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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Lessons from Pope’s Controversy

Assalamu Alaikum,

A bad protest placardGiven the recent event this is a good time for some self-reflection and correction. We can’t be happy about the way we reacted to Pope’s speech. There were some positive outcomes like Muslims being assertive and expressing their point of view but that was all. I think we came out much worse than Pope’s blunder. As I mentioned in my previous post there are reasons for the way we reacted but we must move forward by learning from mistakes and correcting ourselves. "And none will reflect except people of understanding" Allah the All-Mighty says in the Qur'an.

To begin with we missed a great opportunity. This was a time for clearing misconceptions concerning Muslims and Islam. The mainstream media were willing to engage Muslims to express our point-of-view. But I doubt we took full advantage of these rare opportunities. Secondly the arguments against the Popes speech weren’t very convincing to a non-Muslim. We didn’t explain properly why he was wrong. Muslims didn’t adequately research and publish expert articles and posts. Emperor Manuel II, Europe and Christianity in the 14-century, Islamic History and the actual facts behind Jihad, the conduct of Catholic Church etc. were not sufficiently covered or presented. But Islamophobes did their homework and by interpreting events to suit their interests, published very convincing articles and posts. Surely we could have done better…

Pope go to Hell placardThen there were the Muslim comments on Internet forums. I read some brilliant comparisons and analysis but compared to the number of stupid comments, they were less than one in twenty. The comments usually varied from something like “Pope was wrong,” “We want an apology,” “Old age has made him forget the bloody history of Christianity,” “He’s an idiot,” to outright threatening statements. The discussions usually were in angry tones. Maybe they were forgetting (or even not knowing!) that to lose your anger means you’ve lost the debate.

A protest in PalestineThe real world was even worse. Protests are fine and can achieve many things if held properly. But in some cases things were extreme. We don’t like the negative perceptions non-Muslims have about Islam. But what can we expect from others when we start rioting, throwing grenades at churches and murdering a 70 year old nun? No wonder even high calibre people like Pope fear Islam and Muslims. We can’t blame them for their misunderstandings if Muslims from the Religion of Piece behave like maniacs. It’s actions like these and all the other extreme things a few Muslims do today that ruin the world’s view of Islam. Instead of helping improve others understanding of Islam and prophet Muhammad (pbuh), we drive them away.

Sadly we can’t escape the bad name by distancing ourselves from the wrong doers. Whether we like it or not there’s a binding on us called ‘collective community responsibility’. As a result if a Muslim does something wrong all Muslims will be blamed. The same rule applies to Americans, Whites, and Chinese etc. If an American Government does something all Americans will be blamed and cussed.

Today Islam needs every Muslim’s help to improve its image. We must build a rapport with non-Muslims, interact with the media, publish blogs, participate in social and community activities and do everything and anything to improve our social standing. There was a helpful article on this at IslamForToday.com – 6 Practical tips for contributing to Islam on a community level.

May Allah help you and me and keep us to the tasks. Ameen.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Unveiling Violent Muslim Protests

Assalamu Alaikum,

A Danish Cartoon protest“Why don’t Muslims protest peacefully?” “Oh my God! See how violent Muslims are,” these are frequently heard remarks in the backdrop of recent events. If you happen to be a Muslim living in a multicultural society, the chances are you have heard them sometime or other.

However when we talk about violent protests we tend to forget some key issues. We all know discussing without proper understanding of a given situation is like trying to find our way in pitch-darkness. We may feel to be moving on but in what direction is unknown and quite likely may bring harm to us. Therefore it’s always important to understand a situation properly before we form our opinions or take remedial actions, lest we grope in darkness.

Firstly, whoever likes it or not the facts tell us, an overwhelming majority of Muslim protests are peaceful. Of around one million protests held worldwide for the Danish Cartoons only a few hundred were violent. Still fewer, a dozen or so were deadly or destructive and those too were in troubled places like Lebanon, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. (The locations themselves speak for the settings of those protests.) Besides we humans have a tendency to seek the exceptional and ignore the common, which in this case happened to be a handful of violent, destructive protest.

protest with threatening placardsThen there’s another entirely different take to the whole matter, that of the long-term historical perspective. Mr. Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute says, “Some commentators have complained about Muslim sensibilities in this regard [i.e. Popes speech]. But in my view, this sensitivity is a feature of post colonialism. Muslims were colonized by Western powers, often for centuries, and all that period they were told that their religion was inferior and barbaric. They are independent now, though often they have gained independence only a couple of generations (less if you consider neocolonialism). As independent, they are finally liberated to protest when Westerners put them down.

protest with threatening placards”There is an analogy to African-Americans, who suffered hundreds of years of slavery and then a century of Jim Crow. They are understandably sensitive about white people putting them down, and every time one uses the "n" word, you can expect a strong reaction. In the remarks the pope quoted about Muhammad, he essentially did the equivalent of using the "n" word for Muslims. It is no mystery that people are protesting.”

Finally there are many ‘Why’s remaining to be answered. Svend White’s post ‘Why Muslims don't protest peacefully like civilized Westerners?’ covers a range of overlooked issues behind the violence that many associate with Muslim protests. For lack of space I will not repeat his points here so please check that post, it gives a good insight in point format.

We love our prophet bannerAll in all the notion of violent Muslim protests is a gross exaggeration of reality and will only serve to radicalize the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims which is exactly what extremist in both Muslim and non-Muslim sides desire. Further for a number of reasons violent protests are counter-productive for Muslims in this world and the hereafter. Therefore it’s our responsibility to remove the situations that tend to favour violent protests. There are many things that can be done but I believe the best way forward is to study and apply the techniques used by our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he was facing similar or even more daunting situations.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pope makes Jihad slip!

Assalamu Alaikum,

Pope Benedict XVIPope Benedict XVI seems happy to rekindle the medieval myth –“Islam was a religion spread by sword” –a myth used by Popes centuries ago to wage Crusades (holy wars) against Muslims.

Reading his full speech I think the Pope has tried to propagate Christianity by portraying Islam as a cruel, illogical religion. Aware of the fact that plunging into Christian theology would be boring to the audience, the Pope has tried to attract attention using the ploy of showing Islam in a derogatory manner. It seems he has absorbed the ploy of some Christian missionaries and priests who know very well that anything related to Islam has a ready audience these days!

The Pope quotes Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus as saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". Pope goes on explaining faith and reason, while touching on many diverse threads including what people have said about Islam and then presents Christianity as a logical, caring and loving religion in perfect harmony with reality!

What can we expect a besieged medieval emperor to say about his enemy’s religion, when all he has seen is the advancing armies of Ottoman Turks? What does emperor Manual II, know about how inspiring and rational Muslims find Islam to be? Even today with all the modern information sources available there are many in the West who think Muslims worship a Moon God.

Pope Benedict XVIFurther as Criese points out it’s almost a déjà vu of the Danish Cartoon crisis with one significant difference. Back then an artist committed the insensitivities and insults. This time it is the head of the Roman Catholic Church, which increases the seriousness of the matter.

Now Vatican tells us Pope Benedict XVI is “extremely upset” about quoting derogatory comments about Islam nevertheless offers no apology.

However there’s an important matter in his speech buried by all this turmoil. The speech indicates the pontiff is disturbed by the trends within Christianity, the increasing secularism and disillusion among Christians. It seems he’s trying to appeal to the sense of preservation by trying to portray Europe as Christendom or a Christian Europe.

By quoting this medieval emperor is the Pope trying to -as the Turkey prime minister points out –revive the spirit of crusades? Is he trying to reinforce the prejudice and misconceptions about the religion of Islam?

The pontiff who holds the highest position in the Christian world should definitely be better informed of the dimensions of other religions and the implications or repercussion he might unwittingly be igniting. That’s especially true in the backdrop of an increasing early 20th century European sentiments.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Priest threats to bomb Madonna

The cross at the showDutch prosecutors say a priest has confessed to making a bomb threat by phone to pop star Madonna for her mock re-enactment of the crucifixion. Madonna’s use of religious symbols for her concerts is unsuitable and it has rightly so angered some Christians. That aside it’s really interesting to see the way the authorities and the media have handled this bomb threat made by the priest.

The prosecutor’s office spokesman Robert Meulenbroek is quoted as saying, “We take bomb threats seriously, but in this case it was clear very quickly that it was not real,” So for the authorities it was obvious from the start “…that it was not real”? One could imagine what would have happened if a Muslim was involved.

Take the BBC news report about this case. It never mentions the name of his religion or where he lives or the location of the church he attends, in this case preaches! Or for that matter mentioning he had an allege connection with “a certain organization” and had visited a particular country in the past year and finally to top them all include some excerpts from his sermons where he refers to some Bible verses dealing with violence -never mind if they are out of context.

Ever wondered whether the media has a separate lexicon for Muslims like Svend reveals. But in this case it wasn’t a Muslim and for that an elderly priest mind you.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Terrorist Against Terrorism!


An US Arms AdvertisementArms and other latest equipment used for violence against human beings are been manufactured and sold by around 25 countries. The main country among them is The United States of America who is also engaged in stamping out terrorism.

Between 1998-2000 there were more than 150 companies engaged in this lethal business. 74 of them were from The United States. In addition arms sales constitute a main source of income for The United States.

To sell these weapons and other equipments that persecutes and kills humans, there must be violence and wars around the world. For this one country against another country, one ethnicity against another ethnicity, one organization must stand up against another organization. Then inciting both sides a situation must be created where both sides kill each other. Then it will be possible to sell weapons to both sides without each other’s knowledge.

If this isn’t the way, how else do they do arms business? If people live peacefully what’s the need for weapons? If no weapons sale, how else to torture others and earn money to live a luxurious life? If there was peace all over the world how can America become the World Champion?

Can’t this be the American intention of the 74 American companies manufacturing arms and related equipment and selling them?

The other major weapons manufacturing companies and countries are as follows. Germany – 30, Taiwan – 19, France – 14, South Korea – 13, China – 12, South Africa – 9, Israel – 8, Mexico – 6, Poland – 5, Russia – 4, Brazil – 3, Spain – 3, Czech Republic – 2.

To sell the arms manufactured in their companies they have appointed brokers in Austria, Canada, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Turkey, and many more countries.

This shows America has a hidden hand in all the killings and violence happening around the world, doesn’t it?

Based on an article from Daily News, SL (23.5.2001)

Friday, September 08, 2006

O Arab Rulers and Wealthy Muslims! Stand-up and Assert Muslim Interests

Assalamu Alaikum,

George GallowayFortune favours the bold says an old idiom that is as true today as it was centuries ago. I was reminded of this when I read the interview with British MP George Galloway, aired on Al-Jazeera TV on August 8, 2006. Aside from Galloway’s florid style of delivery his statements contain glaring facts about our leaders and wealthy Muslims.

During the interview Mr. Galloway said “Two of the Arab world's beautiful daughters, Jerusalem and Baghdad, are in the hands of these foreigners, these occupiers, and nothing can be done by the Arab rulers, because they are in bed, fornicating with the foreigners, who are occupying and using these beautiful Arab daughters as they will.”

Media WarningHe added further “You know, I don't want to embarrass any particular Arab ruler, but once I spoke to a prince. I told him there were three British newspapers on sale for 100 million pounds - The Daily Express, The Sunday Express, and The Daily Star. Three important newspapers. "Why don't you buy them," I said. "You could make a foothold for a decent point of view on the Arab world, if you were to buy these newspapers." He could have bought them, but he didn't have the courage to buy them. He'd rather spend the money on other things. You know, in London, there is enough money thrown onto the roulette tables of London's casinos by Arabs, which could buy media in America and Britain, and transform the landscape. But I tell you, the good news is this: In the desert, just a few drops of water can transform the landscape. All we need is a few drops of water, because the American and British people have no faith, no trust, in their leaders. They know that the policy of their leaders is leading them to disaster. We need to intelligently apply the resources that we have, and people can contact me, to my e-mail, through my website, georgegalloway.com. I have many ideas on how we can do this. I just don't have any money.”

A Muslim must strive to revive our Muslim ummah by all means available to him/her even if others in superior positions than him/her do not. Allah Subahanahu-wa-tha’ala has made the world in such a way that success in many areas of life comes out of discipline and hard work. Getting your body in shape, having good relationships, succeeding at study etc all take some level of commitment and work. So if we want to see a glorious and stronger Muslim ummah we need to be willing to do things we’ve never done before. This sometimes means leaving one’s comfort zone and knuckling down for some hard work.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

India Bans Arab TV Channels Under Pressure From Israel

Assalamu Alaikum,

Indian Republic Day celebrationsI was shocked to hear the news India Bans Arab TV Channels Under Pressure From Israel, especially at a time when the Indian Congress party is in power. It is indeed tragic to see an emerging super power and the world’s largest democracy resorting not only to suppress alternative opinions but also allow India to be dictated to by foreign powers.

This is a slap in the face of Arab governments who have been appeasing India all these years by ignoring the plight of Indian Muslims and keeping silent on the Kashmir issue. Like the above link points out, it’s done in order to ensure the Indians, especially India’s large Muslim minority don’t see the atrocities and crimes committed by India’s present close foreign allies against Muslims in other countries. The ban is a reflection of Indian governments ‘don’t care’ attitude towards India’s 140 million Muslim citizens-the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. This is also a direct result of the failure of Indian Muslims to ensure their interests are considered in the Indian national arena.

The ban on Arab TV channels calls for actions by Arab nations to safeguard Arab and Muslim interests in India. And the Indian Muslims should ensure India puts its countrymen’s concerns and interests above the agendas of foreign powers. If not there will only be a worsening of India’s current situation in the future.