intellectual property rights: This blogger firmly believes in intellectual and other property rights. Links have been given to the material including images and maps used from outside sources. The blogger requests pointing out any material that have escaped this policy.
Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

see end of page for buttoned useful links

Friday, May 25, 2007

Islamic Movements: the Present in-between ‘Future’ and ‘Past’

Islamic Movements & their Agenda
May 25th, 2007 by a sane voice in a mad world
The Islamist Agenda
Posted: May 25, 2007 12:30 AM

In broad terms, all Islamist groups share a common objective-building a society where the government’s domestic and foreign policy reflect Islamic values and beliefs. Rather than “modernizing Islam,” they seek to “Islamicize modernity” by constructing a polity where Islam is not only respected by the state but is reflected in all aspects of society.

The Islamist Agenda

The whole series is worth a read for those who wish to understand. So an article with links is provided below:

Islamic Movements: the Present in-between ‘Future’ and ‘Past’

By IOL editorial staff

Seeing the condition of the Muslim world, it is more important than ever to focus on the future. But we can not look into the future only with a forwards gaze, leaving behind us the essence of our existence from the ‘past’. We also can not walk into the future with the backward gaze that wants to shape and retailer a ‘future’ after a particular history. Both approaches are amiss. We will have to start by what’s under our feet. We do not really live on a abyss. And even if we do we will have to start by looking under our feet, first, and decide on a destination.

It is the present explains the ‘past’–not vise versa; and, hence, it is future that will describe the ‘present’ with the best valid account. For, without an honest consideration (stripped from self-righteousness) and self-criticism (away from outside misconceptions and misunderstanding) the future—just as the present—will be at stake.

Here is a compiled file made by IOL editorial staff on assessing Islamic movements (please note both the analogous ‘Islamic’ and ‘movement’). Denial is not a cure. And so are self-determination, counter-terrorism or (or sometimes terrorism), and victimization; they are not isolated syndromes.

Our eyes are fixed on a better condition of the Muslim world and, equally, a humanity. If we pinpoint, we are not only condemning; we want a resolution. If we criticize, we are not only asking for reformation; we care for right realization. Hence, we introduce this file on Islamic movements.

Unlike what many think, ‘movement’ is not particular to armed resistance, per se; there are many messianic, pacifist, and populists. Also not all are ‘Islamic’, per se.

Should we blame ourselves only? Should Western and American hegemony get all the blame? Are ideological flaws within them? Are they a reflection of how ‘Muslims’ want to ‘move’ towards their objectives? We are trying to answer all such questions.

How Dangerous are the Islamists; by Nader A Hashemi; an assessment of revival discourses and the role of external interests (Contemporary Issues)

Islamic Movements: Self-Criticism and Reconsideration; by Shaykh Rashid al Ghanuchi; Islamic movements at a crossroad with modernity (Contemporary Issues)

Islamic Movements at the End of the 20th Century; by Michael Collins Dunn; a deeper look into the balance of power between the modern state structure and Islamic movements (Contemporary Issues)

How to Comprehend Jihad?; by Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mostafa; Jihad, its Islamic theoretical framework in different historical epochs and the present (Contemporary Issues)

Towards A New Islamic Discourse; by Dr. Abdel-Wahab M. Elmessiri; a critique of the spectrum of Islamic discourses and the need for a new contingent one for the future (Contemporary Issues).

The following are other articles and live dialogues by experts on the subject at hand which are relevant to the question at hand.

The Future of Intifada: Did Military Action Have Positive/Negative Impact on the Palestinian Cause? By Dr. Azzam Tamimi, director of the institute of Islamic political thought (live dialogue)

Racial and Religious Terror in the American Experience: From the Klan to the Taliban By Dr. Ali Mazrui, Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York (live dialogue)

The Recent Ban of The Virtue Party In Turkey By Merve Kavakci, a former Member of the Turkish Parliament (live dialogue).

Post-War Middle East: Ground for Islamic Militancy? By Hossam el-Hamalawy, Los Angeles Times (Views and Analyses)

Chechnya: The Never Ending Conflict By Kareem M. Kamel
Researcher – International Relations (Views and Analyses)

Bitterness, Accusations & Muslim Denial: Aceh By Azizuddin El-Kaissouni
Staff writer – IslamOnline (Views and Analyses)

Islam Under Siege in Southeast Asia By Kareem M. Kamel, a researcher – International Relations (Views and Analyses)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

for shifa and any other need

After praying the Fajr Sunnah and before the Fajr Fard, you recite the duroode Ibrahimi (that we recite in the last rakaah) odd number of times. I have finally settled on one as in winter the time between the Sunnah and Fard is very short. Then Ta`awwudh, and then Surah Fatiha with complete Bismillah 41 times, then duroode Ibrahimi again (the same number as before), and then you blow upon the patient, and then you pray the Fard part of Fajr. Then, of course, do your usual dhikr after the Fajr Salaah. All this time nothing else is to be spoken. This is to be done for 40 days.

If it is Allah’s will, the patient will recover. In any case, the suffering will be gone or considerably lessened, insha`Allah.

You can use this for any jaez need or wish.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The 18 kg skeletal man is now dead

inna lillahe wa inna ilehi ra`jeoon

He is dead in the name of national security, which is a synonym for “licence to commit crimes”.

He was arrested, held incommunicado, tortured and when eventually produced before the Supreme Court three weeks ago on Friday in a missing persons’ case, he wieghed only 18 pounds. The Supreme Court ordered his treatment at the Agha Khan Hospital, but he died Friday, May 18th, reports Geo TV.

Missing persons - they just disappear, and most are never heard of again.

Sometimes, they are released to their families in emaciated conditions, but no one talks. The families often move away.

Sometimes, their bodies are found, with torture marks, but the official report is that they died of natural causes - sudden heart failure, and the like.

Some of them come back from Guantamao Bay, or other exotic "facilities" maintained by that champion of human rights, the US of A.

A man named Saud Memon was brought to the Supreme Court on Friday carried on a stretcher during a hearing of the Missing Persons Case.

According to the Nation:

“Saud Memon [was] arrested on March 7, 2003

"[He} is a cloth merchant from Karachi and had gone to South Africa on a business trip when he was arrested."

“[He] was sent to Guantanamo Bay and was handed over to Pakistani agencies in 2006"

“[He] was released by the Intelligence Agencies on April 28, 2007”

"On April 28, he was found dumped at a place near his house in Karachi."

“[He] is in a critical condition and due to harsh treatment meted out to him, has lost his memory and weight. Now he weighs only 18 kgs. He has shrunk into a skeleton and can neither walk nor hold his head."

“It was confirmed by three other people released from ISI’s detention that Saud Memon was also with them in ISI custody.”

One would imagine that the horrendous sufferings of this poor man are over, but no. As Dawn tells us:

‘This skeleton of a man has a reward of Rs3 million on his head in the Red Book of our Interior Ministry’, advocate Shaukat Akhtar Siddiqui told the court, pointing to the emaciated body of Saud Memon brought on a stretcher.


Skeleton of a man brought to court on stretcher: SC seeks affidavits on freed people

By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, May 4: A middle-aged man missing since 2003 was produced in the Supreme Court on Friday in such a bad shape that the court ordered his immediate medical check-up.

This skeleton of a man has a reward of Rs3 million on his head in the Red Book of our Interior Ministry, advocate Shaukat Akhtar Siddiqui told the court, pointing to the emaciated body of Saud Memon brought on a stretcher.

A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan has taken up petitions of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar for recovery of missing people and complaints of Ms Amina Masood Janjua, Saqlain Mehdi, Aisha, Abdul Ghaffar, Amtul Hafiz, Fatima, Mohammad Ikram Alvi, Arif Abbasi and Syed Babar.

The FBI had arrested Mr Memon, 44, in South Africa on March 7, 2003, kept him at the Guantanamo Bay prison for over two years and then handed him over to the ISI. He was brought to the courtroom on a stretcher. Last week, he had been left in a pulp near his house.

On a request of Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, the counsel of the HRCP, the bench also ordered the government to submit affidavits suggesting who had picked up the recently released 56 of the 136 missing people. The affidavits should state where the people during their captivity had been kept, whether they had been produced in any court, what the charges against them were and why they were freed.

Advocate Ibrahim also asked to set up a commission for probe and to take evidence of people who had been picked up but released, to end this menace.

The HRCP also filed a rejoinder in the court questioning the term freed used by the interior ministry for the released persons to be a vague expression concealing all the illegality done by the agency apparatus.

The court also directed Farhatullah Babar to submit his proposals in writing for reining in state agencies in respect of missing people.

In his suggestions, Mr Babar had stated that since the ISI and the MI were answerable to the Ministry of Defence, their heads should be asked by the ministry to furnish affidavits certifying about the missing people. Such affidavits, according to him, would be helpful in holding accountable those responsible for disappearance of people and torturing them without any legal basis. He had also proposed that the interior ministry should be directed to place advertisements in leading national dailies and on the electronic media inviting citizens to come forward with details about the missing people, giving their names, addresses, date of disappearance, circumstances of disappearance and any other relevant information they knew.

The court directed to shift Mr Memon to the Agha Khan Hospital in Karachi or any convenient health facility for his medical check-up and restrained the authorities not to arrest him before approval of the court.

On Friday, Deputy Attorney-General Tariq Khokhar presented a compliance report regarding missing Atiqur Rehman, a scientist in Nilour and picked up on the day of his marriage; Faisal Faraz, a mechanical engineer; Imran Munir, Qari Saifullah Akhtar and Naeem Noor Khan.

He said that except for Imran Munir, the whereabouts of none were traceable. Mr Munir was facing a trial in the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) on spying charges, he added. The court directed to arrange a meeting between the detained person and his family.

The bench, however, was not impressed with the pace of progress in the case and observed that agencies had to provide information about the whereabouts when they had apprehended the people.

On Faisal Faraz, the court summoned the district police officer and the station house officer concerned, who had accepted that Mr Faraz had been picked up by intelligence agencies, along with relevant record.

On Attiqur Rehman, the NWFP Inspector General of Police and the Abbotabad DPO were summoned for Friday next.

The court was informed that National Crisis Management Cell director Col Javed Iqbal Lodhi had been appointed the resource person in the missing people case. The court also directed the government to submit concise statements on all the petitions.

Today, he is suffers no more. He has died.

inna lillahe wa inna ilehe ra`jeoon

This man might have been suspected of being a religious extremist but so far no court seems to have been provided with any evidence of his crimes.

More importantly, no one has the right on God's earth to treat an individual as a piece of garbage.

SC seeks traced persons affidavits

Iman Hasan

ISLAMABAD- Justice Javed Iqbal ordered Interior Ministry to submit affidavits of the 56 people who were traced by it last week. He directed the ministry to incorporate details in the affidavits regarding the date and place of abduction, duration and place of detention and charges levelled against recovered people.

He gave these orders while chairing the three-member bench of the Supreme Court here on Friday. Those 56 recovered people are out of the list of 136 missing people compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, represented by advocates Supreme Court Asma Jahangir, Fakhar-ud-din G Ibrahim and Iqbal Haider.

Another recently recovered person, Saud Memon, who was released by the Intelligence Agencies on April 28, 2007; was also brought before the Supreme Court. Saud Memon, arrested on March 7, 2003; is in a critical condition and due to harsh treatment meted out to him, has lost his memory and weight. Now he weighs only 18 kgs. He has shrunk into a skeleton and can neither walk nor hold his head. On April 28, he was found dumped at a place near his house in Karachi.

According to Amna Janjua, it was confirmed by three other people released from ISI’s detention that Saud Memon was also with them in ISI custody.
According to Saud Memon’s family, he was arrested from South Africa by FBI on March 7, 2004; and was sent to Guantanamo Bay and was handed over to Pakistani agencies in 2006. Saud Memon is a cloth merchant from Karachi and had gone to South Africa on a business trip when he was arrested.

Justice Javed Iqbal ordered the newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Barrister Tariq Khokhar to have him treated at Agha Khan Hospital and his medical report be presented to the apex court.

Saud Memon’s brother pleaded before the court that Saud Memon’s name should be removed from the ‘Red Book’ compiled by the Interior Ministry, which contains the names the people wanted by the government. The head money set by the government for Saud Memon is Rs 30 lakh.

“Saud Memon should not be arrested without approval of this court,” ordered Justice Javed Iqbal.

During the court’s proceedings Deputy Attorney General presented the concise report on behalf of National Crisis Management Cell concerning those seven people inquired by the Supreme Court on the last hearing on April 27. According to the findings of NCMC, Faisal Faraz is not traceable.
Faisal Faraz, resident of Lahore was abducted from Rawalpindi Daewoo Bus Stop on July 30, 2005. A mechanical engineer, Faisal, was working for a Finland-based company, Wartsila, in Lahore.

Justice Javed Iqbal while addressing the representative of the NCMC of Interior Ministry, Col Imran, said, “Are you denying that he was picked up.

It should be furnished by the agencies if he was picked up by them.”

Justice Javed Iqbal questioned Col Imran about the efforts NCMC has made so far in recovering Faisal Faraz and others missing people.
Col Imran assured the court that, “We don’t have him and we have contacted all the agencies. We are still making efforts.”

Justice Javed Iqbal instructed Col. Imran that all those missing people have to be traced out. He further said that law has not given any right to any government department to abduct people unlawfully and whosoever exercises such powers, will have to be answerable before the Supreme Court.

“Legal action will be taken regardless of who is who,” said Justice Javed Iqbal.

Over the insistence of families and lawyers Col Imran told the judge that most of the information about the missing people cannot be revealed. Justice Javed Iqbal told Col Imran that any sensitive information can be revealed in his chamber and assured the families that legal action would be taken.
About Imran Munir, the report disclosed that he is in military’s detention on charges of spying for a foreign country.

Imran Munir, 35 has been missing since July 8th, 2006. According to his sister, he was invited by Brig Mansoor over dinner in Blue Area, Islamabad. He never returned home since then. Imran Munir was settled in Malaysia and was on a visit to Pakistan for 2 weeks.

His family was nether informed about his detention and nor about charges against him. After the Supreme Court’s directions on last hearing on April 27, his whereabouts were made public during hearing on Friday.

The Supreme Court directed the NCMC to furnish the charge sheet against Imran Munir and also make the arrangements for Imran’s meeting with his family.

About Attiqur Rehman, the DAG told the court, “He is untraceable.” Whereas Attiq’s lawyer, Ikram Chaudhry, told the bench that DIG and SP Abbottabad had told his client’s family members that he had been picked up by the agencies.

Justice Javed Iqbal summoned IG NWFP and SP Abbotabad to appear beforwe the Supreme Court on the next hearing on May 11, 2007.
About Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the concise report presented by the National Crisis Management cell, revealed, “He is engaged in jihadi activities somewhere in Punjab.”

Qari Saifullah’s lawyer, Hashmat Habib told the bench that government is aware of the whereabouts of Qari Saifullah since he was handed over to the Pakistani government by the UAE authorities on August 8, 2004. He substantiated his statement by narrating NCMC’s Director General Javed Iqbal Cheema’s interview to a newspaper on August 9, 2004; saying, “Qari Saifullah is in custody of law enforcement agencies and Pakistani agencies are interrogating him.”

The then Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid’s statements given in August 2004 also confirmed that Qari Saifullah was in government’s detention.
After listening to the arguments given by both the sides, Justice Javed Iqbal ordered that a specific report about Qari Saifullah be furnished in the next hearing.

According to the NCMC, Naeem Noor Khan is also not traceable, whereas in August 2004, government owned his arrest. The then Information Minister Sheikh Rashid, the then Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat and the then DG ISPR Shaukat Sultan confirmed Naeem Noor Khan’s arrest in a press conference addressed in August 2004.

Over Supreme Court’s instructions given on the last hearing, the Interior Ministry had appointed Col Javed Iqbal Lodhi as deputy secretary to be accessible to the families of the missing people and arrange their meetings with the detainees and also obtain necessary information regarding missing people.

Justice Javed Iqbal further ordered to advertise deputy secretary’s telephone numbers so that people in all corners could contact him. The bench also directed the Deputy Attorney General to make meeting arrangements of Qari Obaidullah with his family. Qari Obaidullah was arrested from his house in Multan on November 26, 2007 by elite force accompanied by the people in civilian clothes.

Qari Obaidullah’s wife had also filed a petition in Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench and the Deputy Attorney General, while appearing in the court had stated, “Obaidullah was in the custody of the Armed Forces of Pakistan and was required in connection with a case under Section 2(d) of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.”

But the armed forces did not inform Qari Obaidullah’s family about his detention and they have not met him since his arrest in 2003.

All the families of missing people expressed their fears before the bench that their loved ones could also be meted out the same treatment as Saud Memon was subjected to.

Justice Javed Iqbal also ordered the Deputy Attorney General to inform the court about Muhammad Idrees Abbasi’s whereabouts on the next hearing on May 11, 2007; and present a concise report before the apex court. He also directed the DAG to remain in touch with NCMC and furnish a report on the efforts made by the FIA, police and other law enforcement agencies.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Islamist, another review

The Islamist: A Review

Ed Husain, The Islamist: Why I joined radical Islam in Britain, what I saw inside and why I left. London: Penguin, 2007. Pp. 288. £8.99. Paperback.

As this book was published at the beginning of May 2007, five British-born Muslims were convicted of plotting to blow up targets like a shopping centre and a nightclub using 600 kilogrammes of ammonium nitrate. The persistent question remains: how did we get to a position where MI5 are monitoring 1,600 suspects in 160 cells? Who are these would-be terrorists? Even though Ruth Kelly and John Reid now belatedly acknowledge the aggravating effect of Iraq, foreign policy alone does not provide the whole answer. The impact of radical ideas have mattered too, which this book sets out to explore.

Leaving aside how much weight they would put on radicalisation alongside other causal explanations, British Muslims generally have two views on the role of ideas in the phenomenon. The first pins the blame squarely upon extreme Salafis who developed a doctrine of attacking the West in the wake of the Afghanistan-Soviet war in the 1980s. Some of their propagandists – Abu Qatada, Abu Hamza, Abdullah Faisal and Omar Bakri Mohammed (who became Salafi in his theological outlook sometime after 9/11) — were allowed to spread their ideas in Britain relatively unimpeded by the police and intelligence services throughout the Nineties, in fierce competition with other groups promoting political Islam. Most ordinary Salafis, commited to a puritanical apolitical form of Islam, either ignored this trend or argued against it. Some British Salafis who opposed this trend early on, with no public recognition whatsoever, had to face intimidation and even death threats.

The second position takes a wider view. British Islamists, those who emphasise faith-based political activism, helped to create a receptivity to more radical groups with whom they shared a similar vision of Islamic resurgence in the Muslim world. In this view, the elements of Islamism are likened to the spectrum of communism, i.e. between the Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks and the Trotskyists – more a difference over means than ends — ranging from gradual reform to national or even international revolution. Some Islamists are in favour of democracy and some aren’t. Some are happy to have peaceful co-existence with the “West” and some aren’t. All, to a greater or lesser extent, have been critical of the traditional Islam of the ulema, of what they saw as their intellectual lethargy and quiescence during the period of direct European colonial rule in the Muslim world. They were also critical of Sufism, either rejecting it or seeking to reform it.

Ed Husain, brought up in Tower Hamlets, takes the second view and describes in detail his time with various Islamist groups in London at colleges and university campuses between 1990-1996. Husain, in escalating youthful rebellion, defies his parents, then his traditional upbringing, his college authorities and later society at large. Having been an eyewitness to this scene myself, I can vouch that he accurately describes an historical period of intense competition and one-upmanship for the attention of young minds. However, the main reviews so far, in the Times, the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Guardian, have been quick to draw sweeping and general conclusions about today’s situation, even though the heart of this book is really about the early Nineties.

The most important insights arise from Husain’s period of involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir at a time when it was under the leadership of Omar Bakri Mohammed. Riding on the back of anti-Saudi sentiment during the first Gulf War in 1990, Hizb ut-Tahrir began to have a serious impact. Its confrontational tabloid style excited Muslim students looking for easy answers to Western double standards and the new Salafi missionaries from Saudi Arabia. The control of Islamic student societies would oscillate between Islamists and apolitical Salafis, leaving few alternatives to a crude, despiritualised, angry and self-righteous take on Islam. Husain’s judgement that Hizb ut-Tahrir, under Bakri’s inspiration (who was later to found the splinter al-Muhajiroun), did more to inculcate the spirit of jihad, anti-West sentiment, anti-democractic politics, and passionate support for the cause of the umma, the Muslim supernation, than anyone else is essentially correct.

While this personal memoir is a must-read, offering with authority and nuance an insider’s view of the context that shaped the period, it is not a definitive analysis. Husain doesn’t reflect enough on the serious debates on basic beliefs and practices that the Salafis provoked at the time and says little about the emergence of “the jihadi scene” in Britain during the late Nineties, during a time when the enemy (in Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo) was politically halal. But then none of this is central to his personal journey.

Husain is unequivocal about calling for the banning of Hizb ut-Tahrir, yet I remain unconvinced. For while Hizb ut-Tahrir is subversive of democratic participation and integration, and should be challenged, they have not directly recruited for jihad abroad or terrorism at home. Undoubtedly, a few have left Hizb ut-Tahrir’s talk of jihad for the real thing, and the leadership has always denied the violence that hovers around some of the young men they have influenced. For instance, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s stoking of inter-communal tensions in Newham College in 1994 led indirectly to the murder of a Nigerian Christian by a Muslim, in which the leadership denied all involvement, a tragedy that leads to Husain’s pathway out of Islamism. Husain also reports of “off-duty” excursions to help out Muslim gangs in their turf wars with Sikh gangs in Slough and West London.

I also got first-hand reports of the disruption of Labour and Respect Party election campaigns as late as 2005 by Hizb ut-Tahrir activists in Tooting, Bethnal Green and Bow, and Sparkbrook and Smallheath, something that Husain reports, too. This is contested by Hizb ut-Tahrir’s leadership, who argue that they never endorsed any such activity, and other community activists have reported that al-Muhajiroun members were the real culprits in operating these spoiler campaigns. Given these conflicting reports, I do wonder if Husain has done enough to sift fact from allegation.

The government was far from agreed on the case for banning, first mooted by the Prime Minister in 2005. Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary, Home Office lawyers, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the intelligence services and the Association of Chief Police Officers argued against the banning. Hizb ut-Tahrir have not been seen as part of the terrorist problem, even if they are seen as subversive of democratic politics. The point though is that postwar Britain didn’t seek to ban political subversion. For example, neither the Communist Party of Great Britain was banned, even though it was funded by the Soviets during the Cold War, nor was Sinn Fein, despite its being the political wing of the Irish Republican Army during the Troubles. The British Nationalist Party is not banned either. Other methods have been used to marginalise or moderate such movements in Britain.

This is unlike postwar Germany, where the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz), or FOPC, seeks to “safeguard the protection of the free and democratic fundamental order and the continued existence and security of the state”. This covers political subversion, originally designed to tackle any re-emergence of Nazi ideology in postwar (then West) Germany, as well as terrorism. The 2004 FOPC Report gives the following reasons for the German ban of Hizb ut-Tahrir:

The Federal Minister of the Interior banned Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami in Germany with effect from 15 January 2003, among other things because it opposed the principle of international understanding and because the organisation approved of violence as a means for achieving its political aims. (p. 204)

Is Britain moving towards the German view that subversion should be banned? Al-Muhajiroun and its successors could only be legally banned after extending the grounds for the proscription of terrorist groups in the Terrorism Act 2000, by passing an additional clause banning the glorification of terrorism in the Terrorism Act 2006. Section 21 of the Terrorism Act 2006 proscribes groups that promote or encourage “the unlawful glorification of the commission or preparation (whether in the past, in the future, or generally) of acts of terrorism”. Glorification is understood as encouraging the “emulation of terrorism”.

This is a delicate and difficult debate. Husain makes the case for banning Hizb ut-Tahrir on the basis of his personal journey rather than considering the political implications as carefully as he should have done. There is no doubt that Hizb ut-Tahrir should be pressurised in all sorts of ways short of banning, but let us not lose sight of the fact that criminalising its membership might end up politicising Muslim communities up and down the country and scotching any effective “hearts and minds” strategy. Academic estimates of the Party’s size in the UK, including members and sympathisers, hover at around 8,500. Given its size, the ripple effect would be immense, a consideration that no doubt bore upon the decision to not, as yet, ban the Party. The other effect would be the chilling of the dissident political voice of young Muslims, who would no doubt draw their own conclusions. Would this be preferable to taking ideas on while preserving the democratic right to speak out? One worries that the litmus test of being a good liberal, especially of the Muslim variety, might have come to rely on a preference for security over liberty on issues like this. A common argument one will hear is that Hizb ut-Tahrir has opened up somewhat since 2005, and Husain characterises this as a divergence between a comparatively more moderate leadership seeking political survival while trying to keep a more unreconstructed membership on board. This judgement is sound, and he is also right to remind us of Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Leninist orientation. It has not given up on the idea of a totalitarian expansionist state or the coup d’etat as a means of establishing it.

The other serious point that Husain raises is about responsibility for rhetoric. To put it simply, the angry anti-West rhetoric of the period of colonial struggle (Mawdudi) or of postcolonial resistance (Qutb and Nabhani), without a controlling contextualisation, cannot be idly placed in the hands of young British Muslims. Years ago, back in the Eighties, some young members of the Islamic movement went to the elders to ask why the movement in the UK was not more radical. Why did they not adhere closely to the revolutionary ways of Mawdudi and Qutb? The elders replied that their ideas were for purposes of self-rectification only, and had no practical place in the work of the Islamic movement in Britain. Now this is genuinely mysterious. If the founding fathers of modern Islamism are basically irrelevant, which is what the first and second generation leaders tell me when I’ve pressed this point on them in private, then what’s the reason for not going out in public with a clear post-Islamist position? Tribalism? Loyalty to the movement? Inertia? Pride? Who knows?

Husain’s point here is that during the early Nineties, broad ideological affinity among Islamists meant that the moderates got involved in a game of one-upmanship with the radicals even as they competed fiercely for recruits. Husain gives an example that occurred at the East London Mosque when Hizbi activists attempted to take on the Islamic Forum Europe and the Young Muslims Organisation on their own turf. They were eventually forcibly removed, but not before an elder is seen to fail to respond to Hizbi polemics against democracy, and chooses to remain silent instead. The moderate Islamists could only argue within an overall framework that merely set their differences out in methodological terms (gradualism verses revolution), rather than on more substantive bases. Even now, some, especially those associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, will mount a sophisticated apologetic on behalf of Qutb. People just keep misreading Milestones and his tafsir, they say, and have done so consistently since the 1970s. If only people had listened a bit more to Hassan al-Hudaybi, the second Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1951-1976, then the violent splinter groups would not have emerged. This is rather wishful thinking that misconstrues the power of Qutb’s ideas. The argument about responsibility over rhetoric also has implications for whether a prominent institution like the East London Mosque should be happy to invite intolerant, communalist preachers (Delwar Hossain Sayeedi or Abdul Rahman al-Sudays), or to allow the stocking of Qutb’s Milestones in the bookshop that pays rent to the mosque and is incorporated as part of the building.

However, this tribal loyalty to the ideologues of Islamism is only part of the story. You would be hard pressed to find a more dynamic mosque than the East London Mosque. It houses a school, a major charity, countless educational and welfare projects and extensive sporting facilities. It employs non-Muslim staff. It has a high rate of active participation from young men and women. It has incorporated newer communities — Somalis and Maghribis — within the governance structure of the mosque, rather than remaining an ethnic redoubt. It has worked very closely with the local authority on some substantive issues. For instance, the mosque worked with the local council to bring down absentee rates among Bangladeshi pupils, with the imams directly challenging the cultural practice of pulling kids out of school during term-time for extended trips abroad. There was no doubt that many at the mosque put their weight behind the Respect Party protest vote in 2005 that saw George Galloway to victory at Bethnal Green and Bow. Husain mentions that the link between Respect and former YMO/IFE activists exists, but, arguably, their links with local Labour are much stronger. Privately, it was accepted that Galloway would not be a good constituency MP, and that this was effectively a short-term protest over Iraq. It was assumed that politics as usual would resume with Labour, which is likely to be the case with an excellent candidate in Rushanara Ali (ex-Home Office, Young Foundation and political aide to Oona King, the former MP). None of this gets consideration in Husain’s account of the ELM today.

Husain also provides a short pen-portrait of the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) in 1996, a year before a faction split off to help form the Muslim Brotherhood’s main organisation in the UK, the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). He captures the inside debate at the time between those who wanted a post-Islamist, integrationist British Islam, those who were responding to Hizbi criticisms, and those who took more seriously the Muslim Brotherhood’s rather unreconstructed tarbiya, laced with lashings of pro-Hamas rhetoric and anti-Semitic diatribes, according to Husain who attended some of these sessions. Husain, then still detoxing himself from the Hizb, doesn’t always distinguish more laughable elements from more serious ones. A two-hour ISB presentation Husain attended on an entryist methodology into key sectors of British society should rightly be laughed off as pie-in-the-sky thinking rather than some kind of insidious Islamist version of SPECTRE.

Husain’s intelligence and sensitivity eventually leads him to go full circle, back from Islamist alienation to his family and the tolerant mystical Islam – Sufism – that they espouse. He becomes part of the counter-extremist movement, led by Hamza Yusuf and Tariq Ramadan, that gained ground in Britain from the mid-Nineties onwards, defined by a convergence between a more relevant traditional Islam and post-Islamism, emphasising core Islamic values and active citizenship. Husain, scarred by the cultish manipulations of Islamist groups, particularly Hizb ut-Tahrir’s, underestimates the positive impact this has had on both British Islamists and Salafis, and, in my view, mistakenly judges this transition as more tactical than genuine. He is sometimes unwilling to see that just as he has been on a journey, others have been too. The contours of the middle ground have been drawn and partly defined by many of the moderate Islamist groups, of which he has remained suspicious. Muslim student politics, with all its passions and immaturities of the early Nineties, has improved and matured. The students I regularly meet nowadays are considerably more sophisticated than the Neanderthal variety that roved the campuses in the period of the early Nineties that Husain describes. They embody this new middle ground: a place for personal spiritual piety combined with a commitment to social and political activism within democratic norms, or somewhere in the ground chalked out by Hamza Yusuf and Tariq Ramadan ten years ago and elaborated since then. Even now, in a new publication, Turning the Tide, Qutb and Mawdudi are being improbably represented as part of the Sufi tradition. Sarah Joseph edits the most integrationist, aspirational glossy Muslim magazine, Emel, on the market. The centre ground has shifted. Formerly hardline Salafis are happy to go by the name of “Sidi” and to emphasise the traditionalist aspects of the Hanbali madhhab. Mawlid, dhikr, rihla, ijaza — all terms and practices with cache and endorsement; Sufism is no longer the despised, disreputable cult of uneducated parents, as it was once characterised not too long ago. And how many in traditionalist circles now follow the lead of the moderate Islamist movements into interfaith, civic participation, charitable, social and welfare projects? How many Muslims now seek to define Muslim public identity, even as “British Muslims for Secular Democracy”? How many raise the same arguments about foreign policy, whether as Sufis, Shias or Islamists, as British citizens making their concerns heard?

This shift towards a relevant British Islam, having acquired official encouragement since 7/7, has become politically contested among British Muslims. Naysayers may now play the “sell-out” card more assiduously, and government has been none-too-subtle at times in its public interventions, stoking fears of re-engineering a churchless religious tradition proud of its independence and diversity. Presently, at national level, Sufis are being pitted against Islamists in representational terms, while the government is endorsing a British Islam that is the product of both, i.e. the championing of both Tariq Ramadan and Hamza Yusuf, the two figureheads of the new convergence. No wonder many Muslims are disenchanted and confused by these mixed messages. The moderate Islamists have pioneered interfaith, democratic political engagement, women’s participation and serious youth work and they look increasingly likely to leave aside their ideological roots for civic participation and integration. The neo-traditionalists have restated core Islamic values and respect for learning in a manner relevant to diaspora life in twenty-first century Britain.

Husain, however, ends on a more ambiguous note: the future direction of British Islam remains, for him, uncertain. His own trajectory shows, however, that mainstream Islam can renew itself in the context of twenty-first century multicultural Britain, even with the challenge of an extremist fringe, which — while small in absolute terms — constitutes the largest political challenge for British Muslims and society at large. He has not recognised sufficiently that he didn’t travel alone in his voyage of maturation and self-discovery: many of his generation have travelled with him, and the younger generation has absorbed the lessons of the excesses of the early Nineties in order to avoid them.

The Islamist, review by Yahya Birt

The Islamist, a review - Part One

Review of The Islamist
By Ust. Andrew Booso*
May 10th, 2007

Part One

There was a certain amount of clamour before the actual publication of Ed Husain’s Islamist (London: Penguin, 2007). Moreover, the fact that Penguin considered it worthy of printing and the Sunday Times, I believe, had run two weeks’ worth of extracts certainly made the publication more appealing. The author is a troubled soul, who has gone through cycles of self-discovery, self-criticism and then personal, resultant epiphanies. It is these trials and insights that the author wants to share with us as the wisdom of his life. His essential purpose is to tell the reader that he became, at the age of sixteen, an ‘Islamic fundamentalist’, an ‘Islamist’, a follower of ‘extremism’ and ‘political Islam’ – all of which are synonymous in Husain’s worldview. Then, he saw the error of his ways and became attached again to ‘moderate Islam’. Now he is here to share his story because he feels it is ‘clear’ that ‘Islamist groups pose a threat to this country that we – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – do not yet understand’, and his life shows the ‘appeal of extremist thought, how fanatics penetrate Muslim communities and the truth behind their agenda of subverting the West and moderate Islam’. I think he fails on many counts – and I shall try to analyse why – but he certainly gives us hints, wittingly and unwittingly, that we can take as positive lessons.

Religious extremism exists in the Muslim community, and there is a religious duty for all Muslims to do their best to tackle the problem in whatever way they can legally muster. It is honourable that Husain has spent so much of his time and energy concerned with this challenge, and we salute him for it. Nevertheless, tackling extremism does not mean placing the blame where it is not deserved, or making connections that do not exist. Moreover, the task does not only require honesty and intellectual integrity, but it demands responsibility. Sadly, Ed Husain is guilty of many of these flaws, despite the best of intentions. Consequently, his message is therefore only likely to appeal to the converted, and not those that he and we so dearly desire to moderate. This is likely to be because the people he wants to convince will see his glaring failings and will hence dismiss the good along with the bad.

Let us first identify the terms and definitions that Husain provides us with. It is clear that his work is aimed at religious extremism that is identified as being ‘Islamist’. He acknowledges that ‘Islamism’ is ‘disparate’, but we are still able to discern whom Husain identifies as the main heads; they are namely: Sayyid Abu’l-A’la Mawdudi, Sayyid Qutb and Taqi al-din Nabhani. Essentially, the ‘Islamism’ of these figureheads is ‘political Islam’, i.e. they want Islam is to be the main ‘signifier’ of the political order (as S. Sayyid defined the ‘Islamist’ in A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism). Husain, in the end, rejects such notions of ‘political Islam’; he says: ‘Religions are not for governments or states, they are for individuals. The state can assist individuals’ religious responsibilities, but governments cannot, should not, profess faith’: in other words, he is a secularist in the Western sense. In the course of trying to de-construct Nabhani, Husain seems to be saying that Nabhani took the idea of God legislating for people from Rousseau. He identifies the ‘Islamist’ groups as the Muslim Brotherhood [al-ikhwan al-Muslimun] (part of the wider, global ‘Islamic movement’) and Hizb ut-Tahrir of the Arab lands, and the Jamat-e-Islami of the Indian subcontinent (who are also seen as part of the Islamic movement). Then the British ‘Islamists’ are identified as those who are connected or inspired by these groups: the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO), Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), Dawatul Islam, Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), the Islamic Foundation in Leicester and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – all ‘movement’ affiliated groups – as well as of course the Hizb ut-Tahrir and some other groups. Furthermore, a close relationship is envisaged between the ‘Islamists’ and ‘Wahhabis’: who are seen to be identical in terms of ‘creed’, with both on the rise in England. In contrast to this ‘political Islam’, Husain leaves us the only option of Islam as predicated by adjectives such as ‘moderate’, ‘spiritual’ and ‘traditional’; and he lets us know the moderates: Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Nuh Keller, T.J. Winter – all close allies – the Haba’ib and the ‘Sufis’.

I would say that I don’t fit into either of his two camps: I’m not a follower of any of the people named on both sides; nevertheless, I’m familiar with them. In fact, my familiarity with the latter group brings me to my first point of analysis: Husain’s name-dropping of Hanson and Keller, in particular, seems to be opportunism based on assumptions that are false. Firstly, his definition and rejection of ‘political Islam’ does not hold up to analysis from Nuh Keller’s compendium Reliance of the Traveller, which received a confirmatory certificate from al-Azhar University, whom Husain calls ‘arguably the highest authority on Muslim scripture’. Nuh Keller adds a section entitled ‘The Caliphate [al-khilafah]’ to the original legal manual that he translated (which is called ‘Umdat as-salik). Keller explains his inclusion as follows:

This section has been added here by the translator because the caliphate is both obligatory in itself and the necessary precondition for hundreds of rulings (books k through o) established by Allah Most High to govern and guide Islamic community life.

Therefore Mawdudi, Qutb and Nabhani cannot be accused in this specific regard of believing and propagating anything but a standard, orthodox belief expounded and endorsed by the jurists throughout time. Moreover, one is convinced that Husain misrepresents Hamza Yusuf’s statement that there was ‘no such thing as an Islamic state’, because I remember that speech, and Yusuf was simply denying the English word ‘state’ as a way of understanding the khilafah, and it was certainly not a rejection of Islam being the ‘signifier’ of the political order.

This leads on to my second observation: despite endorsing continuous scholarship through 1400 years of uninterrupted transmission through the isnad system, as well as memorising almost half of the Qur’anic text, Husain shows a serious inadequacy of knowledge regarding theology and Sacred Law as expounded by the masters through the ages. One can start with the following claim from him: ‘It never occurred to me that if Islamic governance was of such importance, why did not one classical Muslim text have a chapter dedicated to this?’ Well, to begin with, Nuh Keller continues in the extract we started quoting directly from above:

What follows has been edited from al-Ahkam al-sultaniyya wa al-wilayat al-diniyya by Imam Abul Hasan Mawardi, together with three principal commentaries on Imam Nawawi’s Minhaj al-talibin, extracts from which are indicated by parentheses and the initial of the commentator, Ibn Hajar Haytami (H:), Muhammad Shirbini Khatib (K:), or ‘Abd al-Hamid Sharwani (S:).

Now Husain is aware of Mawardi’s work because he accuses Nabhani of plagiarising the text – Husain incorrectly transliterates Mawardi’s name as al-Mawaridi. Again, let us take Nuh Keller as a yardstick when it comes to defining ‘classic’. He subtitles his Reliance with ‘A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law’, so if Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, the author of the original, is considered ‘classic’, then Ibn Juzayy, a great Maliki, can count as ‘classic’ because he was born just prior to Ahmad ibn Naqib in 693; and his famous al-Qawanin al-fiqhiyyah has an entire chapter on ‘Imamate [al-imamah]’, in which he lists the traditional conditions [ash-shurut] necessary for the role. In fact, all of this leads one to the conclusion that even the terminology of ‘Islamist’, ‘Islamism’ and ‘political Islam’ can be dismissed as false. The Islamic scripture calls for Islam to determine the private and public dealings of man, i.e. it is opposed to secularism, for there is no belief in Islam of the Biblical notion: ‘Render…to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Matthew 22:21). Instead, God says in the Qur’an: But no, by your Lord, they will not believe [completely] until they make you [O Prophet!] judge what is in dispute between them, and find within themselves no dislike for that which you decide, and submit fully [Qur’an 4:65]. Imam Nawawi includes this ayah of the Qur’an in his Riyad as-Salihin, in the seventeenth chapter entitled ‘On the Obligation of Submission to the Decree of Allah’. As Keller’s Reliance, for example, or any other ‘traditional’ manual of law shows, the Sacred Law of Islam covers all human dealings.

For the complete review see:

The Islamist, a review in the Translators

Saturday, May 12, 2007

US-ordered assassinations, sectarian bomb attacks targeting Iraqi civilians

Former collaborator discloses details of US-ordered assassinations, sectarian bomb attacks targeting Iraqi civilians
Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI)

May 11, 2006

An Iraqi who asked not to be identified had disclosed some of the US activities such as assassinations and bombings in markets that aim at sparking sectarian fighting among Iraqis so as to facilitate the partition of the country.

He pointed out that he that he worked with the US occupation troops for about two and a half years and then was able to flee from them to an area outside Baghdad where, he hopes, the Americans will not be able to get to him.

The former Iraqi collaborator recalled: "I was a soldier in the Iraqi army in the war of 1991 and during the withdrawal from Kuwait I decided to seek asylum in Saudi Arabia along with dozens of others like me. That was how began the process whereby I was recruited into the American forces, for there were US military committees that chose a number of Iraqis who were willing to volunteer to join them and be transported to America. I was one of those," he said.
The former collaborator went on: "In 1992 I was taken to America, specifically to an island where most of the establishments were military. I was with a number of other Iraqis, one of them the former governor of an-Najaf, 'Adnan adh-Dharfi. We received military training and intense courses in English and in how to carry out tasks like assassination," he recounted.

The former collaborator said that during the 2003 invasion and subsequent war, he was transported back to the interior of Iraq to carry out specific tasks assigned him by the US agencies.

"During the last war that led to the occupation of Iraq," he recalled, "I was with a group of my comrades who had received training in America in how to spread chaos in the ranks of the Iraqi army. We were brought into Iraq across the border from Saudi Arabia. We put on Iraqi army uniforms and out mission was basically to spread rumors among the Iraqis, such as that the American army had already got into such-and-such a city, or that it is on the outskirts of Baghdad and other such things, which were part of the reason for the rapid collapse of the Iraqi forces," he said.

The former collaborator went on: "the unit that I was with settled in the presidential palace in the al-A'zamiyah district. We were allowed to visit our relatives and relations in Baghdad once a month, and so I would go visit my family in 'Madinat as-Sadr? in eastern Baghdad. But after things began to get worse and the armed men began to shot at everyone leaving the palace, I asked my family to come to the palace every now and then so I could see them. My job was being a guard, but after a time that situation changed and the American occupation forces put me in charge of a group of a unit that carried out assassinations in the streets of Baghdad," he said.

"Our task was to carry out assassinations of individuals. The US occupation army would supply us with their names, pictures, and maps of their daily movements to and from their place of residence and we were supposed to kill the Shi'i, for example, in the al-A'zamiyah, and kill the Sunni in the of 'Madinat as-Sadr?, and so on."

"Anyone in the unit who made a mistake was killed. Three members of my team were killed by US occupation forces after they failed to assassinate Sunni political figures in Baghdad. A US force that had been so-ordered eliminated them. That took place two years ago," the former collaborator recalled.

The former collaborator said that the Americans have a unit for "dirty jobs." That unit is a mix of Iraqis, Americans, and foreigners and of the security detachments that are deployed in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. This unit doesn?t only carry out assassinations, but some of them specialize in planting bombs and car bombs in neighborhoods and markets. This unit carries out operations in which wanted people whom the American army does not want killed are arrested.

The former collaborator said that "operations of planting car bombs and blowing up explosives in markets are carried out in various ways, the best-known and most famous among the US troops is placing a bomb inside cars as they are being searched at checkpoints. Another way is to put bombs in the cars during interrogations. After the desired person is summoned to one of the US bases, a bomb is place in his car and he is asked to drive to a police station or a marked for some purpose and there his car blows up."

The testimony of the former collaborator is consistent with some western reports that have disclosed the involvement of US military personnel in bombings that target Iraqi civilians. The British reporter Robert Fisk, AMSI noted, had recently met with Iraqis in Syria concerning such "black operations" carried out by the Americans.

The Egyptian writer and former editor of al-Ahram, Muhammad Hasanayn Haykal, also noted in an interview with al-Jazeera satellite TV that there are mercenaries who practically make up an army second only to the regular US army in Iraq in terms of their numbers and equipment. This force is now called the "Knights of Malta" Haykal said, and they are the cause of many of the attacks that target Iraqi civilians. Haykal noted that there are Iraqis and Lebanese working in the ranks of that force.

:: Article nr. 32812 sent on 12-may-2007 04:43 ECT