Friday, July 28, 2006

On Slavery ...

"It is true that Islam has commended humanity in the treatment of slaves, and encouraged most forcefully their emancipation. We can see from the history of many different peoples in the Islamic world that slaves quickly integrated into the main society and achieved positions of great prestige and power, some even before they gained their freedom. And yet, if Islam regards slavery as a social evil, why did the Qur’an or the Prophet not ban it outright? There are, after all, other social evils which pre-existed Islam, and which Islam sought to abolish altogether-for example, the consumption of alcohol, or gambling, or usury, or prostitution. Why does Islam, by not abolishing slavery, appear to condone it?"

If you are bugged by that question, then here is the answer ...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel Does NOT Have the Right to Defend Itself …

The world map above shows the Muslim-majority countries in green, while the countries marked yellow are those where about half the population are Muslim. The Muslim-minority countries are marked in gray. Most of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims live in the green and yellow countries while the rest live in the gray countries.

The Muslim-majority countries form an almost contiguous land mass of an approximate area of 12 million square miles. If you observe closely, you will notice a Muslim-minority country squarely placed in the midst of the Muslim countries. If you cannot observe this anomaly of a country in the map above, then the close-up below will show it clearly right in the center of the picture.

This excuse for a country is called Israel, a land with an approximate area of 8 thousand square miles and population of about 7 million. This Muslim-minority country sitting right in the heartland of the Muslim world does stick out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it? Indeed, it’s been there since only 1948. Its creation was an opportunistic side-effect of the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by the post-colonial, post-world-war Muslim lands. Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians from their land and subsequent state terrorism upon its neighbors has effectively stripped Israel of the right to defend itself. I, for one, was wont to believe that we could live peacefully with an Israel that was cut down to its proper size. But given that history has amply proved that this country’s existence as a sovereign state is a threat to the very concept of peace, I will deduce that the world would be better off without it.

Woe to the rulers of the Muslim countries for being tacit partners in the ongoing high crime being committed against humanity. Whatever happened to 1.4 billion people?

Update (7th Jan 2009): I found this article in The Guardian to be a balanced and informative account of the Israeli predicament.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Wake Up, Muslims ...

We all take pride (don’t we?) in how Dr Michael Hart chooses to rank Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – as Number One in his book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. Dr Hart starts his book with the following words.

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 levels.

Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world’s great religions, and became an immensely effective political leader. Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.

I agree. But the question that revolved in my mind when I first read these words some fifteen years ago was,

“If Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – was the most influential person in history, then why is there only one Muslim name figuring in the other 99 names?”

(This name being Syedna Umr ibn Khattab – may God be pleased with him - the Second Caliph amongst the Khulafa Rashideen. I will write more about him, insha’Allah, in the future. Strictly speaking, the Prophets Moses and Jesus – alaihum us salam – who are also on the list, were also Muslims, but we are talking here about the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him.)

This is a very important and crucial question, since it is very strange that a man – a Prophet – tops a list of influential persons, and none (except one) of the billions of people strongly influenced by him manage to make it to the top hundred. After all, we’ve always been a sizable portion of the World’s population and today we number a quarter-and-a-billion – that’s a quarter of humanity. Of course, we could cry foul and say that Dr Hart has been prejudicial in his assessment, but I don’t think so, since he has been honest enough to place Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – at Number One even though he knew it would go against the wishes of some of his readers.

The answer to this question lies in the fact that our long history could be divided into a first millennium of relative success followed by a half-millennium of downfall. For the past 500 years, we have been moving downhill and today we have probably reached the nadir of our 1,500-year career. The first millennium of success brought forth such an overwhelming list of influential names that to name only a few would be to do injustice to the others. I would refer my reader to the website, Muslim Heritage, to learn more about this oft-forgotten period of World History.

But it is our incredible downfall in the past half-millennium that has made us lose the influence that our worthy predecessors had on people. If we have forgotten even the names of our worthy predecessors, then why would Dr Hart care to include them in his list of the most influential persons in history? It is no small matter that Dr Hart says,

Today, thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive.

Notice his use of the word, still. This is a glowing tribute to the Holy Prophet – peace be upon him – since even though many of the people of his Ummah have fallen into moral and intellectual bankruptcy for the past five hundred years, his influence nevertheless is still powerful and pervasive.

I wish there were more of us in that list. Any volunteers?

Friday, July 14, 2006

The US – Israel Axis of Evil ...

Lessons to be Learned From 66 U.N. Resolutions Israel Ignores appeared in the Washington Report in March 1993, so the statistics may be out of date, but the article makes for a fairly balanced and concise view of the whole issue. I would suggest you read the whole article but here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite.

Like former Secretary of State James Baker's repeated assertion that both sides must want peace for it to occur, the Clinton-Rabin agreement ignores the sorry record of the 26 years since Israel's conquest of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. During that period Israel has unequivocally demonstrated that it does not want peace in exchange for territory.

However, the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was unique. It came at the expense of the Palestinians, which was by Israeli design, and in exchange for Sinai, to which Israel never laid claim. Moreover, Israel received in return for signing the peace treaty with Egypt commitments from the U. S. that have now reached a level of economic and military aid unsurpassed in our history.

The result is that Israel has managed to retain what it has wanted most: East Jerusalem and the West Bank. After so many diplomatic initiatives, it seems fair to conclude Israel does not want peace on any terms but its own.

An end to expulsions is only the latest demand of the international community on Israel, whose defiance goes back to its very beginnings. There remain on the books of the United Nations a collection of resolutions criticizing Israel unmatched by the record of any other nation.

The core issues, as contained in resolutions passed before 1967, remain the Palestinian refugee problem, the status of Jerusalem, and the location of Israel's boundaries. These are the basic issues. They spring from 1948, not 1967.

The early U.N. resolutions call for Israel to repatriate or compensate the original 750,000 refugees of 1948-9 and to renounce Jerusalem as its capital and regard it as a corpus separatum, an international city dominated by neither Arab nor Israeli. (The U. S. position on Jerusalem is slightly different and, not surprisingly, closer to Israel's. It says Jerusalem should not be a divided city and its final status should be decided by the parties.) Finally, the original U.N. partition of Palestine awarded Israel an area only about three-quarters of its current official size. Israel's increase was gained at the expense of the Palestinians in the earlier conquests of 1948.

Other unreconciled issues from this earlier period include such sticky situations as a demilitarized zone that Israel had shared with Syria near the Sea of Galilee. Israel forcefully and unlawfully occupied this zone in the 1950s and 1960s, in defiance of its 1949 armistice with Syria.

Aside from the core issues—refugees, Jerusalem, borders—the major themes reflected in the U.N. resolutions against Israel over the years are its unlawful attacks on its neighbors; its violations of the human rights of the Palestinians, including deportations, demolitions of homes and other collective punishments; its confiscation of Palestinian land; its establishment of illegal settlements; and its refusal to abide by the U.N. Charter and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

In 29 separate cases between 1972 and 1991, the United States has vetoed resolutions critical of Israel. Except for the U.S. veto, these resolutions would have passed and the total number of resolutions against Israel would now equal 95 instead of 66.

Such a list of resolutions passed and resolutions vetoed is unparalleled in United Nations history. The list in itself forms a stunning indictment of Israel's unlawful and uncivilized actions over a period of 45 years and of America's complicity in them.

Yet references to this damning record are totally absent from the vocabularies of American leaders as they go about saying they are seeking peace.