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The Muslim Lords of CVE

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The main idea behind Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), is that there is a way to intelligently articulate a future “path” to something called “radicalization” by Muslims, and this can be stopped before crimes are committed.  The Intercept last month  exposed a secret study by one of the principal purveyors of CVE, the FBI, that there is no such thing.  It is important for Muslims to understand that CVE is not only damaging to the community, it is fraud.

The ISPU Debate

On Labor Day Weekend in Chicago, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) hosted a debate at the annual ISNA Convention  on the Federal Government’s Muslim-only “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) initiative, if it was beneficial or harmful to “engage” with law enforcement on such programs.

Both Dr Muqtedar Khan and Kamran Bokhari, who spoke in favor of Muslim participation in CVE agreed there was no net-benefit in doing so, and yet despite this lack of net-benefit insisted that the Muslim community should do it anyway. The reasons to support CVE had to do with dealing with “extremism,” “radicalism,” and “anti-Americanism” that exist in the Muslim community.  Never mind that even if eliminating these things were laudable goals, (they are not) it is clear this is impossible to achieve through CVE.  Furthermore, attendees were told Muslims do not have a choice in the matter – either they choose to serve the government to help do away with these things or risk the government engaging with Islamophobes like Daniel Pipes to do this instead.

While all sides agreed CVE offers “no net-benefit,” there was no serious discussion of what the real benefits were and who within the community stands to benefit.  Sahar Aziz and Dawud Walid argued forcefully against CVE, citing the harms to individuals, families and the community as a whole, which was what they were supposed to do.

Despite clear indications most American Muslims who know about the issues – including the speakers who spoke in favor of CVE – appear to hold a negative opinion of it, the benefits may be powerful enough for the pro CVE side to prevail.  We need to understand what we are up against.

ISPU, the convener of the debate, unfortunately failed to question or disclose whether the two speakers favoring CVE personally benefit financially from the national security state. Neither of the speakers disclosed at the event what financial remuneration they receive from the Federal Government, foreign governments, think tanks and corporations with an interest in CVE, either directly or indirectly through their employers.

 The American Muslim Intellectual class sometimes serve as tools of imperial interests, as Dr. Hatam Bazian recently observed.  CVE is a great example of why this fact matters.

To his credit, Kamran , a former “extremist” who has since become an “expert” on “extremism” was at least up front in that he did not speak as a “Muslim activist,” but rather as a “professional” who deals with “extremism.” It is too communal a view, from his perspective, to consider things such as “benefit” or “harm”, but rather Muslims should adopt the government program targeting the Muslim community because it is the right thing to do, and because supporting CVE was somehow “logical.”

Muslims should do the right thing even if there is no financial benefit. Doing the right thing is inherently beneficial if you are Muslim. But is it really the right thing if a privileged few stand on the “benefit” side of the ledger while the most marginalized fall on the “harm” side? For the Muslim community, the benefit and harm should be subject to more scrutiny.  An early “Pilot Program” City, the Muslim community in the Los Angeles area had some early experience with CVE.  The community contemplated both benefit and harm.

The Southern California Muslim community was virtually united in opposition soon after February 2015 “CVE Summit” at the White House ended. That the Government’s CVE program in Los Angeles has been stuck in a ditch for nearly two years is no accident.  It took an organized effort, though keeping CVE out of our community continues to be an uphill struggle.  At an Imam teach-in in those early days and in many other public and private meetings on the subject, Muslim leaders and activists used a wide range of historical analogies or explanations for what it was. It was alternately or simultaneously “white supremacy” or “Cointelpro,” or portrayed as something like the Raj in India.

 

One Islamic Educator then said it was like “Braveheart” because it appeared the Federal Government was creating “lords,” a special class of official Muslim leaders.  CVE documents and prior experience with “Prevent” in the UK (to be renamed “Engage”) led to a similar conclusion: CVE will divide the Muslim community between the “engagers”- those who will do law enforcement’s bidding – and the non-engagers, which comprises of everyone who disagrees with the government’s preferred narrative about the Muslim community. The creation of “engagers” sometimes involved use of “astroturfing” by funding “Muslim leaders” that claimed to be independent, but upon further inspection, turned out to not be.  While I had written about an example of this in the United States, the British Human Rights Group CAGE found several in the United Kingdom. It is the nature of Astroturf groups to claim they are independent while in fact being severely compromised by financial rewards and government endorsement.

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The medieval British nobility did not merely “engage” with the King or act as a class of official sycophants; they were oppressors who oppressed primarily to benefit themselves. As Michelle Alexander points out in her book “The New Jim Crow,” all oppressive systems have people from within the targeted group that benefit from the oppression. This was the case in American slavery, South African Apartheid, the occupation of Palestine, and everywhere else where a group was oppressed. There are always people from within the targeted group who serve as apologists for the system, justifying the fraudulent frame of dangerousness of their own group and profiting from the popular narrative they help nurture and sustain.

Muqtedar Khan, Associate Professor at University of Delaware, who has been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the US Government for his work dealing with Islam and Muslims, relied on what could only be described as nihilism when he argued for a program with no net-benefit and in a moment of candid confession admitted that CVE was “awful.” Khan implied all government programs were bad anyway.  He is wrong of course. The National Parks Service is an excellent government program, as are plenty of others.

Muslims, according to Khan, cannot afford to be seen as being “dissidents” and at one point compared the Muslim community to a watermelon and the government to a knife. Either you get cut falling on the knife, or you get cut with the knife falling on you. The Muslim community will be cut. Get over it.  Khan readily admitted the program would do nothing to prevent any harsh treatment of Muslims that is a daily part of life in the war on terror (a frequent and easily refuted talking point by some). All we can do is assist the government so that some of us may be respectable. Nobility is nothing if not respectable.

Muslims should disagree with Khan.  We should be a community of dissidents when policies are unjust, and advocates when policies are just. We enjoin the good and forbid the evil. This is not complicated.

Neither CVE opponents Dawud Walid and Sahar Aziz’s central arguments concerning the harmful effects of CVE on the Muslim community were seriously disputed. You can see the entire debate here. The conclusion that CVE is a loathsome program and should be defeated is not a difficult one, unless a leader or activist stands to gain financially, or in some other way that provides the badges of nobility.

Advocacy has been important nationally, and organizations such as CAIR (despite some unfortunate disarray), Muslim Advocates, Muslim Justice League and others did exactly that. One insight in Southern California added a step: CVE was not merely a government program, but a system where newly constituted Muslim nobility, deputized by law enforcement to push a harmful narrative of the Muslim community and divide it. Petitioning the King would not be enough. If you want to stop it in its tracks, you must challenge the legitimacy of the nobility created by the government.

In the Los Angeles area, we were fortunate. The Muslim community has been generally well organized with solid leadership. There was just one significant organization in Southern California that supported CVE. They were unusual in that they also previously supported the Egyptian coup by General Sisi and the religious and ethnic profiling by police in Los Angeles. Their support of CVE was in character and easy to dismiss. They were exposed as compromised, which helped diminish their pro-CVE advocacy. A unanimous vote by the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California against CVE sent a clear message to Law Enforcement and all government agencies: We will not violate our community’s trust. We will not be servants of the national security state. We will not accept the narrative that our children are more dangerous than non-Muslim children. We will not be the oppressors.

Stronger Watermelons

Either the Southern California Muslim community is made of stronger stuff than watermelon, or the knife has been unusually dull.

Unfortunately, other Muslim communities in the United States have not been so fortunate. For example, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), which serves as the regional council for Muslim groups in Chicago, developed its own CVE Program, funded by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. Amazingly, it utilizes the “four stages of radicalization,” from the New York Police Department. This includes the notion that indicators of religiousness, such as giving up cigarettes, gambling or growing a beard can lead to terrorism. The concept was so obscene that the NYPD, after a lawsuit, agreed to remove the report “radicalization theory” comes from.  Yet, an organization of Mosques was somehow using this Islamophobic garbage as the basis for their program.

One speaker at the ISNA convention, in a panel unrelated to CVE, veered off his subject and spoke about his work with CIOGC in “deprogramming” Muslim youth as part of CVE. The narrative of Muslim leaders promoting CVE is to dehumanize Muslim youth and peddle Islamophobia by this portrayal of the future of our community as budding T-1000s, programmed killing machines in need of fixing. In exchange, Muslim leaders receive financial compensation and perhaps earn the respect of law enforcement and politicians.

The CIOGC move results in a community organization accepting government funds to act as a servant of law enforcement interests and against the interests of the most marginal within the Muslim community. Moreover, Muslim leaders are taking dictation from the government based on a fundamentally Islamophobic frame.  This is  perhaps an example of what Muhammad Ghilan recently referred to as the world’s largest Pavlovian experiment.  CIOGC is financially dependent on the fame of Muslims as inherently violent.  If they don’t perpetuate this frame, the money will stop.

As Dawud Walid pointed out recently, CVE programs are a particular danger to Imams, and participation in CVE represents a fundamental breach of trust. By obvious extension, it is a breach of trust for any Muslim leader to financially benefit from the exploitation and stigmatization of our community. This needs to stop.

In Greek legend, King Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia so his ships get some fair wind on the way to Troy. Are we as a Muslim community willing to sacrifice the most marginalized and defenseless among us to avoid being seen as a “dissident community,” so some of us can perhaps get that fair wind?

Ahmed Shaikh is a Southern California Attorney. He writes about inheritance, nonprofits and other legal issues affecting Muslims in the United States. His Islamic Inheritance website is www.islamicinheritance.com

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Avatar

    soraya

    October 19, 2016 at 5:04 PM

    Some of the violent extremism, beheading, crucifixtion is rooted in the text. Let’s put our house in order. Send a message to the extremists that these Surahs have no place today. We must stop claiming the innerency of the Quran.

    • Avatar

      Abdullah O

      October 19, 2016 at 6:20 PM

      May Allah humiliate you.

    • Avatar

      Abdullah

      October 19, 2016 at 7:07 PM

      Can you please give examples of surahs you would like removed?

    • Avatar

      Hassan

      October 19, 2016 at 10:06 PM

      Salaam Soraya,

      You said:
      <>

      I would argue that said extremism, etc is more the result of the de-contextualization (historically and textually) of said verses and not necessarily what said verses actually preach.

    • Avatar

      Hassan

      October 19, 2016 at 10:07 PM

      Salaam Soraya,

      You said:
      “some of the violent extremism, beheading, crucifixtion is rooted in the text”

      I would argue that said extremism, etc is more the result of the de-contextualization (historically and textually) of said verses and not necessarily what said verses actually preach.

    • Avatar

      Hue Man

      October 20, 2016 at 2:22 PM

      Its impossible to be Muslim and at the same time claim that the Quran has error. Its not the fault of Islam or Muslims that some people choose to interpret the Quran in their own way while ignoring 1400 years of scholarship. Whats odd is that the people who hold their very own opinion above that of the scholars tend to come to the same conclusions. Then they fall into two opposing camps. One that says all the scholars are wrong and no one is on the true path but them. One that says Islam is wrong or the quran is wrong. But what is most odd? Its that both these opposing views actually carry the same exact opinions of the Quran!

      So lets stay in the middle path, learn from the scholars, learn the meaning as intended to be understood. And lets not be arrogant in our personal opinions lest we fall into extremes.

    • Avatar

      Ash

      November 5, 2016 at 7:05 PM

      There is no violent extremism rooting in the Text…! And stop trying to pretend your Muslim, my Christian friend.

    • Avatar

      p4rv3zkh4n

      November 10, 2016 at 5:58 PM

      There were various classical scholars who rejected abrogation within the Quran. Such as Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd and Qadi Abdul Jabbar.

      Zaidi and Mu’tazila madhab rejected abrogation in the Quran.

      Abu Muslim Muhammad ibn Hajr al-Asfahani (d. 322/933) refuted the concept internal abrogation in the Quran.

      He used the following verse as evidence:

      (Quran 18:27) “AND CONVEY whatever has been revealed to you of the Sustainer’s Book. There is nothing that could alter His words and you can find no refuge other than with Him.”

      Abu Muslim concludes; Hence any abrogation, as could be interpreted in verse 2:106 relates to earlier divine messages and not to any part of the Qur’an itself.

      Also those who claim internal abrogation, strongly differ as to the number of verses being abrogated. Which proves that their concept is seriously flawed.

      Ironically Shah WaliuAllah only recognised five instances of abrogation. Even those five verses have been explained by scholars such as Muhammad Ghazali to show no abrogation but rather examples of specification or rulings for different situations.

      Relatively recent scholars who rejected abrogation in the Quran are; Sayyid Khah, Rashad Rida, Muhammad Ghazali and Muhammad Amin.

      Another point worthy of note is that there exists no verse from the Quran in which there is Ijma’a about its abrogation. In other words, for any scholar who claims that a particular verse has been abrogated, we can find other scholars who claim the same verse was not abrogated.

  2. Avatar

    Muqtedar Khan

    October 19, 2016 at 9:05 PM

    Salam. This article falsely claims that I have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State department. But I do want to ask the author to identify when I personally received any money from the State Department? Please mention the years, and I will be happy to share (only with the editors of this website) my tax returns. It is unIslamic to make such serious accusations about fellow Muslims. The editors also did not have the basic journalistic courtesy to check with me or verify facts before printing such false accusations.

    The author links to my CV. He is perhaps referring to a grant received by the University of Delaware (I was the Principle Investigator) to bring scholars from the Muslim World to address Americans and take American scholars to Egypt and KSA to speak to Muslims. This grant, also received by ISNA, was done to improve people to people contact between Muslims, an exercise in public diplomacy and has nothing to do with CVE.

    Besides CVE is a DHS initiative and not a State department initiative. This is a deliberate attempt to malign a Muslim who had nothing but the bet interests of the community at heart. You may disagree with my Ijtihad but speculating on motive is dirty.

    Hardcore Islamophobes are more honest than this article, see how they reported the same thing: http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/4782

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Shaikh

      October 19, 2016 at 9:51 PM

      Thank you for your comment Dr. Khan. You should read the article again. I said hundreds of thousands from the US Government, some of which is from the State Department, but that is not all. Your CV makes it clear you have benefited from government funds, including the Department of State and Department of Defense, both are agencies in the National Security establishment. For some reason you claim to be unaware that CVE is a major State Department priority. You can learn more about it at the State Department’s website https://www.state.gov/j/cve/

      I have no objection to you taking grants. However money influences behavior, this is well established. You have been dependent in large part on government funds and are advocating policies that are adverse to the interests of the Muslim community and by your own admission are “awful.” These are policies well respected civil rights organizations are fighting, and for good reason. My concern is that this should have been disclosed by ISPU and should have been part of the discussion.

      In many other environments, including the courts, conflicts of interests and financial ties that can cause bias are relevant. They should have been part of the discussion at the debate as well.

    • Avatar

      Ash

      November 5, 2016 at 7:03 PM

      You must be an American version of Maajid Nawaz and the Quilliam foundation that we have here in the U.k…The Lord in Chief of CVE in the U.K.
      In the U.K. we have had toddlers investigated for reciting Bismillah, toddler investigated for drawing a picture of a Cucumber the teacher thought the child said he was drawing a “Cooker Bomb” another one investigated because he made a spelling mistake and wrote ” Terrarest House instead of the word “Terraced” House. The catalogue and buffoonery goes on and on! Witch hunts being carried out against Toddlers.

  3. Avatar

    Muqtedar Khan

    October 19, 2016 at 10:32 PM

    I am not aware of any DOD grant I have received. Please enlighten me. The State department grant was 2008 and done by 2009 and the idea of CVE is 2015. You do not mention that Sahar Aziz actually worked for DHS. She took a regular paycheck (her work like my grant had nothing to do with CVE) but atleast be “fair and balanced” :) US is my country and I am an American and like Human Khan who actually died fighting for this country, sone of us actually care for the safety of our country and believe in cooperating with our government specially since we voted for it (President Obama).

    BTW here are my views on CVE which were ignored. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/muqtedar-khan/countering-violent-extrem_1_b_9713132.html

    • Avatar

      Kobie Williams

      October 20, 2016 at 12:04 AM

      Allah says, “Then, you are those [same ones who are] killing one another and evicting a party of your people from their homes, cooperating against them in sin and aggression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their eviction was forbidden to you. So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. ” Quran [Baqarah 85]

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Shaikh

      October 20, 2016 at 12:39 AM

      Perhaps you were not aware an entity you received funds from was part of the DOD? Please run your funding sources though Google and perhaps you will gain the awareness you seek.

      Look, I have no beef with you. Do your thing. My concern is the integrity of Muslim leadership and disclosures of actual or potential conflicts. Sahar Aziz was advocating in the interests of the marginalized in the Muslim community and against the policy goals of her former employer, DHS. We are not really concerned about the conflict, rather her employment history enhances her qualifications to speak. Furthermore, unlike what happened in your situation, her experience with DHS WAS disclosed.

  4. Avatar

    Kobie Williams

    October 20, 2016 at 9:24 AM

    When I hear about Muslim organization and leaders who are directly or indirectly involved with CVE this ayah in the Quran comes to mind when Allah says, Allah says, “Then, you are those [same ones who are] killing one another and evicting a party of your people from their homes, cooperating against them in sin and aggression. And if they come to you as captives, you ransom them, although their eviction was forbidden to you. So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do ” Quran [Baqarah: 85]

    These leaders are selling the ummah of Muhammad (PBUH) up the river. They are wanting the life of this world in exchange for the hereafter. What a miserable price!
    Allah says, “Those are the ones who have bought the life of this world [in exchange] for the Hereafter, so the punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be aided.” [Baqarah: 86]

  5. Avatar

    Guest

    October 20, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    You mean the verses that tell Muslims to defend themselves against non-Muslim aggressors? Like the verse below from the same Surah:

    “Would you not fight people who violated their treaties, tried to banish the messenger, and they are the ones who started the war in the first place. . . ?” [Quran 9:13]

    That’s what you find “troubling”?

    Also You obviously don’t know the context or meaning of what you’ve posted, which you probably cut and pasted it.

    There is no abrogation in the Quran. The Quran says:

    “Shall I seek other than GOD as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed? Those who received the scripture recognize that it has been revealed from your Lord, truthfully. You shall not harbor any doubt. The word of your Lord is complete, in truth and justice. NOTHING SHALL ABROGATE HIS WORDS. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of GOD. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” [Quran 6:114-116]

    The theory of abrogation was formulated centuries after Muhammad’s death by Sunni scholars like al-Shafi’i and ibn Qutaybah. Initially, abrogation was applied to resolve the contradictions between Sunni hadiths. But when Sunnis started applying it to resolve the numerous contradictions between their hadiths and the Quran, it caused quite a controversy.

    Needless to say, 7th century Muslims like Muhammad weren’t applying a theory that was formulated in the 9th century. That’s anachronistic.

    • Avatar

      Ash

      November 5, 2016 at 7:15 PM

      He is clearly an Islamaphobe who has cut/paste partial verses from Surahs… and thinks he is being clever by pretending to be muslim.

  6. Avatar

    Ahmad

    October 20, 2016 at 7:17 PM

    @ Muhammed A

    if you are a non-muslim or a murtad then stop trying to deceive us by using a Muslim name.

    Regarding Surah 9, verse 1 indicates that the mushriks broke the treaty with the Muslims. treachery and perjury was made manifest from the side of idolaters. Therfore Allah, the Exalted, instructed His Prophet (peace be upon him) to break their covenant, too.

    The Quran is clear and surah 9 shows clearly the context of the following verse

    “When the sacred months have passed, then kill the Mushrikin wherever you find them. Capture them. Besiege them. Lie in wait for them in each and every ambush but if they repent, and perform the prayers, and give zakat then leave their way free.” 9:5

    the previous verse clearly shows which pagans are being referred in order to fight. these pagans were militant and broke the treaty by supporting aggressive groups against the Muslims.

    i noticed that you completely ignored the whole context of the surah and thus ignoring which pagans are discussed in the verses. you are just simply following the Typical tactic of kuffar and have just copied their foolish arguments against the Quran.

    The reasons for the ayat about the mushriks are summarised in verse 13:

    “Will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Messenger, and they did attack you first? Do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers.”

    The above verse proves that the surah was revealed in relation to times of war. Also the ayat proves that all the verses about fighting were revealed to command the believers to defend themselves against the militant mushriks who tried to kill or exile the Messenger.

    regarding the verse:

    “O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are filthy, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise.” 9:28

    The command was given since the mushriks do not have pure belief in Allah being the only God. hence the mushriks were spiritually unclean. Since Makkah is the spiritual centre of the Muslims and has the Kab’ah, it was necessary to keep it spiritually pure hence the prohibition of the mushriks to approach the Sacred Masjid.

    Maintaining the Masjid and its custodianship needs some conditions:

    From the point of belief, Faith in the Quran.

    From the point of practice, establishing prayers and paying alms are obligatory.

  7. Avatar

    Ahmad

    October 20, 2016 at 8:14 PM

    the verses about jihad such as:

    “Fight against those who do not obey Allah and do not believe in Allah or the Last Day and do not forbid what has been forbidden by Allah and His messenger even if they are of the People of the Book until they pay the Jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” 9:29

    need to be understood with the context of the surah which is:

    “Will you not fight a people who broke their oaths and aimed at the expulsion of the Messenger, and they did attack you first? Do you fear them? But Allah is most deserving that you should fear Him, if you are believers.” [Quran 9:16]

    Context of all the verses about jihad shows that fighting was ordained against those who were hostile to Muslims and who tried to exile the Messenger.

    verse 29 also proves besides militant mushriks who broke the treaty, there were also aggressive groups from people of the book. So the verse directs Believers to take jizya from them so that the defense for integrity and security is maintained and in return those who gave jizya will have protection.

    about the ayat; “Oh you who believe, fight those of the disbelievers who are close to you and let them find harshness in you.” 9:123

    verses 120 – 123 shows that the believers were intructed to be cautious and not go out of Madinah all at once since there were hostile disbelievers nearby. This is explained in the following ayat;

    And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious. [Quran 9:122]

    So all your pathetic arguments against Surah 9 have been refuted. your lies and misquotations out of context have been exposed.

    Regarding the ayat in surah 8:

    It is not for a prophet to have captives until he engages in strong fighting in the land. You desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires [for you] the Hereafter. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. [Quran 8:67]

    The above verse gives a rule that captives should not be taken unless there has been fighting and the enemies have been defeated. The verse only allows taking captives in case of war and thus prohibits taking captives when there is no fighting. This is a very just and reasonable principle given in the Quran.

    Quran directs us to strive against oppression and thus verses about fighting were revealed.
    It is obvious that many verses of the Quran mention justice. (5:8)
    The Quran invites people to peace (2:208).
    War is permitted in self-defense so the oppressors are defeated and societies become safe and stable. (8:60)
    Quran promotes peace, while deterring the aggressive parties (60:8,9; 8:60).
    Quran stands for peace, honesty, kindness, and deterring from wrongdoing (3:110).

  8. Avatar

    Ahmad

    October 20, 2016 at 8:46 PM

    regarding the concept of abrogation,

    Quran explictly states that is has no contradictions so it is impossible for latter verses to abrogate earlier verses since no verses oppose one another.

    [4:83] Will they not, then, meditate upon the Qur’an? Had it been from anyone other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much disagreement.

    Regarding the ayat which is used to support abrogation in the Quran;

    Whatever Sign We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than that or the like thereof. Do you not know that Allah has the power to do all that He wills? [Quran 2:107]

    the signs mentioned in the above verse refers to the previous Revelations. It is pointed out that the previous Scriptures contained two kinds of commandments: (a) Those which, owing to changed conditions and to the universality of the new Revelation, required abrogation. (b) Those containing eternal truths which needed resuscitation so that people might be reminded of the forgotten truth. It was, thereof, necessary to abrogate certain portion of those Scriptures and bring in their place new ones, and also to restore the lost ones.

    Any reports which allege abrogation in the Quran should be rejected since it goes against the more authentic proof, the Quran. The Quran has been preserved as proven by many narrators and by carbon dated manuscripts. the hadith in sahih muslim Book 12, Hadith 156 should be investigated since its possible that abu musa was referring to a hadith which he used to recite and he forgot some of it. so what he referred to was not the Quran but a prophetic narration.

    There is no verse in the Qur’an which clashes with any other verse of the Book and which may therefore have to be regarded as abrogated. All parts of the Qur’an support and corroborate one another.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      October 21, 2016 at 9:03 PM

      people who put the Quran together were able to distinguish between hadith and Quran since the quran was recited in prayer. prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) recited the Quran while leading the prayers so his companions could easily distinguish between Quran and hadith.

      Also the Prophet would tell his scribes to write the Quran and inform them which surah contains which verse. During the Prophet’s lifetime; the Quran was written on seperate sheets of leather or camel skin however it was not compiled into one mushaf since the Quran was still being revealed during his lifetime. But after the Prophet’s death, the revelation was complete and the Believers were able to compile the Quran in one mushaf.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      October 23, 2016 at 1:56 PM

      Quran explicilty states:

      “Alif.Laam.Raa. This is a book whose verses have been perfected.” 11:1
      “……the words of God are unchangeable” 10:64

      These Quranic verses state clearly that the Quran has been perfected and cannot be abrogated or changed.

      On topic of intoxicants, the Relation between the verses;

      “O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say.” (4:43) and

      “O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” (5:90)

      verse 4:43 simply states that an intoxicated person should not do salah. Hence the verse’s rulng still applies, the rule has not been cancelled at all therefore no abrogation. No where does the verse allow consumption of alcohol. The verse just gives a condition that a person must be sober for salah.

      regarding the different rations;

      O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you twenty [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.” (8:65) and the very next verse which states:

      “Now, Allah has lightened [the hardship] for you, and He knows that among you is weakness. So if there are from you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you a thousand, they will overcome two thousand by permission of Allah . And Allah is with the steadfast.” (8:66)

      verse 8:65 gives ideal standards which some can still follow. while the next verse 8:66 gives a concession to the weak. so again there is no clash. the ruling of both verses still apply.

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      October 27, 2016 at 9:50 PM

      regarding verse 2:106

      the substitution mentioned in 2:106 refers to previous scriptures since those books were forgotten and thus needed to be superseded. abrogation cannot refer to the Quran because:

      1. Quran says in 10:64 that the words in the Quran cannot be abrogated or changed.
      2. The words “cause to be forgotten” could not be applicable if the word ‘Ayah’ in verse 2:106 meant a verse in the Quran. How can a verse in the Quran become forgotten? For even if the verse was invalidated by another it will still be part of the Quran and thus could never be forgotten.
      3. The words “We replace it with its equal” would be meaningless if the word ‘Ayah’ in this verse meant a Quranic verse, simply because it would make no sense to invalidate one verse then replace it with one that is identical to it within the same book!

      thus its clear that verse 2:106 refers to the previous scriptures being abrogated and replaced by the Quran.

      As for 8:67

      it refers to taking prisoners only in case of war. it does not constitute a rebuke to Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) for letting the prisoners go due to several reasons:

      1. no previous commandment was given in the Quran to forbid ransom of prisoners therefore the prophet could not be rebuked for it
      2. the Prophet already took ransom for captives in nakhla prior to battle of badr and God did not rebuke him for that
      3. only two verses later in 8:69; God permits Muslims to take what they won in war

      it is onconceivable that God would rebuke the Prophet for accepting ransom and then at the same time allow war booty to be lawful.
      so verse 8:67 gives a rule that captives should only be taken after fighting.

      verse 9:29 gives permission to Muslims to defend themselves against hostile people of the book. Surah 9 gave persimssion to Muslims to fight those who have violated the peace treaty and killed people because of their belief. verse 9:29 needs to be understood with other verses;
      Quran encourages us to stand against aggressors on the side of peace and justice. (See 2:190,192,193,256; 4:91; 5:32; 8:19; 60:7-9). We are encouraged to work hard to establish peace (47:35; 8:56-61; 2:208).

    • Avatar

      p4rv3zkh4n

      October 29, 2016 at 11:07 PM

      Who exactly was oppressing Prophet Mohammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)?

      As regards the non-Muslims torturing the Muslims in Makkah at the beginning of the Prophet’s mission, then this is something confirmed without any doubt, as it was reported by many narrators and is well documented in seerah ibn ishaq.

      Also the makkan pagans tortured some of the Prophet’s followers such as khabbab, ammar ibn yasir and bilal. The pagans killed te parents of ammar. Abu Jahl speared old lady Samiya to death. Muslims bore their troubles patiently. They remained calm. Their faith in God and His Prophet was firm.

      It is this torture which was the cause of the first migration of the Muslims to Abyssinia and then the second migration to Al-Madeenah. In addition to this, Quraysh had plotted to kill the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ) himself, and that was the cause of his migration (to Madeenah).

      in Madinah; the Prophet made a pact with the Jews and the other tribes of Medina. It was agreed that both non-Muslims and Muslims should live peacefully. Both should enjoy freedom of faith. Both would respect life and property. In all disputes the Prophet was to be Judge. Both agreed to defend Medina.

      The Makkan pagans failed to stop the Muslims emigrating to Madina which caused them rage. they changed their normal caravan routes and took to routes lying through areas around Medina and incited local tribes against Muslims. However no madani people responded to the pagans wish so the makkan pagans prepared for war. First a small party of Meccan pagans raided a place three miles outside the town which eventually triggered battle of badr.

      regarding khaybar; the Jews of Khaybar began hostilities. Efforts to make peace with them failed, which led to the conflict. it is worth noting that it was the jews of bani quraiza who broke the treaty and helped the pagan makkans to attack madina and that is why they were punished.

      regarding the battles by the Caliphs; the byzantine empire occupied northen arabia for centuries and thus the Muslims and arabs defended northen arabia and liberated it from the byzantine occupation. the sassanid empire was defeated since they occupied yemen for many years prior to the rashidun caliphate glory. So the semitic people defended semitic lands from two major empires.

      What good have Muslims brought to the world?

      some of the great contributions by the ummah:

      Development of algebra, trigonometry, and usage of arabic numerals.
      Muhammad bin Moosaa Al-Khawaarizmi developed algorithms and quadratic equations. Al-Khawarizmi’s work, in Latin translation, brought the Arabic numerals along with the mathematics to Europe, through Spain. The word “algorithm” is derived from his name.

      Two Muslim women, Fatima and Miriam al-Firhi, created the world’s first university, Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, in 859.

      Ibn Khaldun is another one of the most important Muslim thinkers in history. Recognized as one of the greatest historians ever and the founder of sociological sciences.

      As far as geography was concerned, Muslim scientists established that the world was round in the 9th century CE, and the first map of the globe was made during the Caliphate of Ma’moon.

      Medicine is another crucial contribution to civilization made by Muslims in addition to education and the university system. In 872 in Cairo, Egypt, the Ahmad ibn Tulun hospital was created (first hospital with nurses and a training centre).

      surgeon named Al-Zahrawi, often called the “father of surgery,” wrote an illustrated encyclopedia that would ultimately be used as a guide to European surgeons for the next five hundred years. Al-Zarawhi’s surgical instruments, such as scalpels, bone saws, and forceps are still used by modern surgeons.

      Jabir Ibn Hayyan, the founder of modern chemistry, transformed alchemy into chemistry through distillation, or separating liquids through differences in their boiling points. In addition to developing the processes of crystallization, evaporation, and filtration, he also discovered sulphuric and nitric acid.

      Al-Razi the famous physician and scientist, (d. 932) was one of the greatest physicians in the world in the Middle Ages. He stressed empirical observation and clinical medicine.

      Ibn Sina (d. 1037) was perhaps the greatest physician until the modern era. His famous book, Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb, remained a standard textbook even in Europe, for over 700 years.

      11th century Muslim scientist, Ibn al-Haytham, who developed the field of optics and described how the first cameras work. He was the first person to describe how the eye works. He carried out experiments with reflective materials and proved that the eye does not sense the environment with “sight rays,” as scientists had believed up until then. He also discovered that curved glass surfaces can be used for magnification.

      soap and shampoo was invented by Muslims.

      Although the first paper to write on was papyrus, a more superior type of paper, with better quailty, was produced by the Muslims, like the paper we know today. Also fountain pen was developed by Muslims.

      Many universal values are given in the Quran such as freedom of faith, no racism, proptection of minorities and upholding justice.

    • Avatar

      p4rv3zkh4n

      October 30, 2016 at 10:43 PM

      Ibn Sina was a Muslim since he believed in the Quran. No other peron can decide what he believd in.

      the question is why are you using a Muslim name on a muslim matter format.

      So what if many of the great contributers were Persian? Islam is based upon belief in the Quran which they believed in. It is not based upon one’s race or skin colour.

      Anyways Ibn al-Haytham was a famous arab scientist. He made significant contributions to the principles of optics, astronomy, mathematics, visual perception, and the scientific method.

      Another famous arab who contributed to humanity was Ibn al-Nafis a great physician mostly famous for being the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood.

      What did the Prophet’s direct followers contribute to the world:

      Rashidun Caliphate introduced comprehensive welfare system to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled.

      Rashidun caliphate was fundamentally based on justice and compassion. These are the central values of Islam that are expressed through a sincere belief in the existence of one God and by seeking to act in a way that is pleasing to Him. By singling Him out for worship and being conscious of one’s accountability.

      The Qur’an clearly states in this regard:

      “O you who believe, be steadfast in your devotion to God and bear witness impartially: do not let the hatred of others lead you away from justice, but adhere to justice, for that is closer to being God conscious. Be mindful of God: God is well acquainted with all that you do.” [Quran 5:8]

      The popular historian Karen Armstrong points out how these values established an unprecedented coexistence:

      “The Muslims had established a system that enabled Jews, Christians, and Muslims to live in Jerusalem together for the first time.” [history of Jerusalem]

      lets see what some famous thinkers had to say about the Prophet of Islam:

      Montgomery Watt (Scottish historian, and Emeritus Professor in Arabic and Islamic studies)

      “His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.” [W. Montgomery, Mohammad at Mecca, Oxford 1953, p. 52]

      George Bernard Shaw (Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics) stated

      “He must be called the Saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness.” [The Genuine Islam]

      Michael H. Hart (professor of astronomy, physics and the history of science) wrote

      “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.” [The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History, New York, 1978, p. 33]

      Now to the many Islamic teachings which the world benefits from;

      esteems knowledge, education, and learning (35:28; 4:162; 9:122; 22:54; 27:40; 29:44,49).
      rejects intermediaries between God and people (2:48; 9:31-34).
      promotes consultation and representation in public affairs (42:38; 5:12).
      stands for accountability, and defiance of false authorities (6:164)
      prohibits bribery (2:118)
      promises justice for everyone, regardless of their creed or ethnicity (5:8).
      acknowledges the rights of citizens to publicly petition against injustices committed by individuals or government (4:148).
      encourages the distribution of wealth, economic freedom and social welfare (2:215, 59:7).
      recognizes and protects individual right’s to privacy (49:12).
      recognizes the right to the presumption of innocence and right to confront the accuser (49:12).
      provides protection for witnesses (2:282).
      does not hold innocent people responsible for the crimes of others (53:38).
      protects the right to personal property (2:85,188; 4:29; exception 24:29; 59:6-7).
      stands for peace, honesty, kindness, and deterring from wrongdoing (3:110).
      encourages charity and caring for the poor (6:141; 7:156).
      stands for the oppressed (4:75).

      “O you who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God….” [Quran 4:135]

    • Avatar

      p4rv3zkh4n

      October 31, 2016 at 10:22 PM

      well you asked what Muslms have contributed to the world and I gave you a comprehensive list of scholars and scientists’ contributions. Then you reject that by saying most of them were not arabs, which is a bizarre argument since most Muslims are non-arabs. Muslims do not have to be Arabs since the religion is based upon belief in the Quran and not based upon ethnicity.

      Now when i gave you more proofs of successful muslim works, you change the topic by mentioning the contributions of non-muslims, which does not refute anything of what I said earlier. The list i gave refutes your pathetic allegation about Muslims doing nothing beneficial to the world. Unlike you, I don’t reject other people’s contribution simply because of their ethnicity or religion.

      now to your other allegation about Islam being spread by the sword. The historian De Lacy O’Leary stated in the book “Islam at the cross road” (Page 8): “History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated.”

      As for Michael Hart, Muslims resort to quoting a Jewish author and other non-muslims for unbiased perspective. Nothing amusing about it whatsoever.

      Why not quote Winston Churchill? Because he was a racist, a coloniser and fascist.

      other notable contributions of Muslims:

      Al Hassar, a mathematician from Al-Maghreb, developed the modern symbolic mathematical notation for fractions, where the numerator and denominator are separated by a horizontal bar.

      In the field of technology, engineers such as Al-Jazari, who invented the crankshaft – an essential component in the steam engine and internal combustion engine

      The mechanical alarm clock was invented by Taqi al-Din.

      The question is why are you still using a Muslim name if you are so hateful of it. Clear hypocrisy shown there!

      Also what has the Islamophobes contributed to the world?

    • Avatar

      Ahmad

      November 3, 2016 at 9:35 PM

      Proper understanding of 16:101

      “When We substitute one Ayat (revelation) in place of another, and God is fully aware of what He reveals, they say, “You made this up”. Indeed most of them do not know.”

      The substitution spoken of here is concerned with one of two things:
      a- The substitution of one Scripture in place of another.
      This first meaning is given evidence to in the following verse:
      “Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them.” 5:48
      Here, the words “superseding them” confirm that the previous scripture were substituted with the Quran.

      b- The substitution of one law within one Scripture with another in a subsequent Scripture
      This second meaning is also given evidence to in the Quran where various issues that were prohibited to the previous people of the book were made lawful in the Quran.

      As an example, we are told in 2:187 that sexual intercourse between married couples during the nights of the fasting month was made lawful, while it was prohibited previously.
      We are also told in 6:146 that God prohibited for the Jews all animals with undivided hoofs; and of the cattle and sheep the fat was prohibited. These were made lawful in the Quran.

      This verse 16:101 does not speak about the substitution of one verse in the Quran with another.

      The evidence to that is given within the same verse (16:101):
      The key to the meaning of the verse lies in the words:
      ” …… they say, “You made this up”

      Here we must stop and ask, who is likely to tell the messenger “You made this up” ? and why? For sure it cannot be his followers, his followers are not likely to tell him “You have made it up”…………….it has to be those who do not believe in him, which focuses on the followers of previous scripture who feared that their scripture was in danger of being “substituted” with the Quran. In actual fact, till this day, the Jews and Christians accuse Muhammad that he fabricated the Quran himself!
      Once it is established that this verse speaks of the reaction and words of the disbelievers, then the next question would be : are they accusing Muhammad of substituting one verse in the Quran with another? The Jews and Christians do not care if one verse in the Quran is substituted for another, after all they do not believe in the whole book! They will not complain that one verse in the Quran is being substituted with another!

      However, if they fear that their Scripture is being substituted by the Quran, they will immediately accuse the messenger that the Scripture he brings (Quran) is not from God but that he “made it up” himself.

      The words “You have made it up” indeed stand as a true indicator from God Almighty that the substitution spoken of in this verse is not related to one within the Quran, but indeed a substitution between one scripture and another.
      As mentioned before, the substitution of the previous scripture with the Quran is confirmed in 5:48

      Also there has always been disgreement as to the number of verses abrogated by those who claim there is internal abrogation within the Quran. Which again refutes the abrogation theory within the Quran.

      all the examples you gave were explained and have been shown that they were examples of either exception to the general rule or specification or different rulings based upon various situations. None of the verses you quoted prove internal abrogation.

  9. Avatar

    Shiraz Canucki

    October 20, 2016 at 9:58 PM

    Salam Ahmad

    The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) also published the four point NYPD garbage theory in a booklet they published.

    Please check it out on their website, they are so proud of it:

    http://www.nccm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/UAT-HANDBOOK-WEB-VERSION-SEPT-27-2014.pdf

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Shaikh

      October 20, 2016 at 11:06 PM

      Thank you for that information. I hope there are people willing to hold leadership accountable for malfeasance.

  10. Avatar

    Mohammed K

    October 21, 2016 at 12:50 PM

    Salam Br. Ahmed Shaikh,
    This is only about one paragraph you have included in your report concerning CIOGC. I have not read the rest of the report yet and hence not commenting on it.
    Regarding the CIOGC work, your information is 100% incorrect, except for the fact that CIOGC is working on some violent extremism aspects. The rest of your information regarding funding sources, topic areas we are working on, any relation to the NYPD report, etc. are 100% incorrect. I do not know what your sources of information are.
    You probably do not intend to be spreading false information, nevertheless, please consider the following hadith and consider publishing the correct information:

    Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, كَفَى بِالْمَرْءِ إِثْمًا أَنْ يُحَدِّثَ بِكُلِّ مَا سَمِعَ “It is enough sin for a person to speak everything that he hears.”
    Source: Sunan Abu Dawud 4992
    Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to As-Suyuti

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Shaikh

      October 21, 2016 at 7:15 PM

      Is this Muhammad Kaiseruddin? If so you know you failed to return my call, same with Ms. Haleem. I have been sitting on this information about CIOGC’s program for almost a year now, though the information in my post has been confirmed to me by more than one person as well as documentary evidence. It is unfortunate that you did not read the article (nor did you presumably read the links I provided) that support what I discussed. Your organization is involved with CVE. You might as well own this fact and defend it if you can. I provided a link to a slide deck that is from CIOGC concerning the “Bystander program”- which is CIOGC’s CVE product. It contains a reference to the “four stages of radicalization.” This, to anyone know knows the subject, is discussing the discredited “radicalization theory” that came from the NYPD. If may be that you don’t know this history. However the mere fact that you don’t know these things does not make them untrue. You should know that you are pushing discredited junk science on a mostly trusting community.

      CIOGC’s program being funded by DHS does not necessarily mean you received funds directly, but rather people who helped develop the program were funded by DHS. The CVE grants have not been issued yet to non-profits, though I am informed CIOGC applied. CIOGC has stated that it has received money from the Department of Justice, and I linked to this as well.

      I invite you to return my phone call, perhaps we can clear everything up and I can update my post about your program with information you have provided. I do hope that I can update it with an announcement that you are scrapping your CVE program and will not involve your organization in anything that stigmatizes Muslim youth or assumes a presumption of dangerousness of Muslims not present with other population groups.

  11. Avatar

    a stupid brave beard....oops.....

    October 22, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom.

    • Avatar

      Ash

      November 6, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      @Mohammed A the truth finally revealed … An evangelist pretending to be a Muslim cutting/pasting and regurgitating European colonial propaganda against Islam from Islamaphobe websites . Firstly all your propaganda was dismantled point by point by Shaykh Ahmed Deedat more then 30 years ago, that too with debates with your biggest Evangelists. In addition to that many of Your ex- Christian priests and preachers have dismantled your propaganda on The Deen show those interviews also available on youtube… atleast have the courage and conviction to be open about who you are , instead of making a rather poor attempt @ practicing deceit, and subterfuge.

  12. Avatar

    Ahmad

    November 12, 2016 at 6:16 PM

    God sent Jesus to bani Israil to revive the spirit of the Torah and to clear their misunderstandings. Also Jesus was sent as the Messiah to warn the misguided clerics of their hypocrisy since some preached what they didn’t practise. For example some rabbis forbade gambling to the people but they themselves practised it.

    Historically there were many sects in early Christianity who had a range of beliefs regarding Jesus. Early Christians who denied Jesus being God were persecuted by the Roman Authorities. From this point onwards the Trinitarian belief became widespread amongst Christians. There were various movements in early Christianity which denied the Trinity, among the more well known of them is Arianism.

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#Current Affairs

Why Israel Should Be ‘Singled Out’ For Its Human Rights Record

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians.

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israel, occupied Palestine

Why is everyone so obsessed with Israel’s human rights abuses? From Saudi Arabia, to Syria, to North Korea to Iran. All these nations are involved in flagrant violations of human right, so why all the focus on Israel – ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’? Clearly, if you ignore these other violations and only focus on Israel, you must be anti-Semitic. What else could be your motivations for this double standard?

This is one of the most common contentions raised when Israel is criticized for its human rights record. I personally don’t believe in entertaining this question – it shouldn’t matter why an activist is choosing to focus on one conflict and not others. What matters are the facts being raised; putting into question the motives behind criticizing Israel is a common tactic to detract from the topic at hand. The conversation soon turns into some circular argument about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Palestinian people is lost. More importantly, this charge of having double standards is often disingenuous. For example, Representative Ihan Omar has been repeatedly accused of this recently and her motives have been called ‘suspicious’ – despite her vocal criticism of other countries, especially Saudi Arabia.

However, this point is so frequently brought up, I think that perhaps its time activists and critics simply own up to it. Yes – Israel should be singled out, for some very good reasons. These reasons relate to there being a number of unique privileges that the country enjoys; these allow it to get away with much of the abuses it commits. Human right activists thus must be extra vocal when comes to Israel as they have to overcome the unparalleled level of support for the country, particularly in the US and Canada. The following points summarize why Israel should in fact be singled out:

1) Ideological support from ordinary citizens

When Iran and North Korea commit human right abuses, we don’t have to worry about everyone from journalists to clerics to average students on campuses coming out and defending those countries. When most nations commit atrocities, our journalists and politicians call them out, sanctions are imposed, they are taking them to the International Court of Justice, etc. There are instruments in place to take care of other ‘rogue’ nations – without the need for intervention from the common man.

Israel, however, is unique in that it has traditionally enjoyed widespread ideological support, primarily from the Jewish community and Evangelical Christians, in the West. This support is a result of the historical circumstances and pseudo-religious ideology that drove the creation of the state in 1948. The successful spread of this nationalistic dogma for the last century means Israel can count on ordinary citizens from Western countries to comes to its defense. This support can come in the form of foreign enlistment to its military, students conducting campus activism, politicians shielding it from criticisms and journalists voluntarily writing in its support and spreading state propaganda.

This ideological and nationalistic attachment to the country is the prime reason why it is so incredibly difficult to have any kind of sane conversation about Israel in the public sphere – criticism is quickly seen as an attack on Jewish identity and interpreted as an ‘existential threat’ to the nation by its supporters. Any attempts to take Israel to account through standard means are thwarted because of the political backlash feared from the country’s supporters in the West.

2) Unconditional political support of a world superpower

The US is Israel’s most important and closest ally in the Middle-East. No matter what war crimes Israel commits, it can count on America to have its back. This support means the US will use its veto power to support Israel against actions of the UN Security Council, it will use its diplomatic influence to shield any punitive actions from other nations and it will use its military might to intervene if need be. The backing of the US is one of the main reasons why the Israeli occupation and expansion of the colonial settlement enterprise continues to this day without any repercussions.

While US support might be especially staunch for Israel, this factor is certainly not unique to the country. Any country which has this privilege, e.g. Saudi Arabia, should be under far great scrutiny for its human rights violations than others.

3)  Military aid and complicity of tax-payers

US tax-payers are directly paying for Israel to carry out its occupation of the Palestinian people.

Israel is the largest recipient of US-military aid – it receives an astonishing $3 billion dollars every year. This aid, according to a US congressional report, “has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.”

Unlike other countries, ordinary citizens are complicit in the perpetual crimes committed against defenseless Palestinians. Activists and citizens thus have a greater responsibility to speak out against Israel as their government is paying the country to carry out its atrocities. Not only is this aid morally reprehensible, but it is also illegal under United States Leahy Laws.

4) The Israeli lobby

The Israeli lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington and is the primary force for ensuring continued US political support for the nation. It consists of an assortment of formal lobby groups (AIPAC, Christians United for Israel), think-thanks (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), political action committee or PACs, not-for-profit organizations (B’nai B’irth, American Jewish Congress, Stand for Israel) and media watchdogs (CAMERA, Honest Reporting). These organizations together exercise an incredible amount of political influence. They ensure that any criticism of Israel is either stifled or there are serious consequences for those who speak up. In 2018 alone, pro-Israel donors spent $22 million on lobbying for the country – far greater than any other nation. Pro-Israel lobbies similarly influence politics in other places such as the UK, Canada, and Europe.

5) One of the longest-running occupation in human history

This point really should be the first one on this list – and it is the only one that should matter. However, because of the unique privileges that Israel enjoys, it is hard to get to the crux of what it is actually doing. Israel, with U.S. support, has militarily occupied the Palestinian territories (West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem) since 1967. The belligerent occupation, over 50 years old, is one of the longest, bloodiest and brutal in human history.

Israel continues to steal land and build settler colonies the West Bank – in flagrant violation of international law. It has implemented a system of apartheid in these territories which is reminiscent of the racist regime of South Africa. The Gaza strip has been under an insufferable siege which has made the living conditions deplorable; it has been referred to the world’s largest ‘open-air prison’. In addition to this institutional oppression, crimes committed against Palestinians include: routinely killing civilian protesters, including teenagers and medics, torture of Palestinians and severe restrictions on the everyday movement of Palestinians.

The brutality, consistency and the duration for which Israel has oppressed Palestinians is alone enough reason for it being ‘singled out’. No other nation comes close to its record. However, for the reasons mentioned above, Israel’s propaganda machine has effectively painted itself as just another ‘liberal democracy’ in the eyes of the general public. Any attempt to bring to light these atrocities are met with ‘suspicion’ about the ‘real’ motives of the critics. Given the points mentioned here, it should be evident that the level of support for Israeli aggression is uniquely disproportionate – it is thus fitting that criticism of the country is equally vocal and unparalleled as well.

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#Society

Ya Qawmi: Strengthen Civic Roots In Society To Be A Force For Good

Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari

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For believers the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an. Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (improvement of character, etc) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to non-Muslims in their Qawm and beyond. This in effect is their service to humanity and to please their Creator. With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their utmost to serve human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Like many other parts of the world, Britain is going through a phase lacking in ethical and competent leadership. People are confused, frustrated and worried; some are angry. Nativist (White) nationalism in many western countries, with a dislike or even hatred of minority immigrant people (particularly Muslims and Jews), is on the rise. This is exacerbated through lowering religious literacy, widespread mistrust and an increase in hateful rhetoric being spread on social media. As people’s patience and tolerance levels continue to erode, this can bring unknown adverse consequences.

The positive side is that civil society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in most developed countries. While there seem to be many Muslims who love to remain in the comfort zone of their bubbles, a growing number of Muslims, particularly the youth, are also effectively contributing towards the common good of all.

As social divisions are widening, a battle for common sense and sanity continues. The choice of Muslims (particularly those that are socially active), as to whether they would proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues along with others, has never been more acute. Genuine steps should be taken to understand the dynamics of mainstream society and improve their social engagement skills.

From history, we learn that during better times, Muslims proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they went. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their urge for service to their Qawm and their Ummah. This must be replicated and amplified.

Although Muslims are some way away from these ideals, focusing on two key areas can and should strengthen their activities in the towns and cities they have chosen as their home. This is vital to promote a tolerant society and establish civic roots. Indifference and frustration are not a solution.

Muslim individuals and families

  1. Muslims must develop a reading and thinking habit in order to prioritise their tasks in life, including the focus of their activism. They should, according to their ability and available opportunities, endeavour to contribute to the Qawm and Ummah. This should start in their neighbourhoods and workplaces. There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on one’s obligations to their neighbour; one that stands out – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me) – Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. They must invest in their new generation and build a future leadership based on ethics and professionalism to confidently interact and engage with the mainstream society, whilst holding firm to Islamic roots and core practices.
  3. Their Islah and dawah should be professionalised, effective and amplified; their outreach should be beyond their tribal/ethnic/sectarian boundaries.
  4. They should jettison any doubts, avoid escapism and focus where and how they can contribute. If they think they can best serve the Ummah’s cause abroad, they should do this by all means. But if they focus on contributing to Britain:
    • They must develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence in an often hostile environment.
    • They should work with indigenous/European Muslims or those who have already gained valuable experience here.
    • They should be better equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in political and media literacy, to address the mainstream media where needed.

Muslim bodies and institutions

  • Muslim bodies and institutions such as mosques have unique responsibilities to bring communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  • By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should try to make mosques real hubs of social and spiritual life and not just beautiful buildings. They should invest more in young people, particularly those with professional backgrounds. They should not forget what happened to many places where the Muslim presence was thought to be deep-rooted such as Spain.
  • It is appreciated that the first generation Muslims had to establish organisations with people of their own ethnic/geographical backgrounds. While there may still be a need for this for some sections of the community, in a post-7/7 Britain Muslim institutions must open up for others qualitatively and their workers should be able to work with all. History tells that living in your own comfort zone will lead to isolation.
  • Muslim bodies, in their current situation, must have a practical 5-10 year plan, This will bring new blood and change organisational dynamics. Younger, talented, dedicated and confident leadership with deep-rooted Islamic ideals is now desperately needed.
  • Muslim bodies must also have a 5-10 year plan to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs nationally recognised leaders from practising Muslims in areas such as university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic journalism, etc.

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#Current Affairs

Seyran Ates, A Sixty-Eighter In Islamic Camouflage

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seyran ates

By Dr Mohammad Usman Rana

In their orientalist enthusiasm to reform Islam, in the sense of reconciling Islam with the always changing ideas and goals of liberal values, Western European liberals and neo-atheists are searching high and low for persons who may serve as Muslim alibies for their project. For many years Ayaan Hirsi Ali was given this role but now the relay baton has been handed over to the German-Turkish activist Seyran Ates.

Does not believe in religion

Ates is of current interest in Norway because her book by the Norwegian title Islam trenger en seksuell revolusjon (Islam needs a sexual revolution, originally published in German in 2011)* was just released in Norwegian translation. Ates is well-known primarily because Western media have hailed her as a freedom fighter among Muslims since she opened a so-called liberal mosque in Berlin in 2017 and titled herself a female imam.

Obviously, Ates is part and parcel of an essential debate about the future of Muslims in Europe as it is a fact that a lot of traditional mosques in Western Europe have a big job to do in order to become more relevant to young Muslims, that is, more inclusive and adapted to a European context. Not least the issue of women’s rights is rightfully important to many people in the Muslim world, whether they are liberals or conservatives. In the midst of all the praise, Ates receives in Western media one essential question is however forgotten: What Islamic credibility does Ates have? In line with postmodern nihilism where concepts, ideas, and identities are emptied of meaning and content, the fact is ignored that Ates in her book points out that she believes in God but not in religions. She has no Islamic theological education and explains that she has recently started taking courses in Islamic studies and Arabic in order to be more credible among Muslims.

This is not only the case with Ates. It is a general weakness of so-called progressive and liberal Islam (reformers) that the movement lacks a foundation of religious and theological structure; it is rather founded on personalities with a political mission.

More journalists than worshippers

In her book about Islam needing a sexual revolution, Ates applauds European Christians’ dissociation from the church after 1968. Paradoxically, she later opened a mosque for Muslims. Further, she praises secularly thinking individuals as the most honourable people.

This is why the question should be raised whether the mosque, the imam title, and other religious references are just an Islamic camouflage for what can be understood as a political secularisation, assimilation and liberalisation project by Ates and her supporters. Due to the missing religious credibility and seriousness of this commitment, it should come as no surprise that it has little appeal to European and German Muslims.

When the New York Times visited the mosque, its journalists reported that there were more journalists than worshippers present. She has, on the other hand, a strong appeal among extreme right-wing anti-Muslim thinkers and movements in Europe. It is noteworthy that Ates received a solidarity claim from the extreme anti-Islam German AfD party, and has been praised by the infamous anti-Muslim blog of “Human Rights Service” in Norway.

The positive development aspect is missing

Why should German and European Muslims listen to an activist who attacks the fundamental principles of Islam and in her book paints a stereotypical image of the world’s Muslims?

There is no denying that Ates addresses a number of important challenges for Muslim women. Still, her arguments become oversimplified when she confuses female-hostile habits in the East with Islam and completely forgets the positive development today’s Muslim women in Europe experience where they, as opposed to their mothers’ generation, receive a university education, have a career, and choose whom they want to marry.

Seyran Ates’ project is not about a necessary contextualisation of Islam’s holy texts in a European reality, maintaining the characterisations of the region. The project is rather about a total change of Islam. In her book, Ates justifies such a change by creating strawmen with sweeping generalisations about Muslims. She, for instance, writes that ‘it is a fact that Muslim men have a considerable problem with our free world’, and that ‘Islamic politicians do not distinguish between religion and politics’ – without mentioning the widespread authoritarian secular tradition in Muslim countries in modern times such as in Turkey and Baathism in Syria and Iraq.

Less sexual restraint

Ates’ main argument in Islam needs a sexual revolution is that Muslim men and women are sexually oppressed because sexuality is defined as a blessing and source of love only within – and not outside of – the frames of marriage. The rule of intimate relationships being reserved for marriage meets with unison agreement from Muslims from different schools of thought; Ates, however, absurdly calls it an expression of “fundamentalist” Islam. In this view, Seyran Ates disagrees with the well-known American feminist Naomi Wolf who, after having travelled in Muslim countries, believes that this marital channelling of intimacy, in fact, strengthens sexuality and family ties at the same time.

The German-Turkish author wants less sexual restraint, more promiscuity and a liberal attitude to nakedness, in line with the ideals of the sixty-eighters. Seyran Ates praises the sixty-eighters’ revolution as an ideal for Muslims. Although the #metoo campaign, which can be said to have brought to light the negative consequences of the sexual revolution, was released after Ates’ book was published, it makes her attitudes to this revolution seem somewhat doubtful. The heritage of the sixty-eighters is not only freedom and equality but also the breaking up of the family as well as selfishness and decadence. It is also ironical that someone like Ates, who claims religious credibility, calls attention to Alfred Kinsey, the atheist sexologist who believed in open relationships, as a model for Muslims.

Public pillory

Ates’ book is mainly about freedom, a personal freedom in the name of value liberalism and sixtyeighters. A well-known American intellectual, Patrick Deenen from the University of Notre Dame, however, criticises such a perception of the concept of freedom believing we should ask ourselves if freedom can really be defined as human beings pursuing their instincts more or less uncritically. Deenen maintains that human beings are then in effect unfree and slaves of their instincts, while real freedom is achieved if we manage to free ourselves from being governed by human appetites.

Seyran Ates and her non-Muslim supporters seem to have no understanding at all of such a definition of the concept of freedom. Even more problematic is that they want to make their sixty-eighters’ liberal values absolute, believing Muslims must adhere to them if they wish to belong to modern society. Harvard professor Adrian Vermeule calls this form of liberalism aggressive because it only tolerates itself and no differences of opinion. It maintains its rituals in the form of checkpoints of ‘correct’ opinions in particular about sexuality, gender, and identity. Disagreeing with this can result in reprisals in the form of public pillory or even legal steps.

Obsessed with removing the hijab

When Muslims are met with such absolute-making of liberal values it is like an extension of colonial cultural imperialism when French and British colonial masters wanted to westernise Muslim populations, believing it was the only way of making them civilised. Some of them were obsessed with removing Muslim women’s hijabs, just as Seyran Ates is. The British consul general in Egypt, Lord Cromer, was a representative of this view. He wanted to free Muslim women from the hijab while at home in the UK he was ardently against feminism and women’s suffrage (source: Ahmed, Leila (1992). Women and Gender in Islam. New Haven: Yale University Press).

Worth noting is also that extensive surveys by Gallup Coexist Index among West-European Muslims show that they are far more religious than the majority population. Similar findings in relation to Norwegian Muslims were made by Bushra Ishaq in her book Hvem snakker for oss? (Who speaks for us?) from 2017. Considering these figures, it would be utopian as well as illiberal to expect Muslims to opt for a liberal values morality. On the contrary, it should be expected that religious European Muslims understand their religious practice as belonging to a Western context, that they value equality and that they support the liberal state governed by rule of law that actually allows people to live according to liberal as well as conservative norms of value.

*The original German-language version of the book, Der Islam braucht eine sexuelle Revolution: Eine Streitschrift, was published in 2011

Dr Mohammad Usman Rana is a Norwegian columnist, author and a commentator on Islam

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