Of course it is disappointing that the first thing a person asks me on learning of the path I have walked for the past quarter of a century is my view on terrorism. Of course it is upsetting that a path that brings such peace to so many is forever associated in the minds of others with such unspeakable barbarity. Naturally, it hurts that even sensible people believe such evil to be representative of our normative tradition. But of course I understand: they have two decades of pervasive propaganda to unravel. It is all they have heard for twenty years.Continue reading “Look beyond”
Build bridges. Don’t put up walls. So much conflict could be avoided if we only learnt to communicate with one another.Continue reading “Build bridges”
To be generous to both ourselves and others, we can concede that there are many reasons a person may treat us the way they do. It may not just be that I’m an idiot and they’re mean. So many other things could be going on.Continue reading “More generous”
If you’re a pacifist, feel free to bash me for holding that fighting is sometimes an unfortunate necessity in order to repel greater harm. To be anti-war is a good moral stance, in my book. I’ll grant you free rein to argue your case in full.Continue reading “My position”
I wish social commentators would stop invoking the spectre of WW3. Society has had enough stress the past two years without them raising the prospect of an epic war leaving millions dead.Continue reading “WW3”
Those who wield power expect us to have very short attention spans. We are meant to suffer a collective amnesia which renders us blind to anything that happened just months ago. Thus our storytellers spin us new yarns, creating new narratives which counter every account of the world that went before.Continue reading “War is bad”
In 1995, I went on an Easter tour of northern France with a community orchestra. Midweek, on Wednesday 19 April, just after we had visited the killing fields of World War One, one of our tour leads suddenly announced to our entire coach that Muslims had blown up a huge building in Oklahoma City, USA, killing over one hundred and fifty people.Continue reading “Collective outrage”
There’s some nonsense being circulated as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.Continue reading “Blonde, blue-eyed”
Don’t let yourself get wound up by the vitriol you discover on social media. If you believe all you find there, you may quickly conclude that the Hindu population of the UK is composed in its entirety of rabid, anti-Muslim, Modi-supporting extremists. But I say pause for thought.Continue reading “Divide and conquer”
The destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York twenty years ago was a crime against humanity. An act of unimaginable and unforgivable barbarity. The events of that day will forever remain etched in the psyche of a generation.Continue reading “Crimes against humanity”
How grand. In our local interactions with our immediate neighbours, we are called upon to anathematise the sectarian other of Deoband, due to their alleged beliefs and mildly different positions on the minutae of Hanafi fiqh. But on the international geopolitical scene, the local mosque is right behind the militant Deobandis of the east.
Nothing new here, I suppose. In the battle between the West and the rest, we are one. Yes, and in the UK vs Europe we are one. And in England vs Scotland we are one. And in North vs South we are one. And in Yorkshire vs Lancashire we are one. And in Hull vs Leeds we are one. And in West Hull vs East Hull we are one. And in Bransholme vs Sutton we are one. And in Warne Road vs Honiton Road we are one. Yes, but the Pickerings hate the bloody Jibsons through and through.
After complaining about and vilifying for years Afghan families making perilous journeys from the east, all across Europe and the English channel, British news anchors now say in all seriousness: “Why do all these people suddenly want to leave Afghanistan? We didn’t see an exodus like this before!”Continue reading “Lie in it”
You can oppose war and military occupation without being a supporter of the bogeymen of the enemy.
The occupying forces wiped out most of the old guard with BLU-82 Daisy Cutter bombs, air strikes and armed combat years ago, though their founding father reportedly died of tuberculosis.
In the two decades since their invasion, the occupying forces have made plenty of alliances with unsavoury people with unpalatable beliefs and behaviour.
Indeed, we have rolled out the red carpet for friendly tyrants throughout this period, welcoming them into the great houses of the state, to be showered in vulgar adulation, in pursuit of trade deals and long-term strategic objectives.
The hypocrisy of this perilous moment in time is obscene. Our jingoistic patriotism will not allow us to admit: we have been morally bankrupt for years.
Are we really defenders of human rights?
Are we — now hysterical — the true ethical opponents of the bedraggled turbaned ones?Continue reading “Human rights”
The transition of global technology from dependence on oil to a dependence on lithium means the world needs Afghanistan more than ever. China, Russia, Turkey and all of Europe need a share of the $1trillion mineral deposits buried beneath its soils. China will soon dominate the extraction of gold and copper there. Two decades of war only hindered efforts to exploit those massive mineral resources. It’s time to try something new.Continue reading “The electric vehicle revolution”
How dare the Belarus government hijack a Ryanair flight to kidnap opposition journalist Roman Protasevich. The West condemns this piracy in the strongest possible terms. This is an outrage! This is behaviour unacceptable in the civilised West. This is just not how Western countries behave.
Such is the amnesia which afflicts us. Nobody now recalls the thousands of men kidnapped by the CIA from the streets of Western cities, who were flown on to detention centres in Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Syria to face degrading and inhuman interrogation techniques at the hands of intelligence agents from multiple Western countries.
Nor does anyone remember that the United States forced the Bolivian President’s plane to land in Vienna in 2013, because they believed he was transiting asylum-seeking Edward Snowden to Russia. He wasn’t.
Thank goodness for the asphyxia which perpetually numbs our intellects, or else we might be forced to confront our own hypocrisy. Thank goodness for our comatose bewilderment which leaves us unable to comprehend anything that happens in the world.
Thank goodness we civilised folk are so much more enlightened than those dreadful, kidnapping pirates over there. Ah, to be Western and pure.
The corrupt politician does not need shock and awe to take out the rocketeers. They have musta’ribin embedded everywhere, who, if they willed, could pick off their opponents one by one. Shock and awe is for a domestic audience, to blast to pieces any hope of the Yesh Atid party forming a national unity government to replace him.
Shock and awe is an appeal to the far-right across the nation to believe in Likud, to give it a mandate to return to power, undiluted by coalitions and compromise. Shock and awe is for victory in the battle within, for the hearts and minds of a bitterly divided electorate, disillusioned by the direction of their nation.
Shock and awe is an act of desperation, of man and his ego, raining destruction down on innocents to no other end than that he be returned to power by the cruel and merciless who believe only in the narcissistic megalomania of the self.
Shock and awe cares nothing for women and children, for livelihoods and dignity, for international law or divine right. Shock and awe is for men who have lost their souls and humanity, who do not believe they will be raised alive on an overwhelming day to account for their deeds: that day of eternal shock and awe.
What is the strategy of the rocket men?
To reveal before all the world the merciless barbarity of their opponents, as they render tens of thousands homeless, hundreds dead and thousands more injured, as they brutally rain down fire on residential homes and businesses in one of the most densely populated areas on earth?
Well, they have certainly achieved that, but at what cost? The obliteration of little children all dressed up for Eid? The cruel murder of bakers and barbers in cars blown to pieces? An impoverished people further vanquished?Continue reading “Inner murmurs”
Young man! Do you even know who your handlers are? These unknown others who incite you online, from behind alias account on obscure platforms, chattering away to encourage the ignorant to act on their ignorance?
For sure, they are not proponents of your religion, for what they call to is not of your tradition at all. It is something alien, ugly, repulsive, newly-invented. These unknowns you take as guides only guide you to a devilish way. What they call you to is hirabah at best — a way of life harshly punished harshly without mercy by your tradition.
I don’t know who your handlers are. For all I know, they could be more trolls from Olgino, or Upavon. They could be the editors of Dabiq or Endchan. They could be more misguided men like you, sincere in their belief that all grey zones must be eliminated if the promised one is to come, to liberate true believers from the yoke of oppression. Who knows?
For sure it is a dead-end avenue: the end of the road. What you have been called to and what you now call to too is not of the Way you claim as your own. It is anarchy, insanity, brigandage. You die a dishonourable death, accursed. You are of those who cause corruption on the earth. Losers.
Attacking worshipers in their places of worship is haram — utterly forbidden. Those that do this are devils, committing mischief in the land. It is hirabah — banditry, piracy — waging war against God.
“Permission to fight has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, God is competent to give them victory. Those who have been evicted from their homes without right, only because they say, “Our Lord is God.” And were it not that God checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of God is much mentioned. And God will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, God is Powerful and Exalted in Might.” — Quran 22:39:40
The way of God is to protect monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques — and the worshipers within — from destruction at the hands of brigands and aggressors. Any other way is the way of devils. By their fruit you shall know them.
Terrorism — the act of randomly targeting civilians with violence — is nothing but a tool of imperialism. It only serves to provide states with justification to invade and occupy far-off lands. It is of no benefit to the common man, at home or abroad. Indeed, the only real beneficiaries are arms manufacturers and the ruling classes (often intertwined), who benefit directly from the never-ending wars waged to secure control of petrocarbons, tin, tungsten, tantalem, gold and water.Continue reading “Vigilantes”
Counterintuitive as it may seem, I don’t have good feelings about a Biden presidency in the United States. Undoubtedly, Biden will be better for America than Trump. But for the rest of world? Continue reading “Fool me once”
The society awash with guns seems to have no respect for human life. What a surprise.
Police officers use guns like mobile phones, casually firing at will at the faintest whiff of threat. A glance, a word, a silent thought: all of these can get you killed in the lands of guns. A disability, skin colour, class, sect: the same.
Arm yourselves, say the citizens of the society that values the right to bear arms over the right to life. And so the killing multiplies.
The whole world sees this society awash with guns, and thinks: if only these people were civilised.
An innocent young Muslim woman has tragically been killed on her way to buy groceries, in the last ten days of Ramadan.
Our activists, when they thought she was the victim of a hate crime: “A hijabi sister has been murdered by a white terrorist.”
When police arrests seemed to suggest that she was killed in error in the crossfire of a feud between rival gangs whose members were of Muslim heritage: sudden silence.*
Then later: “The victim was Shia; do we even know she died a Muslim?”
Here we discover that our hearts are dead. Sectarian hatred transforms mourning for an innocent victim of an awful crime into a hate crime itself. Despicable. Deplorable. We are the walking dead.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.
* Update 22 May: Five people, Feroz Suleman, Abu Bakir Satia, Uthman Satia, Kashif Manzoor and Judy Chapman, have now been charged with the murder of Aya Hachem, and the attempted murder of the man believed to have been the intended target.
At least the bandits of old — we presume — knew that they were marauding brigands destined for hell. Today’s bandits think of themselves as righteous soldiers of God, somehow convinced that if they can be shot dead in the midst of a frenzied attack on innocents they will be granted a great heavenly reward.
“Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense?
For that is the one who drives away the orphan
and does not encourage the feeding the poor.
So woe to those who pray
who are heedless of their prayer —
those who are all show
and withhold simple assistance.”
— Quran 107
The bandits of old would pillage any traveller on the road in search of riches. These bandits target their victims at random in pursuit of riches of another kind, but it is all the same. They are mere outlaws, waging war against society. If only they knew.
It is a despicable, barbaric and heinous crime to attack worshippers in their places of worship on any day, let alone on their holy days. Those that massacre worshippers — Muslim, Christian or any other — ripping them to shreds with high explosives, stand against the very book they claim to profess. Continue reading “Strive for peace”
It is becoming every more apparent that the little people are being forced to choose sides in the clash between the two behemoths of Ikhwan ul Muslimeen and Salafiyah. To side with Turkey and Qatar, or UAE and Saudi. To believe in the gospel according to Al Jazeerah or the last testament of Al Arabiya. To side with one group of scholars against another. To filter our affairs through the prism of one or the other. Many an activist has already chosen their side, and we are supposed to follow suit. Dare we say that these are not our battles?
I am one of those exceedingly annoying people who, when presented with a collection of photos (especially concerning an incendiary issue), insists on running them through a reverse image search to check that they really are what the person posting them claims them to be. It may be an obsessive compulsive disorder, or it may be a concern about the truth: I’m not even sure myself. Continue reading “These amalgamations”
A reader draws my attention to a video in which the Australian activist, Harry Richardson, challenges a Muslim community leader to adopt his Declaration of Peaceful Intent, which is to state that he renounces the Quran’s violent commands as not applicable to today: Continue reading “Declaration of Peaceful Intent”
When the strength of your economy is dependent on the strength of your Arms industry, you naturally have a vested interest in ensuring that nations continue to go to war. It is daft to think otherwise.
It’s true that on old maps published a hundred years ago, there is no Israel, only Palestine. But then there’s no Pakistan, either. Another colonial misadventure that displaced 15 million people and left up to 2 million dead, spawning conflict and distrust that lasts to this day. Old maps can tell us lots, but you have to be prepared to examine them with open eyes. Often they bear witness against us.
These days I find myself puzzled by so many issues which animate my brethren. The truth is, I am too much detached from the populist causes which many raised in a Muslim culture imbibe as essentially religious matters. To me, such issues are often overwhelmingly political — and the legacy of the politics of past empires at that. Caliphs in the dim and distant past legitimised political decisions by coopting the sanctity of region, and so here we are hundreds of years later championing the same cause as a measure of piety and belief.
Most of us don’t have any inkling of Muslim history further back than the European colonial period, except for a very whitewashed version of it. If we adopted the same moral stance that we take towards our enemies today, we would condemn most of the actions of the Muslim imperial forces of old. If we had to adopt the same moral stance, might we have to reconsider the actions of our own conquerors, whom we conveniently call “liberators”? At some point would we need to reconsider the 9th century dogma that makes our position exactly the same as the enemy we decry?
How is it that when our people transgress boundaries, we pass over it, whereas when our enemy does the same thing, we are suddenly animated in the cause of law, justice and morality? Isn’t it simply about whose side you are on? We champion what is sacred to us, just as our enemies do. We may have the moral high ground today, but it is built of the shaky foundations of the past — and who dares reexamine such foundations, when popularism has transmogrified politics into deeply held faith?
Peoples have been fighting over this city for 4000 years. From Canaanites to Egyptians to the Jewish people to Assyrians and Babylonians, from Persians to Romans to Arabs, and Turks, and Europeans. Empires have claimed it theirs for millennia, its inhabitants sometimes granted peace and security, and sometimes subjugated, exiled or put to death. Continue reading “Jerusalem”
On numerous Muslim news sites in Turkey and now on social media, the document below is being celebrated as evidence of a timeworn relationship of solidarity between the Turkish people and the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. Continue reading “Imperial Archives”
For all its overtures in respect to the Myanmar crisis, your celebrated Leader of the Ummah — the pious nation of legend — has much in common with that indicted State. Continue reading “Similitude”
It would be wise to study Burmese history, particularly the period of British Colonial rule and World War II, rather than circulating articles about Rohingya fighting for the British during World War II and invoking it as a special relationship. Continue reading “Old Blighty”
Historians and students of politics will aways be cursed to take the long view, and not succumb to the passions and emotions of the moment, condemning them for eternity to the realm of the indifferent. Continue reading “The historian’s curse”
Sadly, for as long as some countries have resources which others seek to plunder, there will not be peace in the world.
It is occasionally worth recalling that the concept of “terror bombing” was not dreamed up in a cave in Afghanistan, but by a celebrated British statesman, who legitimised the mass killing of civilians as a means to defeat the enemy (37,000 in Hamburg and 25,000 in Dresden).
Collective amnesia forces us to wash our hands of these unpalatable truths, but painful introspection is necessary if we are to understand our modern afflictions. Terrorism and the targeting of civilians is always odious, and we should be able to condemn it in all its forms, not excuse and venerate some practitioners simply because they are or were on our side.
The moral argument does not work like that.
So once more our activists and scholars petition us, “Why are you silent? Why do you not speak out?”
And yes, it is true, we feel like renegades, as if indifferent to the suffering of afflicted innocents everywhere.
But the communal amnesia they demand of us won’t stick. We have been browbeaten by tragedy before, and driven by emotion to join the bold choruses demanding war.
And now the millions dead and nations in anarchic turmoil stand witness against us.