Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Musharraf's attack on Pakistan

Musharraf, the so-called "president" (of somewhere) has attacked Pakistan (aided and abetted by the United States, of-course).

The Guardian reports: "...angry local villagers said the casualties were not terrorists but innocent children and religious seminarians. Wailing men tugged corpses, including that of a seven-year-old boy, from the rubble in Chingai village. Thousands of mourners attended mass burials. Several thousand people marched through Bajaur's main town, Khar, chanting: "Death to Musharraf" and "Death to Bush", in a protest against the Pakistani and US leaders."

This is Musharraf's "enlightened moderation/progressive Islam" - this is his "sufism promotion" program.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I’ll walk to Makkah if I have to!

I won’t do Hajj if it means flying. Admittedly, I haven’t been too keen at the thought of jumping on a jumbo since my brother Andrew crashed his plane. His single engine light aircraft overshot a runway and landed tail up in a ditch. I was first on the scene, where I met brother stood next to his wrecked Sesna, suffering only from a rather severe panic attack, alhamdulillah! Since that day, I've let both my daughters up with him for a short flight round the Thames estuary, but I declined to share their experience. It’s not that I don’t trust him. But that image of a bashed up plane remains a vivid one. Today, there are also other "ishoos", as they say.

Insha Allah, faith and courage would be sufficient to push me onto a plane to Makkah, but I have a more serious and less personal objection, which threatens to undermine the entire point of doing Hajj, in my view. The fact is, Air travel is the world's fastest growing source of greenhouse gase emissions like carbon dioxide, which cause climate change. Never mind not leaving your video on stand-by all night or installing low energy light bulbs. No other single personal action can be said to contribute more to global warming than flying.

Just to give you some idea of the environmental cost of air travel, consider the research findings from a study carried out by the esteemed Tyndall Centre, which concludes that if the aircraft industry in the UK continues to expand at its present rate, then by 2050, everyone else will have to live carbon-zero lives in order to meet emission targets. That means no one will be able to drive a petrol powered car or put on their gas central heating. All power will have to come from nuclear power or renewables. Just so people can have cheap holidays – and go on Hajj.

A few still argue climate change is a myth. My answer to such people is simple – denying the science of global warming is akin to holocaust denial. It puts you in bed with the likes of George Bush. More might argue Hajj is an exception. But with the world facing potential catastrophe, there can be no exceptions – except in matters of life and death. And climate change is a matter of death. Hajj, for all its spiritual significance, simply doesn’t compare to the drying out of sub-Saharan Africa or the flooding of major cities. Almost all climate scientists now agree that two degrees of global warming could trigger catastrophic climate change. The ethical imperative of doing everything we can to stop this far outguns the need for a quick trip to Makkah.

Recently, The Guardian G2 compared the time/cost and environmental impact of travelling overland (and sea) to a variety of destinations versus going by planes. Going to Egypt was only marginally greener, but most other trips proved to be much more environmentally friendly (and fun) than going by air. However, I have no doubt, with the right political will, travelling to Makkah by train/boat could not only be viable for most Muslims, but could also make a major contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Personally, I’ll walk most of the way before take a plane, if that’s what it takes. That’s what Muslims did in the past.

And insha Allah, in this life, I will get there.


The Muslim Anarchist

Saturday, October 28, 2006

in memory of Alia Ansari

by Imam Zaid Shakir

Alia Ansari migrated from war-torn Afghanistan at the age of 17. When her father died shortly thereafter, she became a second parent to her younger siblings. A life of hardship could not suppress her inner beauty, expressed most readily in an irrepressible smile. Her husband, Ahmadullah Ansari, an auto mechanic struggling to make ends meet for a family that includes six young children, five of them girls, spoke glowingly of Alia’s martyrdom and the place God has reserved for her in Heaven. Her story impressed on me the truth embodied in the words of a poet who said, “Be yourself beautiful, and you will find the world full of beauty.”

Her husband, contrary to the caricature of the vindictive, hateful, enraged Muslim, mentioned how the family did not wish her martyrdom be treated as a hate crime, because he did not want her death to be a source of agitation in the area’s large Muslim community. He also mentioned that the family would not want the murderer executed, because that would not bring his wife back. His wife was a martyr, her place in Paradise secure—for him that was enough.

His gentle voice was most emphatic when he mentioned that he did not want his wife’s death to be politicized. Rather, he wanted her spirit of love and reconciliation to prevail after her passing as it had during her life. He spoke of his desire that her funeral be a solemn service, where people of all faiths could gather to remind each other just how important it is to work to remove the pernicious stain of racial and religious hatred from this society lest it lead to ever deepening spirals of senseless violence.

As we sat on the floor of their sparsely furnished living room to eat a meal of traditional Afghan food, our gathering was overseen by four walls decorated with only an unframed picture of the Ka’aba, and a tapestry with Ayatu Kursi, the Qur’anic Verse of the Throne (2:255), printed on it. Husband, brothers, and cousins gathered around to tell me more about just who Alia Ansari was. They spoke proudly of a deeply religious individual who embodied the true spirit of the “Ansar,” the Helpers. The original Ansar were those Muslims in Medina who welcomed into their city and homes the faithful believers who had migrated from Mecca, fleeing the persecution of that city’s population. The Qur’an mentions the spirit the Ansar exhibited in the following terms:

As for those who had previously established homes [in Medina], having adopted the faith; they show their love and affection to those who migrated to them [seeking refuge]. You will not find their hearts harboring any desire for that given to those migrants; rather they give preference to them over themselves, even though they are themselves afflicted with grinding poverty. (59:9)

Alia was indeed a helper. In addition to her tireless and faithful service to her immediate family, she was constantly helping relatives and neighbors, many of whom themselves had recently migrated to this country from their native Afghanistan. Her brother, Humayun, remarked that she did the work of six people and never complained. A typical day might find her preparing meals for the family, dropping the children to school, taking a neighbor shopping, shuttling a newly-arrived relative to the immigration department, watching a neighbor’s child, nursing a sick relative, or numerous other tasks demanding the sacrifice of her time and energy.

Although never formally educated in Islam, she was a deeply devout and spiritual individual. Her husband noted that she never missed a prayer. He quietly added that she would stand for voluntary prayer every night until she wept beseeching God to save her daughters from the ravages of the lewd, violent, promiscuous youth culture of this country. Her deep spirituality is illustrated by the following incident. A few days before her demise, she told her husband that she had seen her deceased grandfather, an individual well known for his righteousness, in a dream. The learned sage indicated that the end of her worldly struggles was near, and a resting place in Paradise would soon be hers.

As a pious Muslim woman, she never left home without her hijab, the traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women. She was proud of her hijab. In the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, some of her friends and relatives, afraid of reprisal attacks, took off their hijabs. Alia encouraged them not to compromise their religion, especially when they had nothing to do with those crimes. As for herself, she told them that she would never take off her hijab, even if someone put a gun to her head demanding that she do so. Alia said that her hijab was her flag. She could not have known as she began the fateful walk to her children’s school last Thursday that her path would cross that of a lone gunman who in a single act of mindless violence would bring a close to a life of dedication and service. She could not have known that her grandfather’s words were so close to fulfillment. She could not have known that she would soon die defending her flag.

Among the believers are those who have been true to their covenant to God. Among them are those who have given their lives, others patiently wait their turn, having never weakened in their resolve. (33:23)

complete article here

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Death waits for no one in Balata refugee camp

Mohamed Farraj
writing from Balata refugee camp,
Live from Palestine, 21 October 2006

A view of Balata Refugee Camp (Matthew Cassel/justimage.org)

When I was released after serving two years in an Israeli prison, I returned to Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, to find that many of my friends from childhood were gone. Some were killed, many were in prison and others injured. With so many familiar faces no longer there, I began to realize just how much could change in such a short time.

Every day I saw the same young man standing in the same spot on the street. I will never forget the sorrowful expression he always wore. I could tell that like most, he was strong. But there was something different hidden in the depths of his hazel eyes.

Skipper, the son of an electrician, grew up with his three brothers on the outskirts of the camp. Though his given name was Osama, most people in the camp called him "Skipper" and his close friends called him "Disco Skipper." "Skipper" was a nickname given to him in school, and "Disco" came from his love for dancing. Skipper would be the first one dancing at all the wedding parties in the camp.

Like many of his peers, in tenth grade Skipper left school to work for his father. However, he couldn't stand working while the situation around him was worsening and his friends were being killed or arrested. His friend Ramzy says that Skipper would hang out with young men who were "wanted" by the Israeli army. Skipper was considered guilty by association and he too became "wanted."

Skipper standing in his usual spot on Balata's main market street one week before he was killed. (Do'a/picturebalata.net)

Once, when I was with an American friend who was visiting the camp, we stopped to talk to Skipper as he stood at that same spot in the street. As we joked around Skipper's warm side emerged. We laughed right there on the street. Later on we all went to a friend's apartment. A friend of Skipper's asked if we had any Michael Jackson music, and my American friend searched his laptop and played a song for everyone. Skipper's friend tried to push Skipper to get up and at first he resisted. But then after a few seconds Skipper was up and dancing just like Michael Jackson. We all laughed.

During the night, Balata's streets shut down. Everyone remains inside his or her home except for the fighters. The fighters sit with each other and wait, unsure if they will live to see the sun rise in the morning.

In the late hours of October 8, with dawn on its way, the Israeli army invaded the camp as they do every night. Like every night, they occupied the land, the military vehicles positioned on the school street that is the highest street in the camp. From there they took aim to begin their attack on the fighters.

Skipper was with another fighter when they headed with their weapons to where the army was stationed. Suddenly there was shooting. These shots were not hollow -- they were felt by every person in the camp. We all knew someone was dying.

Skipper was shot. As he was walking, he suddenly ran into the soldiers in one of the camp's narrow alleys. Both opened fire on each other in their respective struggle to survive by killing the other. Bitter enemies. Of course, the Israelis are militarily stronger thanks to their superior weapons. But Skipper -- like all Palestinians -- was fortified with aspirations of freedom in his heart. And it was his heart that was penetrated by the shots heard throughout the camp. His friend was injured.

Skipper, despite his chest wound, began to run away from the soldiers. He fled until he was out of the soldiers' sight. He then fell to the ground. The other fighters saw Skipper and momentarily thought that he was an injured Israeli soldier. But after a moment they realized it was their friend. With deep sorrow, they carried his body to a safe place.

Skipper could only say a few words, "Ambulance ... ambulance." He lay in the middle of the camp until an ambulance was allowed to reach him. Skipper's friends put him in the back of the vehicle and watched as it drove away. In the early dawn of that morning Skipper would close his eyes forever.

A detail of Skipper's martyr poster (Do'a/picturebalata.net)

"He was my best friend," says Ramzy, another fighter in the camp. "He was happy and he loved dancing, but sometimes there was pain in his voice. It was a shock for me the night he was shot. I was on the street but in a different place. They told me he was injured and I thought, thank god he's not dead. Later, when I heard he had died, I took my gun and began to shoot at everything around me. I will never forget the way he looked at me that night when I last saw him. I had a few cigarettes and I shared half of them with him so he could smoke during the night."

Before most people become martyrs they will write a will or final letter to their families and loved ones. Skipper wrote a will:

"To the children of Palestine. Don't let anyone get you down, you must overcome your weakness and be strong. Finish your education. Our struggle must be fought through education, it is our path to freedom.

"Mother, do not cry for me because if I die I will be alive with the people. If I die don't cry, just come to my grave and touch the ground and you will be touching my face. And tell the other mothers what it is like to sacrifice, and that Palestine needs our sacrifice. Palestine will use my blood to paint her story."

At the age of 23, Skipper died without a coin in his pocket, only a few pictures of his friends who had been killed by the Israeli army. He had never asked for handouts from anyone, but the night before he was killed he asked his neighbor for a sandwich. The following night the camp lost a good man.

His pale face and deep voice are deeply missed. Skipper left not only a bloodstain on the ground and poster on the wall for people to remember him -- like the scores of others killed in Balata, Skipper left a deep void.

I know that Skipper didn't want to die. He had lost many of his friends to the occupation, at least twelve young men who were in his class growing up. Skipper didn't choose to be a fighter. It chose him.

Skipper was a victim of the occupation like every young Palestinian refugee in Balata. The occupation steals each youth's childhood. There are few opportunities in Balata. And the many military checkpoints surrounding Nablus that make it almost impossible to leave the camp remind young people who is control of their future. It is an open-air prison. Everyone I know who has died, including Skipper, used to talk about how they wanted something better for themselves and for we Palestinians generally. No one wants this life we're given -- it's not life at all.

Skipper now lies in the graveyard with his friends and the other victims of the occupation. Like every martyr, Skipper has become a memory in the peoples' minds, memorialized by the posters carrying his name and face that have been hung where he stood every day.

Skipper was from a generation of young people whom I hadn't yet really gotten to know before going to prison. When I was released, however, they had all grown up. They had a fresh sense of resistance and concern for the fate of the people of Balata. This, it dawned on me, was the cycle of conflict. One goes and another one rises to his place. We can never know exactly who will go and who will come, but we can be sure that those who will rise up next will come from the youth.

Mohamed Farraj is a resident of Balata refugee camp. During the current Intifada he was seriously wounded by the Israeli army and served almost two years in an Israeli prison. Currently, he is a journalism student at Al-Najah University in Nablus.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tarek, for God’s sake, stop whingeing!

I am watching self-styled Canadian Muslim leader and former Pakistani socialist leader Tarek Fattah appearing on the Canadian TV program The Agenda with Steve Paikin. I’m shaking my head. Is this guy for real? Has he lost the plot?

The poor chap is a pathetic sight. He complains about not being able to speak freely. Yet my last memory of Fattah was dealing with him in his capacity as moderator of a “Progressive Muslim” yahoogroup. Fattah on that occasion denied various people (including myself) of our freedom of speech in opposing the hard-Left and their social agenda.

Fattah himself is a hard-Left activist. Indeed Fattah acknowledges on the program that he was member of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a hard-Left organisation responsible for numerous terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians. Fattah refuses to condemn the actions of the PFLP, thereby supporting their terrorist agenda.

Fattah’s interview includes claims that Muslims are obliged to kill apostates. Really? Who said that? I’ve heard such wacky suggestions from neo-Cons, Christian-Right Jihad-Watch types and a few dimwitted lunatics from within Muslim communities. But this is hardly a position supported by modern Muslim jurists.

Tarek lashes out against Canadian leaders whom he accuses of making threats of violence against him. He then makes outlandish claims such as:

• Imams are freely working to spread extremist versions of Islam “all day with cash rolling in”. From where does the cash emerge? He hints at Saudi Arabia and Iran, but doesn’t elaborate.

• “Almost 90% of Muslim community … have never ever voted for Islamist parties.” I agree. But how does that relate to Canadian Muslims?

• He claims “no honest debate on sharia can take place in any mosque or institution in Canada”. Presumably he would include the organisation he used to head.

Steve Paikan put to Fattah that he went to jail in Pakistan for political activities and is rarely one to give up a fight. Yet Fattah resigned from a Muslim organisation which he allegedly founded. Fattah admits his decision to resign wasn’t a rationally thought-out decision.

Paikan read out a statement made by Canadian leader Dr Mohammed ElMasri about Mr Fattah. The statement made no reference to Mr Fattah allegedly leaving Islam. It makes no claim to being an official fatwa, nor does ElMasri claim to be a mufti.

Fattah puts words into ElMasri’s mouth which didn’t appear in his statement. Fattah acknowledges he never contacted Canadian Muslim leader Dr ElMasri asking why ElMasri allegedly issued a fatwa on him. He acknowledges ElMasri has appeared on his show on numerous occasions. Yet Fattah then goes on a national TV program and makes outlandish allegations.

So here he is misrepresenting his own faith, misrepresenting the words and statements of others, and then not having the guts stand up for his convictions.

Mr Fattah, I have also received death threats from both Muslims and non-Muslims. You need only read some of the comments on my blog, as well as feedback to my articles published elsewhere on the web. I have received hate-mail and wackos making anonymous threats on the phone in the middle of the night. But I don’t go on TV or radio or anywhere else seeking attention or saying outlandish things to generate fatwas against me. I say what I say because I believe in what I say.

Mr Fattah, if you are a communist, say it. Be proud of your communism. I personally think you are irrelevant. Your forces lost the Cold War. The Berlin Wall has fallen, and you are trying to re-build it in Muslim communities. That is your choice. Be proud of it, regardless of how ridiculous myself or others see you.

I am so sick of so-called progressive or so-called moderate Muslims seeking attention with outlandish statements in an effort to generate fatwas. I’m sick of the Irshad Manjis and Tarek Fattahs who wax lyrical about their own persecution while ignoring the broader persecution of millions of Muslims (not to mention Jews, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and others) who are subject to even worse forms of persecution.

I am unhappy when idiots ring me up in the middle of the night and make stupid threats. I fear for my safety and that of my family. I shudder when I open an envelope and read hate-mail. But I don’t jump on the phone and whinge to the nearest journalist.

For me, the suffering of people like Mukhtar Mai is more worthy of public attention than any inconveniences I might suffer. I think the suffering of innocent Palestinians and Lebanese is more important than the hate-mail I receive from both Muslims and non-Muslims.

My advice to the Fattahs and Manjis and other alleged spokespeople for allegedly progressive Islam is simple – stop whingeing, stop exaggerating, stop telling lies and get a life!

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Balancing the burqa

Some readers will be aware of the mass-debate in Europe concerning the veil worn by some Muslim women. What few are aware of is that this issue has been debated by Muslims themselves over the centuries. Canadian TV viewers have already received a taste of this debate. No doubt Australian TV viewers will also be treated to similar debates.

Only a small minority of Muslim women actually wear what has become known as the burqa, a tent-like single piece of cloth that covers women from head to tail. This is traditionally worn in Afghanistan and some parts of the Indian sub-Continent.

The burqa should be distinguished from the niqab which consists of a cloth to cover the hair and a separate cloth to cover the face except eyes. Only a minority of Muslim religious scholars have regarded the niqab as religiously mandated. The niqab is worn by a minority of Muslim women. Its historical origins arise from it being a symbol of female aristocracy as well as by reports that the wives of the Prophet Muhammad used to speak with men (other than the Prophet and men they would not marry such as their male relatives) from behind a curtain.

A larger minority of women wear the hijab which is of varying sizes and fashions and which covers only a woman’s hair. The hijab is commonly worn by Muslim woman in different styles and colours across the world, and can be adapted for climate and uniform requirements. Victorian policewoman Maha Sukkar was the first to wear the hijab as part of her uniform. In fact, some Western writers have coined the term muhajababes to describe women in the Muslim world who wear the hijab as a fashion symbol.

Although there is no empirical evidence to back this up, anecdotal evidence suggests most Muslim women do not cover their heads with anything other than an umbrella to protect against rain. However, many are upset by the insistence on some (usually male) politicians telling them how to dress. They also feel resentful at attempts to marginalise the few Muslim women who choose to wear any one of three forms of Muslim head dress.

Personally, I prefer not to wear a veil of any form. Though my partner often says I should wear a face veil if I haven’t shaved for a few days …

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Homeland Security Makes the Iftaar Dinner a Photo-Op

I submitted the following comment to the United States Department of Homeland Security through its comment page.
In the course of browsing for a flight to Washington state, I found a link from the Washington State government web site http://access.wa.gov/ to the National Threat Advisory at http://www.dhs.gov/. I click on the link and find that on this site's home page is an announcement that officials at Homeland Security hosted an Iftaar dinner.

I recommend the immediate removal of this from your web site. It is a direct association of a religious practice with a security threat.

If the Department of Homeland Security wants to announce that it has held meetings with Muslims to discuss security issues, that is fine. But it is not fine to make a photo-op out of a religious occasion, thereby perpetuating an association between religious practice and violence.

Ayman Fadel

[Address and phone number]

Monday, October 23, 2006

Poll shock! Muslims like the West!

But many critical of US/UK foreign policy
Julaybib Ayoub, The Daily Terror

A cross-section of adults polled in Muslim majority nations across the Arab world and elsewhere admire technology, democracy and many of the cultural values and achievements of the West, a new study has revealed. The Poll, carried out by Gallup in association with Professor John L Esposito of Georgetown University, also revealed that Islamists hold almost identical views about the West to non-political Muslims, with both increasingly critical of elements of UK and American foreign policy.

The survey, details of which were published in Harvard International Review and ISIM Review, also revealed that Muslims were able to discriminate between the foreign policies of the UK/USA and other Western nations, with many equally critical of Muslim nations such as Pakistan. Muslims were particularly critical of USA's "double standard" of supporting democracy in its own country whilst demonstrating a total disregard for democracy, human rights and justice in other nations.

The study also points to a huge shift in support for radical Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah throughout the Muslim world, following Israel’s war against the democratically elected government in Palestine and its invasion of Lebanon this year. Professor Esposito, writing in ISIM review, suggests that such support would have been “unimaginable” prior to the latest upsurge in Israeli military violence. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes. Both the UK and UK governments are understood to have condoned or actively supported Israel in its attacks on Gaza and Lebanon.

Esposito is critical of political responses to Muslim support for radical Islamism, notably the appointment of Karen Hughes as “Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy” by the Bush administration. In the UK, the British government has recently implied its intention to sponsor only those national Muslim groups who avoid criticising British foreign policy. “Public diplomacy is more than public relations.” Argued Esposito, who is a founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Christian-Muslim understanding. “It is about acting consistently with the words one speaks.”

In commenting on the poll results, Professor Esposito indicated a need to distinguish between radical and mainstream Islamist organisations. In recent years, Islamist groups in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia have turned to peaceful, democractic methods, often in the face of hostile governments eager to appease American foreign policy. The study recommends US and UK governments set clear limits on their support for Israel, whilst recognising Muslim anti-Americanism is the result of US foreign policy, and not hatred for the American way of life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Happy Eid Mubarakh!

and We caused to grow all (kul shai) in balance… (Qur’an 15:19)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

O Arab leaders

There is no split among Shiites and Sunnis

Except among bureaucrats who are goonies

O Arab leaders - you are the Munafiqoons

Hypocrites who dastardly support our affliction

Surah Sixty-Three was right in its description

of you as propped up timber, hollow and rotten

Letting and abetting foreign spies and drones

Allowing destruction to holy sites and homes

While cowardly hiding in your safety zones

Take heed, Arab leaders, your ruling end is near

Now begin your trip to the promised land so dear

Reserved for you in the Deepest Part of Fire

contributed to the ihsan blog by Zainon

Friday, October 20, 2006

Al Quds

The Gaza Strip

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Muhammad wins the Nobel Peace prize two years in a row!

A few weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI cited a Byzantine emperor who claimed that Muhammad had brought nothing new to the world except war and violence. Yet in the past two years, the secretive Norwegian Nobel Committee has chosen Muhammad to receive its prestigious international peace prize. And not once, but twice in a row.

Well, not exactly. But it’s certainly significant that the two most recent recipients of this award have been prominent members of the Muslim intelligentsia who share the world’s most commonly used name given to male children.

Last year it was the Egyptian-born head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei. This year, the committee overlooked 190 other candidates to award the prize to an eccentric banker from the Indian sub-Continent.

Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi-born and American-trained economist who invented microcredit - an unusual method of lending money to people with no assets to mortgage and nothing to offer except a business plan and economic desperation that forces them into hard work.

Yunus’s Grameen Bank has now lent over $8 billion, most of it to impoverished villagers in Bangladesh and other parts of the Third World. Although largely unknown in the West (as opposed to prominent politicians and activists among past winners), Yunus and his bank are household names in much of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Grameen Bank has an impressive array of assets. It owns Bangladesh’s largest mobile phone network. The bank has played an important role in assisting women from impoverished backgrounds gain some financial independence, particularly women whose male providers are unable to find work.

Muhammad Yunus’ unique banking methodology has been applied outside Bangladesh to great effect. His bank has worked on development projects for women in Vietnam and other parts of the world. From time to time, he has fallen foul of religious zealots in Bangladesh unhappy at what they perceive as Yunus’ methods challenging traditional Bangladeshi gender relations.

Yunus isn’t the only Muslim to receive a Nobel Prize. This year, the Nobel Committee awarded prizes to two prominent Muslims, the other being Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.

First published in the Crikey! Daily alert for 18 October 2006.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Sunday, October 15, 2006

speak truth

Syed Adnan Kaka-Khail Sahib, a madrassa student from Jamia Uloomul Islamiya in Binori Town, Karachi, Pakistan speaks truth to the puppet self-proclaimed "president" of Pakistan.

The brother speaks in Urdu, for english translation and analyses click here.

"But do not celebrate on the graves of the struggles/hopes of the dispossessed and unsupported peoples. Look Islam says that, if in an house...it is a strange concept...OK, alright let people fly kites in their own homes, nobody calls this haram, but when the poor sees that in my stomach there is no bread, and my President is out flying a kite..."

"It is as if there is death in the house next door, and you sit in the next house and play a drum and say "I am free. ""

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pilot Program to Accommodate Muslim Cab Drivers in Minneapolis Airport Cancelled

USA Today of October 10, 2006 had an article entitled "Cabbies, Culture Clash at Minn. Airport." The issue is that some Muslim cab drivers wanted to refuse service to customers carrying alchoholic beverages. If a cab driver refused to service a customer, he would return to the end of the line of cabs and would have to wait some time (up to three hours) for the next opportunity to take a passenger.

This reminded me of some pharmacists who resisted dispensing birth control pills.

The airport ground transportation had piloted a program where the driver could signal through a light that he would not take passengers carrying alchohol and then airport employees woud direct the passengers to a cab driver who would accept them, but the airport has cancelled the pilot program.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Imam Ali

"My advice to you is to be conscious of Allah and steadfast in your religion. Do not yearn for the world, and do not be seduced by it. Do not resent anything you have missed in it. Proclaim the truth; work for the next world. Oppose the oppressor and support the oppressed."

-Imam Ali's last will

Imam Ali achieved martyrdom in the 40th year of Hijrah, on the 21st of Ramadan, he was was struck with a poisoned sword while offering his prayers in the masjid of Kufa on the 19th of Ramadan.

A talk on the ahlul-bayt by Abdul Alim Musa, Imam of Masjid al-Islam, Washington D.C.
(Recorded March 3rd, 2004).

Alhamdulillah, we are in the last 10 days of Ramadan, wherein we search for Laylatul Qadr.

Dua'a Amaal for Laylatul Qadr

Acts of worship for Laylatul Qadr

Monday, October 09, 2006

we are not to mourn the martyrs

Contributed by Michael from http://OccupiedLove.blogspot.com

salam alaikum,

i write now in much lower spirits then when i drafted the grape email a little over two hours ago. as i was browsing the news sites for media pictures of our actions, i saw site all to familiar, but painful none the less. i saw another friend, eyes closed, wrapped in a flag, lying on his back being carried through the streets.

the story was also the same, an occupation invasion, this time in balata camp. the reports differ. but 3-6 palestinians were injured, and one, Osama Saleh, 22 years old, was shot dead. the reports said that osama was a fighter with fatah's main military wing, the al-aqsa martyrs brigade. it said that osama was seen with a gun. the reports said that while occupation forces invaded balata camp, they were engaged by palestinian fighters. the report said that osama was shot dead in this exchange, two bullets to his chest.

this all sounded normal to me until i saw the pictures. i lived in balata camp for nearly two months, and never met osama saleh, though i did meet skipper, a smiling and bright, skinny young man who was never without his baseball cap, which made his skinny face look even more angled. i never met osama, but skipper was a friend. always good for a hug, and always good for a laugh and a smile, despite his lack of english and my lack of arabic. when i saw the pictures, i learned that skipper and osama saleh were one and the same. my friend skipper, who would amuse a room by dancing the moon walk or the robot with a shy grin, is dead, his body carried through the streets as yet another one of balata's martyrs.

i saw skipper only a few days ago, when i was leaving nablus. i was walking through balata camp, and as it was ramadan, the kids were throwing fire crackers at every passerby. two of these landed under my shoe before exploding, and after the harrowing walk through the kids and the camp, i was in desperate need of a sense of safety, and there it was. i saw skipper, in his baseball cap, and he smiled warmly. 'peace be upon you,' he said, wherein i responded, 'and unto you.' we talked for a few minutes, and he hugged me tightly as if he knew it would be our last meeting. when we parted, i never thought that i would see him next being carried through the cracked streets of balata on reuters photo wire.

skipper was murdered, in defense of his family, of all the families of balata, of nablus, of the west bank, of palestine. he was murdered doing what any person in his position would do. he was murdered fighting an invading occupation force that sought to kidnap and kill his friends and family. he will never be my age, never marry, never have a child, never go to university. skipper will never again smile at a nervous international. he will never again laugh when the kids teased us. he will never again greet me in the late hours of the evening. i will never again see him sitting on the ledge of the corner shop where i buy snacks, and he will never again call out to me. i will never run into him as i walk through the camp. i will never see him and be invited in for tea.

they say in palestine, that if you die as a martyr during ramadan that you go straight to heaven. it is the best time to die a martyr. they say that you do not morn for the martyrs for they are in heaven with god. they say that you are not to cry for the martyrs for they are not dead but in paradise. with all of this, i couldn't help myself from crying. i cried at the computer. i cried on the roof seeking solitude. i cried on a friend's shoulder. i cried in the shower trying to cleanse myself before recognizing his memory before god. i cried, even though i know i shouldn't have. in the same day, in the same refugee camp, another palestinian was murdered, this time shot dead at huwarra checkpoint. i did not cry for this man who's name i don't even know. i didn't cry because when i close my eyes, i don't see his face, smiling at me with his arms out.

the papers called him a militant, a fighter, a soldier. i called him friend because he was kind to me and he showed me welcome and love. skipper is the third friend to die a martyr, and the closest to me yet. i love you skipper and i hope you are in Paradise now, smiling with your cap, while we carry on your name and your work in this life. you died so that others might be free. this is the greatest sacrifice one can give.

bismala rahman rahim, accept skipper as a martyr for freedom and allow him to finally find peace in the next life.

skipper, already you are missed.

in memory, with all my love from occupied palestine:



Saturday, October 07, 2006

BOOK REVIEW: The Caged Virgin

I once asked a conservative law lecturer why he had a problem with the dominant left-wing critical legal studies agenda of his colleagues. “There's nothing wrong with criticising the law,” he responded, “but it's futile when you haven't even learned what the law is.”

One would expect Ayaan Hirsi Ali's criticisms of Islam to be based on knowledge and experience. She was, after all, born into a conservative Muslim environment, reared “to be a Muslim, a good Muslim” with family life dominated by Islam “down to the smallest detail”. Further, her book, subtitled A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason, would also be expected to contain elements of Islam that Muslims immediately recognise.

Ali and I were born in the same year, and we grew up in middle-class, culturally Muslim families. Yet I found her descriptions of a typical Islamic upbringing almost completely unfamiliar. Perhaps this was due to my north Indian upbringing. Variations between Muslim cultures are significant, as I discovered when reading The Glory Garage, an account of growing up Lebanese Muslim in Australia by journalists Nadia Jamal and Taghred Chandab.

But Ali's Islam allows for no cultural distinctions and she insists her experiences are universal to all Muslims, whether residing in Sydney or Mogadishu. The failure to recognise cultural variety within Islam is one of many serious deficiencies in The Caged Virgin.

The book is a collection of Ali's speeches and articles originally published in The Netherlands in 2004 as De Maagdenkooi. Its difficult themes reflect her troubled upbringing as the daughter of a political dissident frequently on the move.

She was born in Mogadishu in 1969 and her father, Hirsi Magaan Isse, was a fervent critic of Somali strongman Siyad Barre. When Ali was five, her grandmother performed genital mutilation on her, apparently without Ali's father's knowledge. (This tribal practice among sub-Saharan Africans of all faiths is acknowledged by Ali to predate Islam.) Ali's past is subject to some controversy. She alleges her family went into exile in Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia and Kenya. She says she was married at 22 against her will to a distant relative in Canada. En route, she escaped to The Netherlands, where she was granted asylum, studied political science and immersed herself in public life.

Her nomadic existence may explain her nomadic politics. Within 12 months or so she had moved from membership of a social democratic think-tank to becoming a conservative MP. She says her shift was triggered by the Dutch Left's political correctness providing her with little room to question Islam's treatment of women.

Two events brought Ali to prominence. In 2004, Theo van Gogh, the director of her short film Submission, was murdered in Amsterdam by a Dutch Moroccan. The killer left a note on van Gogh's body stating that Ali was next. She immediately went into hiding.

Then, in May this year, Dutch investigative journalists uncovered evidence that Ali had manufactured key facts used in her asylum application. Parliamentary colleagues abandoned her and she resigned in disgrace after being offered a work lifeline by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Ali's characterisations of Islam have made her a darling of various anti-Islam apparatchiks and conservative commentators. Notwithstanding this, her book does raise important issues about despicable cultural practices (including female genital mutilation) of some Muslim migrants. Sadly, Muslim scepticism of Ali's claims will be reinforced by her near-chronic inability to provide meaningful references for her most important claims.

Her book begins with a description of her paradigm: a set of monolithic principles she simplistically describes as an Islamic trinity, a set of “mental bars ... behind which the majority of Muslims are restrained”.

The first of these is that a Muslim's relationship with God is based on fear. In this respect, her lack of exposure to key sections of Islamic theology becomes glaringly obvious. Even Western readers are familiar with the works of orthodox Sufi jurists (such as Rumi), who emphasised God's love and mercy and are widely read across the Islamic world.

Ali provides only limited Koranic references for her paradigm and her references to Muslim scholarship are limited to name-dropping. She ignores the influential role of Sufism in Sunni and Shia Islam. And while she makes reference to Somali, Turkish and Arab cultures (of which she claims first-hand knowledge), she makes no reference to religious cultures of a former Dutch colony that is now the largest Muslim country.

Hundreds of Indonesians study in Dutch universities. Indonesian and other sources of classical Islam are freely available in universities such as Leiden, also home to the respected International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World. The Netherlands has no shortage of scholarly material on Islamic cultures and theology, almost none of which is reflected in this book.

Ali now resides in the US. Given her expressed views on abortion, one wonders how long she will last in a conservative environment where even anti neo-cons such as Pat Buchanan regard abortion as a defining issue. Perhaps her next book will be entitled The Caged Republican.

Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer and columnist for AltMuslim.com. First published in The Weekend Australian on 7-8 October 2006.

Friday, October 06, 2006

scantily clad orientalists

Why is it that even liberal/left activist/journalists have to draw attention to “scantily clad” women in the “middle-east” to prove that Arabs, Muslims etc. are really not so bad - and that the “west” has nothing to worry about. A couple of recent examples:

First, from a supposed favorable article, making its rounds on the internet, regarding the Islamic resistance of Lebanon.

Nir Rosen writes:

“In the wake of Israel’s 33-day war with Hizballah, the 24-year-old Islamic movement has become the most popular political party in the Middle East. Here’s why that shouldn’t worry us.”

So, why should the Islamic movement not worry “us?” Rosen gives several reasons, but what is with this “scantily clad” nonsense?:

“There were youths in trendy attire, girls in tight jeans with hair exposed and who had turned their Hizballah T-shirts into stylish form-fitting fashion statements. "

And again:

“Throughout the country, women in chadors walk beside scantily clad beauties. "

So, what is going on here? Don’t be afraid of Hizbullah because they got “scantily clad beauties” amongst their supporters? But be afraid, very afraid of men with beards, and women wearing chadors. These kinds of articles, while supposedly favorable of Muslims and Arabs, infact, recycle the same old orientalist and islamophobic cliches - only this time to show the “west” Oh see, they are just like “us.”

It is also interesting to see how these liberal journalists define "us" i.e. those of us in the "west." The definition is based on how much skin a woman shows. This is, of-course, just another cheap form of misogyny that feels comfortable only around those women who are willing to cater to how men want them to be seen. And if women do not go along with those standards, then those women are feared and ridiculed. (Yes, I know some of us Muslims have another form of misogyny.)

And what if “they” were not like “us” - would that make it OK to then bomb ‘em?

Juan Cole has a similar blog entry, where he said that:

They are leveling the towns of the south altogether. They are hitting people who are not Muslim fascists.

And how does he “prove” that those being bombed are not “Muslim fascists” - well, you see, the women are scantily clad: The pictures he has posted on that entry says it all!

It is the kind of place where they play the pop music of Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram in the nightclubs.

And then there is this recent article on Iran in the mainstream press, suggesting that Iran is not so bad after all, why?

Well because there is this island, and here:

the island authorities draw the line at booze and bikinis,…and Women let their scarves slip and sang along, wiggling to the music in their seats or smoking hookahs...”

And so, what is the purpose of this island?

Well: “The idea is to show foreigners, especially westerners, that Iran isn’t what you’ve been seeing on the news for the past 30 years...”

And so the message is clear, Muslims (esp. Muslimas)- if you want to show you are “safe” and “not a threat” - well… you know what to do…

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Contributed to the ihsan blog By Mustafa Zaidi

Theoritically, at least, no religion in the world praches hate and promotes violence. The great preachers never hated but loved. The great followers truthfully believed in the power of unity.

An unbiased and transparent understanding of the world religions will prove that the aim of human civilization is NOT existence but CO-EXISTENCE. Yes, living and wishing a great living for the rest. The aim of every religion is PEACE and through this peace we will reach God - the Creator of this Universe.

Our differences of opinions, values - cultural, ethical & social, geography and demography are infact DIVINE TESTS that demand an intellectual dialog. Some do not participate in the TESTS, while those who fail in it retaliate with violence and hatred. Those who fail in this world to preserve humanity must not hope for a divine reward or forgiveness.

Today, all the world forums talk about Right to Exist (and therefore the other must not) but do we not have the Right to Co-exist? Theory of Clash of Civilizations, that forecasts a massive destruction ahead, is based on the RIGHT TO EXIST while the thoery of Dialog Among Civilizations, that ensures eternal peace and prosperity, is based on OUR RIGHT TO CO-EXIST.

How wonderful the world would be where we live, care for and respect each other - a phenomenal action that translates into world prosperity, elimination of hatred and crime, equality of justice for all, selfless trade and transaction, preservation of ethical, moral and religious values through practice and propogation. Brothers and Sisters, let us plan to CO-EXIST.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Brazilian cartoonist threatened by "Israelis"

Click here to view a statement by Carlos Latuff

And check out Latuff's web site - way cool!