New Age Islam
Fri Feb 23 2024, 11:39 AM

Islamic World News ( 24 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Saudi Arabia offers Asylum to Mullah Omar


UN, Saudis Conspire to Stifle Free Speech by David J. Rusin

Harun Yahya: Win over Darwinism by P.K. Abdul Ghafour

By pretending to highlight unfounded rumours, Seymour Hersh ends up taking sides

Does anybody know how to deal with political Islam? By Tariq Ali

Terror-mastermind Rashid Rauf was a "very pious Muslim"

Kuala Lumpur: Islamic councils say courts have no right to decide on ‘Allah’

Abraham: The focus of Haj

Iraq's Kurdish areas prepare to ban female circumcision

Think tank: Betrayal of Muslim reformers


Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Saudi Arabia offers Asylum to Mullah Omar

That figures…

   But it’s just as well if the mullah refuses; Pakistan’s ISI has been keeping him — along with, perhaps other notable personages — safe and sound. “Report: Saudi offer of asylum to Taliban leader,”

Berlin - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has offered political asylum to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, 49, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday, quoting government sources in Kabul. The report said the approach was made at the request of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and outgoing US president George W Bush.

    Jimmy Carter was instrumental in putting Robert Mugabe in power, and now he and Kofi Annan have been barred from entering Zimbabwe.

Karzai hoped the offer would speed up plans for a reconciliation process in the landlocked Asian nation and had promised the Taliban leader safe passage if he decided to return to Afghanistan, Der Spiegel said.

Terrorism experts believe Mullah Omar is hiding in the Pakistan city of Quetta, possibly with the help of the country’s Inter- Services Intelligence agency, the report added.

Hugh’s comment

The Idi Amin Memorial Complex named after its late and most famous occupant, recently became available, and may be just the thing to convince Mullah Omar to come to sunny Saudi Arabia, with its fabulous beaches both on the coast and inland.

Someone should send Mullah Omar the details:

For immediate occupancy: Idi Amin Memorial Complex.

Three buildings, comprising 58 rms/w/vu of decapitation sites in the city square, 64 baths, 3 half-baths all with gold fixtures. Five restaurants, each attached to a separate designer kitchen with granite countertops, professional Mohn stove and restaurant-quality refrigerators. Kidney-shaped swimming-pool. Large multi-ethnic harem provided, and constantly re-stocked at no additional charge, along with an experienced staff of a dozen black eunuchs whose tongues have been thoughtfully removed. Completely furnished in the pharaonic style, this propert is one of the most desirable in all of Arabia. Near to churches and synagog–no, just a joke. Near to mosques and thousands of miles, thanks be to Allah, from the nearest churches and synagogues. The entire complex is guarded by members of the personal bodyguard of the Al-Saud Family. Private heliport on the grounds, private airport five minutes for friends and family of the Al-Saud, for those getaway weekends and escapes, or for any time of day or week or year.

But hurry. This one’s bound to go fast.



UN, Saudis Conspire to Stifle Free Speech

By David J. Rusin | 22 Nov 2008

As if the endless tales of corruption, ineptitude, and financial waste were not enough to sully one's view of the United Nations, here is another reason to look askance at Turtle Bay: the organization is pushing a global blasphemy law designed to thwart criticism of the Islamic faith:

    United Nations General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said on Tuesday [November 11] that the world body should ban defamation of all religions and disagreed that such a move would impinge upon freedom of speech.

    "Yes, I believe that defamation of religion should be banned," he said in response to a question at a press conference to highlight the interfaith conference at the UN headquarters. No one should try to defame Islam or any other religion, he said, adding: "We should respect all religions."

President d'Escoto, a former Sandinista foreign minister and recipient of the International Lenin Peace Prize, was speaking prior to the UN's Culture of Peace Conference, held on November 12 and 13 at the behest of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. As the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch noted, "There is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, yet the kingdom asks the world to listen to its message of religious tolerance."

The meeting intended to build on a Saudi-led forum in Madrid earlier this year that issued a declaration touting "respect for religions." That sounds pleasant enough. Yet there is a thinly veiled agenda at work here: "a global law to punish blasphemy — a campaign championed by the 56-member Organization of Islamic Conference that puts the rights of religions ahead of individual liberties." Indeed, the details of last week's UN get-together are maddening:

    Consider one key draft resolution at the event. Introduced jointly by the Philippines and Pakistan, it openly seeks to limit press freedoms. Sure, as read by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, the language pays lip service to the notion of freedom of expression.

    But the document then goes on to emphasize the "special duties and responsibilities necessary for the respect of the rights or reputations of others, protection of national security or of public order, or of public health and morals."

    Translation: Don't even think of publishing those Danish cartoons or anything even close to them. And forget about questioning authorities in places like, say, Riyadh.

Of course, this is just the latest attempt to silence critics of radical Islam. Proposed blasphemy laws will fail to win much support from Americans or Europeans, but they underscore the agenda that Islamists are already enacting through politically correct appeals and soft intimidation. Culture of peace? This is the culture of censorship and the West should have none of it.

Source: 11:16 AM 11/23/2008


Harun Yahya: Win over Darwinism

P.K. Abdul Ghafour

Harun Yahya is the pen name of Adnan Oktar, a prominent Turkish intellectual and writer based in Istanbul. His research findings, proving the fallacy of Darwinism, have won him international acclaim. A strong advocate of Turkish Islamic Union, Yahya believes that the formation of such a union would solve many problems facing the Muslim world today.

Speaking to Arab News in Istanbul, he said he was seeking a world of peace and love. “I am dreaming of a world where all people live together in peace and harmony. I also want to see terrorism and violence eliminated, sectarian differences and conflicts among Muslims eradicated and the Islamic faith and ethics promoted across the world.”

Yahya has so far published over 300 books of which 60 have been translated into different languages including Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish. “I have written and published over 45,000 pages. About 80 million copies of my books have been downloaded from our websites in 2008. These are astonishing numbers which show that people are interested in my work and this makes me extremely happy,” he said.

Yahya’s books and documentaries, based on the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, have been instrumental in deepening the faith of Muslims in God and making young Muslim men and women proud of their religion. Many television stations around the world telecast his documentaries that reaffirm the existence and power of God. His analytical writings on Darwinism, atheist Zionism, Marxism and Freemasonry have helped in exposing the hollowness of these ideologies.

The Turkish scholar applauded Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his efforts to promote inter-faith dialogue at the international level. “I have been observing King Abdullah’s activities very closely. He’s a very sincere person and a true believer. I respect his decisions and ideas because I know that he is working to promote world peace.”

During his detailed interview with Arab News, Yahya also spoke about his ideas to end the protracted Arab-Israeli conflict. “The solution to this conflict needs to be as simple as possible in order to enable people in the region to live in unity and friendship,” he said.

He praised the Arab peace initiative, originally proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, saying it should not be ignored.

“The real problem in Israel lies in the fact that it is governed by atheist Zionists from behind the scenes. We have to get rid of these Masonic forces so that Muslims and Jews can govern it. Judaism is an old version of Islam. With the passage of time, it underwent a lot of distortions and changes. The true believers of Judaism are not the ones governing Israel now,” he pointed out.

The Turkish Islamic Union is one of Yahya’s fond dreams. He says: “Muslims have a Qur’anic obligation to act in unison as brothers. The Turkish Islamic Union is essential to achieve that goal. The Muslim and Turkic states must come together under the umbrella of this union in which every state will deal with its internal affairs independently and work together to realize their common objectives.”

He said the Turkish Islamic Union has the potential to open up to all countries of the world. “It will have no enemies because it will have the ability to transform enemies into friends,” he said. About 95 percent of people in the Islamic and Turkic states are looking forward to such a union. “The only thing we need to do is to encourage our heads of state and politicians to form it. People are already talking about a customs union, a common market and a single currency. It shows people in their minds have already accepted such a union.” He is optimistic that the Turkish Islamic Union could become a reality within the next 10 years.

Yahya favors Turkey’s attempt to become a full member of the European Union. However, he argued that Turkey should become the leader of Islamic Union first before becoming an EU member in order to strengthen its position. “Turkey would not benefit from its EU membership if it wins it now because Europe wants to have southeastern Turkey including Cyprus and Istanbul and that is not at all acceptable,” he stated.

Most Turkish people are religious and their women wear headscarves, he said. “It is true that wearing headscarves is not allowed in public institutions such as schools and universities but this is not the decision of the Turkish people. It is the decision of the Constitutional Court and a diktat of the Constitutional Law. Hopefully, this would be changed in the future. If the current law does not permit women to wear headscarves, we cannot say they would not be allowed in the future too.”

A fierce opponent of Darwinism, Yahya takes the credit for defeating the theory of evolution. “First, we offered Darwinists around the world 100 million fossils, which prove that this world came into being as a result of God’s creationism and not because of evolution. Second, Darwin wrote in his books that people have to find transitional forms to prove the theory of evolution, but nobody has been able to find a single transitional form. Third, Darwinists claim that the first cell came into being as a coincidence. But it is impossible for even a single protein to be formed by chance. Fourth, we have proved that the skulls that were displayed as evidence of evolution are fake. Darwinism cannot explain how we can see or hear or sense with the support of our brain.”

Polls conducted by newspapers in Germany, France, Switzerland and Denmark showed that 85-90 percent of Europeans no longer believed in the theory of evolution.

According to Yahya, the 9/11 attacks in the US, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the defeat of the Iraqi military and the global financial crisis are signs of the second coming of Jesus (peace be upon him). “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has already given these signs. The continuing wars, bloodshed, hopelessness, etc. show that the time for the arrival of Messiah is approaching,” he said. “The arrival of Messiah will bring about a golden age where people are happy and with a lot of wealth.”

Asked about the allegation Yahya does not believe that Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet, he said: “This allegation could have been spread by the misunderstanding of a certain group of people who are not happy with the second coming of Jesus (pbuh) and the things that I have explained about it. Our Prophet (May God bless him and grant him peace) is the last prophet and the last messenger with a book. No other prophet or messenger with a book will ever come again. I have clearly mentioned that when Jesus (pbuh) comes, he would not bring a new Shariah or a new message or a new sacred book. He will come as a Muslim and follow the Shariah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).”

Yahya refuted allegations that the Qur’an promotes terrorism. “Islam is a religion of peace and it promotes virtue and tolerance. It stresses brotherhood. The Qur’an says very clearly that if you kill one innocent person, it amounts to killing the whole mankind.

Referring to the accusations against Abul A’ala Moudoodi and Syed Qutb that their books promoted terrorism, he said: “I have read their books carefully and have not seen anything encouraging terrorism and violence. I believe that they were very sincere Muslims and true believers. Those who criticize them or find faults with them should go through their books again and read them carefully.”

He highlighted the efforts of his organization, Global Publishing, to spread the message of the Qur’an and Sunnah in English through his websites and “We have plans to publish a translation of the Qur’an in English and produce Islamic movies but they are projects that need a lot of time and funds. If God bestows upon us such material means, we’ll try to implement them.”

Yahya recalled French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s encouraging comments after reading his book, Atlas of Creation. “Sarkozy said that in everyone’s heart the love of God resides. It is God who constantly sends to people the messages of humility and love, peace and brotherhood, and tolerance and respect. We should conform to those messages. God does not enslave man but frees him.” Atlas of Creation, he said, had also influenced former French President Jacques Chirac and former British Premier Tony Blair.

Yahya urged Muslims not to believe in the false accusations made against him by those who oppose his views and ideas. “Atheist Zionists, Masons and Darwinists spread these allegations because they want to silence me. If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to ask me directly or email to my website. We will be glad to answer them. God has urged believers to investigate accusations before believing them,” he said. Source:


By pretending to highlight unfounded rumours, Seymour Hersh ends up taking sides

Syrian propaganda is behind stories of Lebanese terror in Syria, and some journalists are playing along, writes Hussain Abdul-Hussain*

Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter with The New Yorker, concluded a two-week trip to Damascus during the first half of October, according to The Guardian. The British daily reported that Hersh was in the process of writing a piece on Syria, yet one can only wonder what Hersh will reveal this time, more than a year after publishing one of his most uninformed pieces on terrorism in Lebanon.

Hersh's expected report fits perfectly, with or without his knowledge, into a concerted Syrian propaganda campaign to prove that Saudi-funded terrorism is taking hold of northern Lebanon and, consequently, spilling over to Syria. The Syrian campaign started in early September when President Bashar Al-Assad, upon receiving his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, accused unnamed Arab countries of instigating terrorist groups in northern Lebanon. For this purpose, Al-Assad called on his Lebanese counterpart Michel Suleiman to deploy Lebanese army units north.

On 26 September, Al-Assad deployed massive troop numbers on the Syrian side of Lebanon's northern border in an attempt to convince the world that Damascus feared a terrorist penetration into its territories. A day later, a bomb went off in Damascus killing civilians only. If the Damascus bombing was a terrorist attack, like Syrian authorities would later claim, then it was the clumsiest attack radicals have so far executed.

Yet Damascus was determined to show the world that it was the victim of Lebanese-grown, Saudi-funded terrorism. Hersh was seen in Beirut and Damascus during early October. But since Hersh's piece was scheduled to run at a later time, Damascus was impatient.

Pro-Syrian Lebanese media started reporting on Hizbullah and the Lebanese Army Intelligence unveiling a Lebanese spy ring that worked for Israel and moved freely between Lebanon and Damascus, with some stories concluding that links could be proven between this ring and the killing of Hizbullah's leader Imad Mughniyah in Damascus earlier this year. Pending further investigations, the capture of this ring seemingly proved one thing: that Lebanon was the source of sabotage inside Syria.

Still anxious to prove how disturbing "Lebanese terror" had become for Damascus, Syrian media put out, on 8 November, three reports. In the first, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported the confessions of so-called ringleaders responsible for the Damascus bombing of 27 September. According to the report, the terrorists belonged to Fatah Al-Islam, a radical group that fought with the Lebanese army during the summer of 2007 in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr Al-Bared in northern Lebanon.

On that same day, Syria's state-run TV aired similar confessions, this time by Wafa, the daughter of Fatah Al-Islam's leader, Shaker Al-Absi, in which she said that her father and his group received funds from Lebanon's lawmaker and Sunni heavyweight politician Saad Al-Hariri. Syrian official media reports were coupled with an op-ed in The Asia Times. Sami Moubayed, an analyst close to the regime, entreated from America's President-elect Barack Obama the following: "Help Syria combat Islamic fundamentalism that has been flowing into its territory from north Lebanon and Iraq. The deadly 27 September attack in Damascus... should have been a wake-up call for the Americans that unless cooperation is forthcoming from the US, Syria might become a battleground for extremists."

On 10 November, pro-Syria Lebanese lawmaker Michel Aoun entered the fray by commenting on Syrian accusations of Al-Hariri funding Fatah Al-Islam, highlighting an American report by none other than Hersh, saying that Hersh's story was proof enough that Al-Hariri stood behind this Sunni radical terror. So what did Hersh exactly write that is being repeatedly quoted by Syria's protégés in Lebanon?

On 5 March 2007, The New Yorker ran a story entitled "The redirection" in which Hersh tried to prove that the pro-Washington Lebanese government, an ally of Al-Hariri and Saudi Arabia, had taken Fatah Al-Islam under its wing. Hersh based his findings on his conversation with a certain Alastair Crooke, "who spent nearly 30 years in Mi6, the British intelligence service," and was working in a Beirut think tank at the time.

Crooke told Hersh that one "Sunni extremist group, Fatah Al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah Al-Intifada, in the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon." Crooke added: "I was told that within 24 hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government's interests -- presumably to take on Hizbullah."

Thus a rumour was born based on Crooke, who was "told" the government offered Fatah Al-Islam arms and money "presumably to take on Hizbullah".

Despite this flaw in Hersh's story, some information could not be disputed: Fatah Al-Islam was a splinter group of Fatah Al-Intifada, one of half a dozen Palestinian factions loyal to Syria and based in Lebanon. Splinter group does not mean anti-Syrian for, in Lebanon, several opposed factions are allied to Syria at the same time.

The story of Fatah Al-Islam shows undisputed Syrian involvement in its creation. Its leader Al-Absi was arrested but released from prison in Syria in 2005, only three years after his arrest. Why would Syria let out a terrorist of the caliber of Al-Absi at a time it throws in prison people of much lesser weight, such as opposition figure Aref Dalila, who spent eight years behind bars before being released for health reasons?

Also in a story by sources more credible than The New Yorker and Hersh, The Associated Press (AP) reported 8 June 2007, 20 days into Fatah Al-Islam's battle with the Lebanese army, that Al-Absi "was received with open arms by Fatah Uprising and its deputy leader, Abu Khaled Al-Amleh, who was based in Damascus."

Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, an official of Fatah Uprising, told AP that his group trained Al-Absi's men in Yanta and Halwa in eastern Lebanon, close to the Syrian border. But when Fatah Uprising officials in Lebanon alerted their superiors in Damascus that Al-Absi's men "were behaving strangely", they were swiftly dismissed and told the group was in Lebanon for the "struggle" and to fight the "Zionist enemy", AP quoted Abu Mohamed as saying.

In a nutshell Syria released Al-Absi from prison, sent him and his men for training in the camps of its staunchest Palestinian allies in Lebanon, dismissed accusations of strange behaviour against him, then invited Hersh to write in The New Yorker that a certain Crooke told him that he was "told" that the Lebanese government, Al-Hariri and the Saudis were behind the group and offered it money and weapons.

This time, Damascus is up to a similar propaganda scheme, and it invited Hersh once again to the region. The Guardian wrote about Hersh's supporters saying they believe "that his mistakes -- and even the wilder allegations he sometimes makes in speeches -- should always be put in the context of his hit rate."

But in a region as sensitive as the Middle East, there is no room for error in reporting. Hersh should realise that by pretending to highlight unfounded rumours, he ends up taking sides and vindicating one faction against another, a role that respectful journalists should never play.

 The writer is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



Does anybody know how to deal with political Islam?

PAULA NEWBERG, November 22, 2008


The Future of the Middle East

By Gilles Kepel, Harvard University Press, 328 pages, $33


Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power

By Tariq Ali

Scribner, 288 pages, $29.99

Bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi and Mehsud. And, of course, the Taliban and al-Qaeda. We now recite effortlessly these inventories of politics and wars, fear and survival, unknown to most of us a decade ago.

But incantation is not comprehension. The focus of our global engagements has moved from old alliances and customary enemies to a vague collection of insurgents, ideologues and borderless forces that is hard to identify and harder to understand. The first years of this violent century have underscored the fallibility of our state system, and the deep fault lines within states. Governments, armies, spies and money - diplomacy's traditional arsenal - seem weak, unfocused and distressingly unprepared to cope with the passing of everyday global politics.

Like other moments of deep political transformation - the fall of Rome and the rise of Islam in the eighth century, the sack of Eurasia by the Mongols, the rise and fall of European colonialism and the end of Pax Americana - only retrospection illuminates change. French scholar and author (Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam) Gilles Kepel, in Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of the Middle East, and British-Pakistani historian, novelist, filmmaker and activist Tariq Ali, in The Duet: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, set out to map this evolving terrain. Exploring the misconceptions that beset policy-makers and powerbrokers in Europe and the United States, the Middle East and South Asia, they depict fundamental and mistaken shifts in the ways that old power has met new political movements.

Beyond Terror and Martyrdom is the more ambitious of these two volumes, and Kepel's efforts to decipher the meaning of political Islam - or more precisely, the political languages embedded in Islam - frame his treatment of today's militants. He crisply identifies two narratives, often erroneously conflated, that are rooted in the jihadi tactics of terror and martyrdom. The first, expostulated by Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden from their Pakistani mountain retreats, is triumph-list and grand, seeking to bring Islam to its "heralded victory." The second, a narrative of global Islamic resistance outlined in the writings of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Musab al-Suri, conceived a global Islamist struggle that surfaced in the Middle East and Europe.

Kepel's detailed analysis of the conflicting tactics, strategies, justifications and goals that underscore these ideologies is among the clearest available to date. His tour of the global political landscape illuminates not only the broad contours of Islamist thinking since 2001, but also the nuanced political theologies that pit sects, tribes, jihadis and governments against one another.

The bin Laden-Zawahiri vision prompted the West's war on terror, a failed utopian crisis that, as Kepel notes, pitted a quest for universal democracy against one for a universal Islamist state. These failed "transformative fictions," as Kepel aptly calls them, have nonetheless dramatically altered the way the modern state system confronts challenges to its habitual writ. Zarqawi's and Suri's action agenda - a systematic counterpoint to the U.S.-prosecuted Iraq war that underscores the fatal weaknesses of U.S. foreign policy - has targeted Europe's people and governments as well.

Indeed, the consequences of multiple Islamism’s for Europe’s societies lead Kepel to dissect Europe's immigration policies, its varied models of social incorporation and exclusion, and the effects of distant insurgencies on its Muslim youth. It is not simply that would-be shoe-bomber Richard Reid found his religion in England, or that Islamist groups have bombed Spain's trains, or that Kashmiri immigrants demonstrated against Salman Rushdie in Bradford, England. Europe's policies and practices toward its own diverse populations - France's toward Muslim dress, Denmark's conflict between cartoonists and Muslim sensibilities, Germany's diffidence toward its Turkish population - have become a part of a complex, global Islamist puzzle. Others, including Ian Buruma, Ruth Mandel and Riva Kastoryano, have treated this question in detail, but Kepel ties together cause and effect, and inward- and outward-looking policies, quite deftly.

This is where Kepel and Ali find common ground. Just as Kepel notes that "the war on terror embodied the same policy objectives that the United States had pursued in the Middle East since 1945," so Ali tells a six-decade tale of failed governance in Pakistan and failed U.S. policy toward Pakistan.

There was a time when this story was encapsulated in the fractious politics of the post-partition Indian subcontinent, but no more. Ali's reading of Pakistan's strangely emblematic place in Islamic politics is no less telling for is familiarity. Pakistan is an exemplar of an intentional state that draws its cultural roots from Islam but its governance from an autocratic and self-defeating colonialism.

Pakistan's history is its present. "A conflict of myriad wills sometimes results in the creation of something that nobody willed," Ali writes. As weekly bomb blasts along its Afghan border and in Pakistan's major cities attest, it is a state quintessentially conflicted, at once home to disaffected Islamists and a victim of the philosophies of both Zawahiri and Zarqawi.

With Pakistan caught between the rock of extremism and the hard place of ill-formed governance, Ali's "flight path" metaphor has become real: Its relationship with the United States is rocky, militancy has overtaken portions of the state and civil society, and successive governments cannot see their way through the thicket of opportunistic, often duplicitous alliances - domestic and foreign - to notice that its interests and those of its allies are not always the same.

Worse still, Pakistan's governments rarely have enough public support to change allies, or the conduct of their own politics. When they do - as happened during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's brief, socialist, pro-nuclear rule in the 1970s - triumph is quickly squandered by political manipulation and downright arrogance.

The Duet has a long reach, from the beginning of the state to this year's headlines. A breezy, occasionally repetitive read, it chronicles expectations trumped by wars, pieties trumped by politics, and the pieties of politics trumped by a world that often takes account of Pakistan only when Pakistan seems to get in the world's way.

Ali's Pakistan - more moderate than outsiders believe, more complicated than accounted for, and increasingly fearful of the toll poor governance will take on its future - sometimes sounds a bit like France as Kepel describes it: a place that has "failed to offer certain marginalized populations full participation in a vast culture." Pakistan's problem, of course, is more central to its idea of itself and to the deep failures of imagination that have kept it trapped in the crosswinds of religion and the crossfire of proxy wars. After all, just how do weak, compromised governments tell orthodox Islamists that their religion is getting in the way of a self-professed Islamic state?

Kepel's response to such questions is to argue for a new multipolarism, a "framework of commitments" for peace and prosperity that overtakes routine enmities and alliances in Europe and the Middle East. His proposal is at once innovative and familiar, a way of extending regional interests without succumbing to the ambiguities of globalism. Mostly, however, he seeks a way to move beyond terrorism and U.S. unipolarism, all at once, and return to a world bound by politics rather than ideology.

Of course, this is easier said than done. The Duet reminds us that "politics in a land of perpetual dictatorships and corrupt politicians is undoubtedly depressing." Should international relations ever provide this new space, Pakistan should be among its first beneficiaries.

Paula Newberg is an international consultant specializing in governance and development. Source:


Terror-mastermind Rashid Rauf was a "very pious Muslim"

From aspirations of owning a gas station to blowing up ten infidel-laden jets

Thanks to Jeffrey Imm, here's an article about Rashid Rauf (just killed, see below) from over a year ago. Like many others Misunderstanders-of-Islam, he seems to have believed that jihad (of the militant variety, mind you) is "obligatory for every Muslim." Also, like many other jihadists, he seems to have become "radicalized" in the West, citing the latter's "un-Islamic" -- synonymous with debauched and depraved -- qualities. Interestingly, however, Rauf's friend says the former was planning on becoming a simple gas-station owner, and yet, over a year later, we find him as a fugitive on-the-run living in an al-Qaeda stronghold. The obligation of jihad must have returned to haunt him -- either that or he or his friend or both were just lying about the gas station bit.

"Jihad obligatory for every Muslim: Rashid Rauf," from the Daily Times, April 17, 2007:

    ISLAMABAD: The alleged mastermind of the London terror plot, British-born Pakistani Rashid Rauf, believes that jihad is obligatory for all Muslims, and after release he wants to live in Pakistan and set up a Compressed Natural Gas station in Jhelum, Mehboob Ilahi, Rauf’s fellow prisoner, told Daily Times after being released late Saturday night.

    “Rashid wants to live in Pakistan because he is against the un-Islamic British society,” said Ilahi, who spent six months with Rauf in a sub-jail of Police Civil Lines in Rawalpindi. “An Islamic conference attracted Rauf towards Pakistan. He is a very pious Muslim,” said Ilahi.

    “Rauf told me that he was arrested during a journey to Multan at Lodhran Phatak when a man sitting with him in the bus asked him [Rauf] what his opinion was on jihad and he replied that he believed it was every Muslim’s obligation,” said Ilahi. He said Rauf had not been arrested in Rawalpindi as previously reported, but instead had been apprehended at Lodharan Pathak on August 8.

    Ilahi, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal National Assembly member Maulana Abdul Aziz’s brother, was reportedly arrested on August 25, 16 days after the foiling of the London terror plot. The government had provided terror charges against him but he was released after the Supreme Court review board found him innocent. “Rauf and I were kept in a very small cell. The police did not even provide enough water for us to perform ablution,” said Ilahi. “Investigation personnel have badly beaten Rauf during interrogations and once he lost consciousness for three days following a beating,” Ilahi added.



Islamic councils say courts have no right to decide on ‘Allah’

By Debra Chong

Kualalumpur, Nov 21 — The ongoing lawsuit filed by the Catholic Church in Malaysia seeking a judicial review of the government decision to ban it from using the word “Allah” is not a matter that can be decided by the courts, says lawyer Mubashir Mansor.

“We are making an application under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act for the High Court to stay the effect of the proceedings in order to state a case to be determined by the Federal Court on the effect of relevant provisions of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

“The effect is whether or not the present issue is justifiable, something that should be decided by a court of law.

“We are saying that this issue is not,” he added.

Mubashir is acting on behalf of three state Islamic councils, namely Malacca, Penang and Terengganu, which are seeking to intervene in the case.

He told reporters at the High Court here that he would be filing his application to the Federal Court in Putrajaya in the next two weeks.

A total of eight Muslim organisations today joined the Home Minister and the federal government as respondents in the suit filed by the church on the right to use the word in its publication and practices.

The other five are the Federal Territory Religious Council, Selangor Religious Council, Kedah Religious Council, Johor Religious Council and the Malaysian Chinese-Muslim Association.

The Malaysian Gurdwaras Association, representing the Sikh community, had also sought to be included in the court case for the right to use "Allah" in their religious practices.

Justice Lau Bee Lan, of the KL High Court of Appellate and Special Powers Division, fixed Feb 27 for mention to enable the various Muslim organisations time to file their affidavits.

The Catholic Church's official publication, The Herald, had in May this year won the right to challenge the Home Minister's decision to ban it from using the word "Allah" as a synonym for God in its Malay-language section.

The counsel for the church, Porres Royan, said that the church had previously objected to the inclusion of these parties seeking to intervene in their case, but had changed its mind.

Asked to comment on Mubashir's claims, Porres replied that he did not understand what they wanted.

He affirmed that the church merely wanted the Home Minister's decision overturned.

"The Home Minister decided that we cannot use the word 'Allah'," he said.

"We are saying that decision is wrong," he concluded.



Abraham: The focus of Haj

By Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui

ABRAHAM (peace be upon him) is the main pivot around whom the religion of Islam revolves. He was put to such severe tests that no other Prophet ever faced. It was all because the coming generations of the Muslims should know that the Father of this Ummah did never hesitate to offer the sacrifice of his dearest things.

He stood firmly while calling the people to leave idol-worship and believe in Allah Alone. He smashed the idols and stood in the face of Nimrod the Barbarian who cast him in a massive blazing fire but Allah ordered the fire: “O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham.”

Abraham was a great devotee of Allah who surrendered to his Sustainers Will and Plan. In return Allah too accepted his sacrifices and made his memory everlasting for the Muslim generations in the form of Haj till the Last Day.

Allah blessed him with a son at the age of 86 but he was directed to leave his breastfed son Ismael and his mother Hagar in a barren and stony desert having no animate beings in the treeless valley of Hijaz.

They were the very first inhabitants on the land which was destined to later become the cradle of Islam. Hagar’s breast dried up, her throat choked with extreme thirst, the cries of her infant baby made her to run in search of water between the two hills now known As-Safa and Al-Marwah. Every time she was desperate in her great agony to find some animate being or some trace of water but she could find nothing.

On her seventh run to Al-Marwah, she heard a sound coming from the direction of her son. She saw someone standing by the side of her son. She ran back to find an angel had struck the land with big wing making the water to spring in a fountain. She said ‘Zamzam.’ This Zamzam became the food and drink for the mother and her son for years to come.

Allah loved the mother’s running to save the life of her son and later preserved it as Sa’ee an ingredient of Haj and Umrah.

A caravan from Yemen happened to pass from there. They, on finding water, took the permission from Ismael’s mother to live there. Ismael lived with them and learned their language Arabic. On some occasions, Abraham would come from Jerusalem to see his son. Now there comes the severest test for Abraham, when this time he came to his son and said, “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offering you in sacrifice to Allah). So look what you think.” The dutiful son did not resist but submitting to the will of Allah said, “O my father do what you are commanded, if Allah wills, you will find me the patient.”

The submission of both the father and his son are the greatest example for surrendering to the will of Allah. Then when they had submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah) and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead for slaughtering. It is said that Abraham had covered his eyes with a cloth and he put the knife on the neck of his son and was about to cut through it, to find that Allah has replaced Ismael with a male sheep.

Allah said, “We called out to him: ‘O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream. Verily thus We do reward the good doers. Verily, that was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram).” (Qur’an, 37:102-107)

Allah loved this sacrifice so much that he made it an eternal remembrance for the Muslims who come for Haj and offer this sacrifice.

After a lapse of good time Abraham came again and told his son to lend a helping hand in building the House of Allah, i.e. the Ka’ba.

“And (remember) when Abraham and (his son) Ismael were raising the foundations of the House (the Ka’ba at Makkah) saying: Our Lord accepts this service from us.” (Qur’an, 2:127)

After building of Ka’ba Allah sent Arch Angel Gabriel who came following the prayer of Abraham, “Our Lord, make us submissive unto you and of our offspring a nation submissive unto you and show us our Manasik (rituals of Haj and Umrah).” (Qur’an, 2:128)

So Gabriel taught Abraham the Tawaf, Sa’ee, both done in seven circuits, then Gabriel took him to Mina, where Satan tried to interfere with the Haj rituals. So Gabriel gave Abraham seven pebbles to throw at Satan saying ‘Allah Akbar’. Satan tried three times and so we have three places now known as Jamarat. Gabriel showed all other rituals of Haj including going to and staying Muzdalifa and Arafat. He also showed Abraham the all-round boundaries of the Haram.

Lastly Allah ordered Abraham: And proclaim to mankind the Haj. They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Haj).

Is it not amazing that this proclamation was made 6,000 years age and now we see the millions of believers coming for Haj and Umrah from every corner of the world?

Thus we see that our obligatory Haj is the outcome of severest tests put to Abraham (peace be upon him). Our Prophet comes from his progeny and he re-instituted all the rituals of Haj as he said‚ “Take from me your rituals of Haj.” (Agreed upon)



Iraq's Kurdish areas prepare to ban female circumcision

Nov 22, 2008

Arbil, Iraq (AFP) — Parliament in Iraq's northern autonomous region of Kurdistan is preparing to outlaw female circumcision, according to a woman MP and doctor who has long battled to halt the widespread practice.

"A bill making circumcision illegal will be presented in parliament over the next few days," Dr Hala Suheil told AFP, saying it would impose jail terms and fines on offenders.

UNICEF, the UN children's fund, regards "female genital mutilation" as "one of the most persistent, pervasive and silently endured human rights violations."

Kurdistan health minister Zarian Abdel Rahman said that in the region "60 percent of girls aged four to fourteen undergo circumcision, despite warnings by ministers against this grievous practice committed in the name of religion and hygiene."

He was speaking on Friday at a three-day conference on violence towards women, held in Arbil, capital of the province of the same name, 350 kilometres (219 miles) north of Baghdad.

Circumcision involves the partial or complete removal of the female external genitals. It can cause death through haemorrhaging and later complications during childbirth.

It also carries risks of infection, urinary tract problems and mental trauma.

The German non-government group Wadi carried out research in 201 villages in the three autonomous provinces and in the predominantly Kurdish Kirkuk area in September.

It found that 3,502 out of 5,628 women and girls surveyed had been mutilated -- an average of more than 62 percent.

The practice, encouraged by some clerics, does not appear to exist in other parts of Iraq.

"The ministry of religious affairs should tell imams to speak out against female circumcision in sermons during Friday prayers so their flocks shun the practice," Abdel Rahman said.

"The education ministry should also introduce programmes in schools to encourage girls not to submit to their parents' wishes in this regard."

While widespread in the African continent, it is not known how female circumcision was introduced into northern Iraq.

"This practice began in the region so long ago, and we have no idea where it comes from. But the ancients justified it by saying it would preserve a girl's chastity," said Dr Suheil, adding that no precise statistics are available.

"Old women circumcise young girls using barber's razors and even shards of glass, often causing terrible haemorrhaging and sometimes death," the MP said.

Sheikh Sayyed Ahmad Abdel Wahab al-Panjawini, imam of Arbil's Hajj Jamal mosque, said "I It may be an old custom, but it has nothing to do with Islam.

"No religious text mentions this practice. It is a custom that some have introduced to the Muslim way of thinking."

In a recent article in the Kurdish daily newspaper Hawlati, the secretary general of the Islamic Women's Union, Bekhal Abu Bakr, wrote that "female genital mutilation is not a Muslim practice."

"Many of the problems experienced by women are the result of erroneous traditions, and Islam is not to blame," she said.

"Sharia (Islamic law) is a long way from such practices, and circumcision exists because some people interpret the Koran in a false manner," she said, alluding to obligatory male circumcision. Source:


Think tank: Betrayal of Muslim reformers

Moderate voices are denied official support

Douglas Murray, November 23, 2008

Last month Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC, admitted that he thought Islam should be treated more sensitively than other religions. As the London-based publisher of The Jewel of Medina (the novel about Muhammad and his youngest wife Aisha) could tell you, it can pay to be careful. Gibson Square had its London offices firebombed just before publication. But this is no time to accept any kind of censorship - whether self-imposed or worse.

The Centre for Social Cohesion has produced a publication which details the cases of almost 30 Europeans born to Muslim parents who are risking their lives to speak out against aspects of their faith and culture. The most important rarely receive more than passing attention. But they deserve our focus. For the risks that they – and many other reformers – are taking will in the end is for us all.

The individuals profiled range from cabinet ministers to journalists, writers, academics, artists and even pop singers. Most are in trouble for having criticised elements of what they see in Europe’s Muslim communities, particularly the treatment of women. Nyamko Sabuni, the Swedish minister for integration and gender equality, has been the subject of death threats since speaking out against female genital mutilation and proposing that all Swedish schools should have mandatory gynaecological examinations to discourage the practice.

In Denmark, Manu Sareen, a city councillor and social worker who helped victims of “honour violence”, was forced to give up his job after being approached on the way to his office by two men who told him that if he helped more of their women he would be killed.

Governments across Europe, including our own, make regular pronouncements about helping moderate Muslim voices to emerge above the din of radicals and radical-affiliated groups who have such a knack of grabbing the headlines. But the truth is that many of the individuals detailed in Victims of Intimidation either never had, or took a long time to get, the support they deserved.

Ehsan Jami, 23, the Dutch Labour party politician and founder of the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims, was repeatedly assaulted before being guarded by the Dutch police. He now requires constant protection but his own political party, instead of assisting his right to speak out about what he saw in the religion he was born into, tried to make him tone down his public statements about the treatment of women, apostates and homosexuals within Islam.

Those like Jami who have left Islam are often treated, by our governments and broadcasters as much as by the Muslim communities, as though they are out of the discussion. The British government has repeatedly elevated orthodox and highly conservative Muslim groups here but steers clear of former Muslims or still-practising Muslims who are seen to have harsh critiques of certain Islamic practices. In doing so it operates a terrible double standard. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares “freedom of speech and belief” as among “the highest aspirations of the common people”. But freedom of belief for Muslims in Europe seems not to operate in the same way. A different standard is expected.

Deepika Thathhaal (or Deeyah), the Norwegian-born London-based pop singer, was attacked on stage at a concert in Oslo and has had her life repeatedly threatened. She has been criticised for her dress, dancing, music and her music video What Will It Be? This highlights the victims of “honour killings”.

As Deeyah has said herself: “What’s been a hard and sad thing for me to realise is how not one single person from the religious establishment within the community has shown any support.” Earlier this year she launched a project called Sisterhood to support female Muslim rappers and singers. Daud Abdullah, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (who both the government and the Conservative party continue to deal with) responded to this modern woman’s right to self-expression by saying: “The moral framework of Islam has already been laid down and women should not push beyond its boundaries for the sake of commercial gain.”

Muslim reformers, whether believers or not, are not extended the same rights that the rest of us enjoy. They find themselves stuck between reactionary, self-appointed Muslim spokesmen and a European artistic and political establishment which is either too cowed or too misguided to notice that it is applying a different standard to people born here to Muslim parents.

Government talks a lot about elevating the right voices in the Muslim community. None hit more important or more fundamental notes than the figures profiled in Victims of Intimidation. It is time that our leaders finally started encouraging the true progressives – the people who are the best hope not just for Muslims but for us all. Source: