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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tony Blair, Middle East and the Doomsday Cults

Tony Blair says that we should get ready for a battle between the open-minded West and the closed-minded Middle East. Its the same-old modern day cursades narrative which has claimed millions of lives so far and counting. Not long ago, he participated in the worst military adventure the west has ever embarked upon in its history. Thanks to a misguided, malicious and greed-driven war in the Middle East, we are on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. But, Mr. Blair refuses to learn a lesson. He wants more!

He says that the Muslim societies have been over-run by a supremicist ideology which have put them in direct conflict with the West. But it takes two to tango, so there must be a supremicist mindset at work in the West too which encourages the hubris of military conquest of the Middle East.

Blair must be very aware of his role in psychologically mauling a whole generation of young Muslims who grew up in the post 9/11 world. Social media has awakened this generation to the horrific attrocities of war. Those images and video clips, real or fakes, are constantly making the rounds on the internet, adding fuel to fire already lit by their local hate preachers.

You simply cannot force this genie back in the bottle by more war. This will not only compromise the already struggling moderate voices in the Muslim countries but also embolden the extremists even more.

There is a growing network of various groups, increasingly inter-connecting and unifying across the Islamic world calling for a
global caliphate/Khilafah. Some groups are more open about the idea of a global Jihad to bring about this revolution. Many agree with each other on principle and are increasing their influence among the young Sunni men and women living in the west. The traditional strands of Sufi, riualistic Islam focused on persoanl piety have been sidelined as weak and unambitious.

Although various Khilafah movements may pose a threat to the Arab royals, the transition from a non-political Sunni/Wahabi to a political one seems to be very easy and frequent. It is very difficult to contain or control this phenomenon through policing, even if you are Saudi Arabia.

Doomsday cults are thought to be fringe groups of conspiracy theorists,
but think again. The state of Israel and its Zionist zealots are a doomsday cult. There are countless Christians who believe that the US and its allies must protect the Holy Land as it is the promised site for the return of Jesus. Sunni preachers have been warming up their congregations for the imminent appearance of the Mahdi, and the latest interpretations of hadith literature promises Syria to be of vital import in this respect. Then there are those skeptics who feel that Mahdi has to be created through war and consensus of Muslims, and to add to the mix, there seems to be unlimited hatred for the Shia by thousands of Jihadis converging in Syria. Shia Muslims themselves are being told about the re-emergence of the Mahdi is a certainty and the present day conflict was foretold in many prophecies before.

This may sound far-fetched for some of you. But American diplomats were advising their government not to enter into any negotiations with a 'Messianic' regime in Iran, a leaked diplomatic cable (via Wikileaks) reveals. How come eschatological beliefs of some are causing so much suffering in this day and age? This is after all, the age of reason and science. Many clergymen, Christians, Jewish and Muslims alike, seem to have resigned to the fact that Messiah's do not float down from the heavens. But consider how
Ahmedinijad started his speech at the UN General Assembly a few years ago. He prayed for the immediate appearance of the Mahdi, a warrior leader who will rid the world of all evil. Think again about why Bush and Blair consulted God before launching an attack on Iraq and Afghanistan. Behind the seemingly secular political rhetoric, humanitarian concerns and an agenda for democracy, the west is turning a blind eye to the absurdities of literalistic religious zealots in all camps.

Mr. Blair has said one thing that I agree with. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are nurturing a venomous generation of violent preachers which needs to be checked. While Saudi royals are happy to preach peaceful interpretations of Islam to their own citizens, they are recruiting
anti-shia paramilitary forces from Pakistan and Jihadi fighters from other Sunni nations to fight in Syria. Saudi puritanical influence of the Muslim youth living in the UK is also increasingly visible.

Exclusion of the moderates and the reformists through 'Takfir' (Edicts of heresy) is the most potent instrument in the hands of these hate preachers. Takfir means exclusion, and according to some puritans, loss of right to life. This is exactly what is driving the Jihadi machine in Syria at the moment. Bashar and his allies are kafirs, worthy of death. Glimpses of this takfir are also visible in the UK, which only shows how easy it can be to recruit fighters from this country. Muslims have to combat this menace themselves first.

It is also essential for the Muslims living in the UK to create their own identity, free of the burdens and strains of dictatorships and theocracies of their ancestral countries. In fact, Muslims in the West are closer to the real Islamic ideals of logic, reason and sciences then their brethren in the Middle East. We must export our new, enlightened and rational worldview to them instead of importing antiquated, literalistic and medievalist ideas to us. Currently we are only exporting gap-year Jihadis and openly partisan statesmanship in the form of Tony Blair.

I suggest that Mr. Blair should seriously consider education, both at home and in the Muslim world as his top priority, not war. I will leave his religious views alone. Afterall, It is a matter between a megalomaniac and his own ego.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fatwa on Sunday: The unlikely Ayatollah of Luton

'Luton on Sunday' is a free newspaper like hundreds of other weekly papers printed in all towns and cities.
In this week's edition, the newspaper printed an apology for any "offence caused to the members of the 'Muslim' community in Luton" due to an advert published in the previous week's edition.
Offending Muslims is a nightmare for any media group. Why would they want to see copies of their newspapers and effigies being burnt on their doorstep? And death threats in such controversies are almost as certain as death itself. One can imagine the extreme distress (to both the newspaper and 'Muslims of Luton') which may have caused such an apology to be printed.
What prompted such an emergency response by Luton on Sunday to "completely dissociate themselves from the content" of an advertisement from the 'Ahmadiyya'? It was a visit by the local Muslim leaders who explained to the editors how the content was offensive to Muslims. The editors must have had a faith inspiring meeting with the Mullahs as their apology contained a 'fatwa' against the offending 'Ahmadiyya', who prefer to be known as the Ahmadiyya Muslims. But Luton on Sunday, like a seasoned Mullah, declared them outside the fold.
Their apology referred to the sponsors of the advertisement as just 'Ahmadiyya', pointedly omitting the word 'Muslim' from their title. God forbid if someone associated them with Islam, especially after the Mullahs had delivered a timely education in Islamic theology and Arabic lexicon to the learned staff at the newspaper!
Luton on Sunday accepts that Ahmadi Muslims have no right to be referred to as Muslims!
The advertisement itself has appeared on dozens of local newspapers across the UK in the past week. It contains an introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a reformist sect of Islam, which preaches peace and tolerance. They have been declared heretics by the religious orthodoxy since their inception in 1889. Their offending belief is their acceptance of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the Mahdi, a Messiah who has been awaited for centuries by the Muslims. Establishing a community of believers in India, Ahmad taught them the true meanings of Jihad as a struggle to reform oneself and to establish peace in the world.
The advertisement was printed to celebrate 125th anniversary of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Since then, the Ahmadiyya Muslims have spread in all parts of the world as a progressive, tolerant and educated community who are valued as good neighbours and model citizens.
Indeed, all reformist movements are seen as a threat by the establishment and the orthodoxy. Pakistan has such laws in place to bar Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims. Even a suspicion that an Ahmadi is behaving like a Muslim may land him in jail. Recently a British Ahmadi Muslim was caught 'red-handed' reading the Quran while on a visit to Pakistan. He spent many weeks in jail before being bailed out and escaping from further prosecution by leaving the country.

The community leaders who met with the newspaper editors would love to have similar laws in this country as well. Luckily, we live in a secular democracy where all are free to express themselves as they like.
If the editors of the newspaper had a chance to meet Ahmadis and then asked to describe them in one word, MUSLIM will be their answer. They pray five times a day, read the Quran, follow the modest dress-code, go to the Mosques and celebrate two Eid's every year. How easy was it to drop the word 'Muslim' from their name? One wonders.
Was it a threat of boycott or more serious action by the clergy?
Free newspapers are businesses and expecting journalistic integrity from them is maybe asking for a bit too much. But even businesses should have some morals. Why dissociate yourself from the message on an advert? A newspaper isn't under any obligation to agree with all the ads it prints. And those who chose to take offense from a message of peace and tolerance are free to do so without infringing upon the rights of free speech and expression of others.
'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.'
I understand that any business has a right to refuse entering into a transaction, but do they have the right to impart their opinions and issue fatwas on an advertisement they have already printed?
The critics of Ahmadiyya Muslims are too quick to mention numerous countries which have passed legislation against the Ahmadi Muslims. But they forget to mention that all such legislations are in direct contravention of the international laws and are universally condemned by all secular and democratic countries.
A letter from a 'concerned' group.

The newspaper should also be aware that this Talibanized attitude towards minority groups is a worrying trend in the British society. Ahmadi Muslims have been targeted through hate material on private TV stations which have had to be penalized by Ofcom on numerous occasions. There are extremist groups which have issued death threats against the community in the UK.
Many such organizations using the name 'Khatme Nabuwwat' (finality of prophethood) have deep rooted ideological and financial links with outfits sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban elsewhere. In countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, these groups have committed murders of Ahmadi Muslims and other minorities.
Should a newspaper based in Luton, Bedfordshire, align itself with such groups?


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