The “Arab Spring”: Revolution or Awakening?

Last night (Day 4, 23 Shawwaal 1432 – Wednesday, 21 September 2011) I was a call-in guest on a show called Awakening.  The topic was “Islamic Awakening and the Arab Spring”.  It’s a program on a satellite channel called Sahar TV, a subsidiary of the IRIB network.  They sent me the questions a day earlier, and here are the responses I typed up in preparation for the show.  It’s just about what I ended up saying on the show.

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1 The World Bank and the G8 are already planning to sponsor the so-called Arab Spring. Less than a fortnight ago, G8 finance chiefs pledged $38-billion in financing to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan over 2011-13, widening a deal agreed in May and offering Libya the chance to partake too. Analysts are now concerned over a possible Euro-US containment of the regional movement through this type of “cheque book diplomacy”. What’s your take on that?

Worth the paper it's printed on?

What is money anyway?  A bunch of pieces of cotton paper?  A readout on a bankslip?   It’s a promise to pay and I can tell you about the G8’s ability to pay.  The UK has been bankrupt since a hundred years ago, and it’s owed money to the U.S. since WWII.  The US, in turn, owes money to China and Russia.  So how can these bankrupt countries lend money?  All their doing is tricking Muslim countries into promising to pay them money that isn’t even real, that they don’t even have to lend in the first place.

When they lend this money, they lend it at interest.  Allah says in Surah Baqara 279 that He and His Messenger are at war with people who devour usury.  This is because it enslaves the borrower to the debtor.  These Islamic populations have just freed themselves of West-serving leaders.  By indebting themselves to them, they would be re-enslaving themselves, and this is the goal of cheque-book diplomacy, to create a situation by which they can continue to dictate over us.

2 A large number of scholars have constantly been warning against the risk of the revolutions being hijacked or contained in one way or another. How concerned should we really be about that?

One common colonial trick is to make the village thief the village chief.  There will always be someone without scruples, with no goal beyond his own selfish interests.  Colonial powers usually find that person, support him with every means, such as money, glorification in the media and so forth until he rises from vagabond to ruler, from thief to chief.  Then, because the colonizers, not the people, are his true power base, he does their bidding to ensure their continued support.

This is how I see things being hijacked.  In the end, a politician only cares about one thing.  He doesn’t have a religion.  He doesn’t believe in any idea or purpose.  His only goal is to get and keep power, and he will do whatever it takes to do that.  They let the parade get going and then run out in front of it like they’ve been leading it the whole time.  Colonial powers are only waiting for that man, woman or group to show themselves and start the politicking.
3 I think it’s fair to say that the reaction of the West towards the wave of Islamic awakening in the countries affected has been quite selective. Let’s talk about the most recent case, i.e. Libya, where we saw military intervention. Do you think that NATO may follow the Libyan model of intervention elsewhere in the Arab World?

The West’s selection process is based on what they think serves them best.  They use language clevery to disguise their self-serving intent in the language of freedom, democracy, human rights, etc.  For example, there has been brutal repression by certain regimes, even invasions and occupations, but this is either completely ignored.  For example, the Bahraini royal family, which hosts the US 5th Fleet, is immune to criticism no matter what it does.  As for Qathafi, whose friendship with the West was less easy, but a friendship just the same, they wanted him out, and made sure he got out.  What’s the difference?  Why do they support Syrian protesters, and even go so far as to reveal their arrogance by mentioning that al-Asad is “expendable”?  Why don’t Bahrain protesters get any support?  The only consistent factor has nothing to do with rights or freedom or legitimate aspirations.  It has only to do with who they want, and who they don’t.  I would say that Western powers are willing and waiting to intervene in other countries.  They are going through no end of rhetorical gymnastics, political treachery and covert operations in the meantime to justify an attack on Iran, as we all know.  I would also say that Syria is another target.  They’d be more than happy to make it look like their helping the people like in Libya rather than a full invasion like Iraq, because it’s easier to justify and probably cheaper.  In these cases, the revolutionaries run the risk of being nothing more than volunteer soldiers in a Western invasion.

4 A serious problem in the countries affected by the wave of Islamic awakening is- as a matter of fact- the problem of a strong leadership leading the opposition in those countries. In fact, in several cases those working under previous dictatorial regimes are still ruling the country. Is there any solution to this problem?

Well, in the case of Libya, to my understanding, the transitional government has been planning and plotting for years while in exile in England, and there’s only one reason why that government would support them while they were doing that.  If I’m correct.  Otherwise, the greatest threat to these movements is the lack of leadership.  The Islamic revolution in Iran is unique because there was already an established figurehead, Ruhullah Khomenei, even though there were groups of many different stripes. He united them. 

Shocking the world...

Islam united them.  But look at the movements today, there is no one leader.  There is no spiritual leader uniting them.  The most basic elements of history’s greatest revolution are two:  negation of falsehood, and affirmation of truth.  With the words “laa ilaaha” we negate every falsehood, every impure motive, all the weaknesses in ourselves and communities.  The revolutions of today have thrown out corrupt rulers, but does this mean the people have achieved self-purification?  The leaders were corrupt, but we have to remember that a leader is of his people, he reflects their characteristics too.  The people need to revolt internalyl-, the inner, greater jihaad– against their own corruption.  And they can only achieve this, the life that is lived by truth with the second half of our testimony of faith:  illAllaah.  They must make the Qur-aan their constitutional document, and the shari’a– which literally means “path to salvation”- as their new legal framework.  For that a leader must arise with the knowledge and integrity to rule by Islaam, and the people must recognize and pledge allegiance to him.

'Ilm & Taqwa (Knowledge and Piety)

5 The question that everybody’s now asking is whether the unexpected, amazing and unique wave of Islamic awakening will shape, influence or rather change the future of the Arab world in particular and the whole world in general. Now has Islamic Awakening got the potential to dramatically change global equations, do you think?


Muslims got to open their eyes to the ground beneath their feet.  We have every imaginable resource from A to Z- untapped human potential, water, oil & natural gas, agriculture, precious metals and stones, varieties of landscapes, geo-strategic position.  Pakistan’s soldiers are arguably the best in the world.  Egypt and Syria alone could have defeated the Zionists in Palestine and completely checked other Western powers in the Middle East more than 30 years ago.  Look at how much Iran changed the equation from 1979 until now.  What if we all did the same?  Pakistan and Sudan alone could feed the world.  WE DO NOT NEED THE WEST.  WE DO NOT NEED SYSTEMS THAT DON’T EVEN WORK FOR THEM.  

ALLAAH HAS GIVEN US EVERYTHING.  When we realize it, and when the people who realize it insist on leading and refuse to be misled, we’re gonna unleash peace all over this planet.  But, there is only one condition.  Allaah Doesn’t

Change the condition of a people until they change the condition of their selves.

6 What’s the most important challenge that the Islamic Awakening in the Middle East and North Africa will have to face?

The Awakening part.  The people who we let lead us are obviously corrupt and naïve, but so are the people.  We have no idea how eager the Zionists are to control Libya’s vast water reserves.  That’s their whole M.O. in the Golan Heights, for example.  We’ve forgotten- though the Western polities haven’t- what happens when we think for ourselves, such as the 1973 Oil Embargo, the Iranian revolution.  We’re unaware of the lengths these fading, illegitimate powers will go through to make sure we do NOT regain autonomy.  Here’s an example:  they bombed the bomb the Islamic Courts

Refusing to be misled...

Union out of Somalia, even though they restored order, justice and peace to the extent that Mogadishu’s airport was running again, just because they were not indebted to and controlled by anyone.  They were of, by and for the Muslim Somali people.  They would rather tempt a country into civil war that leads to famine than allow Muslims to decide what to do with their uranium, their geographical position, and their coastal waters.  We need to wake up to this level of awareness, which will lead us to believe in Allaah’s Promises, rather than the unsubstantiated promises of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

EXTRA

1 How do you think the momentous events of last few months or the so-called Arab Spring will help shape the future of American relationship with its allies in the region?

The best possible outcome is that it is the foundation of a model- the Islamic society- which will provide the alternative to the Western lifestyle the world is starving for.  We did that before- our societies have inspired and uplifted the world- but that was long ago.  Instead of always quoting anecdotes from our great past to defend Islam, we need to present Islam in a real way as the hope for the future.

2 How successful and effective has the US policy been in the Middle East since the Arab Spring started?

It has been effective in some instances.  So far the regime in Egypt has only changed in name.  Whereas Mubarak was its face, now it has no face and is in that sense all the more deceptive.  In North Africa in general, with the exception of Libya, it has made sure the people think they get what they wanted by allowing the dictators to leave on a golden parachute, without any fundamental or meaningful changes.  There not less but more American military bases and operations in North Africa, for example.

On the other hand, they have lost their complete stranglehold on Muslim’s imaginations.  We know we can stand up to their strongmen.  We’ve reminded ourselves of a lesson we learned in 1979, that Allaah Supports the believers when they unite, wa Huwa l-Wahidu l-Qahhaar.  Politically, there are some instances of greater unity between Muslim governments, such as Palestine’s confidence in pushing for full recognition by the UN, greater ties between Egypt and Iran.  And it’s efforts to isolate the powers it doesn’t support have not been very successful, though the double treatment of Syria and Libya compared to Bahrain is a glaring exception.

Overall, revolution is not really a solution.  Heads of state have been changed, but that has been the only result so far.  We have yet to see if the lives of the people will improve, and right now they are actually worse in most cases.  It is an awakening and revival of our Islam that we need, not a revolution.  Revolution is only one vehicle towards this- not necessarily the best one- and we only get to the point of dealing with the external after we’ve dealt with the internal.  A Muslim has the duty and right to rule if he excels the people in knowledge and piety.  At the very least, he should not block the people from Islaam.  After that, it doesn’t matter about a vote, or what they think of him, or how the West evaluates him.  They should follow and advise him.  Lastly, we have the duty and right to rule ourselves by Islaam individually, and accomplishing that is the true Awakening, Revolution and Spring.

Duties and rights go hand in hand.

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Is Muslim violence a proof against Islam?

This is a comment to an article about the role of Zionism in the Norway massacre.

 

Name any nation that is not at war…  you can’t.  Nearly every country in this world is in some sort of conflict.  No matter what religion the majority of their citizens claim.  Read the news:  Buddhist Thailand vs. Buddhist Cambodia, over a temple.  Civil wars and rebels all over the Christian nations of Africa.  The secular and Christian nations of the West occupying, attacking or aiding conflict all over the world.  Zionist Jews in Palestine.  Hindus committing atrocities in Kashmir and against Muslims and Christians in India.  It’s everywhere.  EVERY religion has members that are fighting, that kill innocent people, that commit murder and rape, that embezzle, scandal, scam, scheme and plot, rob, plunder and steal, commit adultery, abandon children, can’t read or write, molest children, bribe their way out of justice, etc., etc., etc….  And secularists, atheists, agnostics, and humanists get in on it too, so don’t blame religion

 

As you can see, a religion’s texts are a proof for or against its members.  They are not a proof for or against it.  You measure a religion by its book, and you measure its members by its book, too.  They either live up to it or fall short of it.

 

Let us look at an example.  It is true that many Christians were at the forefront of abolishing slavery worldwide (many were also the leaders of enslavement).  Should we judge Christianity by that?  According to some places in the Old Testament and Romans 13.1, opposing the laws that allowed slavery were AGAINST what they consider to be the word of God.  In other words, they had to step OUTSIDE Christianity to free slaves.

 

Islam’s Qur-an and Hadeeth (Prophetic narration) literature support abolition and forbid enslavement outside of the context of war-captives when there is no exchange for prisoners.  So while many Muslims were involved in the slave trade, they were stepping OUTSIDE of Islam to keep slaves.

 

Judge them by the book.

 

The United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence, celebrated symbols of freedom, enslave Africans, dispossess Native Americans, deny the rights of non-landowning white males, and deny the rights of all women.  So freedom, justice and equality can only be achieved by stepping OUTSIDE of America’s founding principles.

 

This is why we Muslims argue from our book.  That, not the action of the next Muslim you walk past, is Islam for us.  We only know the Qur-an as Islam.  We don’t know what every Muslim in the world is doing and why, but we will argue as strongly against a (seemingly) good deed as we will against a bad one if it is inconsistent with our law and doctrine.

Oh my God!! They're eating ice cream...

The truth is that Muslims also do a lot of good things, for the sake of Allah, in the name of Islam, to get a reward in heaven, etc.  Find them and what they do.  See, do they outnumber the wrongdoers?  I leave that as an open question to any sincere seeker of accurate information, I won’t answer it for you.

 

Personally- and this is admittedly subjective- I’ve been around the world and read and heard viewpoints from many walks of life.  I was in NYC on 11 September 2001 and accepted Islam there 3 years later.  Islam is my free choice because after research and experimentation, I found it to be the best and most complete way of life.  I won’t lecture you that I’m right, but I assure you that I’m aware and sincere.  See for yourself:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/11/

 

So please, do justice to yourself and stop ignoring all the wrongdoing and conflicts involving non-Muslims, and all the good done by Muslims, to prop up an argument that is an offense to intelligence, reason, history and logic.   Islam is singular in its establishment of justice and right.  Why do some Muslims act to the contrary?

 

Ask them.

 

For more on the accusations of rape, sexism/masochism and slavery in Islam:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/category/stockholm-syndrome/

To see the deceptive and erroneous nature of Islamophobia and WikiIslam exposed:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/dealing-with-doubt/

To see whether Islam is incompatible with democracy:  https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/is-democracy-islamist/

To see if there is any difference between Arab culture and Islam:   https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/is-islam-arabian-part-i/

To read what Islam actually is:   https://qahiri.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/what-islam-is/

 

stockholm syndrome

 Excerpt of a letter from a friend:

“I have only read the Quran in English so the translation might be bad, but what i read says that a man can rape his wife and his slave girls who are unmarried and married. And since a husband can punish his wife for having sex with somebody else, this is really bad. Then there is also the fact that women is not found as mentally fit as a male when it comes to giving legal testimony. Not that the Bible is any better, I would say worse. The Quran doesn’t say beat your children and kill them if they are disrespectful, nor does it promote genocide and it promotes slavery more. And not that the west does a good job either. Its amazing in Canada, the % of political leaders that are slightly chubby, grey haired white men. And it was only recently that the age of consent for sex was raised from 13. And, raping your wife has only been a crime for about 20 or 30 years or so. However, still better than Saudi which has now had to ban maids from Indonesia the Philippines because they kept fighting back when being raped.”

Dear Friend,

Thank you for taking the time to write this.  I’m glad you trust me enough to be honest about thoughts that you probably assume I will not like.  It is useful and enjoyable to hear your impressions and views about Islam and the Qur-an, and I think I’ve learned a lot about what some people may think or feel.  I can see that you’ve taken pains to say what you know I won’t agree with in a way that does not insult me, and to show that this is a general criticism rather than a grudge against Islam.  I thank you for the respect and consideration you have shown, and most of all the honesty.

From what your message contains, either your translation of the Qur-an’s meanings was scandalously (and singly) inaccurate, or you have succumbed to that all-too-human phenomenon of memory fading with time, and being replaced with impressions of things we think we remember…

I have been blessed enough to have read the entire Qur-an in its original Arabic, along with the entire translation of its meanings.  Simply put, the Qur-an does NOT:

(a) say that a man can rape his wife,

(b) say that a man can rape slave-girls, married or unmarried,

(c) say that a husband can punish his wife for having sex with somebody else,

(d) say that women are not as mentally fit as males, or

(e) promote slavery.

It does touch on all of these subjects.  I am not a scholar, but I read and listen to the words of people who are known as scholars.  From that, my limited knowledge, I will do my best to address these and your other points.

stockholm syndrome 2: marital rape

(a)    Spouses’ sexual rights.

A man has the right, freedom and duty to have sex with his wife, and a wife has the right, freedom and duty to have sex with her husband.  This is clear, and considering what comes from other religions and their sects, as well as some Muslim sects, this is one of the beauties of Islam and the Qur-an.

The Qur-an, Chapter 23, Sign 1 may be translated as

“The believers have succeeded.” 

This sign is followed by a list of qualities of these believers, including Signs 5-7 which can be translated as

“who guard their private parts, except from their wives, or those whom their right hands possess, for with regard to them they are free from blame.  As for those who seek beyond that, they are transgressors”

So it is clear then, that a man is permitted to have intercourse with his lawful wife (“those whom their right hands possess” shall be discussed in point (b)).  To state it bluntly, a man can have sex with his wife.  But nothing in the original Arabic, or English attempt at translation implies force.  Not in this or any verse is force implied.  Being able to do something with someone, and being allowed to force that person to do that thing are entirely different and separate matters.  It does not seem to need an explanation.

Now, the ahadeeth, or narrations of Prophet Muhammad- May Allah Pray for him and Give him glad tidings of peace- contain a hadeeth, or single narration, on this subject.  Unfortunately I do not have the book that contains it in front of me, but I remember the wording as something like “If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses, the angels will curse her until the morning.”  Let us assume for the sake of argument that this narration is authentic.  It means that a wife who refuses to have sex with her husband will be cursed by the angels for some time, i.e. that such a thing is blameworthy or discouraged.  But does it say or imply that a man can force his wife to have sex if she does not want to?  No.

Another narration is remembered as stating that a woman should answer her husband’s call to bed even if she has just saddled herself on a horse.  Again, if this is authentic, it is an encouragement towards sex, or even a claim of a man’s right to it, but it does not imply the use of force.

The so-called “right” to rape simply has no textual basis, and therefore no place in Islam.

Whether or not marital sexual rights as I have outlined them are found to be objectionable by some or many, it is clear that rape has no place in them.

stockholm syndrome 3: slave-girls

Slave-girls’ sexual rights

Referring back to Qur-an 23.5-7, Muslim men are permitted to have sex with “those whom their right hands possess” which is a reference to captives of war after there is no exchange of prisoners between the two sides.  Well, again, there is no linguistic basis in the Arabic or any worthwhile translation behind the use of force.  There is no linguistic or logical way to deduct rape from this or any of the statements regarding war-captives in an Islamic state.  So if it is asked how a man would have sex with a war-captive without raping her, my answer, and mine alone, would be with consent, as the use of force is not sanctioned in the Qur-an or any authenticated Prophetic narration.

Whether or not war-captives’ sexual rights as I have outlined them are found to be objectionable by some or many, it is clear that rape has no place in them.

stockholm syndrome 4: punishing females for adultery

There is a punishment for adultery, but it is not a husband’s duty or right to carry out.  And the punishment for a man who commits adultery is equal to a woman’s.  In either case, a trial, with specific standards of evidence, must take place.

Qur-an 24.2 can be translated as

“Those who commit unlawful sex- whether male or female- flog them with a hundred lashes”

So the punishment for males and females is equal.  Since we all know that there is a double-standard when it comes to men’s and women’s sexual activity and its effects on their reputations, it should be a relief to know that Allah Commanded that

“those who accuse honorable women, but do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and do not admit their testimony ever after” (Qur-an 24.4)

This applies even to husbands, as Qur-an 24.6-9 illustrate. 

“As for those who accuse their wives, and have no witnesses except themselves:  the testimony of such a one is that he testify, swearing by Allah four times that he is truthful, and a fifth time, that the curse of Allah be on him if he is lying.  And the punishment shall be averted from the woman if she were to testify, swearing by Allah four times that the man was lying, and a fifth time that the wrath of Allah be upon her if the man be truthful.”

The calling of witnesses implies an audience.  As such, it is not the husband’s prerogative or “right” to punish his wife.  Rather, a public trial must take place that has witnesses and a chance for the accused to defend themselves.

Now, can a woman accuse her husband of adultery?  Qur-an 24.2 makes it clear that men are also liable, so obviously anybody can accuse anybody of fornication or adultery, but there have to be four witnesses, except when the accuser is a spouse.

stockholm syndrome 5: female intelligence

Women’s mental fitness as compared to males

I’m assuming that you were referring to the idea that the testimony of two women is equal to that of one male.  That idea most likely comes from Qur-an 2.282, the Qur-an’s longest verse, which deals with what we might call “contract law”.  It’s really too long to quote in its entirety, so I’ll tell you that it begins

“O you who have believed, whenever you contract a debt from one another for a known term, commit it two writing”

A translation might go on to eventually say

“and call upon two of your men as witnesses;  but if two men are not there, then let there be one man and two women as witnesses from among those acceptable to you so that if one of the two women should errs, the other might remind her.”

Obviously, without referring to all the rulings surrounding this and their evidences, when a woman is called to witness a contract involving debt, or to testify about it, she should have another woman with her, whereas this is not required for a man.  There is nothing in the language to imply “mental fitness”.  If one says the implication is that women are more likely to be err in testimonies about debts and contracts, that is also incorrect.  The wording in Arabic is strictly “if” as in “if she errs”, not “when she errs” or “because she will err”.  The text is not saying that a woman will err, it is only saying that if she does, another woman should be there to remind her.  Either way, there is neither a linguistic nor logical basis to infer that women are seen as less “mentally fit” (intelligent, capable, intellectually mature, reliable) than men.