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An estimated two million Muslims from around the world will converge on Makkah this month for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj. There are many dimensions to this most challenging of ‘ibadaat. ZAFAR BANGASH, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought sheds light on some aspects that have been virtually forgotten as part of a deliberate policy to ritualize and therefore, trivialize Hajj.

Hajj is physically the most demanding of all the ‘ibadaat in Islam. It requires not only the performance of certain acts of worship but also a journey away from home leaving kith and kith behind for several weeks. Hajj is both a journey in obedience as well as a conscious act of political defiance against taghoot (concentration and abuse of power by illegitimate authority). It is a constant struggle against the material temptations of this world in order to achieve nearness to Allah (swt) by totally yielding to His Will. It is also an enormously rewarding experience; the noble Messenger of Allah (saws) has said that a person whose Hajj is accepted is, like a new-born baby, cleansed of all sins. To achieve the acceptance of one’s Hajj, however, requires unconditional and total conformity to Allah (swt), uncontaminated by worldly desires or fears. That is why the hajji is called upon to recite the talbiyah both individually as well as collectively: “Labayka Allahuma labayk, labayka la sharika laka labayk; inna al-hamda laka wa-al-mulk, laa sharika lak” (Here we come O Lord, in answer to Your call, here we come. You have no rivals [O Allah], here we come. Yours is the praise and Yours is the dominion. You have no competitor).

The talbiyah is not merely a proclamation that we utter with our tongues; it requires our consummate dedication to Allah (swt) by turning away from all the worldly authority that continually impedes our journey to Him. The ihram — the two pieces of unstitched cloth — that male pilgrims are required to wear when they leave Makkah for Mina and ‘Arafat, the Day of Hajj, is a powerful reminder of the Day of Judgment when every individual shall stand before Allah (swt) to account for his/her deeds on earth. The gathering at ‘Arafat is akin to the gathering on the Day of Judgment and the donning of ihram symbolizes the shroud in which Muslims wrap their dead for burial. Thus, the Day of ‘Arafat is meant to turn a Muslim’s attention away from this world and focus it exclusively on Allah (swt) to beseech His mercy, attention and forgiveness. This can only be done by realizing clearly that only Allah (swt) is the sole Power and Authority and that only His Laws must be implemented on earth.

This awareness, however, is sadly lacking among most Muslims today. This is both the consequence of Muslim history as well as part of a deliberate policy to turn all aspects of the deen of Islam into rituals. Historically, when Muslims were the dominant power, an attitude was actively encouraged by the rulers and their courtiers that there was no longer a need to proclaim the committed Muslims’ dissociation from the mushriks and kafirs as commanded by Allah (swt) in the noble Qur’an (9:1-18). This, they argued, was due to the fact that Muslims were already in power; thus the conditions under which such dissociation was proclaimed did not apply. While this was a flawed interpretation of the divine message as Muslims must always guard against falling into the trap of taghoot, the fact is that Muslims are no longer in a dominant position today. Their societies are controlled and manipulated directly or indirectly by taghoot; thus the above Qur’anic command is especially applicable to the situation of Muslims today. Yet the present rulers of the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, collectively referred to as the Haramain, expressly forbid any expression of dissociation from the mushriks.

The ritualization of the various aspects of deen is part of the same phenomenon. By placing greater emphasis on rituals, Muslims are led to believe that these are all they are required to do. If they perform the rituals of salah in a particular way, for instance, then they have fulfilled their obligations, quite oblivious of the fact that salah is derived from the Arabic root, sila, meaning link. Thus, it is a Muslim’s link with his Creator, Allah (swt). Similarly, salah is supposed to be a great leveler. When Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder to offer salah, they are making a political statement: they stand as equals before Allah (swt). An individual’s wealth, position or power are irrelevant from the Islamic point of view but ask an average Muslim about the significance of salah and he is likely to draw a blank. This aspect of salah has been deliberately kept out of his purview. In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) commands the Muslims to institutionalize/standardize salah, “Who have confidence in [the existence of] that which is beyond the reach of human perception, and who establish salah, and who spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance” (2:03). Institutionalizing salah means that the simple act of communion with Allah (swt) is followed up by societal institutions that formalize and actualize Allah’s (swt) command. In another ayah, Allah (swt) says, “…And establish the salah, for indeed, the salah restrains [man] from loathsome deeds and [society] from all that runs counter to what is universally understood to be right…” (29:45). This means that any act of individual devotion not redeemed by social and socializing activism that withholds society from deviating away from Allah’s (swt) recommendations is hollow, one-dimensional and ceremonial. Every Islamic ritual has a social and political component; every devotional act, of conditioning the human will with Allah’s (swt) Will, performed by an ordinary Muslim must end with tangible benefit for the society at large. Otherwise there is something missing. It is easy for a human being to become so deeply engrossed in the material pursuits of life that he may forget his purpose and mission in life. It is for this reason that he must regularly reconnect with Allah (swt) through the simple but powerful act of salah five times a day.

Hajj is an even more powerful way to connect with Allah (swt) both through words and deeds, and at a time and place chosen by Allah (swt). It is an open invitation from the Creator to His servants calling them to make the journey to His House (the Ka‘bah) “for those who have the means and the ability to do so” (3:97). Yet today, this open invitation from the Creator to His faithful servants has been severely curtailed by the occupiers of the Haramain — the House of Saud — who insist that only a limited number (one percent of every Muslim country’s population) can perform Hajj each year because they do not have the ability to control the flow of such massive crowds or to accommodate them in appropriate facilities. It is a clear admission by the House of Saud that they are too incompetent to cater to the needs of the guests of Allah (swt). Surely, they do not own the Haramain; they happen to be in control because of colonial intrigue and a dalliance with imperialism. They do not have any special qualities or rights to be in control. This is an issue that requires serious consideration by the Islamic movement and the Ummah.

It is also not without reason that the performance of Hajj has been reduced to a mechanical exercise in which most hajjis do not even know why Allah (swt) wants them to go through such a physically and financially demanding exercise. Is there any other purpose beyond visiting the House of Allah (swt), going to Mina and ‘Arafat for a specified number of days? No doubt visiting the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah, staying in the tent city of Mina and standing in ‘Arafat are richly rewarding experiences; how many of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will have this honor in their lifetime? But is that all that is required of Muslims?

Clearly we must ask: what is the real purpose of Hajj and is it being realized at present? If not, what factors are involved in preventing Muslims from grasping its true significance, based on the teachings of the Qur’an and the life-struggle of Prophets Ibrahim and Muhammad (saws) whose Sunnah the Muslims are trying to follow by performing Hajj? Why is each and every Muslim who has the ability, physically and financially, required to perform the Hajj? Or said another way, why is it not appropriate for a large group of Muslims to commission one representative to perform the Hajj on their behalf?

Hajj is the re-enactment of the struggles of Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail (as). But we must also remember that Ibrahim (as) was a rebel against the power of taghoot in his native land. For rejecting his people’s false gods and illegitimate authorities, and for rebelling against the jahili system prevalent at the time, he was thrown into Nimrod’s fire — a fire that was made cool by the miraculous hand of Allah (swt). This is an indication that anyone who strives against the institutions of injustice and oppression, in the manner of Ibrahim and the larger community of Prophets (saws), can expect the same miraculous hand of Allah (swt) in their company. Are we prepared to rebel against the taghoots of our time, or are we content with simply indulging in the rituals of Hajj without understanding the struggle of Ibrahim (as) or reliving it?

There are two other aspects of Hajj that demand attention. First, Hajj is the grand annual assembly of the Ummah, unmatched by any other event in history. It is meant to reflect the unity of the Ummah. Although Muslims gather from all parts of the world for Hajj, the vast majority go there and return home quite oblivious of the plight of their fellow Muslims. This is a great opportunity wasted. Allah (swt) wants us to get to know each other; Hajj provides a perfect occasion to do so yet most Muslims perform Hajj in the company of millions of fellow Muslims but remain totally oblivious of their problems or suffering.

This is not accidental; such an attitude has been fostered deliberately. To understand how Muslims have fallen into this, we need to examine recent history. At the beginning of the last century, the British and French competed for control of the Middle East. The British had realized the significance of the Hijaz, especially the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah that were administered by the Uthmani khilafah (Ottoman Empire). Politically astute, they knew these two cities are important places for mobilizing Muslims. A British officer, Captain R.F Burton, who later became famous as Sir Richard Burton, had expressed concern as early as the 1850s that Makkah and Madinah could be used to propagate ideas that are hostile to Britain, which had already colonized large parts of the Muslim world. This was spelled out even more clearly by the British Consul General in Jeddah, a person named Zohrab. In a message to the Foreign Office in London in 1902, he wrote, “The point of real importance to England politically, I believe is that Hijaz is the focal point of Muslim thought and the nucleus from which radiate ideas, advice, instructions and dogmatic implications… The Hijaz is also a point of much political importance to England and its relations with India… [Certain persons] I am persuaded proceed on the Hajj for political reasons. Makkah being free of European intrusion is safe ground on which gatherings can be held, and ideas exchanged. Up to the present time we have kept no watch on those who come and go… Thus meetings may be convened at Makkah at which combinations hostile to us may form without our knowing anything till the shell bursts in our midst… If this Consulate could have a trusted Mussalman agent in Makkah, I believe a great deal of valuable intelligence could be obtained” (al-Amr, Saleh Muhammad: The Hijaz under Ottoman Rule: 1869-1914: Ottoman Vali, the Sharif of Mecca and the Growth of British Influence, Riyadh, 1978, pp.171-4). The British consul general’s warnings were taken so seriously in London that soon Britain had not one but two trusted “Mussalman” agents serving it in the Arabian Peninsula. One was Sharif Husain ibn Ali of Makkah, who had been appointed by the Turks as governor of the Hijaz in November 1908; the the other was Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, patriarch of the present-day kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Both were paid £5,000 sterling per month and a lump sum of £20,000 annually, according to a March 2, 1922 statement by Winston Churchill, then British Secretary for the Colonies, in the House of Commons. The two British agents first undermined Turkish rule in the Arabian Peninsula, and later fought each other for control of the Hijaz. Abdul Aziz ibn Saud with his bedouin hordes turned out to be more ruthless and was successful in driving Sharif Husain out of the Hijaz.

In order to placate Husain, the British carved out Trans-Jordan from the Turkish province of Palestine (which they had occupied in 1918) and placed one of Sharif Husain’s sons, Abdullah, on its throne; his other son, Faisal, was handed control of Syria. Faisal was driven out of there but the British made him king of Iraq, which they also controlled. Even that did not last long; Iraqi Ba‘ath nationalists murdered his grandson Faisal II and the hopes of Husain’s family to rule the entire Arabian Peninsula were dashed. It was left in control of Jordan only, where it continues to this day, under the pompous title of “the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan,” though it is little more than a US-zionist colony serving the interests of the enemies of Islam.

The brigand Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who had made his mark by robbing pilgrims’ caravans, consolidated his grip on the entire Arabian Peninsula, including the Hijaz, by 1932, thanks to British military and financial help. He named it “Saudi” Arabia in complete violation of the Prophet’s Sunnah; he (saws) had named this blessed land the Arabian Peninsula. Abdul Aziz and Aal-Saud continued to act as British agents until the Second World War and then transferred their loyalty to Washington once the US emerged as a major power on the world stage. As part of its duties, the House of Saud prevents any activity at the time of Hajj that would lead to criticism of US policies. The Saudis serve their American masters rather than Allah (swt). This explains why Muslims are prevented from using Hajj as a unifying force for the Ummah or as an occasion to find solutions to their many problems.

We should also bear in mind that while the House of Saud treats the Arabian Peninsula, including Makkah and Madinah, as family property, refusing to heed Mus-lim advice on the status and administration of the Haramain, this was not always the case. Until 1957 the Nawab of Hyder-abad Deccan paid an annual subsidy of £25 million for the maintenance of Makkah and Madi-nah and for services to the hajjis. Oil had been discovered in the Arabian Penin-sula much earlier, but Western oil companies paid such a pittance that the House of Saud could not afford proper maintenance of the Haramain without outside help. It was only after 1957 that they started to bear the costs on their own. What this shows is that the Ummah has never recognized the Haramain as the private property of Aal- Saud; they are illegitiamte occupiers of the holy places and have caused much damage to them.

Under the pretext of providing “better services” to the hajjis, the historic sites of Makkah and Madinah have been systematically disfigured and destroyed. In their place has emerged Western-style mercantilism akin to the over-commercialization of Christmas in America. There are five-star hotels and shopping malls with such American food-chains as Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks (which has a goddess on its logo and can be seen directly from the Haram!) and McDonald’s that sell “halal” fast-food catering to the tastes of westernized Muslims while simultaneously despoiling the spiritual environments of Makkah and Madinah. Makkah has suffered the greatest destruction; not only buildings but entire mountains are being wiped out. Can the demolition of Madinah be far behind? Throughout the world people preserve their historic sites as cherished monuments; the House of Saud is busy obliterating the historic sites of Islam. Today there is no trace of the house where the Prophet (saws) was born or of the house where he lived with Umm al-Mu’mineen Khadija (ra) in Makkah. The latter has been turned into a toilet. Madinah’s historic sites have suffered similar destruction. By contrast, relics that promote and project the history of the House of Saud are carefully preserved.

In addition to the physical destruction of Makkah and Madinah , there is an equally insidious attempt underway to empty the Hajj of its true divine content and meaning. Allah (swt) commands in the Qur’an that during Hajj, Muslims must proclaim their dissociation, baraa’a, from the mushriks, “And a proclamation from Allah and His Apostle [is herewith made] unto all mankind on this day of the Greatest Pilgrimage, ‘Allah disavows all who ascribe divinity/authority to any beside Him, and [so does] His Apostle. Hence, if you repent, it shall be for your own good; and if you turn away, then know that you can never elude Allah!’ And unto those who are bent on denying the truth give you [O Prophet] the tiding of grievous chastisement” (9:3). These ayat were revealed in the ninth year of the Hijrah when the Muslims, led by Abu Bakr (ra), had already left Madinah for Makkah to perform Hajj. The Prophet (saws) immediately dispatched Imam Ali (ra) to proclaim these ayat at the time of Hajj. This open and clear dissociation from the mushriks is a Qur’anic command, yet under the weight of official dogma and historical perversion it has been abandoned and almost totally forgotten. One must ask why so few ulama draw attention to this important command of the Qur’an. In fact, these ayat are seldom or never mentioned in the context of Hajj. Why? Are Muslims not suffering grievously at the hands of the present-day mushriks — the rulers of America, Britain, France, Israel, India and others? If the answer is yes (and there is no other answer), why is the occasion of Hajj not used to mobilize the Ummah to defend Muslims from the crimes of the enemies of Islam? How much more suffering must Muslims endure before the Hajj can be restored to its proper role: a unique annual focal point for asserting the unity of the Ummah, commitment to the cause of Allah, and our determination to stand against all the oppressive forces in the world, in line with Divine command and the example of Allah’s Messenger (saws)? The plight of the people of Palestine and the continued occupation of al-Quds by the zionists, the horrendous crimes being perpetrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya, and other atrocities elsewhere, make it imperative that the Hajj be used as an occasion to mobilize Muslims against the enemies of Islam and the Ummah.

Further in the tenth year of the Hijrah, when the Prophet (saws) gave his farewell address, it is significant to note that he communicated to the assembled Muslims the major points of their deen, those points in a nutshell they were to carry to all humanity, while he was at the Hajj — his only Hajj after he had migrated to Madinah. He talked in broad and specific terms about the Islamic personality, and about the meaning of social and economic justice. The farewell message was part and parcel of the earlier rituals of Hajj; meaning that no Hajj should be complete without this kind of invocation — an invocation that was sealed with the statement, “I have left amongst you that which if you grasp onto it [with all] firmness [and strength], you will never be led in the wrong direction: the Book of Allah and the my example.” Intellectuals in the peninsula have almost gone crazy over the Sunnah, elevating it in importance above the Qur’an itself. Well, what about this Sunnah: of talking about social justice at the Hajj, of taking to task those who would cast economic slavery upon the world’s masses by institutionalizing riba, of deligitimizing democratization as a cover for mass murder, of honoring the property rights of those who have been forcibly settled and squatted upon, of mobilizing the half of the world’s population whose human and natural rights are continually abused, and of terminating the cancer of racism and militarism? What’s wrong with Muslims leaders performing Hajj along with their constituencies? What’s wrong with these leaders providing guidance and delivering words of wisdom, responsibility, inspiration and motivation to a flock desperately in need at a time when they are all gathered in mass? Who, other than Allah (swt), could have manufactured such a forum, made to order so to speak, for Muslim leaders to address their people? Has anyone thought about how hard it is to assemble any large number of people for any sort of socially conscious and consciousness-building event? This is because those who rule in Muslim lands are neither leaders, nor guides. This is why they hide in their presidential palaces or take convenient vacations during the Hajj to their villas on the Riviera. This is why they, on the odd occasion, perform their executive Hajj by clearing out the Haram so that they can do their tawaf and sa‘i far away from public view and far away from the well-deserved condemnation and repulsion they would receive from the suffering masses of Muslims in this world.

Hajj requires Muslim leaders to stand up in front of the Muslim rank and file. Hajj requires them to be accountable for their actions on this annual occasion. Who among us is thinking about holding our leaders accountable at least once a year? Who among us is thinking about doing this on the Hajj? Who among us could suggest that it is part of the Prophetic Sunnah that attendance at the Hajj is mandatory for at least some Muslim leaders? Consider the following example. After the death of the Prophet (saws) when the Muslims were in the middle of their first major internal political crisis during the end of Uthman’s (ra) reign as the third khalifah, three delegations, comprising 600 members each, came from Kufa, Basra and Egypt during the Hajj to discuss the problems of the Ummah face-to-face with the leader of the Muslims. When was the last time that the air of brotherhood was so sanguine between leaders and led that an ordinary Muslim could address his leader without the threat of jail or immediate retribution from a praetorian guard? When was the last time that a head-of-state of a superpower made himself available free of the state security apparatus to his constituents? When was the last time the Hajj occasioned a wide-ranging discussion of problems of instability and degradation in various parts of the Ummah and reached a set of strategic objectives that needed to be satisfied?

This is because a positive relationship of trust and deliberation between Muslim leaders and Muslims masses is supposed to have an impact on the world. And the Hajj venue is supposed to be a demonstration of that fact. Allah (swt) says about the original purpose of the First House designated for Allah (swt), “Behold, the first Temple ever set up for mankind was indeed the one at Bakkah: rich in blessing, and a [source of] guidance unto all the worlds,” (3:96). What starts as an activity among those who are securely committed to Allah (swt) ends as a blessing and guidance for all creation; this means that a proper relationship between Muslim brothers (leaders and led especially) provides a harmonizing and balancing impact on the rest of creation. Over the past several decades, the Hajj has grown steadily from several thousand attendees to several tens of thousands, to now millions of attendees. With this rise in the numbers of the faithful attending Allah’s (swt) house, has the world seen an accompanying diminution in the numbers of its hungry, in the numbers of its dispossessed, in the numbers of its poor, in the numbers of its disease-stricken, in the numbers of its refugees, in the numbers of its debt-ridden, and in the numbers of its scared and fearful? So what is the contrast between the annual Hajj of millions and the Hajj of the Prophet (saws) or the Hajj of the khalifahs (ra)? Why is it that as the number of Muslim hajjis grows from year to year, the number of suffering people in the world also multiplies? Should it not be the other way around? What is missing is the post-ritual socialization of the large mass of gathered Muslims into a program of social activism to restore a balance of social justice in the world and to provide a harmonizing blessing upon the rest of creation. This requires leaders to organize a program; this requires leaders and led to break bread together. And once again, the Hajj in part represents a global conference to this effect. Does not Allah (swt) punctuate this set of ayat in Surah Aali-‘Imran with, “Let there be amongst you an [authoritative advocacy] team that facilitates prosperity [deriving from] a command to do [what is universally understood to be] right and a command to deconstruct [what is universally understood to be] wrong; and it is they who are the successful.” (9:104)

Lastly, Allah (swt) says, “In it (the First Temple) are evident manifestations [of Allah’s power] and one of them is the position of Ibrahim; and whoever entered it, he was secure. And from all of humanity, it is a due to [be discharged for] Allah that those who are able to perform the Hajj should do so; and as for those who deny [humanity this right of performing the Hajj], indeed Allah is not in need of anything from all the worlds” (3:97). The Muslims are expected to be in a state of health, financially and physically, in order to discharge this “once-in-a-lifetime” responsibility. They are to have discharged all outstanding debts as well as to have the muscular vigor to withstand the rigors of the Hajj journey. Is this Prophetic counsel only given so that Muslims can speedily run through the rituals of Hajj and emerge from the process like a true new-born, without debt and sinless? Are the physically and financially vigorous supposed to go to Hajj simply to go through a set of rituals and then go home as if their communal responsibilities are over? Is Hajj a social event or one that is simply attended by two million individuals? It is evident from the meaning of the ayah and the counsel of Allah’s Messenger (saws) that two of the major deterrents to visiting Allah’s House are debt and infirmity. It appears in the world today that those who have physical strength and youthful vigor are saddled with debt, while those who have successfully discharged their lifetime debt are in their “senior” years. Neither demographic is able to discharge this duty in the way they ought to although because of the once-in-a-lifetime religious obligation, as the reductionist Muslim mind seems to present it, the elderly find a way to go and complete the mission. Debt and disease are supposed to be an aberration in the life of any Muslim following Allah’s (swt) counsel and the example of the Prophet (saws); they are not be a perennial fact of life. Why is this the case?

Allah (swt) has not left the answer to our imaginations; it is in the next two ayat, Say, “O followers of earlier revelation! Why do you refuse to acknowledge the truth of Allah’s messages, when Allah is witness to all that you do?” Say, “O followers of earlier revelation! Why do you [endeavor to] bar those who have come to commit [to this divine writ] from the path of Allah by trying to make it appear crooked, when you yourselves bear witness [to its being straight]? For, Allah is not unaware of what you do” (3:98-99). The use of the word kufr in these ayat refers back to the previous ayah, 3:97; to clarify what is already clear in the original Arabic, why do you, Ahl al-Kitab, put obstacles in the way of those who would go to Allah’s House to receive his divine instructions? What are these obstacles? We already know of the worldwide financial crisis; Muslims are affected by it more acutely than anyone else. If you cannot afford to buy your own food, you are not going to be thinking about going to Hajj. There is also the security crisis around the peninsula. To the west, there is the conflagarations in Somalia and Sudan; to the north, there is the occupation of Palestine and Iraq, not to mention the constant agitation is Lebanon, Jordan and Syria; to the east, there are the continuing economic sanctions and saber rattling against the Islamic Republic, and also the occupation of Afghanistan along with the destabilization of Pakistan; and to the south, there is the new threat of piracy on the high seas. Then of course, there are the remnants of colonialism that are now sustained by American and European imperialism: the nation state model along with its endemic structural weight in the form of visa restrictions and quotas placed upon poor Muslims. These are all related to the way Ahl al-Kitab has managed the world for the past four centuries. Are all of these a coincidence? Or is this the way that the dominant Judeo-Christian power culture in the world wants it? Could it be that the massive debt imposed on the world’s people, the nation-state monstrosity, and the constantly unstable security situation in the Islamic East are to prevent Muslims of vigor and vitality from receiving instructions of liberation and freedom from Allah (swt) at the Hajj?

The debt free and the vigorous are required to attend Hajj every year because it is they who are in the best position to go back and make the much needed changes. They are the ones who are physically capable of withstanding the rigors of promoting truth and justice; they are the ones whose energies and work are not sucked away in paying off loans. They are the ones who have a free and liberated conscience to concentrate on the greater work of what is destabilizing the world around them. They are the ones who are required to attend the Hajj and receive instructions for action, restitution and revolution; they are the ones who are required to execute divine commands when they get back home. Makkah is the engine, the Qur’an and the Sunnah are the spark, and the attending Muslims are the pistons that explode into a flurry of activity against the global power of corruption, oppression, imperialism, Zionism, materialism, militarism, corporatism, atheism, and organized crime. This realignment and reharmonization of man’s world with the balance of creation is to take place at least once a year; and spirited, robust Muslims are the catalyst.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the ritualization (and therefore trivialization) of Hajj and the imposition of Western-style architecture on the sacred environment of the Haramain. Both are meant to keep Muslims distracted by mundane things — rituals at Hajj and consumerism of the worst kind in the marketplace — so that Muslims will have no time or attention left for reflection or to find solutions to the problems facing the Ummah. Exposing the enemies of Islam would also expose the House of Saud as their agents; that would hardly be conducive to their continued control of the Haramain. Their determination to prevent implementation of the divine commands is in total violation of Islam’s laws and is the worst kind of bid‘ah. Are Muslims willing to change all this or do they want to continue to be satisfied with ignoring the most important aspects of Hajj, thus opening themselves up to the inevitable consequences of violating Allah’s (swt) commands?



The Secretary General of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, addressed a crowd of Lebanese supporters in a videoconference on December 28, 2008.

The following is the text of his speech:

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Thanks and praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the world, peace and prayers be to the seal of the prophets, Prophet Muhammad, his infallible progeny, his chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers....

Brothers and sisters,

It is with great misfortune that we begin the new Islamic year and the Christian Gregorian year at a time when we are seeing a huge humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, which has led to the death, martyrdom and injury of countless people.

The number of the martyrs has now increased to over 300 and the number of those injured has risen to over 1,000 in the Gaza Strip, which is under siege, isolated and oppressed. Yet Gaza resists with perseverance.

Today, we need not speak about examples of history as we are witnessing the model of a new Karbala. Today, moment to moment of our lives has become the repetition of the tragedy of Karbala. What is taking place today helps us better understand what happened in the past.

Karbala's reality is about a handful of faithful, non-yielding believers, who held on to their dignity and stood up for the rights of their Ummah and refused to be humiliated and yield to tyranny. Those believers were made to choose between humiliation and unequal confrontation that may lead to martyrdom...and so they chose martyrdom.

This group of believers after being subjected to hunger, thirst, intimidation and threats, came under attack, yet did not retreat. The martyrs then fell one after the other. Is this not what happened to Imam Hossein (PBUH) in Karbala?

It was in Karbala that Imam Hussein (PBUH) set an example and laid the foundation for this Islamic, humanitarian school of thought. Throughout history the followers of this school have never parted with a well-known saying by the Imam. This saying is especially associated with the tenth day of Muharram.

"Verily, that claimer, the son of a claimer, [pointing to 'Ubaidullah Bin Zyiad] is overwhelmed by shame and disgrace! He has placed us between two choices, to either fight in a disproportionate confrontation or a humiliating and degrading surrender."

Hossein (PBUH) made his choice: "And how far disgrace is from us! Allah refuses us the life of disgrace, His Messenger and believers do too."

Why did he declare "And how far disgrace is from us", Why did he say "we shall never be disgraced?"

It was not an emotional outburst! The matter was rather one of humanitarian, ideological spiritual, religious and humane commitment springing from human values, dignity and human rights. As Hossein (PBUH) later tells us "...Allah refuses us the life of disgrace, His Messenger and believers do too. Indeed, proud, exalted and lofty spirits will never prefer to obey the vile people, rather than the death of the honorable ones."

This is the Hosseini-Mohammedan Prophetic school of Karbala. When man chooses the martyrdom of the honorable and the dignified over living the life of vile people, who have been deprived of their honor, dignity, rights and sanctities, man is actually acting in harmony with his innate nature, humanness, religion, Islam and his commitment.

Thus was the choice in Karbala. This was also the choice we made during the July 2006 war when you, the resistance community, and all who had embraced the resistance, were to choose between surrender and confrontation: either a humiliating surrender, in which you had to accept the conditions of America and Israel to end the war, or suffer destruction and massacres.

You chose to stand up and refuse disgrace regardless of the tens of thousands of homes destroyed and the hundreds of those martyrs and injured. You stood up against collusion, betrayal and disgrace for a dignified and honorable death instead.

Hence, some of you were martyred, yet with your martyrdom, you created the historic victory in Lebanon.

Despite the destruction of tens of thousands of your homes, the martyrdom of thousands of your people and the injury of your men, women and children and the small number of supporters by your side and despite facing conspiracies, it was with this Karbala mindset of Hossein (PBUH) that you rejected humiliation and shame and insisted on resistance.

The outcome was a victory of the blood over sword.

What is happening today in Gaza is not similar but identical to what happened in July of 2006.

As Lebanese, we can well understand what is happening in Gaza. It is the same as what happened here, the same choices, the same battle, the same conspiracies and God-willing there will have the same outcome.

When we look at the Gaza Strip, which is subjected to hunger and thirst and surrounded by fire and intimidation and gave martyrs and wounded by the hundreds yesterday, we find that its people remain patient and firm. They do not express weakness or frailty... We see the legitimate Prime Minister Ismail Hanieh coming out from under the rubble and fire to say "even if they wipe out Gaza completely, we will not surrender or back down, and we will preserve our dignity and our rights".

This is truly Karbala...when men facing fire day and night with the martyrs still being mourned, reject humiliation and shame.

Today, brothers and sisters, let me speak openly about certain aspects of this confrontation that I left unsaid in the July War. I well understand the situation faced by our brothers in Gaza. Their situation is more difficult than our situation [in the July War].

Therefore, they are more concerned about carefully considering and weighing what they say, but let me today call a spade a spade, come what may!

Today, we must express the truth loud and clear, so that the entire nation will become aware of its responsibility in the face of the ongoing situation.

Brothers and sisters,

In Gaza as in Lebanon, the situation is very clear. Let me describe what is happening clearly and explicitly.

It is clear that America and Israel are pursuing a project in the region that seeks to impose an unequal settlement on the rest of the Arab world. After Egypt and Jordan signed so-called peace treaties with the Israelis, only Palestine, Lebanon and Syria remain, and the Americans and Zionists now want to settle the issue according to their conditions.

They want Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians to obey and surrender to these conditions without having any other option.

To impose these conditions, Americans and Zionists are using force, pressure, blockade, internal strife, provocation of internal sedition among resistance movements, media, political and psychological warfare, assassinations and wars.

Their intention is to subdue those who have so far refused to yield to the will and conditions of America and Israel. Some Arab regimes have also been true accomplices in this project.

It is not true that there is Arab silence. We see help extended to Israel, I do not mean all Arabs or all Arab regimes; only those which have signed so-called peace treaties with Israel. Today they are helping Zionists politically, psychologically, socially, culturally and media-wise, through security and the military, on preparing the circumstances for the surrender of the resistors against the American-Zionist project in the Palestine issue.

So let us be very utterly clear. In our region, Arab countries are forging partnerships with the Israelis.

The 2006 war was waged against us in Lebanon with Arab consent and upon Arab request. The Israelis were crystal clear when they exposed this, and the Arab regimes cannot deny it because the Israelis may produce evidence of this collusion -- that they were contacted and asked to rid them (Arabs) of Hezbollah.

When the war started, they were comforting the Israelis after their initial failure in the first few days. Yet, those Arab regimes continued to demand Israel to eliminate of Hezbollah and that Israel sever Hezbollah's head.

The same thing is happening in Gaza today. Those same sides are asking Israel to eliminate Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the rest of the resistance factions to do away with and settle this battle once and for all. The truth is that they are helping the Zionist entity in this.

We have heard, and this is very unfortunate, that Israeli officials say that the magnitude of Arab support for the war on Gaza well exceed the support they extended for the Israeli war on Lebanon in July 2006.

This is the true picture. I can even tell you that some of these Arab regimes are the real cause behind the division among the Palestinians.

These regimes contributed, instigated, financed and armed, so that fighting is drawn to Palestinian factions, exactly what they did in Lebanon before.

The former [Lebanese] cabinet would not have dared to make such notorious decisions on May 5, had it not been for the encouragement and support of these Arab regimes. They wanted to drag Lebanon into the grip of a cruel internal war and internal sedition, but the performance of the opposition in those days made all their efforts in vein.

They are not neutral. They are convinced that what they do is right and have committed themselves to this project, which is very unfortunate to see.

When infighting and internal division in Palestine or Lebanon happens, these very same Arab regimes use this as an excuse for inaction and say "Well, look at the Palestinians, what are we to do when they are killing one another?" They only use this excuse to rid themselves of their responsibility toward Palestine and Lebanon.

No one asked these Arab regimes in the July 2006 war nor today in the Gaza Strip to fight for the Lebanese or the Palestinians but only to adopt a fair and appropriate political stand on media issues to say the least. Yet again, as in the July War, we find the Arab regimes hold the victims responsible.

Yesterday, we heard an Egyptian official holding the side that ended the Palestinian national dialogue efforts as responsible for what is now happening in Gaza. By 'side', he meant Hamas. He also said, that in the Egyptian view, since they had issued warnings, those who have not heeded their calls are responsible of what become of them.

How can one believe that such statements have come from an Arab person or official?

When at the height of the blockade on Gaza and when Gazans was suffering from hunger and illness, that same person said, "we will cripple the leg of anyone attempting to cross into Egypt!"

By God, brothers and sisters,

Allow me to draw on history. When we see such examples of officials, leaders and figures in the Arab world, I personally understand something in the words of Hossein (PBUH) who said, "Life under tyranny is death and under such circumstances martyrdom is freedom."

By God, there is no value for life under the control of such figures and leaders who plot and plan against their nation. When 300 people are massacred in Gaza in a matter of minutes, an Arab official holds the victims and martyrs responsible for the confrontation. It is as if they expected Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian factions in Gaza to consent to an extension of the blockade, the calm of the starvation and the calm of the humiliation that they were being subjected to for the past six months!

Today, we hear the same rhetoric we heard during the July 2006 war, an attempt to hold the resistance in Gaza responsible for the war and its consequences. This is shameful and unfortunate.

Some Arab satellite channels, which may as well be called Hebrew channels, that I have been watching yesterday and today covered the Gaza massacre as if these people had died in road accidents in an obscure part of the world!

They report the deaths and then they go back to their regular daily programs, as if nothing happened and no humanitarian calamity is taking place in the Gaza Strip, simply because these channels would feel embarrassed in front of their viewers if they called the victims 'martyrs' rather than 'dead'.

Brothers and sisters, this is the reality of today, the people of Gaza have made a difficult decision: they are in effect exercising that decision with their steadfastness, resistance, defiance, honor and glory as you yourselves did in 2006.

No amount of sacrifices, destruction, tears, blood and abandonment prevents them from continuing to insist on their right to resistance. But what is the responsibility of the nation today?

As a nation our main goal has to be stopping Zionist attacks on Gaza and preventing Israelis from achieving any of their objectives. In this manner, Gaza will be secured despite the gravity of the sacrifices that have to be made. Every state must work toward this goal and not only the citizens of Gaza.

People whose governments have resorted to inaction must force them to act. There is no justification for anyone to say that they cannot do anything because of their repressive regimes.

We must take to the streets in the Arab and Muslim world. We must raise our voices and pressure our governments even if they shoot us, it is still a duty -- for whoever falls martyr in these protests is a martyr on the path to al-Quds (Jerusalem), a martyr of Islam, and a martyr of a whole line of prophets and divine missions, they are martyrs of humanity.

Officials cannot apologize for their inaction and nations cannot complain that they have suppressive rulers.

In the July war, I did not ask this of the Arab people, but in the case of Gaza, I say all of us are duty-bound to take to the streets by the thousands, by the tens and hundreds of thousands, and demand from these government to act responsibly. These governments know full well what they are capable of doing, particularly at a time when the United States and European countries are suffering from financial and economic turmoil.

First of all, today the Arab world possesses oil, money and political strength and with modest efforts can stop the aggression against our people and the people in Gaza.

Secondly, the Arab and Muslim worlds must demand that the Egyptian regime, which has a crucial role in what is happening in Gaza today, not to enter war but to simply open the (Rafah) crossing for food, medicine, water and even weapons to reach our people in Gaza. The people in Gaza are men and women are victory-makers capable of resistance and steadfastness and have performed very well in the past.

In the July war in Lebanon, we did not ask any Arab country to open a battlefront but yes, we did ask for borders to be opened.

This is where we must acknowledge Syria for its assistance that led to our victory in the July war, because despite repeated aerial bombardment of all our border crossings and the main roads, Syria did not close its border with us.

We only ask of Egypt to indefinitely open the crossing for the sake of the living and not for the injured or the martyred.

Egypt, the largest and most important of Arab States, is not a Red Cross or a Red Crescent institution and will not be asked to deal with the people of Gaza in such manner.

What is required of the Egyptian leadership and regime is to resolve this issue and not to politically take advantage of the war to pressure Hamas and those of the resistance in Gaza in a bid to accept Israeli conditions in return for a ceasefire -- as some of us here in Lebanon did in the first days of the July aggression.

But they must politically help the people of Gaza and stop the aggression without forcing them to accept certain conditions. This is their real responsibility. This is what the Arab and Muslim worlds must be demanding of Egypt.

Up until now, we have been cautiously making appeals but after what happened yesterday, we say to the Egyptian regime:

If you do not open the Rafah border crossing, if you do not come to the rescue of your brothers in Gaza, then you are have a hand in the siege and the killing and in causing the Palestinian tragedy.

Egyptian officials have to hear this from all the people of the Arab and Muslims worlds, from religious scholars, political parties, elites, intellectuals and media professionals from all walks of life. They must know that they will be the condemned by history, the entire nation, the prophets and the martyrs if they are not quick to make a humane and historical stand today.

This part of my speech is directed at the people of Egypt, its Muslim, its Arabs, its proud people, the defiant, generous, resistance-loving, decent, courageous and noble people of Egypt, whom we all know what goes on in their hearts and minds. We know their mentality. Let the Egyptian people take to the streets in their millions.

Can the Egyptian police arrest millions of Egyptians?

No! They cannot!

We call upon the people of Egypt because they are the ones facing the regime which has closed the Rafah crossing.

People of Egypt, you must open the Rafah crossing with your bear hands if you must. I am talking of the position of a member of the resistance that fought for 33 days, and on behalf of the people who fought, sacrificed and gave martyrs.

What we know and what we hear about the officers and soldiers of the Egyptian armed forces, who are still proud of their Arab roots and continue to oppose Zionism, despite decades having passed from the Camp David peace agreement.

This is what we know them for. I am not calling for a coup in Egypt, and I am in no position to call for one. But I am calling for generals and officers to ask their political leadership whether it is their devotion to the military, the responsibilities entrusted in them and their rows of medals that prompts them to guard Israeli borders while watching our own people being slaughtered in Gaza?

The presence of everyone today is what will change the equation. The people in Egypt, its political parties, religious scholars, the Al-Azhar religious institution and the armed forces as well as the political elites are what will change the equation. I do not think there is an excuse for anyone to sit back and watch for the way to change the equation today is to modify Egypt's political stance.

That is what rulers of the Arab world and the Egyptian peoples must demand from the rulers of Egypt. If the Rafah crossing is opened for water, medicine, food, money and weapons to our people in Gaza, the epic victory that took place in Lebanon will be once again be repeated. We are confident of this victory despite all the harsh conditions of our people in the Gaza Strip.

Brothers and sisters, should Gaza endure this onslaught for days or weeks, the aggression will stop, as this enemy does not endure a war of attrition nor withstand the long days of war. This enemy will eventually end the aggression; it will fail in its objectives and with that their leaders who wanted to take political power by shedding Palestinian blood will fail.

Yes, some will tell us, in Lebanon too, that the solution lies in comprehensive peace. They will tell us this is the solution that will end the tragedy! Regardless of our ideologically principled position on the subject of comprehensive peace, I ask them what they have achieved from talks with Israel since Madrid and even before Madrid other than being subjected to further massacres, killings, aggression and more humiliation and the yielding to various conditions?

In the Palestinian settlement, the negotiations at Camp David by the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat were not held with the Likud or Kadima, but with the Labor Party and Barak himself. However, at Camp David, the Palestinians were not even ensured the minimum of their legitimate rights, not even enough to save face.

Which kind of just and comprehensive peace can be achieved be accepting humiliating Israeli conditions that exclude the 'right of return' to al-Quds (Jerusalem), the Palestinian territories where a viable Palestinian state can be established? What is all this nonsense when people are being killed and slaughtered in Palestine?!

As in the past and now in Lebanon, some talk about 'just and comprehensive peace'. I ask them whether they have managed to first convince the Israelis that a 'just and comprehensive peace' can be established that they now demand resistance movements to lay down their arms?

Have the Israelis ever made any concessions until now, in Lebanon, Palestine or anywhere for that matter?

Have the Israelis ever returned your legitimate rights, at least the minimum of them? Never! Some tell us such nonsense that in Lebanon the international community will protect us; well where is the international community that is supposed to be protecting the unarmed people in Gaza, the children and women of Gaza?

They say that we are protected by international resolutions. Where are the international resolutions in the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which not even a single one has been implemented not even Resolution 425?

Arab solidarity will protects us. What Arab solidarity?! Arab rulers waste days before they can agree on holding a meeting and have yet to agree on holding one now as a result of reservations here and there!

Brothers and sisters, what happened and is still happening today in Gaza, and what took place during the July 2006 aggression should be enough to convince each and every Arab and every patriot living in his homeland that what can protect our people and restore our rights is resistance and jihad. All other options are mere illusions!

To wake us up from our slumber -- in both Arab and Muslim worlds -- do we need a hundred more massacres like Qana and Gaza? Do we need the repetition of massacres like Deir Yassin? Do we need hundreds more massacres like that of the Ibrahimi Mosque?

By God, this matter is deeply regrettable because this enemy, whom you want peace with, offers you a new massacre every year or so as proof of its inherent terrorist, criminal and racist nature and its thirst for the blood of the innocent.

Your calls for peace will only be met with more slaughters and murder. Do we need more massacres in order for our leaders, people and elite to realize that we are before an enemy whose inherent nature is brutality, racism and terrorism, with whom it is impossible to establish peace under any circumstances. How then can peace with humiliating conditions be achieved with such an enemy? Do we need more blood to be convinced of that?

We are confident that the people of Gaza and the resistance have unshakable faith in God and divine victory, although some may not believe in this.

Here and on your behalf, on behalf of the resistance of Lebanon, the families of the martyrs, of prisoners, the wounded, and on behalf of every resistance member and honorable Mujahid in Lebanon, I congratulate Gazans on their martyrs as we pay our condolences to the families of martyrs and ask God Almighty for a speedy recovery of their wounded.

The Gazans are on the field, steadfast in battle and have limitless devotion. They are a people of dignity, defiance and resistance.

These are the real factors that will bring victory. Faith, loyalty, honesty, consistency and steadfastness is what will bring victory, and God is your aide. The entire Arab world is duty-bound to stand by your side. It is not permissible for anyone to lag from their abilities and potential in your support and aid.

As for Lebanon, I like to say a few words about the current events. Since the beginning of the bloody Israeli aggression on Gaza, Olmert, Barak, Livni and a number of Israeli officials, made strong threats and warnings to any other front, by which they particularly meant Lebanon. They took the proper precautions on the border and are on full alert on the northern border of occupied Palestine.

Today, they sent calls to the settlers in occupied northern Palestine to prepare and equip their shelters.

I do not want to frighten anyone or cause concern, but we cannot mislead anyone here as there are two possibilities:

The first is that everything the Israelis say or do in the northern occupied region of Palestine may be preventative precautions to deal with any developments on the Lebanese front.

The other is that the Israeli enemy is conspiring with some Arab regimes and with the world preoccupied with the financial crisis and the political vacuum created in the US because of the departure of Bush and Obama taking power, it is pondering an act of aggression against Lebanon.

The Israelis may take advantage of this situation in the world to strike Lebanon as they are in need of creating such a situation to gain political leverage in their elections or to restore its deterrent image.

We should not be reassured by such claims that Israel cannot fight on two fronts at the same time. It has fought on 3 and 4 fronts in the past. This must make the Lebanese government, army and people as well as the Lebanese resistance more attentive and cautious not to be tricked by such statements. For instance, one issue is of the missiles discovered eight days ago and just before the military attack on Gaza! I would like to ask: Who placed these missiles where they were before the war began?

When several Katyusha rockets were discovered in al-Naqoura, some Lebanese figures made statements and pointed the finger of blame at us. So much so that one of them even said that no one can make moves in that region, but Hizbullah. Yet, we did not hear these same figures say anything when the Zionists kidnapped the two Tarraf brothers from the Southern Blida within this same period. Their was no evidence of their patriotic concern and bleeding hearts for Lebanon when this happened.

Moreover, if the information upon which they build their political analysis, then this is a disaster as such information has proven to be both incorrect and false and has shown to be someone's attempt to shift the blame on the Hezbollah for that matter.

I would like to say to them that Hezbollah possesses the courage to take responsibility for any action we take. We do not hide or shy away from our responsibilities as some do!

We possess such courage and do not need to defend ourselves against such accusations, but what occurred is, yes, suspicion of the other side. Could Israel have not penetrated southern Lebanon to set up missiles of this type?

Can those many individuals and networks in Lebanon that collaborate with Israel not have carried out such acts to provide a justification for Israel to launch an aggression against Lebanon? Unfortunately, those politicians provided a justification and helped engineer up. When they condemned the Katyusha, they said that this provides a pretext for Israel to attack Lebanon! Who says it provides a pretext?!

Had such an occurrence taken place before, would it have justified an assault on Lebanon to destroy and confront Lebanon?

You are providing Israel with excuses through such rhetoric and absurd and unfounded statements. I will not delve deep into this matter now, but I am in the process of inviting Lebanon, as I do the region, yet my focus now remains on Lebanon specifically, the country that rattled Israel twice, and many more times, the most well-known of such defeats were those of the years 2000 and 2006.

Yes, we must be on alert. I do not want to frighten you but to avoid this subject from becoming a media frenzy, I will tell you that I asked the brothers in the south particularly, to be present, vigilant and cautious as we face a brutal and treacherous enemy. We do not know the size of the schemes hatched around us, regionally and in the world; we are not fearful of what happened in 2006 or of what happened or what is happening in Gaza.

We believe in the choice we made, and are quite prepared to repel any assault on our land, country and dignity. We have written our slogans in blood and are both willing and prepared to confront all aggressors, no matter who they may be.

Brother and sisters, all of us in Lebanon, and throughout the Muslim and Arab worlds, are duty-bound in these historical days, especially in the ten days leading to Ashura, to shoulder our responsibility toward what is happening in Gaza. The burden of what happens in Gaza is not only for the Gazans and Palestinians to bear.

We must continue in our efforts and actions, and should not settle for a protest here and a sit-in there, an action here and another there; we ought to invest every effort in defending our people in Gaza.

Tomorrow has been announced as a day of mourning by His Eminence Seyyed Ali Khamenei, for all resistance fighters and all free souls. Tomorrow is important for us to express our solidarity with and sympathy for our people in Gaza and to mourn the martyrs who passed away there.

I invite everyone tomorrow afternoon to participate in a large gathering at al-Rayah stadium to pay tribute and participate in the mourning of the martyrs of the resistance in Gaza and to express our solidarity with the people of Gaza. I know there are many Ashura gatherings scheduled to be held in neighborhoods, mosques and Hoseiniya halls tomorrow.

I call for the cancellation of all of these gatherings and I urge everyone to attend the al-Rayah gathering instead. I invite all men, women, children, young and old to come together in a stand of solidarity with Gaza and its martyrs.

Tomorrow, we ought to make the world hear our voice and see our fearless Hosseini fists risen in declaration to the world that we will remain standing and unyielding to murder, the shedding of blood and intimidation.

I would always invite you to the al-Rayah stadium on the tenth of Muharram, but tomorrow is the day of Ashura for us since everyday is an Ashura and every land is Karbala. Tomorrow is a call to Hossein and an answer to his call; tomorrow it is upon you to respond to Hossein's call.


Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

Israel is continuing its bombing of workshops, administrative buildings, roads, bridges, fuel depots, prisons, schools and mosques; killing and injuring large number of civilians in one of the world’s most impoverished and densely populated areas of the world.

The Israelis are following their old method of destroying everything that makes a society a society, the infrastructure. The collective punishment of the Palestinians for what Hamas or Islamic Jihad is supposed to be doing or has done, reminds one of the collective punishments that Nazis meted out in the occupied areas in Eastern Europe during the WWII.

International Red Cross just issued a statement condemning Israel for its brutality against civilians. There are several things that seem to have shocked the Red Cross. In one episode after several days of heavy pressure from the Red Cross, several ambulances were allowed to enter a neighborhood to evacuate the injured civilians. In one house they found 12 bodies all civilians and mostly women and children. They also found four very young children still alive next to their dead mothers, too weak to stand. They have been holed-up in the same house for close to 4 days.

Apparently the whole neighborhood was full of dead and injured civilians with Israeli forces only 80 meters away. According to the Red Cross the Israeli forces knew of the situation and not only didn’t do anything to help the civilians, but also were stopping Red Cross from providing assistance. Representative of the Norwegian Red Cross’ People’s Action calls this a war crime.

But this is only the tip of the ice berg. The Israeli forces have begun to use civilians as human shields. According to Amnesty International Israeli forces occupy civilian houses and keep the civilians as hostages on the first floor, while they position their soldiers on the second floor; ensuring that any fire on the house (especially with anti-tank or RPG missiles) kills the civilians as well.

In yet another report, the United Nations condemned Israel for targeting civilians. The head of the UN agency in Gaza running the school that was attacked by Israel forces categorically rejected the claim by Israel that Hamas fighters were in or even near the school. Israel bombed the UN run school, killing 43 children and injuring 100.

Israel also targets ambulances and humanitarian relief convoys in Gaza. According to UN, at least one Palestinian was killed when UN relief convoy came under fire from Israeli forces. “The attack took place as the lorries traveled to the Erez crossing to pick up supplies that were to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire.”

The atrocities committed by Israel is a genocide of a conquered people. Gaza is a concentration camp and no amount of PR can reduce the magnitude of this horrible crime against humanity and decency.

But Israel is Israel. She has shown that cruelty is in her nature. Here I am talking about the successive Israeli governments and not Israeli people in general. I am sure there are many in Israel that if became aware of what really is happening would not approve of it. This of course excludes the settlers and the Zionist movement. These groups like the South African white supremacists consider others to be inferior to them; or that they have the God given right to do as they please.

But states seldom are representative of their people. It is the elite and / or the governing class that makes the decisions. The state of Israel is determined to never allow the Palestinians to have a viable state. The maximum that they are willing to allow is some form of Bantustan (South African) or North American reservation (for Native Americans). With carte blanche from U.S. and most of the European powers, Israel has been implementing this policy. Setting-up such a system takes many years. People’s spirit has to be crushed through collective punishment, economic strangulation and above all excessive and continuing violence. This has to continue for many years so the people lose hope of ever achieving anything more than what is on offer.

This of course cannot be done without the approval of other countries. Israel has the approval of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States. In addition, because of her U.S. connections, she has managed to get a nod and a wink from the Europeans as well. So with this carte blanche in hand she has set forth to change the “reality” on the ground in her favor.

By systematically settling extremists in the middle of populated Palestinian areas, she has made the creation of a viable Palestinian state almost impossible. A simple look at the map of the Palestinian territories resembles a Swiss cheese, with pockets of densely populated Palestinian areas surrounded by settlements and their protective military garrisons.

The violence both official (state sponsored) and unofficial (settlers) has been incessant. Couple this violence with economic strangulation and you will see the reasons behind the Palestinians’ anger and frustration. Any resistance is automatically branded as an act of terrorism and punished with even more violence, with U.S. and Europeans cheering the Israelis on the side lines.

If you recall when Georgia invaded the Russian protected enclave of Abkhazia, and met Russian counter attack, the whole Western world with U.S. at its head condemned Russia. Pushing for UN action and even sending warships with “humanitarian” supplies. Russians did not commit one thousandth of the Israeli atrocities and we had the Georgian president and other politician talking day and night about the horrible things the Russians were doing.

Yet today we have U.S. and European governments sitting silently watching this genocide taking place without doing anything. U.S. even vetoes resolutions condemning Israeli actions, forgetting that no peace is ever made possible by killing so many innocent women and children.

But whenever a power tries to relocate a group of people by force, the Newton’s Third Law of Motion comes into effect. Newton's Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that if you try to imprison a person that person will try to break out. If you try to subjugate a people they will resist. This is the underlying causes of most liberation movements. The same applies to the Palestinians. They are resisting. We can agree or disagree with their methods, but theirs is a reaction to actions taken against them; we call this self-defense.

Israel is trying to push Palestinians into submission and in the process forcing many to leave the occupied territories. They are trying to show the Palestinians that they are alone and resistance in the face of an overwhelming force is suicide. Israel has tried this tactics before and has failed. The children that had to stay with their dead mothers for four days will not forget. The starved people of Gaza are not going to forget this barbarity; and neither shall the people of honor and conscious, regardless of their nationality, Israelis included.

But as for one of those who have followed the Israel’s actions for the past 30 years, I can say that I didn’t expect anything different from Israel. The lies and deceits are all too familiar to fall for again. The current Israeli action in Gaza was not a reaction to the recent event, but planned a year ago. Just read the New York Times article in which among others they interview a senior Israeli military officer.

Israel is now trying to portray herself as a nation that is defending itself, while the truth is that Israel is a cruel occupying power trying to force a people out of their land. And this is being done with the help of some Arab nations; the very same nations that constantly talk about Arab and Muslim solidarity. These nations are: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The Arab collaborators

The often asked question, when it comes to the Palestinians, is about the role of Arab countries in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The people not familiar with the political landscape of the area often see the Middle East as two camps, Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. The reality is totally different. Israel has seldom been alone. Beside its usual American, French, British and other staunch allies, she has had the hidden backing of several Arab countries.

For close to 30 years now, many Arab countries have been collaborating with Israel; some like Egypt (gained independence: 1922) and Jordan (gained independence: 1946) openly while others like Saudi Arabia (founded: 1932), UAE (founded: 1972) and Kuwait (founded: 1961) from behind the scenes.

The reasons for this collaboration vary from country to country but they all have one thing in common: the rulers of these countries are all dictators and need foreign protection from their own people. Some such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and UAE were put in power by the British. The founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (the kingdom is name after him) was put in power by the British. The same goes for the others, except Egypt which experienced a coup by the army officers in 1952 resulting in the ousting of the monarchy and the accompanying British influence.

But the Western influence returned with Anwar Sadat. All these countries are dictatorships and all are under pressure from their people. What they cannot accept is any democratically elected form of government in their mist. They fear that if an Arab government becomes democratic they may have to become one themselves, hence losing power.

One of the things that they love about Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is that he won the election not by popular vote but by popular method of rigging the election; something that these Arab leaders understand and respect.

In contrast Hamas really represented the aspiration of the people. Soon, Mahmood Abbas term as president is over and he had to stand for re-election something that he would surely lose. In contrast Hamas really won the municipal elections in 2005 and the Parliamentary election in 2006. The elections were supervised by international observers, many from Europe, and U.S.

Palestinians were fed-up with the corrupt regime of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah. They wanted to clean house. But as soon as Hamas took over, the U.S. and the Europeans put an embargo on Hamas. Israel closed the borders and refused to let anything into Gaza. Egypt also did the same.

What is not mentioned much in the media is that this was done with the complete approval of the Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. After all, Egypt could have opened its border for transfer of food and fuel.

Muslim Brotherhood has a branch or related organization in Jordan as well. Egypt and Jordan are worried that should Hamas survive and show its resistance, their people may get the idea that they can also resist the tyrannical rule of these despots. One must not forget that Muslim Brotherhood represents the only serious challenge to the Mubarak’s rule in Egypt.


The 81 year old Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been “president” since 1981 (28 years). He has won every election with a comfortable majority. He is much loved by his secret services. Prior to every election he arrests and imprisons all the opposition, ensuring a “clean” election.

Torture is so widely used and accepted in Egypt that U.S. out sources torturing of some its prisoners to Egypt. This alone should tell you volumes about the nature of Mubarak’s rule. He is now trying hard to crown his playboy son as his successor. But the Americans are not so sure if the son is capable of keeping the 80 million Egyptians in line and is therefore looking for alternative candidates.

The head of the feared main secret service is one of the prime candidates along with some of the top generals. Challenging him is the Muslim Brotherhood organization, enjoying grass root support from all sections of the Egyptian society including lawyers, doctors, judges and student associations. ?????????? Not surprisingly, U.S. and Israel call Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.????????????

By all accounts, the Muslim Brotherhood be it in Jordan, Egypt or the occupied territories such as Gaza runs a clean operation, running many charity organizations and providing services to the poor and the needy. As such wherever they are, they pose a threat to the corrupt regimes, since they provide an alternative to the people of that area.


King Abdullah II of Jordan, born of a British mother, educated in the West, including the Jesuit Center of Georgetown University, was brought to power by the CIA. His Uncle was a long time crown prince, yet after his father died in a U.S. hospital, Madeline Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of Estate flew to Jordan to inform the Jordanians that the King on his death bed had changed his will and named his son Abdullah as his successor. The new king Abdullah II married the Princeton graduate Lisa Halaby, the daughter of the former head of Pan American Airlines.

The majority of this Kingdom of 5 million people are Palestinians who are not very friendly to this King. In 1967 there was a Palestinian uprising (led by PLO) against King Hussein (ruled: 1952-1999, the father of the current king), which resulted in heavy casualties among Palestinians.

In addition, the Kingdom is currently full of Iraqi refugees who resent the King’s help to the Americans in invasion of their country. On top of all this, we have the Muslim Brotherhood which tries hard to abolish the monarchy. King Abdullah relies heavily on the U.S. support and backing for staying in power. King Abdullah also sees a natural ally in Israel, a country that can come to its aid in case of another uprising.

Saudi Arabia

I don’t have to tell you much about Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is run by the 84 year old, ailing Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. His personal wealth is estimated at $21 billion USD. He rules a clan of 8000 princes who in turn rule the country. Saudi Arabia is the centre of corruption in the Arab world. The Saudi rulers corrupt everything with their money. Lacking the necessary mental power or physical courage, they try to stay in power by subterfuge, lies, and deception.

They fund the real extremists on the one hand while portraying themselves as the protectors of the Western interest on the other. They preach intolerance and xenophobia to their people decrying the Western decadence, while spending a lot of time enjoying the life in the West. They pay the West for protection against their own people and they pay the extremists to do their fighting elsewhere. Saudi rulers are indeed the worst of them all.

House of Saud is also the financier of the so called “Arab Moderates” and extremism that they cause. House of Saud financed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. They later financed the Taliban. They also paid the Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. Then they paid the Americans and Egyptians to fight Saddam Hussein. They are the financiers of death and misery. They finance anything, anywhere, as long as this reduces the threat to their illegitimate rule.

They are currently financing the civil war in Somalia, bandits in Baluchistan and God knows what else. They are detested by their own people and neighbors yet loved by Bush, Cheney and the oil companies. As long as they provide the money and oil the U.S. is willing to tolerate them. And guess what? Muslim Brotherhood hates the House of Saud too. This makes them a threat and hence has to be dealt with.

---- The Collaboration -------

As can be seen each country has a good reason to eliminate Hamas, but each is restrained by its population. Israel has no such a restrain imposed on it. She not only can wage a terrible war, but also get assistance from Arab countries. Indeed it is the second time (the first was the Lebanon invasion of 2006) that Israel is getting open and solid support from these Arab countries. The invasion of Gaza was discussed in Egypt before its implementation. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are Israel’s active partners.

Egypt is actively involved in stopping all aids from getting to Palestinians in Gaza save a token few trucks. These few trucks are allowed to go through so they can be filmed and shown to Egyptian people. All demonstrations are banned and all Egyptian volunteers for Gaza are either arrested or sent back.

There are hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the Muslim world that are willing to go to the aid of the Palestinians, but the Egyptian authorities don’t allow them passage. Egyptians even stop medical aid from passing through their territories.

This is part of a report from Associated Press:

“RAFAH, Egypt: Frustration is mounting at Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip, where many local and foreign doctors are stuck after Egyptian authorities denied them entry into the coastal area now under an Israeli ground invasion.

Anesthesiologist Dimitrios Mognie from Greece idles his time at a cafe near the border, drinking tea and chatting with other doctors, aid workers and curious Egyptians.

""This is a shame,"" said Mognie, who decided to use his vacation time to try help Gazans. He thought entering through Egypt, which has a narrow border with the Hamas-ruled strip, was his best bet.

""That in 2009 they have people in need of help from a doctor and we can go to help and they won't let us. This is crazy,"" he added.”

In addition there are many Iranian cargo planes full of food and medicine which have been sitting on the tarmacs in Egypt for days waiting for permission to deliver their cargo. Egyptians even denied the medical aid sent by the son of the Libyan President Qaddafi to land in Egypt.

One thing is clear: these three countries do not want the Israelis to fail in their mission of totally destroying Gaza. Hosni Mubarak said so himself. The daily Haaretz reported that Hosni Mubarak had told European ministers on a peace mission that Hamas must not be allowed to win the ongoing war in Gaza.

As Egypt physically aids the Israeli military by denying food, fuel and medicine to the civilians, The House of Saud helps Israel by giving her time and diplomatic cover. When Israel started its invasion there was an immediate call for an Arab summit. Saudi Arabia and Jordan (along with Egypt of course) delayed the summit.

The Saudis along with the UAE said that they had another meeting to attend to and therefore Palestinian issue had to wait. After a few days when the summit was eventually held, they issued the same old statements. Yet this time same as the Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, they blamed the victims.

In a statement Saudi Arabia blamed Hamas for Israel's continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia, after blaming Hamas, declared that it will not even consider an oil embargo on Israel’s supporters. She then again blamed Hamas.

By this time, the three Arab countries along with Kuwait and UAE began singing the old song: international community is not doing anything about the catastrophe that is taking place in Gaza. It seems that these Arab tyrants have no shame at all. This reminds me of a quote from Marquis De Sade (1740-1814): “One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush.”

These Arab leaders (many are indeed too old to blush) are complicit in the murder of so many civilians, especially young children. According to Agence France-Presse, quoting the medics on the ground, fully one third of all people killed have been children. How can these Arab leaders justify this to their people?

The answer is that they cannot. Israel knows this and for the second time can show the Arab street that their leaders are nothing but a bunch of old hypocrites. These Arab leaders are now exposed and can do nothing but to cooperate fully with Israel and U.S. What stand between them and their people’s rage is their army and secret services; which in turn are supported by U.S.

Israel has cleverly exposed these leaders for what they are: collaborators of the worst kind. These Arab leaders have brought an unimaginable shame to their people. To quote Lucien Bouchard: “I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit. Our hope is now with the people of these countries to clean this stain from their honor.”



The Messenger of Allah ??? ???? ???? ???? ???? said: “Prophethood will last among you for as long as Allah wills, then Allah would take it away. Then it will be (followed by) a rightly-guided Khilafah upon the way of Prophethood. It will remain for as long as Allah wills, then Allah would take it away. Then there will be a hereditary leadership which will remain for as long as Allah wills, and then He will lift it if He wishes. Afterwards, there will be a biting oppressive rule, and it will last for as long as Allah wishes, then He will lift it if He wishes. Then there will be a rightly-guided Khilafah upon the way of Prophethood. Then he kept silent” (Musnad Ahmad)

The 3rd March 2009 marks 85 years since the destruction of the Khilafah, the state that unified the Muslim Ummah - one of the darkest events since Allah’s beloved Messenger ??? ???? ???? ???? ???? passed from this world. Since then we have seen nothing but destruction and division of the Muslim lands, dissected into more than fifty weak states, with as many rulers, flags and constitutions.  

With every year that passes we witness more division. Iraq is occupied and fragmenting into three pieces. The next, whose map has already been drawn, is Pakistan. US military planning maps clearly define how Pakistan is to be dissected – and US policies are working towards that – fuelling sectarian hatred, backing despised politicians who allow the US to bomb civilians in Pakistan and making the Pakistani army kill their own people in America’s war on terror.

The slogans used to attack the Khilafah over 85 years ago are the same slogans used today. They accused the Khilafah of being the ‘sick man of Europe’ and that it was a backward state because it implemented the Shariah of Allah ?????? ?????? . The Ottoman Khilafah was portrayed as a dangerous extremist state which needs reformed so that it could be destroyed and its resources stolen. Although Pakistan does not implement the Shariah of Allah ?????? ??????, the mere desire of the population to be ruled by Allah’s law is enough to brand it as a violent extremist state. They attack it as backward and in need of reform.  

Just as they sowed the seed of nationalism in the Ottoman Khilafah – playing the colonial game of divide and rule - pitting the ‘Turks’ against the ‘Arabs’ they pit ‘Pashtuns’, ‘Balouchi’, ‘Punjabi’, ‘Sindhi’, ‘Mohajir’, ‘Shia’ and ‘Sunni’ – all Muslim - against one another. Just as then, they spill each others blood – dearer to Allah than the Kaaba itself.  

Yet over 60 years ago these same Muslims united people from different regions, and of different juristic opinions, to form one state with one objective of securing the Muslims and establishing the Shariah of Allah ?????? ?????? – just as Islam had successfully done for centuries before under the Khilafah. They sacrificed everything to fulfil their vision of establishing an Islamic State, even though people mocked them saying they were dreaming. With the call of La ilaha illAllah they moved to build a state for Islam, only to be betrayed by successive rulers.

Sultan Abdul Hamid (may Allah give him Rahma), one of the last Khalifahs of the Muslims, said of the “Our Ottoman Khilafah is the most international realm in the world. To us belong the Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Arnauts, Bulgarians, Greeks ... Notwithstanding this we are a large family united by our religious beliefs... Unfortunately, England, by her perfidious tactics, has succeeded in kindling the nationalistic fire in my dominion. Arabia has revolted, also Albania, the stronghold of Islam in Europe... If the idea of Muslim unity is lost, then our power will be at an end!”(New York Times)

The destruction of the Khilafah followed defeat in the First World War. The western nations occupied most of the Muslim lands, and then held the Paris Conferences to enact the Sykes-Picot Agreement which called for the carving up of the Muslim lands and the division of her unity under the Khilafah. How many conferences have we seen since then calling for further division in the Muslim world? Did we not see conferences in Bonn to establish a puppet regime in Afghanistan? Did we not see conferences that have agreed the division of Iraq? Have we not seen the traitor rulers in the Muslim lands having a conference in Cairo this week to sell Palestine? All to try to secure the occupation and control of our lands by colonialists.

After weakening Pakistan by waging a war and occupying Afghanistan, the US and NATO have established military bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now they are holding conferences to decide the fate of Pakistan. Just as the Ottoman government were not invited to the Paris Conferences, the Pakistani government will not be part of the decision making at the NATO or the SCO conferences to be held in the coming weeks. The fate of Pakistan is being sealed as Muslims look on impotent. Now is the time to move to stop the conspiracies against this Ummah and her deen.

But just as they plan a future for the Muslim world – weak and divided and living under kufr – Allah Plans something else. The real sick man of the world today is America – bankrupt economically and morally; defeated in war in two Muslim countries. As America and its allies try to spread ‘freedom and democracy’ by force, the Muslims cry out for Islam and Shariah.

When our forefathers saw the plots being hatched for the destruction of the Khilafah, they moved to prevent it. Seeing its destruction, some have worked tiresomely for its return. Working for the restoration of the Khilafah is something that Allah has commanded, but its return is something He SWT has promised – to grant it, and bring security and peace after the years of fear and terror.

?????? ??????? ????????? ??????? ??????? ?????????? ????????????? ???????????????????? ??? ????????? ????? ??????????? ????????? ??? ?????????? ???????????????? ?????? ????????? ???????

???????? ?????? ??????????????????? ???? ?????? ?????????? ??????? ?????????????? ??? ??????????? ??? ??????? ????? ?????? ?????? ?????? ???????????? ???? ?????????????

"Allah has promised those among you who believe, and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them in the land succession (to power) on earth, as He granted it to those before them; and that He will establish in authority their religion - that which He has chosen for them (Islam). And that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: They will worship Me and will not associate anything in worship with Me. But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the transgressors.”

[Translated Meaning of Surah al-Nur: 55]

Dear Muslims! Do not fall prey to the whispers of Shaytan who tell you that Khilafah is a dream and you can never confront the super powers and their plots. Rather join the work and rely on the promise of Allah, as it is He ?????? ?????? who has power over all things.

???? ?????????? ??????? ????????? ??????? ????????? ??? ?????? ????????? ????????? ?????? ?????? ????????? ??? ?????? ????????? ??? ?????? ???????? ????????? ??????? ?????? ?????

?????? ???????

"Say (O Muhammad ??? ???? ???? ???? ????): O All?h! Possessor of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You will, and You take the kingdom from whom You will, and You endue with honour whom You will, and You humiliate whom You will. In Your Hand is the good. Verily, You are Able to do all things.”

[Translated Meaning of Surah Aali Imran: 26]

Today Hizb ut-Tahrir is leading the work for the re-establishment of the Khilafah throughout the Muslim world. From Indonesia to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa - the Party is rallying the masses of the Muslim Ummah behind the movement for Khilafah. Each one of us must contribute to strengthening this call wherever we are. As this call gets stronger and stronger we will, no doubt, with the Help of Allah ?????? ?????? see the overthrow of the agent rulers that are the real obstacles to establishing our unity.

???????? ?????? ????????????? ?????????? ???????? ?????? ????? ?????? ???????

"And to All?h belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and All?h has power over all things.”


March 23 is an important landmark in Pakistan’s history. It was on this date in 1940 that the All-India Muslim League passed a resolution in Lahore demanding a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Within seven years Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent state. Badly weakened by the Second World War, the British colonialists were in no position to hold on to India but even in the dying days of the empire, they deliberately left a number of unresolved problems. These included manipulated boundaries that deprived Pakistan of its rights as well as a number of princely states whose future was left in limbo. India quickly grabbed all of them through military aggression, including the state of Jammu and Kashmir that has continued to bedevil relations between the two countries.

The greater damage the British caused to Pakistan was to saddle it with rulers, nurtured and groomed by the British, who had little sympathy for the masses. They had brown skin but were otherwise thoroughly Westernized; educated in Western institutions, they spoke English and had acquired the domineering habits and tastes of the departing colonial masters. The one attribute they did not share with the British was hard work. The new elites were lazy and thoroughly corrupt. For them, Pakistan meant a place they could plunder and continue the policies of the raj without the colonial masters.

For the Muslim masses, Pakistan meant something very different. They envisioned a state that would be patterned on the model of the Khilafah where the rulers would serve the people and where justice and fairness would prevail. For this, the Muslim masses had sacrificed millions of lives. Pakistan came to symbolize one of the greatest betrayals in Muslim history. It has been a great disappointment because those that occupied positions of power and authority had no clue what an Islamic State would look like. For them it simply meant a state where the majority was Muslim. Nor were they interested in ascertaining the wishes of the people considering them too ignorant to understand the finer points of statecraft. That the elites have made such a mess of affairs is something they are not prepared to accept even today.

Pakistan has often been referred to as a “failed” state. This is not far off the mark but instead of simply repeating what is wrong with Pakistan let us identify those responsible for this state of affairs. At creation, three distinct groups came to dominate the new state: feudal lords, the bureaucracy and the army. It is interesting to note that none of them played any significant role in the creation of Pakistan. In fact, another problem Pakistan faced at the time of its creation was that Muslims who had struggled for it belonged to areas that became part of India. Thus, most leaders of the Pakistan movement had no roots in the areas that became part of the new state. This naturally created a mindset that excluded the masses from determining who their rulers should be. Palace intrigues flourished in such an environment and provided ample opportunities for the bureaucracy to play one feudal group against another. Soon the army also jumped into the fray and being better organized, it quickly came to dominate the political scene. Pakistan’s entire history can be summed up in the struggle for political dominance between the feudal (and now industrial) lords and the military.

There is one other group that must account for its failures: the Islamic movement. Represented most prominently by the Jama’at-e Islami — there are others as well but their failures are equally glaring — the Islamic political parties are impotent because they joined the corrupt colonial-imposed system that they were supposed to condemn. Today the Islamic political parties are no different than their secular counterparts. It is in this environment that the masses have turned to extremist groups like the Taliban to seek redress for the gross injustices they suffer at every level in society. While the Taliban-type outfits are good at fighting, they cannot offer any solutions to the myriad problems facing people whether relating to social, economic or political justice. Merely insisting on long beards and ankle-high trousers are no solutions. Further, such groups are easily manipulated by the military that has always been in cahoots with the US. In the 1980s, the Americans supported these groups to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan so jihad was not only good, it was glorified. Pakistan had an appropriately Islamizing general at the helm. Today, the Americans themselves occupy Afghanistan so resistance is bad. Thus, jihad is vilified and those supporting the Afghans are branded as terrorists. Now thoroughly secular generals lead the Pakistan army. There is no independent thought that guides Pakistan’s policies. The less said the better about Pakistani civilians that masquerade as rulers.

Once a dream for million of Muslims, Pakistan has turned into a nightmare. There is no safety or security for anyone. The military is fighting and killing its own people and there are grave fears for the very survival of the country.

What a pity!

Eric Margolis

Pakistan finally bowed to Washington's angry demands last week by unleashing its military against rebellious Pashtun tribesmen of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) -- collectively mislabelled "Taliban" in the West.

The Obama administration had threatened to stop $2 billion US annual cash payments to bankrupt Pakistan's political and military leadership and block $6.5 billion future aid, unless Islamabad sent its soldiers into Pakistan's turbulent NWFP along the Afghan frontier.

The result was a bloodbath: Some 1,000 "terrorists" killed (read: mostly civilians) and 1.2 million people -- most of Swat's population -- made refugees.

Pakistan's U.S.-rented armed forces have scored a brilliant victory against their own people. Too bad they don't do as well in wars against India. Blasting civilians, however, is much safer and more profitable.

Unable to pacify Afghanistan's Pashtun tribes (a.k.a. Taliban), a deeply frustrated Washington has begun tearing Pakistan apart in an effort to end Pashtun resistance in both nations. CIA drone aircraft have so far killed over 700 Pakistani Pashtun. Only 6% were militants, according to Pakistan's media, the rest civilians.

Pashtun, also improperly called Pathan, are the world's largest tribal people. Fifteen million live in Afghanistan, forming half its population. Twenty-six million live right across the border in Pakistan. Britain's imperialists divided Pashtun by an artificial border, the Durand Line (today's Afghan-Pakistan border). Pashtun reject it.

Many Pashtun tribes agreed to join Pakistan in 1947, provided much of their homeland be autonomous and free of government troops. Pashtun Swat only joined Pakistan in 1969.

As Pakistan's Pashtun increasingly aided Pashtun resistance in Afghanistan, U.S. drones began attacking them. Washington forced Islamabad to violate its own constitution by sending troops into Pashtun lands. The result was the current explosion of Pashtun anger.

I have been to war with the Pashtun and have seen their legendary courage, strong sense of honour and determination. They are also hugely quarrelsome, feuding and prickly.

One quickly learns never to threaten a Pashtun or give him ultimatums. These are the mountain warriors who defied the U.S. by refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden because he was a hero of the anti-Soviet war and their guest. The ancient code of "Pashtunwali" still guides them: Do not attack Pashtun, do not cheat them, do not cause them dishonour. To Pashtun, revenge is sacred.


Now, Washington's ham-handed policies and last week's Swat atrocity threaten to ignite Pakistan's second worst nightmare after invasion by India: That its 26 million Pashtun will secede and join Afghanistan's Pashtun to form an independent Pashtun state, Pashtunistan.

This would rend Pakistan asunder, probably provoke its restive Baluchi tribes to secede and tempt mighty India to intervene militarily, risking nuclear war with beleaguered Pakistan.

The Pashtun of NWFP have no intention or capability of moving into Pakistan's other provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. They just want to be left alone. Alarms of a "Taliban takeover of Pakistan" are pure propaganda.

Lowland Pakistanis repeatedly have rejected militant Islamic parties. Many have little love for Pashtun, whom they regard as mountain wild men best avoided.

Nor are Pakistan's well-guarded nukes a danger -- at least not yet. Alarms about Pakistan's nukes come from the same fabricators with hidden agendas who brought us Saddam Hussein's bogus weapons.


The real danger is in the U.S. acting like an enraged mastodon, trampling Pakistan under foot, and forcing Islamabad's military to make war on its own people. Pakistan could end up like U.S.-occupied Iraq, split into three parts and helpless.

If this continues, at some point patriotic Pakistani soldiers may rebel and shoot the corrupt generals and politicians on Washington's payroll.

Equally ominous, a poor people's uprising spreading across Pakistan -- also mislabelled "Taliban" -- threatens a radical national rebellion reminiscent of India's Naxalite rebels.

As in Iraq, profound ignorance and gung ho military arrogance drive U.S. Afghan policy. Obama's people have no understanding what they are getting into in "AfPak." I can tell them: An unholy mess we will long regret.

Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World


Ramzy Baroud

“ Gaza is not on the Pope’s itinerary, nor will it be. There will be no change in these plans. But I’ll say it very clearly, the Pope is absolutely not going to Gaza .”

Such were the astounding comments made by the Pope’s spokesman in Israel , Wadie Abunasser, prior to Pope Benedict XVI visiting Palestine and Israel .

As if there was no massacre in Gaza , no families entirely slaughtered, no human rights violated to match the record of the most grisly of crimes in modern history. As if Gaza were a mere irritant in the annals of human suffering. More, as if there were no Catholic flock in Gaza . To clarify, there are actually nearly 2,000 Catholics in Gaza , apparently not important enough for the ‘cut’.

Now, there are a lot of important religious sites to see around the Holy Land, lots of old churches, stones, ruins and the like…sites of much more significance, such as the Western Wall, the Holy Sepulcher and so on… far more important than visiting the site of a fresh massacre, where the stench of rotting bodies - laid to rest beneath a tomb consisting of the rubble of their own homes - has just faded. Such sites are apparently of little import to the Holy See. Rather, there are memorials to victims of greater standing, in shrines of superior grandeur, such as Yad Vashem…now, that’s something to see.

On a trip that was apparently dedicated to promoting “reconciliation”, it is baffling that Pope Benedict made little mention of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as a source of discord. Imagine that. But what he did say was, “Allow me to make this appeal to all the peoples of these lands: No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more terrorism! No more war! Instead let us break the viscous circle of violence.”

As if he was imploring two nations with common grievances, with mutually strong armies and nuclear arsenals. As if he were exhorting two peoples, both of which have access to clean water, both of which are properly nourished and educated. Or to put it another way, as if both peoples face the daily threat of their house being toppled while they are held up inside by an occupying army, as if both peoples face the daily threat of arrest, extra-judicial execution, the humiliation of curfews and checkpoints.

The Vatican needs some serious introspection. It ought to replace its highly politicized and, frankly, questionable apologies, with an earnest apology to oppressed people, who might have little political worth. The Pope should apologize to Palestinians and to Gazans in particular for failing to appreciate the seriousness of their plight, for cozying up to the very Israeli leaders who champion the suffering in Gaza , and fail to console the very victim of their onslaught.

More, as an institution that has garnered the reputation of advocating social justice throughout the world in recent years, the Catholic Church must abandon its current course, cowering before Israeli leaders, its Holy Father imparting such smug condescension on a nation that has endured a slow and gradual process of genocide for the past six decades.

Wishy-washy is the term that comes to mind. While he never wavered from condemning the “godless nation” that carried out the Holocaust, his references to Israel ’s illegal occupation of Palestine were so indistinct, that it was difficult to make any clear separation between the aggressor and the victim. As he witnessed with his own eyes the monstrosity of the Apartheid Wall, his comments were painfully elusive, “How earnestly we pray for an end to the hostilities that have caused this wall to be built.” Oh really? Is this all the Holy Father has to say? Never mind occupation. Never mind hunger. Never mind randomly closing schools for months on end and denying an entire nation the right to education. But now we are talking about illegal weapons being used on civilian populations in Gaza . Now we are talking about a wall that has been declared “illegal” by the International Court of Justice. There is simply no time or place here for indecisiveness and moral flexibility.

And it is completely unacceptable for anyone to have the ‘audacity’ to urge Palestinian youth not to allow, as the Holy Father stated, “the loss of life and the destruction you have witnessed to arouse bitterness or resentment in your hearts”. More, when making a stop at Aida Refugee Camp, he blamed the plight of the displaced population on “the turmoil that has afflicted this land for decades.” It would have been far more favorable for him to stay home and not insult these sites of misery at all.

But in the end, the Pope finally was able to muster up some courage and took one truly audacious stand: When at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority’s chief Islamic judge, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, declared that Israelis had killed innocent women and children in Gaza, the Pope stood up and in an act of defiance, walked out. Now that’s courage.

The Palestinians, and millions of people around the world, expected more from a person who should be advocating the New Testament teaching: “let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” But the Pope has proven fallible, after all.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London ), and his forthcoming book is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza ’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London )


Stephen Lendman

After two years of "underground" work, it was launched with a "successful press conference" and announcement that:

"The Russell Tribunal on Palestine seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the (way to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Its work will focus on "the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its opinion on the (Separation Wall in Occupied Palestine, addressed relevant) "International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as well as dozens of international resolutions concerning Palestine."

This Tribunal will "address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified." It begins where the ICJ "stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations."

The Russell Tribunal is part of the larger BRussell Tribunal, named after noted philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970). Established in 1967 to investigate Vietnam war crimes, it's a hearing committee, most recently on the Iraq war and Bush administration imperialism. Its work continues as "the only game in town for the anti-war movement in America, Britain and Europe" - to unite non-violently for peace on various world's hot spots, now for Occupied Palestine to expose decades of injustice against a defenseless civilian population.

National committees will be formed globally, including expert ones composed of jurists, lawyers, human rights and international law experts, weapons experts, and others "to work on the evidence against Israel and third parties" to be presented in Tribunal sessions. Two are planned, "the the end of this year."

Frank Barat of the Organizing Committee urges activists to spread the news and offer support for this vital project. After Israel's unconscionable Gaza attack, it's never been more vulnerable given mass world public outrage. It's long past time to hold Israel accountable for its decades of crimes of war and against humanity,  flaunting international humanitarian law, waging aggressive wars, continuing an illegal occupation, expropriating Palestinian land, and committing slow-motion genocide, so far with impunity. No longer can this be tolerated. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is dedicated toward that end.

The Tribunal's Declaration on Iraq applies to Palestine. Substituting Israel for America and Palestine for Iraq, it reads as follows:

"The (Israeli) occupation of (Palestine) is illegal and cannot be made legal. All that has derived from (it) is illegal and illegitimate and cannot gain legitimacy. The facts are incontrovertible. What are the consequences?"

"Peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine) are impossible under occupation. Foreign occupation is opposed by nature to the interests of the occupied people, as proven" by:

-- the forced diaspora;

-- many others internally displaced or in refugee camps for decades;

-- harsh military subjugation;

-- a regimented matrix of control;

-- the genocidal Gaza siege;

-- state-sponsored mass incarceration, violence, and torture;

-- the flaunting of international law and dozens of UN resolutions;

-- targeted assassinations;

-- the many tens of thousands of Palestinians killed, injured, or otherwise grievously harmed;

-- massive land theft and home demolitions;

-- the lack of judicial redress;

-- denying all rights to non-Jews; and

-- a decades-long reign of terror against defenseless Palestinian civilians.

Western propaganda tries to justify the unjustifiable, vilify ordinary people, call the legitimate government "terrorist," rationalize savage attacks as self-defense, reject the rights of the occupied, and deny their self-determination.

"In (Palestine, people) resist the occupation by all means (including armed struggle), in accordance with international law. "The Commission on Human Rights has routinely reaffirmed" it. So have numerous General Assembly resolutions. The March 1987 Geneva Declaration on Terrorism states:

"Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples....that inflicts a gross and consistent pattern of violations of fundamental human rights....or that perpetuates military aggression and overt or covert intervention directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states," such as Palestine.

The UN General Assembly has "repeatedly recognized" the rights of "peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination (to) have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law."

It also recognizes the legitimacy of self-determination seeking national liberation movements and their right to strive for and receive appropriate support for their struggle. Further, under the UN Charter's Article 51, "individual or collective self-defense (shall not be "impair(ed) to respond against) an armed attack."

In other words, armed force is a legitimate form of self-defense as distinguished from "acts of international terrorism," especially by one state against another or any group, organization, or individual. Israel refuses to accept this. It continues an illegal occupation, calls armed resistance "terrorism," and imposes its will oppressively and illegally.

World leaders "continue to justify the negation of popular sovereignty under the rubric of (fighting terrorism), criminalizing not only resistance but also humanitarian assistance to a besieged (and beleaguered) people. Under international law, (Palestinian freedom-fighters) constitute a national liberation movement. Recognition of (them) is consequently a right, (an obligation, and) not an option." World leaders have a duty to hold Israel accountable under the law and no longer support its crimes.

Palestine "cannot recover lasting stability, unity and territorial integrity until its sovereignty is (recognized, affirmed,) guaranteed," and enforced by the world international community.

"If (world leaders) and (Israel want) peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine), they should accept that only the (Palestinian) resistance - armed, civil and political - can achieve these by securing the interests of (their) people. (Their) first the unconditional withdrawal of (Israeli forces) illegally occupying" their land.

Palestinians are the only legitimate force to secure their own security and rights under international law. "All laws, contracts (and other occupation-related) agreements....are unequivocally null and void. According to international law and the will of the (Palestinian) people, total sovereignty" over Palestine, its resources, culture, and all else (past, present, and future) rests in (their own) hands.

Further, international law demands that full " paid" to compensate for what Israel plundered and destroyed. Palestinians want self-determination and "long-term peace" and security. They have every right to expect it. "We appeal to all peace loving people in the world to work to support" their struggle. Regional "peace, democracy, progress" and justice depend on it. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is committed to work toward this end. Nothing short of it is acceptable.



Wednesday, 03 June 2009

When the European conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt as part of his quest for world domination, he told the people: "You will be told that I came to destroy your religion; do not believe it ... I have more respect than the Mamelukes for your God, His Prophet, and the Koran" and many more sweet words besides.

Barack Obama’s speech in Egypt has been hailed by some as a new direction in policy towards the Muslim world. Although this appears a seemingly positive gesture towards the Muslim world, the actions of his government appear every bit as ruthless as the Bush administration. He differs only to the extent that, unlike Bush who spoke with frank hatred, he uses ‘soft power’ and personal charm to cover his intentions. Instead of the rhetoric, let us look at the facts:

On Pakistan: In his first few months in office, Obama’s administration has succeeded in creating 3 million refugees by pushing the corrupt Zardari regime to launch a war in Swat. Even before he took office he declared Pakistan the most dangerous place on earth, and said he would even bomb Islamabad if he had to. His whole policy in the region is driven by trying to secure America’s foothold in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and fighting a popular insurgency – except he has decided to sacrifice Pakistan’s soldiers instead of American ones. We have even seen evidence of dirty tricks of the sort used by the CIA in Iraq or Central America, to instil hatred and division between Muslims and Obama has continued US drone attacks in Pakistan.

On Palestine: Obama boasts he wants to see the ‘road-map’ implemented towards securing a Palestinian state. People seem positive because he seeks to challenge the Israeli politicians who oppose this. However, what people forget in this propaganda about the ‘road-map’ is that this so-called Palestinian state will be little more than a glorified prison camp, where the guards are Palestinian instead of Israeli – because if they did not keep Israel’s security to a standard it is happy with, it will simply invade again.

On supporting Israel: Obama appointed, Rahm Emanuel, the son of an Israeli Irgun terrorist, as his Chief of Staff. Emanuel has said that Obama did not need his influence to "orientate his policy toward Israel". This is true because before he was elected, Obama said “We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defence relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defence programs". Moreover, he went further than any US President saying, "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided." His response to Israel’s massacre in Gaza was “America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.”

On Guantanamo Bay and torture: Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and most people had expected the military tribunals to end. However, many of the Guantanamo prisoners will remain imprisoned elsewhere, and he has decided to continue with the very controversial military tribunals. Although he has made a lot of rhetoric of the CIA being banned from using torture, he has decided not to prosecute anyone who carried out torture in the past, and he has not ruled out using evidence gained through torture in other parts of the world.

On imprisonment without trial: In May 2009 Obama went on record supporting indefinite detention without trial in the USA. He used very Bush-like language saying there are some “very dangerous people” where there is not enough evidence to convict, so they needed to be locked up.

On Supporting tyrants and criminal rulers in the Muslim world: Obama is as supportive of the tyrants and criminal rulers in the Muslim world as any of his predecessors. In his recent BBC interview he described Mubarak, the Pharaoh of Egypt, who tortures and represses his opponents saying “he’s been a stalwart ally to the US... he’s been a force for stability and good in the region”. He also praised Mubarak’s “sustained peace with Israel” which included blockading the people of Gaza from getting help and humanitarian relief.

Muslims should not be deceived by Obama’s words. The United States of America is a Capitalist state. Its institutions are geared towards maintaining America’s power around the world, even if they have to exploit others in the process; they are geared to crush any competitor to America in the world, even if it means people have to live under occupation and tyranny. So regardless of whether it is Bush, Obama or anyone else, fundamental US interests and policies will never change.

The real reason why Obama is making these gestures is to improve America’s image as it is both economically and morally bankrupt. Its economic system has been exposed as a fragile house of cards, ready to collapse at any time. Despite their promises of creating wealth to relieve poverty, they have made poverty a reality for billions. Its superior moral tone about its political system - democracy and human rights - has been exposed as nothing more than lies, as it killed, imprisoned and tortured people without limit.

What Obama is trying to do is a desperate attempt to thwart the rise of an alternative and rival in the Muslim world. The CIA predicted that by 2020 the world would see the emergence of a new Khilafah State in the Muslim world. This would be a state that would not create the terror unleashed by the United States, but a state that would end occupation and bring stability and security in the Muslim world. It is a state that would have an economic system to help end poverty and bring tranquillity to the world. It is a state that would uphold the Shariah of Allah (swt), the dignity of His Messenger (saw), and the well being of its citizens.

What is required by Muslims all over the world is to continue working, following the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw), to remove the corrupt rulers that the Western leaders court, and re-establish the leadership for the Muslim Ummah, the Khilafah State, once again.

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“Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion - the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: 'They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. 'If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked” [Translated meaning of the Quran 24:55 ]



Since Sunday, Uighur Muslims have clashed with groups of Han Chinese and Chinese security forces in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi.

Though Chinese officials say 156 people - mostly ethnic Han Chinese - died in Sunday's violence, Uighur groups say many more died and that most of the dead were Uighurs. On Tuesday about 200 Uighur women faced off against riot police to appeal for more than 1,400 people arrested over Sunday's violence to be freed. Later hundreds of Han Chinese marched through the streets of Urumqi smashing shops and stalls belonging to Uighurs.

Since April 1996 some 57,000 Uighur Muslims had been arrested and about 1,700 of them executed. They Chinese government also stepped up a crackdown on ‘unauthorised’ religious activity. China's summary execution of 30 Uighur in February 1997 was particularly barbaric.

Such barbarism never quelled the spirit of the Muslims of China. They continued defiantly to identify themselves as Muslims, despite the
killings and despite the public burning and banning of the Qur'an. This
defiance is deeply rooted in their Islamic heritage.

The Communist Crusade Against Islam

This oppression has the objective of stripping the Muslims of their Islamic identity. Soon after the Communist take-over in 1949, the Mao government set about dividing the Muslims into nationalities so they would identify with their 'ethnic' origin and not their 'Muslim' identity.

Aside from the physical attacks, Muslims have been subject to a constant attack on their Islamic identity. The period of the so called Cultural Revolution (1966-76) showed the attitudes and policies of the Communists. This can simply be summarised by two posters which appeared in Peking (later to be called Beijing) in 1966. These called for the abolition of Islamic practices. Muslims were also banned from learning their written language during the Cultural Revolution. This language incorporates the Arabic script and appears influenced by Arabic, Turkish and Farsi. This change was critical as it distanced Muslims from the Arabic language, the language of the Qur'an, a tactic used by many enemies of Islam, including Mustapha Kamal, the man who abolished the Khilafah. During this era many Mosques were closed down as the communists released their venom against Islam and the Muslims.

The policy of ethnic (Muslim) cleansing has continued today. Han Chinese have been moved to settle in the region in a further attempt to make the province have a Non-Muslim majority. Back in 1949 the Han population constituted a mere 2-3% of the total population, now they represent around half of the population and control most businesses.

Reaction of Muslim governments

While the world witnesses the oppression of our brothers and sisters in Xinjiang, little condemnation has been heard from the Saudi, Egyptian, Turkish or other so called Muslim rulers who prefer to maintain lucrative contracts with the Beijing government rather than speak up for Islam and Muslims. We must continue to highlight the suffering of the Muslims of Xinjiang, make dua that Allah (swt) eases their suffering and account the Muslim rulers who ignore their plight.



M.A. Shaikh

There is no doubt that relations between Turkey and Israel and the West have been strong. Turkey has military and economic ties with Israel and the US, and is a member of NATO, contributing the second largest army of the organisation. It also continues its efforts to join the European Union, despite the open determination of some members of the EU, such as Germany and France, to exclude it. However, the invasion of Ghazzah and the mass murder of Palestinians by the Israeli army last January have led the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to downgrade those relations and establish firmer diplomatic and economic relations with Turkey’s Muslim neighbours, including Iran and Syria. This has taken place despite the fact that Iran and Syria are in the West’s bad books, and therefore in Israel’s.

Formerly both Iran and Syria were also in Turkey’s bad books, to the extent of even being engaged in military confrontations with each other.  A few years ago, for instance, Turkey massed tens of thousands of troops on its border with Syria because Damascus had been backing the PKK, the Kurdish separatist group. Now the cooperation between the two is such that they have lifted the requirement of visas for travellers to cross their common borders. Another eye-catching development took place earlier this year, when Turkey and Syria held their first joint military exercise: the first between a member-state of NATO and an Arab country. Add to this the fact that Turkey’s trade with Syria is now up 40% from last year.

It is true that both Israel and the West were upset by Turkey’s rapprochement with Damascus, but Ankara has made no effort to be discreet about the new improvement in relations. On the contrary, Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s Foreign Minister often publicises it, as he did on October 13, when he joined his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, in a ceremony to mark the removal of visa restrictions between their two countries. Of course there is little doubt that Israel and the West are more alarmed about Turkey’s new friendship with Islamic Iran than these improvements between neighbours.

Iran is in principle a strictly Islamic state and shows no readiness to compromise with, or accept, dictation from the West and Israel over issues vital to Muslim countries or interests; this is one of the reasons for which the US and its allies are determined to isolate it.  When the official result of Iran’s hotly contested pre-sidential election was announced in June, Turkey was one of the first countries to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. This caused dismay in the US, and Europe, making their rulers and media wonder whether Turkey might turn its back on them.

But Western governments were relieved when Tur-key used its links with Tehran to ne-gotiate with it be-hind the scenes, playing a role in the recent release of British embassy staff in the Iranian capital.  But Turkey also used its links with the West to bring about the release in June of five Iranian diplomats who had been detained by the Americans in 2007. Turkey also improved its relations with the pro-Western Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, signing economic and trade agreements with them.  Ankara has even signed trade relations with Iraq.

The US and Europe know that the fact that Turkey has signed agreements with countries such as Saudi Arabia does not make it more cooperative or restrict its Islamic policies. They are now convinced of this, following Ankara’s condemnation of Israel’s destructive military assault on Ghazzah in January, despite the strategic relations between the two neighbours.

In fact Turkey was among the first to recognise Israel in 1949 and subsequently developed strong military and economic ties with it, no doubt under pressure from their common ally, the US.  Under the military alliance, Turkey received Israeli arms, and the two held joint military exercises.  All that became history in January, when Israel assaulted the Palestinians of Ghazzah.

The Turkish state television began to show a drama called Separation which depicted in full the images of Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinian children and women. It is true that the events in the drama were ostensibly fictional, but they drew public attention to Israel’s war crimes in Ghazzah, which were largely ignored by the international community and media. This explains Israel’s strong complaint to the Turkish government and its allies about the drama. Turkey dropped the series as a consequence.

But the drama was not alone in expressing Ankara’s displeasure at the mayhem in Ghazzah as Turkish leaders also widely and loudly displayed their anger. Prime Minister Erdogan, for instance, walked out of a debate in Davos with Israeli President Shimon Peres last January in protest at the attack on Ghazzah, an act which turned him into a hero in Arab countries. And after the government decided on October 12 to exclude Israel from military exercises, Turkish ministers declared that the decision was linked to public anger at Israel’s policies.

On October 16, Foreign Minister Davutoglu stressed that the cabinet’s decision on the Ghazzah issue would remain in place, “Our attitude will be unchanged as long as the tragic events in Ghazzah continue.” Moreover, Turkey’s decision to take an independent line in its foreign policy was confirmed by the prime minister himself.  “Turkey is a strong country and takes its own decisions,” he said.

The Turkish leader’s new stands and declarations, particularly on Israel and Israel’s war on Ghazzah, were widely reported and brought to an end the ability of the international community, including the United Nations and the international press and broadcast media, to ignore the genocide being inflicted on the Palestinians.  The recent investigation of, and consequent report on, the human-rights violations and crimes in Ghazzah, by Judge Goldstone, would not have been undertaken without the loud and persistent publicity given to the issue. Turkey and its people are entitled to be proud of their role in this development, and of their adoption of an independent foreign policy that can be beneficial to them and other Muslims.

Although Turkey, with a population of 74 million people, is a strong country and can pursue an independent foreign policy, it is no accident that it has been able to do so only under a government and party with Islamic aspirations. Not surprisingly, the only other Muslim state that has adopted an independent foreign policy is also under Islamic rule.  Iran insists that it is entitled to develop and use nuclear energy, and has therefore encountered strong resistance from Western powers, which contend in effect that in the Middle East the only country that is allowed to have access to nuclear technology of any sort (energy or military) is Israel. As Israel is known to possess at least 200 nuclear warheads, Iran has exposed Israel’s exemption from criticism of its actions and policies by the so-called international community, including the UN.

The majority of Turkey’s people are ostensibly secular, and still seem to hope that Turkey will eventually achieve membership of the EU. Their belief that this is possible if Turkey becomes “less Islamic” is demonstrably wrong. Turkey, which applied to join European organisations as long ago as 1958 (more than half a century ago) is still waiting for a result, and is unlikely to be accepted. German and French leaders have admitted recently that this is simply because Turkey is Muslim.  The final decision of the EU will be known next month, and it will be in Turkey’s real interests if its application is rejected. This will give Turkey’s people the opportunity to support the Islamic aspirations of its governing party, and help it to work for the unity of Muslims and the improvement of their own organisations.


8 November 2009

When the first Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) was published in 2002, a star glistened in a vast, gloomy sky. The fact that a UN-sponsored report, authored by independent Arab scholars would receive so much attention in Arab media, was in itself a promising start. The fact that such terminology as human security, personal security, economic security, etc – as highlighted in the report – would even compete with the largely ceremonial news bulletins’ headlines in many Arab countries was in itself an achievement. But then, the star quickly faded, the terms became clichés, and the report, published seven times since then, became a haunting reminder of how bad things really are in the Arab World.

Those who wish to discredit Arab countries, individually or as a collective, now find in these reports plenty of reasons to fuel their constant diatribes; those who genuinely care and wish for things to improve are either silent or muted.

The last report, sponsored, like the rest, by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was published in July 2009. It was the grimmest. Its statistics are intriguing, although depressing. 2.9 million square kilometers of land in the Arab World are threatened by desertification. Natural resources are depleting at an alarming level. Birth rates are the highest in the world. Unemployment is skyrocketing. 50 million new jobs must be created by 2020. Arab oil-based economies leave some Arab countries entirely vulnerable to market price fluctuations or the depletion of oil altogether. While many economies, especially in Asia are shifting or have already achieved great strides into becoming knowledge-based economies, Arab economies are still hostage to the same cycle of oil and cheap labor. In fact, 70 percent of the Arab region’s total exports, according to the report, is oil.

The problem is not just economic, or environmental, it’s societal as well. Inequality is entrenched in many Arab societies. Women’s rights are not the only individual rights violated. Men’s right are violated too, that is if they are not members of the dominant group, which are either divided by blind political allegiance, tribal or sectarian membership, or economic leverage.

Admittedly, Arab societies are, of course, not the only societies that suffer from these ills, but sadly, the problems of Arab countries are most convoluted, accentuated by the fact that there is little action to rectify the problem, neither at individual country’s level or using joint platforms, for instance, the Arab League. Why didn’t the Arab League hold an emergency summit following the release of the first or even the last AHDR report? One would think that problems of such magnitude, ones that affect the lives of 330 million people, are pressing enough for such gatherings.

Arab media has been highlighting the issue and the shortcomings, some media outlets more than others. But the discussion is largely political, at times a mere attempt at discrediting this government or that leader, and are still conducted in general terms. The latest report for example was supplemented by opinion polls conducted in four Arab countries - Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco and occupied Palestine. One need not emphasize the different human development challenges in these countries, situated in diverse geopolitical settings. One cannot possibly devise the same solution to a country occupied by a foreign army, to an independent country with untold oil wealth, to a third with immense human potential but dire poverty.

Generalized problems can only obtain generalized, thus superficial solutions. Therefore, it has been summarily decided that the problem lies in lack of education, not the inequitable and unrepresentative political systems. Education became the buzz word, as if education is a detached value; therefore, education cities are erected in Arab countries that can easily afford importing the best teachers and curricula money can buy. More, research institutions are also making appearances in various Arab capitals. Those existing in rich Arab countries are operated largely by foreigners, whose sense of priority lies, naturally, elsewhere. One fails to grasp the wisdom.

But of course, education is a mindset, a culture even. What is the point of pursuing a PhD in a society where nepotism determines who does what? It’s most rational, from a self-seeker’s point of view, to spend time knowing and passing one’s business cards to the ‘right people’ than spending years of one’s life pursuing a university degree.

UNDP had recently launched “The Arab Knowledge Report 2009”, jointly with the United Arab Emirates-based Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum Foundation. Another depressing read, nonetheless. Governments were criticized for paying lip service to ‘reform’, yet “widening the gap between word and deed.” It concluded that Arab countries are far from being knowledge based societies. Numbers and more numbers told the story: Finland spends $1000 per person on scientific research, while less than $10 are spent annually in the Arab world. More, the number of published books averages one for every 491 British citizens, while in the Arab world it’s one for every 19,150. But that should not be much of a surprise considering that one-third of older Arab citizens are illiterate, two-thirds of whom are women. Meanwhile, more than seven million children, who should be in school, are not. Illiteracy stands at 30 percent in the Arab world.

Dr. Ghassan Khateeb, of Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank believes that there “is a direct relation between the lack of investment and the problematic situation we find ourselves in relation to knowledge.” “This is all related to politics; the lack of democracy and the lack of knowledge enforce each other,” he was quoted as saying.

Paul Salem, writing in the British Guardian, while recognizing the failure of Arab governments, found that others are also, if not equally, responsible. “The cost of a single month of Western military spending in Iraq or Afghanistan would be enough to triple total aid for education in the Middle East. The cost of two cruise missiles would build a school, the cost of a Eurofighter a small university.”

Alas, some Arab governments, spend twice, if not three times more on their military budget than invest in education. And keeping in mind that nearly one out of every five Arab citizens lives below the poverty threshold of two-dollars a day, the tragedy is suddenly augmented.

Arab governments must rethink and reconsider their current priorities and course of action. They must think and act individually, but collectively as well, before the crisis turns into a catastrophe, as will surely be the case if nothing is done.



In 2005, the Ramadhan Foundation made history by bringing together Muslims from across the World to discuss Muslims uniting and focusing on the issues that bind us together.  The 1st Muslim Unity Convention was held on Sunday 5th August 2005 in Manchester, United Kingdom.   Europe saw the coming together of scholars, thinkers and politicians in an unprecedented show of Muslim unity and solidarity.

In 2009 we present the 2nd International Muslim Unity Convention in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  This great diverse nation has demonstrated how different communities and faiths can coexist in peace as demonstrated over the past fifty years and now the World’s Muslims come together to reaffirm their commitment to unity in this great city of the east.

For hundreds of years the most eminent scholars have been committed to this unity and in the 21st Century you can hear today’s scholars saying “Yes” to Unity. Join us in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia with the World’s leaders, opinion formers, economists, politicians and Muslim scholars setting the vision for unity for the 21st Century.

HE Dato' Seri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia

The sixth and serving Prime Minister of Malaysia. He previously held the post of Deputy Prime Minister from January 7, 2004 until he succeeded Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Prime Minister on April 3, 2009. Prime Minister Najib is currently the President of UMNO. He is also the son of Malaysia's second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak.

Tun. Dr Mahathir Mohamad
4th Prime Minister of Malaysia

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, a post he held for 22 years, making him Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister and one of the longest-serving leaders in Asia.

During his term in office, he was credited for engineering Malaysia’s rapid modernisation and promoting non-individualistic Asian values. He is considered as one of the world's most influential leaders and he spearheaded The Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.

Muhammad Umar Chairman,
Ramadhan Foundation

Muhammad Umar is the Chairman of Ramadhan Foundation, he became the youngest person in history to be interviewed on the World’s renowned BBC HardTalk to discuss the July 7th terrorist attacks in London and the response from the Muslim community in the UK. With a high media profile focused on imparting Islamic knowledge to both Muslims and non Muslims alike. He has delivered lectures throughout the world on a variety of topics including the Muslim role in the west, interfaith and peaceful co-existence.

One of his central messages is to promote tolerance and peaceful co-existence. His search for the truth has taken him to various places of the world from the deserts of Mauritania to Morocco, Egypt and Europe. As Chairman of the Ramadhan Foundation he has taken the message of unity around the globe. Currently he resides with his family in Greater Manchester.

HE Al Sayed Ali Al Hashimi
Special Advisor to His Highness President of United Arab Emirates

His Excellency Al Sayed Ali al Hashimi is the one of the World’s leading Islamic scholar renowned across the globe for his knowledge and wisdom.  He was the Special Adviser to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Nahyan and also had the honour to lead his funeral prayers in November 2004.

Currently he is the Religious Advisor to His Highness The President of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
HE Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah
Former Minister of Justice Mauritania & Renowned Scholar

His Excellency Shaykh Abdallah bin Mahfudh ibn Bayyah (born 1935CE 1362H) is a leading Islamic scholar born in Mauritania (West Africa). Currently he teaches at King Abdul Aziz University.  From an early age, he was blessed with a photographic memory which allowed him to memorise many Islamic text. In his youth, he was appointed to study legal judgments in Tunis. On returning to Mauritania, he became Minister of Education and later Minister of Justice. He was also appointed Vice President by the first president of Mauritania.

Later on in life he began to teach and travelled to Saudi Arabia where he became a distinguished professor at The University of Usul al-Fiqh.  His Excellency Shaykh is presently involved in several organisations in the Muslim world, such as al Majma’ al-Fiqhi, which comprises a body of scholars from across the Muslim world and from different Schools of Thought (madhhabs) and viewpoints. They tackle modern challenges facing Muslims throughout the World.

His Excellency Shaykh Abdallah is also a distinguished author, having written several books and delivered lectures in different countries. He has expertise in areas such as Fiqh al-`Aqal?y?t, the jurisprudence related to Muslim minorities in non-Muslim lands.

HE Dr Mohammed Saeed Ramadan Al Bouti  
Renowned Scholar from Damascus Syria

His Excellency Dr Al Bouti has written more than 60 books whose subjects include Shariah, literature, philosophy, sociology and civilisations. In the year 2002, he was honoured by Dar Al Fikr in Damascus, the publisher and distributor of his works worldwide.  

His Excellency Dr Mohammed Saeed Ramadan Al Bouti is one of Islam’s most respected and learned scholar, he is known as preacher and deep thinker.  His Excellency Dr Mohammed Saeed Ramadan Al Bouti was awarded the Islamic Personality of the year Award by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai.

HE Shaykh Abdur Rahman weld Hajj  
Renowned Scholar, Mauritania

Shaykh Abdur Rahman is the son of famous and worlds leading Islamic scholar Shaykh Murabit al Hajj.  At an early age he memorised many Islamic text and is a scholar known for his deep knowledge and simplicity.  He currently is the Imam of Masjid at Taqwa in Granada Spain

HE Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Renowned Islamic Scholar, Karachi Pakistan

HE Mufti Taqi Usmani is one of the World's leading Islamic scholars.  Mufti Usmani has written over forty books ranging from Islamic law, economics and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). For over forty two years he has been a leading lecturer at Darul Uloom in Karachi which was set up by his father the late Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Grand Mufti of Pakistan.

He has studied and graduated with distinction from Karachi University and obtained an MA in Arabic from Punjab University and is widely respected across the world.  He is the chief editor of the famous monthly magazine Al Balagh (Urdu) and is a regular feature on many media platforms.  Mufti Taqi Usmani is one of the most influential religious leaders in the world today and is often called upon to respond to common issues facing Muslims across the globe.

Shaykh Muhammad Abul Huda Al-Yaqoubi  
Damascus Syria

Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Abul Huda al-Yaqoubi is from a noble family of scholars that descend from the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him). From this household have emerged numerous renowned men of Allah who have taught the sacred sciences for many centuries. Shaykh Muhammad's father, the light of Damascus and master of the Islamic disciplines, Sayyid Ibrahim al-Yaqoubi, was one of the greatest scholars of The Levant in recent times.

Shaykh Muhammad is an authority in the science of Hadith; his asanid (chains of transmission) are of the highest amongst scholars of our time. He has travelled extensively throughout the world, participating in conferences, delivering lectures and teaching intensive programmes.

He currently resides in Damascus and is a public teacher at some of the most prestigious institutions there. He teaches Aqida (theology) at the Grand Umayyad Mosque; he holds the position of Jumu'a Khatib (Friday speaker) at the Jami' al-Hasan Mosque; at the Mosque of Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, he teaches from al-Risalah of Imam al-Qushayri and al-Shama'il al-Muhammadiyyah of Imam al-Tirmidhi.

Al Habib Ali Al Jifri
Founder and Director of Tabah Foundation UAE

Al Habib Ali Al Zain al Abideen ibn Addul Rahman al Jifri is from Tarim, the valley of scholarship and light in Hadramawt, South Yemen. He took his classical Islamic knowledge from the great masters of the Ba'Alawi, including the late Habib Mashur al Haddad, the great Scholar Habib Zain al Sumit from Medina and the great Habib Abdur Qadir al Saqqaf. He teaches at the Dar al Mustafa school in Tarim.

His commitment to propagation has taken him to all corners of the world.  He is a direct decedent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  He is a regular feature on many TV Channels imparting his vast knowledge to millions around the globe.

Known to be a simple man in every sense, he is humble and truly embodies the real message of Islam.

Shaykh Salman al-Oudah  
Founder of Islam Today Network & Islamic scholar from Saudi Arabia

Shaykh Salman al-Oudah was born in the al-Basr, a village on the outskirts of the city of Buraydah, Saudi Arabia. He spent his early years in local institutions and then transferred to the Academic Institute in Buraydah where he studied for six years.

This institute had gathered together an impressive group of the Middle East’s noteworthy scholars.   He is also a member of many international organisations that are respected across the globe for leadership and Islamic guidance.  Currently residing in Riyadh Saudi Arabia.

Shaykh Ahmad Hussain Darwish  
Hadith Scholar from Egypt

Shaykh Ahmad Hussain Darwish is an Islamic scholar who specialises in the field of Hadith (Prophetic sayings).  Shaykh Ahmad studied at Al Azhar University in Egypt. During his youth he became extremely close to the greatest Hadith scholar of the last twohundred years, Al Hafidh Abdullah ben as Siddiq al Ghumari (1910-1993) and with this blessings he was able to host Hafidh Abdullah in Dubai, England and the USA on numerous occasions.

He spent over 25 years across the globe teaching and researching on various subjects before returning back to Egypt to finish the work he began back in Chicago in 1980s with Hafidh Abdullah on producing the first most comprehensive Islamic Search and Hadith computer software.

He currently resides with his wife both as full time research scholars in cities of Jakarta and Cairo for Dar al Hadith.

Shaykh Ahmad Nisar Baig Qadiri
Vice-Chairman British Muslim Forum

Shaykh Ahmad Nisar Baig Qadiri is one of the leading Islamic scholars in the UK.  He is a student of the renowned Islamic scholar and expert Shaykh Syed Abdul Qadir Jillani from Rawalpindi Pakistan/Walthamstow, London

Shaykh Ahmad is a Founding Member and serving Vice-Chairman of the British Muslim Forum and Vice-Chairman of The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (the MINAB).

Imam Sayid Hassan Al-Qazwini
Senior Shia scholar from Iraq/USA

Imam Al-Qazwini is from holy city of Karbala Iraq.  He comes from a family of scholars, his father Ayatollah Sayid Mortadha Al-Qazwini, was among the leading scholars in Iraq and engaged in Islamic activism. He helped establish several Islamic schools and institutions, and he served as the principal of Imam Assadiq Islamic School in Karbala.  Imam Al-Qazwini’s father immigrated to the United States in 1986, where he eventually established several Islamic institutions and mosques.

He is currently one of the most outspoken and influential Muslim Shi’a religious leaders in the United States. He is the Senior Imam at North America’s largest Mosque in Dearborn, Detroit and is a regular feature on US media.

Shaykh Dr Abdur Rahman al Jarrar
Senior Scholar at The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf Dubai, UAE

Dr Al Jarrari is a leading Islamic scholar who originally comes from Jordan.  He served for five years as a Special Advisor to HM the late King Hussain of Jordan; he has been a leading participant at international conferences throughout the world and written many papers on Islam and issues facing Muslim.

Currently Dr Jarrar is a Senior Scholar at The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Awqaf Dubai, UAE.

Dr Khalil A. Khalil
Member al Shura Council Saudi Arabia

Dr Khalil is a renowned scholar of Islam from Saudi Arabia; he is a member of many International Organisations.  He gained his BA from Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University College of Islamic Law in 1977 and a PhD in Educational Administration from University of Southern California (USC) in 1994.

As a leading Scholar he has delivered lectures on many topics to international audiences and currently resides between Los Angeles USA and Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Robert Farook Dickson Crane
Former Advisor to President Richard Nixon

Dr. Robert Dickson Crane is the former adviser to the late President of the United States Richard Nixon, and is former Deputy Director (for Planning) of the U.S. National Security Council.  He has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books and over 50 professional articles on comparative legal systems, global strategy, and information management.

From the early 1980s, Dr. Crane has worked full-time as a Muslim activist in America. From 1983 to 1986, he was the Director of Da’wa at the Islamic Centre on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. In 1986 he joined the International Institute of Islamic Thought as its Director of Publications, and then helped to found the American Muslim Council, serving as Director of its Legal Division from 1992 to 1994.

Dr Sulayman Nyang
Professor Howard University, United States of America

Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang is Professor and Chairman of the African Studies Department at Howard University in Washington, DC.

A former Deputy Ambassador and Head of Chancery of the Gambia Embassy in Jeddah Saudi Arabia, Professor Nyang has served as Consultant to several National and International Agencies and on the Boards of the African Studies Association, the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies, and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. He has written extensively on Islamic, African and Middle Eastern affairs. He holds a master’s degree in public administration and a Ph.D. in government from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Muzammil H Siddiqi
President of the Fiqh Council of North America

Born in India in 1943, Dr Siddiqi received his early education at Aligarh Muslim University and Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, India. Dr Siddiqi graduated from the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia in 1965 with a higher degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies. He received an M.A. in Theology from Birmingham University in England and a Ph.D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard University in the United States.

He has participated in many international conferences and travels extensively around the world speaking on Muslim Issues, interfaith dialogue and building brides with other communities.

HE Ambassador Bakary Drame
Special Advisor to Secretary General Organisation Islamic Conference

HE Ambassador Bakary Drame is originally from Mali Africa.  He graduated with a degree in Philosophy-Literature from Khalil Achat High school in Cairo in 1965 and also as a Master Degree in Political Sciences from Cairo University (1968).  He was the former Ambassador for Mali to Libya and the Deputy Secretary General at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference OIC (1980-1984).

Previously he was a Special Adviser and Regional Co-ordinator for Africa at Sheikh Zayed Foundation in Abu Dhabi UAE.  He was awarded the National Order from the Republic of Chad.

Currently he is a Special Adviser to the Secretary General of OIC (Organisation of The Islamic Conference) and is fluent in French, Arabic and English.

Shaykh Muhammad Al Yazdani Raza Al Misbahi
Co-Founder of Abu Hanifah Institute

Shaykh Yazdani is originally from Azamgarh district of Mubarakpur India. He studied with his father Imam Muahmmad Ismail Misbahi a renowned scholar of Islam from Rochdale UK.

He graduated from the well-known Orthodox Sunni Institution recognized throughout India Al-Jamia'tul-Ashrafia, Mubarakpur, U.P, India.  He has a BA (Hon) in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Manchester, he was also sent by the University to Egypt to undergo intensive Arabic Studies at Alexandria University, also as a MA (Hon) in Islamic Studies from SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London).

Currently he resides with his wife and children in London UK.

Imam Muhammad Siddeeq
Representative of the late-Imam Warith Deen Muhammad

Imam Muhammad Siddeeq is a long time Muslim American pioneer.  Professionally a biologist, medical researcher and teacher, he is a keen supporter and student of the late-Imam W. Deen Mohammad.  

Imam Muhammad Siddeeq has held many positions in the Muslim community of the United States and has been a mentor to newly converted and young Muslim men, many who have been released from prison.  Imam Siddeeq represented W. Deen Mohammad at the First Meeting of World Religious Leaders in Seville

Afzal Abdul Rahim

Afzal Abdul Rahim, aged 31, was appointed as Director & Chief Executive Officer of TIME dotCom Berhad on 7 October 2008. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering with Electronics, specialising in Acoustic Wave Theory from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Prior to joining TIME, Afzal served as the Chief Executive Officer of The AIMS Asia Group and Global Transit International. He is also the chairman of Communications and Multimedia Licensee Association and founder of the Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX).


Cemal Ahmedoglu

In the past several months, relations between Turkey and the Zionist entity have started to change dramatically. At the height of the Gaza war a year ago, Turkey’s support for Palestinian resistance was second only to Iran. Turkey’s support would not have been so surprising if it was not for the fact that it is the only Muslim member of NATO and the center of cultural and social secularization of Muslim society. Recent diplomatic quarrels between the Zionist entity and Turkey, which have gone on for about a year now, signal not just a change in policy but also a strategic turn by Turkey. This shift in the Turkish approach toward Israel will have far reaching implications for the Muslim world.  

The Domestic Trigger

Since the imposition of Kemalist secularism as official dogma, the military has been the key instrument to prevent Islamic revival in Turkish society. During the cold war every political disagreement with the established authoritarian scheme in Turkey known as “democracy” was dealt with very harshly under the banner of fighting communism. After the Cold War the continuous mismanagement and corruption of the Western-backed political establishment created an urge in Turkish society to revive its Islamic roots in order to solve its problems.

The strong social, economic and political program presented by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was embraced by the overwhelming majority of Turkish people. The huge support received by the AKP due to its Islamic orientation eliminated the possibility of an open military coup to dislodge the people’s government. However, the long entrenched secular establishment, backed by the US and Israel, had many institutional resources at its disposal to combat Islamic revival. Ironically one of these institutions which Israel helped to create laid the groundwork for Turkey’s break with Israel.  

Ergenekon, the principal clandestine institution that at-tempted to overthrow the present government, alarmed the elected government of Turkey untying its hands, making it more aware of the vast network of former officials. The Ergenekon case evol-ved from the discovery of a weapons cache in Trabzon in 2007 into what the Turks have branded “the case of the century”. The discovery of weapons led to uncovering the clandestine institution which was actively preparing to instigate chaos in Turkey and seize power in order to halt the Islamic revival.

The number of documents, weapons and testimonies acquired during the investigation led to the arrest and the ongoing trial of 86 influential people. The list of people on trial includes military generals, intelligence officers, journalists, former judges, businessmen and even a high ranking member in the Orthodox Church. The trial also uncovered the close ties between the Ergenekon group and the Israeli Mossad that has also contributed to undermining relations between the current Turkish government and Israel. The Ergenekon case provided a legitimate reason for the ruling AKP party to crack down on the secularist military establishment in Turkey. Exposure of the truly criminal nature of Ergenekon members, many of whom had ties to the military totally discredited the military establishment in Turkish society.

After the Ergenekon case the AKP realized that no matter how much they give in to the demands of Washington and Tel Aviv, they would never be accepted as equal partners simply because of their independent views on many key policy matters. Therefore, the groundwork for the Turkish and Israeli break was triggered by Israel’s meddling in the domestic affairs of Turkey. Those familiar with Turkish mindset know that the one thing no Turk will ever tolerate is external interference in their domestic policies. Therefore, Turkish-Israeli relations have been greatly damaged at a popular level. They are not likely to revert to the old style again.  

The Wider Implications

During the period of Turkey’s forcible secularization, NATO invested huge sums in the Turkish military leading to the creation of one of the strongest armed forces in the world. The shift of this hard power for Turkey’s new vision that is rooted in its return toward its Islamic past will dramatically shift the balance of power in the world. First, Turkey’s shift away from Israel will completely unmask the treacherous nature of Arabian regimes simply because Ankara knows that in order to regain its historic place in the Middle East it must appeal to the Arab street. It will have to support the struggle in Palestine and Lebanon as it has already started doing.

The fact that the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri spoke out against UN resolution 1559 during his January trip to Turkey, shows that Turkey is managing to bridge the gap between the anti- and pro-resistance factions in Lebanon. Turkey also has a common interest with Syria and Iraq in countering US-backed Kurdish separatists. Ever since the US occupied Iraq it has created a safe haven for Kurdish fringe groups in Iraq to create instability in Iran. This however also negatively affects Turkey since many PKK terrorists also operate from the US established safe havens.

It is only natural that Turkey will take a harsher stance against the Zionist occupation of Palestine in order to gain greater acceptance among the Arab masses. The more Turkey supports the Palestinian resistance, the more nervous the autocrats in Cairo, Amman and Riyadh will become because it exposes their incompetence to the larger Muslim masses. The Turkish government is able to change its policies now because it has a huge support among the Turkish people. Foreign powers will, therefore, not be able to exert internal pressure on the AKP to keep it as a US-Zionist proxy in the Middle East.

The Turkish return to its pre-Kemalist identity will also influence its policies in the Caucasus and the Turkic states of Central Asia. Turkey will be more accepting of changes there compared to its current preference of maintaining the status quo. The fact that Turkey openly aided Georgia during the Russian aggression of 2008 is a strong signal in that direction. Turkey’s ability to find a common ground with Russia on developing joint energy routes as an alternative to the US-backed NABUCCO oil and gas pipelines, will allow Turkey to use its energy transitory position to resist Russian pressure in Central Asia. In the past, if Turkey had no tangible economic leverage over Russia in pursuing its own interests in Central Asia, Moscow’s need for Turkey to remain the key energy supplier to Europe gives Ankara a strong bargaining position. Taking into account the Russian government’s thirst for money, it will not be difficult to convince Moscow to grant some concessions in the post-Soviet area in return for helping the Russian government to get the much needed euros for its oil and gas supplies to Europe.

Turkey’s reassertion of its independence from the US and Zionist domination will also bolster its position in the EU. Since most of the Turkish population in the EU is highly discriminated against and completely alienated, Ankara’s outreach to them will increase. Most Turks living in Europe are religious and many left Turkey because of Kemalism. A more Islamically-oriented Turkey will make them more attached to their homeland; this will serve as leverage against the EU’s discriminatory approach towards Turkey.  

It is hard to tell exactly what form Turkey’s strategic policy shift will take. One thing, however, is clear: if its policy shift gets stuck in the neo-Ottoman mindset of mostly Turkish nationalism with a little bit of Islamic flavor, Turkey will fail to win the trust of the Arabs. If Turkey does not win their trust, its comeback as a regional player will be uncertain. If the anti-Islamic forces inside and outside Turkey manage to use the Islamic credentials of AKP for narrow nationalistic interests, Turkey will be no better than Saudi Arabia. If Turkey truly wants to gain its rightful position in the region it must not be afraid to break with Kemalist established taboos.  


After the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Ankara, many in the West referred to a new Turkish foreign policy called "neo-Ottomanism", suggesting a revival of the intellectual, political and social influence of the Ottoman Empire, which departed the scene 92 years ago.

That policy was attributed to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his advisor, now foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. Quickly, however, the term "Ottomanism" began to fade, given that it was difficult to market in countries formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire, due to continued indoctrination against Ottomanism by the Arabs over nince decades.

Some, however, continued to stand by the term, including Cuneyt Zapsu, an advisor to the Turkish prime minister, who said: "A new, positive role for Turkey in the world requires a reconciliation with its own past, the overcoming of societal taboos, and a positive new concept of Turkish identity. We are the Ottomans' successors and should not be ashamed of this."

Decision-makers in Turkey had once tried to hide their Ottoman past, ashamed of it during the heyday of Kemal Ataturk, because it looked backward and was too Islamic for the secular state that was being carefully erected in Turkey. That is now a thing of the past thanks to the steady policy of the AKP, which has been opening up to countries such as Syria and, more recently, Lebanon.

Many wrongly interpreted Erdogan's policy towards the Arab world, now entering its seventh year, as purely a Syrian-Turkish alliance. By nature of his new orientation, Erdogan is striving to restore Turkey to its rightful place amongst Arab and Muslim nations, and that by no means stops at the gates of Damascus. It is a policy that embraces Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

During the past few years, Turkey has sponsored indirect talks between Syria and Israel, tried to hammer out solutions between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine, and worked on mending broken fences between Damascus and Baghdad after relations soured last August.

Turkey has permanently stood as a mediator between Iran and the Arab world and has worked hard to help embrace non-state players like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas, whose leadership it received in Ankara in 2004, despite public outcry from the United States.

Additionally, it has tried to flex its muscle within the complex world of Iraqi politics, calling on Sunni leaders to take part in the political process that was started after the 2003 downfall of Saddam Hussein. Big brother Turkey, after all, had mediated in similar waters at the turn of the 20th century, and apparently still knows the region, its people and their plight only too well, and still feels best suited to solve existing conflict within it.

Last month, Erdogan received Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in a groundbreaking visit to Turkey, adding yet another link to the long chain of alliances that Erdogan is carefully creating for the Turkish republic.

Among other things, the two countries agreed to increase technical and scientific cooperation in military affairs and lift visa requirements between Lebanon and Turkey. At first glance, this will boost tourism and people-to-people contact between Beirut and Ankara.

According to official numbers, 50,794 Lebanese tourists went to Turkey in 2008 - an increase of 18,000 from 2007 and large when compared with the number, not more than a few hundred, of Turkish tourists who streamed into Beirut.

It will certainly affect bilateral trade, which stood at US$225 million in 2002 and now stands at $900 million. It also means that Turkey has now lifted visa requirements with six Arab countries, the others being Libya, Morocco, Tunis, Jordan and Syria.

Erdogan best explained it by saying that a "regional Schengen" system, similar to the agreement signed between European countries in Luxemburg in 1985, has now gone into effect in the region, removing systematic border control between these countries - making them closer to how they had been under the Ottoman Empire. When Iraq normalizes, he added, it, too, could join the regional "Schengen" system.

Clearly from all the optimism shown by Erdogan for the Hariri visit, cooperation between Turkey and Lebanon will not end there. The Turkish premier, after all, has visited Beirut twice, in 2007 and in 2008, and was the most senior foreign guest attending the inauguration of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman.

During the Israeli war of 2006, he firmly stood by the Lebanese, and in its immediate aftermath, sent 600 Turkish troops to take part in peacekeeping on the Lebanese-Israeli border by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Erdogan saw to it that $50 million worth of aid was given to reconstruct southern Lebanon, along with building 41 schools, five parks and a rehabilitation center worth $20 million.

Politically, Lebanon and Turkey are now colleagues in rotating positions at the UN Security Council, and this is where real political cooperation will materialize in the months to come. Turkey's heavyweight influence will come in handy as Lebanon tries to waiver Security Council resolution 1559, which called on the Syrians to withdraw from Lebanon and stipulates the disarmament of non-state players, including Hezbollah.

In as much as the Hariri team once called for implementing 1559 in 2005-2009, they would now prefer that it disappears, given that, far from being an adversary, Hezbollah is now a Hariri ally, strongly represented in both parliament and the Hariri cabinet.

The Lebanese government recently claimed that the resolution should be canceled, saying that all of its clauses had been fulfilled, noting that Hezbollah was a part of the Lebanese state and defense system and not merely a non-state player or a militia, as many in the West claim it to be.

That argument, which saves both Hezbollah and Hariri the burden of having to deal with 1559, was put forth last December by Hariri's new Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami, an appointee of the Hezbollah-led team in the Hariri cabinet.

When speaking at a press conference with Erdogan, Hariri noted that not a single day passed where the Israeli Defense Forces did not infringe on Lebanese waters or airspace, claiming that this was a legal breach of UN resolution 1701, which was passed after the war of 2006.

Erdogan nodded, saying that Israel had breached "no less than 100" resolutions in recent years, adding: "This requires serious reforms at the United Nations. We do not support Israel's position and will not remain silent."

Having Turkey on Lebanon's side will be a great boost for Hezbollah, which is preparing for a possible new round of confrontation with Israel in summer this year. From Ankara, Hariri came to Hezbollah's defense, telling reporters, "Terrorism is not when one defends one's land - the opposite is correct," thus supporting Hezbollah's war against Israel until the Sheba Farms are liberated from Israeli occupation.

This fits in nicely with the barrage of criticism that Erdogan has been firing against Israel for the past year, started in January 2009 when, speaking at Davos right after the Gaza war, he told Israeli President Shimon Peres: "President Peres, you are old, and your voice is loud out of a guilty conscience. When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill. I know well how you hit and kill children on beaches."

Best mirroring Erdogan's new policy is that, despite the new and firm relationship with the Arabs, he has not wasted his country's historical relationship with Israel. Although critical, his embassy remains open in Tel Aviv, and he is preparing to receive Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Ankara in late January.

Only by being able to talk to all parties will the Turks achieve the security and normalcy they aspire to in the Middle East. While Israel is not pleased with Erdogan's new policy, claiming that he has clearly taken sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arabs are thrilled that the Turkish giant has emerged and, unlike the case since 1918, is now clearly on their side in the battlefront.

He has reminded the Arabs that despite a very rough period in bilateral relations during World War I, the Ottoman legacy in the Arab world was not all bad, and not all autocratic. Why? Because by defending Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, Erdogan feels that he is also defending Turkey, seeing all four countries as one, given their geographic, historical, social, religious and cultural proximity.

Many of the finest buildings in Damascus and Beirut, after all, were constructed during the Ottoman era. So were many of the codes, laws of commerce and aspects of civil administration, which lasted well into the 20th century. The Ottoman influence on Arab language, heritage, music, heritage and cuisine, cannot be ignored, despite years of trying to write off anything Ottoman as being destructive to Arab culture.

Although the Ottomans struck with an iron fist at the Arabs working with Great Britain against them during the Great War, they also - very symbolically - refused to sell land in Ottoman Palestine to the Zionists during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II. He even refused to meet the Jewish banker Mizray Qrasow when, in 1901, he offered to pay off the empire's debts and build it a navy in exchange for the right to build colonies and buy Arab land in Palestine. Abdul Hamid told one of his aides, "Tell those impolite Jews that I am not going to carry the historical shame for selling holy land to the Jews and betraying the responsibility and trust of my people."

It is that part of Ottoman history that Erdogan wants the Arabs to remember, not the hangman's noose that was erected by the Ottoman governor of Syria, Jamal Pasha, in the central squares in Beirut and Damascus in 1915-1916.

When the republics were young in Lebanon, Turkey and Syria, Turkish and Arab nationalism stood in the way of a clear appreciation of history, leading to nothing but bad blood between Arabs and Turks. That era is now hopefully gone - never to return - thanks to the efforts of Erdogan, referred to, very symbolically, by Hariri as "Big Brother" during his Ankara visit.
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