Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) told a conservative radio program this week that the Obama administration “bungled” the investigation of the Boston bombing due to internal guidance from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Think Progress article
It’s unclear what Panasenko was doing with the bombs on the train and at his home but I do know that there hasn’t been any discussion of Mykyta Panasenko’s religion or non-stop media attention behind his motivations and plans.
Hmmmm, I wonder why that is?Jersey City man charged with having explosives on train 8 days before Marathon bombings: cop
More than a week before three people were killed and more than 260 people were injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, a Jersey City man carried two homemade explosives on an NJ Transit train, authorities say.
Police also found explosive devices in the Newport Parkway home of Mykyta Panasenko, 27, Jersey City police said today. According to a criminal complaint, Panasenko is charged with having “two destructive devices, specifically improvised explosive devices (IEDs) constructed from a cylinder containing Pyrodex (black powder)” on April 5, the criminal complaint says.
He is also charged with recklessly creating widespread risk of injury or damage to a building which normally contains 25 or more persons by constructing the explosive devices, according to the charges filed by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port Authority Police Department.
The FBI did not return calls for more details and no one answered the door at Panasenko’s home this afternoon.
Although the arrest was made more than a week ago, it was not reported by authorities. The Jersey Journal learned about the incidents when Panasenko appeared in Central Judicial Processing court to hear the charges Wednesday.
Authorities also charged Panasenko with having two improvised explosive devises at 4 p.m. on April 7 aboard an NJ Transit train leaving Hoboken and bound for Suffern, N.Y., the complaint says.
Earlier this month the Jersey City Police Department’s Bomb Squad responded to the home of Panasenko after getting information from the New York Police Department and the FBI, Jersey City Police Deputy Chief Peter Nalbach said this afternoon.
Inside the residence police found “materials that may have been used to make an explosive device,” Nalbach said, adding that the information came from a tip provided by someone who knows Panasenko.
The complaint charging Panasenko with having explosive devices at his home was signed on April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, and the complaint charging him with having explosive devices on the train was signed on April 16.
A book endorsed last year by the Israel Defense Forces Rabbinate says the presence of non-Jews is no reason for an army base not to affix mezuzahs to its buildings.
One ruling on Jewish law in the book, “Laws of the Mezuzah,” states: “The idea that views non-Jews as having equal rights in the state goes against the opinion of the Torah, and no representative of the state is authorized to act against the will of the Torah.”
The book deals with questions about mezuzahs, which are fixed to doorposts by Jews as a sign of faith, on army bases, and was endorsed by the IDF’s chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. Rabbi Rafi Peretz.
One issue it discusses is whether or not mezuzahs need be installed in army bases, because rulings have been issued over the generations that in buildings where both Jews and Gentiles live, there is no obligation to put up a mezuzah, and in light of the fact that both Jews and non-Jews live on IDF bases.
The issue, according to the authors, is whether state property can be said to be a kind of a cooperative. In the latter case, “Even if we say state property is like a cooperative, since the public in general is Jewish, and in any case, as long as non-Jews have not purchased a part of the assets, they have no right to the state property.”
The authors cite biblical verses whose message is that, if a mezuzah is in a Gentile’s possession, there is the fear that “it will be desecrated.” The question thus arises: What should be done on military bases? The authors state, “As the owner, the military establishment must see to it that mezuzahs are installed in all dormitory rooms, including those where Gentile soldiers live.
Nevertheless, in places where there is the danger that the mezuzahs might be desecrated, the unit’s rabbi must see to it that the unit’s commanders sign the required form signifying that they are personally responsible for the mezuzahs so that they can be placed on trial should there be a need for doing so and so that the danger of the mezuzahs’ desecration can be prevented.”
The authors also address another issue: What is to be done with the mezuzahs on the buildings in a military base when a battalion of Gentile soldiers arrives to assume operational responsibility for the area? Their response: “If mezuzahs have been installed on a structure that has been transferred to the jurisdiction of Gentile officers, the rabbi’s unit must brief the soldiers on their arrival in the area regarding the importance of keeping the mezuzahs intact and must see to it that the unit’s commanders sign the required form signifying that they are personally responsible for the mezuzahs so that they can be placed on trial should there be a need for doing so.”
The chief editor of the book, which was published 14 months ago, is Col. Rabbi Eyal Karim, formerly of the Sayeret Matkal (the general staff’s elite special-operations force).
The book was written by three other rabbis, Capt. Alexander Rones, Capt. Dov Berkovich and Capt. Hananiah Shafran. The book also deals with the question of affixing a mezuzah to the door post of a dormitory used for female soldiers. “Must a mezuzah be installed in a dormitory where female soldiers live and can a senior female officer affix a mezuzah when a new building is officially opened on a military base?” it asks.
The book’s authors rule that is that the commandment regarding mezuzahs applies to females as well as males and that most rabbinical authorities have ruled that a woman is permitted to install a mezuzah. However, the authors point out, since IDF bases constitute a public area, “it would be preferable to be strict on this point” and to prohibit a senior female officer from installing a mezuzah.
The reason, they note, is that, as is it is written in the Book of Psalms, “All glorious is the king’s daughter within the palace” (45:14); thus, they write, “in a public area, it is much more suitable for a male to install the mezuzah.”
In response to a query on the book, the IDF spokesman’s office said: “The book ‘Laws of the Mezuzah’ is a clearly a book on Jewish law dealing with questions that are part of the daily reality in the army. Although the quotes presented are in response to specific questions, the answers cannot be viewed as relating to a specific group; the answer given is true for any unit in which there is concern the mezuzah will be disrespected.
via. Ugly Truth
By: Zana Alattar
77,777. Since the revolution has entered its third year, the number of recorded deaths in Syria has skyrocketed. At this point, life in Syria comes down to one thing – SURVIVAL.
But the Syrian people have not wavered.
“Freedom Until the Grave.” These words, spoken by the Syrian people, are not to be taken easily. The Syrian people have lived through generations in which the word freedom was left undefined.
Freedom was a virtue, not a right. Under the rule of an oppressive regime, freedom is what the government tells you it is. But now, through the Syrian revolution, they have defined the word 'Freedom'.
The Syrian people have defined freedom in their struggle:
77,777 Stories: The numbers take form, but do the faces behind those numbers ever form? These 77,777, each have a story, whether it's a love story, a childhood memory, or of a family member that they held dear. Yet 77,777 is merely a number in an article, on Facebook status, as part of a statistics. 77,777 does not show the strength within the struggle.
The strength of the Syrian people lies with the mother whose son left the house to protest peacefully and returned with a bullet through his heart.
The strength of the Syrian people lies with the college student at the University whose blood flowed over the pages of his final exams.
The strength of the Syrian people lies with the father who was killed while waiting in line for bread to take home to his starving family.
The strength of the Syrian people lies with the orphaned infant whose cries cannot be heard over the government bombs that are hitting his home.
The strength of the Syrian people cannot be embodied in a number.
77,777 Revolutionists: As the numbers form, the word freedom is defined. As the numbers form, the Syrian people begin to truly understand what it means to be free. As the numbers form, people all around the world question why. Why is there such turmoil in Syria? But as the numbers form, the Syrian people stop questioning. As the numbers form, they realize why.
The 77,777. That's why. They continue this fight for freedom in honor of those who saw freedom, believed in it, and died trying to grasp it.
Don't ask why, ask how? Ask how people all around the world can help Syrians define the word freedom. Ask how a revolutionist gave up his life, what we think is so dear, for the one thing we all should know is most dear, freedom. Ask how the world has let the number rise to 77,777.
This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss the relationship between Zionism and Islamophobia. The impetus for this series is what many have already observed:
1.) Islamophobic polemics within trends of Zionism, the preponderance of Zionists within the Islamophobia movement, the usage of Israeli state symbols and the symbiotic relationship between anti-Muslim groups in the USA and Israel are a present-day reality.
2.) There is a confused and malformed understanding amongst some individuals of Zionism on the one hand and its relationship to Islamophobia. Zionism is not understood in its proper historical context: Why did it form? How has it evolved? What is its effect on Jewish and world history? What is its relationship with the ‘other’?
Some who are confronted with the present day reality of Zionist Islamophobia are in denial of its very existence while others propose answers to the aforementioned questions not based on facts but rather emotional, even hysterical inaccuracies and conspiracies.
The Zionist relationship with Islamophobia enmeshes the discussion of racism, nationalism, human rights and the liberation struggle of Palestinians. It will be the task of this series to clarify these concepts and provide a much-needed dose of realism to any analysis of the subject, beyond the histrionics that can at once serve as a distraction and muddle our conscience.
Initial Encounters with Islam and Muslims
“[T]he Zionist view of Palestine has always considered all Palestinians without regard to class, creed, or locations, as bodies either to be removed or ignored (if possible); and on the other hand, that the Palestinian opposition to Zionist settler-colonialism was a national struggle, enlisting, as it did, segments of political life (in various complex ways of course).” (Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims by Edward W. Said, p.10)
The quote from Edward Said accentuates an obvious truth that is important for us to comprehend from the outset: Zionists could care less what creed Palestinians followed. Ever since the publication of Theodor Herzl‘s (1860-1904) Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) and the First Zionist Congress (1897) Zionists have organized their collective energy on colonizing the land of Palestine, then a territory under Ottoman control.
The fact that a majority of Palestinians followed Islam was generally inconsequential to Zionist aims. Indeed, if the majority of Palestinians had been Hindu we may very well be discussing Zionism and Hinduphobia today.
While it is true that Zionists were not concerned with Islam as such it is vital to investigate what the early ideologues of modern Zionism had to say about Islam and Muslims; at the very least noting to what extent this has a bearing on how contemporary Zionists relate to Islam and how this relationship has developed over the years.
A necessary overview of the history of Zionism will be the subject of the next article in this series but suffice it to say that Zionism formed in the milieu of 19th century European nationalism, in the heyday of Imperialism, Colonialism–and renewed Antisemitism. Considering that Zionism was a product of 19th century Europe, it is reasonable to presume, and has served as the thesis of several historians that the Orientalist worldview with its inherent biases and prejudices pervaded the Zionist view as well.
Influence of the Jewish Golden Age
One important caveat is that there was amongst 19th century Jews Islamophile trends and a recognition of a Jewish Golden Age under Muslim rule, particularly in medieval Andalusia. Jewish historians such as the early Zionist Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891) were prominent advocates of an idealized version of the Jewish Golden Age, a history that Graetz and others used to serve as a rebuke to the Christian European treatment of Jews.
In this regard there is a glimpse into the attitude of the most pivotal leader of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, a mercurial figure whose tactics in the Ottoman Empire were well known. One would think his interaction with the Sublime Porte (the seat of Ottoman authority) would reveal much in the way of his view on Islam and Muslims, however it does not.
It is in Herzl’s Utopian novel titled, Altneuland,(Old-New Land), that we see some semblance of his views on the subject. Herzl portrayed the Arab characters such as Rashid Bey in a patronizing manner, characterizing them as being grateful to the Jewish immigrants for the “immense benefit” they have brought to the land’s Arab residents. In an echo to Graetz’s work we see Herzl describing Bey as regaling visitors to the land on the “tolerance demonstrated by the Arabs toward Jewish immigration, in the best tradition of Muslim society, which was always more tolerant of the Jews than Christian Europe.”
Another anecdote highlights that the Golden Age views were also imparted on the likes of a young Yigal Allon Paicovitch (1918-1980). In a biography on Allon’s life we are told that Allon viewed Christianity with suspicion, as an age-old persecutor of the Jewish people whereas he did not have similar “misgivings” about Islam and Muslims,
“In Allon’s imagination the Crusades were so tied to the Inquisition that when he traveled to Nazareth with his father he was careful not to bend down near a church lest it be understood as kneeling before the cross. He had no such misgivings about Islam, having learned in school that Muslims were tolerant of Jews, with the emphasis on Spain’s Golden Age.” (Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography by Anita Shapira p.33)
Allon who would later become the commander of the Haganah’s Palmach (strike force) between 1945-1948. During the 1948 war, he commanded several military operations (i.e. Operation Yiftah, Dani, and Yoav), and he became famous for being one of the engines behind cleansing the most populated Palestinian areas (i.e. Lydda, Ramla, Safad, Hebron hills, Faluja pocket).
Palestinian Muslims: the descendants of ancient Hebrew farmers
David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), one of the ‘founding fathers of Israel’ was a hawkish advocate of the dispossession and expulsion of Palestinian Arabs, who stated, “We must expel Arabs and take their places.” (Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs: From Peace to War by Shabti Zeveth, p.189)
Interestingly, in Ben-Gurion’s On the Origin of the Falahin he held the view, to be repeated later in his life (in a letter to Charles De Gaulle), that Palestinian Muslim farmers were descendants of ancient Hebrew farmers and that “much Jewish blood flows in their veins.” He describes Palestinian embrace of Islam as a “travesty of [the] times,”
The agricultural community that the Arabs found in Eretz Israel in the 7th century was none other than the Hebrew farmers that remained on their land despite all the persecution and oppression of the Roman and Byzantine emperors. Some of them accepted Christianity, at least on the surface, but many held on to their ancestral faith and occasionally revolted against their Christian oppressors. After the Arab conquest, the Arabic language and Muslim religion spread gradually among the countrymen. In his essay “Ancient Names in Palestine and Syria in Our Times,” Dr. George Kampmeyer proves, based on historico-linguistic analysis, that for a certain period of time, both Aramaic and Arabic were in use and only slowly did the former give way to the latter. The greater majority and main structures of the Muslim falahin in western Eretz Israel present to us one racial strand and a whole ethnic unit, and there is no doubt that much Jewish blood flows in their veins—the blood of those Jewish farmers, “lay persons,” who chose in the travesty of times to abandon their faith in order to remain on their land. (Leverur Motsa Ha’Falahim, Luach Achiezer, pp. 118-27, reprinted in Anachnu U’Shcheneinu, pp. 13-25.)
There is an apparent contradiction in Ben-Gurion’s statement that Arabic and Islam spread gradually and that Jewish farmers embraced Islam “in order to remain on their land.” The former implies a conscious and free conversion over a period of time and the latter forced conversion. Ben-Gurion’s 1967 letter to De Gaulle would indicate that he advocated the idea of forced conversion.
In either case, Ben-Gurion’s statement is highly interesting in light of the work of Israeli historian Shlomo Sand,
Countering official Zionist historiography, Sand questions whether the Jewish People ever existed as a national group with a common origin in the Land of Israel/Palestine. He concludes that the Jews should be seen as a religious community comprising a mishmash of individuals and groups that had converted to the ancient monotheistic religion but do not have any historical right to establish an independent Jewish state in the Holy Land. In short, the Jewish People, according to Sand, are not really a “people” in the sense of having a common ethnic origin and national heritage. They certainly do not have a political claim over the territory that today constitutes Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.
Sand’s work also concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were the ancient Jews.
This raises numerous questions: if Ben-Gurion held that many of the “Muslim falahin” were descendants of indigenous Jews why didn’t this factor into his ideology and how did he square this with advocating their expulsion? According to his own ideology aren’t Palestinians more entitled to live in their ancient homeland than European settlers? Do not the Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their homeland?
One can also see the kind of disdain which Ben Gurion held for the “spirit of the Levant” in popular views that he and many fellow Zionists expressed in regard to “Eastern/Sephardic Jews,”
Ben Gurion…described the Sephardi immigrants as lacking even “the most elementary knowledge” and “without a trace of Jewish or human education.” Ben Gurion repeatedly expressed contempt for the culture of the Oriental Jews: “We do not want Israelis to become Arabs. We are in duty bound to fight against the spirit of the Levant, which corrupts individuals and societies, and preserve the authentic Jewish values as they crystallized in the Diaspora.”…Ben Gurion who called the Moroccan Jews “savages” at a session of a Knesset Committee, and who compared Sephardim, pejoratively (and revealingly), to the Blacks brought to the United States as slaves, at times went so far as to question the spiritual capacity and even the Jewishness of the Sephardim. (Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victims by Ella Shohat, p.4-5)
Imagine, if these were Ben Gurion’s views about the “Oriental Jew,” how much more magnified was his animus towards native Arabs and Muslims?
Exorcising the Islamic Soul From Palestine
Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky (1880-1940) the founder of the Revisionist movement within Zionism was perhaps the most explicitly unabashed and hawkish modern Zionist proponent of colonialism, racism and expulsion; central subjects in many of his writings and speeches. Jabotinsky is most famous for his exposition of the “Iron Wall” ideology that no compromise with the Palestinians was possible. Revisionism would eventually spawn the Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists which made names for themselves by using terrorism against innocent civilians.
Lenni Brenner, writing in 1984 noted that Revisionism, once considered the lunatic fringe of Zionism “is now the dominant ideological tendency in present-day Zionism.” (The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism From Jabotinsky to Shamir by Lenni Brenner)
I would argue that this holds true today as well (and add Religious Zionism is on the rise), as we have seen with the administrations of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, and high profile politicians such as Avigdor Lieberman and others.
Jabotinsky’s views were quite emphatic in their degradation of Arab society, especially Muslim society: here he responds in a vitriolic manner to Max Nordau’s (1849-1923) statement that Muslims and Jews share a kinship,
“When he [Jabotinsky] approached Nordau during the war about the establishment of a Jewish legion which was to fight against the Turks, he was told, ‘But you cannot do that, the Muslims are kin to the Jews, Ishmael was our uncle.’ ‘Ishmael is not our uncle’ Jabotinsky replied. ‘We belong thank God, to Europe and for two thousand years have helped to create the culture of the west.’” (A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel by Walter Laqueur, p. 228)
In his famous “Iron Wall,” Jabotinsky alludes to his belief in the deficient “spirituality” of Palestinian Arabs,
“Culturally they are 500 years behind us, spiritually they do not have our endurance or our strength of will” (Iron Wall by Jabotinsky)
A theme in Jabotinsky’s views is his emphasis that Jewishness is opposed to the East and a “part of the West,” (of course he is speaking only of European and American Jews and completely ignoring Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews), he also alludes to Islam as some sort of demonic spirit that must be exorcized from “Eretz-Yisrael,”
“We Jews, thank God, have nothing to do with the East. . . . The Islamic soul must be broomed out of Eretz-Yisrael. . . . [Muslims are] yelling rabble dressed up in gaudy, savage rags.” (Expulsion of the Palestinians by Nur Masalha, p.29)
Anti-Judaism as Anti-Islam
Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943), one the founders of Brit Shalom, was a proponent of warped racial theories and eugenics who despite his bi-national views still supported the expulsion or in the euphemism of his day “transfer” of Palestinians. Ruppin, like many of his peers and contemporaries was very severe in his criticism of traditional Judaism. In Ruppin’s view Judaism’s main fault is that it is “similar to Islam,” in that it is supposedly anti-intellectual, opposed to criticism and modern science.
Ruppin explained the success of Hassidut as a result of the hard material conditions of the Jews in Eastern Europe: “The spiritual energy of the Jewish people created an imaginary world when the real world was lost to him.” This was the reason the Jews took refuge in the mysticism and superstition offered them by the Hassidic Rabbis.
As already mentioned, Ruppin’s views concerning the Jewish religion were identical to those of Haeckal and Bismark regarding Catholic clericalism. Ruppin, indeed, saw a similarity between Judaism and Catholicism since both of them he believed, were based on prayer, and from that concluded that, like Catholicism, Judaism was still anthropomorphic. However, the most important fault he saw in Judaism was its similarity to Islam. Jewish Orthodoxy and Islam had the same type of faith, a “blind faith,” which did not permit any critical doubts and rejected all the discoveries of modern science. These characteristics differentiated them from “the protestant skeptic type of faith of our times.” What defined the Jewish worldview, according to Ruppin, was its lack of skepticism, its fear of any doubt and its inability to cope with conflicting thoughts: “As soon as he begins to doubt, his fate is sealed, his secession from orthodoxy is a necessary result. The skeptic will never more be a pious Jew.” (Arthur Ruppin and the Production of Pre-Israeli Culture by Etan Bloom p. 79)
These views are, to say the least, overly simplistic and presumptuous, disregarding the variegated and complex nature of both Judaism and Islam.
Judah Leon Magnes
Judah Leon Magnes (1877-1948), a prominent American born Reform Rabbi, was a life-long pacifist, proponent of a bi-national state and vocal critic of attempts to create an exclusive “Jewish state.” Towards the end of his life, in 1948, he withdrew from the AJJDC for ignoring his plea to help Palestinian refugees.
Rabbi Magnes no doubt wrote the following with good intentions,
“It is in derogation of the actual importance of the living Jewish people and of Judaism to place them on one side of the scale and have it balanced by the relatively unimportant Arab community of Palestine. The true parallels and balancing forces are Jews and Judaism on the one side, and the Arab peoples and even all of Islam on the other. In this way you get a truer perspective of the whole and you increase the significance of Palestine as being that point where in this new day Judaism meets Islam again throughout all its confines, as once they met centuries back to the ultimate enrichment of human culture.” (Like other Nations? retrieved from The Zionist Idea ed. by Arthur Hertzberg p.447)
Magnes attempts to relay a hopeful and positive vision of the future in which Judaism and Islam meet together “to the ultimate enrichment of human culture,” but one cannot help but also note the glaring condescension towards Palestinians, crassly described as the “relatively unimportant Arab community of Palestine.”
Religious elements, both Orthodox and Reform were generally late to join the political Zionist caravan which was led mostly by secular and non-religious Jews. In time however the religious sects would, with notable exceptions, reconcile themselves to Zionism through compromise and accommodation with the state of Israel.
Instrumental in this process was the main ideologue of modern Religious Zionism, Rabbi Abraham Itzhak Kook (1865-1935).
“Kook saw Zionism as a part of a divine scheme which would result in the resettlement of the Jewish people in its homeland. This would bring salvation (“Geula”) to Jews, and then to the entire world. After world harmony is achieved by the refoundation of the Jewish homeland, the Messiah will come.”
Historically Judaism’s relationship with Islam and attitude towards Muslims has been unique. Maimonides formulated the decisive majority opinion that Islam like Judaism was definitely a monotheistic faith, this had all sorts of repercussions for Halacha (Jewish law). For instance Jews could worship in a mosque whereas they could not worship in a church, Jews could take benefit from wine handled by a Muslim whereas they could not by a Christian.
While Islam was viewed as special this should not mislead us into the relativist belief that Judaism advanced some sort of Perennialist theology. Indeed, like all religions Judaism in its Orthodox form is exclusivist, especially when it comes to the ‘Promised Land.’
In fact there are sources within Orthodox Judaism that can be used to dehumanize the non-Jew, to view and treat the non-Jew as inferior and unequal. We have witnessed many such cases in the past few decades with the rise and expansion of extremist Jewish fundamentalism in Israel.
Early modern Religious Zionists were not immune from expressing such racist views. Rabbi Kook has been quoted as saying that the souls of non-Jews are inferior “in all different levels” to that of Jews. (Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel by Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, p. xix)
In the wrong hands such attitudes can reinforce the mentality and culture that produces and celebrates terrorists such as Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir, that offers no compromise when it comes to dismantling and evicting settlements and reaching a just solution to apartheid occupation.
I believe it is appropriate lastly to cite Yitzhak Epstein (1862-1943), one of the few Zionists who was a Palestinian. Epstein lived with Bedouins for eight months, an experience that led him to publish two books in Hebrew on Bedouins. At the same time he worked in intelligence gathering for the Jewish Agency Political Department and became a leading “Arab specialist.”
Epstein uttered what I believe are prophetic words regarding his belief that Zionists must reconcile themselves to the “peoples of Islam.”
“We must reconcile ourselves to all the peoples of Islam; if we don’t we are lost.” (Palestine Jewry and the Arab Question by Neil Caplan)
If one were to ask if such a reconciliation has been reached today the question would be treated as rhetorical, as present day circumstances reveal the answer to be a resounding “no.” The question is why is this the case? Why are so many Zionists today violently opposed to Islam and Muslims, in fact holding onto the belief and strategy of a war with Islam? (This will be answered in a future article in this series).
This article has not exhausted the topic of the initial encounters between modern Zionism, Islam and Muslims, for instance I have not discussed the work of Zionist authors such as Moshe Smilansky (1874-1953) who wrote a number of novels involving Arabs and Muslims. It does however uncover what I feel are fairly representative views from a wide spectrum of currents; Socialist, Revisionist and Religious–including very influential leaders of Zionism.
It is helpful in the context of the period discussed in this article to speak about Zionism in relationship to the paradigm of Orientalism, in fact there is a wealth of historical literature on this topic over the past few decades. The imagination of Zionist literature, film, ideology and political policy has been infused with Orientalisms of one variety or another from the very beginning,
“Several writers on Israel and its neighbors have suggested in recent years ways to apply Edward Said’s fascinating thesis on the connection between Orientalism as a profession and deep-seated anti-Islamic attitudes in the West in general. Aziza Khazum has shown how the history of the Jewish people in modern times can fruitfully be described as a continuous series of “Orientalizations,” that is, an elite trying to block the advance of an upcoming minority group by dubbing it “Oriental,” meaning devoid of “real” culture and hence not worthy of equal treatment. Ella Shohat has applied the same idea to the history of early Zionist films, where the Arab is depicted as a brutal and cultureless creature whose objection to Zionism lacks rational grounding. Said himself first analyzed Orientalism as a cultural outgrowth of the West and then started to apply that idea to the Zionist venture itself.” (Zionism, Orientalism and the Palestinians by Haim Gerber, p.1)
I have not in any depth covered the deep racism against the indigenous Palestinian Arabs, seeking to separate that out from views regarding Islam and Muslims; at times it is not possible, as the two are interwoven. What we have then are attitudes that comport to well known bigoted Orientalist racism, stereotypes, prejudices, and a few romanticized notions of the ‘other.’
The view of many of the early leading Zionists is a reaffirmation of the presumed ontological distinction between West and East, i.e. that the very being of Western Jews is essentially different than that of the Palestinian Arabs and Muslims.
Satellite helps connect refugee children across the Middle East.
WSJ Op-Ed Pushes Controversial NYPD Surveillance Of American Muslims
Fox News contributor Judith Miller wrote a highly speculative Wall Street Journal op-ed that claimed New York City police surveillance practices “may well have… prevented” the Boston bombing, ignoring that the constitutionality of these programs is currently being challenged in court and their efficacy is questioned.
In the April 24 op-ed, Miller lauded the New York Police Department (NYPD) for its blanket surveillance of American Muslim communities, which has extended beyond the jurisdiction of New York City. According to Miller, this extensive spying program “is a model of how to identify and stop killers like the Tsarnaev brothers before they strike” and should be emulated by other cities. From the WSJ:
[T]he city has developed a counterterror program that is a model of how to identify and stop killers like the Tsarnaev brothers before they strike. The 1,000 cops and analysts who work in the NYPD’s intelligence and counterterrorism divisions, for instance, would likely have flagged Tamerlan Tsarnaev for surveillance, given Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s insistence on aggressively monitoring groups and individuals suspected of radicalization.
The NYPD maintains close ties to Muslim preachers and community leaders, as well as a network of tipsters and undercover operatives.
Once the department had Tamerlan under surveillance, the NYPD’s cyberunit might have detected his suspicious online viewing choices and social-media postings. Other detectives might have picked up his purchase of a weapon, gunpowder and even a pressure cooker–an item featured in an article, “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” in the online al Qaeda magazine Inspire.
Even if the NYPD hadn’t been watching Tamerlan, it might have been tipped off to such suspicious purchases thanks to its Nexus program. Since the program’s launch in 2002, the department has visited more than 40,000 businesses in the metropolitan area, encouraging business owners and managers to report suspicious purchases or other activities potentially related to terrorism.
These surveillance programs – like other aspects of NYPD’s aggressive policing - are currently beingchallenged in court. But Miller ignored claims that the spying unconstitutionally profiles American Muslims, interferes with freedom of religion rights under the First Amendment, and violates a court order that attempts to ensure surveillance focuses on illegal activity.
Furthermore, although she mentions it won a Pulitzer Prize, Miller completely ignores the substance of an Associated Press series critical of these programs. The AP’s award-winning reporting on the NYPD’s surveillance unearthed multiple details that undermine Miller’s narrative. For example:
This AP coverage led to lawsuits filed over the programs’ constitutionality and public grievances by state and federal officials worried about the unsupervised reach and nature of these NYPD surveillance efforts.
Yet this is arguably a separate issue from whether the programs actually work to prevent terrorist attacks, which Miller highlights as worthy of a “fresh look” across the country. That is, some say the potential illegality of this widespread and indiscriminate surveillance of American Muslims is irrelevant if its utility is worth breaking from American tradition and law. But according to AP’s reporting, this too is questionable, as the core of the surveillance program “never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.” From the AP:
In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department’s secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday.
The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.
Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism. And if police ever got a tip about, say, an Afghan terrorist in the city, they’d know where he was likely to rent a room, buy groceries and watch sports.
But in a June 28 deposition as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said none of the conversations the officers overheard ever led to a case.
Update: We just received a statement from Hunter Todd about the event in which he confirms that he did search the backpack of a woman because she was wearing a hijab and says he had to do it to protect his audience. Find his entire statement at the end of this post.
Last weekend marked the end of the 46th annual WorldFest. The film festival, third oldest in North America, bills itself as a “competitive International Film Festival” and lists as part of its mission/vision statement a desire to “add to the rich cultural fabric of the city of Houston.” The actions last Saturday of festival founder/CEO Hunter Todd would appear to show that every vision has its limits.
According to a widely distributed blog entry by writer Amanda Rudd, which quoted a Facebook post by the author’s brother, Todd insisted on searching the bag of a Muslim student (and only her bag) when a fire alarm went off at one of the “master classes” he was introducing at the Westchase Marriott. When asked why he was searching the student’s bag, Todd responded, “[B]ecause she is a Muslim and a suspicious character, now sit down.”
Mike Rudd, the student who confronted Todd writes in his Facebook post:
Before the morning seminar at WorldFest this morning, everyone was gathered in the seminar room for the lectures start when the hotel’s fire alarm went off. The founder and director of WorldFest, Hunter Todd, told everyone to stay in the room before he went to a Muslim UH student and classmate of mine, and demanded to search her bag. She tried to show him her pass to prove she was supposed to be there, but he demanded to search every single pocket of her bag anyway. I’d like to add he did so with a great deal of rudeness and attitude. She complied and showed him the her bag, after this he walked off and didn’t ask to search any of the dozens of other bags in the room.
Another student at the seminar, who prefers to remain anonymous, pointed out the student in question was wearing a hijab and niqab, and added:
He demanded to search her bag, even after she had shown him her VIP Gold Pass to the festival. This young woman was also a University of Houston student, and she complied with Todd’s request. She started with the back pocket, then he rudely and condescendingly said “There’s another zipper.” She showed him the contents of her entire backpack while I watched, stunned. Afterwards, he walked back to the front of the room without questioning or addressing anyone else in the crowded seminar.
Rudd, apparently alone among those in attendance, objected to Todd’s behavior. Todd’s response (according to the other student):
“You’re the kind of person I hate the most – an obnoxious little bastard. Now sit down or I’ll have you thrown out.” Rudd answered, “All right, that’s fine,” and pulled out his phone to call our professor for advice. Todd freaked out, lunged at Rudd, grabbed him with both hands and tried to take his phone.
Rudd states at this point he left the room to avoid further escalation. His next step was to call WorldFest and lodge an official complaint about Todd’s behavior. The phone was answered by a woman named Kathleen, but the conversation quickly went south. Again, according to Rudd:
I told her I was calling to file a complaint about a racial incident involving their founder and director and asked her what her position was at WorldFest. Ignoring this, she asked my name. I told her I would not give my name until she told me what position she held. More rudely she said “you called us now tell me your name”. I told her that in this situation I would not give her my name or any info when I did not know who I was talking with. This is when she yells loudly in the the phone “TELL ME YOUR NAME RIGHT NOW!”
Rudd says he hung up and started contacting members of the press about the incident. “Kathleen” may be Kathleen Haney-Todd, WorldFest’s program director and wife of Hunter Todd.
As of this writing, Todd has not responded to emails asking for a comment. WorldFest’s Twitter account (@worldfest) has been silent since 10:21 AM Saturday. Curious, considering Sunday was the last day of the festival, marked by the annual Consular Regatta at the Houston Yacht Club.
As a member of the Houston film community, I’m not sure which depresses me more: that the man in charge of an allegedly “international” film festival is capable of an act of such obvious xenophobia and religious profiling, or that out of a class of over 50 people, only one person stood up to challenge him.
Update: When we first heard back from Hunter Todd, he complained that we hadn’t given WorldFest sufficient coverage this year and questioned why we would highlight something like this. He also said he would get back to us with a statement later in the day. This is his latest statement to us:
We are running a film festival, not constantly checking Email and FaceBook… we have a very small staff and are totally involved in producing a fine film festival… what are you attempting to do, destroy me and/or the film festival?
This entire episode is insane… After a false evacuation alarm… and the appearance of a single individual Hijab (eye slit only) clad individual without any friends, sitting up front in the room… I was only concerned for the safety of our many guests.. she was carrying a large dark backpack that was heavy and fully loaded… upon a brief inspection, it turned out to be 3-4 water bottles… I was extremely polite and thanked her after the 60-second interchange… there was nothing else to it. This entire issue has been created by the Rudd individual.
Mr. Rudd either has some perverse agenda or is highly misguided. He refused to talk with me later outside the seminar room… he seemed to want to have it out – right there and right then. He refused two request to step aside, rudely confronting me with angry accusations and outburst. I was only trying to start the delayed seminar.
I was referring to your lack of interest in the film festival, until something unpleasant comes along. I will long remember how you have treated me and the festival. Mr. Rudd is being quite disingenuous. He has never mentioned the complete circumstances.
Speaking as though we have already met,
Realising that every time that our eyes meet,
In the puddles where our tears and the skies’
Collide with the earth,
You blink and I wince with your pain,
Because your eyes – are mine,
And you keep painting these word across my page,
As if your thoughts are mine.
We weave these words,
Into the tapestry of life,
As though this is art,
Not knowing that the age old pheran,
My father holds at home,
Handed down 10 generations – at least,
Carries the same name,
That you and I ache to utter,
The one that ties you to I.
We touch hearts with our pages,
Encrypted in tears and ink,
Painting the same strokes of blood,
That today unwillingly caress our soil,
Smashing to pieces hearts, no longer fragile,
Though they tremble – like you and I.
Your eyes meet mine from across the globe,
Every time that these words arise,
Tugging at the thread that ties you to I.
We burn in the same fire of love and loss,
Always having lived where nothing resides.
And we build bridges of hope between worlds,
Engulfed by smoke and storms,
Where there is nothing that brings peace – like the rain,
As it soothes souls in our piece of heaven.
And we walk on, overlooking it all – converging,
Where only you and I could meet.
Like the valleys of the motherland,
We will rise, but only if we are together.
So meet me between the words and syllables,
Lining this page – You know I await your presence,
In the calm that resonates within the storm.
Because in the second before the wave reaches the shore,
Our thoughts collide and our souls will meet once more.
If there is any hate in my dear Boston, it is for the politicians and pundits who would sow discord in this city of immigrants
Boston's immigration story is too nuanced to speak about in definitive terms. Media scandalmongers essentialising Boston's vast immigrant community in light of the Boston Marathon bombings is as nonsensical as gossipy, self-obsessed pundits blaming rap artists for inner-city crime and Marilyn Manson for youth violence.
I write this knowing that the United States is a different place now than it was at this time two weeks ago. The United States has suffered from another devastating terrorist attack, this time in my hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.
Boston is a small city. So, in our case, it is not a matter of the average Bostonian knowing someone who knows someone affected by the events of last week. This has been way more personal.
Every Bostonian who said that last week was "the worst week ever" wasn't kidding. In my case, I grew up with marathoners who narrowly escaped the finish line explosions. I know countless people, including myself, who attended the marathon with their families and were nearby when the explosions took place.
I know people, too, who participated in the heroic rescue efforts. And I know locals who went to the same boxing club as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and others who interacted with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the Cambridge school system.
I live in Dorchester and intimately know the community grieving the loss of precious eight-year-old Martin Richard. Every single friend and family member of mine living across the Boston area sat through last Friday's city-wide lockdown. On top of it, we all know someone who lives in Watertown. Everybody here is sad.
True to Boston's multicultural character, the bombings added another layer for many other Bostonians in our collective experience. The day after the lockdown, my friends and I had an interaction with a Hispanic man on the MBTA. He looked terrified. He told us that he wanted to shave off his beard knowing it could possibly make him look like the wrong type of immigrant.
In an instant, I stopped being able to recognise Boston. On top of it, there were soldiers patrolling through the familiar streets.
As soon as Bostonians began to breathe after the lockdown, the media began their magic: knocking at the doors of local mosques demanding to know what role it had played in Tamerlan Tsarnaev's radicalisation. Other media outlets began reporting hate crimes already taking place against Muslims in Boston. I found it particularly distressing to see an article published by Gawker titled "This Is What It's Like to Be a Muslim in Boston Right Now" and see the familiar faces of the local Muslim youth published in it.
I write all this knowing that, in the face of the mainstream media narrative, I as a Bostonian Muslim can't say much that will carry much weight next to the likes of New York Republican Congressman Peter King who is now calling for even heavier measures to be placed on American Muslim communities; or of a New York state senator, Greg Ball, who claims torture is an acceptable method to gather possible intelligence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. To say that it is a little scary to be a Muslim in America right now is, at best, an understatement.
At the same time, I feel compelled to tell everybody in the world that a different side of Boston came to surface promptly in the midst of this great tragedy: my many non-Muslim friends have given me their unequivocal love and support. I showed up to work an emotional basket case at the beginning of this week, in one of my worst professional moments.
It was raining on my commute in and I clutched a Dunkin Donuts coffee and an egg and cheese bagel (without the sausage, naturally) that had both gone cold. I walked into the building anxious that everybody would be looking at me differently and that I might even be at risk of losing my job in the foreseeable future. I felt completely out of my skin.
Not knowing how to interact with my colleagues, I took a seat in the canteen. My boss happened to be around. I can't explain where this instinct to offload on her in that moment came from. But I'm glad I did. I had just come out of this terrible week and I needed an ear – and like a fellow Bostonian, my boss hugged me and she cried with me.
She admitted that while she hadn't realised that I might be dealing with this added layer, she made sure to make me feel like I belonged, and, most importantly, that I feel safe. For the rest of the day, my colleagues came to me telling me that they were worried about me.
Why I was surprised by this interaction with my boss, I have no idea, because this is our small-city attitude: we take care of our own. Long before the marathon bombings, many Bostonians were well aware of the ugliness of racism and have been speaking out against Islamophobia. Boston is a city where reactionary racism has no place.
For as long as I've known her, my beloved friend from Southie has been waiving her finger in the air, hollering and promising me: "If somethin' ever happens to you, your family, or your community, I'm gonna go fuckin' NUTS!!" She is still standing by my side.
The vigil held at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Centre was attended by several local faith communities, Occupy activists, and my dear friends who all wanted to show their solidarity. People in Boston won't tolerate the hate crimes. In our very fragile moment, countless instances have already given me a sense of safety. Even in the midst of this crisis, I feel protected.
I can't consider it pure chance that overlooking the Boston Marathon finish line, the insignia on the Boston Public Library asserts:
The Commonwealth Requires the Education of the People as the Safeguard of Order and Liberty.
This is the collective experience of us as Bostonians, a city made up of immigrants from all around the world: South and Central America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many of our forefathers came to this beautiful city for education and opportunity – and found it. We are a city that is good to our immigrants, because our immigrants are good to us. Multiculturalism is our everyday norm – and as beautifully demonstrated by my friends and my boss, should be our national model.
I now understand how Massachusetts "invented" America. And I hope we continue to set the national precedent. It is the responsibility of the entire country right now, including the media, in our time of crisis to not only help safeguard us from the violent threat of terrorism in the future, but to also help us safeguard and protect our local culture and custom here in Boston. I want Americans to know that the vile hate that has marred some of the 24-hour news channels since the Marathon bombings is entirely contrary to the compassion and forgiveness pouring out of the hearts of local Bostonians.
We don't want our communities ripped apart. Instead, we want support while many of us try our best to stick together.
Sharia councils may be out of touch with gender roles in the UK on issues such as divorce, but let's hear how they are changing
The recent BBC Panorama investigation on sharia councils raised important questions about fairness and openness in Britain's sharia councils, but was intended more as an exposé than a balanced account. Such is their prerogative, but quite a different picture emerges from the several academic studies of the councils and their clients: imperfect institutions responding to a demand for a religious (not a legal) service.
Firstly, let's recognise that we have so many media accounts of sharia councils because they have opened their doors widely to the press. In sessions I attend in the largest council – based in Leyton and featured in the Panorama programme – and in the Birmingham central mosque council, I sit alongside film crews and journalists from UK, US, and French media. Let's consider the charges often made against them.
Are they "parallel legal systems"? They provide a religious divorce that has no civil-law effect, as do councils serving other UK religious communities, of which the Beth Din is the best known. Indeed, the two councils I study require that couples who have a civil marriage begin civil divorce proceedings before they take up the case. They do not rule on child residence or assets, knowing full well that only courts can issue enforceable orders. But do UK courts ever "rubber-stamp" a sharia council opinion on children or assets, as if often claimed by the media? I have looked for such cases, asking family law barristers and judges, and have come up dry: judges will look out for the best interests of the child and a fair division of assets in all cases that come to their courts.
Do the councils discriminate against women? Well, the major monotheisms do discriminate against women, each in its own way. Muslim men and women have unequal divorce powers: a man can divorce his wife without her consent, whereas a woman needs to either persuade him to do so or to ask a judge or, in lands without Islamic judges, a sharia council, to end the marriage. That is why the councils exist (in India, the US and elsewhere, as well as in the UK) and why women are their major clients. We might deplore this inequality in Islam, and also deplore inequality in orthodox Judaism – where women are more dependent on men to release them from marriage than are their Muslim sisters – and in the different strains of Christianity. But the sharia councils did not create this particular divorce inequality; they are a response to it.
Do they charge women higher fees than men? Yes, generally twice as much, because for men they simply issue a certificate, whereas granting a woman a divorce is a more lengthy procedure, involving multiple letters to notify the husband and the chance for him to present his case, regardless of his country of residence. Is it too long? Sometimes: I found that for the busiest and therefore slowest council (Leyton), about 45% of cases were decided in six to eight months, 45% in 10-19 months, and 10% took much longer, either because the petitioner asked the council to wait, or because the council simply failed to act in an efficient manner. They could do better, but so could the courts.
Do they encourage violence toward women? No: as the Leyton council member said, even in the highly edited Panorama report, "this is not allowed". Councils do urge couples to reconcile (although they rarely do) and to attend joint meetings, but most often these meetings do not occur, and phone interviews are conducted with the absent party.
Do some councils seem out of touch with gender roles in the UK? I think so. Learned in religious matters, some councillors are less so in navigating the British social world. As a new generation, including more women, takes on these roles, the tone of council sessions will change as well. Indeed, it is already happening in some newer councils. Balanced media criticism, based on objectively gathered evidence, could remind them how important these changes will be.John R Bowen
The Qurʾān is not a storybook of wondrous tales and ancient fables, isolated from the realities and complexities of real life. Each verse, in fact, each letter is miraculously precise in meaning, succinct in message and pure in sound.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will already be familiar with my short points of insight into Sūrat ṬāHā (#TafseerTaHa). The life lessons that can be gleaned from any Sūrah are amazing, but in my opinion Sūrat ṬāHa, in particular, is unique in this regard.
Recently I undertook teaching a course on 'Tafsīr Sūrat ṬāHā: the Chronicles of Mūsā', with AlKauthar Institute, that discusses the life lessons we can derive from Sūrat ṬāHa, the 20th chapter of the Qurʾān, which chronicles the life of Mūsā.
The life lessons that may be derived from the Qurʾān are infinite. The more one contemplates it, approaching it with a sincere heart and giving it one's full attention while recognizing its magnificence, the more one's heart connects with the Almighty.
This post is the second instalment of what I hope will be many discussions on this life changing sūrah (the first part of which may be accessed here.
In verse 17 of this sūrah Allāh, the Most High, asks Mūsā a question and is answered:
وَمَا تِلْكَ بِيَمِينِكَ يَٰمُوسَىٰ (١٧)
“And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?”
قَالَ هِىَ عَصَاىَ أَتَوَكَّؤُا۟ عَلَيْهَا وَأَهُشُّ بِهَا عَلَىٰ غَنَمِى وَلِىَ فِيهَا مَـَٔارِبُ أُخْرَىٰ (١٨)
He said, “It is my staff; I lean upon it, and I manage my sheep with it and I have therein other uses.”
-Surah ṬāHā, [20:17-18]
1- Allāh can see you right now.
Allāh, the Most High, asks Mūsā what is in his right [hand]. The implication being that Allāh is observing Mūsā at that very moment; moreover the question is not simply, 'What is in your hand?', rather Allāh specifies which hand also. The question serves to reconcile the supernatural and miraculous conversation he is having with Allāh with Mūsā's temporal and earthly reality, emphasizing that Allāh is Near to him with His Power, Order, Sight and Speech while transcending the physical proximities of His creation.
It behoves you then that in your life you remain equally conscious that Allāh observes and sees you and all that you do. Consider then what it is that you have in your right hand, what is playing on your Mp3 or your TV etc., what you have downloaded on your phone and what you have buried in your heart; Allāh is witness to it all.
2- Allāh knows & provides you with the means to your success
Mūsā utilizes a wooden staff to aid him in herding his flock, to lean on and to facilitate his travels through the rugged terrain that he is traversing. This same 'ordinary' staff is then given wondrous traits by Allāh that Musa could not have imagined.
Likewise, in your life, what you are in possession of and have authority over today may be the means to your greater success in the future in a way that you cannot yet comprehend. Work towards this success by aiming to achieve the maximum benefit of your skills, possessions and authority and remain open to a world of possibility in the future, possibilities rooted in your means of today. And remember that for Allāh all things are possible, such that the transition of day to night may witness an opening to success that you failed to comprehend.
3- Full Disclosure
The revealed scriptures characterize the righteous as people of truth and honesty. Mūsā was asked a simple question for which a one-word-answer would have sufficed; yet, he responded with full disclosure.
In your life understand that half the truth is falsity and that there is no honour in duplicity. Mūsā's response here demonstrates why he is fit for leadership and a position of trust, he states clearly what is in his hand and for what purpose. Our Messenger, Muḥammad sala Allahu alihi wasSalam, was the same, particularly when his action might otherwise be misconstrued.
In Saḥīḥ al-Bukhārī it is reported from ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn that Ṣafiyya, the wife of the Prophet, may Allāh bless him and grant him peace, reported to him that she went to visit the Messenger of Allāh, may Allāh bless him and grant him peace, while he was in iʿtikāf, in the mosque, during the last ten days of Ramaḍān. She spoke to him for some time and then got up to return home. The Prophet, may Allāh bless him and grant him peace, also rose, accompanying her to the door – near the door of Umm Salama. During this time two men of the Anṣār passed by and greeted the Prophet, may Allāh bless him and grant him peace, who said to them, 'Don't be hasty! It is Ṣafiyya bint Huyayy.' They were affected by the Prophet's clarification and exclaimed, 'Glory be to Allāh, O Messenger of Allāh!' The Prophet, may Allāh bless him and grant him peace, explained, 'Shayṭān gets to wherever a man's blood gets to and I feared he might cast something into your hearts.'
4- Wooden Staff – ʿaṣā عَصا
A wooden branch is limited in its uses. Presumably, it can be used for firewood or put to use as a cane or staff to lean on, or as something to point with. When found lying on the side of a road, one's curiosity would generally not be aroused by it, nor would one covet its possession. Yet, this lifeless piece of wood was previously a living branch to a breathing plant. It bore leaves, fruits and flowers and provided sustenance and shelter for those who sought shade under it. Being cut away from the tree rendered it hollow, lifeless and worthless. Such is Sin. Sin (ʿiṣyān), 'rebellion' and 'wilful sinfulness', originates from this same concept.
Equally then, in your lives bear in mind that you are whole and your sins destroy this 'wholeness' and pollute your existence. Sincere repentance, however, brings you back from the brink of being a lifeless piece of wood, a description with which Allāh, the Most High, designates the hypocrites:
كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌ
“[The Hypocrites are] as if they were pieces of (dead) wood propped up.”
–Sura Al-Munafiqun [63:4]
5- Service of Others
Mūsā explains, in detail, the primary uses of his staff. He begins with “I lean on it.” He would rely on his staff in three ways:
1. (a) To prevent injury he sought its support when traversing rugged terrain.
(b) When worn out and physically exhausted he would lean on it.
(c) When injured he would push along and remain upright and attentive to the needs of his family and flock.
2. To prevent injury to his flock, he would utilise his staff to remove brambles/thorns.
3. To facilitate finding sustenance he would utilise his staff to beat down fruit, etc.
Keep in mind that shepherding a flock has been the vocation of every prophet of Allāh and as such it is a term often used to describe one's responsibility to family and society. We are all shepherds over something having responsibilities over them. Mūsā possessed the traits of successful leaders: he was resilient, strong, patient, and clement in the service of those under his care.
6- Justice is Life
Mūsā would separate the larger, horned rams from the weaker, younger ones during their grazing and watering. So much so that when he observed one sheep ate more than others he would drive it away with his staff. His life was built on seeking justice and the pursuit of maintaining equity – even amongst his livestock.
Seek to establish justice whenever you encounter an imbalance in your life. Justice is one of the lofty aims of revelation, and Islam as exemplified through the Sunnah, the way of life of the Prophet Muḥammad, seeks balance in its purest form. This balance is justice, especially when it is difficult to accomplish. When the world is in shambles and our day seems like night, balance is re-established through justice! Allāh equates His Divinely revealed scripture and the clear evidence of its manifest Truth with balance that maintains justice (Read more about these themes here.
7- Maximize your benefit, even from a lifeless piece of wood
Mūsā calculates what he has to gain from his staff. He states that there are many other benefits that he has utilized it for in the past, and possibly more, unknown ones, in the future.
In your life always aim to seek maximum benefit, even from precarious situations that may outwardly appear a complete loss and even from objects that others would overlook. Think outside the box and be industrious and remain open to new, innovative, possibilities.
The Qurʾān refers to a wealth of human experience, seeking to enrich our lives on earth before our eventual return to our Maker, the Most High. As we proceed with our insights into Sūrat ṬāHā, I pray that our benefit increases.
The Prophet was commanded to follow his righteous predecessors and take heed from their trials and inspiration from their eventual and divinely-ordained triumph.
Allāh, the Most High, instructs us to contemplate the final Word and benefit from its lessons and parables:
وَلَقَدْ صَرَّفْنَا فِى هَٰذَا ٱلْقُرْءَانِ لِلنَّاسِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ ۚ وَكَانَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنُ أَكْثَرَ شَىْءٍ جَدَلًا (٥٤)
And We have certainly diversified in this Qur'an for the people from every [kind of] example; but man has ever been, most of anything, [prone to] dispute.
-Surah Al-Kahf [18:54]
The post Yahya Ibrahim | Life Lessons from Sūrat ṬāHā: “Shepherding – The Way of the Prophets” appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
Hannity, O’Reilly, Kilmeade, Bolling and an assortment of Islamophobic guests have been relentless in their attacks on Muslims.:
(h/t: JD)Fox News Attacks Muslims Relentlessly In Wake Of Boston Bombing
In the days following the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News has become a haven for talk about the extreme threats posed to the United States by Muslims. Day after day, the network’s hosts and pundits have warned about an Islamic menace which is poised to take down the country.
At the most extreme has been “Fox News liberal” Bob Beckel, whose call on “The Five” to bar or severely restrict Muslim students from coming into America seemed to startle even Dana Perino, George Bush’s former spokeswoman. Beckel stuck by his comments on Tuesday, saying that some of the 75,000 Muslim students in American schools are likely to harbor terrorist ambitions.
“It’s a risky situation,” he said.
“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade has also suggested putting “listening devices” in mosques, and wondered aloud why there can’t be more racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs. He said this despite widespread reports that bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was actually shouted down at a mosque when he began making radical statements.
There was also Ann Coulter, who called for Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife to be jailed for wearing a hijab, as well as a host of other virulently anti-Muslim commentators; and the state senator who has been calling for Dzokhar Tsarnaev to be tortured.
Bill O’Reilly got in on the act on his show, shouting down the head of the Council on American Islamic Relations when he tried to point out that people like the Tsarnaevs are not representative of all of Islam.
There were no signs that the campaign was letting up on Wednesday, as “Fox & Friends” took up the question of the “infection” of “radical Islam” in America.
It is heart-warming and inspiring to see the evidently deep friendship between satirists Jon Stewart and Bassem Youssef, two popular comedians in their respective nations who have a finger on the pulse, not only of their own culture but global culture.
Bassem Youssef of course was inspired by Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and he shared this in a toast to Stewart at the TIME 100 Gala:
Jon Stewart also wrote in praise of Bassem Youssef for TIME’s 100 most influential people, (Bassem is #39). One hopes that the establishment in Egypt that has it out for Bassem Youssef gets the message: you just look plain silly trying to repress someone like Bassem Youssef.
All I have to say to Bassem and Jon is get a room! (h/t: Heinz Catsup)
The same motive for anti-US ‘terrorism’ is cited over and over
by Glenn Greenwald (Guardian)
(updated below – Update II – Update III)
News reports purporting to describe what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told US interrogators should, for several reasons, be taken with a huge grain of salt. The sources for this information are anonymous, they work for the US government, the statements were obtained with no lawyer present and no Miranda warnings given, and Tsarnaev is “grievously wounded”, presumably quite medicated, and barely able to speak. That the motives for these attacks are still unclear has been acknowledged even by Alan Dershowitz last week (“It’s not even clear under the federal terrorism statute that this qualifies as an act of terrorism”) and Jeffrey Goldberg on Friday (“it is not yet clear, despite preliminary indications, that these men were, in fact, motivated by radical Islam”).
Those caveats to the side, the reports about what motivated the Boston suspects are entirely unsurprising and, by now, quite familiar:
“The two suspects in the Boston bombing that killed three and injured more than 260 were motivated by the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials told the Washington Post.
“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ‘the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack,’ the Post writes, citing ‘US officials familiar with the interviews.’”
In the last several years, there have been four other serious attempted or successful attacks on US soil by Muslims, and in every case, they emphatically all say the same thing: that they were motivated by the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world – violence which routinely kills and oppresses innocent men, women and children:Attempted “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab upon pleading guilty:
Attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, the first Pakistani-American involved in such a plot, upon pleading guilty:
“I had an agreement with at least one person to attack the United States in retaliation for US support of Israel and in retaliation of the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Palestine, especially in the blockade of Gaza, and in retaliation for the killing of innocent and civilian Muslim populations in Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and beyond, most of them women, children, and noncombatants.”
“If the United States does not get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries controlled by Muslims, he said, ‘we will be attacking US’, adding that Americans ‘only care about their people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die’ . . . .
“As soon as he was taken into custody May 3 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, onboard a flight to Dubai, the Pakistani-born Shahzad told agents that he was motivated by opposition to US policy in the Muslim world, officials said.”
When he was asked by the federal judge presiding over his case how he could possibly have been willing to detonate bombs that would kill innocent children, he replied:
“Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people. They’re killing all Muslims. . . .
“I am part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
Emails and other communications obtained by the US document how Shahzad transformed from law-abiding, middle-class naturalized American into someone who felt compelled to engage in violence as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, drone attacks, Israeli violence against Palestinians and Muslims generally, Guantanamo and torture, at one point asking a friend: “Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?”Attempted NYC subway bomber Najibullah Zazi, the first Afghan-American involved in such a plot, upon pleading guilty:
Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan:
“Your Honor, during the spring and summer of 2008, I conspired with others to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and fight against the U.S. military and its allies. . . . During the training, Al Qaeda leaders asked us to return to the United States and conduct martyrdom operation. We agreed to this plan. I did so because of my feelings about what the United States was doing in Afghanistan.”
“Part of his disenchantment was his deep and public opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a stance shared by some medical colleagues but shaped for him by a growing religious fervor. The strands of religion and antiwar sentiment seemed to weave together in a PowerPoint presentation he made at Walter Reed in June 2007. . . . For a master’s program in public health, Major Hasan gave another presentation to his environmental health class titled ‘Why The War on Terror is a War on Islam.’”
Meanwhile, the American-Yemeni preacher accused (with no due process) of inspiring both Abdulmutallab and Hasan – Anwar al-Awalaki – was once considered such a moderate American Muslim imam that the Pentagon included him in post-9/11 events and the Washington Post invited him to write a column on Islam. But, by all accounts, he became increasingly radicalized in anti-American sentiment by the attack on Iraq and continuous killing of innocent Muslims by the US, including in Yemen. And, of course, Osama bin Laden, when justifying violence against Americans, cited US military bases in Saudi Arabia, US support for Israeli aggression against its neighbors, and the 1990s US sanctions regime that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, while Iranians who took over the US embassy in 1979 cited decades of brutal tyranny from the US-implanted-and-enabled Shah.
It should go without saying that the issue here is causation, not justification or even fault. It is inherently unjustifiable to target innocent civilians with violence, no matter the cause (just as it is unjustifiable to recklessly kill civilians with violence). But it is nonetheless vital to understand why there are so many people who want to attack the US as opposed to, say, Peru, or South Africa, or Brazil, or Mexico, or Japan, or Portugal. It’s vital for two separate reasons.
First, some leading American opinion-makers love to delude themselves and mislead others into believing that the US is attacked despite the fact that it is peaceful, peace-loving, freedom-giving and innocent. As these myth-makers would have it, we don’t bother anyone; we just mind our own business (except when we’re helping and liberating everyone), so why would anyone possibly want to attack us?
With that deceitful premise in place, so many Americans, westerners, Christians and Jews love to run around insisting that the only real cause for Muslim attacks on the US is that the attackers have this primitive, brutal, savage, uncivilized religion (Islam) that makes them do it. Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan favorably cited Sam Harris as saying that “Islamic doctrines … still present huge problems for the emergence of a global civil society” and then himself added: “All religions contain elements of this kind of fanaticism. But Islam’s fanatical side – from the Taliban to the Tsarnaevs – is more murderous than most.”
These same people often love to accuse Muslims of being tribal without realizing the irony that what they are saying - Our Side is Superior and They are Inferior - is the ultimate expression of rank tribalism. They also don’t seem ever to acknowledge the irony of Americans and westerners of all people accusing others of being uniquely prone to violence, militarism and aggression (Juan Cole yesterday, using indisputable statistics, utterly destroyed the claim that Muslims are uniquely violent, including by noting the massive body count piled up by predominantly Christian nations and the fact that “murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States”).
As the attackers themselves make as clear as they can, it’s not religious fanaticism but rather political grievance that motivates these attacks. Religious conviction may make them more willing to fight (as it does formany in the west), but the motive is anger over what is being done by the US and its allies to Muslims. Those who claim otherwise are essentially saying: gosh, these Muslims sure do have this strange, primitive, inscrutable religion whereby they seem to get angry when they’re invaded, occupied, bombed, killed, and have dictators externally imposed on them. It’s vital to understand this causal relationship simply in order to prevent patent, tribalistic, self-glorifying falsehoods from taking hold.
Second, it’s crucial to understand this causation because it’s often asked “what can we do to stop Terrorism?” The answer is right in front of our faces: we could stop embracing the polices in that part of the world which fuel anti-American hatred and trigger the desire for vengeance and return violence. Yesterday at a Senate hearing on drones, a young Yemeni citizen whose village was bombed by US drones last week (despite the fact that the targets could easily have been arrested), Farea Al-Muslimi, testified. Al-Muslimi has always been pro-American in the extreme, having spent a year in the US due to a State Department award, but he was brilliant in explaining these key points:
“Just six days ago, my village was struck by a drone, in an attack that terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers. The drone strike and its impact tore my heart, much as the tragic bombings in Boston last week tore your hearts and also mine.
“What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village one drone strike accomplished in an instant: there is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America.”
He added that anti-American hatred is now so high as a result of this drone strike that “I personally don’t even know if it is safe for me to go back to Wessab because I am someone who people in my village associate with America and its values.” And he said that whereas he never knew any Yemenis who were sympathetic to al-Qaida before the drone attacks, now:
“AQAP’s power and influence has never been based on the number of members in its ranks. AQAP recruits and retains power through its ideology, which relies in large part on the Yemeni people believing that America is at war with them” . . .
“I have to say that the drone strikes and the targeted killing program have made my passion and mission in support of America almost impossible in Yemen. In some areas of Yemen, the anger against America that results from the strikes makes it dangerous for me to even acknowledge having visited America, much less testify how much my life changed thanks to the State Department scholarships. It’s sometimes too dangerous to even admit that I have American friends.”
He added that drone strikes in Yemen “make people fear the US more than al-Qaida”.
There seems to be this pervasive belief in the US that we can invade, bomb, drone, kill, occupy, and tyrannize whomever we want, and that they will never respond. That isn’t how human affairs function and it never has been. If you believe all that militarism and aggression are justified, then fine: make that argument. But don’t walk around acting surprised and bewildered and confounded (why do they hate us??) when violence is brought to US soil as well. It’s the inevitable outcome of these choices, and that’s not because Islam is some sort of bizarre or intrinsically violent and uncivilized religion. It’s because no group in the world is willing to sit by and be targeted with violence and aggression of that sort without also engaging in it (just look at the massive and ongoing violence unleashed by the US in response to a single one-day attack on its soil 12 years ago: imagine how Americans would react to a series of relentless attacks on US soil over the course of more than a decade, to say nothing of having their children put in prison indefinitely with no charges, tortured, kidnapped, and otherwise brutalized by a foreign power).
Being targeted with violence is a major cost of war and aggression. It’s a reason not do it. If one consciously decides to incur that cost, then that’s one thing. But pretending that this is all due to some primitive and irrational religious response and not our own actions is dangerously self-flattering and self-delusional. Just listen to what the people who are doing these attacks are saying about why they are doing them. Or listen to the people who live in the places devastated by US violence about the results. None of it is unclear, and it’s long past time that we stop pretending that all this evidence does not exist.Dirty Wars
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the soon-to-be-released film, “Dirty Wars”, that chronicles journalist Jeremy Scahill’s investigation of US violence under President Obama in Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. That film makes many of the same points here (including the fact that many Yemenis never knew of any fellow citizens who were sympathetic to al-Qaida until the US began drone-bombing them with regularity). Scahill’s book by the same title was just released yesterday and it is truly stunning and vital: easily the best account of covert US militarism under Obama. I highly recommend it. See Scahill here on Democracy Now yesterday discussing it, with a focus on Obama’s killing of both Anwar Awlaki and, separately, his 16-year-son Abdulrahman in Yemen. He also discussed his book this week with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Morning Joe (where he argued that Obama has made assassinations standard US policy).UPDATE
The incorrect day was originally cited for Goldberg’s column. It has now been edited to reflect that it was published on Friday.UPDATE II
I was interviewed at length this week by the legendary Bill Moyers about Boston, US foreign policy, government secrecy and a variety of related matters. The program will air repeatedly on PBS, beginning this Friday night (see here for local listings). You can see a preview for the show they released today - here - as well as one short excerpt from the interview on the recorder below:UPDATE III
Here’s one more excerpt released today by the Moyers show, this one pertaining to exactly the questions raised in today’s column:
Samer Issawi has won a pledge to be allowed return to Jerusalem, after refusing Israel’s offers of exile.
Amateur footage shows the toppled minaret of Aleppo's Umayyad mosque after heavy fighting in Syria's northern city
To explain the Boston Marathon bombing by blaming violent Islamism may be satisfying to some, but it's not sufficient
A narrative is quickly congealing to explain last week's bombings in Boston: religious extremism was to blame; the killings were motivated, in short, by faith alone. On Tuesday I argued that this is too easy a conclusion, relying on a glib notion of "explanation" that deserves more scrutiny. According to various people in the comments to that post and elsewhere, this was a squirming liberal's effort to ignore what was self-evident; according to Norman Geras, I was engaging in "oh-so-complicated obfuscation" in order "not to have to recognise something perfectly obvious about one brand of modern terrorism". Oh dear. Please indulge me while I briefly try to outline why I still don't think we should be satisfied with "it was a violent brand of Islamism" as a full and final explanation.
Although the media rarely treats it as such, "explanation" is actually a pretty fraught idea. In the sense in which we usually deploy the word, it's unclear how you can ever get to a ground-floor, bottom-level, ultimate explanation of anything at all. The kinds of explanations of which liberals are fond are no exception to this. Once you've explained some violent act in terms of alienation or poverty or outrage at US foreign policy, you can still legitimately ask what explains the alienation, or the poverty, or the outrage, or the foreign policy, and so on – backwards, presumably, to the Big Bang.
This isn't a terribly useful observation, since it applies to absolutely everything. I mention it only to counter the widespread sense – especially, this week, on the right – that when you've attributed an act (the bombings) to a cause (religious extremism), you're entitled to declare the matter closed, and then sneer at anyone who seeks to add complexity to the picture. But there is always more complexity; there are always antecedent causes, and we won't prevent future terrorism more effectively by pretending that there aren't.
One stricter alternative is to define explanation as nothing but the discovery of correlations that successfully predict future events. If it's the case that adherence to a certain extremist ideology is a good predictor of engaging in terrorist acts, then it's probably good policy to (say) have your intelligence agencies pay close attention to people who adhere to that ideology. If that's all anyone meant by "explanation", things would indeed be simple. But it isn't: in the response to events like last week's, debates about explanation are always really debates about where to put the blame.
I wish this weren't the case. I agree with this post at the Third Estate – which takes issue with some of my original argument – that the moral question of blameworthiness ought to be kept completely distinct from the empirical one of explanation. Even if you could explain a particular terrorist act as being wholly caused by the terrorist's childhood experiences, it wouldn't automatically follow that the act was less worthy of blame. I suppose some of the proponents of complexity may harbour a secret desire to excuse the Boston bombings, or to suggest that they weren't worthy of total condemnation. If they do, they're awful people. But that ought to be an entirely separate point.
In reality, however, explanation and justification get conflated all the time. The psychological payoff from attributing the Boston bombings to religious extremism and stopping there is that you get to blame something clear and distinct and alien, and then move on. In the face of horrific events, this urge to find some stable ground is understandable. And it's true that we mustn't become paralysed by an appreciation of complexity: we shouldn't keep asking questions at the expense of taking necessary action. But we shouldn't stop asking the questions, either.Oliver Burkeman