Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category


French and Saudi archeologists make a discovery that the Saudis are keen to keep buried. The pre-Islamic period in Arabia which is now commonly referred to in Islamic folklore as jahaliyyah was in fact a period when a Jewish kingdom flourished in what is present day Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Which makes the Saudis and Israelis- particularly the Sephardi’s- cousins.

The discovery of the oldest-known early Arabic writing in Saudi Arabia, from ca. 470 CE, evidently caused some consternation, given its Christian context.

By Ariel David

In 2014, researchers from a French-Saudi expedition studying rock inscriptions in southern Saudi Arabia announced they had discovered what could be the oldest texts written in the Arabic alphabet. But they did so very quietly, perhaps because the context of the texts is something of an embarrassment to some.

The dozen or so engravings had been carved into the soft sandstone of the mountain passes around Bir Hima – a site about 100 kilometers north of the city of Najran, which over millennia has been plastered with thousands of inscriptions by passing travelers and officials. Conveniently, at least two of the early Arabic petroglyphs that were discovered cited dates in an ancient calendar, and expert epigraphists quickly calculated that the oldest one corresponded to the year 469 or 470 CE.

The discovery was sensational: the earliest ancient inscriptions using this pre-Islamic stage of Arabic script had been dated at least half a century later, and had all been found in Syria, which had suggested that the alphabet used to write the Koran had been developed far from the birthplace of Islam and its prophet.

Yet the announcement of the discovery was subdued. A few outlets in the French and Arab media tersely summarized the news, hailing the text as the “missing link” between Arabic and the earlier alphabets used previously in the region, such as Nabatean. Most of the articles were accompanied by stock photos of archaeological sites or other ancient inscriptions: it is almost impossible to find a picture of the inscription online or a reference to the actual content of the text.


MUSLIMS ACCOUNT FOR 2% OF WORLD TERRORISM.

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. How many times have you heard that one? And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists? Or Hindu?

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close

By Dean Obeidallah

THE DAILY BEAST

What percentage of terror attacks in the United States and Europe are committed by Muslims? Guess. Nope. Guess again. And again…

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.

And that comment is often followed up by the question: Why don’t we see Christian, Buddhist, or Jewish terrorists?

Obviously, there are people who sincerely view themselves as Muslims who have committed horrible acts in the name of Islam. We Muslims can make the case that their actions are not based on any part of the faith but on their own political agenda. But they are Muslims, no denying that.

However, and this will probably shock many, so you might want to take a breath: Overwhelmingly, those who have committed terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe aren’t Muslims. Let’s give that a moment to sink in.

Now, it’s not your fault if you aren’t aware of that fact. You can blame the media. (Yes, Sarah Palin and I actually agree on one thing: The mainstream media sucks.)

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.

As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.

We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.

Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.

Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.

Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.

Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.

And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).

In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

But our media simply do not cover the non-Muslim terror attacks with same gusto. Why? It’s a business decision. Stories about scary “others” play better. It’s a story that can simply be framed as good versus evil with Americans being the good guy and the brown Muslim as the bad.

Honestly, when is the last time we heard the media refer to those who attack abortion clinics as “Christian terrorists,” even though these attacks occur at one of every five reproductive health-care facilities? That doesn’t sell as well. After all we are a so-called Christian nation, so that would require us to look at the enemy within our country, and that makes many uncomfortable. Or worse, it makes them change the channel.

That’s the same reason we don’t see many stories about how to reduce the 30 Americans killed each day by gun violence or the three women per day killed by domestic violence. But the media will have on expert after expert discussing how can we stop these scary brown Muslims from killing any more Americans despite the fact you actually have a better chance of being killed by a refrigerator falling on you.

Look, this article is not going to change the media’s business model. But what I hope it does is cause some to realize that not all terrorists are Muslims. In fact, they are actually a very small percent of those that are. Now, I’m not saying to ignore the dangers posed by Islamic radicals. I’m just saying look out for those refrigerators.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/14/are-all-terrorists-muslims-it-s-not-even-close.html?via=desktop&source=facebook


Across much of the Middle East today, a sad truth prevails: decades of bad governance have caused richly diverse societies to fracture along ethno-sectarian lines. In Iraq, it is now evident that Shiite Islamists will not accept secular-nationalist rule by Sunnis or Shiites and that neither camp will accept rule by Sunni Islamists, especially the radical version espoused by the Islamic State.

The relatively secular Kurds, meanwhile, are unwilling to live under Arab rule of any sort. In short, these powerful groups’ visions of life, religion, and politics are fundamentally incompatible. As for the minority Christian, Shabak, Yazidi, Sabean Mandaean, and Jewish communities that once numbered in the millions and occupied Mesopotamia for millennia, they have faced the Hobbesian fate of violent death or permanent displacement.

Iraq in Pieces
Breaking Up to Stay Together
By Ali Khedery

American leaders contemplating Iraq have made a habit of substituting unpleasant realities with rosy assessments based on questionable assumptions. In 1991, after the Gulf War, the George H. W. Bush administration hoped that Iraqis would rise up against Saddam Hussein and encouraged them to do so, only to abandon them to the Republican Guard. In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, officially embracing regime change and transferring millions of dollars to an Iranian-backed convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration assumed that toppling Saddam would lead to stability rather than chaos when the U.S. military “shocked and awed” its way to Baghdad. In 2005, as the country descended into violence, Vice President Dick Cheney insisted that the insurgency was in its “last throes.”

In 2010, still flushed with the success of Bush’s “surge,” Vice President Joe Biden forecast that President Barack Obama’s Iraq policy was “going to be one of the great achievements of this administration,” lauding Iraqis for using “the political process, rather than guns, to settle their differences.” And in 2012, even as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was running an increasingly authoritarian and dysfunctional regime, the administration continued its happy talk. “Many predicted that the violence would return and Iraq would slide back toward sectarian war,” said Antony Blinken, then Biden’s national security adviser. “Those predictions proved wrong.”

Today, of course, the Iraqi army has all but collapsed, despite some $25 billion in U.S. assistance. Shiite militants who have sworn allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader operate with impunity. And the Islamic State (or ISIS) dominates more than a third of Iraq and half of Syria. Obama’s successor will thus certainly earn the distinction of becoming the fifth consecutive president to bomb Iraq.

Still, the next resident of the White House can choose to avoid the mistakes of his or her predecessors by refusing to unconditionally empower corrupt and divisive Iraqi leaders in the hope that they will somehow create a stable, prosperous country. If Iraq continues on its current downward spiral, as is virtually certain, Washington should accept the fractious reality on the ground, abandon its fixation with artificial borders, and start allowing the various parts of Iraq and Syria to embark on the journey to self-determination. That process would no doubt be rocky and even bloody, but at this point, it represents the best chance of containing the sectarian violence and protecting the remainder of the Middle East from still further chaos.

DECLINE AND FALL

Since the founding of modern Iraq in 1920, the country has rarely witnessed extended peace and stability. Under the Ottoman Empire, the sultans ruled the territory as three separate vilayat, or provinces, with governors independently administering Mosul in the north, Baghdad in the center, and Basra in the south. After the Allied victory in World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, however, the Treaty of Sèvres created new and artificial borders to divide the spoils. France assumed a mandate over the Levant, and the British were determined to carve out a sphere of influence in oil-rich Mesopotamia, installing a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, Faisal bin al-Hussein, as Iraq’s first monarch in 1921.

By 1932, however, King Faisal I had already concluded that Iraq made little sense as a nation:

With my heart filled with sadness, I have to say that it is my belief that there is no Iraqi people inside Iraq. There are only diverse groups with no national sentiments. They are filled with superstitious and false religious traditions with no common grounds between them. They easily accept rumors and are prone to chaos, prepared always to revolt against any government.

Those words would prove prophetic, and in 1958, his grandson, Faisal II, was murdered in a coup d’état along with the royal family. Three revolutions and counterrevolutions followed before the Arab Socialist Baath Party took power in 1968, with Saddam seizing total control in 1979.

Once the center of regional politics, science, culture, and commerce, Iraq regressed on every front under Saddam. In the 1980s, his Anfal campaign exterminated tens of thousands of Kurds, and his disastrous war with Iran left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. His equally catastrophic incursion into Kuwait in 1990 led to a lost war, the ruthless suppression of Kurdish and Shiite rebellions, a dozen years of devastating sanctions, and some $130 billion in debt. Not even Saddam’s core constituency of Sunnis was immune from frequent pogroms; countless relatives of Saddam, party officials, generals, and tribal chieftains were liquidated over the years. These decades of misrule caused a majority of Iraqis—not just Kurds and Shiites but also exiled Islamists and secular Sunnis—to reject Baghdad’s rule.

The post-Saddam Iraq that emerged after the 2003 U.S. invasion was supposed to be different. Having failed to unearth weapons of mass destruction, the United States expended an extraordinary amount of resources to compensate for the error and pursue pluralism, stability, prosperity, democracy, and good governance. Some 4,500 U.S. soldiers were killed and 32,000 wounded, not to mention the trillions of dollars in direct and indirect costs and the millions of dead or displaced Iraqis. Yet the intervention ultimately failed, because it empowered a new set of elites who drew their legitimacy almost purely from divisive ethno-sectarian agendas rather than from visions of truth, reconciliation, the rule of law, and national unity.

Shortly after the invasion, Machiavellian politicians pressed U.S. officials to disband the Iraqi army as they hijacked the U.S.-instituted De-Baathification Commission and used it to extort or purge their secular political opponents, Sunni and Shiite alike. Hundreds of thousands were left permanently unemployed, embittered, and primed to seek violent retribution against the new order.

In the mountainous north, Kurdish leaders sought to consolidate the considerable gains they had achieved through self-governance following the introduction of a no-fly zone in 1991. After a vicious civil war in the mid-1990s, they established the semiautonomous Kurdistan Region, securing peace and attracting foreign investment. Once Saddam was gone, they maintained control of key positions in Baghdad under a new ethno-sectarian quota system as a hedge against further repression.

In the south, the Shiite Islamist parties that had battled Saddam’s secular Baath Party for decades, often with Iran’s covert support, emerged victorious and sought to compensate for past repression. They asserted their will as the majority by defying the Baath’s taboos and establishing numerous official religious holidays, cementing their brand of religious values in the national school curriculum, and placing members of the armed wings of their religious political parties on government payrolls. In the halls of power in Baghdad, the word of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the highest authority in Shiite Islam, reigned supreme.

Iraq’s minority Sunnis, the nation’s ruling elite for centuries, found themselves in disarray. To correct perceived injustices, they eventually settled on a strategy of boycotting democracy in favor of insurgency and terrorism. Hopelessly divided and lacking leadership and vision, Sunni Arabs often fell into the trap of battling the U.S. military occupation and the surging influence of their historical arch-nemesis, Shiite Persian Iran, by striking a deal with the devil: al Qaeda.

So began an endless cycle of killing among militant radicals of all stripes, from remnants of the Baath Party to al Qaeda in Iraq to the Iranian-backed Shiite militias. With each religiously charged atrocity, the Iraqi national identity grew weaker, and the millennia-old senses of self—tribal, ethnic, and religious—grew stronger.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect flee violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, and walk towards the Syrian border, August, 2014.
RODI SAID / REUTERS

Of all the main forces, perhaps the single most corrosive was Maliki, a duplicitous and divisive politician who served as prime minister beginning in 2006. After he lost the 2010 elections, he managed to stay in office through a power-sharing deal backed by Washington and Tehran, only to consolidate his authority further by retaining personal control of the interior, defense, and intelligence ministries, among other important bodies. With Obama distracted by the global economic meltdown and advised by top aides that Maliki was a nationalist rather than a sectarian, the prime minister secured nearly unconditional Iranian and U.S. backing and purged professional officers in favor of incompetent loyalists. He intentionally pitted organs of the state and his hard-line Shiite Islamist constituency against all manner of opponents: Shiite secularists, Sunni Islamists, Sunni secularists, Kurds, and even rival Shiite Islamists.

With each religiously charged atrocity, the Iraqi national identity grew weaker, and the millennia-old senses of self—tribal, ethnic, and religious—grew stronger.

Although Maliki achieved many successes during his first term, which coincided with Bush’s surge, his second, from 2010 to 2014, was catastrophic. Violence rose from the post-2003 lows to new heights. Entire divisions of the Iraqi army melted away in the face of vastly smaller forces, leaving billions of dollars’ worth of vehicles, weapons, and ammunition behind for use by terrorists. The entirety of Iraq’s Sunni heartland fell to the Islamic State. Baghdad’s relations with Iraqi Kurdi-stan and the Sunni provinces collapsed, and the central government lost control over more than half its territory. The Iranian-backed Shiite militias that Maliki had once crushed rebounded so ferociously in the face of the Islamic State’s assaults that they now likely outnumber the official Iraqi security forces. Most damning, both the Islamic State and the Shiite militias now wield advanced U.S. military hardware as they commit atrocities throughout Iraq.

Across much of the Middle East today, a sad truth prevails: decades of bad governance have caused richly diverse societies to fracture along ethno-sectarian lines. In Iraq, it is now evident that Shiite Islamists will not accept secular-nationalist rule by Sunnis or Shiites and that neither camp will accept rule by Sunni Islamists, especially the radical version espoused by the Islamic State. The relatively secular Kurds, meanwhile, are unwilling to live under Arab rule of any sort. In short, these powerful groups’ visions of life, religion, and politics are fundamentally incompatible. As for the minority Christian, Shabak, Yazidi, Sabean Mandaean, and Jewish communities that once numbered in the millions and occupied Mesopotamia for millennia, they have faced the Hobbesian fate of violent death or permanent displacement.

FROM BAD TO WORSE

Despite some tactical gains, such as the liberation of Tikrit, the strategic situation has only gotten worse since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi succeeded Maliki in September 2014. Over the past year, the Islamic State has enhanced its position, even in the face of coalition bombing campaigns chronicled on Twitter by top U.S. officials, who, echoing General William Westmoreland during the Vietnam War, cite body counts and the number of air strikes as metrics for success. Mosul was taken by the Islamic State in June 2014; today, few are talking about liberating it anytime soon, and the terrorists have thrust forward to capture Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province. The barbarians that Obama dismissed as the “JV team” are now a few dozen miles from the gates of Baghdad, as they expand their reach in Syria and establish franchises across Africa and Asia. Earlier this year, when I asked one of Iraq’s deputy premiers how Baghdad looked, he shrugged and said, “How should I know? I can’t leave the Green Zone.”

The collapse of the Iraqi security forces and the rise of the Shiite militias have weakened Baghdad’s already feeble grip on the country and empowered Tehran, since the militias have sworn allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader and are directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. U.S. military commanders have rightly voiced alarm over the growing strength and popularity of these terrorist groups, which are responsible for bombing U.S. and allied embassies and killing and maiming thousands of Iraqi, U.S., and coalition troops. Every time the militias thrust into Sunni enclaves, they carry out new atrocities and displace more people, inevitably enhancing the Islamic State’s appeal. Every time the Islamic State bombs innocent Shiite civilians, the Shiite militias grow stronger, and the Iraqi government grows weaker.

Compounding Baghdad’s nightmare has been the plunge in oil prices, which has left Abadi’s government with a budget deficit in the tens of billions of dollars, a limited ability to borrow on the international capital markets, and the prospect of looming stagflation. Youth unemployment has stayed chronically high. This past summer, with temperatures rising well above 120 degrees Fahrenheit and households having no more than a few hours of water and electricity per day, the seething population was primed to explode.

And that is precisely what happened. In July, tens of thousands of largely peaceful and secular protesters filled public squares across Baghdad and the provincial capitals of southern Iraq, decrying sectarianism, corruption, the lack of jobs, and nonexistent government services. Angrier protesters burned in effigy leading national politicians, namely Maliki, who was now one of Iraq’s three vice presidents yet still wielding power behind the scenes in a bid to undermine Abadi. Government offices in Maliki’s hometown were sacked, and crowds threatened violent action against the Basra-based international oil companies, Iraq’s only economic lifelines.

After Abadi announced limited reforms, Sistani, sensing mass unrest and a budding threat from rival clerics in Iran, instructed Abadi through his representatives’ weekly sermons to “be more daring and courageous.” In response, Abadi announced a series of major reforms, including the abolishment of the offices of the three deputy premiers and the three vice presidents, along with 11 of 33 cabinet posts. To overcome paralysis and hold officials accountable, Abadi promised to eliminate the ethno-sectarian quota system in the government and prosecute dozens of top civilian and uniformed leaders for corruption and dereliction of their duties in the face of the Islamic State’s assault.

In a rare show of unity, parliament unanimously adopted the measures on August 11. Mass rallies erupted in Baghdad, with protesters chanting, “We are all Abadi.” But Maliki and the other two vice presidents refused to step down, insisting that their positions were constitutionally mandated. And so the paralysis in Baghdad continued.

A week after the reforms were approved, Sistani issued a direct and dire warning. Iraq’s politicians had not served the people, and their misdeeds had enabled the rise of the Islamic State, he argued. “If true reform is not realized,” he said, Iraq could be dragged into “partition and the like, God forbid.”

So began the most recent chapter of the centuries-long intra-Shiite rivalry, as Sistani and Abadi battled Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his favored proxies in Iraq, namely, Maliki and the militia commanders, for control of Mesopotamia.

Although little noticed or understood in the West, and in a reminder than no major ethno-sectarian group can ever be monolithic, Shiite Arab and Shiite Persian rivalries have persisted for centuries, pitting Iraq’s Najaf seminary against Iran’s Qom establishment. At the time of this writing, Najaf’s Sistani is discreetly blasting Iran’s leading militia in Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah, for its alleged involvement in kidnapping 18 Turkish civilians and for its threat to target the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Undeterred, Tehran is attempting to consolidate its gains over Arabia, where, as the former Iranian intelligence minister Ali Younesi declared in March, “Iran has become an empire . . . and its current capital is Baghdad.”

Given the hellish combination of regional proxy wars and conflict between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites and between its Arabs and Kurds—and within each group as well—the most dangerous era of modern Iraqi history may have only just begun.

Enemy of my enemy: an Iraqi Shiite fighter near Fallujah, July 2015.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

It is hard to see how members of the feckless national political elite, who built their reputations by sowing ethno-sectarian hatreds, can satisfy impatient protesters in the coming months. Following decades of misrule under Saddam and Maliki, there is little reason to believe that a critical mass of pluralistic Iraqi nationalists remains to salvage the Iraqi national identity. The divisions now run too deep. As Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, once put it to me, “The Shia fear past repression, the Sunnis fear future repression, and we Kurds fear both.”

Nor is there much reason to believe that Iraq can rid itself of the corruption that is ingrained in the very dna of the post-2003 order. Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds, secularists and Islamists—whatever their disagreements, all have been united not by God but by greed. The insatiable lust for power and money evidenced by virtually every national leader I met during my more than 2,100 days of U.S. government service in Iraq still leaves me dazed: a Kurdish official’s $2 million Bugatti Veyron parked along several other supercars at his beachfront villa abroad, the private airplanes of a secretive Sunni financier with several cabinet members in his pocket, a junior Shiite Islamist official’s $150,000 Breguet wristwatch to complement his $5,000 monthly salary from the office of the prime minister. These are the small fish.

Given the hellish combination of regional proxy wars and conflict between Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites and between its Arabs and Kurds—and within each group as well—the most dangerous era of modern Iraqi history may have only just begun.

As one friend, a tireless but beleaguered Iraqi civil servant, put it to me early during the war, “Under Saddam Hussein, our ministers dreamt of stealing millions. If Saddam caught them, they were immediately executed. Only Saddam and his sons dared steal en masse. These people you Americans have brought to rule us—they’re stealing billions.” My friend earns about $500 per month, an average wage. Years after we visited the White House together, his home was accidentally bombed by U.S. aircraft, wiping out his family’s life savings. The Pentagon offered him no apology or reparations. His fiancée was then shot in the head by a passing foreign security convoy; she suffered permanent brain damage and paralysis. The son of a Sunni father and a Shiite mother, like millions of Iraqis of mixed descent, he fears kidnapping and murder by both the Sunnis of the Islamic State and the Shiites of the Iranian-backed death squads.

A SEPARATE PEACE

There is no question now that George W. Bush waged a poorly conceived and poorly executed war. There is also no question now that Obama precipitously and irresponsibly disengaged from Iraq after backing a divisive leader in Maliki. Washington’s Iraq policy failures have transcended administrations and parties. But the next president has a chance to do better.

In an ideal world, Abadi would survive the looming assassination and coup attempts, and the current Iraqi government would not only remain intact through 2017 but also become functional. Baghdad would mend the country’s ethno-sectarian divisions, slash corruption by prosecuting and jailing top officials (starting with senior judicial and cabinet figures), and reverse the advances of the Islamic State and the Shiite militias. If this somehow happens, Washington should reward Iraq’s leaders by continuing the Bush-Obama strategy of diplomatically backing a strong central government while providing military and counterterrorism assistance strictly conditioned on further reforms.

It is far more likely, however, that Iraq will continue its current slide and its government will keep failing to fulfill its basic obligations to deliver security and services. In that case, the next U.S. president should act decisively to prevent Iraq from degenerating into a second Syria, a zombie state terrorizing its citizens, exporting millions of refugees, and incubating jihad. This would mean openly encouraging confederal decentralization across Iraq and Syria—devolving powers from Baghdad and Damascus to the provinces while maintaining the two countries’ territorial integrity. In extreme circumstances, Washington might resort to embracing Balkan-style partition and a new regional political order.

Such a policy would represent a sharp departure for the U.S. national security establishment, which, among other things, has difficulty adapting to the unforeseen and dealing with nontraditional actors. Yet precisely because Washington’s traditional authoritarian counterparts have failed so spectacularly, it is nonstate actors that now dominate the Middle East. As a result, across the region, millions of youth have become disillusioned and radicalized, and extremists have exploited power vacuums to wage transnational jihad.

As it acknowledges the realities festering on the ground today, the United States will have to adopt an overarching strategy for the Middle East, one that goes far beyond Obama’s counterterrorism-focused approach. In Iraq and Syria, artificial borders have been erased, and the governments in Baghdad and Damascus have lost legitimacy in the eyes of millions of citizens. Because Washington can no longer deal with these governments as the exclusive representatives of their people, it will have to work with the world’s other great powers and the Middle East’s regional powers—Iran, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and the Arab monarchies—to define new spheres of influence.

This process will be neither quick nor easy and will involve hundreds of delicate maneuvers. To begin with, however, the United States should work through the UN Security Council to launch a Middle East détente initiative that brings everyone to the table, much as Clinton convened various stakeholders in the Dayton peace talks to end the Bosnian war. Although it is not without risk, the strategy will rest on embracing the universal right to self-determination guaranteed by the UN Charter.

To that end, global and regional powers should agree on a new political order, try to broker cease-fires, deploy peacekeepers, and, as administrative and security conditions permit, allow every district in Iraq and Syria to conduct cascades of UN-monitored referendums. Although Iran may play a spoiler role and seek to preserve its ability to attack Israel by securing its land bridge across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, it can eventually be neutralized by unanimous global pressure, as the recent nuclear deal demonstrated. Some Sunni powers will surely deploy their own dirty tricks in an attempt to predetermine outcomes; global powers must make it clear that there will be zero tolerance for such behavior and, more important, that they are prepared to inflict tangible pain if bad acts continue. They must also make it explicit that the civilized world is now at war with radical militant Islamists and that state sponsorship of these terrorists, whether Sunni or Shiite, will no longer be tolerated.

Under the present conditions, one can imagine that the Syrians would vote for rump Alawite, Christian, and Druze enclaves along the Mediterranean coast, one or more Sunni Arab governments across the heartland (which would rise up against the Islamic State in an Iraq-style “tribal awakening” should the appropriate campaign plan be adopted), and a semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north. The first would fall under the spheres of influence of Iran and Russia, while the latter two would fall under the Turkish, Arab, and Western spheres. No longer caught in the clutches of a genocidal dictator, Syria’s diverse and industrious population could begin to rebuild, just as the war-ravaged citizens of Germany, Japan, and Korea once did. To cement truth and reconciliation, the Security Council will have to guarantee mass amnesty, or, should the stakeholders agree, the International Criminal Court will need to start indicting perpetrators of war crimes from all factions in a bid to deter further bloodletting.

With constant international rewards for good behavior and sanctions for bad behavior, self-determination always produces better results than authoritarianism

In neighboring Iraq, a nearly identical pattern has already emerged on the ground. The Shiite provinces would likely choose to form anywhere between one and nine regions; oil-rich Basra, for instance, has been threatening self-rule for a decade in the face of Baghdad’s failure to deliver security and services. The Sunni provinces would form between one and three regions and cleanse their territories of the Islamic State through a reinvigor-ated and internationally supported “tribal awakening.” And Iraqi Kurdistan would no doubt continue down the path toward economic self-sufficiency, leveraging the opportunity to export oil and gas to Turkey and the European Union. Special independent status could be granted to the diverse and geopolitically sensitive provinces of Baghdad, Diyala, and Kirkuk (à la the District of Columbia), in a last ditch effort at maintaining their pluralism. Unlike in Syria, in Iraq, many of these processes are already permitted by the constitution.

As Iraqi Kurdistan demonstrated during the 1990s, transitions to self-determination are often attended by regional interference, warlordism, corruption, cronyism, and internecine conflict. Nonetheless, as that case has also shown, with time—and with constant international rewards for good behavior and sanctions for bad behavior—self-determination always produces better results than authoritarianism. Were Saddam still terrorizing the Kurds today, a Kurdish insurgency would be raging stronger than ever. Instead, autonomous rule in Kurdistan, albeit far from perfect, has contributed to relative security and the development of basic infrastructure and economic opportunity. This should serve as a model for the rest of Iraq and Syria.

Indeed, those eager to destroy the Islamic State at any cost should remember that al Qaeda in Iraq was defeated not by the U.S. military and intelligence services, the Kurdish Pesh Merga, or Iranian proxies but by Sunni Arab Iraqis, who led the fight with international support. Likewise, al Qaeda in Iraq’s supercharged successor, the Islamic State, can never be defeated by air strikes or foreign boots on the ground alone. The Islamic State’s root cause—poor governance—is indigenous. Thus its root solution—good governance—must also be indigenous. Only local actors can break the vicious cycle of poverty, disenchantment, radicalization, and extremism and spark a virtuous cycle that offers security, jobs, education, moderation, dignity, and, most critically, hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

Barring a miracle, managed decentralization across Iraq and Syria may soon be the only viable path ahead. The next U.S. president could choose to respond to the inevitable crises there by following an ideological course, as his or her predecessors did, or attempt to manage them actively yet rationally. With or without Washington, a new reality is dawning on Mesopotamia.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/iraq/2015-09-22/iraq-pieces?cid=soc-fb-rdr


The ECONOMIST has a interesting piece on Islam’s two big sects, the Sunni and the Shia. Just wanna share!

CLASHES between Islam’s two big sects, the Sunni and the Shia, take place across the Muslim world. In the Middle East a potent mix of religion and politics has sharpened the divide between Iran’s Shia government and the Gulf states, which have Sunni governments. Last year a report by the Pew Research Centre, a think tank, found 40% of Sunnis do not consider Shia to be proper Muslims. So what exactly divides Sunni and Shia Islam and how deep does the rift go?

The argument dates back to the death in 632 of Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad.

continue reading here………


Wishing all my Muslim brothers and sisters, young and old, near and dear, wherever you are, a very happy and blessed Eid Mubarrak! May there be peace and love among all… and may all your wishes come true.

And also not forgetting my friend Raja Petra Kamaruddin aka Pet and his family in Manchester, UK.

SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI..MAAF ZAHIR DAN BATIN!

from my heart,

Salam!


My Muslim hero has always been Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī. He is better known as Rumi. Rumi is an Islamic Sufi mystic from the 13th century who lived in what is now Konya, Turkey. I got really interested in Rumi when I first read about Rumi a number of years ago and ever since then I have been searching and learning about Sufism. I chose Rumi as my Muslim hero because I believe that Rumi is a shining example of the things I admire most about culture. Growing up as a non-Muslim in Malaysia I had become accustomed to the powers-that-be treating me differently because of my religion. I got used to thinking that the first thing the government see when they look at me is not the type of person I am, it’s my religion.

I assumed that’s how its going to be for a long long time in Malaysia because religion is used to the maximum by the powers-that-be. That all changed when for the first time I met a Sufi in India in 1980. I was welcomed with open arms and he wanted to get to know me the person. He brought me to the Sufi Center in New Delhi. For the first time in my life I forgot about my religion and could just be myself. It was a complete culture shock for me because for once I wasn’t judged based on my religion. I cannot even put into words how good it felt. I think this is a shining example of Rumi’s teachings on love and tolerance.

I see so many similarities between Rumi’s teachings and Hinduism and even Christianity. Sufism also has meditation as an essential part of prayer. For instance Rumi and his followers used simple music in meditation and prayer so that they can bring themselves closer to God. Perhaps the most critical and mind boggling event was when I saw both Muslims and non-Muslims praying together. This made me open my eyes. It taught me that I too can participate in things like Ramadan without compromising my identity or my belief.

These cross culture experiences have led me to be a stronger and well-rounded person. Therefore Rumi will always be my Muslim hero because he has helped me to understand the true meaning of peace, tolerance and love.

I want to post here a video of another Muslim I admire a lot, someone I recently discovered. He is Author of “The Arab Awakening” and Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, Tariq Ramadan. In this video Professor Tariq shares his thoughts on applying Islamic values in a multi-ethnic society like Malaysia. Among some of the other things he talks about in this video is the Hudud Law, equality between the rich and poor, setting up of an Islamic state and the level of tolerance Muslims should have towards homosexuals.

Watch this…


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Pas President Hadi Awang should not have said that only a “Malay” Muslim — probably “determined” by a DNA test a la Pas — will be Prime Minister if and when Pakatan Rakyat (PR) seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya and initiates, forms and leads the Federal Government.

Is he implying that a “Malay” Muslim is not the Prime Minister now and that “Malay” Muslims have never held the post?

What he said is not unlawful in a Court of Law.

However, it’s unconstitutional to say such things and therefore not lawful, and certainly inconsiderate and hurtful of the feelings of the non-“Malays” including Muslims.

Besides, it’s not the done thing to say such things and further alienate, for one, the good people on the other side of the South China Sea who are neither “Malays”, despite speaking Malay, nor for the most part Muslims. Why should Sabah and Sarawak be in Malaysia if they are denied the Prime Minister’s post.

Already, “Malaysians” in Borneo are saying things like that they are not really in Malaysia and claiming that they still retain the self-determination they obtained on 31 Aug 1963 (Sabah) and 22 July 1963 (Sarawak).

They are screaming internal colonisation — caught between the evil extremes of ketuanan Melayu and grinding poverty — and are demanding that the United Nations Security Council step in on Putrajaya’s non-compliance on the four constitutional documents and/or conventions which formed the basis on which they were “persuaded” by the Malayans and British to help form and participate in the Federation of Malaysia viz. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); the 20/18 Points (20/18 P); the Inter Governmental Committee Report (IGCR); and the Cobbold Commission Report (CCR).

Perhaps Hadi wants to discontinue the peculiar situation where the Prime Ministers so far have not been “Malay” in his mould and at the same time rule out the possibility of Lim Guan Eng, or “even worse” notorious Islam-baiter Karpal Singh — “an Islamic state over my dead body” — being Prime Minister.

LGE was silly enough to say that the Constitution was “silent” on who could be Prime Minister and thereby kill his chances at the top job.

Does he want to be confined to Penang for the rest of his political life? Doesn’t he want to continue from where Lee Kuan Yew left off after Singapore was kicked out from Malaysia? He should not fear that Penang, like Singapore, will be kicked out as well to thwart his known Prime Ministerial ambitions.

No one can play the same trick thrice.

The first was when West Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and East Bengal were kicked out from India through partition to prevent Mohd Ali Jinnah becoming the first Prime Minister after independence in 1947.That’s how Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister and went on to build a political dynasty which is still around.

Jinnah died of TB less than a year after Pakistan was created.

Nehru could have waited but he simply couldn’t just like Lee Kuan Yew who was in too much of a hurry. Lee regrets to this day, like Anwar Ibrahim not so long ago, and like the latter keeps kicking himself every day and crying himself to sleep on having lost the chance to be Prime Minister of Malaysia. Lee even promised Donald Stephens of Sabah that he would be Deputy Prime Minister when he became Prime Minister. It seems it was the Tunku’s idea. So, Stephens dropped his opposition to Malaysia.

The Constitution is anything but silent on the issue of the Prime Minister’s post.

LGE should read the Constitution, like a Bible, briefly five times daily if he wants to convince himself that he’s qualified to be Prime Minister. Penang should not be in Malaysia if its Chief Minister is disqualified from gunning for the top political job in the country on the dubious grounds of race and religion. If LGE can’t be Prime Minister of Malaysia, even though qualified and eligible, should he “go back” to China to be one?

Why didn’t Hadi give the name of the person who will be his candidate for the PM’s post?

Is Anwar Ibrahim finally out of the picture at PR because he’s not really “Malay” at all given his Tamil Hindu grandfather?

That means Anwar will have to “go back” to Tamil Nadu to be Chief Minister and from there wrest the job of Prime Minister of India away from Manmohan Singh. Probably, he will have some competition here from Karpal Singh. In India, one will not be denied the Prime Minister’s job on the grounds of being from a minority. Jinnah was just unfortunate to run into Nehru.

Again, why “Malay” Muslim?

Are there “Malays” in Malaysia who are not Muslim?

Is this also a broader Hadi reference and “safeguard” against the non-Muslims in Umno’s “Rumpun Melayu” (Malay Group) theory under which every Tom, Dick and Harry — from Bugis and Suluk to Dusun, Dayak to Acehnese — on the islands of south east Asia is “Malay”, becoming Prime Minister? Where does the Orang Asli fit in?

Why didn’t Hadi just say “Malay”?

Is the term “Malay” Muslim being used to rule out Muslims like Mahathir Mohamad who came from Kerala, southwest India and denied Tengku Razaleigh, a “Malay” in Hadi’s mould, the Prime Minister’s job not once but twice.

Mahathir went on to become the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia by default and, by sheer cunning, still managed to cling onto the post even after it was discovered in Court by a “Malay” Judge from Kerala that he actually lost the 1987 Umno presidential elections but sneaked in votes from 30 illegal branches to “win” by 43 votes. The Judge, a Malayalee backing another Malayalee, refused to discount the illegal votes and award Razaleigh the Umno presidency.

Hadi’s statement means that Tunku Abdul Rahman, whose mother was Thai and from across the border, was not “Malay”.

Also, Tun Abdul Razak (Bugis); Hussein Onn (more Turk than anything else); Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Chinese on one side and Arab on the other side); and Najib (Razak’s son) were all not “Malays” in Hadi’s mould, even though Malay-speaking, and therefore cannot be forgiven.

Who are these “Malays” which Hadi keeps referring to? Will the term under PR exclude people who are not “Malay” like the Bugis, Javanese — think Khir Toyo — Minang, Acehnese etc but use Malay as their lingua franca and are considered “Malay” by Umno which is also infested with Indian Muslims?

Why not say Muslim since Hadi said they — obviously including the “secret Malay Christians” — form the single biggest group in Malaysia?

Why are the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts and Dayaks — the real Natives of Malaysia — being denied a shot at the PM’s post under the Hadi formula by the emphasis on the candidate being Muslim?

Jeffrey Kitingan — “why can’t a Sabahan be Prime Minister?” — must be crying himself to sleep every night in the cold of Tambunan in the high country over Hadi’s statement. It’s an open secret in Sabah that Jeffrey wants to be Prime Minister when a hung Parliament materialises as he expects after the 13th General Election and the 3rd Force comes marching in.

In London, Kelantan-born Hindraf Makkal Sakthi supremo P. Waythamoorthy must be fuming mad with Hadi. He must be planning to go to Court to get the Pas President legally certified as insane.

It’s the King who decides who will be PM — unless Nik Aziz by some miracle becomes King — and he will have to pick a person wiho is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members in the Dewan Rakyat.

That person must of course be a Malaysian citizen who is not bankrupt or has not been certified legally insane by a Court of Law.

Preferably, the Prime Minister-designate should not — “this is not in the Constitution” — be suspected of having skeletons in the cupboard like being on the take, being on crack, hitting the bottle every night, having blood on the hands, sleeping around, being chased by a C4 ghost every night or cannot avoid creating situations in Court casting doubt on his sense of moral values.

Since Hadi mentioned “Malay” Muslim, let’s consider Native status in Malaysia lest he’s under some delusion that his “Malay” Muslims are Natives.

The Principle of Law in determining Native status is that Natives are the 1st people in a defined geopraphical area, we don’t know where they came from, & this is the only place where they can be found.

Of course, it’s not really necessary to have all the criteria as in the case of the Native Indians — we know where they came from — in America.

The 1st criteria would suffice and is a pre-requisite.

So, that’s why the Federal Contitution does not state that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia — they are actually Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese and the like — are Natives.

So, the Thai in Tunku Abdul Rahman coined the term Bumiputera (sons of the soil) as an umbrella term to include the Malay-speaking communities along with the true Natives viz. the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts & Dayaks.

The Constitution, reflecting Umno’s philosophy, defines all “Malays” as Muslims but that does not mean all Muslims are “Malays”.

There’s no Principle of Law on all Muslims being “Malays.”

So, Indian Muslims like Mahathir for example are wrong when they claim to be “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Example: if all Pakistanis are stupid, does it mean that all stupid people are Pakistanis?

Similarly, it cannot be said that all Muslims are “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Since the Malay-speaking communities are not the Natives of Peninsular M’sia, they cannot come under the umbrella term Bumiputera either and should not claim to have a divine monopoly on the Prime Minister’s post.

The Malay-speaking communities, whether Muslim or otherwise, should not deny others especially the Natives, the Prime Minister’s post.

There is a Malay language, which historically began as a dialect in Cambodia, and was developed by the Hindus and Buddhists to emerge as the lingua franca of the Archipelago for missionary work and religion, education, trade and administration. That’s how the Malay language became the basis for the development of a national language in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia with the departure of the colonialists.

The “Malay” in the Malay Archipelago refers to the language and not any race.

There is no such thing as a “Malay” race despite what Hadi thinks or a “Malay” Group (Rumpun Melayu) as Umno likes to claim. Indonesia — Indos Nesos or Indian Islands in Greek — would never agree with the Rumpun “Melayu” theory.

“Malay” Nationalism is a concept created in Singapore by Muslims from Kerala to rally support against Chinese economic domination. The Origin of Malay Nationalism by Professor William Roff refers.

DNA studies show that all the people of southeast Asia are from a common stock.

They are descended from the Dravidians — archaic (old) Caucasoids — who made their way from south India, along the coast, to south China and Taiwan and mated with the Mongolian tribes living there.

We should cross the bridge on the Prime Minister’s post rather than delude ourself into wishful thinking, living on hope and fairy tales to convince the King in defiance of the Federal Constitution.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Perkasa’s latest allegations on the Christians, given undeserved space by Malaysiakini, are going viral on the net.

This is the first time that a Muslim, Ibrahim Ali, has threatened to launch a Crusade — Perang Salib or War of the Cross — against Christians. So far, all Crusades in world history have been launched by Christians against Muslim occupation of the Holy Land.

If Perkasa wants to fight for the Cross, Christians would no doubt welcome it.

Christians have long considered Islam as a protestant branch of their faith.

If World Islam had a head, it could have decided like all the other Protestant Churches to join the Ecumenical Council initiated by the Vatican. The result so far, among others, has been a decision by the 77 million strong Anglican Church to return to the Vatican’s fold.

Perhaps what Ibrahim really means is a War of the Crescent or Perang Bulan Sabit against Christians and not Perang Salib. Why would any Muslim, unless he has become an apostate (murtad), launch a Perang Salib?

Ibrahim Ali is one confused character.

That’s why his threat to launch a Perang Salib against Christians has drawn no response from them and has sent malaysiakini, his equally ignorant co-backer besides Mahathir Mohamad, up the wall.

Ibrahim, the right-wing NGO’s Chief, has accused Christians of almost everything from converting Malays to the faith to plotting to put a Christian as the Prime Minister of Malaysia and declaring Christianity — presumably Roman Catholicism — as the national religion to thereby place the country on the world map as a Christian state, whatever that means.

There’s not even one Christian state in the world, given the separation of Church and State in the religion.

So, if Malaysia becomes a Christian state, it would be a world first.

Malaysia Boleh!

It was not so long ago that the Serbs fought tooth-and-nail against Bosnia-Herzegovina emerging as the first Islamic state in Europe. The Dayton Peace Accord subsequently outlawed the concept of an Islamic state in Europe and renewed its commitment to secularism.

In any case, if Perkasa’s allegations are the Gospel truth, to put a pun on them, the Christians could not be wrong by any yardstick.

The majority of the land area of Malaysia — Sabah and Sarawak — is Christian.
The 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 20/18 Points clearly states that Sabah and Sarawak would have no state religion.

The Dusuns — including Kadazans or urban Dusuns — and Muruts, the overwhelming majority of the Natives in Malaysia, are Christian.

The Orang Asli, the only recognised Native group in Peninsular Malaysia, are mostly either Christian or Pagan.

The Federal Constitution, and rightly so, does not state anywhere that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia are natives of the land. Bumiputera is not a term in law or the Constitution.

Again, while Article 3 of the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the Federation, it goes on to add that followers of other religions are free to practice their respective faiths in peace and harmony in all its constituent parts.

The freedom of worship guaranteed by the Constitution covers all citizens.

Under law, the Malay-speaking communities are free to profess any religion. There can be no compulsion to get anyone to profess this or that faith only. That would not only be against the very letter and spirit of the Constitution but also against international laws, against the United Nations Charter and against the Human Rights Charter.

The truth cannot be swept under the carpet just to serve the political interests of an elite group in power or aspiring to come to power.

There’s no contradiction here since no faith, according to the Federal Constitution, is the national or even official faith of the country.

Malaysia remains a secular state despite Perkasa raving and ranting against Christians and Mahathir declaring not so long ago, during his last days in office, that the country was an Islamic state. Pas was among the first to point out the sheer lunacy of Mahathir’s statement.

An Islamic state is one in which God is the head of state, the Quran is the Constitution and the Syariah — the Path of God — forms the basis of a still to evolve legal system.

By this definition, it need not be repeated, that Malaysia is no Islamic state. A state cannot be classified as an Islamic state simply because members of the Muslim faith are in a slight majority in the demographic make-up.

In fact there’s not even one Islamic state in the world and that holds true for Saudi Arabia as well and Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan — which broke away from India to form an Islamic state — and, among others, Indonesia which has the largest Muslim population in the world.

If Malaysia is not an Islamic state, it’s not a Christian state either.

However, that does not mean the Natives in Sabah and Sarawak are not free to declare their respective states as Christian states and provided of course the Church agrees. The 20/18 Points and the Malaysia Agreement, in letter and spirit, merely prevents a non-Christian faith from being hoisted on the people of the states as the national or official one.

Ibrahim should mind his language and not make it seem somehow that the concept of a Christian state is a mortal sin. That’s not only sacrilegious but a blasphemy. Before the advent of secularism in Europe, all states in the continent were Christian states. The Pope crowned the heads of these states.

The Perkasa Chief should also stop harping on Muslims turning to Christianity or any other religion.

It’s their fundamental right to pursue any religion without someone trying to force anything down the throat.

Religion is a private matter. It’s only proper that the adherents of any faith be allowed to pursue their beliefs in peace and harmony without this or that religion being knocked in the process or the Church, or any other organisation, having to run the gauntlet on the issue.

There’s nothing that states that members of the Malay-speaking communities or Muslims have to declare themselves or that they cannot practise any other faith, whether openly or secretly. We know from history that the first Christians in Rome, during a time of Empire, had to practise their faith in secret unless they wanted to risk being fed to the lions in the Coliseum in a new form of entertainment to amuse the Romans. This may be the case with the secret Christians in Malaysia.

The Christians in Malaysia must be left alone to practise their faith without being flogged to death on the matter.

Likewise they are free to install a member of their faith in the Prime Minister’s chair.

The Constitution does not bar any citizen, except for insolvents and the insane, from taking the oath of office as Prime Minister. Insanity is not a medical but a legal concept. That goes for insolvency as well.


Salam Adilfitri kepada semua umat Islam, terutamanya kawan karib saya Pet aka Raja Petra Kamaruddin dan keluarganya yang masih berada di Manchester, UK dan juga kawan-kawan rapat saya di Penang dan di Sabah. Jika terdapat kekurangan dan kesalahan, saya mohon maaf secara zahir, dan juga batin.

This is also for Baby (Hajah Azliana) who is in Ohio University, USA, at this moment..

And also not forgetting Rosdiana Wasimin from Kundasang.

Again, may we all be forgiven and may we forgive generously without reservations.

Selamat Hari Raya untuk Semua……. .. Selamat Hari Raya!

Berhati-hati lah di jalan raya!



Kenyataan Media Tok Guru Nik Aziz

Saya gembira apabila Tun Dr. Mahathir memberikan ulasan berkenaan pandangan saya tentang nasionalisme. Bagi saya, ini membuktikan kesediaan beliau untuk mendengar pandangan dan berhujah. Ia baik untuk percambahan minda masyarakat agar masyarakat segar dengan hujah dan tidak bergantung kepada seringgit dua habuan menjelang pilihanraya semata-mata.
Jawapan saya ini bukan hanya untuk Tun Dr. Mahathir sahaja, tetapi juga merupakan jawapan yang saya cadangkan untuk dijawab pada hari di mana saya, Tun Mahathir dan manusia keseluruhannya berdiri di hadapan Allah SWT satu masa nanti. Ini kerana saya beriman dengan hakikat bahawa setiap apa yang dipertuturkan di dunia ini akan diadili di akhirat nanti. Setiap kenyataan yang keluar melalui televisyen, akhbar bahkan blog sekalipun direkod oleh malaikat-malaikat yang ditugaskan oleh Allah SWT untuk dibentangkan di hari yang kita tidak lagi mempunyai kuasa ke atasnya. Firman Allah SWT :

يَوْمَ تَشْهَدُ عَلَيْهِمْ أَلْسِنَتُهُمْ وَأَيْدِيهِمْ وَأَرْجُلُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Yang bermaksud : Pada hari (ketika), lidah, tangan dan kaki mereka menjadi saksi atas mereka terhadap apa yang dahulu mereka kerjakan. – Surah al-Nur, ayat 24

Hakikatnya saya sebenarnya diajak untuk menari dengan irama yang gendangnya dipalu oleh UMNO. Saya diajak untuk turut sama mengutuk Lee Kuan Yew seperti pimpinan UMNO. Padahal, apa yang berlaku di seberang sini jauh lebih dahsyat daripada apa yang dilakukan oleh Lee Kuan Yew.

Pertama saya ingin nyatakan kepada Tun Mahathir bahawa asas Islam tidak sama dengan nasionalisme. Di dalam ajaran nasionalisme, tidak pernah dinyatakan apakah tujuan hidup ini. Tidak pernah saya terdengar sepatah kata dari pimpinan UMNO yang menghuraikan berkenaan tujuan hidup seorang manusia di muka bumi. Jikapun ada, hanya sebaris dua dari menteri yang dimanahkan menjaga hal ehwal agama. Adapun pemimpin utama UMNO, tujuan hidup ini seolah-olah tidak menjadi agenda penting sehingga tidak pernah sedikitpun terkeluar isu ini dari bibir mereka.

Islam meletakkan bahawa tujuan hidup untuk mengabdikan diri kepada Allah SWT. Justeru, manusia dihidupkan untuk diuji oleh Allah SWT siapakah di kalangan mereka yang terbaik amalannya. Firman Allah SWT :

الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ

Yang bermaksud : Dia lah yang telah mentakdirkan adanya mati dan hidup (kamu) – untuk menguji dan menzahirkan keadaan kamu: siapakah di antara kamu yang lebih baik amal dan aktivitinya ; dan Ia Maha Kuasa (membalas amal kamu), lagi Maha Pengampun, (bagi orang-orang yang bertaubat) (Surah al-Mulk, ayat 2)

Apabila tujuan hidup untuk mengabdi kepada Allah SWT, dan hidup sendiri merupakan ujian untuk menguji siapakah yang beramal soleh, justeru manusia perlu bersyahadah dengan maksud sanggup menjadi saksi untuk menyatakan ketuhanan Allah SWT dan kenabian Nabi Muhammad SAW. Jika syahadah manusia pada lafaznya, maka syahadahnya pertubuhan ialah pada dasarnya. Ingin saya bertanya kepada Tun Mahathir, apakah dasar perjuangan UMNO? Di celah manakah UMNO meletakkan Islam setelah dasar kebangsaan dijadikan sebagai dasar perjuangannya? Dari sudut praktikalnya, adakah perjuangan UMNO merupakan satu amal soleh? Adakah pada saat UMNO yang menjadi tulang belakang kerajaan mengeluarkan lesen judi itu merupakan amal soleh? Adakah pada saat UMNO menghapuskan tulisan jawi pada tahun 1968 sehingga melahirkan generasi yang buta al-Quran itu merupakan amal soleh? Adakah pada waktu Tun Mahathir menarik balik peruntukan perkapita untuk sekolah agama rakyat itu merupakan amalan soleh?

Kedua, Tun Mahathir melabelkan saya dan PAS sendiri sebagai punca pecah belah orang Melayu. Barangkali kerana sayalah yang menyebabkan parti UMNO diharamkan pada tahun 1987 yang membawa kepada penubuhan Semangat 46. Barangkali sayalah juga penyebabnya sehingga terpecat Timbalan Presiden UMNO pada tahun 1999 yang membawa kepada penubuhan parti Keadilan dan kini dikenali sebagai Parti Keadilan Rakyat. Saya bimbang, Tun Mahathir sudah dijangkiti penyakit Melayu Mudah Lupa yang pernah disebutnya satu ketika dahulu.

Suka saya jelaskan. Islam meletakkan bahawa pecah belah ialah satu perkara yang pasti berlaku di kalangan masyarakat manusia. Allah SWT berfirman :

وَقُلْنَا اهْبِطُوا بَعْضُكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ وَلَكُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ مُسْتَقَرٌّ وَمَتَاعٌ إِلَى حِينٍ

Yang bermaksud : “..dan Kami berfirman: “Turunlah kamu! Sebahagian dari kamu menjadi musuh kepada sebahagian yang lain dan bagi kamu semua disediakan tempat kediaman di bumi, serta mendapat kesenangan hingga ke suatu masa (mati)”. – (Surah al-Baqarah, ayat 36)

Perpecahan telah digazetkan oleh Allah SWT di dalam al-Quran lama sebelum PAS ditubuhkan lagi. Ia berlaku apabila ada yang memilih hidayah dan ada yang menolaknya. Nabi Muhammad SAW datang membawa hidayah daripada Allah SWT dan ditolak oleh kaum yang sebangsa dengannya. Utbah bin Rabiah yang mewakili gerakan nasionalis Quraisy pada zamannya, bangkit dengan tegar melabelkan bahawa Nabi Muhammad SAW sebagai pemecah belah dengan kata-katanya :

فرقت به جماعتهم!

Yang bermaksud : Dengan agama yang kamu bawa, kamu telah memecahbelahkan kesatuan mereka!

Adakah benar baginda merupakan pemecah belah? Tentu sekali tidak, tetapi itulah natijahnya apabila membawa kebenaran seperti yang dilakukan oleh Rasulullah SAW.

Dari zahirnya kelihatan Tun Mahathir sebagai seorang yang sangat cintakan perpaduan Melayu. Sedarkah Tun Mahathir bahawa UMNOlah selama ini yang menzalimi orang-orang Melayu? Pada tahun 1961, siapakah yang menculik ADUN-ADUN PAS di Terengganu yang menyebabkan akhirnya kerajaan PAS pimpinan Allahyarham Daud Samad digulingkan dari pintu belakang? Di Kelantan, mereka juga menculik lima wakil rakyat PAS dengan tujuan menggulingkan kerajaan yang dipimpinan oleh Allahyarham Dato Asri Muda namun usaha mereka gagal. Ini boleh disahkan oleh bekas wakil rakyat Tanah Merah Timur yang masih hidup sekarang ini, Che Omar Mohamad yang turut menjadi mangsa. Siapakah yang bertanggungjawab melakukan perbuatan tidak demokratik ini kalau bukan UMNO? Episod-episod kezaliman ini masih segar di ingatan pejuang-pejuang PAS. Bukan untuk menyemarak api permusuhan lama jauh sekali menyimpan dendam, tetapi sekadar untuk memperkukuhkan fakta sejarah buat generasi muda yang saya bimbang terbuai dengan dodoi Ketuanan Melayu yang ditaja oleh UMNO.

Di zaman Tun Mahathir, siapakah yang bertanggungjawab melakukan persempadanan pilihanraya pada tahun 2003 yang menafikan pertambahan kerusi parlimen dari negeri yang majoritinya orang Melayu kalau bukan UMNO di zaman Tun Mahathir? Siapakah yang bertanggungjawab mengarahkan pembunuhan beramai-ramai Ibrahim Libya di Memali bersama pengikut-pengikutnya yang kesemuanya terdiri daripada orang Melayu tanpa sebarang sebab yang munasabah kalau bukan UMNO di zaman Tun Mahathir? Siapakah yang memperkenalkan pengajian Sains dan Matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris yang kemudiannya ditolak sendiri oleh UMNO kalau bukan Tun Mahathir?

Hari ini, UMNO masih lagi menjuarai amalan tidak demokratik. Di Perak, mereka gulingkan kerajaan dari pintu belakang. Di Selangor, mereka melantik Setiausaha Kerajaan tanpa sedikitpun perbincangan dengan Menteri Besar. Peliknya, juara Ketuanan Melayu inilah pula yang menentang usul mengembalikan kuasa sultan di Selangor. Tidak malukah mereka kepada DAP yang mereka dakwa sebagai parti cauvinis Cina? Di Kelantan, mereka nafikan royalti minyak serta menubuhkan Jabatan Pembangunan Persekutuan (JPP). Jika begini, demokrasi pun tidak, federalism pun tidak, Islam jauh sekali!

Apa yang lebih penting, Islam tidak akan sempurna tanpa iman. Al-Quran sering menyebut Wahai orang-orang yang beriman tetapi al-Quran tidak menyebut Wahai orang-orang Islam. Ini kerana seorang yang mengerjakan rukun Islam sahaja belum layak dipanggil orang yang beriman jika hatinya tidak beriman dengan yakin kepada Allah SWT. Jika Tun Mahathir berkata bukti UMNO berjasa kepada Islam dengan membina masjid, maka Abdullah bin Ubay di zaman Rasulullah SAW lebih dahulu membina masjid yang dikenali sebagai Masjid Dhirar. Jika Tun Mahathir menyatakan bahawa UMNO berjasa kepada Islam dengan membina sekolah agama, maka di Thailand juga wujud sekolah-sekolah agama. Bahkan jika Tun Mahathir berkata bahawa jasa UMNO ialah arak tidak dihidangkan di majlis rasmi kerajaan, maka apakah bezanya jika arak tetap diberikan lesen secara besar-besaran dan judi pula terus dinikmati sekalipun bertentangan dengan nilai-nilai Islam dan kemanusiaan. Pertanyaan saya pula kepada Tun Mahathir, sebutkan apakah yang saya lakukan di Kelantan yang bertentangan dengan Islam. Jika tidak ada, maka untuk apa kami dilawan?

Akhir kata, saya akui Tun Mahathir seorang yang bijak, dan alangkah baiknya kebijaksanaannya digunakan untuk Islam. Nasihat saya kepada Tun Mahathir, sebelum terlambat marilah sama-sama berfikir untuk menempuhi hari pengadilan yang dijanjikan oleh Allah SWT. Jika saya ditanya adakah saya telah mengajak Tun Mahathir dan rakan-rakan sealiran dengannya agar meninggalkan aliran nasionalis sekular dan menerima Islam yang syumul, saya Insya-Allah akan menjawab : اللهم قد بلغت (Ya Allah, aku telah menyampaikan..)

Sekian.

HAJI NIK ABDUL AZIZ BIN NIK MAT
Kg. Pulau Melaka, Kota Bharu.
3rd February 2011