Bargaining from a position of moral clarity


ramadanThat’s what Tariq Ramadan says should be the attitude of Muslims in the West and anything less than that is unacceptable.

The leaders of ISNA can boast a proud record of service to American Muslims, for which they must be thanked and congratulated. The annual ISNA convention is an important gathering, featuring a multiplicity of participants and a broad cross-section of activities. In recent years, however, the political positions taken by the organization’s leadership have not always been clear-cut. Though it is essential, I believe, to remain open to dialogue with the authorities, it is likewise essential that positions of principle must be maintained, re-affirmed and defended. Not simply for the good of the Muslims, but in the name of the contribution of American Muslims to their society. Criticism of the domestic policy of the current administration, like those that preceded it, is a moral obligation. Summary arrests, arbitrary prison terms, inhuman psychological torture and solitary confinement, the shadowy role of informers and the deeply troubling and unacceptable methods used by the FBI, which has provoked young people to engage in extremist actions, must be unconditionally condemned. Not in the name of Islam, but in the name of the values proclaimed by the United States. However, the ISNA leadership is too often silent, as if paralyzed by fear. It fares no better with respect to American foreign policy. Its silence over American support for the outlaw and inhuman policies of Israel cannot be justified, even less so after attending an iftar organized by the White House during which President Obama defended Israel while the Israeli ambassador tweeted his delight! We cannot be forever silent: what kind of active and responsible citizenship does the ISNA leadership offer young American Muslims? What kind of example? That of silent, fearful sycophants–or of free, public-spirited citizens who, while defending the values of human dignity and justice, serve their country in the most sincere and critical way? That of the unconditional loyalty of the timorous, or the critical loyalty of free individuals? To attend the ISNA convention would be to endorse their silence.

GAZA…..again


It should come as no surprise the Israeli government is on another blood lust for Palestinian land and souls.  Gaza, the open air prison that rivals Guantanamo Bay is being relentlessly bombarded because of Hamas rockets fired on Israel.

Israelis look at a crater caused by a rocket outside a shop in Ashdod, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, Wednesday, July 9, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israelis look at a crater caused by a rocket outside a shop in Ashdod, on the second day of Operation Protective Edge, Wednesday, July 9, 2014 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Since this latest “provocation” by Hamas a total of ONE Israeli has been killed and that AFTER the Israeli retaliatory strikes whereas scores of Palestinians have been killed or murdered.  Numbers are irrelevant and there are no equivalences…..you don’t slaughter innocents in retaliation…unless you’re the Israeli government.

What’s newsworthy and drawn me to post is the latest attempt at a cease fire advocated by Hamas.  Here are the “terms

First – Opening all the crossing with the Gaza Strip.

Second – Opening Rafah crossing, the link between Gaza and Egypt, on a permanent basis, 24 hours per day with international guarantees it will not be closed.

Third – A maritime corridor to Gaza.

Fourth – Allowing residents of the Gaza Strip to pray in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Fifth – Israel will release the prisoners who were freed as part of the “Shalit” deal, and Israel will abide by the previous agreement reached by prisoners and the Israel Prison Service with Egyptian mediation in 2012.

 

Hold your breath if you think Israel will accede to these conditions; they are too busy trying to acquire the land they want Palestinians to leave with threats of military invasion of Gaza if they don’t go.

Gaza after an Israeli strike on July 8, 2014

Gaza after an Israeli strike on July 8, 2014

And if you’re counting on the Americans to broker peace there forget that one too.  Obama’s shameless pandering to the Israelis was no more evident than at the “iftar” meal he held for Muslims at the White House earlier this week, where the Israeli ambassador to America was also present.  There Obama asserted there is  justification on the part of Israel for its slaughter because of the destruction being rained down upon it by Hamas rockets. Hardly…The Israeli Ambassador, Ron Dermer, was delighted by Obama’s stand, tweeting,

.@WhiteHouse for Iftar dinner. Appreciate strong statement there by President Obama about Israel’s right to defend itself.

— Amb. Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) July 15, 2014

As in your face as one can get; being invited to a party being held for someone else and then humiliating them the honorees, but that’s Israel.  That’s what they’ve been doing and allowed to do for decades. It was bad enough to get get Tariq Ramadan to write

It was supposed to be an evening where the American President showed respect to a religious community, to the millions of American Muslims who have been fasting during the sacred month of Ramadan.

It was supposed to be a political expression of respect. It ended up being a political instrumentalisation of (voluntarily) trapped Muslim leaders listening to President Obama justify the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians, declaring Israel has the right to defend itself. One wonders what is the relationship between the Iftar celebration and Israel ? What is the US administration’s implicit-explicit intention in putting the Muslim leaders in such an embarrassing situation? To test their loyalty or rather their capacity to compromise or betray? They obviously remained silent.

The Israeli ambassador, Mr. Ron Dermer, also invited (why?), was actually the first to speak. One must remember what he said about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims : Palestinians have “a cultural tendency towards belligerency” that is “deeply embedded in the culture of the Arab world and its foremost religion”. This is the man who was invited to celebrate Iftar with the Muslims meanwhile his Government is destroying Gaza. From the White House he tweeted, triumphantly : “@WhiteHouse for Iftar dinner. Appreciate strong statement there by President Obama about Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Obviously Muslim leaders didn’t tweet. It was enough of an honor for them to be invited to the White House and to have met the President. An honor, truly, dear Muslim leaders? Ordinary Muslims (and proponents of justice and dignity from other religions) in the US and around the world, as well as Palestinians, might think differently.

That just about sums it up.

 

 

Music and Islam


I’m a big fan of Tariq Ramadan who has done a commendable job of incorporating his very Western personality into his Islamic way of life and I have often quoted him here at Miscellany101.wordpress.com.   He wrote a piece indirectly about music, more directly about Yousuf Islam and there are several points he made that resonated with me which I wanted to share here.

For Muslim women and men around the world, his story embodies a powerful lesson. We hear of “Islamic chants” (anacheeds) that are supposedly “Islamic” because they express religious themes, or because they employ no instruments, or because they are based on traditional or Qur’anic texts. In this light, only such chants are permissible (halal) in Islam, the only form of creativity recognized. There are indeed scholars who hold such a position, but it is far from unanimous. In To Be a European Muslim (written in 1996) I dealt with these views and took a clear position on music in Islam. Not only is it permitted, but Muslim women and men must also reconcile themselves with art, with creativity, and with the imagination in all its dimensions. Guided by their ethical bearings, they must not allow themselves to be enchained by the adjective “Islamic” that ends up isolating them, suffocating them, and depriving them of their creative energy in the universe of art, of music, painting, sculpture and literature. Muslims are constantly justifying themselves; they feel obliged to describe everything as “Islamic” to satisfy and to conform to the norm. But our ethical concerns must not force upon us an obsession with the norms of “licit” and “illicit” (halal and haram).

Seen in this light, any song, any form of artistic expression that celebrates humanity, love, justice, the quest for meaning, and peace is, in fact, in full conformity with Muslim ethics and needs no further qualifiers. Meaning, hopes and human edification are to be felt and to be lived; they have no need of a normative framework that bridles and ultimately annihilates them. The expression of ultimate ethical causes in art transcends the narrow limitations of specific ways of belonging, and brings together the universal quality of all that is most precious to humans, who can feel themselves uplifted, broadened, vibrating, becoming more human, more peaceful; who can feel themselves being regenerated by a voice, a hand, a pen or a brush. Music can be a prayer, a painting a path, a song a story: as long as art speaks to mankind of its heart, its wounds, its hopes, tears, smiles and aspirations, it forms the universal language of humankind and can bring about by way of imagination, emotion and the heart what no dialogue of reason or of civilizations can hope to offer.

EGYPT – A CALL IT IS TIME FOR THE CIVIL SOCIETY TO SPEAK OUT


Tariq Ramadan

The situation in Egypt is serious and the future seems bleak. Anything can happen. Although the specter of civil war is not yet a reality, one must consider all scenarios and act accordingly. It seems that the Power (both civilians and military) are divided on the strategy to be adopted. Some want to eradicate the Muslim Brotherhood and their organization, others want to impose conditions of survival without power, thus maintaining the illusion of a pluralistic and democratic future. All are reducing their opponents as only the “Muslim Brotherhood”, demonizing and calling them “terrorists” and “extremists.” Repression increases radicalization and justifies, a posteriori, the repression itself. A vicious cycle that we have seen in the modern history of Egypt.

Opponents to the coup, and among them the Muslim Brotherhood, have been rallying peacefully and they continue to demonstrate despite the state of emergency. Resistance, for several weeks, was non-violent and should remain so despite the provocations of military and police whose strategies are known. Mass executions or targeted, bribe of offenders (known as the baltaguiyya) to push them to attack the demonstrators, with, in addition, the increase in fires Coptic churches in order to widen the sectarian divide and feed bills (Sadat and Mubarak had used the same strategy).

While these protests continue to be peaceful, civil society – all tendencies – opposed to violence and military, must mobilize and form a united front around common, clear, bold but realistic position . A national coalition to be formed with women and men of the civil society – secular, Islamist, Copts, women, young activists – who are willing to open channels of dialogue with the authorities and asked:

egyptian protest

1. End of repression 2. The release of political prisoners, leaders and members of political parties, which would result, in fact, with the end of demonstrations 3. Determining the steps that should bring back the political process to the civilians, based on a negotiated political agenda and future elections.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Civil society must now speak out and refuse false rhetoric that spreads around that the Army is only opposed to Islamists. What is at stake is the democratic future of Egypt and it will never be positive with the Army in control. Actors of the civil society should indulge in self criticism (for their failure) and, at the same time, work together to overcome the crisis. Being a passive, non-violent observer of violence is, indeed, to make the indirect choice of violence.

 

An International Conspiracy-The Spread of Fascism the World Over


As we approach the eve of the American elections for 2012, the choices couldn’t be clearer for people.  The status quo or American fascism and for now status quo is the good guy.  The Republican party, GOP, unfortunately isn’t bringing anything new, innovative or progressive to the collective American table vis-a-vis politics; rather it has dusted off the same tired platitudes and racism that has gripped the party, the country and the world and showed that it clearly wants to impose that ideology on American citizens as well as citizens elsewhre.  Their message of defeating  an incumbent president makes an appeal to religious, racial bias and nationalistic supremacy.

For Muslims in America and elsewhere in the western world there has been a resurgence of religious bigotry and an incitement towards religious persecution that seems unmatched in contemporary times.  We’ve been writing about it in the pages of Miscellany101 for some time; this religious fervor has been exacerbated by current events from 911 to the Iraq/Afghanistan war to Obama’s ascendancy to the White House and his subsequent reelection campaign.  Any attempt to even nominally include Muslims in the fabric of the western societies in which they reside and are citizens of is met with scorn, derision and attempts at curtailing their rights to worship and practice their religion within the bounds of their countries.

Tariq Ramadan seems to offer some advice on how Muslims should behave in the face of this onslaught to deny them participatory citizenship and it might be worthwhile reading

Contrary to expectations, over time, perceptions of Islam and Muslims by their western fellow-citizens have sharply deteriorated. Around us we observe the rise of populist movements and extreme right-wing parties from the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece and France (to name but a few European countries) to Australia, Canada and the US, with its neoconservative Tea Party and some Christian evangelist groups.

Campaigns stigmatising Islam and Muslims are now a permanent feature of the political landscape: Populists mobilise their followers and expand their electoral base by criticising the visibility of Muslims, their supposed demands for special treatment and, ultimately, their alleged intention to colonise and to transform western civilization from within.

These “foreign citizens,” these “home-grown foreigners” are depicted as the threat of the age. A politician may be totally incompetent, may offer no solution to the economic crisis, to unemployment and urban violence, but he need only single out the “new Muslim enemy”, need only direct the public’s attention towards controversies created out of the whole cloth to see his political credibility enhanced. We are living in sad times indeed.

Even more worrisome is the impact of these movements and parties (identity-based, populist, xenophobic, Islamophobe and racist) on the political class and on society as a whole. On this issue, the old demarcation lines of elitist rigidity on the Right and humanist openness on the Left have been obliterated. At both ends of the political spectrum we hear populist and Islamophobe rhetoric. Likewise, we encounter courageous women and men (most often in the minority) who resist and refuse to play the identity card.

The fracture between those who envision a common future with Islam and Muslims (having understood that Islam has now become a western religion) and those who rant and rave against the “Islamist threat” transcends traditional political alignments.

Objectively, we must concede that the citizens of western countries (Europe, North America and Australia) are moving towards increasingly right-wing positions on the political spectrum and tend to identify increasingly with the theses of the populists and even with those of the extreme right wing (even though they often distance themselves from the far right parties).

Globalisation, the weakening of cultural references, the crisis of identity, economic recession, unemployment, the impact of new communications technologies and cultural transformation all help explain the popular fear and the success of populism, over and above the presence of Muslims in the West.

As for the Muslims themselves, they function as indicators, concentrating fears with their newfound visibility, their new ways of being westerners, their skin colour, their religious practices, their languages and their cultures of origin.

The more scrupulously they respect the laws of the land, speak the language and feel American, French, Australian or British, the more suspect they become, the more dangerous. They were asked to integrate. Now, lo and behold, their success is seen as a sign of potential “colonisation”, if not subversion. Fears and contradictions abound; serenity and coherence, nowhere to be found.

According to a recent French opinion poll, these fears and the rejection that comes with them are being expressed ever more overtly. France, among western countries, is home to the largest number of Muslims, who have resided there for the longest time, often as fourth or fifth generation French citizens of Islamic faith (who continue to be perceived, of course, as people of “immigrant origin” unlike other white European immigrants who are perceived entirely “French” after two generations at most).

The figures are alarming: 43 per cent of the French consider the presence of a Muslim community in France as a “threat” to the country’s identity. The same percentage opposes the construction of mosques (as against 39 per cent in 2010) and 63 per cent disagree with the wearing of veils or headscarves in the street (59 per cent in 2010).

Perceptions are increasingly negative and acceptance of Muslim practices increasingly limited. Only 17 per cent of those polled consider the presence of Muslims as a factor of cultural enrichment — a frightening reality, especially considering that France is no more racist or xenophobic than any other country.

The poll points to feelings found in many western societies and the fact must be faced. What it reveals is a concrete danger, not only for Muslims, but also for France and all other Western countries. When populism, extreme right-wing ideas, xenophobia and racism take root, begin to spread and are normalised (going so far as to demand discriminatory laws), societies as a whole are at risk and must take rapid action.

Western Muslim citizens may have long believed that it was sufficient to respect the law and to learn the language of the country to become full-fledged citizens. Over time, they have come to understand that this was not enough. Within the framework of the nation-state, they were expected — justly, in the event — to integrate into the legal structure of the state and to adopt the “cultural” bottom line, which consisted of knowing the national language.

Generations of western Muslim citizens respect the secular law of the land and now speak the language of their countries as well as their fellow-citizens. They have often been asked to demonstrate their loyalty to their respective countries, which they have sometimes done to excess (wishing to please and to satisfy whatever the price) or in a naturally critical manner (civil loyalty must always be critical in nature, supporting one’s country when it is in the right and being vigilant with regard to questionable political decisions).

Here we may apply the three ‘L’s that I have identified as the first step to acquiring citizenship and a sense of belonging — respect for the Law, mastering the Language, and being Loyal to the country. But with every passing day, it becomes clearer that this is only a first step and that we must go farther.

The challenge is not simply to belong to the state, to accept its legal framework or merely to speak the national language. What is essential is to belong to the nation, to the common narrative that binds women and men to a shared history, culture, to a collective psychology and to a future to be built together.

Western Muslim citizens may well have attained citizenship and the rights that accompany it, but they are not yet a part of the “Nation”, of that reference at once formal and informal that feeds into and shapes the deep-seated sense of belonging, of confidence in one’s self and in others (of the same nation), and acquisition of its explicit and implicit codes of behaviour.

The rights and the power that the state devolves upon its citizens are both real and effective, but the recognition and the power of being — and of being “one of us” that underlies belonging to the “Nation” — are no less real and effective. Today, in the West, Muslims are citizens of the state, but foreigners with regard to the Nation.

The coming years will be critical. All the debates over secularism, visibility and the wrong-headed “Islamisation” of socio-economic issues (schools, unemployment, the formation of communitarian or ethnic ghettos, violence, etc.) are nothing but pretexts for avoiding a single, fundamental question: Is Islam a western religion or is it not and as such do Muslims have a role in the future of this civilisation?

In the West, the question demands full introspection into the questions of history, of identity and evolution towards a new, fully acknowledged pluralism. We must develop, in full confidence, a new, critical view towards ourselves, a new definition of self that is more open and broader and that takes full account of the meaning of history, that turns its back on diffidence and fear.

A new philosophy and a new content must be found for the meaning of the Nation for now its history must be assumed in its entirety: The proud and the shameful experiences of the past and the objective and irreversible development of the future. Time will be needed for Muslim citizens to “integrate” themselves into the common narrative of the Nation in the various western countries.

Inductively, during the next two generations, their intellectual, social, cultural, political and economic contributions will be able to deconstruct the reductive perceptions of the “Nation” from which they are still excluded. Indeed, they face a paradox: The populists and the Islamophobes insist that they disappear in order to “be accepted” while they must be positively visible in order to be respected, recognised and, ultimately, become subjects and actors in the shared narrative of the Nation. To respond to western fears by disappearing, as the expressed opinion of a majority of their fellow citizens suggests, would be an extremely grave historical error.

Instead, they must both learn history and learn from it, be constructively critical of the selective constructions of western memory (particularly, but not only, with regard to Islam); study their philosophers, their social dynamics and their policies while stepping into the world of culture, the arts and sports.

Such is the appropriate response to the dilemma of the day: Bring about an intellectual revolution, turn our back on false debates and defensive attitudes, define ourselves as western subjects, as actors in the evolution of our societies by assuming their values and their practices and, finally, as agents of a full-fledged pluralism and of social peace shaped by justice, respect and by the struggle against all forms of racism.

The challenge is great, one that calls for a multi-dimensional commitment. Not a strictly intellectual, political or social commitment, for in human history art, culture, sport and humour have also played a vital and at least complementary role in helping mentalities evolve.

The path is long and arduous, as is everything that touches on human relations — from the struggle for power to fraternity, from friendship to rejection, racism and hatred. The destiny of the West, as does that of all civilisations, can be found at the heart of this risk-fraught equation: The objective unity of a single humanity, enriched by a celebrated human diversity.

Tariq Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Qatar. He is the author of Islam and the Arab Awakening.

Look what we have here


Islamophobes really need to read and listen to what American Muslims say about their religion instead of relying on what some other Islamophobe says about it.  (Peter King are you listening?) I was directed to this rather extraordinary website by the excellent website The American Muslim.  Apostasy and Islam was put together by a Muslim American academic Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq, whose main purpose was to authentically refute  the notion that Islam condemns killing Muslims who convert to another religion.  That assertion has been one of the main cries of Islamophobes who claim that Islam, contrary to the religious texts, is not a religion of freedom but of coercion, force and fear.  Farooq will have none of that…having compiled 100 sources that directly refute the claim.  Take a look

As presented in excerpts from numerous sources below, and links to works available online, there is no worldly punishment solely for apostasy [i.e., changing of one’s faith/religion] mentioned in the Qur’an. ……

…..there is no hadith confirming punishment or retribution solely for apostasy. In every single case, where punishment has been meted out, riddah involved treason or rebellion. The following is an example of how the Prophet dealt with solely apostasy.

A bedouin gave the Pledge of allegiance to Allah’s Apostle for Islam. Then the bedouin got fever at Medina, came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Cancel my Pledge,” But Allah’s Apostle refused. Then he came to him (again) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Cancel my Pledge.” But the Prophet refused Then he came to him (again) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Cancel my Pledge.” But the Prophet refused. The bedouin finally went out (of Medina) whereupon Allah’s Apostle said, “Medina is like a pair of bellows (furnace): It expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, #318]

Notably, as Dr. M. E. Subhani explained in his book: “This was an open case of apostasy. But the Prophet neither punished the Bedouin nor asked anyone to do it. He allowed him to leave Madina. Nobody harmed him.”

Or there is this

Some people accepted Islam during the period of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, who is called the fifth rightful caliph of Islam. All these people renounced Islam sometimes later. Maimoon bin Mahran the governor of the area wrote to the caliph about these people. In reply Umar bin Abdul Aziz ordered him to release those people and asked him to re-impose jizya on them. [Musannaf Abdur Razzaq, pp. 171-10, cited in M. E. Subhani,Apostasy in Islam (New Delhi, India: Global Media Publications, 2005), pp. 23-24. Abdur Razzaq ibn Humama (d. 211 AH). This is the earliest musannaf (a hadith collection arranged in topical chapters) work in existence.]

From Egypt, which just recently elected an “Islamist” president comes this pronouncement

“The Islamic Research Department of Al-Azhar University has called the penalty for apostasy as null and void and has said that the ways of repentance are open for the whole life. … So an apostate can repent over his mistake anytime during his life and there would be no fixed period for it.” [Al-Alamul Islami, the weekly organ of Rabita Alam al-Islami, 23rd August 2002, quoted in Dr. M. E. Subhani, Global Media Publications, 2005, p. 25]

From one of the sons of the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood, the much maligned organization that is pointed to in order to show extremism, comes this tidbit from Tariq Ramadan

I have been criticised about this in many countries. My view is the same as that of Sufyan Al-Thawri, an 8th-century scholar of Islam, who argued that the Koran does not prescribe death for someone because he or she is changing religion. Neither did the Prophet himself ever perform such an act. Many around the Prophet changed religions. But he never did anything against them. There was an early Muslim, Ubaydallah ibn Jahsh, who went with the first emigrants from Mecca to Abyssinia. He converted to Christianity and stayed, but remained close to Muslims. He divorced his wife, but he was not killed.” [Interview: Tariq Ramadan]

From the equally maligned American Islamic organization CAIR comes this

Islamic scholars say the original rulings on apostasy were similar to those for treasonous acts in legal systems worldwide and do not apply to an individual’s choice of religion. Islam advocates both freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, a position supported by verses in the Quran, Islam’s revealed text … ‘Religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth. As the Quran states: ‘Truth stands out clear from error. Therefore, whoever rejects evil and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks.’ (2:256)

Finally, Muslims living in America have this to say about apostasy in Islam and what if anything should be the punishment

…the Qur’an is the definitive clear authority for protecting the rights of an individual in expressing himself in faith and supercedes any of the distorted interpretations of the hadiths in question. Executing a person because of conversion to another faith contradicts the Qur’an, the ultimate source of Shari’ah.” [The Ruling on Apostasy]-(Muhammad Hanooti)

The Quran states categorically and unequivocally, there shall be no coercion in matters of faith. (2:256). This cornerstone tenet of Islamic faith is violated when an individual is put on trial for converting away from Islam. This verse, very clearly teaches that faith is a personal matter between the individual and God. (Islamic Center of Long Island, New York)

Discussions of Islamic law by non-Muslims (and, all too often, by Muslims as well) suffer from confusion between the concepts of apostasy and treason. The majority view is that the death penalty applies only to treason during wartime, including providing aid and comfort to the enemy, rather than mere conversion. According to the Constitution [Article III, section 3], treason consists only ‘in levying war against [the United States], or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.’ That Muhammad shared this view can be seen in the fact that he never executed apostates except when they made war or propaganda against the Muslims. (Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad President/Director, Minaret of Freedom Institute, Maryland, USA

 

One could go on and on, but the evidence is there on the printed page for all to see and it clearly dispels the notions put forth by Islamophobes that people in the West should be fearful for their lives if they leave the Islamic religion.  Surely there are some who believe that but there is no substantive textual evidence that justifies killing someone because they have stopped being Muslim.  This literature is vast, authentic and easily available.  One should ask the question why is it not mentioned by the detractors of Islam; what else is it they don’t want you to really know about the religion of Islam?

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When I pretend to be strong, no one sees my hidden tears except God. When I’m sad and need a shoulder to cry on, no one supports me but God. Pleasing a human is very difficult, pleasing God is the easiest. People sometimes punish me for mistakes I have not done, God ignores and excuses the ones that I did. This is God, The Greatest, The Most Almighty, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful, and all praise belongs to Him.  –
Tariq Ramadan

The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree


This is what the father, Said Ramadan, taught the son

Muslims have ignored the task which should be their specific concern, namely love of God and the strengthening of the ties of love among people for His sake.  If a person should succeed in this task he would have set the firmest foundation in the depths of soul, sown the seed for every flourishing virtue and established an impregnable fortress against most external threats and tests.

The word “love” which people have so misused and abused, is that mighty word which distinguishes the followers of the Prophets and on which their societies were built.  It is the ‘elixir’ which binds these followers to goodness, creating a true bond which even makes suffering seem sweet in its pursuit.  By the same token it  has fashioned the ties that bind them together – ties of soul over and above the intellect, ties which are not subverted by differences of opinion.  These ties are above materialistic interests and are not swayed by any particular passing whim.

and this is what the son internalized and remembers of  his father

I remember still his presence and his silence. The long silences lodged deep in mind and memory ; the thoughts that were often bitter. The keen eye and piercing gaze that bore his warmth, his kindness and his tears ; that carried his determination, his commitment and anger as well. How often I attempted, as a child, to read the look in the powerful, suggestive and questioning eyes that accompanied his words to my heart. Those same words awakened me, troubled and shook me. I was not alone. Everyone who met him experienced his power. He had penetrated to the heart of things, and expected others to do the same. And yet he did so with compassion, with intelligence, for he feared causing harm, causing hurt. Behind his hesitancy lay his kindness, and often his awkwardness.

Early on, I learned at his side how the world feeds on lies, rumors and scandal mongering. When men lose morality they return to the jungle and become wolves. Around him were many such men ; men who fought and sullied him for political gain, men who turned their backs on him for professional gain and men who betrayed him for financial gain. So much was said, written and lied about him : that he’d met men whom he’d never seen, heard words that had never been spoken, had been involved in secret plots he never dreamed of. In my memory echo the words of one of his traveling companions : “He could have been a millionaire, not by flattering kings, but by simply agreeing to keep silent. He refused ; he spoke the truth and spoke it again and again, before God, without fear of loosing everything.”

I remember a story that my elder brother Aymen retold what seemed like a thousand times, a story that always brought tears to my eyes. He was fifteen years old when he heard it, in the course of a journey that found him and our father in the presence of wealthy princes : “The money that you wish to give me is placed in the palm of my hand ; as for myself, by God’s command, I only work for that which is deposited in and reaches men’s hearts…” Despite his material difficulties, he rejected the exorbitant amounts of money he was offered, and did so in the name of his faith in God, of his devotion to the truth and of his love for justice. Aymen has never forgotten ; it shaped him and he passed it on.

My father learned everything from the man who gave him so much, offered him so much and who, from a very early age, trained and protected him. On that subject he was inexhaustible. Hasan al-Banna, through his total devotion to God and His teachings, brought light to his heart and showed him the way to commitment. To those who criticized al-Banna without ever having met or heard him, or those who had simply read him, my father explained how much spirituality, love, fraternity and humility he had learnt at his side. For hours on end, he could summon up from memory the events and instants that had left their mark on him when he was just like his son ; and when he was respectfully known throughout Egypt as “little Hasan al-Banna,” or the “little Guide.” His master’s profound faith, his devotion and his intelligence, his knowledge, open-mindedness and kindness were the qualities that sprang to mind whenever his name was mentioned.

How often father spoke of his mentor’s unyielding commitment to the struggle against colonialism and injustice and for the sake of Islam. But Hasan al-Banna’s determination never justified violence, which he rejected just as he rejected the idea of “an Islamic revolution.” The only exception was Palestine. Here, al-Banna’s message was clear : armed resistance was the only way to foil the plans of the Irgun terrorists and to confront the Zionist colonizers. Father had learned from Hasan al-Banna, as he put it one day, “to put my forehead to the ground.” For the true meaning of prayer is to give meaning, in humility, to an entire life. At his feet he learned love for God, patience, painstaking work, the value of education and of solidarity. Finally, he learned to give everything. After the assassination of his master, in 1949, he integrated what he had learned and sacrificed everything in order to give voice to the liberating message of Islam. History is written by the mighty ; the worst calumnies were uttered about Imam Hasan al-Banna. Never did he cease to write, and to speak the truths that had nurtured him. But the despots’ love of power brought only death, bloodshed and torture.

He had just turned twenty when al-Banna named him editor of his magazine, al-Shihab. Then he volunteered for service in Palestine, at age twenty-one, fighting to defend Jerusalem. In 1948, at twenty-two, he went to Pakistan where he was approached about assuming the post of Secretary General of the World Islamic Congress. But his determination terrified the “diplomats.” He stayed on in Pakistan for several months, participating in debates about constitutional questions and producing a weekly radio program on Islam and the Muslim world that brought him wide popularity among young people and intellectuals.

Returning to Egypt, he threw himself into a campaign for social and political reform, traveling across the country, giving lectures, and chairing meetings. In 1952, he launched a monthly magazine modeled on al-Shihab, called al-Muslimun , for which some of the greatest Muslim scholars were to write and which would be distributed from Morocco to Indonesia in both Arabic and English. But Hasan al-Banna, well before his assassination, had given his followers a stern warning : the road will be long, and its mileposts will be pain, sadness and adversity. He knew, as did all those who accompanied him, that they would endure lies, humiliation, torture, exile and death. For him it was to be exile. Nasser had deceived him and his colleagues, jailed them, executed them. In 1954 he was forced to leave Egypt, not to return until August 8,1995, in his coffin : forty-one years of exile, suffering, commitment and sacrifice for God and justice—and against dictatorship and hypocrisy. Exile is the ultimate condition of faith. His path was a long one, the hardships and the sorrows manifold and unending. First in Palestine where he was named General Secretary of the World Islamic Congress of Jerusalem before being banned from the city by Glubb Pasha, himself following American orders. Then, in Damascus were he relaunched al-Muslimun with Mustafa al-Siba’i, and soon after, to Lebanon, before arriving in Geneva in 1958. In 1959 he obtained his Doctorate in Cologne, and published his thesis under the title ‘Islamic Law : its Scope and Equity’ in which he presented a synthesis of the fundamental positions of Hasan al-Banna on the subject of the Shari’a, law, political organization and religious pluralism. It was an essential book, the first of its kind in a European language, to posit Islam as a universal reference. It reflected is author’s conviction and determination and at the same time a clear-cut and unmistakable commitment to open mindedness—and never once the slightest acceptance of violence.

IN 1961 he founded the Islamic Centre of Geneva with the support and participation of Muhammad Natsir, Muhammad Asad, Muhammad Hamidullah, Zafar Ahmad Ansari and Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi—outstanding figures and faithful brothers in the same struggle. This Islamic centre was to be a model for others like it in Munich, London, Washington and, more generally, throughout the West. Its aim was to provide immigrant Muslims in Europe or the USA stay connected with their religion and to find a place of welcome and reflection. The Centre would likewise be a hub of activity for the presentation of Islam, for a publication program, and for analysis of current issues—all without external constraint. The Geneva Centre published numerous books and facsimiles in Arabic, English, French and German, and re-launched al-Muslimun, which ceased publication in 1967. Meanwhile he planned the creation of the Muslim World League, whose first statutes he drafted. His commitment was total ; the Saudi funds he received via the League, which was at that time opposed to the Nasser regime, came with no particular conditions, commitment or obligation of political silence. When, at the end of the 1960s, the Muslim World League, which had by them come under much more direct Saudi influence, made its financial support conditional, insisting that it would take over the Islamic Centre and its activities, he refused. Then in 1971, all funding was cut off. He had never doubted that the road he must travel would be long and hard ; such was the cost of independent thought and action. Many came to know and appreciate him during those years. He traveled to many countries—speaking publicly in Malaysia, staying for protracted periods in England, Austria or in the USA, creating links as he went, introducing his profound, analytical thought with its underpinning of spirituality and love. Even such a luminary as Mawdudi thanked him for awakening him from his unconsciousness ; Muhammad Asad was grateful to him for having brought him to know, or rather to feel profoundly the thought of Hasan al-Banna. Malek Shabbaz (Malcolm X) heard in the kitchen of the Islamic Centre of Geneva that no race is chosen and that no Arab, no more than a black person, is superior to his white brother, except by piety. Malcolm X took the lesson to heart so deeply that his last written words, at the eve of his death in February 1965, were addressed to my father. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) paid him numerous visits in his London hostel ; later he would tell me how much he remembered Said Ramadan’s fine intelligence, calling him “so sweet a man.” In 1993, in a meeting at Geneva Airport, the scholar Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi showed him all the signs of infinite respect. When I visited him years later in Lucknow, India, the site of the Nadwat al-‘Ulama’, al-Nadwi recalled with deep emotion one of his visits and the memories that it had left him. In exile, far from his own, exposed to political and financial harassment, and assailed by problems large and small, he worried and tormented his mind while keeping intact the essential : a deep faith and sense of fraternity, the eyes of tenderness and the highest standards of behavior.

His room : piles of documents and magazines ; here a telephone, there a radio and a television set, stacks of books, opened or annotated. The world was at his fingertips. Whoever stepped into his universe could not but be struck by a story, a past, a life, by sadness and solitude, by the multitude of memories alongside an incomparable grasp of current events. He maintained constant contact—that of emotional involvement—with the most distant lands. He knew almost everything that was going on in Tajikistan, Kashmir, Chechnya, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. He kept track of developments in Washington, Los Angeles, Harlem, London, Munich, Paris, Karachi and Geneva. His horizon seethed with information. He suffered so much and with such intensity in that room of his, from the state of the world, from the lies and the massacres, the prison sentences and the torture. His political intuition was breathtaking ; it was easy to understand why he was feared.

But analysis of current events was not enough for him. Everything interested him, from technology and medicine to science and ecology. He knew what was needed for a thoroughgoing reform in Islam. His curiosity, always alert, always lucid, knew no limits. He had traveled the world ; henceforth the world would come into his room. Where once there had been crowds, scholars, presidents and kings, now only observation, analysis and deep sadness remained. In his solitude, though, there was the Qur’an ; and in his isolation, there were invocations mingled with tears. He gave his children symbolic names, names from the history of persecution and boundless determination. A thread of complicity connected him with each one of us ; we held his undivided attention, shared the sensitivity of our relationship with him, and his love. With Aymen, it was his success and wounds ; with Bilal, his potential and his heartbreak ; with Yasser, his presence, his generous devotion and his patience ; with Arwa, his complicity and silences ; with Hani, his commitment and his determination. He convinced each of us to believe in our own qualities. He reminded each of us that he had given us the best of mothers, she who is, with all the qualities of her heart, his most precious gift.

After more than forty years in exile, after an entire life lived for God, faith and justice, he knew that his last hour had come. In night’s darkest hours he spoke again and again of love, fraternity and affection. A few months before returning to God, he told me, with all the power of his sad, tearful gaze : “Our problem is one of spirituality. If a man comes to speak to me about reform in the Muslim world, about political strategy and geopolitical schemes, my first question to him would be whether he performed the dawn prayer (fajr) on time.” He had a keen eye for the agitation in each of us, including my own. He reminded not to forget the essentials, to be close to God in order to know how to be close to men. After an entire lifetime of struggle, his hair turned grey by time, he reminded me : “Power is not our objective ; we have nothing to do with it. Our goal is love of the Creator, the fraternity and justice of Islam. This is our message to dictators.” Late at night, in that famous room, he spoke of himself. The link with God is the path, spirituality, the light of the road. One day as he looked back upon his life, he told me : “Our ethical behavior, our awareness of good and evil is weapon used against us by despots, lovers of titles, power and money. They do what we cannot do ; they lie as we cannot lie ; they betray as we cannot betray and kill as we cannot kill. Our accountability before God is, in their eyes, our weakness. This apparent weakness is our real strength.”

That strength gave him energy until the very last. He remained deeply faithful to the message. To him I owe the understanding that to speak of God means, above all else, to speak of love, of the heart and fraternity. To him I owe the knowledge that solitude with God is better than neglect with men. To him I owe the feeling that deep sadness can never exhaust one’s faith in God. His generosity, his kindness and his knowledge were his most precious gifts. I thank God for giving me the gift of this father, at whose side I discovered that faith is love. Love of God and men in the face of trial and adversity. Hasan al-Banna taught us : “Be like a fruit tree. If they attack you with stones, respond with fruits.” How well he had learned the lesson, then made it his own in the most intimate sense of the word. Observer of the world, far from the crowd, in the solitude of his room, after years of combat without respite for the sake of God, against treachery and corruption, his words drew their energy from the Sources and from the rabbaniyya (the essential link with the Creator). He never ceased speaking about God, about the heart and about the intimacy of this Presence. He had learnt the essential, and he summoned people directly to the essential.

Now he lies at rest next to the one who taught him the way, Hasan al-Banna. May God have mercy on them. He had returned from exile only in death for despots fear the words of the living. But the silence of the dead is fraught with meaning, just like the supplications of those who suffer injustice : bitter words, but words of truth. Thus the Prophet (pbuh) has commanded us : “We are from God and to Him is our return.” on Friday August 4 1995, just before dusk, God called to him a man. A man, a son, a husband, a brother, a father-in-law, a grandfather, my father. The sole merit of those who remain will be to testify, day after day, their faithfulness to his memory and teaching. To love God, to respond to His call, walk side by side with men, to live and learn how to die, to live in order to learn how to die, whatever the obstacles and whatever the cost. Said Ramadan spent 41 years, almost an entire lifetime, in exile. What remains are his words, his vision and his determination. This life is not Life.

May God receive him in His mercy, forgive him his sins and open for him the gates of Peace in the company of the Prophets, the pious and the just.

May God make me for my children the father my father was for me.

Two generations and more drilled with the theme of love and devotion to God first and to one another and the rest of humanity under the banner of Islam.  That’s not a theme, love, that we commonly hear associated by corporate media with Islam, but it is an authentic one, practiced by Tariq Ramadan and his father before him and his grandfather before him. It is consistently practiced by Muslims like the Ramadan family all over the world and its face needs to be seen more often, internalized and passed on to more and more people.

What does ‘Islam’ mean?


The answer is as varied and different as the one giving that answer, but I found this particular answer one that should be considered in the mix along with all the others

Islam is commonly translated into English, by both Muslims and non-Muslims, as simply “submission” (or “surrender”).

This is a simplistic translation that fails to convey the full meaning of the Arabic word.

There are namely two problems here.

First, “submission” and “surrender” in English contextualized usage imply a sense of coercion, a usurpation of one’s free will. When we say “surrender!” for example, it’s usually at gun point.

This contradicts a foundational criterion of Islam: freedom of will.

In Arabic, “Istislam,” not “Islam”, means “surrender” (noun). Like its English counterpart, “Istislam” implies coercion, and like its English counterpart it can be used to describe the act of one man vis-a-vis another. Conversely, “Islam” is used ONLY in the context of God, and ONLY in a state of free will (there is no single word in the English language that conveys this).

In other words, for a Muslim to be a Muslim, he or she must accept Islam free of force or coercion. God wishes for us to choose him because we want him, and for no other reason but that. This is a key point that is often misunderstood. Since faith is a matter of the heart, it can never be forced. It is technically impossible that Islam could ever be spread by the sword or by coercion, as some suggest, since even if at gun point (or at the sword blade), one could just as well proclaim to be a Muslim to avoid death, but reject Islam in their heart.

……Islam does not mean “submission,” Islam means “to freely submit one’s will to God’s, in pursuit of divine peace.” A simpler version that carries the same meaning is “to enter into God’s peace,” as Professor Tariq Ramadan proposes. It is ironic that two important characteristics of being a Muslim, in fact the two most basic criteria (freedom and peace), are two of the most misrepresented and conflated when it comes to the West’s conception of Islam.

I agree with Rehab’s conclusion above.  In today’s discourse on Islam, current political prejudices are too often injected in the meaning of words and Rehab wants to avoid this by returning to the meaning of WORDS and not images and concepts that surround the word “Islam”.  I applaud him, however language is so very broad and sweeping that even Rehab has been caught up in its trap, its deceptiveness.  Denotative  meanings of the word “Islam” do give the sense of a freedom of will as Rehab suggests, with one of the more widely available Arabic-English dictionaries including to ‘commit one’s self’ to Something or SomeOne or ‘declare’ one’s self committed to the will of God which seem to be absent the coercion implicit in the definitions Rehab cites.  Inevitably, the understanding of “Islam” depends on the climate and the personalities involved in rendering and hearing it.  In today’s America how that winds up is left to anyone’s imagination, but Rehab makes a very good attempt at making the focal point of the word the reality that Muslims have of it and how many of them try to live it.

 

Hat tip to Loonwatch.com

The Ramadan Chronicles



An explanation of “jihad” that you might not see or hear from corporate media.

Bush and Blair lied intentionally


So says Tariq Aziz in a moment of candor that we’ve all come to know is correct.  That lie led to the total destruction of Iraq and the United States and allowed for the propaganda against Islam and Muslims all over the world which has further plunged America into an abyss of poverty and weakness.

We’ve heard a lot of claims about recidivism of Guantanamo Bay detainees much of it hyped to keep Gitmo Bay open. One of the questions I’ve never seen asked is if the people placed in Gitmo Bay are the worst of the worst, why isn’t recidivism 100% instead of the more reliable 4% to the exaggerated 20%?  It would appear terrorists dedicated to their cause plucked from their homeland would relish the opportunity to return to battle.  This guy,Izatullah Nasrat Yar imprisoned at Gitmo for 5 years,  however has decided to take the battle to the enemy to a higher level. Let’s hope such attempts at change will go down better than the offense which originally put him in Gitmo Bay, which was another lie…..they just seem to follow the efforts of the US government around wherever it goes.

My Breaking Point


Everyone has their breaking point for hate speech and racism.  Mine came when I watched the video you can find here, where what started out to be a “decent” interview between a Fox reporter, Megyn Kelly, and a representative of the Media Research Center and Council of American-Islamic Relations ended with the Fox reporter shouting ‘that’s way out of line, that’s way out of line’  at the CAIR representative as if to imply he had no businesss making the assertion that more abortion clinic personnel  have been killed by members of the Christian right who protested what is  a legal right women have to abortion than people who’ve been killed by Muslims protesting depictions of the Last Messenger and Prophet.   Evidently that fact doesn’t fit into Fox News’ ideas of domestic terrorism and who the adherents of terrorism are especially if they are white Christians and not brown skinned bearded, covered and menacing Muslims.

Glen Greenwald’s breaking point must have come when he read a New York Times editorial by one Ross Douthat a rather nasty Islamophobe who has been featured in the pages of Miscellany101 before here.  Douthat’s piece put forth the premise Muslims can intimidate artists who live by poetic license into not offending Muslim sensibilities but law abiding Christians who supposedly don’t engage in the same polemic are  offended by artists who are not afraid of them nor have any respect for Christian religious beliefs.  Greenwald pretty much slams the door on Douthat and by extension the visibly upset FoxNews reporter’s argument thusly:

It looks like Ross Douthat picked the wrong month to try to pretend that threat-induced censorship is a uniquely Islamic practice.  Corpus Christi is the same play that was scheduled and then canceled (and then re-scheduled) by the Manhattan Theater Club back in 1998 as a result of “anonymous telephone threats to burn down the theater, kill the staff, and ‘exterminate’ McNally.”  Both back then and now, leading the protests (though not the threats) was the Catholic League, denouncing the play as “blasphemous hate speech.”

I abhor the threats of violence coming from fanatical Muslims over the expression of ideas they find offensive, as well as the cowardly institutions which acquiesce to the accompanying demands for censorship.  I’ve vigorously condemned efforts to haul anti-Muslim polemicists before Canadian and European “human rights” (i.e., censorship) tribunals.  But the very idea that such conduct is remotely unique to Muslims is delusional, the by-product of Douthat’s ongoing use of his New York Times column for his anti-Muslim crusade and sectarian religious promotion.

The various forms of religious-based, intimidation-driven censorship and taboo ideas in the U.S. — what Douthat claims are non-existent except when it involves Muslims — are too numerous to chronicle.  One has to be deeply ignorant, deeply dishonest or consumed with petulant self-victimization and anti-Muslim bigotry to pretend they don’t exist.  I opt (primarily) for the latter explanation in Douthat’s case.

As Balloon-Juice’s DougJ notes, everyone from Phil Donahue and Ashliegh Banfield to Bill Maher and Sinead O’Connor can tell you about that first-hand.  As can the cable television news reporters who were banned by their corporate executives from running stories that reflected negatively on Bush and the war.  When he was Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani was fixated on using the power of his office to censor art that offended his Catholic sensibilities.  The Bush administration banned mainstream Muslim scholars even from entering the U.S. to teach.  The Dixie Chicks were deluged with death threats for daring to criticize the Leader, forcing them to apologize out of fear for their lives.  Campaigns to deny tenure to academicians, or appointments to politicial officials, who deviate from Israel orthodoxy are common and effective.  Responding to religious outrage, a Congressional investigation was formally launched and huge fines issued all because Janet Jackson’s breast was displayed for a couple of seconds on television.

All that’s to say nothing of the endless examples of religious-motivated violence by Christian and Jewish extremists designed to intimidate and suppress ideas offensive to their religious dogma (I’m also pretty sure the people doing this and this are not Muslim).  And, contrary to Douthat’s misleading suggestion, hate speech laws have been used for censorious purposes far beyond punishing speech offensive to Muslims — including, for instance, by Christian groups invoking such laws to demand the banning of plays they dislike.

It’s nice that The New York Times hired a columnist devoted to defending his Church and promoting his religious sectarian conflicts without any response from the target of his bitter tribalistic encyclicals.  Can one even conceive of having a Muslim NYT columnist who routinely disparages and rails against Christians and Jews this way?  To ask the question is to answer it, and by itself gives the lie to Douthat’s typically right-wing need to portray his own majoritarian group as the profoundly oppressed victim at the hands of the small, marginalized, persecuted group which actually has no power (it’s so unfair how Muslims always get their way in the U.S.).  But whatever else is true, there ought to be a minimum standard of factual accuracy required for these columns.  The notion that censorship is exercised only on behalf of Muslims falls far short of that standard.

(1) Several people are insisting that the problem of violence and threats by Muslims is far greater than, and thus not comparable to, those posed by Christians and Jews.  This is just the same form of triabalistic, my-side-is-always-better blindness afflicting Douthat.  Who could possibly look at the U.S. and conclude that brutal, inhumane, politically-motivated, designed-to-intimidate violence is a particular problem among Muslims, or that Muslims receive special, unfairly favorable treatment as a result of their intimidation?  Do you mean except for the tens of thousands of Muslims whom the U.S. has imprisoned without charges for years, and the hundreds of thousands our wars and invasions and bombings have killed this decade alone, and the ones from around the world subjected to racial and ethnic profiling, and the ones we’ve tortured and shot up at checkpoints and are targeting for state-sponsored assassination?

(2) There’s no question that violence or threatened violence by Islamic radicals against authors, cartoonists and the like is a serious problem.  But (a) simply click on the links above — or talk to workers in abortion clinics about the climate in which they work — and try to justify how you can, with a straight face, claim it’s not very pervasive among extremists and fanatics generally, and (b) avoid exaggerating the problem.  The group that threatened the South Park creators is a tiny, fringe group founded by a former right-wing Jewish-American settler in the West Bank who converted to Islam and spends most of his time harrassing American Muslims (the former “James Cohen”; h/t Archtype); they’re about as representative of Muslims generally as Fred Phelps and these people are representative of Christians.  Moreover, numerous blogs displayed the Mohammed cartoons and plan to do so again; the notion that the Western World is cowering in abject fear from Muslim intimidation is absurdly overblown.

(3) Sarah Palin recently defended the Rev. Franklin Graham’s statement that Islam is “a very evil and wicked religion.”  That barely caused a ripple of controversy.  Imagine if a leading political figure had said anything remotely similar about Christianity or Judaism.  The claim that Muslims receive some sort of special protection or sensitivity is the opposite of reality.

I might add everywhere you see The New York Times and or Ross Douthat in Greenwald’s piece above, you can safely insert FoxNews and Megyn Kelly, or any other corporate media type and their corresponding lackey/reporter….the rhetoric is essentially the same and equally perverse.  If you want to really get a flavor for Greenwald’s piece read it in its entirety here.

What is common about these two media encounters, mine and Greenwald’s is how it appears media wants to inflame public passions against a group of people who are 0.00067% of the Muslim population (548 members of Revolution Muslim out of an estimated population of 6 million Muslims)  of the US in such a way as to imply they can possibly limit or even do away with the freedoms of speech we hold so dearly when it has been the government’s response to this minuscule number that  poses a greater threat to that freedom than anything the Revolution Muslim can conjure.   Such is the rhetoric which drives media and government ever closer to the precipice of destroying the social order in a way no amount of terror, Islamic, foreign, domestic, militia driven or otherwise could ever do and yet the general public seems alright with that notion that freedom and liberty are ok to forfeit or lose at the expense of persecuting minorities, the opposition, but certainly for now Muslims.  It is a notion we have embraced to readily in our past and it’s time to forgo it now.

Good government, bad government


Sometimes there is reason to be hopeful that our Nation can self-correct and return to the principles it has finely tuned over the generations, of liberty, social responsibility and good citizenship.  The decision of the US Department of State to overturn the ban on academics Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib are examples of hope and perhaps light at the end of the tunnel of darkness we have surrounded ourselves in over the last decade.  We’ve written extensively about Ramadan in the pages of Miscellany101 in what can only be termed an act of revenge against him and his family to keep him out of the mainstream of political, social and contemporary  dialogue.  When given the full weight of a judicial system, albeit imperfect, but still forming and trying to correct itself while being universally applicable, Ramadan’s visa revocation was first overturned by the judicial system in 2009  and then by the US Department of State just last week.  Initially he had been hired for  the Henry R. Luce Chair at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, but extremists who managed to infiltrate policy making positions in government were able to get the US government to revoke a visa they had originally granted him.  The reasons for it were spurious at best, lies at worse and so transparent that when given the light of day were thrown out post haste.  You can read one of Ramadan’s more recent musings here.  Good government.

Along with Ramadan’s decision the State Department overturned the revocation imposed on Adam Habib, a South African academic who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. It goes without saying the case against him was as empty and irrational as the one made against Ramadan. In fact, it seemed the only people afraid of Habib, besides American Islamophobes, were South African communists, which should have made Habib a significantly important figure with a right wing conservative administration the likes of George  Bush’s.  Habib’s case, like that of Ramadan, was wrapped up in the Islamophobic notions of Campus Watch, the Daniel Pipes led organization. You can read about them here and here.   It didn’t take a Clinton led State Department very long to overturn her predecessor’s revocation for either of these two men; in fact less than a year after being in office.  Says alot about a fanatically led Bush administration and even more about “good government”.

Euphoria however is quickly dashed when one reads about the US Justice Department’s quick reaction to the story of the three “suicides” at Guantanamo Bay and especially the reporting of that story by MSNBC’s  Keith Olbermann.  Olbermann reported on his show how Justice was upset with his coverage of the story that was reported extensively by Scott Horton of Harper’s magazine and picked up by a lot of people on the blogosphere, including here at Miscellany101.  It seems the Justice Department is only willing to comment negatively about the story, that is, to say Olbermann did a sloppy job of reporting it, but doesn’t see the need to comment on the essence of the charges made by US military men who have gone on record to say the series of events are not consistent with what they observed or were told later when promised an investigation.  This is the worse case scenario for bad government.  The leader of the free world, a designation we have heaped upon ourselves and which we wear proudly,  and which is acknowledged by others the world over, doesn’t need to engage in this type of intimidation and stonewalling with a free press.  Transparency, something promised by the Obama administration, means making all the facts available of  investigations and going on record to actively and judiciously clear the name of government when tarnished by accusations the likes of which are in the Harper’s story.  To do anything less than that is bad government….something  we’ve been used to for the last decade.

Another Bad Bushism Bites the Dust


tariq ramadanNot that President Obama had anything to do with it, but a federal court has reversed a ruling against one Tariq Ramadan, who had been denied a visa to come to the US by the Bush Administration.  You can read about that decision here.  Ramadan had previously visited the US many times, but when the University of Notre Dame wanted to make him a tenured professor there, many within the political zionist movement, notably Daniel Pipes, would have none of that and so a well organized campaign began which resulted in the revocation/denial of a visit for Ramadan.  Oxford University snatched him up quickly, however, which proves this isn’t a fringe political hack we’re talking about in Ramadan.    What’s really happening  here is Islamophobes who are  trying to isolate Islamic thought from the main stream and keep it isolated,  feared and reviled; allowing Tariq Ramadan such a mainstream audience as Notre Dame in the heart of the midwest is anathema to political zionism’s goals of hate/fear based interaction with targeted religions such as Islam.  During the era of fear, accusations were made about or against people who were unable to counter those accusations or defend themselves against them in a court of law.  Witch hunts were carried out and people detained or denied their rights merely on the face of an accusation and without judicial recourse or review.  It remains to be seen whether Ramadan will be given a visa, but the ruling gives him a chance to defend himself in court and that’s what the Bill of Rights allows.

The Rising Tide of Fascism in North America


galloway1We should all be used to the notion that differences of opinion, no matter how sanely and legally expressed ramadanand/or carried out are becoming less and less acceptable.  We should be used to or accustomed to that because of the previous eight years where political differences were couched in terms that produced an either for us or against us culture.  The extension of that was the “us” in the flippant and casually tossed dismissal of dissent used their power to silence expressions different from the mainstream.  I must admit there are plenty of voices of dissent and many avenues available for them  to express themselves; I must also admit there is the distinct possibility those venues most likely are being searched for to be shut down at a later date.  For now, the squashing of dissent has a very distinct flavor of fascism about it that fits the political definition of fascism to the letter.

Canada led the way in the lead up to the fascist abyss with its  announcement it would not allow George Galloway to visit that country because it claimed he gave “material support” to Hamas when he led a supply to that besieged strip of land after the Israeli invasion earlier this year.

“Specifically, we have information that indicates you organized a convoy worth over £1 million in aid and vehicles to Hamas, and personally donated vehicles and financing to (former) Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. Your material support for this organization makes you inadmissible to Canada,”

The intended outcome of this decision is to stifle any expression of support materially or politically for the Palestinian people, not Hamas.  The Israelis have been able to tie all support for Palestinians with support for Hamas and therefore because of its undeserved terrorism designation, ostracize those who support the people of Gaza and inevitably Palestinians as a whole.  The Israelis  set up Hamas as a political straw dog on which many people rest their fate for the next so many years, while Israeli theft of Palestinian land continues until the next straw dog is set up to oppose Hamas and so on and so on.  This is not only foolhardy but dangerous, but it allows the Israeli government time  to establish some very definite “facts” on the ground while it tries to change the demographics of the region for future considerations.  Galloway’s problem is one of being too high profile a dissenter, one who might be able to influence many fence-sitters, politically as a member of British government or personally through the types of lectures he was scheduled to give in Canada.  Therefore his exposure to the world community must be limited.

The Canadians have taken a page from the US playbook where Tariq Ramadan is still being refused entry into the US because of a similar accusation.  The administration of “change”, Obama, has gone on record to argue Ramadan should not be allowed to visit America.  This after Obama himself claimed he wanted to reach out to Muslims all over the world.  The Obama administration’s support of Bush’s  denial of entry goes to show there’s not much difference between the two governments as it relates to foreign policy.

The visa ban — apparently based on Ramadan’s donations to a group linked to the Palestinian militants Hamas labeled a terrorist organization by Washington — was instituted under former president George W. Bush’s administration….the visa denial  (was)  pinned to Ramadan having donated 1,300 dollars to a Swiss charity, Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP).

The charity allegedly funded Hamas, the ruling Palestinian group in Gaza, which Washington designates as a terrorist organization.

What’s troubling about this accusation beyond it being “alleged” and not proven  is that Ramadan made known to everyone he had donated to the group at a time  before Hamas was designated as a terrorism group by the US government.   When that label was attached to Hamas, Ramadan ceased giving to the group.  In effect he is being held accountable for doing something when at the time he did it it wasn’t illegal.  But that’s not his only sin, besides those of his father and his grandfather.  Ramadan’s is a passionate voice for moderation and coexistence between a feared Islam and a reluctant West and nothing gets in the way of “fascism” like peace, so like Galloway, Ramadan’s exposure to the West must be confined to a much smaller universe like the halls of Oxford University.

It’s interesting to see the turf war going on between those who are for and against the intermingling of intellectual and political thought all over the world.  Obviously North America is still considered home for those who believe  in perpetual conflict, have an aggressive warrior mentality and believe in conquering, dominating, and eventually eliminating people deemed undesirable or unwanted.  It fit the previous administration like a hand in glove and seems to be the destiny of the Obama administration as well.  It  also fits the definition of fascism.

World’s Top Ten Intellectuals are all Muslims


Imagine that; at least according to the secular magazine, Foreign Policy, which conducted a poll of who are the world’s top public intellectuals.  Of course one has to add the caveat it’s a rather unscientific poll.  However, over 500,000 responded to this poll and here are the results:

FETHULLAH GÜLEN-Religious leader • Turkey

MUHAMMAD YUNUS-Microfinancier, activist • Bangladesh

YUSUF AL-QARADAWI-Cleric • Egypt/Qatar

ORHAN PAMUK-Novelist • Turkey

AITZAZ AHSAN-Lawyer, politician • Pakistan

AMR KHALED-Muslim televangelist • Egypt

ABDOLKARIM SOROUSH-Religious theorist • Iran

TARIQ RAMADAN-Philosopher, scholar of Islam • Switzerland

MAHMOOD MAMDANI-Cultural anthropologist • Uganda

SHIRIN EBADI-Lawyer, human rights activist • Iran

Quite a potpourri of schools of thought and political philosophies.  I don’t see any warriors,  jihadists, former al-Qaida members  on the list although some would try to argue that Qaradawi or Ramadan might qualify for that title.  What this list does show is the diversity inherent in the world wide Muslim community and the appreciation Muslims have for people of all walks of life who make a contribution to the benefit of their way of life.