Posts Tagged ‘Muslims’

The following article written by me was not published as it tackled a so called “sensative issue” . It seem like it is becoming a trend that anything portraying Israel in a good light and anything remotely suggesting freethinking beyond Islam has difficulty getting published, even if it is something that we can learn from. 

Are we free? The answer to that question is normally “Yes”. The reasons given for that affirmative answer are usually: we are free from the shackles of the colonial British and we are free from the united sub-continent, so we are free. According to the Two-Nation Theory that we study all through our school lives,  essentially, we as Muslims, would be a minority in United India and our right to practice our religion would be taken away because Hindus and Muslims are two separate nations.

So today, in 2011, are we actually free? Or this is just a fallacy? In this article I would refrain from a long tirade of blaming the corruption of our leaders for our perilous history and would invite readers to look at their own selves. I would specifically focus on freedom of thought and belief.

Author Yoram Kaniuk allowed to state "without religion" on his Israeli Identity card

I would quote an example from our arch ideological rivals, Israel. Israel has a strict Jewish identity. Even one of the pre-existing demands of the Israeli Government to kick-start negotiations for Palestinian freedom is the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State by the Palestinian Authority. So, in a nutshell, they are very serious about their religious identity, both at government policy level, as well as, society. In this same Jewish State, the famous Sapir Prize winning author, Yoram Kaniuk, was granted the freedom to identify himself as, “without religion” on his identity card by a Tel Aviv district court. After the court ruling, many Israelis gathered to sign a petition to declare themselves as “without religion” and the court’s decision was hailed as a big step towards freedom of thought. Let me make this clear, “without religion” does not mean, atheist or agnostic, it just means what it says “without religion”. There were no sweeping protests across the country for the decision, nothing was burnt down, and Yoram Kaniuk, is still alive and does not have 27 bullets in his chest.

Let’s come back to Pakistan. Pakistan was created on the basis of a religion and also we thrive on our religious identity. The constitution claims to be based on Islam and we are called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Academically speaking, both Israel and Pakistan are religion based ideological states (although created in different circumstances, but that is not the focus of this article). I will put up the question to the readers. Is it possible that the freedom that was given to Yoram Kaniuk, possible in Pakistan? Will a court allow a person to put that in his/her passport? Keeping in mind the fate of Salman Taseer (Governer of the Punjab province assasinated for supporting change in the blasphemy law), I believe that freedom of thought does not exist in Pakistan. Forget about someone declaring oneself as “without religion” which would instantly spring a plethora of “punishable by death” fatwas and will make the “death to the apostate” brigade all hot and heavy. Just airing your views about a man-made law about religion would qualify you for free 27 bullets in your chest (case in point – Salman Taseer). Just having a different ideology within the same religion might lead you to death (consider the fate of Shia Muslims killed on their way to Iran). Or just read the constitution regarding the rules about Ahmadis. I would really urge readers to take a look at Sections 298(b) and 298(c) of the penal code of the constitution and you will see archaic and medieval nature of the law.

So, again I ask, are we actually free? I would term our freedom of thought and belief as a conditional freedom. Free, as long as it along a certain belief system. Freedom, according to Merrium Webster dictionary is “the quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”. All three conditions necessary to be absent to be fundamentally free are present in Pakistan. “Necessity” to believe in a certain way, “Coercion” if one does not believe in a certain way, and “Constraint” if one does want to believe in a different way. Essentially our minds are not free, what do you think?

Disclaimer: The reason for making a comparison with Israel is solely because my argument is based on both of our country’s fundamental foundations based on religion. I am not trying to prove they are better or worse because that would be a topic of another article. 

 

By Ahmed Αμονας Aziz

The following article written by me was not published as it tackled a so called “sensative issue”

“It is the Jews’ fault”, “the Jews’ control the world”, “Jews are evil”, “Jews are kafirs” – We are used to hearing these words in our part of the world. It has become a mantra for conspiracy theorists like Zaid Hamid and basically each and every preacher in our mosques, teacher in our schools and friends in our circles in Pakistan. Why do we blame the Jews for everything? Are these accusations based on fact or hearsay? Or are we grossly generalizing the actions of the State of Israel and the Jewish people? Have we ever tried to examine the insecurity that the State of Israel uses to perpetrate the injustices in besieged Gaza and the occupied territory of West Bank?  In this article I would like to present some history of the Jewish people so we can actually know the people that we blame and understand them as human beings. The purpose of this article is not in any way to justify the barbarism of IDF (Israel Defense Force) and the actions of the State of Israel but to understand the people we blame for everything. Actions of a state, government or an organization does not mean that they are exacting the collective will of the people, exactly like actions of Al-Qaeda, Taliban or Hezbollah does not represent the collective will of the Muslim people.  We expect them to understand us, our actions and our suffering so it is imperative for us to also endeavor to understand them as our fellow human beings. It is not a one way street.

Auschwitz death camp

Firstly, I would like to point out right at the onset that complete Jewish history cannot be covered in one article so I would try and cover the main areas and if readers want to explore there is a plethora of literature available. Secondly, I would not cover the World War Two Jewish Holocaust (systematic Genocide of 6 million Jews just on the basis of race and religion by Nazi Germany) because readers might already know about it as it is an extensively covered subject in the media. The people who deny it cannot provide any evidence and only base their argument on religious and nationalistic rhetoric. It is proven and it did happen.

 

 

Jews under Roman Rule

Areas of Jewish Settlement under the Roman Empire

The Jewish people of Judaea (modern day West Bank and Jerusalem) were under the Roman rule essentially from 63 BC to early 300s AD. They were mostly hostile towards the empire and a feeling of mistrust prevailed even though Kind Herod of Judaea rebuilt many of the Jewish cities and also reconstructed the Jewish temples in one of the most extraordinary structures of its time. Shortly after the death of King Herod, Judaea came under direct Roman rule and continuous suppression of Jewish life resulted in a full scale revolt in 66 BC. Roman forces inevitable defeated the Jewish forces completely destroying Jerusalem. The temple was also razed to the ground. This was a catastrophic event and according the historian Josephus Flavius, more than a hundred thousand Jews perished in the siege and thousands sold into slavery. Later the Romans renamed Judaea and Jerusalem as Palaestinia and Aelia Capitolina, respectively.

Jews under Christian Rule 

This is a vast subject; therefore I would focus on the Crusades and the Catholic Rule in Iberian Peninsula. The essential purpose of the crusades was to take back the holy land from Muslim occupation. One of the most important aspects that we usually tend to ignore is that the Crusades were also a war against the all the unbelievers or infidels, which essentially were Muslims and the Jews. Our history books in the Middle East usually ignore that fact that on the way to Jerusalem, there were always pogroms conducted by the Crusaders against the Jews. Massive pogroms (massacres) occurred during the 1st Crusade of 1096 AD of Jewish communities on the Rhine and Danube rivers. Anti-Jewish sentiment at that time was on a high in Europe because of the accusation of the Catholic Church which held the Jews responsible for the Jesus Christ’s Crucifixion. This can be termed as a fallacy because Jesus Christ was convicted by the Romans for crucifixion and was conducted by Pontius Pilate who was the prefect of Judaea and no historical or archaeological exists of a Jewish conspiracy.

An artist's portrayal of the Spanish Inquisition

The Jewish community of the Iberian Peninsula came under the wrath of Christian rulers of Spain after the fall of the Moors in the region. Many Jews converted to Christianity to escape the barbarism but stayed Jewish at heart. This can be marked as the start of the Spanish Inquisitions whose main purpose was to root out this fake Christianity from the converted Jews and Muslims. The inquisitions were intensified after the decree for the expulsion of the Muslims and the Jews was issues in 1492 and early 1500s. Jews faced the brunt of the inquisitions and horrifying stories of torture and murders exist. None of the Christian nations would receive them and while on their journey’s outside the Iberian Peninsula Jews faced murder, rape and theft at the hands of Christian robbers.

 

 

Jews under Muslim Rule 

Ottoman Jews

The Muslim Rule of Spain and the heyday of Ottoman Empire can be termed as “good times” for the Jewish people where they enjoyed many rights and worked with the bureaucracy and the Muslim rulers with a certain amount of harmony. In Muslim Spain, although they had the status of Dhimmi, they worked with the monarchy and Christian counterparts for the advancement of science and knowledge. Ottoman Salonika became is prime place of refuge for the Jews expelled from Spain under Christian Rule.

An artist's portrayal of the Granada Massacre

This does not mean that it was a continuous era of happy times for the Jewish people under the Muslim Rulers. In the year 641 AD, early Muslim rulers decreed that Jews and Christians should be forcibly removed from all but the southern and eastern fringes of Hijaz. These were the Jews of the Khaybar oasis in the north and the Christians of Najran. The last remnants of these two monotheistic religions were removed from the Arabian Peninsula by the year 650. From this point onwards the Holy Land of the Hijaz was forbidden to non-Muslim. Only the Red Sea port of Jeddah was allowed as quarantine and some Jewish and Christian Merchants conducted trade. The modern day version of this rule prohibits non-Muslims from entering only Mecca and Medina.

 

Later in history there have been instances of pogroms against the Jewish people under Muslim rule. The 1066 Grenada Massacre took about 4000 lives. Continuous persecution of the Jews existed in other Arab areas of Syria and most of northern Africa. In 1400, the Jews of Aleppo were herded into their synagogues and slaughtered and the young women raped by soldiers of Central Asian Islamic conqueror Tamerlane (Taimur Lung). In 1465, Arab mobs in Fez (2nd largest city of Morocco) slaughtered thousands of Jews, after a Jewish deputy minister allegedly treated a Muslim woman badly. This caused a ripple effect of massacres all throughout Morocco. Similar injustices continued in the Persian cities of Isfahan and Bukhara. In World War Two, Haji Amin’s (spiritual leader of the Palestinians) support of Hitler’s Genocide against the Jews also does not score any brownie points for the Muslims.

Conclusion

Palestinian loss of land 1946 - 2000

Thousands of years of persecution do not give the State of Israel the right for carrying out suppression in the Palestinian Territories and occupations of Lebanon at different times. It does not give them a right to builds settlements in West Bank against international law and it does not allow them to besiege Gaza as much as they can. Their actions cannot be justified by their sufferings in the past. My purpose to emphasize that we make an effort to know the people we blame for everything as we expect them to know us. Our claim for the Land of Palestine is always based on the fact that it was our Qibla and the Prophet descended to the heavens and met all the prophets. Well, guess what, it is a site for the 1st Jewish Temple and birth of Christ so they can make equal claim to it. At this point, the official position of the Palestinian Authority is the right position and Israel’s actions are just out of stubbornness. If people continue to claim the land on the basis of religions the solutions can never be reached.

Having said that I am urging readers to read about the people we hate and blame and try to understand them. Leave the political and religious bickering aside and have a look at them without a sectarian bias. May be then we finally can understand each other and talk like sensible people and reach solutions on our differences.

 

By Ahmed Αμονας Aziz



 

 

It’s the same old cycle. Once again an insignificant person does something radically stupid in the West, and we in the East go on to a killing rampage.

I am talking about the burning of the Holy Quran incident carried out on March 20, 2011 by Terry Jones, an American Christian Evangelist pastor from Florida. This is the same man who threatened to burn the Holy Quran on 9/11 but relented once he got the media hype he wanted. 

Terry Jones, an American Christian Evangelist Pastor who burned the Quran.

 

Spreading the stupid

In the immediate aftermath of the burning, I thought that the Muslim world had shown restraint and ignored Jones’ thoughtless acts, as pointed out in the Tribune editorial a week later.

But a belated reaction started on April 1, when protestors overpowered their way into the UN Mission compound in Mazaar-e-Sharif and killed seven foreign workers, beheading two of them.

On April 2, nine people were killed in Kandahar and three in suicide attacks in Kabul.

Does this turn of events ring a bell?

There is a similarity with the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) in a Danish newspaper in 2005, which led to the death of more than 50 people, most of whom were Muslims. Both the acts were simple acts of provocation–more so, the burning of the Holy Quran.

Five minutes of infamy

Terry Jones is an insignificant pastor of a small, radical church in Florida. He preaches the most radical form of Christianity, which most of the Christian world does not even agree with. He is intelligent enough to study our reaction to the Danish cartoon incident in 2005, so he knows that his antics, he wilk make him famous. His name will be mentioned on news channels across the globe, his church will get more funding from radical Christians and he won’t lose a thing.

He understands that we Muslims have a tendency to lose our heads. Over the last couple of days we have been proving him right. Their is a high correlation between the intensity of our reactions,his stupid acts and his fame.

Who suffers in this debacle?

The 50 people who died in the Danish cartoon row and the 19 innocent  people who died in Afghan protests, none of whom had anything to do with Terry Jones and might not even recognize his name. Who knows how many more will die? Jones is still getting famous–even President Obama is talking about him. He is a bigot and his bigotry is getting press because we go inside a UN Mission compound and behead innocent people who have left their families to live in Afghanistan, of all places, and help the local people. Terry Jones is watching the news and basking in his bigotry.

I understand that the protests are limited to Afghanistan for the time being, but I am afraid that they will trickle down to Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries.

My plea is  simple – ignore Terry Jones.

We have other things to protest-protests that will help improve the human condition rather than result in the loss of human life.

Hate towards Terry Jones will lead us to murder innocents and destroy public and private property that hard-working individuals spend their whole lives building, and he will become more famous by the second. But if we ignore him, he will disappear.

 

also published @ Hating Terry Jones is bad for Muslims – The Express Tribune Blog.