The Arab World: A New Mess

January 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm (Arabs, History, International community, Islamism, Middle East, Pakistan, The Rest, The United States, The West)

I wanted to respond to Sobek’s post on the recent troubles in North Africa and elsewhere. But I didn’t want to post such a long screed at Michael’s place and abuse his hospitality, so I’ll do it here.

Sobek hit on some very important things for us to keep in mind, things we should watch. >

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Death in South Asian Muslim culture II – burial

December 9, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islam, South Asia)

In Pakistan, once someone dies, relatives (who usually are around if the person was expected to die shortly, if not they converge quickly) take and body and bathe it. It is given the ritual washings of wuzu (ritual ablutions) and ghusl (bath). The body is often scented. It is then wrapped in shrouds – five for women, three for men. Pieces of cloth are used to bind the body around the elbows and feet. The nose and mouth are filled with cotton. The deceased wear no other clothing or vestments.

The people who perform this are usual close relatives of the same sex. Strangers or non-relatives may be used as needed. To be able to bathe the body of a dead person is considered an act of great merit.

Once wrapped in shrouds (often one can part of the top-most shroud to uncover the face), the body is moved to where mourners are. While awaiting for people to gather for the funeral prayers to be said, people recite the Qur’an and pious texts.

At the appropriate time, people gather for the funeral prayer (namaaz-e janaazah). It is considered to be of great merit to participate in a funeral prayer, whether for someone one knew or for a stranger. The funeral prayer contains a number of takbeeraat (“proclaiming ‘Allaahu akbar’ with certain gestures of the hands and arms”) along with short prayers for the dead person: that their sins be forgiven them, that they go to Heaven.

After the funeral prayer, the bier is lifted and carried. There are no pallbearers – everyone (all men, of course) are encouraged to do what in Urdu is called kandha dena (lit., “give the shoulder”) which means to carry or transport the bier. How it works is sort of complicated – people revolve in a clockwise pattern, then make room for others to take their place. I remember when my maternal grandfather died and his bier was taken in a bus, the bier was passed back and forth, back and forth the entire time. One often says the shahaadah whilst doing this or close to such an activity.

The bier is then carried to the grave. Depending on the locality, the body might be lifted from the bier, head facing Mecca, and laid in the grave. Each person there throws in three fistfuls of dirt, then the grave is filled. A simple stone is placed at the head, and certain portions of the Qur’an are recited. More supplications are made for the forgiveness of the deceased’s sins and that he/she will go into Heaven.

In the US, what I have noticed is that the bier is lowered into an open concrete box, and a slab is placed over it. Dirt is thrown over the box, then the grave filled. Sometimes people are buried in the concrete box in a simple coffin, sometimes not.

This usually happens within 24 hours. When my maternal grandmother passed away (she passed away in Pakistan), she was buried within 4 hours. When another person I knew passed away here, she was buried within 18 or so hours. (They were waiting for some of her sons to fly in, and wanted to have her namaaz-e janaazah after the afternoon prayers.)

All in all, it’s quite simple. No undertakers, no funeral homes, no elaborate presentations. Very simple.

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Death in South Asian Muslim culture I – death

December 8, 2009 at 9:39 am (Islam, South Asia)

I knew there was something I forgot to do last night.

In the past month, there have been two deaths of people close to me. One very close, one a little less close. The first was my maternal grandmother (she passed away December 4) and the other was someone who was like a grandmother to us (she passed away November 15).

This gave me an opportunity to observe and experience death and mourning up-close, which I will write about this week.

Many people who die of old age, or causes incident to age, often die surrounded by loved ones. If it’s a sudden death, then that may not be the case. Nevertheless, because social interaction is quite strong in the South Asian community, few old people are alone. My like-a-grandmother died surrounded by people (literally – people almost filled her hospital room as she lay dying). My grandmother was surrounded by people too – mainly my mother, my father, and other people in the house. When my grandmother had difficulty breathing, she was immediately surrounded by people and caretakers trying to solve the problem.

When a person is dying, relatives often come and read the Qur’an and other pious books for aisaal-e sawaab (transferring the merit of these pious actions to someone else, in this case the dying person). A dying person is not to be left alone. If I understand it correctly, there must be someone of the same sex present if possible (for post-death rites, which will be discussed tomorrow).

Once a person has died, various things happen. What exactly happens depends on the location a person died (things in Pakistan are a bit different from here). But, generally, the body is washed and wrapped in shrouds. People should accompany the body at all times, often reciting the Qur’an and other pious books or texts (for the same reason as before). Upon the announcement of death, relatives and friends converge to help and console the mourning family.

Traditionally, the stove is not turned on for three days (more on this on Friday), so people will often bring food. It’s considered a major act of merit to visit someone in mourning to comfort them; conversely, many people reach out to relatives for support and company. The social network is strong and translates into a lot of potential support and help if needed.

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Am Yisroel Chai!

October 1, 2009 at 12:30 am (Iran, Israel, The United States)

I feel bad for Israel. Whenever I talk to people about Iran’s becoming a nuclear power, one thing I hear is, “I hope Israel takes out their facilities.” It seems a little strange that the American people’s foreign policy is to ask Israel – alone in the midst of bloodthirsty sharks – to go ahead and take out the big, bad Iranis.

If we took out the Iranis, what would they do? They can’t attack America. They’d probably attack Israel. Which means no matter if America or Israel attacks Iran, Iran will strike at Israel. Poor Israel.

But one thing we have to admire: Israel’s unswerving focus on surviving. While we’re wringing our hands over executive compensations, Israel is debating its very future. We’re upset about cars, Israel is considering ways to strike nuclear facilities. (Which they are good at, needless to say.) And Israel is remarkably consistent on this point. Even the slightly-left-of-center Kadima was staunchly anti-Iran. The current hodge-podge of rightists, leftists, and centrists is likewise anti-Iran. Nothing seems to unite these disparate factions that the threat of nuclear holocaust.

Nuclear holocaust. One holocaust wasn’t good enough? Puts a different spin to things, doesn’t it? Does it change your mind on how we ought to approach the issue? if Iran does nuke Israel…how will you feel if you did nothing to stop yet another senseless holocaust against the Jews? It boggles the mind, it really does, how such a small minority of people brings out so much hatred.

But Israel will survive. I know it. And America will never leave Israel stranded. Our destiny is tied with Israel’s.

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Iran has teh Bomb!

September 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm (Iran, The United States, US Government)

So, Iran has teh Bomb, eh?

Not surprised. It was evident and obviously that powerful world powers will do everything to make sure Iran becomes a nuclear power. People are very much interested in tilting the balance of power from the West to the East.

But, think about this for a second. What mechanism are these Eastern powers using vis-a-vis the West’s techniques? When we want to prevail we use jeans, rock and roll, and salacious movies. We move markets. But the East? No, they’re still stuck in the barbarian ages where the man with the biggest stick is chief.

I don’t know if this will work. Sure, they will freak Israel out. Oh, boy, will Israel freak out. But America? We’re too busy worshiping Obama or worrying about getting our next fat-laden meal to think much about Iran. And those who think right are worried, but, really, what’s Iran going to do?

The world needs to pay attention to Japan. They threatened us. We nuked them. End of story. If Iran directly threatens us with any nuclear weapons, I guarantee we will strike back with such force Australia will vibrate from the shockwaves. Not because the president – whoever he may be – is a good ole American. Nope. It’s because if he doesn’t swing the big stick, and hard, and sever a head, he won’t be reelected.

It’s all about reelection, folks. If we know their weak spot, why not use it? 😉

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Why an Islamic state matters to Shiites

August 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm (Iran, Islam, Islamism, Religion)

Islam is as much a political force as it is religious. And this is common with mmost religious movements prior to this modern age. For most of humanity’s history, religions played and intrinsic rôle in the political life of a polity. However, while most other religious movements have accepted the separation of religion and poltics, Islam retains this belief that religion and state cannot be separated. Indeed, one fundamental purpose of Islam was to establish the way (شريعة shari’ah) to a just society through it’s religious laws (called, thus, the “shari’ah”). Thus, an Islamic state is a legitimate state.

Among Shiites there is a dispute whether a legitimate Islamic state can be established. Some say they must wait for the return of the Hidden Imam. Others say agents of the Imam may establish a provisionary state until he reappears. Others believe that a truly legitimate, authentic Islamic state may be established by the Imam’s agents before he reappears.

For many Shiites, the legitimate Islamic state died with Muhammad. His supposed successors prevented the rightful sucessor from taking his place at the head of the Islamic state and when his turn came, supporters of these usurpers attempted to overthrow him. They likewise killed the son of the rightful successor (by the way, who was evidently علي بن ابي طالب ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin). And since then they have been trying to kill the rightful bearers of authority.

But this has not always been the case. The Fatimids (Isma’ili Shiites) established a potent caliphate to rival the Sunni one. The Qizilbash claimed be led by the Imam, and established a Shiite empire (forcing all their non-Shiite subjects to convert), which reunited Persia and made it Shiite. But these were exceptions that proved the rule: Shiites cannot establish a legitimate Islamic state. Either they fail or their Sunni enemies defeat them (or their Sunni enemies defeat them by making them fail).

This should explain why the notion that cresting an Islamic state was not only possible and permissable but that there is a way and structure and organized manner to do so, was so shocking, novel, and captivating.

Despite centuries of doctrine otherwise, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini capitalized on the Shiites’ yearning for political deliverance and unveiled before them the way to their salvation: Velayat-e Faqih.

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Personal appeal: help the Green Revolution!

June 20, 2009 at 5:50 am (International community, Iran, Personal, The United States)

My friends, I now make a personal appeal to you. A history-making time has arrived, and your help is needed.

After three decades of virtual tyranny, the people of Iran have had enough and want to overthrow the regime and replace it with a new one. This isn’t a revolt of sore losers. The issue is no longer Moussavi not winning the presidency. It’s about the system. It’s about the old guard that has kept Iran suppressed and oppressed for so long. It’s about Khamene’i and Ahmadi-nezhad. More importantly, it’s about replacing the old guard with a new guard.

Granted, the system will still be theocratic. Granted, Rafsanjani (who is rumored will be the new Supreme Leader) isn’t all buddy-buddy with the West. Granted, Iran will not become fully democratic or transparent. But this is a crucial step in the right direction.

Moussavi promises sweeping changes, changes that will make Iran more democratic and transparent. He wants to curtail the authority and interference of the Supreme Leader. He wants to diminish if not eliminate the volunteer Basij (the feared extralegal enforcement forces). He wants to end political suppression. Moussavi wants a new Iran.

But more importantly, the people of Iran want a new Iran.

And they need our help. They don’t need our government’s help; they don’t want our government’s help. They need our help, the help of individuals.

So, what can you do?
1. Blog about the situation. Give them moral support. Encourage them. Embolden them to continue the Green Revolution until it meets its objectives.

2a. Put pressure on CNN, Fox News, Sky News, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter to do all that it can do to help the Green Revolution. They have already done a lot thanks to intense demand from individuals. If we keep up the pressure, there might be more they can do. The people of Iran need, absolutely need, these media to operate efficiently and reliably in order to orchestrate the Green Revolution. This is truly a revolution via new social media.

2b. Forget pressuring the government. It’s useless. Instead, focus on actions and venues that can make a real difference now. Twitter, Facebook, and Google have more clout and can do more than the US government at this point.

3. Put aside political differences. Focus away from Ubaama’, from the government’s shenanigans, from Democrats’ idiocy. Kossacks, HuffPosters, and even St. Andy of the Sacred Heart Ache have been doing a lot to help the Green Revolution. Let us set aside our differences to tip the balance in favor of the people of Iran. If you blog, blog more about the Green Revolution than anything else. If you’re a Twit (h/t S. Weasel), Tweet about the Green Revolution (use the hashtags #iranelection and #gr88). Mention it in your Facebook postings. Cooperate with all people who support the Green Revolution or who are helping it.

4. Wear green, and be open about why. Change your icons to green. It is such a wonderful sight to open up Twitter and see, as the phrase has been used a number of times in last few days, a Sea of Green. People from all over the world, people from all political thoughts, people from all ethnicities and cultures and religions, are green to support the Green Revolution. If you’re on Twitter, change your timezone and location to Iran. (This is not only to support the Irani revolutionaries but also to confuse Irani government censors who are trying to find Irani Twitterers and arrest them.)

5. Also extremely important is cyber-revolutionary activity. Can you set up a Tor relay? Do it. Can you set up a proxy server that Irani revolutionaries can use? Do it. (E-mail me at muslihoon (at) yahoo (dot) com for how to contact certain people who are central information sources for proxies that Irani revolutionaries can use. Do not publicly post available proxies, as the fascist government is monitoring such announcements to track down revolutionaries and arrest them..) Do you have any other ideas that can help the Irani revolutionaries or hinder the fascist government’s efforts? Share them. (Tip: no DDoS as that affects the Irani revolutionaries as well.)

Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” This may be the unhappy case with Iran today. But change is needed. And we should do our part.

Every little thing you can do will help the people of Iran. They know the world is watching them. They need to hear our constant voices of support.

This is not only in the national security interests of The United States — the new regime, who is cognizant of all that the American people, along with people around the world, have done to help them succeed, will be less likely to want to blow all of us to Kingdom Come — but is essential as Americans who support democracy and freedom. The people of Iran are yearning to be free. They need our help. Let us, without any hesitation, extend our hand and help them in any way we can.

You can help make the world a better place. You can help be part of a grand effort to make an entire people more free. You can help put the axe to the root of tyranny in Iran. The question is: will you? If you will, let this be your burning passion until the Green Revolution succeeds. We’ve harped on about regime change in Iran for a very long time now. That time has come. Let us not miss this opportunity.

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IRAN!

June 16, 2009 at 10:06 pm (Iran, Personal)

There is a lot going on in Iran.

I am very exhausted, though. I’ve been following the revolution on Twitter for almost two days now. It gets tiring. Haven’t been getting enough sleep. I woke up after a six-hour sleep to more than a thousand text messages on my phone.

Lots of rumors. Let’s see what happens. In any case, it’s a historic event.

More over the next few days. I can’t blog from work, and my time at home is often spend doing homework or other stuff. Hope to find the strength to blog. Although, I also do not want to offend people I admire a lot, which I might because I have quite different views.

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US soldier working as imam on Iraqi base kills five US soldiers

May 12, 2009 at 12:45 am (Iraq, Islamism, Military, News, Uncategorized, World War III)

Dig Dug, a commenter at The Hostages, told us about this story from the BBC:

US soldier kills comrades in Iraq

A US soldier has shot dead five of his colleagues at a base in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Pentagon says.

Two other people were hurt in the shootings and the gunman is in custody, Pentagon officials have said.

An earlier military statement said the incident had happened at Camp Liberty near Baghdad’s international airport at about 1400 (1100 GMT).

The White House said US President Barack Obama was shocked by news of the “terrible tragedy”.

The president planned to discuss it with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said spokesman Robert Gibbs.

“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all” Colonel John Robinson US army spokesman

The shooting reportedly occurred at a clinic where troops receive help for personal issues or combat stress.

It is not the first time a US soldier has opened fire on comrades in recent years.

One soldier was sentenced to death in 2005 after killing two officers and wounding 14 other personnel with grenades and a rifle at a camp in Kuwait.

‘Terrible tragedy’

The BBC’s Natalia Antelava, in Baghdad, says troops at Camp Liberty had been enjoying a much more relaxed atmosphere in recent months.

She says there have been few attacks on the base recently, so the timing of the shooting will make it particularly shocking to the soldiers there.

It is the deadliest single incident involving US forces since 10 April, when five soldiers were killed by a truck bomb in the northern city of Mosul.

“Any time we lose one of our own, it affects us all,” said military spokesman Colonel John Robinson.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this terrible tragedy.”

Earlier this month, a man in an Iraqi army uniform shot dead two US soldiers and injured three others at a base near Mosul.

Iraqi military reports said he was a soldier also working as an imam at a mosque on the base.

US forces are due to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010.

A tragedy.

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Pakistan’s military: an issue of ability and willingness

May 12, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Military, Pakistan)

A major question people have with regard to all this business of the Taliban and the military is whether the Pakistani military is physically capable of taking on the Taliban. There are people who doubt the Pakistani military can. Many operations in the past have been Pyrrhic – the military faced massive casualties. Incompetence is exacerbated by the geopolitical aspects of this issue: not only is the military fighting the Taliban but also the Pashtuns who support and harbor the Taliban. As such, people doubt whether the Pakistani military has the capability or wherewithal to fight the Taliban. The fact that they’re always asking for more money and materiel also makes one question whether they have what they need. (But if they keep asking for stuff, will they ever have what they need?)

Another issue that plays a crucial role is that of willingness. Assuming that the military has the ability to take on the Taliban, does it have the desire to do so? I say that answer is, “No,” for two reasons:
1. The Pakistani military is not unitary. That is, it is not united. It is divided into factions. One faction is more Islamist than the prevailing authorities. The military, whether itself or through intermediaries or through the ISI, provides support for militants. Some do it out of personal allegiance (a sort of solidarity with defenders of Islam) and others do it for geopolitical purposes (to keep Pakistan relevant, to keep India on its toes, to extend Pakistan’s influence in the northwest region). Other soldiers are not wholehearted in the military’s operations because they don’t want to have to open fire on fellow Pakistanis, as they see it. They don’t like this Pakistani-on-Pakistani violence. So, even if the military were capable of taking out the Taliban, there’s no guarantee that the soldiers sent to do the work would do their job.

2. In order to effectively take on the Taliban and eradicate them, the military would have the take drastic measures that could instigate a veritable civil war. Various military groups, outfits, and militias would have to be eradicated. (The legal system won’t work: they would have to be physically disarmed or sent to their 72 virgins.) This also means taking on the vast number of people, civilians, who will undoubtedly rise up against the military in defense of these militant outfits. The popular reaction to the very needed and justified Red Mosque operation shows that the public can and will turn against the military when it carries out needed operations against militants. The military would rather slay a head of the hydra, allow others to grow, than the slay the monster itself. for one thing, it prevents the great turmoil going after the monster would elicit, and the more heads means more targets, which means a more precarious situation, which means the ability to milk Pakistan’s allies for more money and materiel.

If militancy were eradicated in Pakistan, the West’s interest in Pakistan would wane. I do not think it is a coincidence that Congress unconditionally approved a massive amount of money for Pakistan (namely, Pakistan’s military) while the military and its PR apparatus have been engaging in various operations against militants, as if to say, “Look! We have this great threat to deal with! It is a difficult fight! Send help, please!” Where was the military a few months ago? Why now, all of a sudden?

It seems our only ally was the military. But it is undependable. It cannot be our ally. Or, rather, we should not depend entirely on Pakistan’s military to ensure the Taliban threat is dealt with adequately.

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An Issue of Great Importance for Muslims.

May 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm (Islam, Islamism, Pakistan)

We interrupt the regular programming to bring you something…unique.

Watch the following video that is in Urdu (the language of Pakistan):

Especially at 5:50.

What’s he getting so worked up about? Is it the injustices by extremists or by infidel Crusading Zionists? Is it some sorrowful tale of martyrs? Is it eulogizing some renowned leader?

No.

He’s lamenting about and exhorting against Muslim men who remove their beard.

Yes. He worked up about beards.

“Don’t shave your beards and look like Jews!” he says.

12 videos, all on the subjects of beards.

(No, I don’t know why he’s waving that flag.)

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A Major Factor in Pakistan’s Behavior vis-a-vis the Militants

April 28, 2009 at 12:30 am (International community, Islamism, Military, Pakistan)

There is one aspect to the whole Pakistan-Afghanistan-Taliban issue that some seem to not see, yet it is a critical aspect.

It answers the important question: why doesn’t Pakistan do more to defeat militancy in Pakistan and originating from Pakistan? The West is worried about the proliferation of militancy in Pakistan, turning Pakistan into a haven and training-ground for terrorists, not to mention a conduit for personnel, materiel, money, and so on. Afghanistan is annoyed that Pakistan isn’t doing more to staunch the Taliban flourishing in the area bordering Afghanistan, from where they launch attacks into Afghanistan, and where Afghani Taliban retreat to recuperate, regroup, or restock. And Pakistanis and Indians are wondering why the Pakistani military and government are not doing more to secure stability and security in Pakistan.

The reason is, actually, quite simple. Money.

If NATO found Usama bin Ladin (y’makh sh’mo), many people will believe there is no more reason to fund Pakistani’s military and its efforts to get rid of the Taliban. Bin Ladin’s dead, game over. And the Pakistani military loses one of its major sources of funding, not to mention relevance.

Similarly, if the Pakistani military were to wipe out the Taliban, why would America (and other Western allies) give huge sums of money to Pakistan (unconditional at times even)? If thr Taliban were swept away, the influx of money would stop. And this isn’t just money going into the public coffers, which the politicians would be worried about. It’s even more dire: it’s money going into the military’s coffers. An unhappy military does not mean good news for Pakistan’s civilians or government.

And so the Taliban will remain. The Pakistani military and government will conduct operations every now and then so as to assuage its Western allies that it is making some use of the funds given to Pakistan for that purpose. But they will not eliminate the Taliban. Indeed, the stronger the Taliban get, the more Pakistan can beg from other states. They can say that because the Taliban is so strong, they need more money and sooner in order to prevent the Taliban from conquering all of Pakistan. Obviously, they would say, they don’t want that to happen, for then they would have nuclear weapons.

May sound somewhat cynical, but it makes sense. Without this money, how would the Pakistani military feed its soldiers?

More factors will be discussed in the upcoming days.

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Good news; bad news

April 27, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Pakistan)

They say Pakistani politics is like a soap opera and a roller coaster. You don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s non-stop drama, and it goes up and down and around and around.

In response to the great opposition from the populace regarding Shariah Nizam-i-Adl Regulation 2009, the government and military have indicated their hesitations. Essentially, they’re saying that they will review the Regulation if it doesn’t solve the problem. On the other hand, there are reports that government officials are negotiating with Taliban militants in other parts of the NWFP to strike a similar deal. (But then, “government officials” negotiated the Regulation, whilst the rest of the government officials were caught in a quandary: support the militant-coddling government officers or not?)

The good news is that this means the government may not have made up its mind finally. The bad news is that because it has not made up its mind, it can choose one, then the other, then the first, etc.

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Why Don’t They Care?

April 25, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Pakistan)

On Sunday, April 19, 2009, my mother, father, and I had a passionate discussion on Pakistan, specifically the signing of the Shariah Nizam-i-Adl Resolution 2009 by President Asif Ali Zardari, before I left for church. My mother said, “When a simple housewife who all she does is cook aloo gosht and do laundry, even she knows that this is a stupid idea, then how could it have been signed?” We tried to explain all the political reasons, but I admit it’s a major case of myopia by Pakistani politicians, if not desperation.

She then asked, “Okay, forget the politicians and army. How come the people aren’t doing anything?”

My father said, “I asked this very question to Mr. XYZ in Karachi. He said it was more than 100 degress at 8 pm. The light was out and had been for a few days. When people have no electricity, no water, and in high temperatures, then, bhaai saahib, these are issues only you discuss, comfortable in America.” In other words, the people have many other things to worry about, more immediate worries.

Problem is that distracted as such, they might be caught unawares when shariah law sweeps through Karachi, or when they look on with amazement as militant, Islamist entities start taking over the Pakistani state. Perhaps this is why they are distracted. But they are distracted. And those who aren’t can’t do anything. Newspaper editorials simply offer more paper with which to wrap roasted peanuts. What will they accomplish?

On Monday, I will reveal what many people say is the real reason for all of Pakistan’s suffering.

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On Shariah Law

April 24, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Pakistan)

Shariah – ( شريعة ), sharee’ah, literally, “way” or “path” – is the law of Islam. While some people call it the religious law, it’s not confined to religious matters, or rather all matters are religious. It codifies issues such as inheritance, civil punishments, crimes, prayer, purification, and all the other observances and performances and laws and regulations. In Sunni Islam, there are four versions of shariah corresponding to the four schools of jurisprudence: Maliki ( مالكي ), Hanbali ( حنبلي ), Hanafi ( حنفي ), and Shafi’i ( شافعي ).

From the advent of Islam through the Ottoman Empire, shariah law, or versions thereof, ruled Muslim lands. With the modernization of Muslim lands, shariah law was replaced with civil law, or shariah law was tempered with civil law. This was the case with Pakistan.

The Pakistani constitution mentions the Qur’an and sunnah (example of Muhammad and prominent early Muslims, and usually refers also to the ahadeeth or sayings of Muhammad and prominent early Muslims) but does not mention shariah, thus trying to establish a system that derives inspiration from the Qur’an and sunnah but that isn’t shariah law.

But Islamists want to reverse this: they want to oust civil law for shariah law. They want a return to the “gold old days” when Muslims behaved like Muslims, and Muslim states supported Islam. Problem is that even before the Europeans left their mark, Muslim states had not been enforcing shariah law as strictly as today’s Islamists want to do so. Indeed, the norm was not to enforce shariah law, which is why Muhiyuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir stood out among the Mughal emperors: he tried to enforce it. Others stood out for other reasons: Aurangzeb Alamgir stood out because his Islamism. If it were the norm, why would he stand out? Of course, the Islamists know this: which is why they laud Aurangzeb Alamgir but excoriate his great-grandfather Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. (Aurangzeb Alamgir was the son of Shah Jehan, who was the son of Jehangir, who was the son of Akbar the Great.)

It seems the Islamists are winning. Problem is that like socialism, their nizam (plan, system) has never worked. All this will do is extend suffering.

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No compulsion?

April 22, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Pakistan)

The Qur’an says in in verse 256 of Sooratu-l-Baqarah (soorah 2): ( لا إكراه في الدّين ), laa ikraaha fi-d-deen, which means, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

Why? The Qur’an explains further in the same verse: ( قد تّبيّن الرّشد من الغيّ ), qad ttabayyana-r-rushdu mina-l-ghayy, which is translated as: “Truth stands out clear from error.”

Thus, because the truth is clear, there is no need to force people in matters religious: they all know better, and unto each his/her own to work out his/her own salvation, as it were.

So…whence shariah law and its enforcement of draconian penalties on transgressors?

Well, the fact the the common interpretation of 2:256 is not entirely correct. There is no compulsion in forcing people into the religion – for if they reject it, they do so knowing clearly well that they are wrong – but once a Muslim, the needs and obligations of the Muslim community takes precedence. Thus, any endangerment thereof is severely punished, as is any non-compliance. So, Muhammad should have said, “There is no compulsion in converting others to the religion, but once you’re a Muslim all bets are off.”

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Sufi Muhammad tells us what it means to love Islam

April 21, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Pakistan)

In “MPs who opposed Nizam-e-Adl are no longer Muslims: Sufi” on Saturday, April 18, 2009, by Ghulam Farooq of the Daily Times, it is written:

MINGORA: The parliamentarians who opposed the promulgation of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation in the National Assembly are no longer Muslims, Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Sufi Muhammad said on Friday.

The TNSM is the Taliban-led coalition that took over Malakand (often referred to as Swat) that seeks to implement shariah law throughout Pakistan. They started with an area that had slowly been turning friendly to the Taliban, which they then conquered. They stipulated that in order for them to lay down their arms, they must be allowed to implement shariah law.

This is an incident of takfeer (proclaiming another person a kaafir or non-Muslim). Technically, this is not permitted because it is forbidden to call a Muslim a non-Muslim, so most jurists say it is better not to take changes and do takfeer mistakenly.

Talking to Daily Times at Maidan Kambar in district Dir, he said Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain had nothing to do with Islam.

Altaf Hussain and the MQM were the only political entities that opposed to recommendation of the Shariah Nizam-i-Adl Regulation 2009. Thus, according to Sufi Muhammad, he is no longer a Muslim. Also, this means that having a spine is un-Islamic, unless the spine is used to whip people into subservience to the most draconian forms of Islam. Or, rather, to be a Muslim = terrorists have a spine (not to mention quite a lot of chutzpah!), and to be a kaafir = having a spine against the terrorists.

Sufi said Taliban had promised to lay down their weapons after the implementation of sharia in Malakand division. He appealed to the people to attend the April 19 public meeting at Mingora’s Grassy Ground to show the rest of the country how much the people of Malakand division loved Islam.

Love Islam = terrorism to intimidate the government, kill soldiers, kill police officers, whip women, et cetera

The TNSM chief said the people would also be briefed on the Nizam-e-Adl in the meeting. He urged the government to appoint qazis across the division. He said the Awami National Party had proved its love for Islam. He also praised parliament for the approval of the draft Nizam-e-Adl Regulation 2009.

“Proved its love for Islam” = become traitors to the laws and political system of the country they reside in and supposedly serve. Also, = supporting and loving terrorists.

He vowed to continue his struggle for the restoration of peace and said he would soon visit the division.

Of course, he couldn’t just ask his cohorts to lay down their weapons. No. It’s all the government’s fault.

Idiots.

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Pakistan Is Officially Insane

April 20, 2009 at 12:30 am (Islamism, Pakistan)

I’m not a swearing man, but with many people who have been following Pakistan, all I can say is: “WTF???!!!”

The Pakistani Parliament approved a recommendation to the president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to approve what is known as the Shariah Nizam-i-Adl Regulation 2009, which allows the Taliban government of Malakand, an area of the North-West Frontein Province (which is by the border of Afghanistan), to impose Shariah law. Pakistan’s civil law and civil courts will have no import: the Taliban may impose Shariah law.

One of the first things the Taliban government did? Ban education for women.

So, what lesson did we learn? That is militants harrass the police and military and people enough, the government will cave like a house of cards. The only politician with a spine has been Altaf Hussain of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), whom I usually dislike.

Pakistan is…I dunno. I’m dumbfounded by this act. More commentary in the following days.

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Short note on the Israel-Gaza War

January 5, 2009 at 11:27 am (Israel, Middle East, Palestinian Territories)

A lot of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims have been saying that the Palestinians are attacking Israel because Israel stole their land. Once Israel returns the land, the attacking will stop. This warmongering doesn’t solve anything, they say. In fact, they say it exacerbates the problem.

But this land-for-peace proposal – how well does it work? Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip and in return, what happened? Gazans began shelling Israel incessantly.

There is no evidence whatsoever that withdrawal brings any peace. One may argue that withdrawal simply encourages the Palestinians to attack Israel unprovokedly with impunity. This is what recent events have demonstrated.

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New Year’s Eve celebrations cancelled in Dubai

December 31, 2008 at 9:50 am (Middle East)

The ruler of Dubai has ordered that New Year celebrations in Dubai be cancelled, in order to usher in the new year with somberness in solidarity with the Gazans.

I suppose the fact that the Gazans’ suffering is their own fault is besides the point. (Hint: Shooting rockets into Israel for well over a year, hitting Israeli cities and forcing their citizens to live in worry and terror – not a good idea. Israel just might hit back.)

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