Je ne Suis Pas Charlie: Incorrectly Diagnosed

10 Jan

Voltaire, an eminent 18th Century writer, philosopher, historian and staunch advocate of freedom of speech and expression once mused; “The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is he wants to believe”. As humans we observe this unfortunate phenomena manifest itself from the mundane to the extraordinary on a daily basis. The commentary and analysis in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, on 7th January 2015 has provided a plethora of live examples of the same, falling into two broad categories; the ignorant and the devious.

Allow me to begin by stating the obvious, even if it will count for nothing amongst the carefully manicured narratives being spouted by the mainstream media. The shootings were a criminal act. No individual is allowed to administer vigilante justice where they feel their boundaries and red lines have been breached. The deaths should not have happened in the event and the acts of the shooters are not in line with normative Islamic positions.

I am far more inclined to tackle the contextual drivers and motives of the event for a glaring example of the ignorance and misguidance displayed by the world’s media outlets in the immediate aftermath.

There was a sudden outpouring of sympathy, condemnation and solidarity for those killed. It was as though there was a sudden onset of dementia within prince and pauper of the Western media.

Why dementia you ask? Dementia – “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

All the underlined hallmarks were displayed with aplomb, within both the right wing fascists like Nigel Farage and Douglas Murray and leftie advocates of free speech like Bill Maher.

Had they forgotten who these Charlie Hebdo journalists were? It would certainly seem to be case. To state that the shootings were criminal and should not happen is a reasonable enough position. To show solidarity with bigots and racists, renowned for taking deliberately offensive and sentimentally injurious positions, is fair game now?

#jesuischarlie went viral in the social media circles. We are all Charlie. We stand with them. We must show solidarity. We must reprint the cartoons and show defiance.

Really? Satire has been lauded as a tool for breaching red lines and sticking it to power constructs, humanising the link between the rulers and the ruled. Islam and Muslims in France fall into that category? The drawing of cartoons of Mohammed (PBUH) is a valid social critique? The cartoons of Jesus (PBUH), in sodomising positions, are valid social commentary? It is the abyss of moral degradation and societal decline that the basest values of human beings are being shown solidarity.

The cartoonists drew to offend. Deliberately and maliciously. They did not tackle ‘radical Islam’ as some have suggested. They did not critique the teachings of Islam. They sought to insult the beliefs of the most undermined, downtrodden, disadvantaged and vilified community in France and Europe. They targeted the beliefs of 1.7 Billion Muslims across the globe, with no clear point to their antics.

Some have argued that the ‘right to offend’ must be preserved. That we ought to uphold the value that people are allowed to express themselves in ways which may breach others’ sensibilities. That is the hallmark of a civil society, allegedly.

Does civility not require the exact opposite? That we don’t set out to offend, hurt or insult? That we use diplomacy and tact even when addressing the issues we find most disagreeable to our dispositions? That we show respect and due deference to the differences which define us? We don’t bring up our children to insult others. We do not teach our graduates to learn the art of ‘gratuitous offence’. We learn to discuss, debate and argue vociferously, but with a decorum befitting human morality and decency. Why the sudden solidarity to those who sought to offend?

Was there not a time when the left stood for the protection and rights of the disadvantaged classes? When it stood against the racist expression against black people, rather than protecting the bigots’ ‘right to offend’?

Even by the standards of the western paradigm, the legality and correctness of an action are not synonymous.

Excuse me for the crudeness of the analogy. Adultery is not illegal in the West. Does that mean it is right for individuals to sleep with someone else’s wife?

The law does not allow for an individual to kill someone if he finds him in bed with his wife. If such an occurrence happens, we may comment on that and state the murder was wrong.

However, would we collectively show solidarity towards the adulterer? Would we encourage everyone to repeat the act of adultery, with the same woman, to uphold the cherished ‘freedom’?

It seems an absurd course of action to any and all. Yet #jesuischarlie is fair game? Reprinting the disgusting cartoons is upholding the freedom?

Even more absurdly, some are deluded into believing that this is about the West’s cherished freedoms, which these desert idiots are attempting to erode. Simon Jenkins, writing in the Guardian, suggested this most idiotic of arguments (his article is here).

It is alleged that this is an episode in resentment harboured against the West’s freedoms.

No mention of the actual causes.

That the West is collectively engaged in a war on Islam and Muslims, across the globe.

That millions of Muslims have been killed, tortured, imprisoned and raped in the advancement of Western imperial and economic hegemony.

That the Muslims are the most notoriously targeted individuals throughout Europe.

That the adherents of Islam are the most underprivileged class, with no control over the levers of power.

That active discrimination against Muslims in employment and education are a regular feature of these bastions of freedom.

Who isn’t familiar with the readily used charge of anti-Semitism levelled at those who seek to criticise Isreal’s brutal repression of Palestinians? Careers and lives are regularly ruined in response to such critique. Why does our collective solidarity evaporate in the face of such prejudice?

Remember when a small group of Muslims wanted to protest the war crimes of the British army by marching on Wooton Bassett and burning poppies? What happened to their freedom of expression and right to offend?

Let us recall how Nicolas Anelka faced censure for the ‘Quenelle’ gesture, in solidarity with his French Comedian friend, banned for being anti-semitic and too controversial. Why did we not have an outpouring of solidarity and the repetition of the ‘quenelle’?

Have a look at the British government’s “Tackling Extremism Report’. It seeks to outlaw the expression of dissent to Western values, utilising the force of the state against those who disagree with democracy. Freedom of expression?

In 2009, a founding member of Charlie Hebdo, Sine, faced criminal charges and lost his job for alleged suggesting that Sarkozy’s son would ‘go a long way’ by marrying a Jewish business heiress. He was labeled an anti-Semite. Where were the calls for a mass reproduction of that cartoon, upholding freedoms?

Why has Jeremy Clarkson landed in hot water with his alleged racist comments, time and again? Where is his freedom of expression? Let us use those terms, the ‘n’ word, the term ‘slope’ and anti-mexican tirades collectively, upholding a right to offend.

If I recall correctly, France and Germany outlaw ‘Holocaust Denial’. Murderous crimes were levied upon the Jewish people in Europe but surely consistency requires us the right to offend, does it not? In fact, why don’t we show solidarity with the right wing fascists across Europe by holding ‘Holocaust Denial’ rallies en masse?

How many here would show solidarity with me if I ‘satirised’ the returning coffin of a British soldier, from an arena of war? How many would reproduce such a cartoon to uphold my freedoms?

What about satirising the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, really upholding the right to offend? Topical and defiant.

These examples could go on and on. We know that all decent, rational people would shudder at the thought of showing solidarity to such bigotry and prejudice.

Yet here we are, standing with Charlie Hebdo.

The truth is stark and points to an inherent hypocrisy. Unless we are consistent in our attitude to all offence and insult, we ought to have a deep introspection, as to why this particular right to offend seems worthy of upholding. Why Muslims are fair game and Islam deserving of the enlightened Western values, to be able to offend?

Freedom is an absolute term and one that has no place in the Western lexicon, or the human conscience for that matter.

As I write this article, hundreds of thousands face oppression, tyranny and incarceration across the world with the direct complicity and instruction of the Western powers. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and many more crush dissent through direct agency of the imperial Western forces. Where is our defiance in the face of such bigotry?

Shaker Amer, an innocent British resident Guantanamo detainee, has never been charged and was cleared for release by his repressive jailors. What have Cameron and co done to secure his release back to his home and his four British resident children? Where is the show of solidarity with this innocent individual?

Baber Ahmed was held without charge for years in a British prison, with the Attorney General accepting that there was ‘no prima facie case‘ against him due to the lack of evidence. Why did Britain extradite him to the USA, in breach of his rights and freedoms? Where was the public outpouring of grief, so attuned to upholding Charlie Hebdo’s right to offend?

Remember Abu Qatada – an individual who could not be charged and won repeated appeals against his incarceration and intended extradition to Jordan. The British governments spent millions of tax payers’ pounds to restrict this individual’s liberty, eventually extraditing him to the notorious Jordanian regime. He has been cleared of all charges since. When do the British public intend to show solidarity to him and ask for a restoration of his rights brutalised so publicly for so long?

In this, the 800th year since the signing of the Magna Carta, we must accept that our views of freedoms are contradictory, hypocritical and a façade maintained selectively by propaganda and misinformation.

As Muslims, the responses have been mixed.

There are the vast majority who elucidate the clear position that vigilante justice is not the modus operandi of Islamic jurisprudence.

However, the criterion of rights and freedoms is not the method of deducing Islamic positions. Muslims established accountability of the elite and powerful, right to fair trial, freedom of expression and valid critique long before the Magna Carta or the ECHR.

But, extending this to indifference or upholding of the rights of Charlie Hebdo is equally preposterous.

Gratuitous insults to the person of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) are an un-breachable sanctum. This is a capital offence in an Islamic state.

We shall continue to condemn such vile acts and showing ‘solidarity’ to those killed for breaching this sanctity is an incorrect and peer pressured response.

It is nigh on time that we realised that such insults are a symptom of our political disunity. In the words of Allama Iqbal “the punishment for the crime of weakness is the death of your interests” (Hai Jurm-e-dhaeefi ki saza marg-e-mafajat).

In conclusion, the vigilante killings are wrong but do not be fooled by the mirage of ‘freedom’. This isn’t about freedom. This is about how the host nation treats those disadvantaged migrant communities who feel their religion and way of life is under attack. This is about mutual respect, or the lack thereof. Do feel free to point to examples of Muslims gratuitously insulting or depicting Moses (PBUH) or Jesus (PBUH).

Do not be an embodiment of Voltaire’s diagnosis. I do not have any solidarity for the individual cartoonists killed in this act, even if the act itself is wrong and not Islamic. It is an ignoble end to a set of racists and bigots. May the Almighty treat them with His infinite justice.

Je ne suis pas Charlie. Je suis musulman et j’aime Mohammed (PBUH) plus que tout sur terre et dans l’au delà.

Machiavelli: Kept Alive by Heirs

26 Dec

To begin with a disclaimer: I started writing this article last December (2013) and never got close to finishing it amidst the grind of living. The past 12 months have further strengthened the original mandate of the article, as anybody managing to get to the end of the piece will realise. However, it has ceased to exist in its original form. This is a lazy and condensed musing with very little commentary from me.

This year marks the 5th centenary (its actually the 501st year now but that does not provide the same symmetry) of ‘The Prince’, an oft-referred-to book by the Renaissance author, Niccolo Machiavelli. The term ‘Machiavellian’, a loose forerunner of Utilitarian and Consequentialist moral theory, stems from this specific work and I felt compelled to read this seemingly timeless work (a pamph-book as it turned out to be). At times a laborious read, it is nevertheless riveting with its direct modern connections and connotations in global politics. It is genuinely startling to see a relatively flippant inscription, written to curry favour with Machiavelli’s local ruler, continue to be a Notre Damus style running commentary on the conduct of so many of the world’s political elite, with it’s inherently evil basis. I had set out with the intent of analysing the book but the limitation of time (and the fear no one would bother reading it) means that I have instead selected quotes from the book, for those who may never read it, self explanatory in explaining the contents of the book. One needn’t expend too much imagination in lifting the tiny patina of civility from faces of the world powers, to see the Machiavellian approach at play.

The Central Theme

The foundational theme of ‘The Prince’ revolves around one key tenet: ‘one must not seek to do that which is right but that which is necessary’. This theme repeats and manifests itself, throughout the book, urging a prince to be ruthless, cruel, deceptive and devious, with the ultimate aim to prolong and strengthen their grasp on power. No act is beyond the remit of correctness, so long as it is in line with this key objective and harshness and mercy are both tools in sculpting the will of the masses. Would anyone take issue with this being representative of the political reality of the vast majority of the world? It is a waste of space and time to list all the individual nations and political entities for whom this would read as the unstated ‘mission statement’. Consider the imperialist hegemony, political discord, installing of puppet regimes, misusing religious sentiment, unleashing war and deceiving the masses displayed the world over when reading the following quotes and think of the criminal behaviour levied upon the average peoples.

On the Reality of Democracy (My Personal Favourite)

“Among the best ordered and governed kingdoms of our times is France, and in it are found many good institutions on which depend the liberty and security of the king; of these the first is the parliament and its authority, because he who founded the kingdom, knowing the ambition of the nobility and their boldness, considered that a bit in their mouths would be necessary to hold them in”

“because, as princes cannot help being hated by someone, they ought, in the first place, to avoid being hated by every one, and when they cannot compass this, they ought to endeavour with the utmost diligence to avoid the hatred of the most powerful”

On Imperialist Ventures

“Whenever those states which have been acquired as stated have been accustomed to live under their own laws and in freedom, there are three courses for those who wish to hold them: the first is to ruin them, the next is to reside there in person, the third is to permit them to live under their own laws, drawing a tribute, and establishing within it an oligarchy which will keep it friendly to you. Because such a government, being created by the prince, knows that it cannot stand without his friendship and interest, and does its utmost to support him; and therefore he who would keep a city accustomed to freedom will hold it more easily by the means of its own citizens than in any other way”

“And he who becomes master of a city accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed by it” 

Upon Using Violence and Duress to Control

“And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by force”

“Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge”

“Hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity”

“Therefore a prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty”

“Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily……………For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer”

“Among the wonderful deeds of Hannibal this one is enumerated: that having led an enormous army, composed of many various races of men, to fight in foreign lands, no dissensions arose either among them or against the prince, whether in his bad or in his good fortune. This arose from nothing else than his inhuman cruelty, which, with his boundless valour, made him revered and terrible in the sight of his soldiers, but without that cruelty, his other virtues were not sufficient to produce this effect”

Of Using and Dispensing with People – Shifting blame

“Thereupon he promoted Messer Ramiro d’Orco [de Lorqua], a swift and cruel man, to whom he gave the fullest power. This man in a short time restored peace and unity with the greatest success. Afterwards the duke considered that it was not advisable to confer such excessive authority, for he had no doubt but that he would become odious, so he set up a court of judgment in the country, under a most excellent president, wherein all cities had their advocates. And because he knew that the past severity had caused some hatred against himself, so, to clear himself in the minds of the people, and gain them entirely to himself, he desired to show that, if any cruelty had been practised, it had not originated with him, but in the natural sternness of the minister. Under this pretence he took Ramiro, and one morning caused him to be executed and left on the piazza at Cesena with the block and a bloody knife at his side. The barbarity of this spectacle caused the people to be at once satisfied and dismayed

Therefore, he who considers it necessary to secure himself in his new principality, to win friends, to overcome either by force or fraud, to make himself beloved and feared by the people, to be followed and revered by the soldiers, to exterminate those who have power or reason to hurt him, to change the old order of things for new, to be severe and gracious, magnanimous and liberal, to destroy a disloyal soldiery and to create new, to maintain friendship with kings and princes in such a way that they must help him with zeal and offend with caution, cannot find a more lively example than the actions of this man”

Upon Levying Favour to Control

“And to the prince who goes forth with his army, supporting it by pillage, sack, and extortion, handling that which belongs to others, this liberality is necessary; otherwise he would not be followed by soldiers. And of that which is neither yours nor your subjects’ you can be a ready giver, as were Cyrus, Caesar, and Alexander; because it does not take away your reputation if you squander that of others, but adds to it; it is only squandering your own that injures you”

Whether to be Loved or Feared as Leader?

“Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with”

“and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

“You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second”

Upon being Devious

“Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves”

“Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer”

“But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived”

“to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite. For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious”

Upon Keeping the Masses Pre-occupied with the Mundane

“Under this same cloak he assailed Africa, he came down on Italy, he has finally attacked France; and thus his achievements and designs have always been great, and have kept the minds of his people in suspense and admiration and occupied with the issue of them. And his actions have arisen in such a way, one out of the other, that men have never been given time to work steadily against him”

Embedding the Love of this Dunya (Materialism) to Control

“At the same time he should encourage his citizens to practise their callings peaceably, both in commerce and agriculture, and in every other following, so that the one should not be deterred from improving his possessions for fear lest they be taken away from him or another from opening up trade for fear of taxes”

Upon Controlling the ‘Servants’

“But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one test which never falls; when you see the servant thinking more of his own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you ever be able to trust him”

“On the other to keep his servant honest the prince ought to study him, honouring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses, sharing with him the honours and cares; and at the same time let him see that he cannot stand alone”

Upon the Importance of War

“A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline”

On Pre-emptive Strikes and Maintaining Hegemony

“because that war is just which is necessary, and arms are hallowed when there is no other hope but in them”

“From this a general rule is drawn which never or rarely fails: that he who is the cause of another becoming powerful is ruined”


TTP and the Army Public School Carnage: The Murderous Context

17 Dec

On the morning of 16th December 2014, the British public (especially the Pakistani diaspora resident in the UK) woke to an unfolding horror in Peshawar, Pakistan. In the most bloody and shocking attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in several years, a group of men entered the Army Public School in the Khyber Phaktun Khuwa (KPK) provincial Capital and opened indiscriminate fire. The army commandos arrived moments later and a stand off began with exchange of rapid fire and chaotic scenes of school children in their uniforms, running in fear for their lives, shown live on Pakistani television channels. The siege was ended several hours later with the death toll at an eye watering 141, the vast majority of those innocent school children. No exegesis or outpouring of words can do justice to the abhorrence of this tragedy and it deserves unequivocal, universal and united condemnation in the strongest terms. No contextual or rational discourse can legitimise or lessen the evil of this act and those responsible should be dragged to justice.

Unfortunately, it takes such perverse events to focus the attention of the world media and public upon what is a reality of daily life for the residents of Northern Pakistan. The plight of internally displaced Pakistanis (given the catchy acronym IDPs by the Pakistani media) is lost on the world media, experts in selective moral outrage. The Pakistani Armed Forces began a massive cleansing operation, ironically entitled Zarb-e-Azb after the sword of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), attacking the Northern Areas to allegedly remove the terrorist threat posed by the TTP. This operation has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people (the aforementioned IDPs), the destruction of their land and houses and the killing of hundreds of people (surprisingly none of them reported as innocent civilians). Any sane individual can see the clear bad will such an offensive would generate amongst the local populace. It is shocking that such a context has not led to more horrible acts such as the one under discussion here.

Sadly, this was and is not an unavoidable reality. The Pakistani administration, led by the army, is the chief culprit in the chain of events leading us to this massacre. They undertook an operation at the behest and repeated pressure of the USA, themselves stuck in a mire in Afghanistan. The Americans had marked 2014 as their intended year of withdrawal from Afghanistan, having failed to quash the Taliban resistance movements there. They have faced increasing attacks and pressure from such forces, those allegedly defeated way back in 2002 with George Bush’s ‘declaration of victory’. As the US and their allies have slowly found out, there is a harsh reality to why this area is termed the ‘Graveyard of Empires’. Raider after raider, conqueror after conqueror and army after army has crashed against the indomitable spirit of the Pakhtun people and failed to overcome them. The last 2 centuries alone will provide testimonies of the British Empire, USSR and now USA failing in this endeavor. In this context, the USA ordered the Pakistan army to release some of the pressure they faced, by attacking the safe havens, supply routes and training facilities of the Taliban East of the Pak-Afghan border. This operation was the execution of an American proposal with the Pakistan army acting as an on-lease division of the US military, with an appropriately timed attack to curate public opinion in favour of the move.

The repercussions, however, are felt by the Pakistani man, woman and child, being seen as legitimate retaliatory targets by those who are, in turn, being targeted by the Pakistani army. Is the Pakistani administration not aware of the history of this region and the Pakhtun peoples? Why would they place the masses in direct danger by doing the bidding of the NATO forces? Astonishingly, why is nobody prepared to discuss this reality? The context can be stretched back to the treachery of Musharraf in allowing the Americans unrestricted access to Pakistani land, bases, infrastructure and individuals, including the likes of Dr Afia Siddiqui. This was the sowing of the seed which has grown into a full tree and the bitter fruits of which we are now being forced to taste. The TTP did not exist prior to Pakistan joining this War of Terror. No suicide bombings, school shootings, mosque and imam bargah attacks or army infrastructure targeting was carried out by any of these groups until this fateful juncture. Why then are we not blaming this criminal for stoking Pakistan into this fire, instead narrowly focusing upon the mindless murderers who carry out the heinous act alone?

Last year, within a couple of weeks, the American drones targeted two Madrassas, killing 70 and 80 children in the two attacks. The alleged aim was to target Ayman Al-Zwahiri, the head of Al-Qaeda. Not surprisingly, he was not one of the casualties on either occasion. Where was the Western media with its unified outrage at these atrocities? Why was the murder of these innocents not met with a violent response from the Pakistan army or grandiose statements from the government? Were they lesser human beings, less innocent or not children? It is folly to believe that the Western media care about the deaths of Muslim children, until it is politically expedient. Palestinian children are murdered, beaten, incarcerated and denied any semblance of human dignity. But the West collectively supports the occupier and murderer, Israel’s, ‘right to defend itself’, including the media. The, allegedly peaceful, Buddhist monks have levied far greater atrocities and deaths upon the innocent Rohingya Muslims in Burma over several months. Muslim children are martyrs and refugees in the millions in Syria but the Western media is focused on ISIS. The Pakistani army continues to be a ‘robust ally’ of the Americans despite the wide spread evidence of the involvement of the CIA, Blackwater and others in false flag operations, death, destruction and devious funding throughout Pakistan for several years.

There are numerous angles to this discourse and the open wound inflicted by the vile criminals at APS may provide the opportune moment for introspection and analysis. Should Pakistanis continue to bear the brunt of a war started, and disastrously executed by the imperial USA, themselves relatively safe from the blowback thousands of miles away? Why should the Pakistanis feel terrorised and fearful on their streets just to ensure the NATO occupying forces can sleep in relative calm in Afghanistan? Should the Pakistani government start up a reinvigorated operation to target the malcontents who carried out these attacks, when the last operation was a direct cause of this atrocity?

The attackers stated, in clear-cut terms, that they targeted this school because it was run by and for the Pakistani military, as retaliation to their “criminal operations” in northern Pakistan. Yet, today the Pakistani army has launched fresh airstrikes in the same area, killing 57 ‘terrorists’. Amazingly, they are so precise with their targeted killing, even from the air, that none of them have been reported as innocent civilians by the Pakistani media. No Western media, government or social network commentators will bemoan this loss of life and bloodshed. It is non-sensical to refuse to heed the lessons of history. The Americans will leave. Pakistan will have to deal with the aftermath. Stop attacking people who do not forget or forgive for generations. To quote Albert Einstein on such deluded acts – “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Stop the bloodshed or we will, and I hope I am wrong, be condemning another atrocity and forgetting the Pakistani administration was the architect of such a response.


Karbala: Amr’ Bil Ma’aroof wa Nahi Anil Munkar

9 Nov

Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar and the blessed month is the cause of much reflection upon the year that has passed and reaffirming of positive intentions for the upcoming one. Of course this is a continuous process for Muslims but it is undeniable that the month is given special significance. In the absence of any special context, this month would still retain a special place amongst the Muslim psyche the world over. Yet, as every Muslim man, woman and child knows, there is a deeply bittersweet historical narrative that adds significance to Muharram.

Sayyidina Ali (RA) was the last of the Khulafah Rashida and embodied the true essence of what a leader of the state ought to be endowed with, in terms of character and understanding of the burden placed upon him. By way of example, he gave one of his generals, Malik Al Ashtar, an express instruction before sending him on an expedition to Egypt: “Infuse your heart with mercy, love and kindness for your subjects. Be not in face of them a voracious animal, counting them as easy prey, for they are of two kinds: either they are your brothers in religion or your equals in creation. Error catches them unaware, deficiencies overcome them, evil deeds are committed by them intentionally and by mistake. So grant them your pardon and your forgiveness to the same extent that you hope Allah will grant you His pardon and His forgiveness. For you are above them, and he who appointed you is above you, and Allah is above him who appointed you. Allah has sought from you the fulfillment of their requirements and He is trying you with them”. This is important to understand as it was the dereliction of this duty, which ultimately led to the tragic events lending significance to Muharram.

Ali (RA) was fatally wounded and ultimately passed away in 40 AH, stabbed by a Kharji. This led to a tumultuous period where, after Sayiddina Hassan (RA) had held the seat of the Khilafah for 6 months, Muawiyyah (RA) assumed the seat by force. Towards the end of Mawiyyah (RA)’s tenure, he sought bayyah (pledge of allegiance) for his son Yazid to replace him as leader of the Muslim ummah. This was a vastly controversial call and caused a lot of unrest amongst the ummah. Firstly, it broke away from the established tradition of allowing the ummah to choose their leader freely, heading towards a dynastic monarchy. Secondly, it was well established that Yazid was not of a sufficient calibre to hold the prestigious office, to put the point very delicately. Muawiyyah (RA) sought bayyah by force from the dissenters and, upon his demise, Yazid became the leader of the Muslim ummah. The scale of discontent amongst the ummah at this decision can be measured by the sheer fact that, to this day, 14 centuries later, the vast majority of Muslims, regardless of sect, agree upon the illegitimacy of Yazid’s rule. Yazid’s conduct and rule proved as bad as, or worse than, expectation, strengthening calls for his removal as leader of the state.

It was within this context that Sayyidina Hussain (RA) was invited to lead a movement to uproot the evil of Yazid, by the people of Kufa, Ali (RA) loyalists, as it had been the capital of the Islamic state during his Khilafah. The Quran speaks about the importance of ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the evil’ on numerous occasions. Allah SWT addresses the ummah saying “You are the best nation brought forward to mankind, you enjoin all that is good and forbid all that is evil and you believe in Allah” (Surah Ale- Imran 3:110). The Prophet SAW detailed the importance of this obligation saying “I (vow) by the One in Whose hands my soul rests, you have to enjoin the Ma’ruf (good) and forbid the Munkar (evil), otherwise Allah will send upon you a punishment from Him, and then you would pray to Him and ask Him but He would not answer you”.

Hussain (RA) understood the vitality of this duty upon all Muslims and set off for Kufa, accompanied by his family. As he reached the grounds of Karbala, outside of Kufa, the forces of Yazid met him. Numbering thousands to quash an uprising from 72 people, including women and children, seems a case of overdoing it but such was the conduct of the Yazidi rule. The people of Kufa failed to make good on their promise and Hussain (RA) was left to face the armies of the state along with a few score individuals. The details of the tribulations faced by Hussain (RA) are not the focus of this article. Suffice it to say that the Yazidi army breached every limit of ethics and morality in dealing with the grandson of the Prophet SAW. Hussain (RA) refused to bow or surrender and was martyred, giving an undying significance to the month of Muharram till the day of judgement.

Are we merely set to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain (RA) every Muharram, a Muslim version of wearing the ‘poppy’? Is there any meaning to this martyrdom or is it to be seen as just any another event of state violence? The lessons from this sad occurrence, for this ummah, are pertinent and clear-cut in this modern state of affairs where it faces many a challenge once again.

Hussain (RA) embodied the highest of the obligations, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, even if it were at the cost of one’s life, family and all else. He (RA) attained martyrdom and will be rewarded for his sacrifice by the Creator of the heavens and the earth in sha Allah. His legacy should inspire and revive this ummah. Across the world, there are 57 Muslims majority countries yet none establish the deen of Allah SWT. Where is our equivalent sacrifice? Where is our fulfillment of the duty to enjoin good and forbid evil? The greatest evil on this planet is the absence of Allah’s law being established. The highest good is to establish Islam as a living breathing entity, so that it may free those oppressed by the shackles of these fluctuating forms of democracy, dictatorship and monarchy.

Pakistan currently finds itself in desperate need of this lesson. In the grip of inept and corrupt governments and charlatans trying to prey upon people’s disillusionment with such leaders, by proposing a continuation of the status quo. Those pretending to present alternatives to the situation are adamant in trying to claim that the problem lies with those in leadership and not with the system itself. However, the system isn’t broken. It was built this way. Pakistanis should not become a part of this charade. They are right to be disenchanted by the system in place; they must seek the correct solutions. Enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Work to establish Islam so that we may stand on our own feet as an example of the harmony, justice and beauty of the Islamic system, as obedient servants of our Lord and Creator. The entrance to Harvard Law School, in the USA, has the inscription of an Aya’ of the Quran, which should be the foundation for every individual and collective struggle taking place in Pakistan, and across the Muslim world: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do” (Surah Al-Nisa : 135). Work to establish that justice. Work to establish Islam.


Honour Killings: Exploring the Narrative

14 Jul

On the 27th May 2014, Farzana Parveen, a 25 year old woman, was attacked by several members of her family outside a court in Lahore and killed in broad daylight. The attackers included her father and her brothers and the murdered woman was accompanied by Mohammed Iqbal, the man she had married against her family’s wishes. They were to arrive at the court for a hearing regarding a case registered by her family.

The are several instances of such ‘Honour Killings’ in Pakistan. However, this case drew a great degree of attention and comment from media here in the West, speaking against the backward nature of the practice and the lack of women’s rights in Pakistan, specifically, and the Muslim world, generally.

A few weeks later, a related topic caused much furore on social media and the blogosphere. There is an annual speaking event at the Sydney Opera House entitled ‘The Festival of Dangerous Ideas’. As the name suggests, the event intends to host controversial topics and provide a ‘safe place’ for the airing of ideas which are anathema to general societal discourse. Previous topics have sought to justify the use torture and the events in which murder would be legitimate. For the 2014 event, an Islamic speaker, Uthman Badar, was scheduled to deliver a talk under the title ‘Honour Killings are Morally Justified’. As soon as the announcement was made (the event isn’t to be held until August 2014), the internet went wild at the suggestion and the burden of complaint forced the organisers to crumble and cancel the talk. This article intends to outline the surrounding discourse in this arena and the apportioning of societal blame for such ills.

Firstly, to the specific case at hand. Mr Iqbal, the husband of the deceased, admitted that he had murdered his first wife to marry the victim in this episode. Further, as has been discussed in Pakistani media at length (for example Mubasher Luqman’s ‘Khara Such’), Mrs Parveen was already married to her maternal cousin. In the existence of such marriage, her liaisons would amount to adultery and not a valid marriage. Regardless of this, there are issues surrounding this arena of discourse in an Islamic society which are absent from the emotion driven discussions which follow such tragic events.

The Islamic standard of marriage requires, amongst other things, the approval of a Wali, a guardian for the bride. Pakistan, which claims to have a Constitution in line with Islam, fails to uphold this standard if it doesn’t establish this requirement. In fact, it allows people to marry without this stipulation where cases of this nature arise. Why is this so? Why is Pakistan concerned with conforming to illicit standard of modernity in contravention of the Islamic requirement? This is a common theme across all such cases in the country. This means that, from an Islamic perspective, these marriages are null and void. So what does this imply about the nature of a physical relationship between a man and a woman, without a valid nikah? It is haram and against Islam. What does the Pakistani legal system or the various governments do about this? Nothing.

Further, what is Islam’s idea of relations between men and women outside of marriage? I think the answer is too self evident to require a response. Once again, something which is considered strictly haram. What options does a family have at the discovery of such relations between men and women? They often trump up fallacious charges of kidnap or rape, to bend the law to address this serious shortcoming in Pakistani law. Who’s failing is this? When you, as a society, fail to provide a system which is in line with the ideological stances of the people, such system must take a huge portion of the blame for the resultant travesties and crimes. In the vacuum created by this failure to uphold Islam’s laws, ethos or injunctions, it is sad but not surprising that people will often take the law into their own hands. Consider the case of Mumtaz Hussain Qadri shooting the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. If Pakistan had a robust system, which upheld the laws about the sanctity of the Prophet SAW, in a fair and just manner, people would be less likely to take the matters into their own grasp. Move beyond the intelligentsia and wannabe liberal elites and ask a majority of the population of Pakistan: do you think what Qadri did was correct? The answer, from my empirical observation, will be a resounding yes.

It is important for me to clarify some aspects, for the avoidance of confusion. I do not intend to exonerate or excuse the behaviour of those who see it as their right to take someone’s life in such situations. It is a criminal act and societies cannot thrive with chaos. ‘Honour Killing’ or the murder of Taseer are exactly what the label suggests: Murder. They deserve condemnation. However, harmony can only be established in a society when the laws protect the ideological dispositions of it’s populace. Understanding the motives behind a crime are more vitally important than the statistic of the crime itself. The levers which push people to act in such irrational manners must be nullified by accurate and detailed regulation, which allow people to attain inner harmony. In a country such as Pakistan, with a 97 percent Muslim populace, the system must be that of Islam: both in governance and in legislation. This is the first step to eradicating some of these ills which affect the Pakistani psyche and, with it, the population’s behaviour. No sane individual will argue that any rational or ‘normal’ human being would be willing to so much as see a scratch on their very own child. There must be extenuating circumstances which push people to this sort of extreme behaviour. Islam further stipulates that a marriage cannot be contracted without the clear consent of both parties. This isn’t a case of forced marriage but an upholding of Islam.

Finally, a short look at the idea of honour killings (notice the lack of capital letters) being picked up by the western media. This outrage is selective and should allow for a rational critique. The hypocrisy is inherent within the statistics: a third of women killed in the USA, the world’s leader in preaching morals and ethics, are victims of a past or current male partner. However, no outrage is reserved for addressing these ‘Honour Killings’. Why? Because such narratives are used to make the other, the foreigners and them Muslims, look like medieval age dwellers with a backward mindset. It is prudent to be aware of the dangers of such propositions and the reasoning for why such positions are advanced by the West and their stooges within Pakistan. A bit of collar gazing would be imminently advised.

Killing for honour is an absolutely normal part of human life and touted as a position of pride. Do the army of Pakistan, USA, Britain or any other nation not fight and kill for honour? Is it not considered one of the highest attainments of respect within such societies? Do the armies not take an oath to protect and serve their nation, no matter what this may end up entailing? Here, in the UK, the army are regularly hailed as heroes, despite the horrible collective war crime of the Iraq War. The explanation forwarded is that the armies are merely carrying out the orders as directed by the government. They risk their lives for such orders yet are deemed worthy of the highest praise and honours. Does Pakistan not consider it an honour that the Pakistani soldiers fight for their country? Whether the wars maybe right or wrong? Do we criticise individual soldiers for being a mercenary group for an American war in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Despite the army’s reputation taking a battering in Pakistan, individual soldiers still retain the utmost respect from the general public. These missions and wars are not their fault. It is often an insincere political and military leadership which makes these ludicrous decisions.

It is simple to deduce that there are only selective forms of honour killing which attract such outrage. An individual, acting out of helplessness and the failure of law to uphold their societal beliefs, is a criminal. An organised assault, by a representative group of the same society, on a much larger scale with much more dreadful consequences (look at the plight of IDPs), is hailed as heroic. The hypocrisy is eye watering.

Until the establishment of an Islamic system within Pakistan, and other Muslim societies, such tragedies are a reflection of the juxtaposition between belief and legislation. It doesn’t excuse the crime but it does show how both the criminal and the victim are, in fact, victims of the disease at the heart of the society.

The Death Penalty for AQ Molla: A Travesty

10 Dec

Abdul Quader Molla, the leader of the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) in Bangladesh is reportedly going to be hung for war crimes attributed to him during the shambolic ‘War of Independence’ of 1971, in which Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan and became a separate nation. This, if it comes to be executed, will be a heinous crime against humanity and against the Muslim Ummah. One would expect nothing less from the despicable Sheikha Hasina government, an open enemy of Islam and Muslims. This article shall assess the inherent flaws and hypocrisy within the conduct of the trial, the motivations behind such abhorrence and the inherent hypocrisy of those in power.

Bangladesh, a large and vibrant Muslim populace, played a foundational role in the formation of Pakistan, carving out the Muslim nation from British India. In fact, the All India Muslim League, the chief driving force behind this partition, was formed in Dhaka in 1906. In a typical exemplification of the disease of nationalism, the Bengalis developed many legitimate grievances against the Western Pakistanis. These annoyances spanned the economic, political, military and linguistic arenas, to name a few. Conversely, all of these resentments are held by Balochistan, KPK and Sindh against Punjab to this very day. The weakening of the Islamic bond allowed these artificial standards to become the arbitrary criterion of decision making and a hysteria of nationalism was whipped up against the ‘occupying’ Pakistani army. The Mukti Bahni, with the direct support and intervention of the Indian army, declared independence after defeating the Pakistani army. Whilst the topic is beyond the remit of the discourse here, the fact that the two sides were led by odious characters such as Bhutto, Mujib, Yahya and General Niazi should shed some light upon the reality of this pathetic struggle for ‘independence’.

The JI, which had correctly opposed the creation of Pakistan and surrendering of the whole of India, opposed this proposed split of the largest and strongest Muslim nation on earth. They felt it an affront to Islam and it’s values of brotherhood between the Ummah. They campaigned actively to stop this great atrocity from taking place, a moment considered by many as a major disaster for the Ummah in the 20th century, along with the destruction of the Khilafah and the occupation of Masjid Al-Aqsa. This forms the backdrop to the alleged crimes committed by the JI and Abdul Qader Molla has been convicted of assisting the occupiers in this unholy war of separation.

The case displays some of the most glaring examples of breaches of human rights, political opportunism and the tyrannical cowardice of the leaders of the Muslim nations worldwide. AQ Molla was brought to trial over 40 years after this shameful episode of independence. Why did it so long for him to be brought to trial, if the alleged crimes were so evidently abhorrent and the evidence so compelling as to merit the death penalty? Why must one view this as anything other than political opportunism? Where was this clarity of thought and conviction for the past 4 decades? It is telling that this trial took place amidst the most disturbing clashes between those calling for Islam and the secularists within Bangladesh. This has been the most politically turbulent and violent phase of Bangladeshi history since independence. Many scores of those calling for Islam and protesting against the charade of a trial were killed at the hands of the Bengali police and security forces. One could not but adduce the basis of this pathetic attempt at divisive politics; the ensuring of a chasm between opposing ideological spheres to exploit in the now imminent elections.

If these trials are to be conducted, why is JI the only one facing this barrage of nationalist manipulation? Why are the Pakistani army generals and political leaders, responsible for the butcher of their fellow Muslims and Pakistanis, responsible for the waves of rape and looting, still walking this earth without accountability? When was the last serious attempt by Bangladesh to bring these people to justice? Let us have requests for these individuals to be indicted and made to face trial. Let us see some members of the Mukti Bahni, the murderous traitors who conspired with India to kill Urdu speakers and attack Pakistani military targets, hang for their behaviour. Let us discuss the track record of Sheikha Hasina’s father, Mujib-ur-Rehman, a known agent of the non-Muslim powers, be discussed in the public arena. The hypocrisy inherent within the conduct of the Awami League could not be more glaring.

As a result of the trial, AQ Molla was sentenced to life imprisonment. This brought out many thousands of secularists onto the streets, protesting against the alleged leniency shown towards him. Can a mob be allowed to affect the process of law? Can sentences be passed to appease and please the masses? What of the rule of law and equitable execution of such, without regard for populist sentiment? However, it would only be a blindly foolish individual who would expect such upstanding behaviour from a government of no morals and ethics.

In response to these protests, the government amended the law retrospectively, allowing for the Supreme Court to transform Mr Molla’s sentence to a death penalty. Any student of law, international or otherwise, can see the absurdity of such a situation. For laws to be amended at the whim and desire of governments, to target individuals or groups, leads to nothing other than tyranny. It allows governments to stifle dissent, corrupt legal processes and a feeling of societal degradation and mistrust to prevail. Khalida and Hasina can play dirty tricks to ensure that those they feel enmity towards or those they fear politically can be silenced, permanently if needed, to strengthen their grasp on power.

The trial, and the proposed sentencing of the JI leader, is nothing but further evidence of enmity towards Islam that the political and military establishment within Bangladesh harbour. The examples of this are copious in Bangladesh’s short history. May Allah SWT protect AQ Molla and may he be lifted amongst the shuhada of this Ummah, if this despicable act is carried out. These injustices reaffirm the need for Muslim unity and brotherhood. Only Islam can give sanctity to the blood of Muslims, every drop of which is holier than the Ka’ba itself. The Muslims of Bangladesh, and the Ummah generally, should recognise the war that is being waged against Islam on every level by these puppets of the West. It is nigh on time that we wake up and realise this truth for ultimately the victory is for those who are true to their covenant with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. “And [remember, O Muhammad], when those who disbelieved plotted against you to restrain you or kill you or evict you [from Makkah]. But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” (The Holy Quran, 8:30)


The Tackling Extremism Report: An Analysis

10 Dec

On the 3rd December 2013, Jeremy Paxman began the BBC news affairs programme, Newsnight, by questioning whether society was beginning to display signs of a new strand of ‘McCarthyism’. He was, of course, referring to the saga involving Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing and the subsequent calls for him to be tried for treason. The irony of that sentence would strike anyone reading the ‘Tackling Extremism in the UK’ report presented for mass-consumption, in the last few days.

The report demonstrates the hypocrisy and scaremongering agenda of the British government towards the Muslim community, something that both past and present governments have consistently done. The stated aim of the report is tackle the problem of extremist ideologies, leading people on to the path of violence, and suggests measures to counter such ideologies. The extreme right wing neo-nazi world view does get an honourable mention in the initial paragraphs of the report. However, the entirety of the report is focused upon identifying and tackling the problem of ‘Islamist’ ideologies.

The first problem that stands out to any neutral observer is the criminalisation of any behaviour which does not fit into the remit of ‘British Values’, the most ambiguous and vaguely defined term one is likely to counter being spouted by otherwise educated and intellectual individuals, in pursuit of a heinous agenda. The report argues that anybody speaking up against the inherent problems of democracy, individual freedoms or freedom of expression is to be categorised within such manner. In essence, if you agree with the current political paradigm, you’re safe; otherwise you run the risk of political heresy. So do not challenge the power of the established political elite whether you’re a Muslim, the right wing extremists, the puritan Socialists or the Anarchists. One and all must obey their terms of serfdom and limit the expression to the various policies of the governments of the time, staying within the political spectrum defined for yourselves.

However, let us call this report what it truly is; an attempt to secularise and create a politically impotent, hollow, ritualistic worship system to replace the deen of Islam. It’s central thesis is that there is too much ‘radicalisation’ within the British society, with people arguing that the Sharia is the only way for man to solve his societal ills and hoping for a united Islamic Caliphate. This must be stopped and countered at every possible level from schools and universities to prisons and mosques. This is a tacit admission of defeat. Despite millions spent to ‘integrate’ the Muslims of this country, to hamper the political awakening of the Islamic community and to de-politicise the very religion, the campaign seems to be facing strong resistance. Why do these Muslims still keep speaking out for the Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Chechens? Why can they not just be patriotic and support ‘our troops’, regardless of the murderous atrocities they commit across the globe? Why must they aspire to a unified Islamic model of governance, not content with their British identity? This report is nothing more than a primitive attack on the very basis of Islamic ideology and jurisprudence. The message is that you can pray as often as you want or fast all year if you must but keep your mouth tightly sealed when it comes to analysing society through the Islamic prism. Do not criticise the idea of democracy being the apex of human political endeavour. Do not question British foreign policy, particularly wars prosecuted under the euphemism ‘War on terror’ in Muslim lands. Be proud that you are British, before all else. Your primary allegiance should lie with the Queen and country. Any failure in these duties placed upon one are to be met with ostracising, ASBOs and prison, if need be. Dissent will be silenced in a manner reminiscent of the worst of the tyrants across the globe.

All of the above is presented whilst attempting to stress that this is not a curtailment of freedom of expression. Plainly put, yes it is. It is the very essence of curtailment of speech. It argues that one is free to express their thoughts and feelings, as long as they do not challenge the norms of society, reminiscent of the crude Ford tagline of ‘any colour, as long as it’s Black’. So one can criticise the legality of the niqab, claim the Islamic sharia is outdated or talk of reforming Islam to bring it in line with ‘modern values’. But, should you talk of the comprehensive application of Islam in society, attempt to help your brethren in Syria by actively partaking in their struggle, argue that there are alternative political models other than democracy or tell Muslims that their identity stems from Islam only, you will face repercussions. Remember this is independent of whether someone undertakes acts of violence, the mere expression of alternative ideological and political paradigms is being criminalised here.

The government will soon realise this is a counter productive measure as it attempts to silence the voices of millions of Muslims and prevent them from believing and expressing key aspects of Islam.

“They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it. It is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although those who associate others with Allah dislike it.” (As-Saff, 8:9)


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