Answers to Questions on Islam: Part II of VI

November 25, 2009 at 12:30 am (History, Islam)

Issue two:

The same goes for many issues with Muhammad and women. Critics attacked Muhammad for banditry, insulting pagan faiths and not being a convincing prophet, but never his relations to women. Marrying wifes of fallen enemies never drew objections, nor did having slave girls or polygamy. The only thing he did that Arabs found objectionable, atg least with regards to women, was marrying his son in law’s wife. The changes in women’s status in Arabia as a result of Muhammad seem overwhelmingly postive. Again, that’s not to justify the horrific oppression of women going on right now due to his example, but merely to discuss the issue of his environement.

Considering the issue from the perspective of the environment of paga Arabia, it may indeed seem that Islam – Muhammad’s new system – improved the lot of women. Indeed, Muslims will often say that women in Islam had a higher status in Islam than in Judaism, Christianity, pagan Arabia, or any other place.

There are a few issues, however, when considering the status of women in Islam.

1. We do not know, exactly, what the status of women was throughout pagan Arabia. Almost all descriptions of pagan Arabia we have are from Muslim sources, and thus negative. Back then, there was no obectivity in historical accounts, and so we can be sure that all Muslim accounts of pagan Arabia are biased and skewed. Was the status of women in the Hijaaz the same as elsewhere? We don’t know. It may possible that women in pagan Arabia had a status lower than in Islam; the opposite can also be true. We don’t.

2. If Islam did elevate the status of women, then it cannot be condemned. However, we do not live in the past. We live now. The irony may just be that while women in Islam had a status higher than in any other religious body, today they have a status lower than in any other religious body. Going back to a problem in the previous issue: there is no change. What was acceptable (and even laudable) in the past do not remain the same today.

3. Islam established certain laws and policies with regard to women. While Christians, Jews, Hindus, and many others have modernized and changed their laws and policies, the same cannot be said about Islam. While Islam’s dicta may have helped women in the past, today the very same dicta hinder women.

4. We can look at the status of women in Islam in that age, in that environment, and in those circumstances, but we cannot forget how those elements impact the world today. While Muhammad’s example and dicta were not reprehensible for his time, age, and environment, the lamentable fact is that they remain in force despite the world changing and evolving.

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Answers to Questions on Islam: Part I of VI

November 23, 2009 at 12:30 am (History, Islam)

Someone named Maxwell1313 asked me a few questions about Islam/Muhammad. For two weeks, I’m going to answer his questions.

Issue one

But the question arises, to what extent did the people of Arabia really object to Muhammad’s actions and to what extent were they merely the result of his environment? The ubituitous example is Aisha. From what I’ve read, it seems the evidence that anyone in Arabia, pagans, Jews or Christians, objected to his marraige with Aisha due to her age simply due to her age is not there. One could argue he used revelations to gain support and intimitaded would be objectors, but even his multitude of critics never found Aisha’s age objectionable. Hence, it seems that either Arabs, including Jews and Christians, had condoned sexual relations with little girls and that only modern post-Enlightment Christians have come to find it objectionable, or that ultimately it didn’t really happen and the hadiths that suggest this are false. Obviously, you both reject the latter, but that would create a problematic situation for Arabs, even Christian and Catholic ones, who would have to come to terms with the fact that their culture has condoned mistreatment of women for centuries and only post Enlightment values have changed this. And although their defense of Muhmmad as a role model for all times would still fall flat, Muslim can argue that early Jews and Christians clearly did not see Muhammad’s marriages objectioanble and objectioning to it today is cultural elitism. Now, I would say sex with a nine year old girl is grotesque regardless of the age but unfortunately it can be argued this results from unreasonable cultural standards.

The issue you are referring to is called “child marriage.” This was, indeed, permissible in Judaism. The Talmud has regulations on it. It is, furthermore, relatively recently that normative Judaism stopped practicing child marriages.

There is also a phenomenon called “presentism” wherein one applies standards and expectations and ways of thinking of the present to past eras. This is not always good because people in the past did not believe or think the way we do. Thus, in the past, child marriages were acceptable. If we find Muhammad’s marriage to Aishah bint Abi Bakr objectionable, we should realize that we are offended because our current standards finds such a thing objectionable, not necessarily because it was in and of itself objectionable.

The problem with Muhammad’s marriage to Aishah bin Abi Bakr is its impact today: because Muhammad did it, Muslims find it acceptable even today. Thus, while we cannot condemn Muhammad’s marriage (because that was acceptable even by Christians and Jews of that period), we can condemn the perpetuation of child marriage among Muslims in today’s world that rejects such a thing. If we wish to declare that what Muhammad did was intrinsically evil, we must likewise condemn similar practices by Christians, Jews, and other peoples through history.

UPDATE:
th3cow comments:

Your answer is somewhat misleading, but that is not surprising.

While in Judaism it was ok for young girl to be married off at a relatively young age, as was the custom in the ancient world, it is not ok now, and it is well grounded in Jewish religious jurisprudence. That is – the religious scholars and leaders (The Rabbis) have the authority to pass rulings that amend laws in order to adapt them to the present day social environment.

In Islam, however, this is not permissible. If Muhammad did it, then it was right then and it is right now and it will be right in the future.

Muslims find it acceptable even today not just because Muhammad did it, but because they are obliged to follow his example, as he is the perfect role model (al Insan al Kamil).

Islam needs to be reformed to remove this element, so that it can be adapted to changes.

Thank you. You are correct, and part of what you said was the point I was trying to make.

I am reading the Talmud Bavli and currently reading Maseches Avodas Zara, and am going through daf after daf on yayin nesech (wine contaminated by contact with idolators – Maseches Avodas Zara is about idolatry). But a vast majority of those rules are no longer followed. This is a significant issue – many Jews know the Talmud better than the Bible, and yet they are free to set aside Talmudic dicta.

This is why for the modern world it is not a problem that the Talmud permits child marriages. Jews today do not perform child marriages, despite Talmudic permission for it.

Of course, underlying this – which I should have discussed and which th3cow mentioned – is the role of injunctions. For Jews, they are halakha or law: this what you do, this is what you don’t do, and often wherefore. There is no person whose example pervades Talmud. There is no this is how Moses bathed, or this is how Abraham cleaned his nose, or this is how Isaac ate. On the other hand, as th3cow mentioned, Muhammad is seen as al-insaan al-kaamil or the perfection of humanity. Everything he did is not only good to follow but practically incumbent on those Muslims who claim to love God and to love Muhammad. Thus, if he performed a child marriage, so can the rest of the Muslim world, and no one can say it is reprehensible.

Also, as th3cow said: rabbinic authorities can, in effect, overrule Talmud. It’s interesting to read Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (a list of halakhos) and see notations that say, essentially: the Talmud says X, but halakha is the opposite. In other words, rabbis can modify Talmudic injunctions and can even overrule them. (This is why to study halakha, studying the Talmud is important, but it is most vital to study not only prominent historical compendia of halakhos (like Shulchan Arukh and Kitzur Shulchan Arukh) but also modern, prevailing responsa and compendia on halakha.) Such an idea is anathema in Islam. No one can overrule sunnah (the way Muhammad lived) or ahadeeth (what Muhammad said). They are eternal. This is why child marriages still are done, and cannot be overruled, and why slavery can still exist in Muslim lands.

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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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For your entertainment and annoyance

August 31, 2009 at 9:05 am (Amusement)

Enjoy!

Mwahahaha. See if that song escapes your mind today!

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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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Intro

August 24, 2009 at 12:30 am (Uncategorized)

Shiite Islam believes that the only legitimate state is the one established by the Imam or his deputies. Some, such as Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani, believe that Shiites must await the return of the Imam for the establishment of a legitimate state. Hence, he teaches that because most states are illegitimate, no cleric ought to be involved with politics. 

But others, like the late Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, believed that the Imam’s agents (the clerics) can establish a legitimate state as they await the Imam’s return.  Grand Ayatollah Khomeini created and implemented a system to ensure this. This system  ولايت فاقح (in Persian: “velayat-e fagheh”, in Urdu: “vilayat-e faqih”, in Arabic  ولاية الفاقة Or “wilayat al-faqih”). We will ne discussing this system over the next few days. 

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The plan

August 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm (Uncategorized)

So, here’s my plan: one week of posts, one week of videos, one week of posts. Not sure if it will be every day or thrice a week. We shall see.

The next topic I’d like to cover is the Irani government philosophy, Vilayet-e Faqih.

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Happy Fourth!

July 3, 2009 at 11:29 pm (The United States)

Happy Fourth of July!

May freedom ring throughout the world, and may liberty abound for America and every individual American!

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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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Message to Hollywood’s men

May 19, 2009 at 12:30 am (A+ Reads, Amusement, Leftist idiocy, The United States)

A good message to the so-called men of Hollywood: “Open Letter to the Hollywood Girly Man” by Franklin Pierce.

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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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And now for something different!

April 23, 2009 at 9:00 am (Amusement, Music)

Awesome a capella.

I must have listened to this, like, 10 times in a row.

H/T Michael the Crimefighter in “The Voca People” on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, over at Innocent Bystanders.

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