Qaeda.

But most Somalis are traditionally moderate Muslims -- there was huge pride last August when the impoverished nation was able to send a 10-strong team to the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Aden Yabrow Wiish, chairman of the Somali Basketball Federation, said the current competition was funded by Somali businessmen overseas who wanted to promote reconciliation.

"We are encouraging the youth to put down their weapons," he said. "You can see how the people ... are applauding their local neighbourhood teams, not their clans."

Venturing out onto the Mogadishu streets is dangerous, said Musa Abdullahi, one 68-year-old closely watching the game.

A suicide car bombing aimed at African Union peacekeepers missed its target on Saturday and killed at least 14 civilians.

Abdullahi said the near-daily bloodshed was dismaying.

"As an old man, it hurts my head to hear such stories," he told Reuters. "But when I come here and see young people playing sports together in such harmony, it is refreshing. That is how life should be. That is how I remember my upbringing here." (Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Charles Dick)


Islamic body opts not to ban smoking in Indonesia

By Olivia Rondonuwu


PADANG PANJANG, Indonesia (Reuters) - Indonesia's top Islamic body decided on Sunday not to ban smoking for Muslims in a country which is the world fifth-largest tobacco market and Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

It instead issued a fatwa placing more limited restrictions on tobacco use.

Officially secular Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and about 700 people, including Muslim clerics and theological experts, had gathered in West Sumatra for the National Edict Commission meeting, which could have issued fatwas on a range of areas from polygamy to doing yoga.


The debate over smoking revealed a split between those wanting to make it "haram", or not allowed, and others who favoured "makruh", an Arabic term whereby it would only be advised that smoking is bad and it is better to drop it.

In the end, after a heated debate at the meeting of the Ulema Council, known as MUI, the council said a decision could not be reached and only forbade smoking in public or smoking by council members of MUI, children and pregnant women.

Fauziah Fauzan, headmistress of the Diniyyah Putri Islamic girls' boarding school, where the meeting was held, said she regretted the decision.


"Makruh means something that God hates, so how come the ulemas still smoke? I am sure those men wouldn't have the heart to see their daughters and wife smoke, so why didn't they just make it forbidden?," she questioned.

The economic importance of the tobacco industry in Indonesia had played a role in the talks and ulemas, or religious councils, in central and east Java -- both areas where the industry is a big employer -- had argued against a ban.


"Haram has a relation to sin and so the mosques built by cigarette factories would also be haram, because they were funded by something haram," said Syafiq Nashan, the head of the ulema in the city of Kudus, a centre for the tobacco industry.

Some clerics also argued that there was no Islamic tenet that bans smoking.

At around $1 a pack, cigarettes in Indonesia are among the cheapest in the world. Some cities, including Jakarta, have banned smoking in public places, but the rules are widely flouted.




The MUI has carved a key role for itself in Indonesia and its pronouncements on everything from Islamic banking to halal food can have a big influence. The fatwas are not legally binding but can influence government policy.

The meeting also discussed whether Muslims should avoid yoga because of a view it uses Hindu prayers that could erode Muslims' faith.


The council issued a fatwa, but stopped short of a ban and said Muslims could do yoga as long as it is was only for physical exercise and did not include chanting, mantras or meditation.

The meeting also decided that underage marriage was not forbidden, except if it was "disadvantageous", without elaborating.


Under Indonesian law, men can marry at 19 and women at 16, although under some Islamic laws there is no age limit, and marriage is allowed when the couple is ready for reproduction.


The council, established in 1975, also banned Muslims from abstaining from voting in elections, unless there were no eligible candidates who were deemed honest, faithful, devout, and reliable and defended Islamic interests.

A ban on vasectomy remained in place and the council urged the government to implement sharia banking and pornography laws.



Some Arab 'friends' need a lesson in democracy

Irfan Yusuf, January 25, 2009


An Islamic heritage does not preclude having an elected government.

IN MAY 2008, prominent conservative Edward Luttwak wrote in The New York Times that Barack Obama was an apostate in Muslim eyes, deserving of death under sharia law.


I saw no evidence of this as I flicked between three Pakistani cable news channels on Obama's inauguration day. Instead, Pakistani TV hosts spoke with pride of the 44th US president whose name and heritage would otherwise subject him to the same security checks Pakistanis endure when visiting the US. Obama's election will leave a particularly deep impact in Arab League states, where changes in leadership happen either via military coups, royal succession or, in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, foreign intervention.


The absurd reality of Arab politics was reflected in the recent arrest in Kuwait of 43-year-old Sydney woman Nasrah Alshamery, who faces a possible five-year jail sentence for allegedly insulting Kuwaiti monarch Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah.


During an argument with Kuwait airport guards, Ms Alshamery mentioned George Bush saving Kuwait in the first Gulf War of 1991, at the time allegedly motivated by protecting tiny Kuwait from mighty Iraq. Saddam Hussein, for years an ally of the West, which bankrolled his war against Iran, had morphed into "that evil dictator". After liberation, Kuwait almost overnight expelled most of its 450,000 Palestinian residents — a telling example of how minorities are so often treated by "moderate" Arab regimes.


Governments of Arab League states are, with few exceptions, characterised by brutal dictatorship, near-complete absence of the rule of law, widespread corruption and little respect for human rights. To divert attention from their own failures, Arab governments frequently use anti-Semitism or religious wedge issues. The hysterical response to the 2006 Danish cartoons in some Arab states was a classic example of this diversion tactic. No doubt Obama's words ("To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy") were designed to embolden nascent democratic forces, and will have sent shivers down the spines of many an Arab autocrat.


Unlike his predecessor, Obama hasn't signalled any policy of wholesale regime change across the Arab world. Instead he spoke of "extend(ing) a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist". But Obama made it clear that his war on terror would not involve allegedly "moderate" (read Western-backed) regimes continuing to profit from Bush's policy of "extraordinary rendition", pursuant to which the US government contracted out the torture of terrorism suspects to compliant Arab governments happy to provide the kind of torture deemed illegal under US law.


Former Guantanamo gulag inmate Mamdouh Habib's 2008 memoir My Story: the tale of a terrorist who wasn't provides chilling details of his torture at the hands of Egypt's dreaded Mukhabarat (security police). Neither the Howard government nor the ALP opposition did much to help Habib.


Nasrah Alshamery need not be surprised by Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's refusal to intervene in her case.

The war on terror was used by many "moderate" Arab states to suppress domestic political opponents. As British Foreign Secretary David Milibrand recently noted, such double standards did little more than enable the West to "play into the hands of those seeking to unify groups with little in common". Our support for autocracy is a recruiting tool for extremists.


While being party to the suppression of Islamist parties in some countries, the Bush administration also protected democratically elected Islamist regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of American and British (and a few Australian) soldiers have died defending Islamist governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could well have a spill-over effect. Autocratic Arab regimes are becoming increasingly unpopular. Muslim theocratic parties are often the only alternative. Little wonder many Arab electorates are turning to these parties.


Instead of dismissing popular theocratic parties, we should ask why these movements are so popular. Is it because Arabs hanker after theocratic rule?


In The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, who helped with the drafting of the Iraqi constitution, argues that many Arabs see existing regimes as characterised by violence and lawlessness, while Islamist parties offer a program deeply rooted in tradition and law.


Twenty-first century Islamist politics don't reflect the pluralist vision of, say, the early Spanish Caliphate where Islam and other faiths (including and especially Judaism) flourished, but even sceptics like me must understand why, as Feldman argues, "the idea of the Islamic state looks so attractive today to people whose own grandparents rejected such a state as a relic of the failed past".


As many Western electorates increasingly emphasise their Christian — and in a rare moment of ecumenism, Judeo-Christian — heritage, perhaps now is the time to build alliances with democratic forces in Muslim electorates seeking to emphasise their Islamic heritage. Comparing Turkey's AK Party Government to al-Qaeda is as imbecilic as comparing Germany's Christian Democrats to neo-Nazis.

Irfan Yusuf is a lawyer and writer.



Iraqi prime minister lectures against sectarianism



BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's prime minister on Sunday blamed sectarianism for destroying the country, as he tried to tap into a backlash against religious parties before next weekend's nationwide provincial elections.


Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has been delivering numerous speeches in the days leading up to next Saturday's provincial elections in a thinly veiled effort to rally support for the candidates running under the umbrella group that includes his Dawa party.


"Sectarianism is behind the destruction of the country," al-Maliki told academics and sportsmen at a forum in Baghdad. "It is natural that we have different views, but we are all representing a unified Iraq that is not ready for division."


He appeared to be distancing himself from the major religious parties, particularly his governmental ally the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, after years of brutal violence between Shiites and Sunnis.


He told the forum that sectarianism is a "rotten thing" and Iraqis must focus on rebuilding efforts.


Al-Maliki isn't running, but his pictures have been plastered on campaign posters throughout Iraq, and he has campaigned extensively as he seeks to solidify his power base before national parliamentary elections later this year.

For years, al-Maliki himself had a reputation as a hard-line Shiite nationalist. But there are signs the public, especially in Baghdad and other major cities, has grown weary of the religious parties that have dominated national politics since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.


Al-Maliki's criticism of sectarian politics appeared to be an effort to tap into public discontent against parties run by clerics, such as the Supreme Council.


The prime minister also favours centralized rule and opposes a bid by the council, the country's biggest Shiite party, to establish a self-ruled region in the Shiite south modelled on the autonomous Kurdish administration in the north.


"The constitution has not called for the division of the country, but the people who have the ambition to create their own mini-state here and there were behind such practices," he said later during an address in the mainly Shiite city of Diwaniyah, south of Baghdad.

"We saved the police and the army from being politicized, from infiltration and from those who are still insisting on keeping their influence in the police and the army based on their party affiliations," he told supporters.


Al-Maliki's image as a Shiite hard-liner began to change last year when he ordered a military crackdown against Shiite militias in Baghdad, Basra and other parts of the country.

The crackdown helped force a cease-fire by the militias, which contributed to the dramatic drop in violence. Other factors included a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and a U.S. troop build-up in 2007.


Voters on Saturday will be choosing ruling councils in 14 of the country's 18 provinces. It will be the first nationwide balloting in three years.

A strong showing by al-Maliki's Coalition of the State of Law would bolster him against political rivals, including Kurdish and Shiite parties that are nominally part of his ruling alliance but oppose him on key power-sharing issues.


The Supreme Council, which maintains ties to both Iran and the U.S. and is part of his government, would like to take the premiership away from al-Maliki after this year's parliamentary elections.

The party's leader, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, also has been campaigning for candidates on his group's list.


Both leaders also emphasized the need for fair elections after previous votes were marred by a Sunni boycott.

Al-Hakim warned voters not to be swayed by propaganda or false promises but to choose "honest and efficient people."

"I call upon all political entities to urge their observers to have an active presence in the voting centres ... in order to ensure free and honest elections away from fraud," he said during a rally for candidates from the party's list in the Shiite holy city of Najaf.

Associated Press writer Muhieddin Rashad contributed to this report.



Saudi Arabia- Shariah index shows increasing trends toward Islamic investment

Dec 26, 09


(MENAFN - Arab News) Another sign of the importance of Saudi financial institutions leading the Islamic financial sector out of the doom and gloom of the credit crunch and the current global financial turmoil, is the recent launch by Saudi investment bank, Falcom Financial Services, of the "largest Islamic equity index in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) licensed by Tadawul (the Saudi stock exchange)."


The launch of the Falcom Shariah Index in the Saudi Securities Market (Tadawul), say the promoters, is in response to the "increasing trends toward Islamic investment." At end of December 2008, another Saudi bank, Saudi Hollandi Bank, successfully closed a SR775m Mudaraba Sukuk, as part of a planned SR1.5 billion Islamic notes issuance program.


This has given hope for a revival of the Sukuk market which has been affected in terms of market confidence because of the contagion effect of the credit crunch and its associated global financial crisis.


Falcom claims that its Shariah Index is unique in that it has a pre-market feature the only index to have this. The feature allows investors to review the market position of their portfolios before the market opens.


"The pre-market opening mechanism serves to establish an orderly market open and greatly enhances market efficiency a strategic tool needed to place your trades accurately," explains Falcom.

The index includes the requisite stock screening and filtering processes to ensure Shariah compliance.


These include screening the activities of companies to ensure Shariah compliance; and the financial ratios of the companies to ensure that they do not exceed the agreed leverage ceilings in terms of interest income, debt to market capitalization ratios and debt to assets ratios.

The latter are normally not more than 33 percent. The Falcom Shariah Index stock universe is also periodically reviewed for changes in the constituent free float and to ensure that companies whose financial ratios exceed the agreed ceilings are then removed from the universe. Falcom has its own independent Shariah board.


The promoters claim that this index is the first of its kind on the Tadawul, and comprises some 112 companies which in turn comprise nearly 78 percent of the Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI).

"The index," according to Falcom, "is calculated in real time and published in Saudi riyals. Overtime, Falcom expects its Shariah index to be used as the basis for Shariah-compliant ETFs (exchange-traded funds), OTS (over the counter products) and index-linked equity funds.


The Falcom Shariah Index has clear and transparent index rules and governance procedures that ensure the index is investible and straightforward to track."

The index guiding principles for companies' stocks include that all stocks are free-float adjusted; all stocks meet liquidity screens; all index changes are clearly communicated; and a company must be fully Shariah-compliant.


Falcom's Shariah Index is its first although the investment bank has a family of Shariah-compliant fund and investment products including the Falcom Sukuk Fund, which "offers investors the opportunity to invest with steady capital appreciation and relatively high degree of capital preservation of their investments. To achieve the fund's objectives, the fund manager invests in medium to long-term sukuk investments."


Falcom also has a Saudi Equity Fund, aimed at providing long-term capital appreciation and growth by investing in a fund weighted 90 percent in Saudi stocks; a Saudi Riyal Murabaha Fund and a Euro Murabaha Fund; an IPO Fund: and a Multi-Asset (mixed Portfolio) Fund.


Indexes are usually provided by major dedicated index companies such as Dow Jones Indexes, FTSE, Standard & Poor's, MSCI and Russell, or by individual banks which usually have a small number of indexes catering for their particular markets.

This compared to the Dow Jones and FTSE whose Shariah Index families, Dow Jones Islamic Market (DJIM) and the FTSE Shariah Indexes comprise over 95 indexes each.


More recently financial centres such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and stock exchanges such as Kuwait Stock Exchange, Bursa Malaysia, Singapore Stock Exchange and now Tadawul have teemed up with either the major index providers or individual banks to launch bespoke Shariah indices.


However, the surfeit of Shariah indexes, the actual number of Islamic equity and other products such as ETFs, OTCs, Sukuk Funds and index-linked funds are relatively small. The reason is that there remains a mismatch between the sheer Shariah index offerings and the lack of product sophistication of investors and the markets at which these indexes are aimed.


The challenge for index providers is to educate the investment market and securities regulators about such products and what contribution they can make to the development of a particular capital market.

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Saudi School Textbooks Incite to Hatred and Violence

Dr. Sami Alrabaa, January 23, 2009


 Ahmed Al-Sarraf cited in Al-Qabas (June 2, 2007) some passages from a Kuwaiti school textbook taught at the first secondary grade. Here is an English translation of passages from the book, "Jurisprudence", page 38:

Who is, or who is not, punished in a Muslim society:


A Muslim who kills an apostate or someone who commits adultery against an infidel is not punished.

If a Muslim kills an infidel or a slave, he is not punished.

If a Muslim man, father, or grandfather kills someone from his offspring, he is not punished.


I went through school textbooks taught in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Here is an English translation of some passages from these books.


A fourth grade textbook on Monotheism and Religion instructs students:


"Any other religion other than Islam is invalid (false)." (P. 29)


"Hate (yakrah) the polytheists and the infidels" as a requirement of "true faith." (P. 86)


5th Grade. Book: Monotheism and Religion:


"Every religion other than Islam is invalid." (P. 33)


"It is not permitted to be a loyal to non-Muslims, and to those who oppose God and His Prophet."  (P. 14)


"Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot be loyal to those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives." (P. 71)


"A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion." (P. 73)


"Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power." (P. 75)


"Jews are the people of the Sabbath, whose young people God turned into apes, and whose old people God turned into swine to punish them." "As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the keepers of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus." (P. 83)


"The clash between our [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills. In this hadith, Muhammad gives us an example of the battle between the Muslims and the Jews." (P. 113)


"Narrated by Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet said, the hour [of judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. [It will not come] until the Jew hides behind rocks and trees. [It will not come] until the rocks or the trees say, 'O Muslim! O servant of God! There is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.'." (P. 114)


"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him." (P. 117)


"A woman who shows in public any part of her body except that of her eyes will be punished by hellfire by almighty Allah." (P. 194)


"The infidels have established Christian hospitals and clinics and send medics all over the world. As one of the Christianizers said, 'Where you find people, you find pain. And where there's pain, there's a need for a doctor. And where there's a need for a doctor, there's an appropriate opportunity for missionary activity [Christianization].'" (P. 163)


"The infidels have founded many schools and universities in the Muslim world at various educational levels. These include: the American Universities of Beirut and Cairo, the Jesuit University, Robert College in Istanbul, Gordon [Memorial] College in Khartoum, and others too numerous to mention. (P. 186)


Teacher's Manual:


Grade 5:

Teach that after their death, non-Muslims will be sent to hell. (P. 30)


Quiz: Is it permissible to love the Jews and Christians? Of course no. Explain why. (P. 15)


Grade 8:

Command Muslims to "hate" Christians, Jews, polytheists and other "unbelievers," including non-devout Muslims." (P. 14)


Teach that the Crusades never ended, and identify the American Universities in Beirut and in Cairo, other Western and Christian social service providers, media outlets, centers for academic studies of Orientalism, and campaigns for women's rights as part of the modern phase of the Crusades. (P. 15)


Teach that "the Jews and the Christians are enemies of the [Muslim] believers" (P. 16) and that "the clash between the two realms "continues until the Day of Resurrection." (P. 18)


Instruct students not to "greet," "befriend," "imitate," "show loyalty to," "be courteous to", or "respect" non-believers. (P. 24)


Grade 9:

 Define jihad to include "wrestling with the infidels by calling them to the faith and battling against them," (P. 25) and assert that the spread of Islam through jihad is a "religious obligation." (P. 26) [the word qital, translated here as "battle," is derived from the verb qatala, "to kill," and is virtually never used metaphorically.]


Instruct that "the struggle between Muslims and Jews" will continue "until the hour [of judgment]" and that "Muslims will triumph because they are right" and "he who is right is always victorious." (P. 27)


Grade 10:

 Cite a selective teaching of violence against Jews, while in the same lesson, ignoring the passages of the Quran and hadeeths [narratives of the life of the Prophet, Peace be upon Him, that counsel tolerance. (P. 28)


Teach the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact and relate modern events to it. (P. 29)


Discuss Jews in violent terms, blaming them for virtually all the "subversion" and wars of the modern world. (P. 30)


"Give examples of false religions, like Judaism, Christianity, paganism, etc." (P. 66)


"Explain that when someone dies outside of Islam, hellfire is his fate." (P. 67)


By the way, over 20 Saudi schools, each chaired by the local ambassador from Saudi Arabia, are located throughout the world, in Bonn, Berlin, Washington, Algiers, Ankara, Beijing, Djibouti, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Rabat, Rome, and Tunis.


In fact, you can find some of the above stuff in many school textbooks in all the Arab Gulf countries, Egypt, Kuwait, The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan. Fourteen-year-old boys' and girls' brains are stuffed with intolerance, animosity towards other religions and their followers.


Al Sarraf wonders, what is the point in devoting $150 million of Kuwaiti money to spend on disseminating tolerance and moderation in society when the foundation of society, the youth, are taught religious fanaticism and religio-centricism? Islam is a tolerant and moderate religion, but some zealous Muslims have hijacked it and are determined to interpret it their own way.


I disagree with Al Sarraf over the last point. Islam is partially tolerant and moderate. When you check out the Koran and Hadeeth (the Prophet Muhammad’s comments), you find out that Islam is also a violent faith. It preaches hatred and violence against non-Muslims and discriminates against women. (Check out “Is Islam a Violent Faith?”).


What does all that imply in terms of the war on terror?


The war on Islamic terror will remain futile unless the free world forces Saudi Arabia and the other Arab oil countries on the Persian Gulf to remove hatred and violence from their school textbooks. The root causes of Islamic terror must be rooted out. This is not an internal issue and has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It impacts all of us and the world peace at large. The West must use all its leverage vis-à-vis these states to achieve this goal if it truly wants to gain the war on terror.


I’m also pretty sure that the more and more Muslims around the world who read the Koran thoroughly, many more of them would turn their back to Islam. According to a recent survey by Berlin University, 13% of male Muslims have read the Koran and among women it is only 7%.


Many Muslims around the globe, in particular non-Arabs, do not understand the Koran which is written in an old archaic Arabic. They learn about Islam from what their fanatic imams preach. Contributing Editor Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an ex-Muslim, is a professor of Sociology and an Arab-Muslim culture specialist. Before moving to Germany he taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University.