Saturday, 26 May 2007

“You are either with us or against us” or “This is unfair. It is time that we get even.”

Whilst it’s easy to point out the hypocrisies of American domestic and foreign policies, even bigger and more numerous hypocrisies lie within the Muslim Ummah. This is because Muslims on the whole have become largely ignorant of the rich beauty of Islam in peace (why that is the case is itself a huge topic). As a consequence, Muslims now reap what they sow and suffer from widespread repression, corruption, violence, killings, miscarriages of justice, abuse of the vulnerable and women, intolerance, illiteracy, poverty…all of which reign supreme and mostly carried out by Muslims on fellow Muslims. Yet many Muslims remain silent and even collude with it. But when non-Muslims commit such acts on Muslims, blame is instantly trumpeted.

When there is a sense of unresolved injustice in failed societies, it breeds resentment. And for growing numbers of militant, dispossessed, bullied, ignorant and angry Muslims in despair, extreme ideas and certainty of beliefs with oversimplified black/white explanations become increasingly attractive and easy to imbibe. This enables the more radical, intolerant stripped-down brands of “Islam” to become favoured by those who wish to wage perpetual violent war against “infidels”. This has become increasingly entrenched in both misguided non-Muslims and some Muslims as to what “Islam” represents because of the acts of fanatics and terrorists that get disproportionate media attention (who is interested in boring good news eh?). In particular is the concept of “Jihad” which has been continually twisted and abused beyond all meaning and relationship to its intent in the Qur'an.

There are the Qur'anic concepts of Greater Jihad and Lesser Jihad.

The Greater Jihad is an internal fight within an individual for spiritual unity and identity with God. It is a fight to overcome selfishness and the negative aspects of the ego's control over man. It is a struggle to rise to higher moral standards of living, both within the individual and the person's role within society.The Lesser Jihad is for when Muslims are attacked. It is the basis for defence, and not a justification for aggression.

Verses about non-Muslims or Muslims considered “hypocrites” should be understood in its context. The Qur’an many times have stressed the permitting of fighting only in self-defence and not as an act of aggression (Sura 2:190 “Fight in the Cause of God Those who fight against you, But do not transgress limits; For God loveth not transgressors”) but men like bin Laden cite such verses to justify continued violence against unbelievers and even encourage suicide bombings yet nowhere in the Qur’an is there the justification of killing of civilians, let alone the condoning of suicide (forbidden in Islam). Yet such verses are often taken out of context, as they often relate to a specific incident and certain time in the early history of Islam, but very often following and other verses are ignored such as the overarching command of peace (Sura 2:193 “But if they cease Let there be no hostility” Sura 8:61 “But if the enemy Incline towards peace, Do thou (also) incline Towards peace, and trust in God: for He is the One That heareth knoweth (All things)” Sura 4:90 “Therefore if they withdraw From you but fight you not, And (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then God Hath opened no way For you (to war against them)”).

Certain fanatical Muslims would point to isolated verses and argue that perpetual violence against unbelievers is allowed. Ill-informed non-Muslims would point to such verses in isolation and the acts of fanatics as cases in point that Islam is a religion of violence and that it must be defeated. Both point fingers at each other but both mindsets are wrong as everyone gets unwittingly tarred with the same brush. Yet both mindsets have followings because interpretations of events in the real world by either side does in fact contain elements of truth (but also mixed with much lies) and each side sees what one wants to see to continually justify their beliefs.

Ignorance is a disease. It has a host (people) and it has a vector of transmission (sermons, classrooms, print, media, internet). It makes no distinction between age, sex, race, beliefs, intelligence, geography, social or economic status. Some revel and parade in it. Some fight against it. It’s ironic that in this age of mass communication and ease of access to almost limitless amounts of information, ignorance is an ever growing and vast problem.

Some hadiths of the Prophet (pbuh):

On the authority of Anas ibn Malik : He said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say, "Indeed, among the portents of the Hour are that knowledge will decrease, ignorance will abound, adultery will become widespread, wine will be drunk, and men will be few and women will be many, to the extent that there will be a single provider for fifty women." [Bukhari and Muslim]

“Just before the Hour there will be much killing. It is not you killing the disbelievers, but you killing each other, until the man would kill his neighbour, his brother, his uncle and his cousin.” [Ahmad]

"Allah will not retract this knowledge by a withdrawal, [suddenly] withdrawing it from people's hearts, but He will retract knowledge by retracting the scholars, until, when He has left no scholar, people will take ignorant leaders, who will be asked, and will pronounce verdicts without knowledge, thus going astray and leading others astray." [Bukhari, Muslim]

"There shall come upon people deceptive years, in which the liar will be regarded as truthful, the truthful one will be regarded as a liar, the treacherous one will be trusted, the trustworthy one will be mistrusted, and in which al-Ruwaybidah will speak." Someone asked, "What is al-Ruwaybidah?" He said, "A paltry man speaking about the affair/business of the general public." [Ahmad, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim]

“When you see the slave woman giving birth to her master, and you see the shepherds competing in erecting tall buildings, and the bare footed and hungry becoming the leaders, then this is one of the signs of the Hour.” [Ahmad]

Narrated by Thawban: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The people will soon summon one another to attack you as people when eating invite others to share their dish. Someone asked: Will that be because of our small numbers at that time? He replied: No, you will be numerous at that time: but you will be scum and rubbish like that carried down by a torrent, and Allah will take fear of you from the breasts of your enemy and last enervation into your hearts. Someone asked: What is wahn (enervation). Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him): He replied: Love of the world and dislike of death”.


Moriji said...
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Moriji said...

Great post! What fundamentalists believe is that all the troubles they are facing today is caused by what is "foreign" to them, be it the West, modernism, liberalism, secularism, or whatever you want to call it. They figure it's because people have strayed from their roots (i.e. religion) and that if people return to it, then everything will be fine again. But to me they are really using religion to justify fighting whomever they deem the enemy to be.

By the way, isn't it true that each time a Muslim speaks Mohammad's name, they are supposed to say peace be upon him? That would immediately invoke the peace frame. That would explain why militant Islam never speaks the prophet's name. They only invoke Islam or Allah in their call for jihad.

El Draque said...

Wow...that was really observant of you re: the militants lack of use of the Prophet's name. I've not noticed it before but you're right! Yes, out of respect Muslims will appendage the peace wishes but the actual practice varies widely in my experience. The same level of respect is also accorded to the other Islamic prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Soloman, John the Baptist and Jesus etc etc and if more than one is mentioned, "Peace upon them" may be used.

You are right how the radical elements have hijaked the "brand" name of "Islam" to their "Cause", thereby having access to a potentially large demographic for recruitment. But I still insist that the primary and biggest problem lies with Muslims themselves.

And equally bizarre is how non-Muslims link the religion of Islam so casually and reflexively without thinking to nutters or anything indigenous that happens in the Middle East thereby creating an instant mental association. "Islamic militant" or "Islamic terrorist" is casually heard everyday....but I can't remember the last time I heard an "Atheist militant" or an "Agnostic militant" or a "Christian militant" etc etc even though in the past and present such groups have caused vast amounts of terrorism worldwide...I guess it's not terrorism when it's done to someone else but it's terrorism when it's done to "us".

But the worrying thing is that the fanatics are playing the same game by using the term "Crusaders" and "Zionists" to link with anything to do with the West, thereby creating another mental association. People in the West may laugh at the term "Crusaders" but they have been unwittingly playing the exact same game themselves.

The other thing I tend to be conscious of doing myself is to refrain from using the word "fundamentalist"....I prefer the term "fanatic" (which is an apt description as they go waaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond and even the complete opposite of what are the fundamentals of their beliefs).

Moriji said...

It's all about framing. If Osama and those guys kept mentioning Muhammad (may peace upon him) throughout their videos, everyone would want to put down their weapons. So they don't.

Instead, they talk about the infidels and jihad because they want people to get really pissed off at the real and perceived injustices they are facing and rise up to fight the West.

Moriji said...

Come to think of it, I wish Muslims around the world would invoke the prophet's name more whenever they speak out in public, because that would reinforce the peace frame. That's the one thing that could really make a difference.

El Draque said...

It’s kind of like that Virginia tech kid that went all psycho. He had deep issues and a martyr complex and blamed and railed against the society he lived in. And makling ranting videos too. It doesn’t help that he was bullied and ignored too. Then it would be a mistake to claim that all Asians are batshit crazy.

Just like some fanatical Muslims have deep issues and a martyr complex and blame and rail against the West for their own ills. And makling ranting videos too. It doesn’t help that Muslims are bullied and ignored too. It would be a mistake to think that all Muslims are batshit crazy.

Moriji said...

Your well rounded, logical arguments won't work on most people, because it's really perception that counts. I can just hear the cries of "But that's different!"

Most people view the Virginia Tech massacre as an isolated incident. They don't see Asian kids going around shooting people on campus all over the country. So they are not worried about Asians.

On the other hand, they see jihadists blowing themselves up all over the Middle East, making videos, kidnapping people, etc. And since this is all being done in the name of Islam, they figure that there must be something inherently dangerous about it to make people commit such violent acts.

El Draque said...

Yes, you’re absolutely right that perception carries a lot of weight and the frequency explanation above I already saw it coming and have already heard many times before. Yes, if the Western coalition powers invaded and continuously bombed the Asian mainland destroying its infrastructure and kept it under military occupation taking its resources to support a moulded government that kowtows to Washington alone, I am pretty sure Asians will…to put it politically correctly...“resist”.

Prior to 9-11, Washington viewed China as it’s biggest long term strategic threat (and vice-versa)…and who could forget the tense stand-off when the US navy spy-plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet in April 2001 and had to make an emergency landing in Hainan? Then September 11th rolled round and priorities seismically got shifted…

Actually Iraq and Afghanistan is just beating a dead horse now as US troops are being lost through the process of attrition and money is being bled slowly from the economy. Even if bin Laden is captured or killed now, it’s entirely immaterial as Washington’s policies had already fanned the flames of the militant movement more effectively than bin Laden had. It has made both countries crucibles for more militants to train, grow and learn to hate the US even more. As it is, Muslims in the Middle East are doing a grand job of slaughtering and repressing themselves – the US can safely step aside (except they need to secure it’s energy resources for it’s own use!). All the exaggerated paranoia by the US government of a “terrorist threat” is used to justify it’s military-industrial complex (cf Orwell’s ‘1984’). And China had taken advantage of Washington’s reduced bandwith in dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan by quietly focusing on dealing with its internal economic problems.

By any standard, there is no real “jihadist” threat of a united “Caliphate” that could seriously challenge, let alone “invade” the US mainland. The US military is now slowly and quietly resuming its prior concerns and is now refocusing belatedly back onto China again (especially since its recent demonstration of its ability to destroy a satellite in orbit). China could become a genuine strategic threat to the US over the next few decades as its naval, air and space power is gradually built up. I fear China will be made the next “bogeyman” if Washington continues to be hawkish…and a new far more deadlier arms race will begin.