Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, National | Tags: Afghanistan, Clinton, Sharia
Since the beginning of the new administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has met with fourteen prominent Afghan women judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. The women came to Washington to participate in a training program arranged by the State Department’s Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan.
In Washington, the Afghan women participated in intensive legal seminars and consultations with senior officials, and explored current topics in Afghan and American legal systems: legal decision-making and mediation, domestic violence, family and mental health, and narcotics law.
President Obama, in his first foreign policy announcement, made clear to Afghan citizens, “We are committed to supporting your efforts to bring security and stability to your country.” Most agree the Afghan justice system needs improvement through education in jurisprudence and professional development. As it stands now, the State Department alleges Afghan judges and lawyers to base their work mainly on tribal codes.
Since the inception of Islam, women have been encouraged to pursue legal careers, a highly respected field. One of the first jurists in Islam was Syeda Aisha, the wife of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, may the peace of Allah be upon him and his family. People came regularly to seek her legal advice. Today’s Muslims owe one third of Islamic law, known as Sharia, to this most intelligent and blessed lady. Sharia is a highly developed legal system in which modern democracy found much of its roots. During the Islamic caliphate, the main centers of secular learning and debate were in Muslim countries where people of the three major religions lived cohesively prior to the Crusades.
Islamic Post Senior Correspondent Returns from Southeast Asia
Senior Correspondent Khadijah Smith has completed her 30 day tour overseas. Mrs Smith has done extensive and valuable coverage for the Islamic Post during the last month and staff members will be welcoming her arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport on March 25th. The IP senior correspondent will be returning home to the US in time to report on the upcoming United Muslim Christian Forum’s Eid Milad un Nabi Parade and Festival, which is to be held on the 29th of March, 2009 in Binghamton, NY.
Second Annual Eid Miladun Nabi Parade and Festival
The International Qur’anic Open University and United Muslim Christian Forum will be sponsoring The 2nd Annual Eid Milad un Nabi Parade and Festival in scenic upstate New York in the City of Binghamton. This years’ Eid Milad un Nabi festival follows on the heels of a very successful parade and festival last year which highlighted the peaceful co-existence of Muslims and the People of the Book who follow previously revealed Divine scriptures: the Torah and the Gospel. Eid Milad un Nabi is a traditional Muslim holiday in honor of the birth of the Holy Last Messenger, may the peace of God be upon him, upon the Second to Last Messenger, Jesus, and all of those sent by God.
“Muslims and Christians Will Unite.”
Unlike those who portray Armageddon scenarios between Muslims and Christians, the above words are what the religion of Islam has to say about the destined Muslim/Christian relationship. Islam is not a religion enimical to the West. Reviver of Islam, El Sheikh Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani Hashmi has been saying for decades that the time is upon true believers in God to unite upon the platform of ‘There is Only One God,’ and leave aside all differences for the benefit of mankind as a whole. Barack Obama, a Christian president with a Muslim name quoting a hadith, or tradition, of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his historic National Prayer Breakfast last month was, therefore, not surprising. Muslims and Christians have been coming together in brotherhood in this great country for years. This is part of “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and as the Holy Last Messenger related to us “None of you is a believer until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself.” El Sheikh Gilani advised on the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims extensively in his 1998 publication of the 40 Hadith Jami. In hadith 7 of the same, it states: “Whosoever does not show mercy to mankind, Allah will not be merciful to him.” The commentary elaborates: “Here it means mercy to all, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, because mercy is a specialty of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him.)”
By Jameelah Kareem
Islamic Post Staff Writer
News agencies are reporting U.S. lawmakers will continue sending some Guantanamo Bay detainees to a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia. General Mansoor al Turki, interior ministry spokesman for the Saudi government, told CNN, “Such a re-education program will help the police to make sure these people get rid of the ideology that penetrated their brains [and to] make sure, when they leave prison, [they] can lead [a] normal life.”
There are approximately 240-250 detainees left at Guantanamo, most with little to no evidence of terrorist involvement. Nevertheless, a reform program is still seen as appropriate and the Care Rehabilitation Center in Riyadh, which focuses solely on ‘religious education,’ claims a 95% success rate. While the two Saudis who were said to have gone back to Al Qaeda, Said Al-Shihri and another man, bring that rate down by only about one percent (218 processed with 9 rearrests), there are more pressing questions regarding whether ‘religious education’ of the Saudi Arabian government is rehabilitating, or debilitating, for their Islamic morality.
The first thing which weakens Islamic principles of men is the common teaching of Wahhabism, which originates in Saudi Arabia, that it is not necessary to follow the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him. Although there is a general outward appearance of flowing robes, the code which is largely followed is tribal custom. There is no harm in local customs as long as they do not transcend the laws of decency and human brotherhood. When these laws are bypassed, as is happening in many so-called Islamic countries, the result is an extremist stance that results in violent acts and the oppression of women justified with false interpretations of Islamic texts.
One of the publishing houses which caters to the raising of an intolerant mindset is Darussalam Publications which uphold distortions of Islam, even mistranslating the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, to suit their ends (See Darussalam Publications: Enjoining Wrong, Forbidding Right, Islamic Post January Volume I.)
Another primary source of misinformation is the translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Yusuf Ali, which is the main Qur’anic text available in the West, in particular, as millions of copies are donated freely to mosques, Islamic centers, campuses and libraries. Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom cites no less than $75 billion dollars leaving the Saudi monarchy in donations to locations abroad. These monies are used for mosque-building assistance and salaries for those who agree to preach Wahhabism in their locales. For those who accept this assistance, the Yusuf Ali translation, Wahhabi books and literature are all mandatory to be placed therein and the teachers are given them as textbooks.
Majlis Ulema of South Africa published a book in the 1980s titled Errors of Yusuf Ali in which was listed 16 major mistakes in translation and commentary. Majlis Ulema asserts that in his erroneous commentary, Yusuf Ali promoted that following the Holy Messengers of Islam is unneccessary. If following the broad minded tolerance of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his interpretation of Qur’an (which is, in fact, his lifestyle) is not mandatory, but optional, it surely leaves room for a different, fallacious interpretation. This is the interpretation which originates from the Saudi Arabian government and religious bodies. Sending people who have already been accused of extremism to Saudi Arabia for reformation may not be the correct route to take.
A reformer is a scholar, not one who rejects the scholars for his own vain interpretation of Islam. It is also imperative that scholars know the entire text of Holy Qur’an, and above all, possess thorough understanding of the occasions for which various sections and lines of Holy Qur’an were revealed, including the abrogated verses, and those that replaced them. This can only be done by someone who has spent his life studying the science of the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and knows them by memory, as well as the Holy Qur’an itself. Also he should be well versed in the historical events that precipitated revelations.
He must also be well acquainted with the character of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and his Holy Companions and also the enemies and allies of the believers. Foes and friends existed outside the Islamic community and also within. As is today, there were many hypocrites who had apparently followed the religion, but only with a view to riding on the power of Islam. Needless to say, being fluent in classical Arabic and the shades of meaning used by Hijazi Arabs of the time is absolutely essential. Finally, the scholar to be must be infused with knowledge of God, awareness of Him, and a profound dislike to commit errors or do what the Almighty dislikes. To embrace all these qualities and profound knowledge can prove very challenging. Because of their love of and spiritual connection to the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him), his descendants have, throughout history, become the finest and most prolific scholars of Islam.
Therefore, not every Tom or Abdullah can pick up Holy Qur’an offhand, and begin to explain the text therein according to his own opinion. Muslims and non-Muslims alike are impressed upon to seek knowledge of Islam, its Messenger (peace be upon him), history, language and culture to enhance his or her understanding of Islam’s Divine text, which was sent for the entire human race. This can be done by sitting for lessons with a scholar of Islam or, failing this, reading his books and discourses. In Islam, it is only the deviates and arrogant people who say they will only follow Holy Qur’an or Hadith (authenticated, recorded traditions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him) while dismissing the work of scholars who spent their lifetimes studying and writing on the same in detail.
All this being said, there are very specific circumstances which occasion jihad, or defensive warfare, in the Holy Qur’an and Islam, just as there are injunctions for the same in the Bible. It is not befitting for those who are not scholars of the Word of God, whether they be Muslim or non-Muslim, to misinterpret such injunctions for any reason, least of all to advocate wanton bloodshed. On numerous occasions Wahhabi teachings have been found to be lacking in this regard.
However, for some, extremism provides opportunities. According to Newsweek: “There have also been concerns that Bush administration holdovers were deliberately playing up the [recidivism] cases in recent weeks in an effort to undercut Obama. One former senior U. S. counter-terrorism official noted to Newsweek that the Pentagon waited until the day after Obama signed his executive order mandating the closure of Guantanamo to confirm Mr Al-Shihri’s renewed Al Qaeda ties.”
Last month Russia announced new military initiatives. One involves the U.S. air base near Bishkek that American forces have used to supply military operations in Afghanistan. The Kremlin stated its $2 billion loan for the Bishkek base, as well as a $150 million aid grant, at the same time that Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said his country will be asking American forces to leave the base. The U.S. military was given six months to vacate Bishkek in late February.
All of the initiatives strengthen military ties with states that were once part of the former Soviet Union.
In another initiative, Russian President Medvedev and his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, agreed to create a new joint air-defense system involving five air force and 10 missile units. Russia’s Kommersant business newspaper reports Mr. Lukashenko’s agreement was conditioned by demands for Russian weapon subsidies and Russian orders from Belarusian defense industries.
In a third move Mr Medvedev secured the agreement of neighboring Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to create a rapid reaction force as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO. The agreement confronts what the Russian president termed a wide range of challenges and threats: crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
Victor Ivanov, head of the Russian Federal Narcotics Control Service did, however, express an openness to participate with the United States in eradicating the spreading illicit drug economy in the region. In an interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Mr Ivanov stated, “To reduce this danger, we are vitally interested in working with the new American Administration.”
Cooperation with the US is seen as a necessity, as LPAC News reported, due to the spread of drug crops and trafficking from southern Afghanistan to the whole area along the border with the Central Asian countries. Mr Ivanov called for convening a conference under UN auspices on Peace and Prosperity in Afghanistan, as a “first step.” All tribes, areas, and political forces “prepared for a constructive dialogue” should be invited, Ivanov said, proposing a special role for Russia, as a country “whose forces have not participated in this seven-years long war.”
The United States has reciprocated interest in cooperating with the Kremlin to deal with the crisis in Afghanistan. The U.S. State Department said that Washington is “looking forward” to working with Russia on Afghanistan. “It’s in both of our countries’ interest to try to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan and bring about more economic development and security in the country,” said State Department Spokesman Robert Wood.
Mr Wood was responding to a statement given to reporters by Mr. Medvedev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Medvedev was quoted as saying: “We hope the new U.S. administration will have greater success than the previous one in resolving the Afghanistan issue. …We are ready to work on the most complicated issues.” The Russian president also commented that the “number of radicals is not declining” there.
President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, in turn, commented that he supports U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to solve the Afghanistan crisis, and emphasized the importance of regional cooperation. “We offer to solve the problem through the involvement of regional states,” he said.
Russian envoy to NATO, Dmitry Ragozin, said on Echo Moskvy radio station, that cooperation is being re-established with NATO, and warned that were NATO to be defeated in Afghanistan, this would threaten Russia. –Sources: VOA, LPAC, U.S. State Dept.
Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, National, World | Tags: Geert Wilders
By Bashirah A. Malik
Islamic Post Staff Writer
“I am a strong an advocate of First Amendment free speech. However, this is not about free speech, but rather an issue of propriety, timing and venue,” Common Dreams quoted Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) as saying regarding the viewing of the film Fitna on Capitol Hill.
Fitna is a controversial film about the Holy Qur’an by Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. The film made headlines and prompted angry protest across the Muslim World last March. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said at the time that the film wrongly equated Islam with violence and served “no purpose other than to offend.”
Mr Wilders’ visit to Washington to host the screening of the film came just after a Dutch court ordered prosecutors to put the right-wing politician on trial for making anti-Islamic statements. Common Dreams reports Mr. Wilders was denied entry by the British government in his attempts to promote the film there. Only 40 members of Congress came to the viewing on Capitol Hill. The Dutch government disavowed Mr. Wilders visit to the US and believes the release of the film “serves no purpose other than to cause offense.”
In 2007, Wilders apparently sought to incite Muslims by ranting against Holy Quran as a “fascist book,” calling for the sacred Islamic text to be banned, and comparing the Holy Quran to Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf.
In a statement, the Amsterdam appeals court “ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs.” The three judges in the case stated that they had weighed Wilders’ anti-Islamic rhetoric against his right to free speech, and ruled he had even gone beyond normal leeway given to politicians.
After the ruling, Wilder stated, ‘I had not expected it [this ruling].’ Gerard Spong, a prominent lawyer who joined Islamic groups in pushing for Wilders’ prosecution told reporters, “This is a happy day for all followers of Islam who do not want to be tossed on the garbage dump of Nazism.”
The court’s ruling reverses a decision made last year by the public prosecutor’s office, which said Mr. Wilder’s comments had been made outside parliament as a contribution to the debate on Islam in Dutch society and that no criminal offense had been committed. Because Wilders has not yet been charged, it is not clear what maximum penalty he could face if convicted.
Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, World | Tags: israel, Palestine
N. Begum Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
It doesn’t appear as if Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will back down from the expansionist Likud party stance, despite opposing views from the US State Department. Just before visiting Israel on her tour of the Middle East early this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized to Egyptian Television her commitment to “a two-state solution, a comprehensive peace,” for Israel and the occupied territories.
However, upon arrival, Secretary Clinton and accompanying US delegates found themselves seated across from Mr Netanyahu and his choice of advisors for the meeting which included Uzi Arad, the former director of intelligence for the Mossad, who was banned from visiting the US due to suspicion of espionage activities inside the country. Mr Arad’s presence at the meeting has been interpreted by political analysts as mildly antagonistic.
The Israeli Ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, resigned the following day after being asked by Netanyahu to leave the meeting while Arad remained.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardliner Likud party won the right to form the next Israeli government after a close battle with Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. One vote shy of beating Ms Livni, Netanyahu was nevertheless appointed to rule Israel. However, the main differentiating factor between the two parties, that regarding the Palestinian question, had been abandoned before the race was over.
In the latter part of January, Foreign Minister Livni told 60 Minutes she agreed with the proposal of a two-state solution that would contain Israel and give Palestine borders: “[CBS reporter Bob] Simon: Can you really imagine evacuating the tens of thousands of settlers who say they will not leave? Livni: It’s not going to be easy, but this is the only solution. Simon: But you know that there are settlers who say, ‘We will fight. We will not leave. We will fight.’ Livni: So this is the responsibility of the government, of the police to stop them, as simple as that. Israel is a state of law and order.” However, Think Progress noted from a Haaretz report that after Mr Netanyahu made it clear that he would not be bound by the current government’s “commitments to withdraw” from the West Bank, Livni’s stance changed abrubtly: “I will advance only an agreement that represents our interests. Maintaining maximum settlers and places that we hold dear such as Jerusalem — not a single refugee will enter.”
Indeed, the occupied territories carried a great deal of weight in this year’s elections. As the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported, the outgoing Israeli government was “getting high marks from the Israeli public for its pounding offensive in Gaza.” But, apparently the pounding was insufficient. “Polls show that the conservative opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have opened up a bigger lead, based on a public concern that the offensive left the Hamas regime intact while failing to free an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit,” continued CSM.
But Prime Minister- designate Netanyahu did not close that big of a gap in the end, as the final vote tallied Likud (Netanyahu) at 27 and Kadima (Livni) a point higher at 28. Despite claims of being the only Middle East democracy, votes do not always make the final decision in Israel’s parliamentary system. President Shimon Peres made the final decision that the winner would be Mr Netanyahu, who must now be able to form a coalition government. Parliamentary democracies have been widely debated over time. Some schools attest that the system is used by third world countries and former British colonies making the transition to a full democracy.
The fledgling Zionist democracy is another matter entirely. Having been founded on the pretense of expansion, it seemed relatively important that a party win this year which would not waver on that stance. Given the current climate, and no end in sight to the continued shelling of the Gaza Strip, Likud gaining the upper hand was nothing short of predictable. The party platform of Likud states: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”
It remains to be seen how President Barack Obama’s support of a two-state solution will gain ground, especially when negotiations will be held with one who openly stated the American tragedy of 9/11 was of great benefit. “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv quoted Mr Netanyahu as telling a Bar Ilan university audience last April. The prime minister designate reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.”
Uzi Arad, who served as a foreign policy advisor during Netanyahu’s previous term (1996-1999), is expected to be named head of the Israeli National Security Council once the government is formed. Uzi Arad was linked in 2005 to Lawrence Franklin, a former U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who pled guilty to passing information about U.S. policy towards Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S, while he was working for the Defense Department. Israel denies allegations of the link.
By Abdul Wali Johnson
Islamic Post Staff Writer
“Myanmar must immediately stop the systematic persecution of the Rohingya [Muslim] minority,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, Sam Zarifi, in a recent open letter to the Myanmar government. The letter was also sent to surrounding governments with a request to assist Rohinyas. The flight of Muslims from Myanmar reached a “critical stage over the last two months,” according to Mr Zafiri, after the Thai military “forcibly expelled approximately 1,000 Rohingyas arriving in southwest Thailand by boat.”
The Rohingyah, a mostly Muslim ethnic group, are descendants of dark skinned Arab sailors, from Southern Arabia and Iran, who visited the South East Asian coastal cities of Burma (now Myanmar) from as early as the 8th century and the local inhabitants. Their offspring were called Cula, which literally translates as “black”. They migrated to Arakan (now called Rakhine State), in the north, around 957AD when Burma was invaded by the Mongoloids.
Through their history, they were persecuted by the leaders of Burma because they were considered to be “untouchables” and they are still, to this day, forced to perform free labor at the behest of the governing junta.
The slavish history of the Rohingya began with the annexation of Arkan with Burma in 1784. Since 1937, when Burma was separated from British India, they have been victims of bloody genocidal operations in 1942, 1978, and 1991/92, causing large migrations to Bangladesh.
In the pogrom of 1942, two hundred thousand Rohingya men, women and children were massacred. All the Rohingyas of 36 villages were slaughtered.
However, the atrocities are still continuing; the suffering enduring from generation to generation. While the Indian and Indonesian authorities have rescued hundreds of Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar by sea, nobody knows when the stories of their blood and tears will come to an end. Amnesty International also called on Bangladesh and Malaysia, as well as the other governments of nations surrounding Myanmar, to help provide search and rescue for the hundreds missing and feared drowned and to prevent more loss of life.