Saturday, August 10, 2013

Colin Robertson – Canada needs to be ‘on the ground’ in Iran: Time to reopen the embassy

From the Globe and Mail (August 9, 2013)

If we are serious about engaging Iran then we need to re-establish diplomatic relations.

September will mark a year since we closed our Embassy in Tehran and declared Iran’s diplomats personae non gratae because we feared for the safety of our diplomats and in protest for Iranian behavior.

Responding to last Sunday’s inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, Foreign Minister John Baird proclaimed that ‘proof of strategic shift’ required Iran to change its nuclear policies, respect human rights and cease meddling in Syria.

These priorities are right and in the correct order. A nuclear Iran with ballistic missiles threatens stability in the Middle East and beyond, including cities on the eastern seaboard of North America.

Mr. Baird is to be encouraged in getting to know the regional players through his frequent travel. His use of social media, as demonstrated recently at the Munk School’s Global Dialogue with Iranian civil society, is innovative diplomacy.

Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom continues to churn out lively releases on human rights abuses, although their targets would likely pay more attention if they toned down the adjectives. A useful initiative for the Office would be to resurrect the ‘two-track’ research aimed at opening channels for dialogue with Iran conducted by the University of Ottawa’s Peter Jones.

Effective diplomacy is about ‘being there.’ This means having a presence on the ground so that you can look, listen and speak out when necessary.

A diplomatic presence does not imply regime endorsement but rather it is the conduit for official dialogue and discussion. Withdrawal of diplomatic personnel is an extreme step that should only be done if there is a personal threat to our diplomats or when a declaration of war is imminent. In between, there are gradations of presence, based on Winston Churchill’s conviction that ‘jaw-jaw’ is better than ‘war-war’.

The Middle East is complicated, confusing and frustrating but Canada has interests – commercial, political, and social. Through refugee re-settlement, immigration and study, there is a growing regional diaspora living in Canada. As we learned in the 2006 evacuation of Canadians from Lebanon, there is also a growing Canadian expatriate population whose interests oblige our protection.

Through the past half century of global primacy, the U.S. has developed a cadre of smart, experienced practitioners who devote their lives to finding solutions to difficult international problems. Their number includes Ambassador Tom Pickering who, with colleagues William Luers and Jim Walsh, has written ‘For a New Approach to Iran’. It builds on the ongoing, excellent work of the non-partisan Iran Project, which is designed to improve the relationship between the U.S. and Iranian governments and to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Pickering et al note that while Iran has the basic ability to make a bomb, its nuclear decision-making is guided by a cost-benefit approach. The election of Mr. Rowhani, whose platform included engaging the international community, offers opportunities to influence Tehran.

They argue that ‘coercive diplomacy’ – more sanctions and angry rhetoric – is counterproductive because it hardens resistance to change and reinforces the hardliners.

On military intervention, they recall McGeorge Bundy, President Lyndon Johnson’s national security advisor during the Vietnam War. In a retrospective interview, Mr. Bundy observed that what surprised him most was “the endurance of the enemy.” Too much emphasis had been placed, concluded Bundy, in “the power of coercion.”

Canadian practitioners should draw inspiration from Mr. Pickering and the work of the Iran Project.

Our knowledge of Iran now depends on the reportage of foreign correspondents, the intelligence shared by our friends and allies and what we glean through the Iranian community living in Canada.

This is not adequate if we are to seriously engage Iran and encourage their ‘strategic shift.’ We need our own eyes and ears on the ground. Our policy will oblige patience, persistence and a step-by-step process of proof and verification to build trust.

As a first step towards building confidence, Mr. Rowhani should guarantee the safety of our diplomats. Then it will be time to send a Canadian envoy back to Tehran.

A former diplomat, Colin Robertson is vice president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior advisor to McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP.

Maryam Al-Khawaja Banned from Boarding British Airways Flight to Bahrain

Maryam Al-Khawaja. Image from The Atlantic.
[The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) issued the following report on 9 August 2013 after its Acting President was barred from traveling to Bahrain.] 

This morning the Acting President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and Co-Director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) Maryam Al-Khawaja, was informed by a British Airways flight staff member that the Bahrain Government had issued a ban on her name which effectively prevents her from boarding her flight to Bahrain. Ms. Al-Khawaja had decided to visit Bahrain to monitor the situation ahead of planned protests set to take place on 14 August 2013. The Bahraini government has escalated its crackdown on human rights defenders and activists arresting a blogger, a photographer as well as a the blogger's lawyer, in the past week alone. It also continues to deny entry to journalists, most recentlyan Aljazeera reporter. Ms. Al-Khawaja thought it pertinent to have monitors on the ground given that the most prominent human right defenders are currently behind bars and the crackdown is intensifying.

Ms. Al-Khawaja was also hoping to visit her detained father, human rights defender Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja in jail next week where he is due a visit and currently serving a life sentence for his peaceful human rights activism. She was also to visit her sister, human rights activist Zainab Al-Khawaja also serving multiple sentences in the Isa Town Female Detention Centre.

The BCHR and the GCHR find this most recent act by the Bahraini Government very worrying as it is clear that it wants no witnesses to its current and anticipated future violations. Banning journalists as well as human rights defenders entry into the country signals a possible escalation in the coming days. Ms. Al-Khawajaha decided to pursue this case to find the reasons why British Airways agreed to ban her from boarding their flight.

We respectfully remind the government of Bahrain of the General Comment No. 27: Freedom of movement (Art.12) on the The International Covenant On Civil And Political Rights which Bahrain has signed on and committed to respect:

21. In no case may a person be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his or her own country. The reference to the concept of arbitrariness in this context is intended to emphasize that it applies to all State action, legislative, administrative and judicial; it guarantees that even interference provided for by law should be in accordance with the provisions, aims and objectives of the Covenant and should be, in any event, reasonable in the particular circumstances. The Committee considers that there are few, if any, circumstances in which deprivation of the right to enter one's own country could be reasonable. A State party must not, by stripping a person of nationality or by expelling an individual to a third country, arbitrarily prevent this person from returning to his or her own country.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Surah Ad Dukhan recited by Ibrahim Al Jibreen

Surah Ad Dukhan recited by Ibrahim Al Jibreen

Reminder from the Quran

"Behold, ye are those invited to spend (of your substance) in the Way of Allah: But among you are some that are niggardly. But any who are niggardly are so at the expense of their own souls. But Allah is free of all wants, and it is ye that are needy. If ye turn back (from the Path), He will substitute in your stead another people; then they would not be like you!" (Quran 4:38)

هَا أَنتُمْ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ تُدْعَوْنَ لِتُنفِقُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَمِنكُم مَّن يَبْخَلُ ۖ وَمَن يَبْخَلْ فَإِنَّمَا يَبْخَلُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ ۚ وَاللَّهُ الْغَنِيُّ وَأَنتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ ۚ وَإِن تَتَوَلَّوْا يَسْتَبْدِلْ قَوْمًا غَيْرَكُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَكُونُوا أَمْثَالَكُم

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Imam al-Ghazali on jealousy

Imam al-Ghazali, who was a great Muslim ethical thinker, philosopher and scholar, said that jealousy is often caused by:
  • Enmity: One has animosity for a person or group and does not want to see anything good happen to that person or group.
  • Ambition: It hurts a person to see someone else ahead or above him/her.
  • Pride and Arrogance: When a person is self conceited and arrogant, he/she feels very jealous to see anyone else going ahead or doing better.
  • Astonishment: Some time a person feels astonished that another person could do better than him/her. He/she feels surprised: “How come that person became so rich, so successful, so popular, etc.?”
  • Fear: Fear that if another person would have such and such thing, then he/she may not have it.
  • Desire for power and prestige: Sometimes a person becomes jealous because he/she want to make oneself great by putting others down.
  • Evil nature and avarice of the heart: Some people just do not like to see others happy. They want to see the whole world in misery and difficulty except their own selves.

Maher Zain - Insha Allah

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The destruction of Aleppo

People gather near a crater caused by what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa province, eastern Syria.
“All my extended family lived here, we had 10 houses. My mother was badly injured and is now in hospital in Turkey. She does not know that her sons are dead. My uncle, Mohamed Ali, lost 27 members of his family. He has lost his mind; he doesn’t know anything anymore. He is in the countryside; everyone who survived has gone to stay with relatives or friends somewhere. Here, there is only rubble left. ” - Hussein al-Saghir, 15-year-old boy telling Amnesty International about his 16 relatives killed in a ballistic missile strike in the Jabal Badro district of Aleppo on February 18, 2013.

“Yousef, 7, Mohammed, 5, Ali, 2, Hamza, 12, Zahra, 10, Husna, 8, Fatima, 10, Ahmad, 7, Abdel Karim, 2, Hassan, 18 months…..Why did they bomb here? … There were only civilians here.  Our quarter was full of life, children playing everywhere.  Now we are all dead, even those of us who are alive are dead inside, we have all been buried under this rubble.” - Sara al-Wawi, who lost some 20 relatives in an air strike in the al-Marje’s area of Aleppo on   March 18, 2013 telling Amnesty International about some of the children killed in the attack.

You did it!

by S N Smith

Congratulations, you did it!

You have successfully completed the fast of the month of Ramadan.

Whether this is your first complete Ramadan fast or your 50th, you have done a wonderful thing because the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has stated that, “whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”

One thing you have learned during this month of fasting is that sometimes it can be quite hard.

Some days you did not feel like fasting or praying as you were tired. But you overcame your desires and now today, on this first day of Eid, you are celebrating with millions and millions of other Muslims.

This makes you feel happy and proud, doesn’t it?

You also feel a sense of accomplishment because, despite the difficulties you encountered along the way, you did not give up and have won the victory over your desires.

One of the main lessons which Ramadan teaches us is that if we want to accomplish something important or worthwhile it takes effort.

Sometimes things can become really difficult and challenging but when we keep focused on our goal then eventually we will achieve that which we set out to do.

These lessons not only apply to Ramadan but to anything we are trying to achieve in life.

For example, many of you have begun a new year of studies at school.

Sometimes the homework can be really difficult and you feel like throwing up your hands in frustration.

“This is just too hard, I cannot do it,” you say.

But you keep working and applying yourself because you are aware of the long-term benefits of studying and being a good student.

You will want to graduate and find a good paying job so that you can lead a happy life and support a family of your own, or maybe you desire to become a scholar in your chosen field.

Everyday, you open your books and attend classes because you know that eventually all of your efforts will pay off.

And so it is with Islam also.

When we apply ourselves with patience and perseverance to please Allah we know there will be a pay off.

Allah will be pleased with us and He will grant us paradise, which is the ultimate achievement.

Yes, sometimes it can be really hard, but the ultimate prize – paradise- makes the effort worth it.

Remember the prophet Muhammad (peace be up him) stated that “for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord.”

The Prophet also said, “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection.

The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’

The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.”

So today, as you celebrate the completion of your fast just, remember that you are one step closer to your goal of paradise.

Don’t give up now that Ramadan is over.

Keep making effort by remaining steadfast in your prayers and doing good deeds.

Read the Quran everyday and be kind to your parents as well as those you you deal with on a daily basis.

You will soon meet Allah and you will be happy that you fasted.

Eid Mubarak!

The author just completed his 21st Ramadan fast.

Cleansing your spirit or just your conscience towards a class struggle ramadhan

by Noaman G. Ali

For Muslims who want to create a socially just world, it’s time to rethink the way in which Muslims relate to ‘the poor’ during Ramadhan.  We are told and we tell people that empathizing with the poor is an important aspect of fasting.  As the story goes, Muslims experience (if only for a few hours) what millions if not billions of underfed people around the world go through.  Those who are unable to fast are instead supposed to feed poor people.  Not only that, Muslims are encouraged to give more charity during the holy month.

I was in Rawalpindi, one of Pakistan’s larger cities, on the first day of this year’s Ramadhan. I was in a market that would otherwise be crowded, walking around, looking for tafsirs [interpretations] of the Qur’an. It was really hot, around 40°C plus humidity, and I was feeling dizzy and even nauseous. It wasn’t the hunger so much as it was the thirst. Then I came upon workers who were unloading big sacks of grain off of trucks, carrying them on their backs or pulling whole carts with their bare hands.

I got in a taxi and I asked the driver, who was struggling with keeping away from tobacco, if those workers were fasting. He said only God knows what the level of their faith is. But what does faith have to do with it? Faith isn’t some kind of a bulletproof vest that enables you to bypass hunger and thirst while performing hard labour. It doesn’t free you from having to work to provide for your family. If anything, Ramadhan makes it harder, because the prices of basic foodstuff shoot up as demand increases. So workers have to find a way to make more money to pay for the same amount of food, or, they have to go into greater debt.

Wealthier Pakistanis move to colder areas with resorts, like Kalam or Murree, because they don’t want to have to deal with the heat. Pakistan’s richer tend to have better access to electricity, which can keep fans going, and may even have air conditioners. But the poor have none of that, power outages (load shedding) are common, so even if you can scrape by the money for a fan it won’t be working. In the cities, the shaded indoors can be crowded and suffocating, and the humidity means that you sweat a lot and get dehydrated easily. Imagine having to abstain from water for 16 hours in these conditions.

Outside of Ramadhan, I found that workers have it the hardest. I was supposed to meet a farm worker in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for an interview in June, but his people sent his apologies. He had suffered heat stroke. The doctor who came to see him had charged 500 rupees, when the worker’s casual daily wage was 300 rupees. This is the story over and over: workers barely make enough to scrape their families by on casual work, and there is practically no permanent work to be found.

Workers often go hungry — a 2011 study showed that 58% of Pakistani households are food insecure, nearly 30% with moderate or severe hunger. Their children often cannot afford to go to government schools — never mind private schools — because they are out looking for work or because they can’t pay the nominal fees. Meanwhile, workers toil in difficult conditions, often not getting paid on time or not getting paid at all by more powerful bosses. Workers can’t even go on strike because there is a whole crew of other workers desperately looking for jobs who would render any strike useless. They work in the heat, they work in the cold, they work all the time.

The overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are poor. The poor are not the minority. Many of them are un- or underemployed people looking to scrape together livelihoods by any means they can find, many are workers who build things or work in factories, many try to hawk wares and goods or start tiny businesses, and many are poor farmers without enough land or farmers with land who don’t get the prices they deserve. So many are women who put in long hours of work at home and then, the poorer they are, often working outside of the home as well.

So what does it mean to empathize with the poor during Ramadhan? The neat package of empathy with the poor during Ramadhan sounds kind of hollow. After all, check out some of the massive iftars [communal breaking of the fast] that people put on; or the fact that a lot of people put on weight during Ramadhan, even though we’re supposed to be eating less and praying more; or the fact that a lot of people spend the day sleeping and the night eating. What’s more, those few hours of fasting throughout one day are actually incomparable to the feeling and effects of chronic starvation and lack of nutrition.

This empathy story is directed at a middle-class audience; assumed to be the typical, average kind of Muslim. The poor may exist, out there, separate from the typical normal Muslim, and if they do form part of the Muslim communities it’s through this condescending relationship of charity. People are encouraged to give to the poor, but not to ask why they are poor in the first place.

Couldn’t a deeper form of empathy involve struggling against the conditions that produce poverty? This wouldn’t come from a place of charity but from a place of solidarity, from a sense of oneness rooted in acknowledging our differences, but seeking to overcome them through struggle against structures of oppression and exploitation. The struggle for good, permanent, well-paying jobs; the struggle for higher wages; the struggle against unsafe working conditions; the struggle for cheaper agricultural inputs and fair prices for agricultural produce; the struggle for land for the landless or better cooperative uses of the land; the struggle to socialize domestic labour performed largely by women; the struggle against imperialist aggression; the struggle against tinpot dictators and fake democrats — all of these struggles have a direct impact on poverty.

What’s more, these kinds of struggles have precedent in the Islamic tradition, in the Qur’an, Sunnah and struggles of pious people. But it is precisely these kinds of struggles that are not emphasized by most scholars these days. The kind of Islam being marketed and produced on television in Pakistan or Egypt or in glitzy conferences in North America is not intended for the poor majority of Muslims.  It’s meant for a middle-class audience, and the kind of Islam on offer is personalized and meant to make people feel better about themselves. It’s one thing to revive the spirit, quite another to change conditions that produce class disparities. This kind of self-centered spirituality — which we find across all religious traditions —  becomes reactionary and unjust when it tells us that we cannot change these ‘God-given’ conditions, and halts any attempts by the people to change these conditions.

Solidarity with ‘the poor’ — the oppressed and exploited majority — is the only way to break out of the cycle of self-absorption and to move toward a more just society.  Otherwise, the message of empathizing with the poor during Ramadhan is little more than a shallow exercise to allow the minority of more privileged Muslims (or even the most filthy rich Muslims, who are actually part of the problem) to feel better about themselves; or worse, feign that they actually care about ‘the poor’. It’s time for Muslims to use Ramadhan to intensify the struggle for human liberation, not just from temptations of the flesh, but also from oppression and exploitation.

Noaman was in Pakistan for research.

Surah Zukhruf Recited by AbdulRahman As Sudais

Surah Zukhruf  Recited by AbdulRahman As Sudais

Islam is way more English than the EDL

By Tim Stanley Religion -- August 7th, 2013

Whither the articulate nutters? Yesterday I got into a Twitter spat with the EDL's Tommy Robinson (isn't Twitter fun? Please don't ban it, Caitlin) and I'm not very impressed. He was angry with a piece I wrote about him linking to an anti-Semitic website, and this cued an evening of tweets accusing me of not understanding the plight of Luton and how I obviously hate the English working class. It's all predictable stuff, but the latter point does interest me. I've often suspected that the EDL's grip on the popular imagination comes from its claim to represent what remains of the native proletariat – and a lot of middle class folks in the media think that maybe they do, which is why they invite Tommy onto TV shows to share his toilet wall history of Islam with the nation. But they're wrong. The EDL's definition of what constitutes the English working class is a classic case of projection.

To take the "working class" tag, never mind that Tommy owns his own business and so is technically petit-bourgeois – making him officially entitled to buy a cream and gold bathroom. The EDL also overlooks a long history of working class progressiveness summed up in three words: the Labour movement. Yes, the contemporary Left is dominated by middle-class wets who dislike many of the people they claim to represent – but this wasn't always the way. The 100,000 protesters who turned out in 1936 to humiliate Oswald Mosley's fascists at the Battle of Cable Street were overwhelmingly working class, and many voted to elect the Jewish Phil Piratin as a communist MP for Mile End in defiance of anti-Semitism. Mosley's blackshirts frequently ran in working class constituencies and always got hammered. They failed to present a populist alternative to the Labour Party because the working class was uninterested in their brand of racist radicalism. In short, while there certainly is a protectionist tradition within England's working class – fueled by the fact that they're the ones who suffer first and suffer the most when the country's borders are opened to cheap labour – this country lacks a fascist tradition because it runs counter to our homegrown culture.

Which brings me to the more contentious bit of the EDL's identity: its claim to represent "the English". The problem with this claim is that a hundred people will come up with a hundred ways of defining Englishness, and each with disagree violently with the other. To quote George Bernard Shaw: "It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him." This is a good thing by the way. Nations that are solidly cohesive can turn exclusivist and nasty; there's something of the Vichy about France's recent treatment of its Muslims and Roma.

So while football hooliganism, covering your car in St George's flags, wearing balaclavas and spending time in prison is one definition of Englishness, others do exist. The one I prefer is a little more "liberal", in the 19th century meaning of that word. Its the Englishness that was fascinated by the Orient, the Englishness that saw Christians turn native in North Africa and India and lovingly translate the Koran and the tales of Arabian Nights for the mass market back home. Queen Victoria spent some of her last years harbouring a crush on her Muslim servant, Abdul Karim (a relationship the dear old Daily Mail calls "shockingly intimate"). It's an Englishness rooted in laws and values rather than race. Crucially, it flowered in the 1800s because that's when we had a lot more self-confidence as a nation: someone who is secure in their identity is at ease with exploring the imaginations of others. Today our meetings with foreign cultures are awkward precisely because we lack a solid sense of who we are. A lot of the fear shown towards Islam comes from the death of the Christian soul – we see a people who actually believe in something and we are intimidated.

By contrast, most Muslims cling on to values that were once definitively English and that we could do with rediscovering. Islam instructs its followers to cherish their families, to venerate women, to treat strangers kindly, to obey the law of any country they are in (yes, yes, it really does), and to give generously. One recent poll found that British Muslims donate more money to charity than any other religious group. Much is written about the need for Muslims to integrate better into English society, although I'm sure 99 per cent of them already do. But I hope they retain as much of their religious identity as possible – it is vastly superior to the materialist, secular mess that they're being compelled to become a part of.

I'm not one of those New Labour metropolitan types who wants to create a rainbow nation of hippies – I'm a cultural conservative, a Catholic chauvinist and a defender of everything worth venerating. But its precisely because I'm a traditionalist that I look at Islam and see much to admire – ordered, sensitive to the sacred, civilised – and then look at the British far Right and see much to loathe – ignorant about history, invariably irreligious, law-breaking, lacking in charity. Of course, I'll be labelled a snob for writing all of this. So, to reassure the critics, I rang up my father – the most working class Englishman I know – and asked him what he thought of the EDL. "Idiots", he said.

So, that's that.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Comprehensive Listing of References to Jesus ('Isa) in the Qur'an

Among the major world religions, Islam is the only non-Christian faith that recognizes the person of Jesus. Qur'an talks a great amount about Jesus. In the Qur'an, Jesus is referred to in over ninety verses in fifteen surahs. Islam corroborates that Jesus was born to a virgin, was sinless, performed miracles, and preformed many miracles. Yet, Islam teaches that Jesus was no more than a prophet. Islam denies the central message of Christianity by denying Jesus' divinity, crucifixion, and resurrection.

(Yusufali translation)


2:87 We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit.

2:136 We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them . . .

2:253 . . . To Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit.

3:45 O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.

3:46 "He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be (of the company) of the righteous."

3:48 And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel.

3:49 And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): "I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe."

3:50 (I have come to you), to attest the Law which was before me. And to make lawful to you part of what was (Before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear Allah, and obey me.

3:52 When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?"

3:55 Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute."

3:59 The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam . . .

3:84 . . . and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord.

4:157 That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";-but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not.

4:163 We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms.

4:171 O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth.

4:172 Christ disdaineth nor to serve and worship Allah . . .

5:17 In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary.

5:46 And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.

5:72 They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode.

5:75 Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food.

5:78 Curses were pronounced on those among the Children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary: because they disobeyed and persisted in excesses.

5:110 O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to) thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.'

5:112 Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."

5:114 Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us-for the first and the last of us-a solemn festival and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."

5:116 Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart . . ."

6:85 And Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous.

9:30 The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah.

9:31 They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).

19:19 He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son."

19:20 She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?"

19:21 He said: "So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, 'that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': It is a matter (so) decreed."

19:22 So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.

19:27 At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: "O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!"

19:30 He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet."

19:31 "And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live."

19:32 "(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable."

19:33 "So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!"

19:34 Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.

19:88 They say: "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!"

19:91 That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious.

19:92 For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.

21:91 And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.

23:50 And We made the son of Mary and his mother as a Sign: We gave them both shelter on high ground, affording rest and security and furnished with springs.

33:7 And remember We took from the prophets their covenant: As (We did) from thee: from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary: We took from them a solemn covenant.

42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee-and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).

43:57 When (Jesus) the son of Mary is held up as an example, behold, thy people raise a clamour thereat (in ridicule)!

43:61 And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way.

43:63 When Jesus came with Clear Signs, he said: "Now have I come to you with Wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: therefore fear Allah and obey me."

57:27 We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy . . .

61:6 And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad." But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "this is evident sorcery!"

61:14 O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of Allah: As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples, "We are Allah's helpers!" then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed.

Reminder from the Quran

Then he that will be given his Record in his right hand will say: "Ah here! Read ye my Record! "I did really understand that my Account would (One Day) reach me!" And he will be in a life of Bliss, In a Garden on high, The Fruits whereof (will hang in bunches) low and near. "Eat ye and drink ye, with full satisfaction; because of the (good) that ye sent before you, in the days that are gone!" And he that will be given his Record in his left hand, will say: "Ah! Would that my Record had not been given to me! "And that I had never realized how my account (stood)! "Ah! Would that (Death) had made an end of me! "Of no profit to me has been my wealth!"My power has perished from me!" (Quran 69:19-29 see also 56:27-44 and 17:71 and 74:39) 

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَيَقُولُ هَاؤُمُ اقْرَءُوا كِتَابِيَهْ إِنِّي ظَنَنتُ أَنِّي مُلَاقٍ حِسَابِيَهْ فَهُوَ فِي عِيشَةٍ رَّاضِيَةٍ فِي جَنَّةٍ عَالِيَةٍ قُطُوفُهَا دَانِيَةٌ كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئًا بِمَا أَسْلَفْتُمْ فِي الْأَيَّامِ الْخَالِيَةِ وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِشِمَالِهِ فَيَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أُوتَ كِتَابِيَهْ وَلَمْ أَدْرِ مَا حِسَابِيَهْ يَا لَيْتَهَا كَانَتِ الْقَاضِيَةَ مَا أَغْنَىٰ عَنِّي مَالِيَهْ هَلَكَ عَنِّي سُلْطَانِيَهْ

Ramadan Journal -- Day 28 (On anti-Islam activists)

The Unbelievers say: "Listen not to this Qur'an, but talk at random in the midst of its (reading), that ye may gain the upper hand!" (41:26) -- وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَالْغَوْا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَغْلِبُونَ

"These anti-Islam activists are instrumental in generating both an intellectual and emotional buffer between people and the message of Islam so that people automatically, without even thinking about it, possess negative feelings towards Islam and Muslims, but never critically assess where those feelings originate"Why am I so angry and bitter towards Islam?" is a question which does not arise in their minds, it'
s just a given that these feelings exist so the question is not even considered."

By  S N Smith

Propaganda against the message of Islam and Muslims has been around from the very beginning and continues to this very day unabated. This fact, thanks now to the internet, is fully documented and is in-disputable (click also here and herefor it is in the public domain.  There is an un-going campaign to vilify the teachings of Islam and its followers and a willful distortion of the basic tenants of Islam to portray Islam as being evil, sinister and a very threat to humanity as a whole. Muslims are also portrayed as being a monolith possessing very narrow-minded thoughts and opinions. I call this campaign "noise," the same kind of noise the unbelievers made at the time of the Prophet  (PBUH) to dissuade people from listening to the Quran lest they hear its message and embrace it. Such a possibility would constitute a threat to vested interests and this had to be prevented from happening at all costs.  As long as the voices of Muslims and the message of Islam were silenced or distorted, then those who possess vested interests in the existing social order would be able to continue on with what they were doing and maintain their control over the public discourse. Sound familiar? 

As I write these words, an entire industry of Islamophobia is solidly in place, especially in the US, UK and several European countries, with many individuals -- mostly on the extreme right of the political spectrum -- devoting their entire lives, and thus establishing for themselves a career, based upon attacking Islam and Muslims. Many of these people actually refer to themselves as "anti-Islam activists," and included in their ranks are politicians, religious leaders, academics, wealthy capitalists, paid polemicists and many upstarts who post their material on youtube and on other social media platforms.  The time and energy such people put into their work is quite impressive and one wonders where they get this energy, as well as financial resources, as their output is quite prodigious. We witness them churning out one hate-filled and hysterical article after another on a daily basis, writing books and attending many speaking events all over the world, all for the purpose of attacking Islam and Muslims. Many of them have spent decades carrying out their work and show no signs of stopping.  Many of them are totally obsessed with their work. 

It goes without saying that such people prey on the ignorant for anyone who even has a cursory knowledge of Islam, history and world events can see right through their agenda. The material they use is very selective and their methods lack any signs of objectivity or sound scholarship. While it is the case that there are elements of truth in some what they assert, their bias and hatred towards Islam and Muslims is obvious from the very moment one comes into contact with their work. Their whole purpose in life is to insert poison into people's hearts and minds towards Islam, the direct result of which people would not even consider reading the Quran and checking out for themselves, in an un-biased and open-minded way, what the message of Islam actually is. In this respect, they have been quite successful. But not 100% successful, because everyday we see or read about new people coming into the fold of Islam despite the difficulties surrounding making such a life altering decision. 

These anti-Islam activists are instrumental in generating both an intellectual and emotional buffer between people and the message of Islam so that people automatically, without even thinking about it, possess negative feelings towards Islam and Muslims, but never critically assess where those feelings originate. "Why am I so angry and bitter towards Islam?" is a question which does not arise in their minds, it's just a given that these feelings exist so the question is not even considered. The hearts of these anti-Islam activists, as evidenced by how they speak and write, are filled with overwhelming amounts of bitterness and disdain for all things Muslim and Islamic and they take every opportunity to express their view, for they are on a mission which they feel very passionately about. 

Ironically, such people are quite vociferous in their insistence that Islamophobia is actually a myth and that Muslims are playing the victim card. In fact, one anti-Islam website, called "HistoryScoper IslamWatch,"  boasts being the number one blog for serious Islam-watchers, and reads: "Islamophobia? A phobia is an irrational fear. With Islam, it's irrational not to fear it and keep vigilant. The word is a reverse psychology con to make you stick your head in the sand." 

The owner of the website boasts that he has posted over 60,000 articles since April, 2010. The website, according to the site counter, has received closed to 90,000 visits since Feb 1, 2011, with about 65% of this visits coming from within the United States. Less than 2000 visits, or a little over 2% of the total, have come from Canadians during this time. 

Once again, one has to marvel at the time and energy the website owner, who purportedly works alone, puts into this effort. He claims to visit 500+ blogs on a daily basis where he gets his information. He also claims to maintain over 20 other blogs!  He writes that "Islam is a lie" and says the following: 
Oh yes. Is TLW leftist, rightist, or what? He's above all that, he's TLW. NB: TLW is 100% for the Jewish State of Israel. My knowledge of history tells me that Jews have a historical right to their own state with capital in Jerusalem, and that bucking them is suicide. There's only 13.7 million Jews, so why can't the 300 million Arabs make room for poor outnumbered surrounded Israel and leave it alone? Answer: ISLAM, which teaches Muslims to wage eternal jihad no matter how futile and bloody. The answer is for Muslims to chuck the Quran and Allah and forget Muhammad and clear out from the Nile to the Euphrates and let the Jewish State of Israel lead them back into the human race.
The media guide to reporting Islam and Muslims produced by the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria, Australia, identified seven characteristics of concern about the portrayal of Muslims, which is worth listing here as they apply in several western contexts: 
1. A constant association between Islam, Muslims and conflict/violence,particularly since September 11;
2. The frequent identification of race/religion when the story is about individuals of Islamic faith. In many instances such references are not relevant to the story and run counter to journalistic codes of conduct;
3. The stereotypical representation of women as veiled, even though a significant number of Muslim women do not use any form of veiling. Muslim women are typically portrayed as submissive, oppressed and abused. Similarly, Muslim men are regularly portrayed as bearded, although the majority are not. The representation of Muslim men in the media typically runs a narrow gamut from conservatism, misogyny and violence to militancy and terrorism. In general, Muslims appear to be portrayed exclusively through their religion as a one- dimensional identity (e.g. portrayed as kneeling in prayer, hijab issues, halal food), and are otherwise largely invisible in the media; 
4. Absence of Muslims in the media as speakers on issues of concern and their relative absence as experts, even on issues in which Muslims might be actively involved. Connected to this is the overuse of key organisations or public figures on all issues about Islam, even when those individuals/organisations do not necessarily have sufficient expertise on the issue in question;

5. The diversity of Muslim life is not adequately represented. This includes issues of sectarian and ethnic diversity, but also diversity in ideology and other forms of political affiliation;

6. Inaccurate reporting. There have been numerous instances in which communities have been frustrated by the misinformation or misrepresentation of issues associated with them. Some of these instances have been minor, but others have been quite significant.

7. Muslims and Islam appear in the media only to the extent that they are assumed to be of interest to a non-Muslim audience, whether as a threat, an object of concern or an object of exotic interest and curiosity. Further, Muslims in the media are typically required to act in their own defence, to respond to and often apologise for issues put on the agenda by mainstream media. Very rarely are they represented in their own terms as presenting issues and stories
that most concern them.
As I stated from the beginning, propaganda against the message of Islam and Muslims has been around from the very beginning. The Quran reveals in numerous places that all of the prophets, including the last prophet (PBUH), faced opposition and were falsely accused of many things. There were even attempts made on their lives with a view to silencing them. Most of this opposition, were are told in the Quran, originated from the leaders or elites of society. Today's leaders and elites find their voice via the mass media, in fact the mass media is controlled by such people. 

So, as Muslims, what are we to do? It is fortunate that there are many hard-working activists and scholars who are working to counter the efforts of these "noise-makers," and their work is very professional. But most Muslims do not have the time or ability to actively participate in this work, so it would be good for Muslims to support their ongoing efforts if they are in a position to do so. In fact, in these days when anti-Islam / anti- Muslim rhetoric is at an all time high, supporting such efforts is an absolute must, otherwise the voices of hatred and bigotry will win.  

Allah says in the Quran, "You will certainly hear much abuse from the followers of previous books and from the idol-worshiping people. And if you are patient and keep your duty -- this is surely a matter of great resolution." (3:185)

Allah also says, "Many of the followers of previous books wish that they could turn you back into disbelievers after you have believed, but you should pardon and forgive." (2:109)

Addressing the Holy Prophet, Allah says in the Quran: "Bear patiently what they say." (20:130 and 50:39) And, "Obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and disregard their hurtful talk." (33:48

Our purpose in life is most certainly not to impose our beliefs or way of life on anyone. Muslims merely desire to practice their faith in an environment free of harassment. But Muslims, at the same time, must not remain passive when they see their faith and way of life being attacked. They will feel compelled to answer back to those allegations and accusations which seek to distort the message of Islam and inflict harm on Muslims because they know the implications if these attacks are left unchallenged. Giving free reign to falsehood is simply not an option. 

As a beginning, I recommend the following sources to get a firm grasp of what is going on. 

First, readers can refer to Enver Masud's book "The War on Islam," now in its 5th edition, in which the author, in great precision, uncovers the disinformation, lies, cover-ups and double standards being propagated against Islam and Muslims. 

I also recommend Prof. Edward Said's "Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World." In this book, Said reveals the hidden agendas and distortions of fact that underlie even the most "objective" coverage of the Islamic world. 

Readers would also do well to consult Nathan Lean's 2012 book "The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims." As a teaser, the book cover reads:

Lean takes us inside the minds of the manufacturers of Islamophobia – a highly-organized enterprise of conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders, and politicians, united in their quest to exhume the ghosts of September 11th and convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy. Lean uncovers their scare tactics, reveals their motives, and exposes the ideologies that drive their propaganda machine. 
Situating Islamophobia within a long history of national and international phobias, The Islamophobia Industry unravels the narrative of fear that has long dominated discussions about Muslims and Islam.
Read an excerpt from Lean's book here.

I would be remiss if I did not mention here the Islamophobia Studies Journal , which is a project of the Research & Documentation Project at UC Berkeley. The the bi-annual peer reviewed journal focuses on emerging research and analysis about the nature of Islamophobia and its impact on culture, politics, media, and the lives and experiences of Muslim people. Read especially the article "The Wall Street Journal's Muslims: Representing Islam in American Print News Media," by Suad Joseph and Benjamin D'Harlingue.

Christopher Smith's article "Anti-Islamic Sentiment and Media Framing during the 9/11 Decade," published in the Journal of Religion and Society, is also worth reading. The article's abstract reads: 

Americans’ opinions of Islam were at their most favorable immediately after 9/11, when the sense of threat was highest, and grew less favorable even as the fear receded. This counterintuitive outcome apparently resulted from a bipartisan effort by government and media to avert discrimination by framing Islam in a positive way. A gradual increase in animosity thereafter was due to a shift away from this framing, especially by right-leaning talking heads. In 2006 the framing of right-leaning media shifted again, toward nativism. This analysis illustrates the influence of media framing and suggests opinion-makers should choose their frames with care.
Of course, the best source of uncovering lies and distortions about the Islamic faith is the Quran itself.  

And always, in all that they do, Muslims must remember the book of Allah which says, "And if you invite them to guidance, they hear not; and thou seest them looking towards thee, yet they see not. Hold fast to forgiveness and enjoin goodness and turn away from the ignorant." (7:198-199)

And I end with the supplication from the Quran, "Our Lord! Bestow on us endurance, make our foothold sure, and give us help against the disbelieving folk." -- (Quran 2:250) رَبَّنَا أَفْرِغْ عَلَيْنَا صَبْراً وَثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَنَا وَانصُرْنَا عَلَى القَوْمِ الكَافِرِينَ

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Book: God Favors Supply-Side Economics, Jesus Would Support the Tea-Party

By Gordon Haber

Religious people can’t seem to agree on poverty—they agree that it exists, of course, but they don’t know what the government should do about it. This debate was put on displayduring Wednesday’s House Budget Committee hearing with Rep. Paul Ryan and Sister Simone Campbell—both Catholic—addressing the issue from very different perspectives.

Ryan believes that cutting government programs will help the poor, while Campbell, the face of Nuns on the Bus, supports the Faithful Budget campaign, an interfaith coalition working “to protect social safety net programs that serve people living in poverty.”

So what does God want us to do? Redistribute our nation’s wealth? Or let private donations handle it? 

Thank goodness for Cincinnati pastor and Beliefnet blogger Chad Hovind who knows exactly how to help the poor—and even to end the Great Recession. Turns out we don’t need any fancy economists or earthly expertise of any kind. All the answers are in the Bible. Or so Hovind claims in his new book, Godonomics: How to Save Our Country—and Protect Your Wallet—Through Biblical Principles of Finance, published by Multnomah Books, “the evangelical division of Penguin Random House.”

And what are the biblical principles of finance? Although he doesn’t use the term, apparently Hovind (sorry, God) prefers supply-side economics. The idea is that production is the engine of economic growth; i.e. if you make stuff, people will buy it. And like most supply-siders, he (or He) argues for minimal taxes and a tiny government, and against the Federal Reserve’s ability to fiddle with the money supply. Also we should return to the gold standard. 

In other words, if Jesus walked the earth today, he would support the Tea Party.