The main maqsad or purpose of the human being in this life is to submit to the will and decree of Allāh and worship Him from his first breath to his last.
Allāh through His immense wisdom and prudence has decreed the people be tried and tested in various ways in order for Him to develop their psyche and to strengthen their character towards that which is pleasing to Him.
Going through suffering makes us normal and draws us closer to Allāh. As an imām I am frequently asked by people who are going through difficulties in life 'why does Allāh give us trials?'
At that point it is always beneficial to not only provide them with the philosophical answers but it is crucial that they receive some sort of counseling.
It is always important for us believers to remind each other of the divine wisdom of calamities and misfortunes in life. Everyone, in various capacities, goes through difficulties in life.
The believer, however, is cognizant of the fact that the trials that he/she encounters are there so that Allāh can develop and strengthen his character. They remind us of our limitations as human beings and our complete need of Allāh. The consequence of not fully comprehending the divine wisdom of tests, I have observed, is complete denial of the existence of Allāh, may Allāh save us.
In the next few installments I will be expounding upon a prophetic tradition on this very subject, which is extracted from a lecture I delivered a couple of years ago at an Islamic Institute in London, based on a book called 'Prophetic Guidance on the Purification of the Soul' by Dr Sharaf al-Qudat (Jordan).
عن أبي هريرة أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال يقول الله تعالى ما لعبدي المؤمن عندي جزاء إذا قبضت صفيَّه من أهل الدُّنيا ثمَّ احتسبه إلا الجنَّة. رواه البخاري
Abu Hurayrah reported: The Messenger of Allāh said:
“Allāh, the Exalted, says: “I have no reward except Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away his favorite one from the inhabitants of the world.” (Bukhāri)
This Hadith is a Hadith Qudsi which means 'holy' or 'pure' hadith. A Hadith Qudsi is a hadith in which the Prophet relates to the people what Allāh says in its meaning [ma'nan] and its wording [lafdhan], because of His saying: ''slave of mine'', if it was from the Prophet then the wording would have been: ''a believing slave'' as it occurs in the first part of the hadith therefore, this hadith is from Allāh, the Most High.
Some people may find this strange. Because if it is Allāh's speech why is it not included in the Qur'an?
The simple answer to this is that the Qur'an is part of Allāh's speech and not His entire speech. For example the previous revealed books i.e. The Torah and the Gospel in their original form were also Allāh's speech but they are not part of the Qur'an. This is also true in the case of hadith Qudsi.
However there are some fundamental differences between the Qur'an and Hadith Qudsi:
This hadith reminds us of the divine test which we may encounter in this world:
The test of Allāh through misfortunes or calamities.
Why does Allāh test us?
What are the wisdoms of misfortunes?
Firstly: Misfortunes and calamities are from the sunan [conventionary practice] of Allāh in the universe for which every person is inflicted with, Allāh says:
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere”(2:155)
And He also says:
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ ٱلْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ ٱلْبَأْسَآءُ وَٱلضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ ٱلرَّسُولُ وَٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ ٱللَّهِ أَلاۤ إِنَّ نَصْرَ ٱللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ
“Or do you think that you shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allāh.” Ah! Verily, the help of Allāh is (always) near!” (2:214)
Secondly: The purpose of misfortune and calamity is not necessarily for revenge, punishment or humiliation:
“But when He tries him, restricting his subsistence for him, then he says (in despair), “My Lord has humiliated me!” (Fajr:16)
Calamities and misfortunes are often tests from Allāh. There is much wisdom in such tests; in fact there is wisdom in everything Allāh does. The most prudent are as follows:
1-Establishment of Allāh's proof:
Allāh does not reprehend a people unless they, out of their own will and deed, deny the proofs of Allāh after it has been made clear to them.
If Allāh simply created people without putting then through some test in this life, and then announces to a group among them, 'enter the Hellfire' they will respond, 'O our Lord give us a chance [to do good], command us whatever you wish and we will carry out everything you demand of us'.
If they are not given the opportunity to do good they will feel that they have been wronged. So Allāh wants to give them this opportunity to establish the proof upon them. This is despite Allāh's knowledge that the polytheists, on the Day of Judgment, will swear by Allāh that they have not associated partners with Him, Allāh says, ''they will say, by our Lord we have not committed shirk''
Anas bin Malik said, “We were with the Prophet and he smiled so broadly that his molar could be seen, then he said: “Do you know why I am smiling?
We said, `Allāh and His Messenger know best.'
He said: “Because of the way a servant will argue with his Lord on the Day of Resurrection. He will say, “O Lord, will You not protect me from injustice” [Allāh] will say, “Of course.” The servant will say, “I will not accept any witness against me except from myself.” [Allāh] will say, “Today you will be a sufficient witness against yourself, and the honorable scribes will serve as witnesses against you.” Then his mouth will be sealed, and it will be said to his faculties, “Speak!” So they will speak of what he did. Then he will be permitted to speak, and he will say, “May you be doomed! It was for you that I was fighting.”” [Reported by Muslim and An-Nasa'i]
This is the meaning of Allāh, the Most High's, statement:
الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَآ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ
“This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, andtheir hands will speak to Us, and their legswill bear witness to what they used to earn” (Ya-Sin: 65)
حَتَّى إِذَا مَا جَآءُوهَا شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَـرُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ وَقَالُواْ لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُواْ أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ الَّذِى أَنطَقَ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ وَهُوَ خَلَقَكُمْ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ
“Till, when they reach it, their hearing (ears) andtheir eyes and their skins will testify against them asto what they used to do. And they will say to theirskins, “Why do you testify against us?” They will say:“Allāh has caused us to speak — as He causes all thingsto speak, and He created you the first time” (Fussilat: 20-21)
All these texts refer to after the slaves have associated partners with Allāh and disobeyed Him. How would they be if Allāh did not give them the opportunity to repent or do good deeds?
2-Thorough examination (tamhis):
Difficulties unveil the true nature of people by sieving out the good from the bad, the righteous from the wicked and the believer from the hypocrite.
Such thorough examinations are of great benefit for the Muslim community. Allāh says, in the verses which speak about the battle of Badr and what the Muslims have obtained in it, clarifying the wisdom of this testing.
“Allāh will not leave the believers in the statein which you are now, until He separateswhat is evil from what is good” (Aal-Imran:179)
Difficulties, also, enable you to identify your true friends and helpers from friends of convenience as a poet said:
جزى الله الشدائد كل خير وان كنت تغصصني بريقي
وما شكري لها إلا لأني عرفت بها عدوي من صديقي
“May Allāh reward hardship with all good though itstrangles me and makes me breathless. And mygratitude towards it is not for any other reasonexcept that it enabled me to recognise my friend frommy enemy”.
3-Expiation of Sins (Takfir al-Dhunub):
Allāh may decide to punish a person for his sin in this world rather than in the hereafter.
There is no doubt that the punishment of this world despite its magnitude is nothing compared to the punishment of the hereafter, however light it is, Allāh says:
وَلَعَذَابُ الاٌّخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ
“But truly, the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they but knew” (Al-Qalam:33)
There are many texts which show that Allāh expiates sins of people through inflicting them with some misfortune or calamity. They include:
The hadith of the Prophet in which he said, 'The believing man and woman will continually be tested in his self, his children, and his wealth until he meets Allāh and that which he has of the misfortune.”
And his statement, When Allāh desires for His servant some good, He hastens his punishment in this life, and when Allāh intends some good for His servant He will postpone His punishment until he will be recompensed on the day of judgment''.
In addition, the authentic statement of the Messenger of Allāh : Abu Sa'Īd Al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah both narrated that the Prophet said:
“A Muslim is not afflicted by hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression – even if pricked by a thorn, but Allāh expiates his sins because of it” [Bukhāri]
4-Elevation of ranks (Raf' al-Darajat):
This is from the apparent meaning of the hadith. If a believer after being afflicted by a misfortune or hardship patiently perseveres, his sins are forgiven and he is raised up in ranks.
This was the condition with the prophets and messengers. They were all tested and tried and thus Allāh , because of their patience and forbearance, raised their ranks amongst the people. The evidence for this is the hadith at hand,
“I have no reward except Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away his favourite one from the inhabitants of the world.”
We also read this in a hadith narrated by Anas who said that he heard the Prophet say that Allāh said:
إذا ابليت عبدي بحبيبتيه فصبر عوضه منهما الجنة
“When I affect my slave in his two dear things(i.e., his eyes), and he endures patiently, heshall be compensated with Paradise”. (Bukhāri)
5-Admonition for the negligent and a warning:
This is considered like a warning that is issued to a student or an employee who is being negligent or has some shortcomings.
The aim is to alert the person of the shortcoming. If the person takes heed he will be successful otherwise he will deserve the punishment. Perhaps the evidence for this is His, the Most High's, saying:
“Before you We sent (messengers) to many nations,and We afflicted the nations with suffering andadversity, that they might learn humility, Why then, did they not supplicate in humility when a calamity from Us came upon them? Instead, their hearts were hardened and Satan adorned for them what they were doing. [An'am: 42-43]
Adversity and calamity struck them because they neglected to supplicate to Allāh in humility. They did not comprehend the wisdom of tribulation and as such did not turn to Allāh in humility. Instead, Satan adorned for them what they were doing.
6-Destruction which serves as a punishment for those that were warned but did not heed the warning and persisted upon committing sins:
“…For their sins We destroyed them…” (An'am:6)
And, ''Indeed We have destroyed generations before you when they transgressed, and their Messengers had come to them with clear signs, but they were not the ones who would believe. This is how We punish the guilty people'' [Yunus: 13]
“When We decide to destroy a population, We(first) send a definite order to those amongthem who are given the good things of this lifeand yet transgress; so that the word is provedtrue against them: then We destroy themcompletely” (Al-Isra: 16)
7-A reminder of Allāh's favors upon mankind:
That is because man, who has been created with the faculty of sight, often forgets the blessing of being able to see. He does not fully give its due right.
If Allāh was to temporarily take away his sight then return it to him he would realise the value of this great bounty.
Constant bounties and good-fortune often makes people forget the value of these bounties good-fortune for which they forget to show gratitude. Allāh takes it away from people and then returns it to them in order for them to be reminded about these bounties and that they show gratitude to Allāh for them.
Suffering makes us human.
Suffering and adversity have existed as long as human beings have. When we suffer we are connected to the common fate of the people who came before us and the people who will come after us.
Indeed, in tribulations there is a reminder for the person afflicted and others of the bounties of Allāh . For example, when a person encounters a senile person he will appreciate the blessing of intellect. When a person observes a non-believer living his life like cattle, he will value the blessing of īmān [faith]. When a person meets a sick person he will realize and value the blessing of good health. When he sees an impoverished person he will appreciate the blessing of wealth. When he encounters an ignorant person he is thankful for the blessing of knowledge. A person whose heart is awake and open to the reality will show gratitude but those who do not have [awakened] hearts will not show gratitude for the bounties of Allāh ; instead they will be haughty and behave arrogantly towards the creation of Allāh!!
8-Lessen people's attachment to the Dunya:
If the dunya was free of any hardship and misfortune then people would have even been more attached to it and neglect the next life.
However, calamities and misfortunes alert people to the realities of the life of this world and awaken them from their neglectful state. Also they remind them about the next world which is free of any kind of misfortunes except for the wrongdoers.
9-Strengthening the personality of the believer (Saql Shakhsiya al-Mu'min):
Through hardship and difficulties Allāh makes firm the hearts of the believers. This is why Allāh chose our Prophet to grow up as an orphan and experience numerous hardships. As for those children who are pampered, generally, their personality is weakened because of this.
Through hardship and difficulty a believer is able to reach his full potential and growth in īmān and Taqwa.
10-Often a misfortune and calamity may come with a combination of wisdoms as in the case of the calamity at the battle of Uhud.
إِن يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ ٱلْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ وَتِلْكَ ٱلأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنكُمْ شُهَدَآءَ وَٱللَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ ٱلظَّالِمِينَ
“If a wound has touched you, be sure a similarwound has touched the others. Such days (ofvarying fortunes) We give to men and men byturns: that Allāh may know those that believe,and that He may take to Himself from your ranksMartyrs-witnesses (to Truth). And Allāh loves notthose that do wrong”.- and so that Allāh may purify those who believe and eradicate the disbelievers. (Aal-Imran:140-141)
In these two verses we can identify a number of wisdoms in what took place during the battle of Uhud:
Suffering is only as bad as we make it. If we believe we are entitled to a life of comfort, then a life that consists of suffering is simply unfair, and who likes an unfair world?
But if we believe that life is about growth and that growth entails a degree of pain and suffering, then there is nothing unfair about it.
How many people are tested with a disabled child – for example – this [in turn] is an enormous test for his entire family, and a test for him when he grows, and also, a test for the entire society – to determine whether the society takes care of him. This also acts as a reminder to others of the bounties that Allāh grants them. Therefore, if the parents, the disabled, and others take heed – and the society fulfils its rights of the disabled, they all are rewarded according to their level of patience and how well they protected the weak and the afflicted.
11-Sometimes a hardship can be a blessing in disguise:
People who are afflicted with some misfortune may only see one side to the happenings and be heedless to other aspects, for which after a certain period of time, the beneficial side to the misfortune are unveiled to them.
Sometimes, they are convinced that the calamity they were suffering from was a good thing as opposed to being an omen or a calamity. Allāh says:
''Fighting has been prescribed for you even though you detest it, it may be that something you dislike be good for you, and it may happen that something you like be bad for you, Allāh knows while you do not''.
Suffering gives us a greater appreciation of the moments of comfort. If life were comfortable 24/7, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the moments of comfort. There would be nothing to compare comfort to. This is analogous to a marathon runner. If there were no suffering in running a marathon there would be no comfort, and certainly no sense of accomplishment, in crossing the finish line. Mountain climbers voluntarily endure excruciating suffering, often for weeks on end, in their attempt to reach the summit. They risk their lives; endure high altitude sickness, bottomless crevasses and glaciers, mountain storms, snow blindness, and sudden storms all to experience the several moments of magnificent comfort and satisfaction the mountain summit has to offer.
In addition, the misfortune may be good for his religiosity and for his next life, but even, also, for his living in the dunya.
12- Suffering is a normal part of parenting, marriage, working, and every other worthwhile endeavor:
If we are in a constant state of suffering and anguish then something is most likely not as it optimally should be. However, periodic suffering in all areas of life is normal.
Every good marriage has periods of discord and uncertainty. Every healthy parent/child relationship goes through phases of disrespect and resentment with our children or parents not doing what we think they ought to be doing and us not doing what they think we ought to be doing. Jobs, homes, neighborhoods and communities enter and leave our lives based on need, interest, and a variety of other factors, which are often based on suffering.
Lobsters are soft animals with hard shells that do not grow. When lobsters outgrow their shells they climb into a rock cleft. They face the uncertainty of being swallowed up by another animal or of being swept away by the current. Yet imagine if lobsters stifled their discomfort rather than using it as a catalyst for growth: they would be a miniature species.
We can emulate lobsters by accepting suffering as a sign that it's time for growth and renewal. The bottom line is that periodic suffering is part of every aspect of our lives and it need not be “bad.”
Suffering is what it is and what we make of it. Not pleasant, but generally not unbearable or unacceptable.
The post Why We Are Tested: The Psychology of Suffering & Misfortune – Part #1 appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
Palestinians forced to flee Damascus are trying to survive on help from charities in Cairo.
Saudi Arabian Student With Pressure Cooker Allegedly Questioned By FBI
A Saudi Arabian student living in Michigan says he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after neighbors saw him with a pressure cooker and alerted authorities.
Talal al Rouki said he was questioned by the FBI after neighbors told authorities they had seen him carrying a pressure cooker. The kitchen appliances made headlines last month when it was determined the bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon on April 15 were fashioned from them.
Rouki explained to Saudia Arabia newspaper Okaz that he was using the pressure cooker to cook kabsa, a traditional Saudi Arabian rice dish, to bring to a friend from his scholarship program.
“I was eating breakfast and I heard the [doorbell] ring at an unusual time, and when I opened the door… [there was an FBI team] and one of them asked me, ‘Are you Talal?’” Rouki told Okaz, according to a Huffington Post translation of the article. “In that moment I was nervous, though I am [confident] and I have nothing to hide, so I replied to them that they are in front of Talal [right now].”
“So they [questioned] me calmly at the door, after that they asked me for entrance into the house so I allowed them that and their questions revolved around my studies and the history [of my time] in the United States and the activities I plan to [pursue] after college,” he added.
(The New Yorker has previously described Okaz as the most popular newspaper in Saudi Arabia and likened it to the Arabic version of the New York Post.)
When contacted by The Huffington Post, FBI spokesman Christopher Allen said he is not familiar with the incident. A representative for the FBI’s Detroit office had no comment, and a representative for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Pressure cookers have been a source of tension in the wake of the Boston bombings, which killed three people and injured 260. Last week, a man was detained at Hawaii’s Hilo International Airport after a modified pressure cooker was found in his luggage, according to the Star Advertiser. The man was later released uncharged. The FBI is investigating. At the time, the bureau said it did not believe the incident posed any imminent threat.
Feds assumed ADL reports were passed on to Israeli government.
But…but..he has a Muslim friend!UKIP councillor who said ‘Islam is a cancer which needs to be cured with radiation’ on racist Facebook page ‘to step down’ after just 12 days
A UKIP councillor has announced he will probably have to step down after less than two weeks because he posted a series of offensive messages about Jews and Muslims online.
Eric Kitson, 59, has admitted ‘I don’t see how I can possibly carry on’ after sharing racist cartoons and messages on Facebook.
One included a picture of a nuclear weapon exploding emblazoned with the message: ‘Some cancers need to be treated with radiation, Islam is one of them’.
He also shared an image of a Muslim being roasted over a pile of burning Korans, as well as several anti-Semitic outbursts linking the Rothschild banking dynasty to Adolf Hitler.
In one comment he said in reference to Muslim women: ‘Hang um all first then ask questions later.’
The councillor from Stourport, Worcestershire, has apologised to residents and party colleagues for his ‘stupid’ actions.
But he denied being racist and claimed he had shared the material to expose the ‘unacceptable’ views they contained.
He said: ‘I thought I could handle politics, but I can’t – I don’t see how I can possibly carry on.
‘I’m not a racist, all my friends know me better than that.
‘What I wrote was stupid, but it wasn’t racist. I am not racist. I’m the only white guy on my local five-a-side football team.
‘I wanted to show people this is bad, this is wrong. What I should have done is write something on them about how bad it is but I didn’t.
‘To say I have been stupid is mild.
‘I do not agree with the comments and I have not got a racist bone in my body. I went to school with a lot of young Pakistanis and Indians and I have had wonderful Muslim friends over the years.’
Kitson, who joined UKIP a year ago, also apologised to his colleagues.
He said: ‘What can I say to them? The hardest thing to do is say sorry.
‘I cannot blame anybody but myself. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me before and it is my fault.
The people who know me – my family, friends, people I work with – have all supported me.
‘It has made me ill – I cannot eat and I cannot sleep.’
Kitson made a string of posts relating to Muslims and other ethnic groups.
In another he called for a referendum to set up an English parliament, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and the repatriation of ‘six million migrants and refugees’.
Kitson was elected to Worcestershire County Council less than two weeks ago.
He received 1,385 votes to take the Wyre Forest seat on May 2 – beating rivals from the three mainstream political groups.
UKIP said it is currently investigating the posts.
A spokesman for UKIP said: ‘We are aware of the incidents and we launched our investigation earlier this week.
‘But until we have come to a full conclusion and we are satisfied our investigation is complete Eric will remain in his post.’
West Mercia Police confirmed they have requested more information in relation to the incident.
Norwegian government and Amnesty International co-sponsor “human rights” forum produced by group funded by big donors to Islamophobes who were cited by murderer.
A very welcome condemnation of Pamela Geller by prominent Toronto area Rabbis.
One small issue I have is with describing Geller’s activities as “criticism.” Criticism is not the right word but understandably the more accurate “batsh** crazy rants” to describe Geller’s activities wouldn’t fit the professional language required of an official press release.:Toronto Board of Rabbis Denounce Pamela Geller
Toronto Board of Rabbis
President Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl Vice-President Rabbi Debra Landsberg Secretary Rabbi Martin Lockshin Treasurer Rabbi David Seed Executive Director Rabbi Michal Shekel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2012
The Toronto Board of Rabbis (TBR) expresses its profound disappointment that a local Jewish organization has extended an invitation to Pamela Geller, a blogger who is known for her extreme criticism of Muslims in language that is intended to shock and ridicule.
The TBR is a strong supporter of freedom of speech for all, including Ms. Geller. Ms. Geller’s voice and message are already well known here in Canada and beyond. There was no sense in inviting her here to Toronto to speak before a Jewish audience. Sadly the only sure result of this event will be increasing tensions within the Jewish community and between Jews and Muslims in Toronto.
The TBR, which represents rabbis from all denominations of Judaism, wishes to make clear to all that it finds the invitation distasteful, just as it finds Ms. Geller’s views distasteful. We dissociate ourselves from the actions of the radical fringe Jewish group that extended the invitation. We call for more events here in Toronto that will build up friendship and understanding between local Jews and Muslims.
Media Contact: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, TBR president 416.781.3511
4600 Bathurst Street Toronto, Ontario M2R 3V3
Please note that our members will be unavailable from sundown Tuesday through sundown Thursday due to the observance of Shavuot (Festival of Weeks).
Tel: 416.849.1004 Fax: 416.631.6373 e-mail: email@example.com
Journalist finds out how those she photographed are coping months after the attacks.
Yesterday you read my poetry,
As though as I was writing to you.
I know because midnight tasted different.
Like you had taken the bitter words,
Leaving my English tongue,
And written them in all of the languages,
That I’ve not yet spoken,
Because you whisper them,
Into the darkness too.
Hoping for light, always,
You reached for my roots from where,
Grief had stolen a woman’s name,
And you called me hope.
That’s my unborn daughters name
And still it rhymes with yours,
Amal, Amal, Amal.
Because she will have a rebellious face,
Quiet determined nature,
Her heart tender- soft will be just,
You spoke to the valleys,
Encrypted in my spine,
As if we were the children of a great nation,
Readying itself to stand.
And our voices echoed one another, always.
So I promised I would sit on the banks of this river,
Until your eyes finally meet mine.
And out beyond those peaks,
That we fell so in love with,
I will write you, always.
I will write you,
In the colours of the night sky,
As it tumbles into the day.
The blues and the crimsons,
Clutching at all of the midnight that makes us.
Painting the strong veins in your wrists,
That lie south of my ink stained finger tips.
Placing our burning palms between them,
Because that is where you and I learnt,
To cradle this ancient struggle of our people.
I will write you until the Jhelum is clear,
No more blood will be carried upon her back,
Instead she will reflect the night sky,
Illuminated by the stars she carries.
We will wash the flags of freedom,
On her banks,
But I must not forget to ask,
Will you write me back, always?
Dear Muslim girls, especially you teenagers,
I want to apologize to all of you on behalf of Muslim adults, Muslim parents and the Muslim community as a whole.
I am sorry that your struggles as females are often overlooked. I am sorry that your sensual temptations are always underestimated. I am sorry that your fitnah for the opposite gender is rarely ever addressed as if, for some miraculous reason, you are expected to have stronger control over your carnal desires.
We have failed to recognize Muslim women's, especially the female youth's, trials of their voluptuous desires. At the most we have made an effort to acknowledge your desires to interact with guys, to be around them, to talk to them, to laugh with them, to share with them the details of your day, to have a boy follow you around, if at all your trials are recognized. Your desires have been marginalized to simply some emotional need of getting attention from the opposite gender. Let me be brave enough to say: That is wrong. Women want more than just the attention.
I confess that the strength of carnal desires in females is almost always underestimated within our Muslim societies. I am not here to run a comparison between the needs of men and women, I am here to simply acknowledge, affirm and attest that sexual desires are no less a struggle for a girl than a boy. Let it be clear, Islam makes no distinction. Truly Allāh is the Most Just!
Allow me to say: I understand….
I understand that the opposite gender is a fitnah for you as much as you are a fitnah for the opposite gender.
I understand your battles and your struggles.
I understand that if you slip, on the surface or deeper, it's because you couldn't fight the strong inevitable desires coupled with the extreme hypersexual society we're raising you in.
I understand that it is wrong for our Muslim societies to have double standards, and I want you to know that no matter how many times you are reminded that you, as a female, should have a better control over your sexual desires than the guys, that you should be the one guarding your chastity more than the guys, that you are a girl and it is less likely for you to give into your carnal desires than the guys, please know that your religion makes no such distinction. Islam has prescribed the exact same punishment for the girls as for the guys.
I understand and my heart goes out to you, for all the trials of the opposite gender you are going through, for all the temptations you have to fight or you fail to fight.
I understand that if you slip and give into your voluptuous desires, it doesn't make you a whore. It simply makes you a human. Although, I truly admire those of you who have thus far kept your chastity, may Allāh azzwajal increase you in your strength and in your purity.
I understand, when I look at you teenage girls, especially those who are committed to their faith, trying their best to withhold their religious and moral values, modestly dressed yet can't help but fall into the trials of the opposite gender, I understand…
I understand that when that cute guy, or any guy that seems attractive whether because of his looks or his personality, asks for your number it is very hard to resist, when he calls in the middle of the night it is almost impossible not to pick up the phone. When he offers to pick you up from school, you just can't hold back, and when his hand runs through your hand the feeling is so amazing that you just can't stop him and when he leans in to kiss you the temptations can overtake your senses of right and wrong.[i]
I understand that although, without a shadow of doubt, these actions are wrong, the temptation of experiencing what you have been hearing about, watching, and observing since you were in kindergarten, every single day of your life, almost every minute, on TV, online, at school, at work, at the park, and especially what you've been reading in books, is simply too irresistible.
Do I feel for you? Absolutely! I feel for you if you couldn't hold yourself back from giving in to your very much existing and strong temptations of carnal desire.
I am sorry that we have not built a safer environment around you girls. And I am especially sorry, wholeheartedly, when we Muslims judge you and underestimate your bodily yearnings and cravings for the opposite gender, yet we give boys more benefit of doubts, more excuses for their temptations, for their fitnah than we offer you girls.
I am sorry that our societies only feel for boys, reinforcing again and again that girls are the biggest temptations for boys, but we almost never mention that boys are equally a temptation for girls, sexual temptation not just emotional temptation.
Although I might not be able to change the mindset of many Muslims out there, I promise you that I will not judge you inshā'Allāh. And that I will always be here to offer you an attentive ear and a shoulder to lean on should you need someone to talk to or understand your struggles.
Before I close my note, just remember two things as advice from me:
Firstly, if you fall, don't forget to repent and know that we fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up[ii].
Secondly, don't give up. Keep trying to fight your temptations even if you keep falling. If you didn't guard your chastity from the beginning, it doesn't mean you have lost your chance. Allāh's Mercy encompasses all, and He is always ready to envelope us in His Forgiveness and Mercy no matter how deep we fall in our sins. Chastity starts when you leash your carnal desires and wait for the halal alternatives. That's the beginning of your chastity!
(And Allāh knows best)
[i] For all those overzealous readers who are going to hold their guns at me, I am NOT endorsing these sins to be okay!
[ii] Quote from Batman Begins :)
The post Listen to Them and Understand their Sexual Struggles (of our Muslim female youth) appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
There is video footage here of an incident on Edgeware Road, London, involving Anjem Choudary and his supporters. The Muslim Council Of Britain (MCB) has issued a statement condemning the attack and calling for unity against sectarian division. We have documented Choudary on his journey from useful clown for the islamophobic media to dangerous provocateur in our posts here.
(h/t:Alfred F.)In life and words, Muslim leader bridges cultures
By Lisa Wangsness (Boston Globe)
On a rainy afternoon in early April at Boston’s largest mosque, the sheikh in the seersucker suit was in his office, offering comfort and advice.
To a young student wondering if he should get engaged: “Aw, man, just go for it!”
To a middle-aged man agonizing over how to care for his dying father: “You should preserve life as best you can.”
To a sobbing young woman who told him about problems at home: “I have someone who can help you, a Muslim counselor. . . . Let’s talk about fixing it.”
Days later, bombs exploded on Boylston Street. And the unlikely face of the Muslim community in its time of crisis became this 6-foot-5-inch, blond-haired, blue-eyed former hip-hop DJ whose grandfather was a fundamentalist Christian preacher.
William Suhaib Webb, imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, has been a target of conservative Muslims on the Internet, who call him a sellout, and of other critics who say he is an extremist.
He has tried, for better or for worse, to respond to all of it — in his sermons, on CNN, on Twitter. At the same time, he has endeavored to improve the mosque’s relationships with Jewish and Christian leaders in Boston.
“I’m just exhausted,” the 40-year-old Webb said, sipping a flask of coffee in his book-lined office overlooking the busy intersection of Tremont Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. “I don’t have days anymore. I just have . . . smears.”
Webb, who memorized the Koran while living with his parents in Oklahoma and became an advanced Islamic legal scholar after years of study in Cairo, has in recent years become among the most famous imams in America.
He has 34,000 Twitter followers and a “virtual mosque” website that gets some 13,000 page views a day. In his sermons and in social media, Webb — many followers call him “sheikh,” an honorific for a respected teacher — toggles effortlessly between English and Arabic, dropping words like “baller” and references to “The Walking Dead,” a television show about zombies, into exegeses of Sufi poetry.
When he came to the cultural center 18 months ago, he faced significant challenges. He had to connect with immigrants from all over the world, as well as their US-born children and converts from other faiths. He also had to be a bridge to the city’s other faith communities, someone who could help the city move beyond concerns, particularly among some Jewish leaders, that the mosque’s leadership had extremist ties.
Webb, for his part, had his own big plan — to establish one of the first Muslim seminaries in the country. He wanted to nurture a new generation of American imams and Muslim women scholars — orthodox, but culturally conversant and civically involved — and to educate more casual students about their faith.
The Marathon bombings cast Webb and his mission into a crucible. In the media, Islam was on trial again, and Webb was, too.
* * *
Webb grew up outside Oklahoma City. His grandfather, the preacher, was a strict conservative — no dancing, no shorts. His parents are what he calls “post-Woodstock Christians,” more accommodating of modernity.
He has positive memories of church, “fellowship with great, wonderful people.” But he could never get his head around Jesus. What color was the son of God? How could God choose a race for himself when he assumed human form?
By his late teens, Webb was popular figure in the Oklahoma City hip-hop scene, a pot-smoking DJ with a gang affiliation. Once, he says, he found himself in a car during a drive-by shooting.
Abdulsamad Frazier, a close friend from those days, remembers Webb as friendly and generous, though he kept dangerous company.
“If anybody in the neighborhood messed with him, he would hold his ground,” Frazier said. “He hung around with some major guys, guys who were real serious guys.”
But Webb was unhappy, searching. He began learning about Islam through friends in the hip-hop world. Curious, Webb checked a copy of the Koran out of the library.
To his surprise, it mentioned Jesus and Mary. But it resonated with him in a way the Gospels never had. It was 1992, the year of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
“The idea that God is not a human being, God is not a color — that was what I was looking for my whole life,” he says now.
He was 20 years old, a college freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma about to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically African-American fraternity. He became an observant Muslim instead.
His parents — his mother worked in human resources, his father was a history professor — were greatly relieved that he had changed directions, but they found his new religious fervor baffling and unsettling.
“We were disappointed,” said his mother, Mary Lynne Webb, who is close with her son and proud of him now. “We felt like we were kind of failures, I guess.”
Webb finished a degree in education, devoting his free time to Islam. Four days a week, he traveled to Norman, Okla., to study with a Senegalese sheikh. It was a lonely period, though over the next several years, others from the music scene converted, too.
When Oklahoma City opened its first mosque a few years later, its community chose the 26-year-old convert as its imam. Imad Enchassi, then a mentor of Webb’s and now the senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said the decision was almost unanimous.
He said Webb instinctively related to young people, but he won over the older crowd, too.
“He would sit down with elders on the ground; some elders would eat with fingers, he would do the same thing,” Enchassi said.
But Webb, looking back, gives himself a grade of D-minus for his work as a young imam. “I was still finding myself spiritually,” he said. “I gave a lot of hot sermons. They probably weren’t very good. I didn’t have enough scholarship.”
The Bay Area chapter of the Muslim American Society, a national grass-roots religious and cultural group, spotting a rising star, offered to fix that by sending him to Al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the world’s leading centers of Sunni Muslim learning. With his wife, Asmah Ayob, who was a Malaysian anthropology student when he met her in college, Webb moved to Cairo.
After a brief stint in California upon his return in 2010, he learned the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury was looking for an imam.
* * *
A dominant theme of Webb’s ministry is that Muslims can live faithful lives in contemporary America, and that they also have an obligation to participate — civically, culturally, and politically.
One of the first classes for the community at Webb’s fledgling educational institute is called Getting It Right. More than 200 people pack the Sunday night lectures, which emphasize balance, service, self-discipline, love.
Kamran Ahmed, a 24-year-old medical student, said Webb drew him to the mosque.
“It doesn’t become this abstract philosophical discussion,” he said. “It becomes this discussion of when this thing happened at work, or this thing happened at school, this is how the Prophet, peace be upon him, would have responded.”
The Ella Collins Institute — scheduled to begin training seminary students in the fall and named for Malcolm X’s older half-sister, an educator and civil rights activist who eventually became an orthodox Sunni — is Webb’s attempt to help answer a twofold problem facing America’s Muslim community. There are too few qualified imams, and those who are here tend to be immigrants trained overseas who have difficulty understanding the lives of American youth.
Amid teaching and ministering to the mosque community — 700 to 1,000 people show up for Friday prayers — Webb feeds content to his “virtual mosque” and tweets constantly.
The mosque has taken on new projects, like the development of a health care team, which assesses the needs of the congregation and the neighborhood around it, and offers screenings and referrals.
Webb also maintains a frantic pace on the speaking circuit; just before the bombings, he was the Muslim representative in a cordial interfaith discussion about American religion on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“You’re never here,” a teenager who came to his office hours one recent Friday lamented.
Home has offered little reprieve from the intensity. His wife and two school-age children are living in Malaysia for the next several years — in order, he says, to be closer to his in-laws and to expose the kids to Malaysian culture. Though they Skype twice a day, he is lonely without them.
The demands have been so great that, in early April, Webb said he thought he could last only about five years as an imam. After that, he said, he hoped to devote himself to the Ella Collins Institute.
And yet, in an interview on that quiet morning, Webb said he had fallen for Boston.
“My neighbors in Dorchester call me the eye-mamm,” he said, with a laugh. “I didn’t know about this whole, you have to move your car on Fridays [for street cleaning]. They come banging on my windows, ‘Eye-mamm, eye-mamm! You got to move your car!’ ”
“I feel it’s a cozy city,” he said. “It’s a cozy city.”
* * *
On Marathon Monday, Webb was in Detroit, where he had given a speech the night before. The text messages began — at first one or two, then “a waterfall.”
“Are you in Boston?” “Are you OK?” “Pray for Boston.”
“Im sad im not in Boston,” he tweeted that afternoon. “My heart is with you.”
And: “If any marathon runner needs a place to stay, my house is open.”
Flying home that night, Webb thought, along with so many other Boston Muslims: I hope it was not someone claiming to represent Islam.
The next day, the imam and his staff flew into action, planning a vigil, rallying volunteers, setting up trauma counseling. Upon learning later in the week that the bombing suspects were Muslims, Webb condemned the attacks, calling the suspects “criminals and enemies of society” and disassociating Islam from their acts.
At prayer times, Webb and his staff asked congregants to share with the FBI any information they had about the suspects and offered help with legal counsel if they needed it. Hate mail poured in — but so did letters of support, buoying Webb’s spirits.
Webb was disappointed, though, when, two days after the bombings, the governor’s office organized an interfaith service to be attended by President Obama. Webb says he was asked to speak, but he was removed from the program the night before.
The service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross featured the Roman Catholic archbishop, the Greek Orthodox hierarch, the rabbi of the city’s largest synagogue, and senior pastors of major African-American, Hispanic, and mainline Protestant churches.
Muslims were the only faith community not represented by a cleric. Instead, Nasser Weddady of the American Islamic Congress, a civil rights organization, offered a reflection. Webb was in the pews, as were several other prominent imams.
Webb said he was never given an explanation. The governor’s press office said, in an e-mail to the Globe, that organizers “were not able to accommodate everyone on the speaking program, but are proud of the speakers we had.”
Webb praised Weddady’s speech, but he was clearly stung. On Twitter, he told indignant community members to focus on honoring the victims; later, he said, the community could raise questions about the choice of speakers. He said the issue was not about him — there were other Muslim religious leaders, such as Imam Talal Eid, the widely respected Muslim chaplain at Brandeis University — who could have offered the reflection instead.
Meanwhile, Webb came under attack online; some Muslims asked why he would speak well of the president, whom they called a “war criminal.” Others questioned his quick condemnation of the bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers.
After he said publicly he would not pray over the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, some Twitter followers reproached him for refusing to bury the suspected terrorist’s body — even though, as Webb tried to explain, that was a different issue and in any case the mosque has no graveyard.
“I find it odd that people who claim to be so religious have the time to attack those working hard under duress,” Webb tweeted April 22.
The heightened focus on Boston’s Muslim community offered an opportunity for Charles Jacobs, a longtime critic of the cultural center and its sister mosque in Cambridge (they are both owned by the Islamic Society of Boston but run separately), to revive his allegations — picked up by USA Today — that the mosques are breeding grounds for hatred and extremism.
Writing in his column in the Jewish Advocate newspaper and on his website, Jacobs suggested that Webb was disinvited from speaking at the interfaith service because organizers feared he was an extremist. He charged that Webb was surreptitiously teaching a curriculum promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood that “teaches vicious hatred and calls for young Muslims to engage in Jihad against non-Muslims in order to establish a global Islamic state.”
“We think he is being publicly dishonest,” Jacobs said of Webb in an interview.
To the imam, the notion was ridiculous.
“I don’t have any private classes . . . where we meet in some bat cave and we lay out blueprints of how to conquer America,” he said.
The charge made just as little sense to outside observers. Todd Helmus, a senior behavioral scientist with the RAND Corporation who has worked extensively on counterterrorism, said Webb’s virtual mosque is one of the more active and influential Muslim voices against radicalism in the country.
“The problem isn’t Suhaib Webb. The problem is there aren’t more imams like Suhaib Webb,” he said.
And Diana Eck, a Harvard professor who teaches a case study of the saga of Jacobs and Boston’s mosques, said Jacobs’s argument that Webb and other moderate Muslims are operating a “stealth jihad” movement belies logic and evidence.
“For years, they were asking, ‘Where are the moderate Muslim voices?’ ” she said of Jacobs and his allies. “Now, we have a lot of moderate Muslim voices, and they are saying that these are the most dangerous people because they are involved in civic society.”
But Webb, in an apparent effort to project both transparency and strength, soon found himself drawn into a back-and-forth on Twitter with Jacobs and the reporter who wrote the USA Today piece — an unusual situation for a major spiritual leader but one that Webb says reflects his populist impulses.
“@DrCharlesJacobs is one of the greatest islamophobes in America,” Webb tweeted. “No one should take anything he has to say seriously.”
Pontiff avoids word Islam and nature of deaths as he makes saints of 800 killed by Ottoman Turks in 1480 for not converting
Pope Francis has canonised more than 800 15th-century martyrs who were killed after refusing to convert to Islam – a delicate and arguably unwelcome ecclesiastical move he inherited from his predecessor Benedict.
The "martyrs of Otranto", whose identities are largely unknown, were killed on a hill outside the south-east Italian town by Ottoman Turk invaders in 1480.
Along with two Latin American nuns, the they became the first saints to be proclaimed during Pope Francis's fledgling pontificate on Sunday, in a ceremony watched by tens of thousands in St Peter's Square in Vatican City.
"As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain the many Christians who, today and in many parts of the world, now, still suffer from violence, and to give them the courage to be devout and to respond to evil with good," said the pope in a homily that made no mention of Islam.
In an apparent attempt to avoid the move being interpreted as provocative, the Vatican said the martyrdom should be understood in "the historical context of the wars that determined relations between Europe and the Ottoman empire for a long period of time".
But that did not prevent Il Giornale, the Italian newspaper owned by Silvio Berlusconi's brother, to describe the martyrs as "victims of Islam" in a headline.
In a speech to diplomats at the Vatican days after his election as pontiff, Francis made clear his intention to smooth away the tensions that had marred some of Benedict's time as the head of the Roman Catholic church, speaking of the need for greater interfaith dialogue, particularly with Islam.
He raised conservative eyebrows by including a Muslim woman in a foot-washing ritual on Maundy Thursday.
As he spoke of the new saints on Sunday, the pope focused on the Otranto martyrs' commitment to Christianity rather than their rejection of Islam or the nature of their deaths.
Little is known of the individuals who were executed when they refused to convert, but they are believed to have all been men aged over 15. They are grouped together as the "companions" of Antonio Primaldo, thought to have been the first to die when, once the town had fallen to the Ottoman forces commanded by Gedik Ahmed Pasha after a 15-day siege, the men were given the choice of conversion or execution.
According to Pope John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the massacre, Primaldo declared: "We believe in Jesus Christ, son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die."
The date of these canonisations was announced by Pope Benedict at the same gathering with cardinals in February at which he announced his resignation, the first pontiff to do so in almost 600 years. One of his final wishes, therefore, was left to his successor to enact.
"Dear friends, let us keep the faith which we have received and which is our true treasure; let us renew our devotion to the Lord even in the midst of obstacles and misunderstandings," said Francis on Sunday.
In 2007, his predecessor had issued a decree recognising that the Otranto martyrs had been killed "out of hatred for their faith". Pope Benedict appeared determined to push through their canonisation, in December authorising the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree attributing a miracle to the intercession of the men – a crucial step towards sainthood.
His eight-year pontificate was not without interfaith frictions. In 2006 Benedict made a speech in Regensburg, Germany, that was interpreted by many as an attack on Islam. He said he had been misunderstood.Lizzy Davies
Last week Professor Stephen Hawking pulled out of a conference in Israel, reportedly as part of an academic boycott of Israeli institutions on the grounds of it operating an Apartheid-type regime against its Palestinian subjects. The decision prompted a number of Israeli sympathisers to reassess their views of Hawking from being a genius who triumphed over adversity to being a “stupid cripple” who should hurry up and die, or similar, but one Israeli law firm recommended that Hawking change the processor he uses in his tablet to communicate, namely the Intel Core i7 which is developed at an Intel base in Israel. There are a number of reasons why the demand represents the ignorance and bias of those making it.
The Intel Core i7 is a standard PC processor which runs standard PC software, and this chip architecture dominates the computer market except for most smartphones and tablets (which use ARM-designed chips) and some legacy server systems (which run on RISC chips designed by IBM, HP and others, now mostly defunct or taken over, in the 80s and 90s but which are largely being phased out). Its dominance is not due to its technical superiority but because of the dominance of the ‘Wintel’ hardware and software stack on the desktop from the 90s onwards, and the ‘Lintel’ stack in the server market. The last consumer computer maker to use other processors besides Intel’s (Apple) switched from IBM and Motorola PowerPC processors in the early 2000s to Intel, because IBM could not produce energy-efficient 64-bit processors for laptops. The latest major advance was in fact conducted by AMD in the early 2000s, which pioneered 64-bit PC technology before Intel, but Intel took that technology and ran with it and now makes the leading 64-bit PC processors.
I did a brief investigation of links between other chip makers and Israel in the early 2000s when looking into buying my Mac, after reading pro-boycott material that suggested using AMD processors which were, then, superior to Intel’s Pentium and discovered that AMD in fact also had investments in Israel. They invest there because it has a highly-educated population with a high proportion of immigrants from the USA and Europe who speak English or other European languages, and which has a substantial interest in developing high-tech security products. It’s virtually impossible to use any computer technology without using some that has links to Israel. This blog uses WordPress, which itself depends on PHP whose lead developer, Zeev Suraski, lives in Israel (although nobody has to pay to use it).
Of course, there are serious ethical objections to the political regimes in several of the other countries which contribute to the cheap technology we all enjoy, as well as the other cheap consumer goods — the lack of political freedom and rights to organise as workers in China, for example, and the minerals used in smartphones that come from war-ravaged parts of Africa, which often passes through the hands of armies which plunder and rape local populations. Some, like George Monbiot, will not use this technology for that reason, but George Monbiot is quite able to speak and to use his hands to type and write, and able to cycle so as to hand-deliver his missives if he so wishes — he is not almost completely paralysed like Hawking, or bedridden and unable to use a laptop or desktop computer and thus dependent on a smartphone or tablet as are some disabled people that I have read and written about here in the past.
Hawking has in fact visited Israel four times, and has visited a number of other countries with poor human rights records including China and Iran. Those countries are repressive across the board; Israel runs an Apartheid-type regime backed with a fair amount of dehumanising and racism which I have personally seen plenty of on pro-Israel blogs over the years. Its boycotting is entirely justified. This would not be the first time that such people have reminded critics of their racist policies of what they have done for them: I recall hearing a recording of Pik Botha, a minister under Apartheid in South Africa, telling the British that they had no business telling South Africans what to do with the natives there as South Africans had fought for them in the war. If Israel wants to be regarded as part of the “western club”, it should expect criticism of its open discrimination and brazen racism.
Image source: Wikipedia.
There’s a lot to say about how ideology and partisanship can prevent one from a fair analysis of events and contemporary issues.
It’s bizarre to see Charles Cooke telling Joy Reid that her point about slavery and by extension indentured servitude, Jim Crow (and much more) was a “cheap” point to make–he is just plain wrong that these “imperfections” were only 18th century problems.
I also wonder if Cooke recalls how European imperialism, including it’s British variant, conquered and colonized much of the world and did so with the Bible in one hand and a gun in the other?
On the “Arab Spring” and Islam Maher sounds like the neo-fascist Geert Wilders (maybe he agrees with his pal Sam Harris that ‘unfortunately the fascists speak most sensibly about Islam’) or the extremist Christian right-wing he is all too happy to berate as “intellectual inferiors.”
Where is the nuanced discussion regarding “Islamism?” Is Islamism the same in places such as Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt?
The show that Bill Maher himself produces, VICE, aired a segment showing the intense and daily opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) led government in Egypt by groups such as the “Black Bloc,” a group devoted to sabotaging what they view as the fascist right-wing MB, claiming as its adherents, “liberals, secularists and moderate Islamists.” The revolutionary situation is plainly more complicated than a simple Islamists vs. democrats dichotomy.
Finally, Glenn Greenwald came through as he usually does, not letting Bill Maher get away with his silly, blinkered boogeyman narrative that it’s all PC liberalism to not say Islam is an inherently and uniquely violent religion causing the most horror and violence in the world. Greenwald gave the example of the West Bank and the extremist Jewish settlers who justify land theft and persecution of Palestinians based on a perceived divine mandate. Greenwald also pointed towards the Crusade against Iraq that George W. Bush stated as having been the directive of God.
There are other examples that Greenwald could have added as well: the Serbian genocide against Bosnians, the intense Islamophobia of fundamentalist Hindu nationalism that accompanies the occupation of Kashmir and other areas of India, the horrific campaign against Burmese and Sri Lankan Muslims by Buddhists, etc.
It is an open question however if Greenwald will be asked to return to the show again. In the past when individuals have intelligently and effectively pushed back against Maher’s Islamophobia they usually haven’t been called back.
The HBO host has become a leading advocate of the view that Islam is uniquely violent and threatening. Does that hold up under critical scrutiny?
Last night I was on Bill Maher's HBO show "Real Time". There have always been numerous views of Maher's with which I agree. But he has become one of the most vocal and extreme advocates of the view that - while religion generally should be criticized - Islam is a uniquely threatening and destructive force and that Muslims are uniquely oppressive and violent, and that mentality has infected many of his policy views (see here and here for some comprehensive background; just two weeks ago, he had a fairly typical outburst on this topic). When I was scheduled to do the show, I was hoping that the opportunity would arise to debate these views (or that I could create the opportunity), and last night it did.
The resulting exchange, which was somewhat contentious and sustained for a show like this, can be seen on the recorder below. The segment begins at the 4:45 mark and our specific exchange begins a couple of minutes after that (the first segment on this video is a debate on whether Benghazi is now a "scandal" in light of newly released documents). Our exchange ends up, I believe, capturing the crux of this debate - which is essentially similar to the one I had recently with Sam Harris and friends - rather well:Glenn Greenwald
The decision by Professor Stephen Hawking to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel is a hugely courageous one and he deserves support for speaking out on the issue of Israeli apartheid – an issue on which too many people are afraid to speak out.
As Nick Davies observed in his splendid book about the UK media, Flat Earth News:
“…the most potent electric fence in the world is the one erected on behalf of the Israeli government.
“Journalists who write stories which offend the politics of the Israeli lobby are subjected to a campaign of formal complaints and pressure on their editors; most of all, they are inundated with letters and emails which can be extravagant in their hostility…
“The result is that some facts become dangerous: to report Palestinian casualties; to depict the Palestinians as victims of Israeli occupation; to refer to the historic ousting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes; to refer to the killing of Palestinian civilians by Zionist groups in the 1940s. The facts are there, but the electric fence will inflict pain on any reporter who selects them.”
Hawking has been in poor health for some time now. He is undoubtedly going to have pain inflicted on him as a result of breaking through the ‘electric fence’. The Times (where Daniel Finkelstein and the odious Oliver Kamm both hold senior editorial posts) yesterday published a disgraceful editorial belittling Hawking and describing his decision as ‘stupid’. Hawking will surely be remembered as someone who has done far more for improving our understanding of the world around us than either of those two little shits.
The best support we can give Hawking, is to join him in speaking out against Israel’s continuing racist and violent oppression of the occupied Palestinians. Just like South Africa, it’s apartheid policies will be it’s downfall.
Many of our politicians and much of our media may have been bought out by the Israel lobby. But they can’t buy all of us.
Hat-tip: Thanks to Jews Sans Frontieres for bringing my attention to the graphic which I nicked for this blog.