Dictators, power and the blame for Muslim strife

Why do we Muslims always complain about the foreign policy of the U.S. and Britain? I understand that we may be upset about the loss of civilian lives, but both governments have now recognised the futility of their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Historically, nations have intervened to protect their geo-strategic and commercial interests.

Why don’t we Muslims ever complain about the foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and Iran? Wahabi Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are using their immense oil wealth to wage a proxy war. Their attempts to change the realities on the ground are evident in the Yemen and the Levant.

This meddling has given licence to brutality and culminated in the indiscriminate killing of civilians. The displacement of sections of the population has created resentment and brought to the surface latent sectarian prejudice. This isn’t a religious war, as they would have us believe; it’s a murderous endeavour to seize political power.

Europe retired most of its monarchies because they were an impediment to the advancement of its peoples. We Muslims, however, embrace our monarchs and dictators as though they were our salvation.

Our rulers have always claimed to represent the Prophet or his progeny; we’ve never had representative governments. This concentration of power has resulted in nepotism and sycophancy and has suffocated the individual’s aspiration to achieve through merit. We refuse to take responsibility for our own problems and choose to hide behind ludicrous conspiracies.

Unfortunately, we Muslims are plagued with all kinds of divisions, owing to our own ignorance. In the Iran-Iraq war Arabs fought Persians. After the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, Persian and Pashtu-speaking Pathans fought each other for control of the opium trade. In Darfur, Arabs from Sudan unashamedly killed Africans for control of that region’s oil. It’s expedient for both sides to blame ‘the West’ or ‘Zionists’, but, in fact, the leadership is exploiting ethnic and sectarian tensions to perpetuate its hold on power.

This sectarian hatred of one another is indoctrinated from childhood. The Shi’ites accuse the Sunnis of denying the Prophet’s cousin the position of the first caliph. The Sunnis accuse the Shi’ites of committing blasphemy by disparaging the first three caliphs. The leadership on both sides is apathetic to this bickering, but is astute enough to hide its incompetence and corruption in the cloak of divisiveness.

Our rulers don’t come from another planet and even if supplanted by other countries they are a product of our society. Their depravity should force us Muslims to contemplate what it is we believe and value that creates such individuals and enables them to abuse a position of trust and power.

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SyRaq

Do we in the West understand what is transpiring/who is conspiring in Syria/Iraq (SyRaq)?

The ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt manifests itself as a popular uprising and after several months of protests in Tahrir Square a military dictator – Hosni Mubarak, in power for 30 years is emphatically deposed. In the democratic process that follows the Muslim Brotherhood candidate – Mohamed Morsi, is elected President of Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood – a Sunni movement that is supported by the Qatari’s but opposed by the Saudi’s; having a substantial footprint in the political landscape of the region such that if there were democratic elections held in Jordan and Syria they would be the dominant party.
The military junta in Egypt then uses the ‘Deep State’ to create resentment amongst sections of civil society in order to position itself as the credible saviour of the democratic process. President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood government are portrayed as usurping power and as incapable of stemming rising prices and unemployment in the country.
A coup d’état overthrows the democratically elected Islamist government of President Morsi. This is followed by a widespread crackdown on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood. Having jailed the Muslim Brotherhood leadership and shut down all non-compliant media, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah Al Sisi is elected President of Egypt by a ‘popular’ vote.

The ‘Arab Spring’ in Syria starts with an uprising in Homs and then spreads to the rest of the country. The Al Assad regime forcibly suppresses the uprising with assistance from Iran and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. The opposition Free Syrian Army and the Islamists are supported by the Saudi’s and Qatari’s. Salafi/Sunni fighters have been pouring in from Western nations and neighbouring Arab/Muslim countries to depose the Al Assad regime. Shiite fighters have been coming in primarily from Iraq to fight alongside the Al Assad regime.
I suspect that ISIL (ISI/ISIS) is a creation of Syrian intelligence; Sunni fighters from Syria/Iraq who had been encouraged to take up arms against US/UK forces during the invasion of Iraq. Iran and Syria did not then want the US/UK getting comfortable with their occupation of Iraq once they had deposed Saddam Husein and disbanded the Ba’athists. The Jabhat Al Nusra, an affiliate of Al Qaeda, was allowed into Syria in order to counterbalance ISIL and malign the credibility of the Free Syrian Army. The perception would be that the FSA was infiltrated by extremists and any help extended would undermine our security in the West. There have been several bouts of infighting within the ranks of the opposition and as a result they have fractured, with the Islamists breaking away from the Free Syrian Army.
The war having reached an impasse, Basher Al Assad is re-elected President of Syria by a ‘popular’ vote.

The aftermath of the US/UK invasion of Iraq is a democratic process that has reinforced the deep-seated sectarian divide and a body politic that is dominated by the Shiite majority. The Sunni tribes who have unresolved grievances with the Shiite Al Maliki government in Baghdad are giving succour to the Sunni ISIL forces. There is also some collusion with the Sunni officers given that the Iraqi army – trained and equipped by the US, has just melted away when confronted by the ISIL forces. The Iraqi national army, as a matter of fact, was set up by the Al Maliki government to crumble along sectarian/ethnic lines and to inevitably fail. It is the Iraqi Special Forces and the Shiite militia under the control of Al Maliki that underpin his hold on power in Baghdad.
Is it a coincidence that ISIL has gained a foothold in Iraq at a time when Iran is negotiating with the US/EU on its nuclear issue? The presence of ISIL in the Sunni dominated provinces will only radicalise the local population and may even lead to internal strife between the Islamists, the Ba’athist and the Sunni tribes. In fact, the presence of ISIL and the near certain radicalisation of the local Sunni population puts their Gulf Arab sponsors – Saudi’s and Qatari’s, at odds with the West and creates an alignment of interest for Iran and the West, something that Tehran and the Al Maliki government have been manoeuvring to achieve. The current matrix on the ground also enables the Al Maliki government in Baghdad to put pressure on the US for the immediate delivery of the most sophisticated weapons.

The West finds itself in a bind – in Egypt they recognise the election of Field Marshal Abdul Fattah Al Sisi but in Syria they refuse to recognise the election of President Basher Al Assad. In Iraq they support the government of Al Maliki who by stealth have been sending Shia militia fighters and weaponry across the border to support the Al Assad regime. The West, however, opposes the Islamists in Iraq but indirectly supports them in Syria through the Free Syrian Army because they are supposedly fighting the Al Assad regime.
Should the US/UK carry out targeted strikes against ISIL, it would alienate large sections of the Sunni Muslim population in the Middle East and in the West. The West would then find itself embroiled in a sectarian war of its own making and a target for extremists at home and abroad.

A chapter in Middle East politics

There is now a ceasefire of sorts in place between Hamas and Israel but what has actually been achieved by either antagonist. Israel has destroyed approx 1500 sites in Gaza but the residents of Sderot or Ashkelon contend Hamas will resume its rocket fire in a few months. The residents are sceptical because Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 was supposed to have destroyed the ‘terror infrastructure’. Hamas has fired as many rockets into Israel, only this time they’ve managed to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield intercepted 90% of the projectiles that could’ve landed on built-up areas; it may just be that Iran was probing the defence system for weakness. Hamas has claimed victory having survived the ‘precision bombing’ onslaught and has emerged politically stronger in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The Arab Spring has brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt; President Morsi attended the NAM meeting in Tehran where he called for reforms in Syria. In the Arab League conference held in Cairo, Morsi upped the ante when he called for a change of government – he then tempered this by stating that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt would meet to find a solution to the crisis in Syria. During the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, President Morsi put Hamas under pressure to accept a truce in order to prevent the calamity that would result from an escalation of the violence. His statesmanship has elevated the Muslim Brotherhood to a position of a credible alternative to unelected regimes in neighbouring Arab states i.e. Syria and Jordan.

Khaled Meshaal may have abandoned his long time base in Damascus but was all praise for Iran during a press conference in Cairo held after the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Other pro-Syrian factions like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC) remain in Syria and who only recently met with Iran’s influential parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Khaled Meshaal’s move to Egypt – now under a democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government, perhaps presages a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah which may lead to elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the interim, President Morsi may even succeed in getting Hamas to recognise the State of Israel along some approximation of the 1967 borders.

Israel enjoys good relations with King Abdullah II of Jordan but recent fuel price hikes have resulted in nationwide protests calling for change in the Kingdom. Budgetary constraints and the changing political landscape may force the King to reform on the lines of King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Islamist parties including the Muslim Brotherhood could dominate the newly elected parliament; the momentum for change could very easily undermine the monarchy. A resolution of the Syrian civil war is going to be far more problematic given the sectarian and ethnic divide of the country. A stalemate in the civil war will prolong Iran’s stranglehold on the Syrian political scene; a resolution of it could bring to the fore another Islamist and/or Muslim Brotherhood government.

Israel is an extremely stable country and has the military prowess that is the envy of its many bungling neighbours. However, the demographics of the Arab population and the changing political reality create facts on the ground that speak of another truth. When Israel recognizes as a matter of conscience that its security interests lie in affording dignity to the Palestinians in the occupied territories, will true peace in the Middle East come to fruition. Israel could then partner with the Palestinians who are predominantly secular, to protect their joint interests in the region. Palestinians in Jordan constitute more than half the population and are supportive of the current monarch King Abdullah II; his wife Queen Rania was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents. A garnering of the secular forces in Jordan would drive a wedge in the Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood ambition to dominate the political arena in the region.

The Torah: ‘A light and guidance……’

The determinate characteristics that are imperative in designating any compilation of revelations from God as Al Kitab or The Book are stipulated in the Quran itself:

‘This is the Book, there is nothing dubious in it’ (2:2). ‘We have neglected nothing in the Book’ (6:38). ‘And it is He Who has sent down to you the Book, explained in detail’ (6:114). ‘If it was not from Allah they would have found in it many a contradiction’ (4:82). ‘None can change His words’ (18:27). ‘And surely, We will guard it’ (15:9).

However, it is not just the Quran but also the Torah that God refers to as Al Kitab or The Book:

‘Say [Muhammad]: Who then sent down the Book which Moses brought, a light and guidance to mankind’ (6:91). ‘And indeed, We gave Moses the Book’ (2:87).

Therefore, the aforestated determinate characteristics that are imperative must be applicable to the Torah as well.

The prejudice amongst Muslims is that the Torah has been ‘corrupted’, and in order to substantiate this notion they will direct you to the pertinent verses in the Quran:

‘They pervert the usage of the words; have forgotten a portion of that which they were reminded’ (5:13). ‘But they altered what had been said to them; those who had transgressed’ (7:162).

Undoubtedly, there were concerted attempts at interpolating the Torah just as there were attempts at interpolating the Quran:

‘They want to alter Allah’s Words’ (48:15).

Notwithstanding, these were all just futile attempts and no more; how do we know that this was the case as a matter of fact:

‘How can they make you [Muhammad] judge while there is with them the Torah wherein is the decree of Allah’ ‘Indeed, We sent down the Torah wherein is guidance and light. By it they gave judgement, the Prophets who surrendered [to Allah], for those who were Jews’ (5:43-44)

It would be absurd to believe that successive Prophets adjudicated over the affairs of their community (Banu Yisrael) using a ‘corrupted’ Torah.

In fact, at the time of the revelation of the Quran Prophet Muhammad was instructed as follows:

‘So if you are in doubt about what We have sent down to you then ask those who recite the Book of earlier time’ (10:94).

The Quran clearly indicates that Muslims and Banu Yisrael are of the ‘Religion of Abraham’, and makes it an article of faith for the Muslims that they believe in the Torah:

‘We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our God and your God is One’ (29:46)

All I ask of my fellow Muslims is to understand and appreciate the diversity in all of creation. This diversity is also reflected in our thought processes and is evidenced in all that we do. We must endeavour to lead by example and not by compulsion in all aspects of our lives. Who are we to reserve judgement on our fellow human beings; arrogate to ourselves that which the Quran does not sanction:

‘For each of you [Jews, Christians and Muslims] We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation; but that He may test in what He has given you – so compete with one another in good deeds’ (5:48)

Facets of Radicalisation

I agree that there is radicalisation amongst some in the Muslim communities in the UK and overseas. However, there are many facets to the emergence of this radicalisation. The crux of the matter is the inability of Muslims to reconcile modernity with their interpretation of Islam and an acute absence of credible role models.

The schisms appeared in the Muslim ‘Ummah’ soon after the death of Prophet Muhammad as evidenced by the arguments between the ‘Companions’ and those from outside the Hejaz region of Arabia. Ever since the death of the last ‘Righteous Caliph’ – Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, Muslims have been plagued by non-representative governments using the enlightened example of Prophet Muhammad to hide their corruption.

Colonisation of Muslim lands further exacerbated their plight as the new paymasters imposed compliant regimes; autocratic governments that provided stability by virtue of the doctrine of brutal suppression. Nepotism and cronyism became the cornerstone of government policy for advancement; the nation’s wealth was systematically siphoned off to distant lands.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are two sides of the same coin; police states masquerading as theocracies. Wahabi Saudi Arabia and Shia’ Iran are using their immense oil wealth to wage a proxy war. Mullahs in Iran and Salafists in Saudi Arabia are attempting to channel the frustration of Muslim masses into a focused hatred of the West. The Mullahs consider the US presence in the Middle East as an existential threat and the Salafists consider US attempts to democratise the region as unislamic.

These self-appointed clerics are the hypocrites in our communities that espouse violence in the name of a faith that highly values peace and considers human life sacrosanct. The ‘Arab Spring’ may deny the Salafists emotional support but will not dent the stream of petro-dollars that come primarily from the Gulf Co-operation Council countries.

We Muslims in the UK must vigorously denounce the subterfuge activities of such obscurantist fringe groups that by default claim to represent our interests. These radicals may even label us ‘Kafir’ but let me say this: There is far more Islam in the institutions here in the UK than there is in most Muslim countries.

Mocking Islam or the Prophet

‘If you ask them, they declare: We were only talking idly and joking. Say: Was it at Allah, and His Ayat and His Messenger that you were mocking?’ (9:65). ‘O distress on the servants! There comes not to them any Messenger but they mock at him’ (36:30)
Why is it that we Muslims are surprised at the derogatory ‘Films’ and ‘Cartoons’ about Prophet Muhammad. We know it not to be credible; it doesn’t damage his persona one iota in my opinion.

What really creates a stink is the blood lust as expressed by some in the community in the UK and the many overseas. Not just that but they back it up with ‘Hadith’ that they claim warrants violence against the perpetrators.
Ibn Taymiyyah says in ‘Mukhtasar As-Saram Al-Maslool Ala Shatim Ar-Rasool (Summary of The Drawn Sword Against the One Who Curses the Messenger) Pages 31-33: Whoever curses the Prophet (PBUH), Muslim or Kafir, must be killed. The methodology of the scholars is also listed.

These ‘Hadith’ were compiled some 200 years after the death of our beloved Prophet. How often we hear the expression ‘Authentic Hadith’; implicit that they have been corrupted. Anybody who has even briefly studied ‘Hadith’ will admit that there are contradictions. They are preposterous, misogynistic and an incitement to violence; at great variance with the Quran.

There is no justification in the Noble Quran for the violence condoned by proponents of ‘Hadith’.
‘Verily, those who believe then disbelieve, then believe and then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief; Allah will not forgive them nor guide them to the path’ (4:137). ‘And already We have sent down on you in the Book that if you hear Allah’s Verses being denied and ridiculed, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that; verily, you will then be like them. Surely, Allah will collect the hypocrites and the disbelievers all together in hell’ (4:140).

It is the prerogative of Allah Subhana to deal with those who ‘Mock’ or the ‘Apostate’; their killing is most certainly not sanctioned in the Quran. However, the misguided amongst us think it their religious duty to impose what they call the ‘Shariah’ on everybody else. I believe that there is a latent hatred amongst them stemming from low self-esteem and an absence of credible role models.

The only ‘Authentic Hadith’

I often hear Muslims categorically state that we have to embrace the Noble Quran and Hadith in order to follow the Sunnah. They say that it is ‘Kufr’ to separate the revelations that Prophet Muhammad recited from his sayings and teachings. They insist that even when he was in conversation with the companions, the laity or the Ahl Al-Bait; God was speaking through him. I would like to remind these Muslims that our Prophet sought guidance from what was revealed to him by the Almighty. Whenever he felt the great burden of responsibility and was distraught, he would turn to the verses of the Quran for solace. ‘And we have sent down to you the Book as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and glad tidings for those who have submitted themselves’ (16:89). ‘We have explained in detail in this Quran for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude but man is in most things, contentious’ (18:54). ‘We have neglected nothing in the Book’ (6:38).

At a more personal level, I do believe in the Noble Quran and in the perfect example of our Prophet. The Noble Quran is the touchstone, an intellectual measure by which we confirm the veracity of Hadith. ‘Say: if the mankind and the jinn were together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof even if they helped one another’ (16:88). As the Quran was being revealed, the Prophet would commit it to memory and then recite it to his companions. During these recitations the companions would memorize the Revelations; scribes would record the same in writing. The scribes would then read what they had written back to the Prophet; he would in-turn correct their mistakes. With each new Ayah that was revealed, the Prophet would dictate its placement within the Quranic order. This effectual process of validation was resolutely adhered to during the period the Prophet received the Revelations. ‘We have without doubt sent down the message, and We will assuredly guard it’ (15:9).

‘This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you and chosen for you Islam as your religion’ (5:3). Does what the Prophet say in the passing after the revelation of this verse, still be considered ‘Divine’; and for how long. The question is that if the sayings and teachings of the Prophet are ‘Divine’ then why can’t we recite them during Namaz. Why did the companions not feel the need to compile these traditions during the lifetime of the Prophet or soon after? Even when many of the companions were killed in the Wars of Apostasy at the time of Caliph Abu Bakr, the concern was primarily with collating the Quran. From what I have researched to-date, I unequivocally believe that the Noble Quran is the only ‘Authentic Hadith’ – ‘He has taught man that which he knew not’ (96:5).