Thursday, September 28, 2006

Politics Behind the Vatican's New Stand.

contributed to the ihsan blog, by Mohammed Elsalanty.

Spain's former PM criticizes Muslims for demanding pope's apology

"Why do we need to apologize to Muslims?"

Such a statement was not surprising, coming from the former Spanish Prime Minister; after all, it was because of the railway bombings days before the 2004 elections that his government lost after 8 years in office. Radical statements like this are indeed expected from an official who decided to get his country involved in a proxy war to which 80% of his constituency were opposed.

However, his remarks have resonated widely in the Muslim world, not only because of the mounting tension between the West and the Muslim world, for reasons we all know, but because of their striking logic. Mr. Aznar is asking a simple question, why do we (the west) have to always give apologies to Muslims when they don’t apologize for their conquests in the past?

Let me rephrase Mr. Aznar’s question from my own perspective: why are Muslim leaders seeking an apology from the Vatican for an offence against Muslims, something the Vatican has never and will never give?

Although I cannot speak for Muslim leaders, I think I can understand where they’re coming from. The rising anti-Muslim rhetoric and measures in Europe are rapidly and dangerously deepening the rift between Islam and the West. Whether it’s a newsflash from Iraq, a cartoon from Norway, an immigration law in Britain, unprecedented enforcement of a dress code in France, or a statement from the Vatican, it all raises doubts of the already disillusioned Muslims about the rules of the new world order and plays right into the hands of those who helped throw Mr. Aznar out of office.

Muslims are simply worried about their youth, who are violently and continuously being pushed away from the core values of their religion towards the ditch of radicalism. Sounds of reason are swamped in the shed of anti-Islamic rhetoric that seems to be collecting from various corners of the world into a single stream, polarizing both camps and setting them on a fateful collision course. Muslim youth are now more convinced than ever than the “war on terror” has expanded to become a war on Islam itself as a political, economic, cultural, and even spiritual power.

Since Mr. Bush launched his infamous warning “you’re either with us or with terror” and his sharp criticism of “the old Europe” for failing to stand a strait line behind his Middle East remapping campaign, attacking Islam became a frequently used political gesture to highlight the inclination of an official either to join the US “coalition of the willing” or to appease the conservatives in his/her home country, who see Islam as the coming threat. Added to the important “where do I stand on the Israeli issue” statement, a European politician now needs to publicly declare where he/she stands regarding Islam as a way to indirectly appease or criticize the new American world vision.

Mr. J. A. Ratzinger (AKA Pope Benedict XVI) is no exception to that rule. The leader of 1.1 billion Catholics needed to declare where he stood; he needed to do it fast and unequivocally, and indeed he did. Before all, the new pontiff has come to the leadership during what experts have described as the worst time for the Catholic Church since Nero. Litigations mounting to billions of dollars keep coming through American courts for hundreds of pedophilia charges. Evidence is mounting that the cover-up has been a church long-time tradition, and a chain reaction could reach the very top. Issues like the rule of women in the Catholic Church and Catholicism in general, gay marriage, contraception, and many other hot topics have been threatening the moral authority of the largest and strongest religious institution on earth. The new pontiff needed two things: a rallying call to reunite his reluctant flock, like a common enemy of the Church, and to appease the US by joining its project that looks like is here to stay. It was a similar set-up that prompted the Catholic Church to join its old rival, the Byzantine Church, and venture the invasion of the Middle East a thousand years ago.

What Mr. Ratzinger did was to show Mr. Bush that, unlike his predecessor, he can align with him in his future adventures (very likely their will be another adventure before Mr Bush leaves office). Also, Mr. Bush has a problem in Latin America because of defiant (AKA rogue) governments, calling him names and making inconvenient alliances. The head of the Catholic Church can sure help calming them down by turning their majority Catholic constituency (also known to be among the most strictly religious) more in favor of the US project. By this, Mr. Ratzinger would hope to get the US government’s, and more importantly the Protestant right wing’s, support in the Church’s legal and public image problems in the US. What he needed was a public gesture that will appease the US and spark the rallying call, and he found it in a fourteen’s century text.

It seems, however, that Mr. Ratzinger has started the wrong debate. Talking about spreading religion with violence is certainly not Catholicism favorite topic to discuss at this point. I don’t believe the bishop of Rome himself can deny how Catholicism was spread and maintained over the last two millennia. If he searches in the old Church documents, he will find a message dated July 14, 1099 from the crusader army leaders to the bishop of Rome, saying: “If you want to know about the number of dead (Muslims and Jews), I can tell you the blood in the streets of Jerusalem is up to the horses’ knees.” In number, only a few thousands of the 40,000 non-Christian inhabitants of Jerusalem escaped the slaughter that day.

The Catholic Church has institutionalized forced religious conversion through the Inquisition, which lasted hundreds of years, with hundreds of thousands of victims throughout Europe. Such concepts, among others, paved the way for the emergence of Nazism (Hitler was a church-going Roman Catholic) and Fascism (the true Mussolini’s Fascism, not Mr. Bush’s invented Islamic Fascism) in the heartland of Catholicism and often with its blessings and strong support. It was the efforts of Jewish researchers to expose the rule of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust that prompted K J Wojtyła (AKA Pope John Paul II) to issue an official apology to the Jews for all the suffering they went through because of the Catholic Church (I wonder what Mr. Aznar thought about this one).

In conclusion, this wave of anti-Islam is neither sporadic nor temporary. Muslims, both in the West and in their home countries, need to realize themselves as political and economical powers. Our intellectual, economic, and social forces should be organized and utilized. We should raise activists, lobbyist, fund-raisers, campaigners, media-experts, and writers, and form think-tanks, channels to political institutions, and a network of world-wide lobbies around our cause and through civic, not religious, channels. It is the weight of such powers that will make it politically and economically painful to officials anywhere to use anti-Islamic rhetoric for political gain. After all, Mr. Aznar, it’s the office that you wanted, not Mr. Ratzinger’s blessings, or should I say the Pope? Well, he’s your Pope, not mine, and I’m not going to apologize for that.

M. Elsalanty
Dallas, TX

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More hypocrisy over the Pope

The NY Times reported yesterday that the foreign ministers of 56 Muslim-majority states making up the Organisation of Islamic Conference expressed their “believe that it is befitting to the Vatican to retract or redress the said statement, in demonstration of the correct spirit of Christianity in dealing with Islamic issues.”

The ministers went onto say that they had “profound regrets” over the Pope’s remarks, fearing the pope’s language “might engender a situation of tension between the Muslim world and the Vatican, to the detriment of the real interests of the two parties.”

The OIC represents some great bastions of democracy, countries known for their commitment to liberty and religious freedom. Countries like: a) Saudi Arabia (where women are banned from driving and churches are forbidden); b) Turkey (where Australian Treasurer Peter Costello’s Kemalist friends are busy prosecuting authors for insulting “Turkish nationality”); and c) Turkmenistan (ruled by ex-Communist President-for-Life Saparmurat Niyazov who has most enlightened views on the arts).

The ruling families of so many of these governments are living it up while their people suffer abject poverty. The Prophet Muhammad said: “The greatest jihad (struggle) is to speak the truth to a tyrannical ruler”. Yet the jails of so many OIC states are filled with political prisoners who dared to follow this religious imperative.

And so we have farcical situation of despotic governments of Muslim-majority states exploiting their citizens and plundering the wealth of their countries while accusing the Vatican of insulting Muslims. One has to wonder whether these foreign ministers have even read the Pope’s speech and understood its content and context.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom in the Muslim world. Our closest neighbour and the world’s largest Muslim country continues its steady journey to full democracy with an open and civil dialogue between Catholic and Muslim commentators in major newspapers such as the English-language daily Jakarta Post. Then again, Indonesia’s most popular native-language broadsheet Kompas is owned by a private Catholic foundation.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ramadan duas

Praise be to Allah, Who gives protection to the frightened;

comes to the help of the upright;

promotes the cause of the weak and the enslaved;

annihilates the autocrats; destroys rulers


appoints the 'awaited savours' in their place.

Praise be to Allah, Who breaks everything belonging to the oppressors;

puts an end to the tyrants; watches over the fugitives;

brings assistance to those who cry out for help;

meets and clears up the demands of the needy beseechers; supports the faithful.

Dua'a Jawshan al-Kabeer Listen/download recitation (mp3)

O Master of Masters, O Acceptor of prayers,
O Elevator of rank, O Guardian of good deeds,
O Forgiver of evil deeds, O Granter of requests,
O Acceptor of repentance, O Hearer of voices,
O Knower of attributes, O Repeller of calamities.
Praise be to You, there is no god but You, The Granter of all Succour, Protect us from the Fire, O Lord.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


One Maghrib, Jibreel was speaking to the Prophet
whilst Ali comforted him in his lap,
not departing until after the last sujud was done

And when he returned,
and he looked up to see Ali's anguish
at having missed salah, his perfection shattered,

Muhammad called upon The Constrictor
for the sun to return
and for the evening shadows to shorten...

a man or a woman
who is mad with love for their beloved
deserves to have time turned back

like Superman did for Lois Lane
even if it means
every law in the universe is broken

this world is but shadow built upon shadow
and we too can shorten them
with Allah's grace

by looking for signs of Asma al-Husna in everything
and asking for the impossible
even as we look solid night in the face

Friday, September 22, 2006


God has hidden from us the power to predict the actual appearance of the crescent moon on the first day. Even modern scientists admit this. Yet, we wish to fit God’s plans into our plans instead of fitting our plans into God’s plans.

Convenience store Islam is the Islam of the day, where we can buy a pre-packaged Islam that fits into our busy schedules.But Ramadan is God’s month; it is a time of slowing down and reflecting, of looking at our lives and questioning ourselves, “Are we in harmony with God’s creation. Are we bypassing signs right before our eyes?”

God has veiled Ramadan’s greatest night from us, and if He chooses to ask us to inconvenience ourselves just a little bit for His sake to seek out Ramadan’s onset, then praise be to God.

I find it altogether odd that a month that is meant to teach us patience and is called “the month of patience,” is no longer patiently waited for by eager Muslims to see what God has in store for them tonight or perhaps tomorrow night. I believe sighting the moon is an intended purpose of Ramadan.

It is indeed an act of worship, as the Prophet (pbuh) has clearly said, “The best of God’s servants are those who monitor the sun, crescents, and stars as a way of remembering God.” Every morning before dawn, the Prophet s would awaken, go out into the late night air, and look up in the heavens and recite the final verses of Al-Imran: “Surely in the creation and the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for people….” The signs are indeed clear for those who reflect.
-Hamza Yusuf

liberals line up behind el diablo

a brief vent post on liberals:

Here is how it goes, so President Hugo Chavez correctly calls the leader of the free world, el diablo. And as could be expected - we have the pathetic Democratic Party liberal hacks line up behind el diablo, condemning President Chavez. First to go to bat for el diablo was Nancy Pelosi - the Democrat from liberal San Francisco.

Next in line was Mr. Sell Out himself, Jesse Jackson - his words are instructive to understand this kind of mentality. Mr Sell Out says:

"Of course he feels that the U.S. government is part of trying to pull a
coup on him. ... But my appeal to him is get beyond the anger," Jackson

OK - so the US sponsored coup that President Chavez survived is just a "feeling" you see, maybe it is just a "feeling" that we all have that el diablo's actions slaughtered hundreds of thousands.

For liberals, if you can just deal with your "feelings" everything will be OK. And then oh, don't get angry, oh no, don't get angry about imperialism, don't get upset about the hundreds of thousands being killed because of US sponsored wars. Just work on your feelings, and everything will be OK.

President Chavez response to this kind of liberal BS was right on:

"Some people would like for me not to come, but I come. I come to say what I think must be said," Chavez said.

Unfortunately for the rest of the planet, there is no such thing as an opposition political party, and barely an opposition movement within the Imperial United States. The Democratic Party liberals have shown themselves to be just as full of rot, or worse, than their Republican counterparts.

As that old song: Love, love me, I'm a liberal sayz:

Well I’ve signed about a thousand petitions,

And my golf score is six under par.

And I keep myself up on the issues

By listening to N.P.R.,

And you know that I’m changing the world

With these stickers all over my car!

So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal!

On an encouraging note, the book by Noam Chomsky (not a liberal) that President Chavez promoted is the #1 best seller on Amazon! Order your copy today, before they all sell out!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

los extremistas

Inshallah, may we never be the diabloic "moderates" that el diablo Bush wants us all to become!

President Ahmadinejad speaks (english dubbed)

click here to read the english transcript (pdf)

And then watch President Hugo Chavez (Spanish)

english transcript here

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

on the london 24

Jeff Blankfort interviews 9-11 investigator and researcher Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed in which he exposes the fallacies in the recent arrests in Britain of 24 Muslims accused of plotting to blow up US-bound airliners with "liquid" bombs.

click here to listen/download

and/or subscribe to the popular: ihsan podcast

Saturday, September 16, 2006

the Pope's attack on Islam (another chapter in the war on Islam)

September 16, 2006

Pope’s attack on Islam was no casual slip

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Pope Benedict has hit out at Islam and its concept of holy war. The thinly veiled attack on Islam came during a theological lecture on Sept. 12, 2006 to the staff and students at the University of Regensburg, where he taught theology in the 1970s.

Just like a cheap shot against Islam - packaged in western free speech clichés and marketed as innocent satire – launched in the form of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad printed by a Danish daily and republished by European newspapers, Pope’s anti-Islam remarks are touted as an invitation to open dialogue with Muslims. Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, insists Muslims must learn to enter into dialogue without "crying 'foul"'. The Guardian says: “There cannot be dialogue without rigor and openness. The Muslim world should also take pains to be thoughtful in its response, and perhaps less quick to take offence.”

However, this was no casual slip. Beneath his scholarly rhetoric, the Pope's logic seemed to be that Islam is dangerous and godless. Though many are inclined to see this debate as a fresh maneuver to keep the Muslims engaged in controversies.

Using the words, "jihad" and "holy war", the Pope quoted criticisms of the prophet Mohammed by a 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor, Manuel II, during a debate with a learned Persian. "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," Benedict quoted the emperor as saying. "The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable, " the Pope said and added: "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”

Manuel II (1350-1425) was the second-to-last emperor of the East-Roman (Byzantine) Empire. As a boy, he had been held prisoner by the Turks, and his dialogues took place as his inheritance lay in jeopardy to the Ottoman empire, and his capital under siege. Only 28 years after his death, Constantinople, the capital of Byzantine empire fell to the Ottomans under Sultan Mehmed II.

Giles Fraser, a lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, - quoting Christopher Tyerman's latest book on the Crusades,”God' s War” - argues that analogies between the Crusades and the present global conflict are often overdrawn and historically dubious. After all, it was one of Benedict's predecessors, Urban II, who first summoned a Christian jihad against Islam. And it is born-again Christians who have been at the forefront of support for the invasion of Iraq, the occupation of Palestinian lands by Israel, and the whole "reorganization" of the Middle East - a catastrophe in which many thousands of Muslims have lost their lives.

But what makes his comments from Bavaria doubly insensitive is that Munich and its surrounding towns are home to thousands of Gastarbeiter, many from Turkey, who are often badly treated by local Germans and frequently subjected to racism, Fraser pointed out. “It won't be lost on them that Manuel II ran his Christian empire from what is now the Turkish city of Istanbul. And reference to that time, in circumstances such as these, has the unmistakable whiff of Christian triumphalism,” he concluded.

Another report in the Guardian gives some insight into the thinking of Vatican about Islam. John Hooper of Guardian reports from Rome that Pope believes his church should take tougher line on Islam. Writing under the title, After a quiet first year as pontiff, God's Rottweiler shows his teeth, Hooper says the key word in the Vatican now is "reciprocity" . The leadership of the Roman Catholic church is increasingly of the opinion that a meaningful dialogue with the Muslim world is not possible while Christians are denied religious freedom in Muslim states.

As a cardinal in the Holy See, he was known to be skeptical of John Paul II's pursuit of conversation. One of his earliest decisions as pope was to move Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, one of the Catholic Church's leading experts on Islam, and head of its council on inter-religious dialogue, away from the centre of influence in Rome, and send him to Egypt as papal nuncio.

Benedict has spoken publicly of Christianity as the cornerstone of Europe and against the admission of Turkey into the European Council. He said Turkey should seek its future in an association of Islamic nations, not with the EU, which has Christian roots. His scheduled visit Turkey in November may now be at risk.

Renzo Guolo, a professor of the sociology of religion at the University of Padua, believes that this is maybe the strongest criticism because he doesn't speak of “fundamentalist Islam” but of Islam generally.

Marco Politi, the Vatican expert for the Italian daily La Repubblica, said: "Certainly he closes the door to an idea which was very dear to John Paul II - the idea that Christians, Jews and Muslims have the same God and have to pray together to the same God."

The Rev. Daniel A. Madigan, rector of the Institute for the Study of Religions and Cultures at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said the central p! oint was that “if we are really going into a serious dialogue with Muslims we need to take faith seriously.”

Unlike late Pope John Paul, Cardinal Ratzinger, who took the name of Benedict after his election as Pope, does not approve of joint prayers with Muslims. He is also skeptical of the value of inter-religious dialogue. In the summer of 2005, Pope Benedict devoted an annual weekend of study with former graduate students to Islam. During the meeting, and since, he has reportedly expressed skepticism about Islam's openness to change given the conviction that the Noble Quran is the unchangeable word of God.

Giles Fraser believes that John Paul II's pontificate was largely defined by his relationship with a global conflict between west and east and his speech before a home crowd of Bavarian academics, Benedict XVI may well have set the parameters of his own period as Pope.

Not surprisingly, Pope Benedict’s attack on Islam drew sharp reaction from the Muslim world. The 57-member-state Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) while condemning the pope’s statement expressed hope” that such surprising comments are not part of a new campaign against Islam by the Vatican, especially after decades of dialogue that brought scholars from the Muslims world together with scholars from the Vatican.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine, American Muslim Perspective: www.amperspective. com

On Pompous Popes & Futile Protests

Recently an Australian Catholic Cardinal expressed the view that the Koran preaches violence. His view was based on a partial reading of an English translation of the Koran coloured by the views of an Israeli polemicist known for her extreme hatred of Muslims. When pressed, the Cardinal admitted he could not even remember which translation of the Koran he had relied upon.

How do I know this? Because I spoke to him myself. I approached him at a gathering and asked him politely about his views. I used a reasonable line of questioning, and was able to illustrate to those listening that the Cardinal’s views were based on his own ignorance combined with reliance on limited and hostile sources.

Of course, I could have taken the absurd and pointless route again being taken by Muslim crowds in some parts of the world. I could always gather a mob together and march in the streets, wasting my time and everyone else’s and achieving nothing except a sore throat and awful media coverage.

I would like to think that Muslim mobs had learnt from the PR disaster that accompanied protests against the Danish cartoons. On that occasion, corrupt and unelected Muslim leaders manipulated state-owned media and government-employed religious leaders to incite their masses into frenzies of violent futility.

As I type these lines, thousands of Muslims in the Darfur region of Sudan face certain death, whether by disease or starvation or bullets. Lebanese Muslims are struggling to rebuild their homes and their lives.

Muslims in Gaza are facing economic and social collapse. Muslims in Afghanistan face civil war as the Western-backed government struggles to defeat a Taliban militia we were led to believe was defeated years back.

Muslims in Pakistan are still suffering from the effects of the earthquake. Muslims across Asia continue to rebuild after the devastating tsunami. Muslims in Kashmir find themselves caught between fanatical militants and merciless Indian troops.

With all these difficulties facing Muslims, of what significance are a few throw-away lines from an ageing Pontiff? And why allow the sheer absurdity of his words be overshadowed by the greater absurdity of violent and hysterical response?

Muslims are beginning to behave in the same manner as European Catholics have until recently. At the height of their power, Muslims were quite happy to allow non-Muslims to criticise their faith.

Spain was home to a physician and religious scholar named Sheik Musa bin Maymoun. Sheik Musa spoke and wrote in Arabic. One of his many treatises was a work entitled (in English) “Guide to the Perplexed”. In this book, Sheik Musa sought to compare the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Sheik Musa’s conclusion was clear. Judaism was superior to its sister Abrahamic faiths, Islam and Christianity.

The Muslim response? Muslims who disagreed with Sheik Musa’s views did so by writing reasoned responses. Spanish Muslims still consulted Sheik Musa’s expertise in medicine. Sheik Musa himself wasn’t attacked, and copies of his book were not burnt until Catholic armies took back Muslim Spain. Burning books and effigies was too uncivilised for those polished and proud Muslims.

Sheik Musa was in fact the great Andalusian rabbi Maimonides. His critique of Islam, together with his skills as a physician, led the Kurdish general Saladin to appoint him as chief medical officer to the army that eventually conquered Jerusalem from the Frankish crusader kings. Maimonides went onto become one of Saladin’s closest and most trusted advisers.

Islam was robust and strong enough in those times to withstand criticism. Muslims were sensible and educated and civilised and confident enough to be able to accept criticism. They could debate their critics on an intellectual level without having to resort to violence or being highly strung and reactionary to even the mildest rebuke.

In an environment as free as Australia, a humble layman like myself can expose the relative ignorance of a Cardinal. I can do this using intellect and logic, far more powerful tools than behaving defensively or threatening violence.

Muslims offended by the Pope’s comments about Islam and history are better off addressing these arguments than condemning the Pope. If Muslims become defensive or even hint at violence, they will merely be personifying (and thus confirming) of the Pope’s claims.

Muslims should challenge the Pope to name even one soldier or military commander who took Islam to Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country. He should be asked to show where a Muslim ruler has murdered 6 million Jews or where Muslims have conducted a Spanish-style Inquisition. He might also advise of which Japanese city Muslims dropped an atomic bomb onto.

The fact is that both Muslims and Christians have had blood on their hands at various points in their history. People have murdered, raped, terrorised, looted and burnt in the names of both Christ and Allah. We are all living in glass houses, and none of us is sinless enough to be able to cast the first stone.

It’s only to be expected that the leader of a missionary faith will criticise other missionary faiths. Just as we expect Don Brash to criticise Helen Clark or Kim Beazley to criticise John Howard or Hillary Clinton to criticise George W Bush. Thankfully, clerics tend to be more polite than politicians most of the time. But criticism (including self-critique) is part of the Abrahamic tradition.

Further, there are enough Christians (including Catholics) of goodwill who will be happy to criticise the Pontiff’s comments. Already, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt has issued a strong response.

My advice to any Muslim genuinely perturbed by the Pope’s comments is simply this - if you can’t stand the missionary heat, you should think about getting out of Abraham’s spiritual kitchen. If you are unhappy with the reason and restraint your religious heritage insists upon, you should find yourself another religion.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

weather report

Carlos Latuff/Brazil

A public statement by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The US Theory of Relativity

contributed by

By Mustafa Zaidi

When Einstein annihilated the idea of absolute space and absolute time, he never imagined the most profound implications of his theory of relativity could be found in the White House long after his death. For the emancipators in the White House there are no 'absolute friends' or 'absolute foes'. They are relative. Relative to the US interests.

The frame of reference is US foreign policy derived from the preamble "For the Corporate Giants by the Mislead People". If you are surfing the Latin American pink tide, you may realise that democracy is not a democracy unless US emancipators align it with their infamous interests. To engage and to disengage is purely relative. And therefore, the intensity of US action varies from place to place. For instance, Iraq was occupied because it had WMDs. They were not found because they didn't exist. People all over the world had unshakable belief in their existence and US had to invade Iraq to prove otherwise.

US can lead an invasion because it was the only country to nuke another one twice in a war. Use of a nuclear weapon to destroy inhabited cities brought peace or end of the world war is difficult to answer for US, Europe and UN as well. Only US can stock nukes on the surface, under the water and in space as well. The indigenous products of a laborious search for peace can range from bio-chemical weapons to assassination squads to destabilize Andean democracies. In short, they are all weapons of peace and acts of peace. Hizbollah, who defended the Israeli invasion, must have to be a terrorist outfit. That's relativity.

Interestingly, the US foreign policy equations give most favourable inferences. Iran will misuse nuclear power while Israel's nuclear arsenal is an embodiment of peace and security in the middle-east.

Once upon a time, not long ago, Iran was ruled by a maniac Shah who was close to US. He wasn't, as they call in the situation room, misaligned. His regime sucked every drop of blood left after the US feasted on Iran's natural and human resources for decades. Relatively, there was no need for a democracy in Iran before 1979. The people and the leaders of its soil brought democracy to their country. But not a one aligned with US interests. So that's not a democracy. A true democracy, as defined in the White House, is an unconditional control over the people of a nation and its resources by a regime that's properly and promisingly aligned with US frame of reference.

Most of the governments in Latin America are not democracies because they are formed by the people. It is only the US that can spread democracy and have it too. It can be done in the name of homeland security. Or, more globally, as war on terror. The aim is to spread democracy wherever and however intended.

To Bush et. al., the Arab states are acceptable but Islamic states are a problem. There are no Arab terrorists, only Islamic terrorists. There is relativity deep therein. The results of the same problem vary in US from time to time. War is the only solution to peace. It is a paradox but as we know paradoxes are crucial to the US theory of relativity. You must kill citizens and do no body counts because it is a war against terror not the terrorists.

The US allies, including Ariel Sharon, are the men of peace while the peoples' leaders in Iran and Latin America are radical fanatics determinately aligned with their national interests instead of that of the White House. That's a relative inference again. To US, everything is relative – democracy, war, peace, UN's role and resolutions, friends and foes.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

At the Halal Market

Once upon a time - in a land not too far away, about a week ago --- Ahmed was walking down to the local halal meat store - ready to fill his freezer with some halal organic chicken, and he ran into his masjid buddy Ali:

Ahmed: Salaam Alaikum Ali, missed last week's friday khutba, how was it?

Ali: Walaikum Salaam Ahmed, that bhiryani you made last week was just somethin' - khutba was OK - but we're seeing too many "wahabbis" show up at the masjid these days.

Ahmed: Yeah, the "wahabbis" don't think Shias are Muslims, what do you think about that?

Ali: Shias are Muslims, they are Muslims. Those "wahabbis" are extremists, they don't understand Islam. They give a bad name to Islam. They are fanatics. Because of those "wahabbi" extremists, I am being discriminated against at my nice upper-middle class job. There should be no tolerance for those extremist "wahabbis."

Ali (continuing after a pause): Shias are Muslims, but they are deviant. I strongly oppose their theology, fiqh, and I disagree with them 100%. But, yeah, you could call them Muslims.....(pause again) can you? Let me check with my Sheikh - I'll call him right now on my brand new cell and MP3 player.

Ali (after consulting with his Sheikh): OK, yeah, Sheikh says you guys are Muslims - but you are Persianists.

Ahmed: Oh, OK - so what you think about 9/11 anniversary coming up?

Ali: I strongly condemn 9/11 - and, on this 5th anniversary, I will go to a church, a synagogue, to a Sikh gurdwara, a Hindu temple. I will also attend that "non-violence" candlelight vigle...that the local athiest group is organizing - we are all sisters and brothers in humanity. And I'm also gonna appear on CNN and maybe FOX - I don't like the media, but we must improve the image of Islam and Muslims.

Ahmed: So, the local Shia masjid is having an event, you going there?

Ali: Silence.............. let me check with my Sheikh..............

Ahmed: so.... you going to the Shia masjid?

Ali: Silence......... I have an interfaith appointment at the same time.....

Ahmed: Oh, OK, maybe next year?

Ali: Silence.......

to be continued.... next episode: Ahmed has a converation with a fair trade coffee drinker.

"Its much worse"

Anti-Apartheid Activist Farid Esack
Speaks on Palestine and South Africa

The Electronic Intifada
9 September 2006

Farid Esack spoke at the Oak Park public library on September 6, 2006 as part of the Committee for Just Peace in Israel and Palestine's 2006-2007 Community Education and Dialogue Series, "Building a Just Peace: Important Perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

To listen to/download the interview click here [MP3 format, 40MB].

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ya Imam Mahdi

"The days and nights will never end until Allah sends a man from my House, whose name will be same as mine. He will fill the earth with justice and fairness as it was filled with oppression and tyranny. " (The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him and his Family)

Imam ‘Ali ibn Musa al-Ridha (peace be upon both of them) has said: “ … So when he [Imam al-Mahdi] will make his advent, the Earth will radiate with the celestial illumination of its’ Lord and the scale of justice will be positioned among humanity such that not a single person will oppress another individual …”

"And surely, on my re-appearance, whenever I reappear, there will be no allegiance in my neck of any of the oppressive tyrants". (Imam Mahdi (May Allah hasten his rise))

Amal for Sha'aban

Dua Ahad (flash presentation)

Duas for Imam-e-Zaman

Al Ajal, Al Ajal, Ya Maulana Ya Sahib az Zaman

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

utilitarianism and ecology

I came across this hadith of Imam Jafer Sadeq (AS), and thought I'd share it here because it expresses something very important about how we view our environment.

Much of modernist thinking is based on a notion of "progress" that is defined as "development." And so, the trees, forests, deserts, rivers are all "wild" and "wasted" if they are not put to some "use." This notion of "progress" was the ideological underpining that drove the Native Americans off their lands, and led to the extremist industrialization of the United States that now, with less than 5% of earth's population, is consuming 25-30% of energy resources and produces 72% of all hazardous waste. (These figures are from US sources, and probably underestimate the consumption patterns. )

And it is not by accident that the rallying cry against the First Nations was "tradition is the enemy of progress." This meant that those Native Americans who were calling for a protection of their land, their sacred mountains, rivers, and deserts were deemed to be "traditionalists" who were holding back "progress" defined as "development."

The hadith is self-explantory: here we have a person surrounded by beauty, and all he could think about was how the grass was "wasted" because there was no donkey!
"Once I mentioned a certain person’s intelligence, worship and religion before Imam abu ‘Abdallah (a.s). The Imam (a.s) asked, "How is his intelligence? The man replied, ‘I do not know.’ The Imam then said, "The degree of reward is based on the degree of intelligence.

A man of Bani Israel worshipped Allah on an island in the ocean. The island was lush green, with many trees and abundant water. Once an angel passed by the worshipper and asked Allah to show how much reward and blessings would the worshipper receive for his good deeds. Allah showed the rewards due to the worshipper to the angel, and the angel considered it very little.

Allah then told the angel to stay with the worshipper as a companion. The angel then appeared to the worshipper in the form of a human being. The worshipper asked, "Who are you?" ‘ I have heard about your great worships and your spiritual position at this place, and I wish to join you to worship Allah along with you." The angel said.

He spent that day with the worshipper and the next day the angel said to the worshipper, "Your place is beautiful and it should only be used for worship." ‘Yes, it is, but it has one shortcoming.’ The worshipper responded. "What is that?" The angel inquired.

"Our Lord does not have an animal. I wish He had a donkey so that we would look after the donkey, and the donkey would graze all this grass. All this grass is a waste." ‘Does your Lord have no donkey?' Asked the angel.

"Had our Lord had a donkey all this grass would not have turned into waste." The worshipper answered with sadness. Allah then revealed to the angel, "We reward everyone according to the degree of his/her intelligence."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Eboo Patel on NPR's "Speaking of Faith"

I wanted to draw the readership's attention to what I thought was an excellent program on United States National Public Radio's program, "Speaking of Faith."

The title is "Religious Passion, Pluralism and the Young." It broadcast August 31, 2006.

It features Eboo Patel, the founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, which is based in Chicago, IL, USA.

P.S. Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr is scheduled to appear on the next episode of "Speaking of Faith."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

the trojan horse of liberty

Osman Turhan/Turkey

What is a Trojan horse?

from webopedia.com

"A destructive program that masquerades as a benign application. Unlike viruses, Trojan horses do not replicate themselves but they can be just as destructive. One of the most insidious types of Trojan horse is a program that claims to rid your computer of viruses but instead introduces viruses onto your computer.

The term comes from the a Greek story of the Trojan War, in which the Greeks give a giant wooden horse to their foes, the Trojans, ostensibly as a peace offering. But after the Trojans drag the horse inside their city walls, Greek soldiers sneak out of the horse's hollow belly and open the city gates, allowing their compatriots to pour in and capture Troy."