September 16, 2013
Twenty-fourth session (From 9 to 27 September 2013)
Agenda item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
Oral Statement by Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
On behalf of World Environment and Resources Council (WERC)
16 September 2013
We Muslims of the world, at least our governments, have been bludgeoning the United Nations since 1999 in our bid to protect Islam from defamation. But aren’t the states that claim to speak for Muslims the worst defamers of Islam themselves?
Linking Islam with terrorism is considered defaming Islam. One would assume that Muslim countries would first prohibit defamation of Islam by ideologies of terror in their own countries. However, the case is quite the opposite. It is media outlets refuting the Islamist terrorist ideologies that are banned, as was a website called New Age Islam a couple of months ago in Pakistan.
The terrorist mouthpiece Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad whose extremist ideas New Age Islam refuted continues to flourish. The Taliban fatwa that New Age Islam refuted was titled: ‘Circumstances in which the killing of innocent people among infidels is justified.’ Anyone would consider such an essay defamatory to Islam. But not the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It was the web-magazine that sought to refute this that was blocked.
It's time we Muslims made up our minds, Mr. President. What is Islam: a totalitarian, fascist, supremacist and exclusivist political ideology out to conquer the world or a spiritual path to salvation?
The international community is supposed to protect Islam from Islamophobes. But the Islamophobes portray Islam exactly in the way the Jihadists do. Jihadists do it approvingly and Islamophobes disapprove and condemn. If Islamophobes’ narratives of Islam are defamatory, as they indeed are, then so are the narratives of Jihadi groups whose ideology thrives in the Muslim world. Both are violent, patriarchal, regressive, misogynist and based on sexual fantasies of sick men. It is this narrative that is taught in most of our madrasas, in schools and colleges.
I hope the UN Human Rights Council will not entertain any defamation of Islam resolution until Islam is protected from defamation by Jihadi literature in the Islamic world first.
Islam is indeed NOT and should NOT be portrayed as a religion of Terror.
But It is Jihadi literature and speeches of terrorist masterminds like Hafiz Saeed with a US 10 million dollar bounty on his head allowed to strut around the country calling for global Jihad that defame Islam the most.
According to a BBC Urdu programme Sairbeen broadcast recently, the Islamist militant journals freely distributed in all cities of Pakistan are: “monthly Al-Shariat”, "Azaan", “Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad”, “Hateen”, “Murabetoon”, “Al-Qalam”, “Zarb-e-Momin”, “Al-Hilal”, “Sada-e-Mujahid”, “Jaish-e-Muhammad” and “Rah-e-Wafa.
Clearly the countries that come here to lobby for protecting Islam from defamation keep allowing defamation of Islam in their own countries day in and day out while blocking media outlets like the multilingual Islamic website New Age Islam (available at www.NewAgeIslam.com) that is actually seeking to protect Islam from defamation.
As mentioned above, this also gives rise to another pertinent question: If it is right for Jihadis to call Islam a political ideology out to conquer the world, why should it be wrong for Islamophobes to do the same? If Ibn-e-Taimiya, Mohammad Ibn-e-Abdul Wahhab, Abul A'la Maududi and Syed Qutub can be taught in schools, why raise such a hue and a cry over Geert Wilders's Fitna, for instance.
If ever notorious Jihadi campaigner in Britain Omar Bakri spoke the truth, it was this: "If we leave out the first images and the sound of the page being torn, [Fitna] could be a film by [Islamist] Mujahedeen."
Go through Islamophobic literature circulating around the globe on the internet. You will find hardly much difference in the depiction of Islam and spiritual terms like Jihad by Islamophobes and Jihadists. Both propagate a vision of a militant Islam out to conquer the world and establish Khilafat. The only difference is that Jihadists approve of this militant Islam and ask for Muslims to work globally to bring it to power everywhere under one Khalifa whereas Islamophobes use this version to spread the fear of Islam among peaceful citizens of the world.
Let me illustrate what constitutes acceptable and permissible discourse about Islam for the Islamic world but unacceptable when presented by Islamophobes in the wider world:
In his essay on Jihad, the founder-ideologue of Jamaat-e-Islami Maulana Maududi, said: "Islam wishes to do away with all states and governments which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam. ... Islam requires the Earth - not just a portion, but the Entire Planet." If this is not defamation of Islam, what is? But Maududi's books are freely available and used to brainwash Muslim youth.
Because Islam is all-encompassing, Maududi believed that the Islamic state should not be limited to just the "homeland of Islam". “It is for all the world. ‘Jihad' should be used to eliminate un-Islamic rule and establish the worldwide Islamic state,” he said.
Let me put this in context:
“Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State. Islam requires the earth—not just a portion, but the whole planet .... because the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology and welfare programme [of Islam] ... Towards this end, Islam wishes to press into service all forces which can bring about a revolution and a composite term for the use of all these forces is ‘Jihad'. .... the objective of the Islamic ‘ jihād’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule.”
--- Maududi in Jihad fil Islam
Apparently the need for finding out what constitutes defamation of Islam is paramount. But this will require in-depth study. The former President of the UN Human Rights Council Doru Romulus Costea virtually prohibited any discussion of Sharia on the intervention of OIC delegates and explained that we must avoid "amateur theologising".
Discussions about religion, he said, will be "very complex, very sensitive and very intense; only religious scholars should enter into such questions and that mention of "religious" causes for human rights abuses will be unhelpful. He accepted the point that it is insulting for our faith, Islam, for Sharia to be discussed here in this forum. But the same countries which consider a discussion of man-made Sharia insulting to Islam while claiming a divine status for it also try to foist Sharia on the Human Rights Council from a different route.
Take the case of the so-called Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. It mentions Shariah 15 times. Read it objectively. Not difficult to see that it is actually a determined effort to suppress human rights. It is a study in how Muslim governments behave in a supremacist and exclusivist fashion in front of the world audience while we blame Islamophobic and Jihadi ideologies alone for propagating Islam-supremacism and exclusivism. Some portions of the document will illustrate why I consider the Cairo Declaration of so-called Human Rights as an Islam-supremacist document not at all helpful in international discourse on universally accepted human rights:
ARTICLE 10: Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to convert him to another religion or to atheism.
ARTICLE 12: Every man shall have the right, within the framework of Shari'ah, to free movement and to select his place of residence whether inside or outside his country and if persecuted, is entitled to seek asylum in another country. The country of refuge shall ensure his protection until he reaches safety, unless asylum is motivated by an act which Shari'ah regards as a crime.
(d) There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Shari'ah.
ARTICLE 22: (a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari'ah.
(b) Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari'ah
(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.
Clearly Islamic world needs to clarify to itself and to the world at large what is Islam and what would constitute its defamation. If Islamophobes’ narratives of Islam are defamatory, then so are the narrative of Jihadi groups whose ideology thrives in the Muslim world. As I said before, both are violent, patriarchal, regressive, misogynist and based on sexual fantasies of sick men. There is hardly any difference in the two narratives, though the one may approve and the other disapprove and condemn. And it bears repeating that it is this Islamophobic, Jihadi narrative that is also taught in most of our madrasas, in schools and colleges in the Muslim countries.
The United Nations should not shy away from an investigation into what is Islam and what would constitute its defamation for fear of this leading to a theological discourse. If solemn Declarations of Human Rights can be couched in terms that are deeply theological and constitute the core of ideologies like Wahhabism – that are commonly linked to terror and use of force in Islamic societies - then does the world have an option but to engage in theological investigation?
I am referring here to the Qur’anic verse amr bil maaroof nahi anil munkir (ENJOINING GOOD & FORBIDDING EVIL) on which the entire edifice of coercion and inhuman practices of Taliban and Boko Haram and their ideological fount in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is based. ARTICLE 22 B of the so-called Cairo Declaration of Human Rights is merely an extended translation of this verse: amr bil maaroof nahi anil munkir. I have already mentioned that this Declaration mentions Sharia 15 times. So if Cairo Declaration can be a part of international discourse on human rights, why not the Holy Quran, Hadith and Sharia? In all honesty, the international community cannot avoid an in-depth exploration of Islamic theology while it discusses human rights issues in Islamic countries or resolutions on Defamation of Religions, particularly Islam.