Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

FREEDOM – Islamic reflections on Liberty

December 25, 2016

With the Name of God, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

FREEDOM

Reflections by Imam Usama Hasan, Head of Islamic Studies at Quilliam Foundation, in preparation for the Inspire Dialogue Foundation conference in Cambridge, Saturday 17th September 2016, hosted by Lord Rowan Williams, Emeritus Archbishop of Canterbury

There are many universal human rights: arguably, freedom is one of the basic ones, intertwined with life itself. As Tipu Sultan, the famous Indian resistance leader against the British, exclaimed: “better to live one day, free as a lion, than to live as a slave for a thousand years.” Caliph Omar once berated one of his commanders, who had followed the common pre-Islamic medieval wartime practice of enslaving the women and children of a defeated army, asking: “how could you enslave people whom God had created free?!” echoing Moses’ defiant response to Pharaoh in the Qur’an (26:22), which asks: “is this the favour, of which you are reminding me, that you have enslaved the Children of Israel?”

Theologically, true faith is based on free will and free choice: any practice that is not free, including faith and religious observance, cannot be genuine. Hence the famous Qur’anic declaration (2:256), “There is no compulsion in religion!”

The centrality of freedom to faith raises important issues: drugs, alcohol, mental illness, carnal lusts and social pressures all mean that our choices and decisions in life are not totally free. How, then, are these actions judged by fellow humans and by God? In particular, one of the goals of religious practice has always been to remove internal shackles that inhibit our expression of humanity, enabling greater self-awareness and realisation of our potential. Thus, a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad says that “the world is a prison for the believer,” i.e. the moral person, and great sages survived imprisonment because they were, internally, free spirits. Ideas of freedom and liberty have, of course, strongly shaped the modern world since the 18th century with the abolition of slavery, French and American republican ideals and anti-colonial independence movements.

It is my firm belief that the great philosophers, sages and prophets: Moses, Mary, Christ and Muhammad, Buddha and Confucius, and men and women of God through the ages, supported the liberation of men and women of all colours, races and religions, children and slaves, individuals and populations, from the yokes of tyranny and oppression. Our modern heroes in this regard range from Wilberforce to Jefferson to Gandhi, Jinnah, Martin Luther King and Mandela.

But today, we still have our modern forms of slavery: bonded and child labour; entire multiple-generation families working in sweatshop factories; highly-organised international rings dealing in human trafficking, including that of children, for financial and sexual exploitation. Therefore, we need to address the above problems by rekindling the same spirit that historically liberated children from labour into education, slaves from enslavement into liberty, peoples from colonisation into independence, and people of colour from segregation and apartheid into civic equality.

Tony Blair, whilst UK Prime Minister, once said in an historic speech on Capitol Hill that “to be American is to be free.” In reality, as spiritual-animal beings made in the image of the Divine, to be human is to be free. Now, let’s continue with working towards inner and outer freedom, and sharing it with our fellow travellers, with the goal of reaching our full and common humanity.

BURMESE ROHINGYA ORGANISATION UK (BROUK): Urgent Aid Needed for Rohingya Starving in Their Own Homes

October 4, 2012

Bismillah.  Received from BURMESE ROHINGYA ORGANISATION UK (BROUK), London

Tel: +44 2082 571 143, E-mail: brorg (dot) london (at) gmail (dot) com , web : www.bro-uk.org

Date: 03/10/2012

 

Urgent Aid Needed for Rohingya Starving in Their Own Homes

 

A new crisis is emerging in Arakan State, Burma, where up to 700,000 Rohingya are trapped in
their homes and villages, unable to go out and buy food or farm because of ongoing attacks and
threats against them. BROUK is already receiving reports of babies are dying from malnutrition.
While international attention has focused on up to 100,000 Rohingya in camps for internally
displaced people, who are now receiving regular aid, hundreds of thousands more Rohingya in
areas not visited by aid workers and international observers are starving in their own homes.

It has been almost 4 months the violence erupted in Arakan State, Burma, and since then local
Rohingya people describe being under effective siege by government forces and local Rakhine
communities. Constant human rights abuses committed against Rohingya make it unsafe for them
to leave their homes to get food.

BROUK has received the following information from the ground about abuses committed in the
past week, which give an indication of the type of abuses forcing people to stay at home:

1. Two Rohingya were killed in Sittwe while they went to buy food from Central Market.

 

2. No Rohingyas can go to school, hospitals, or markets most of the towns of Arakan State.
Several people who tried to go out were beaten and killed.

 

3. Many Rohingyas were arrested in Maungdaw Township. Those who were arrested have
disappeared.

 

4. Around 3000 Rakhine armed with weapons, together with Rakhine Monks, gathered and
surrounded Rohingya areas for hours in an attempt to recreate violence against the
Rohingyas in Sittwe. They demanded all Rohingyas to come out of their houses or they
would kill each and every Rohingya in the area.

 

5. 3 Rohingya boys were shot by government authorities while they were watching their
cattle in the pasture between paddy field and forest nearby the village in Pauktaw
Township.

 

6. In Pauktaw Township many babies have died because of malnutrition. Adults are also
reported to be starving.

 

7. Rohingya face a boycott in many areas with local Rakhine shopkeepers refusing to sell
them food.

 

8. Prison and security forces in Buthidaung jail are cutting off or burning the penises of
Rohingyas, forcing them to have homosexual sex with one another, cutting off or pulling
out their finger nails, severely beating them, keeping them naked all the time, keeping
them without food and water for days. When they are given foods once in many days, it
is on the ground with their hands tied at their backs. Authorities in the jail force them
through immense torture to confess that they are animals and that’s why they have to eat
like animals.

 

9. The bound and dead body of a Rohingya man was found in Sanpya village of Sittwe.

 

10. More than 10 Rohingyas were robbed and beaten, receiving serious injuries, by police
and security forces while they tried to travel from Alay Than Kyaw village to another
village in Maungdaw.

 

11. Those with bullet injuries and disease are in acute mental and physical pain without any
medical care and treatment.

 

BROUK President Tun Khin said: “President Thein Sein has already publicly stated that he wants
to ethnically cleanse all Rohingya out of Burma, even asking for international help to do so. He is
already implementing this policy, using starvation instead of bullets to kill Rohingya men,
women and children.”

 

“Hilary Clinton, David Cameron, Ban Ki-moon and others are praising Thein Sein at the same
time as he is killing our people. They should be insisting to end the starvation siege against
Rohingya, and allows in international aid all effected areas in Arakan. They should also be
working at the UN General Assembly for a UN Commission of Inquiry into what is taking place.”

For more information contact Tun Khin on +44 (0)7888714866.

 

True Story of a Survivor of Terrorism – Sayra Mobeen

March 3, 2012

Bismillah.

This relates to the twin suicide attacks at the International Islamic University of Islamabad in October 2009.  One of the targets was the women students’ cafeteria.  (Here is BBC and Guardian coverage.)  An injured survivor of that attack has written a brief piece about her experience, over two years later.

I received this from Major (Retd.) Tahir Wadood Malik, who was featured along with IIUI survivors in a moving Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about terrorism in Islamabad: City of Fear.  His comments are given below, followed by Sayra’s story.

Sayra Mobeen is a student at the International Islamic University at Islamabad. she was badly injured in the twin suicide attacks in the university on 20th October 2009.

The extent of trauma can be seen by the fact that it has taken her over two years and lots of persuasion to write her story.

May Allah help us all to overcome this menace of extremism that we are faced with in Pakistan, aamin.

If you have any comments or want to send her a message, these will be passed on to Sayra Mobeen.

Thank you Sayra, our prayers, and support for you and your friends will always be there.


Victims & survivors of terrorism, please come together to ‘speak truth to terror’
Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, Islamabad, Pakistan
http://paktsn.webs.com/

True Story of a Blast Victim

SAYRA MOBEEN

Student BBA (Honors)

Islamic International University Islamabad

The morning of 20 0ctober 2009 was delightful and astonishing for me not for the country; I was happy to go to classes for my studies and be with my friends. Ignoring the years of unending dilemma of Pakistan facing the threat of terrorism; that every face showed pain did not matter to me.

I am not a keen follower of the news, and that is why I could not feel the pain people faced by being in a bomb blast, or of losing a loved one in a terrorist attack.

The twin blasts in my University that day changed my life, as it was the first strike on women students in Islamabad. This incident left deep effect on my life. Bringing me face to face with a disaster which in its wake brought a lot of challenges for me.

Sadly I am a victim of that incident, and have been lucky to survive to tell my story, and look at life in a different perspective.

I remember that day after classes I came back in my hostel room at about 2:45 pm. My friend Umme Kalsoom came to my room and asked me to accompany her to the cafeteria, so I got up and we left.

We went to the cafeteria fruit shop but they had sold out the fruit etc. I don’t know why we were in hurry that day to go in the café, as we both ignored our class fellows who were sitting outside the café asking us to join them, and entered the main hall of the cafeteria.

We bought salad and some other eatables and sat inside the café on the left side of the hall, we still did not join our friends outside! We realized that we had not bought soft drinks so I went and bought these.

As I reached near the fountain in the hall, on my way back to our table, I suddenly heard a dreadful sound, and saw lots of smoke; my ears were deafened. I felt as if I had been hit by something forcefully. I was disoriented and fell down. The pain made me realize I was hurt and I could feel the pain on my body, arms, legs, forehead and chest. Later I found that the major injuries I received were on my chest.

Humble thanks to Almighty Allah that I was in my senses and tried to walk away from the cafeteria to save myself, but could not. I then saw my friends coming back to look for me; my shirt was full of blood which was coming from the wounds on my head and chest; when Umme Kulsoom  she saw me in this critical condition she started crying.

I asked Umme Kulsoom to look for my cell phone which I lost in this melee so I could call my family, she asked a female employee of café to look after me while she went to look for help.

I was feeling afraid because of the blast not for the pain or my injuries. The café staff told me I had severe injuries so I should go to the hospital, and tried to put me in a taxi, I refused because I did not want to go alone by taxi. The staff then left me and walked away, which hurt me more. I missed my family and friends and started to cry.

In the meanwhile my friends came looking for me, and picked me up, I was in great pain, and they took me to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors decided to undertake surgery because of the nature of my injuries. I was very afraid because I knew my family was not with me, and I did not know what would be the result of the operation. But that is perhaps what saved my life.

After initial treatment in the PIMS and in view of the nature of my injuries, I was sent to the Combined Military Hospital at Mangla Cantonment for treatment. I underwent treatment at Mangla and suffered lots of pain and surgical interventions, for approximately four months. During this period my family and I suffered a lot, as they had to arrange for a place to live at Mangla, and commute from Abbottabad to Mangla regularly.

My injuries were similar to the injuries that soldiers receive in the battle field. The doctors at Mangla took great pains to remove the pieces of shrapnel and other stuff in my body, but even then, they could not remove all, and some non-life-threatening pieces of the material that was used in the suicide jacket, are still in my body and will remain in me for my life. It hurts at times, but at least I am alive.

As I said I did not pay attention to news of bomb blasts when I saw it on television or read about this in the newspapers, therefore I could not assess the pain of others; especially those who suffered during terrorist or suicide attacks.

Since my ordeal, I can recognize the pain and difficulties of survivors and victims’ like me, and Alhamdolillah I can empathize with them and help them in their recovery from trauma.

This unpleasant incident did not close the door of life on me; it showed me the other and pleasant direction of life. I am happy, and grateful to Allah that I am passing my life normally, thanks to my family, friends, and many other people who helped me recover, and this has strengthened my belief in the saying that “obstacles come in life to polish one, or make one like a diamond.”

 

WHAT HAPPENS TO A MARRIAGE IF ONE OF THE COUPLE CONVERTS TO ISLAM?

January 13, 2012

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

WHAT HAPPENS TO A MARRIAGE IF ONE OF THE COUPLE CONVERTS TO ISLAM?

 Traditional Islamic jurisprudence says that Muslims should only marry each other.  The only exception to this is that Muslim men are allowed to marry women who are Ahl al-Kitab (People of Scripture), usually limited to Jews and Christians.  Traditionally, Muslim women were not allowed to marry non-Muslim men.  But what happens to a non-Muslim couple who are married, and later one or both of them convert to Islam?  Here are some fatwas on the issue, that slightly differ from each other:

A. Fatwa of The European Council for Fatwa & Research, including Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah, Sheikh ‘Abdullah al-Judai, Sheikh Suhaib Hasan and others (from Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah, Sina’at al-Fatwa, pp. 356-7)

  1. If both of the couple become Muslim, and they are not close relatives by blood or suckling that would make the marriage invalid, their marriage continues in its validity. (NB they do not need an Islamic nikah ceremony.)
  2. If only the husband converts to Islam, they are not close relatives and the wife is a person of scripture, their marriage continues in its validity.
  3. If only the wife converts to Islam, the view of the Council is that: a) if she converts before the marriage is consummated, she must leave him immediately; b) if she converts after consummation and her husband converts within 3 months or within 3 of her monthly cycles, their marriage continues in its validity; c) as before, but if a long time period has passed, she may remain with him in the expectation that he will convert also.  If he eventually converts, their marriage continues in its validity, without needing a new marriage ceremony.  d) If she wishes to leave her husband after the 3-month time period, she should seek dissolution of her marriage from the relevant authorities.

4. If the wife is Muslim and the husband is not, the four Madhhabs do not allow her to remain with him after the expiry of the 3-month period, or to have sexual relations with him.  However, some scholars allow her to remain with him, fully-married, as long as he does not harm her regarding her religious practice and as long as she has hope that he will also convert to Islam eventually.

It is authentically narrated from ‘Umar bin al-Khattab that a woman became a Muslim while her husband remained non-Muslim: he ruled, “If she wishes, she may leave him or if she wishes, she may remain with him.”  Also, there is an authentic narration from ‘Ali bin Abi Talib: “If the wife of a Jewish or Christian man becomes Muslim, he is entitled to remain her husband, since he has a covenant with the Muslims.”  Similar views are authentically-narrated from Ibrahim al-Nakh’i, Imam Sha’bi and Hammad bin Abi Sulayman.

 

B. FATWA OF SHEIKH ‘ABDULLAH AL-JUDAI (from his book Islam Ahad al-Zawjayn, pp. 249-251)

  1. There is no decisive, unequivocal text (nass qati’) about this matter.
  2. There is no consensus (ijma’) about this matter.
  3. Pre-Islamic marriages are sound and valid.  They can only be annulled for definite reasons.  Difference of religion is not a definite cause of invalidity due to the absence of an unequivocal text and due to the existence of a difference of opinion about the matter.
  4. Evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah shows that a couple remaining together with a difference of religion does not damage the basis of their faiths.  Their relationship remains sound, not corrupt.
  5. The simple fact that one of them converts to Islam does not invalidate the marriage.
  6. Despite the multitude of people converting to Islam in his time, it is not recorded at all that the Prophet (pbuh) separated a husband and wife or ordered their separation due to one of them converting, or due to one of them converting before the other.  What is authentic from him is the opposite, as in the case of his daughter Zaynab who remained married to Abul-‘As for six years after she converted to Islam and before he did so, just before the Conquest of Mecca and after the revelation of Surah al-Mumtahinah.  The most that happened was that she emigrated and left him in Mecca after the Battle of Badr, but her emigration (hijrah) did not nullify their marriage.
  7. To say that the ayah of al-Mumtahinah ends marital relations due to a difference of religion is not correct.  It only applies when one spouse is at war with Islam (harbi), not simply a non-Muslim (kafir).
  8. The ayah of al-Mumtahinah allows a believer to marry a believing woman whose husband is at war with Islam.  It does not obligate this.  The story of Zaynab shows that a woman’s marriage to a non-Muslim (harbi) man changes from being binding to being allowed.  The reason for this is the difficulty of her returning to her harbi husband, and the difficulty she faces without a husband.
  9. The ayah forbids a Muslim man from retaining a non-Muslim wife who has not joined him in emigrating from a land of kufr to a land of Islam, or has fled from him, renouncing her faith and joining non-Muslims who are at war with Islam.  The reason for this is to prevent an inclination towards ones enemies, as happened with Hatib bin Abi Balta’ah, who wrote to the polytheists about some of the movements of the Muslims due to the presence of some of his relatives in Mecca.
  10. When one of the couple converts to Islam whilst the other is not at war with Islam, they are allowed to remain together.  They are not separated simply due to difference of religion.  The evidence for this is the practice of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Companions regarding those who embraced Islam in Mecca before the Hijrah and at the Conquest of Mecca.  This was also the fatwa given by ‘Umar during his caliphate without any opposition, and also by ‘Ali.
  11. A difference in religion due to the conversion of one of the couple to Islam allows the annulment of the marriage but does not obligate it, as shown by the judgment of ‘Umar with the endorsement of the Companions.
  12. The conclusions of the Madhhabs in this matter are not to be given precedence due to their opposition to what is established, weakness of evidence (dalil), weakness of juristic indication (istidlal), or all of the above.
  13. The allowance for the couple to remain together means that their marital life together is permitted, including sexual intercourse.

 

C. TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE LIKELY EFFECTS ON CHILDREN

The majority of jurists regard a man who doesn’t pray regularly out of laziness as still a Muslim and not a kafir, so his wife is not obliged to divorce him.

In certain situations, the wife is allowed to have patience and persevere with her marriage, despite the objectionable behaviour of her husband, especially if she has children from him and she fears that they will become psychologically ruined and wasted.

(Sheikh ‘Abdullah bin Bayyah, Sina’at al-Fatwa, p. 353)

Compiled and translated by Usama Hasan, London, 13th January 2012

Minor updates: 21/12/2015

A PDF version of this article can be found here: One of a couple converting to Islam

Update: 26/01/2017

D. A SIMILAR ANSWER GIVEN BY SHAYKH GIBRIL FOUAD HADDAD

Q&A reposted from http://eshaykh.com/halal_haram/convert-required-to-divorce-non-muslim-spouse/

Convert required to divorce non-Muslim spouse?

Question:

As-salamu ‘alaikum,

An urgent question that has certainly come up again and again, requiring an absolutely authoritative answer, is what is to be done if a married woman accepts Islam but her husband does not.

Let’s say as an extreme example that they’ve been married for fifty years, have ten children together and love each other dearly. The wife has no job skills with which to provide for herself, much less for her children; the husband is ill or handicapped and his wife takes care of his needs. He’s fine with her new faith and lets her practice as she likes and teach it to their children but does not want to accept or commit to it for himself.

What to do? Telling a Muslim woman who is already married to a non-Muslim man that she must divorce him because staying with him is haram, deserves the death penalty and will earn her Hell isn’t the same thing as telling an unmarried Muslimah that their intended marriage to a non-Muslim man is prohibited and will nullify her profession of Islam. Moreover, there are no children involved who love their father and might end up traumatized and hating Islam if it the breakup of the household. Additionally, forcing *already-married couples *to break up would certainly deter many non-Muslim women from converting to Islam, no matter how much they may wish to if it means breaking an existing or possible future marriage.

Please understand that I’m not arguing with Allah Subhanuhu wa T’a’ala. Hasha,  God forbid! Rather, I’m just trying to understand how the Islamic Shar’iah deals with this specific situation, which is certainly not rare in our time. The website,

https://unity1.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/what-happens-to-a-marriage-if-one-of-the-couple-converts-to-islam/

deals with the issue but I need to know how acceptable this opinion is for Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jam’ah. May Allah greatly reward you for any help you can give.

Answer:

Alaykum salam,

If there is acceptance on his part and tolerance for his wife’s religion then there is hope for himself eventually accepting Islam. This hope is the basis for validating the continuity of their marriage as in the case of Fatima bint Asad and her non-Muslim husband Abu Talib.

And Allah knows best.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife? The Quran, Hadith and Domestic Violence

January 3, 2011

Bismillah.  I began work on this at about 5am on 1st January and, Praise God, have completed it around 55 hours later.  I am grateful to all my teachers and friends who encouraged me to write this work.

My conclusion is simple: God and Muhammad, peace be upon him, clearly wished to
ban domestic violence, as numerous hadiths indicate.  The verse was always known
to be a temporary compromise, an extremely limited concession that required
minimum use of violence, if at all.  “New” findings are:

1. Numerous hadiths say emphatically, “Don’t beat your wives.”  The Qur’an
apparently says, “You may beat your wives.”  This apparent difficulty must be
resolved.  The verse is perhaps the most quoted by critics and enemies of Islam,
the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

2. The article tries to highlight a basic and serious flaw with the way many
Muslims read and teach the Qur’an, including some preachers and clerics.
Helping to correct this problem will, God-willing, open the way to dealing with
numerous other controversial issues and “problematic” ayahs and hadiths.

3. Many issues around human rights and women’s rights, gender-equality,
dhimmitude etc. may be fruitfully-addressed along similar lines.

Feedback is welcome, especially from students and scholars of Islam as well as activists and reformers, particularly those involved with women’s rights.  If you find the work of value, I would be grateful if you could help circulate it as widely as possible, and publicise its conclusions that are given in a 2-page summary at the beginning of this 17-page study, and repeated below (with additions) for easy reference.  May Allah reward you. – U.H.

Read the study here: Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife – The Quran on Domestic Violence

With the Name of Allah, All-Merciful, Most Merciful

HAVE YOU STOPPED BEATING YOUR WIFE?

THE PLAIN TRUTH ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & THE “WIFE-BEATING” VERSE OF THE QUR’AN, INCLUDING A HOLISTIC STUDY OF IMPORTANT BUT RARELY-QUOTED HADITHS ON THE SUBJECT

© Usama Hasan (London, UK)

3rd January, 2011

CONTENTS

1    SUMMARY OF THIS STUDY.. 3

2    INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND.. 5

3    THE QUR’ANIC VERSE REFERRING TO WIFE-BEATING.. 6

3.1       Notes on this verse. 6

3.2       Ibn ‘Ashur’s Contextualisation of the Verse: Then and Now.. 8

4    SOME HADITHS RELATED TO THE VERSE OF WIFE-BEATING   9

4.1       An Apparent Difficulty. 10

4.2       Resolution of the Difficulty. 10

4.3       A Fundamentalist Interpretation. 10

4.4       The Normative, Orthodox Interpretation. 10

4.5       A Refutation of Alternative Interpretations of “Beat Them”. 13

4.6       A Weak Hadith That Might Otherwise Justify Wife-Beating. 15

5    CONCLUSION.. 17

SUMMARY OF THIS STUDY

  1. There is a verse (ayah) of the Qur’an (Surah al-Nisa’ or Chapter: Women, 4:34) that may appear to condone domestic violence against women.  The verse says, “You may beat your wives.”
  2. Domestic violence is a problem in most, if not all, communities and societies.  For example, current statistics indicate that approximately 1 in 3 British women experience domestic violence during their lifetime.  Although the overwhelming majority of cases of domestic violence in Muslim households are due to wider human factors such as difficulties with relationships and anger-management, a handful of cases involve the husband feeling justified in using violence against his wife on the basis of this Qur’anic text.
  3. Such an attitude is not uncommon amongst socially-conservative Muslims who are “religious” in a formal sense: for example, a conservative leader of Indian Muslims is said to have given a public statement in 2010 denouncing a new law in India that criminalised domestic violence, thus: “They are taking away our divine right to hit our wives.”
  4. This fundamentalist misinterpretation of the Qur’an is sometimes sanctioned by the legal system in Muslim-majority countries, for example, as in the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court ruling of October 2010.
  5. A large number of hadiths (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) contain the explicit, emphatic prohibition, “Do not beat your wives!”
  6. These hadiths may appear to contradict the Qur’an, if the latter is read in a superficial, fundamentalist way.
  7. A holistic reading of the Qur’an, Sunnah and Hadiths, taking into account the socio-historical context of the revelation of the Qur’an and of the Prophetic guidance preserved in authentic hadiths, shows clearly that God and Muhammad wished to ban wife-beating and domestic violence completely.  As a temporary measure, and as a step on the way, an extremely limited, reluctant concession was given that only allowed minimal violence as a symbolic gesture of displeasure on a husband’s part.  This was in a strongly patriarchal society that used to bury baby girls alive because of their gender and where sons would inherit their fathers’ wives.  Such practices were outlawed by Islam, which also granted rights to women in 7th-century Arabia that were only achieved by European women in the 19th century, such as the independent right to own their property upon marriage.
  8. The evidence for this interpretation is overwhelming, from the 8th-century AD Mufti of Mecca, ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah, who ruled that “a man may not hit his wife” to the 20th-century Mufti of the Zaytuna in Tunis, Ibn ‘Ashur, who ruled that the State may ban domestic violence and punish any man who assaulted his wife.
  9. The “gradualist” approach of the Qur’an and Sunnah described in this case is a common feature in Islam.  Other examples are the prohibition of wine, gambling, fornication and adultery.  Modern reformers argue that the same principle applies to the abolition of slavery and the struggle towards gender-equality.
  10. Recently, a number of Muslim thinkers and scholars, unfamiliar with the holistic approach to the Qur’an, Hadith and Shari’ah embodied in the universalist Maqasid theory of Islamic law, have attempted to re-translate the “wife-beating” verse to mean something else.  Alternative translations and interpretations include temporary separation of husband and wife, travelling and even making love as a way of solving marital disputes.  A prominent example of this is Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar’s recent translation, The Sublime Qur’an (2007) that is largely-promoted based precisely on her translation of the wife-beating verse. Although well-intentioned, such interpretations and translations are either grammatically unsound or far-fetched, or both.  Furthermore, they ignore the overwhelming evidence provided by the Hadith traditions and simply do not placate the critics of Islam.  The normative, orthodox account of the issue in this study provides a thorough, honest and principled solution to the difficulties apparently posed by the wife-beating verse.
  11. The presence of hadiths with weak isnads (chains of narration) that would otherwise justify wife-beating may be evidence that some early Muslims themselves misunderstood the issue and either fabricated or misreported traditions on the subject.  The value of the work of expert Hadith scholars throughout the ages who meticulously sifted genuine narrations from the weak ones, may be seen to be crucial.  The work of al-Albani, a 20th century Hadith scholar, is especially valuable, for example his gradings for every hadith in the four famous Sunan collections of Sunni Islam.  Albani concentrated more on the chains of narration than the meanings of the traditions, but nevertheless confirmed that all the hadiths banning wife-beating or only allowing a limited concession are authentic whereas all those justifying it absolutely are weak.
  12. This study highlights a fundamental problem with the way many Muslims, including some scholars and clerics, read the Qur’an.  Rather than being read as a “textbook” or “instruction manual” as some superficial, populist, fundamentalist or Hadith-rejecting preachers advocate, it should be remembered for what it is: a collection of divine signs, guidance and wisdom revealed by God to the heart of His Beloved, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, by God via the Archangel Gabriel (Jibril), the Holy Spirit, peace be upon him.  This guidance was transmitted by practice and oral teaching (remember that “Qur’an” means “A Reading” and hence oral transmission) at first, and only collected by the Companions as a written book after the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, for fear of this Divine Treasure being lost for ever.  Furthermore, this guidance was always supposed to be manifested by righteous people of piety, humility, good character and the remembrance of God, taking their situation and socio-historical contexts into account.  A critical awareness of hadith and history has always been required, along with the worship of God and the service of humanity, to be guided towards the true way of following the Qur’an.

Free Jaafar al-Hasabi, a British-Bahraini human rights activist

September 21, 2010

Please see also the new blog:

JUSTICE FOR JAAFAR

Bismillah. I learnt recently that Jaafar al-Hasabi, a 38-year-old British-Bahraini with a wife and five children, has been detained without trial in Bahrain since mid-August 2010 (Ramadan 1431). Jaafar graduated from Middlesex University in 2009 with a B.Sc. in Business Information Systems with Information Technology. He studied my module (Decision Support Systems) in 2007, which is when I got to know him briefly. He was an activist amongst some of the Arab communities in London, and seemed to be a pleasant person.

It is alleged that he has been tortured in over the last month. Jaafar had previously alleged that he had been tortured in the 1994 before coming to the UK. Details are given in the links below. The British and Bahraini governments and embassies need to act swiftly to rectify any injustices that may have occurred. We can help by campaigning appropriately for justice.

The Guardian, 7/9/2010: Britain urged to act over Bahrain torture claims

Press TV: Committee set up to pursue Bahrain “torturers”

Press conference, 7/9/2010: Bahrain’s “slide into the abyss”

The same press conference with the detailed Q&A session, including a voice challenging the activists

Some background from the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights website: attacks on activists etc. (a collection of articles)

Free Jaafar al-Hasabi page at the Gulf Cultural Club website

Jaafar’s story of torture from 1994 (REDRESS website); or read it here: JafaarAlHasabi.

Brief coverage at the “Atlas of Torture” website

The Islamic Human Rights Commission has a number of alerts about the recent arrests in Bahrain, plus a forthcoming publication (30/9/2010) about the country called “Broken Promises.”

May Allah keep Jaafar safe and reunite him with his family very soon.

UPDATE (23/9/10):

Here is the website of the Bahraini embassy in the UK, tel. 020 7201 9170.

The main news item on the website of the UK Embassy in Bahrain (tel. +973 17574100) has a large photo of William Hague with the headlines from his speech in London 15/9/10:

Please watch this space for more info.  I would also appreciate any advice, links, connections etc. in demanding justice for Jaafar.  Thank you.




MECO conference 2010, Oxford

June 15, 2010

Bismillah.  I attended this on Saturday 12th June 2010 and spoke on “Does the Muslim World Need A Scientific Revolution?”  Main points: we need to be more analytical/contextual about tafsir, hadith, fiqh etc. Plus reflections from a Muslim viewpoint on the 9 main effects of the Scientific Revolution in the West according to Prof. John Henry in his book, The Scientific Revolution & the Origins of Modern Science, Palgrave, 3rd ed, 2008. These 9 points are in the 1st two pages of the book and are enough, you can skip the rest of the book if you wish. And you can read those two pages & more for free on Amazon’s Look Inside feature!

Other speakers

Amina Wadud spoke via video-link in the morning before I got there. Merryl-Wynn Davies was there, nice to finally meet a childhood heroine who is often confused with Mariam Davis, another convert from the same era.  Merryl-Wynn is currently running the relaunch of the Muslim Institute as a Fellowship / Learned Society with journals, conferences, workshops etc.  Jeff Mirza the comedian was there: Jeff is his stage name & he’s an East Londoner. No relative of Shazia Mirza.

Asghar Ali Engineer: India passed a new law against domestic violence recently; a senior Muslim leader said that they’d “…  deprived us of our God-given right to hit our wives.”

There was a fascinating presentation on evolution by Dr. Shanavas of the USA. Darwin must have known of William Draper’s work, the US chemist, & of the evolutionary novel Hayy b. Yaqzan by Ibn Tufayl, since several English translations were widespread at that time. Draper wrote roughly that Christian theologians were too constrained, and should learn from “Mohammedan societies that developed & are comfortable with evolutionary ideas.”  If this analysis is correct, Darwin’s theory had many ingredients from Muslim thinkers (Ibn Miskawayh, Jahiz, Rumi, Ibn Tufayl, etc.) and is effectively an Islamic theory.  Rather ironic!

Hassan Mahmoud the Bangladeshi film-maker gave away DVDs of his film Hila about the oppression of women in the name of Sharia.

The “hijabis” there thanked me for defending their right to wear the headscarf, since a veiled woman can be a symbol of God. (God is veiled by creation & our egos.) Several of the revert sisters there had removed the headscarf after many years of wearing it since they felt it was counterproductive.

I politely challenged the total Hadith-rejecters there such as Edip Yuksel. His view is strongly based on seeing his mum, who he feels was buried alive in Turkey by being forced to wear a burqa, not having a real life & totally dependent on her husband. There are many weak, fabricated & problematic ahadith but the Hadith-rejecters throw the baby out with the bathwater, and I told them that.  They are keen to assert the primacy of the Qur’an over the Sunnah.  At the other extreme, some of the Ahl al-Hadith said things like, “The Sunnah rules over the Qur’an, and not vice-versa.”  (They meant in the sense of the Sunnah conditioning the general verses of the Qur’an, usually in fiqh matters.)

For me, the relationship between Q&S is best understood by Imam Shafi’i’s statement, “Everything that the Prophet SAWS said or did is what he understood from the Qur’an.” (I first read this in a book by the late Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazzali rahimahullah.)  Furthermore, others amongst the Salaf said that “Every sound hadith can be traced back to the Qur’an.”  Only people well-grounded in the Qur’an and the Sunnah can understand this in detail.  A clear grasp of the Spirit of Islam and its general principles is also required.  This is also why some of the early Malikis said that “Ahadith were misleading for all except the people of understanding (fuqaha’).”

Yuksel was wearing a “www.19.org” T-shirt and I told him that I, like many of my generation, were initially very excited by Rashad Khalifa’s “Numerical Miracle of the Qur’an” theory based around the number 19 in the 1980’s.  He guessed that we became disillusioned later.  Yuksel is currently based in Tucson, Arizona and had known RK for a year.  He confirmed that RK had indeed claimed to be a Messenger of Allah, and that it was a jihadi cell that had assassinated him in 1990.  This cell seemed to have links to the first WTC bombing, and therefore some in the FBI regard the killing of RK as the first jihadi attack in the US.

The young revert sisters from Atlanta, Melissa Robinson & Kelly of the American Islamic Fellowship were interesting. “Going to gender-segregated mosques perpetuates misogyny. An expensive new mosque there has a lattice screen for the sisters, whose prayer-area is effectively a birdcage.”

Raheela Raza was there from Toronto, a grey-haired woman from Toronto.  She’d led the Friday prayers at MECO the day before.  Highly-controversial, of course, since the overwhelming majority of jurists have been opposed to women leading a mixed congregation.  However, exceptions have been Imams Tabari & Abu Thawr, and it is even said, one of Imam Shafi’i’s (female?) teachers and Ibn Taymiyyah.

Raza grew up in Pakistan and owes much to that country, although she is worried that Islam there is dominated by extremism.  She recited a moving poem about women’s rights in Islam at the conference – “I am a woman. Celebrate me.”  In conversation, she mentioned that the TV series, “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” had helped  enormously to shatter misconceptions about Muslims in Canada and show them as decent human beings with a sense of humour.  (Muslims in the UK should take note, especially given the results of the YouGov survey last week about public perception of Muslims here.)  She also said that the actress who plays the “gorgeous hijabi” in the series appeared in a game-show wearing a micro-skirt, to the total confusion of many kids watching.

Milan Sulc was there.  I remember his presentation at the Islam & Science conference @ Wembley Arena around 1995. Science in the Qur’an stuff. He saw deep-sea oceanic waves in the ayah of “waves upon waves” in Surah Nur. Also Prophet Solomon’s winds that “travel a month’s distance every morning & evening.” His explanation was that if you compare earth & moon circumferences and motions, you find that our atmosphere travels the same distance in half (or quarter?) of a day as the moon does in a month. I’m not too convinced by the latter explanation.

On the way back, I got to Oxford train station at 10.45pm.  The train stopped at Didcot due to engineering works.  A rail replacement bus took us to Reading.  There were two beautiful Arabian horses from Thames Valley Mounted Police outside Reading train station.  Got on the 12.13am Reading-London train but it didn’t move because the train in front had hit someone, a suspected fatality (a drunk, suicide or kid playing on the line?) and the Reading-London line was closed.  We eventually reached Paddington at 2am after the reopening of the line and two night buses later, I was at Leytonstone station.  An ambulance was parked outside, probably from our Whipps Cross Hospital nearby.  The two-man crew asked me if I had seen anyone lying on the floor in the street or the station subway, since they’d had a call for someone.  I hadn’t.   An invigorating walk later, I got home with dawn spreading (past 3am), birds singing & foxes loitering.  After such a journey, it was easier to do the dawn prayer with a feeling of gratitude rather than simply duty.  Alhamdulillah.

Please help bring 2-year-old Aishah Sabra home to the UK

April 21, 2010

2-year-old Aishah with her mother Leila

Bismillah.  This is a heart-breaking story.  Please help, especially if you have access to Egyptian civic and religious authorities.  I hope the UK Foreign Office are doing their best also, although politicians are distracted by the upcoming elections.  Since Leila cannot work in Egypt, she will be eligible for zakat if she doesn’t have much money, as a stranded traveller.  It seems that she has sold her home in Manchester to help pay the legal bills.  Please read details of the case on the petition site (link below).  The behaviour of Aishah’s father (Leila’s ex-husband) seems to be utterly shocking.

Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134831589747#!/group.php?gid=134831589747

A recent appearance by Leila & Aisha on GMTV can be seen at:
http://www.gm.tv/videos/?vxSiteId=85319fc3-9ce2-44d7-b3ec-c25a155372ac&vxChannel=GMTV%20Top%20Stories&vxClipId=1441_gmtv_8523&vxBitrate=700

“Help bring 2yr old Aishah Sabra home to the UK” Petition
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/aishahsabra/

Update 20/5/10:

Mum’s fight to bring daughter home hits cash crisis

A heartbroken mother whose daughter was abducted in Egypt says she may have to return to England without her unless she raises more money.

Concerns about the Amnesty International Lecture 2009 and Noam Chomsky’s views on the Bosnian genocide

October 30, 2009

Bismillah. Professor Chomsky is an inspirational figure and needs no introduction.  His contribution to knowledge is vast, especially linguistics (including computational linguistics or natural language processing, a branch of AI that I’ve studied a little and am therefore very grateful to the prof.) and politics (US hegemony over Latin America, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.).  He is often called, “the most important intellectual alive,” which might well be true if he also has strong faith in God, for intellection originally meant to know the Divine.

I was particularly inspired by his comment once that when he first campaigned against the Vietnam war, he often spoke in halls where only a handful of people turned up, sometimes just two or three, and occasionally he even had an audience of just one person.  But he and others kept going, and eventually the campaign snowballed.  We often remember this when trying to get people motivated about matters like preserving the environment or reforming our usurious banking/financial systems.

But, to adapt a traditional Islamic saying, we might say, “We love Noam Chomsky, but we love the Truth even more.”  So, here is a long message from Owen Beith, who worked with the City Circle and others in promoting the work of Hasan Nuhanovic, one of the few survivors of the Srebrenica massacre and a key eyewitness to the events there. (Nuhanovic’s book, “Under the UN Flag” is a sobering must-read.)

1. INITIAL MESSAGE FROM OWEN BEITH

Hello all,

Amnesty International have failed to come up with a convincing explanation
why their invitation to Noam Chomsky to deliver the Amnesty International
Annual Lecture should not be considered an endorsement of or at least a
blind eye turned towards Chomsky’s denial of the substance of the
atrocities perpetrated in Bosnia.

Chomsky denies the reality of Ed Vulliamy’s experience of Omarska and
Trnopolje while supporting the alternative version offered by LM.  He does
not challenge Diana Johnstone’s views concerning the reality of the
Prijedor camps, the genocide at Srebrenica and the systematic use of rape
as a weapon of war in Bosnia but describes her scholarship as “outstanding”
and her work as “serious, honest”.

Ed Vulliamy has written an open letter to Amnesty in response.  I’ve
prefaced this with a background summary.  If you feel happy to publish this
at your blogs, it would hopefully remind Amnesty that sitting on the fence
over the denial of human rights abuses is not a place we should expect to
find them.  If you prefer simply to circulate this to anyone you think
would be interested please do.

All the best

Owen

[28 October 2009]

Owen Beith – Translations FR/SP/PT>EN
70 Sewardstone Road, London E2 9JG
+44 (0) 20 8981 9879
*********************************************************************
Holding the international community accountable –
“Under the UN Flag” by Hasan Nuhanovic: how the Dutch state and the United
Nations abandoned the people of Srebrenica to genocide in July 1995 –
http://www.undertheunflag.com/
and
“The UN’s Toxic Shame”: the poisoning of Roma children in lead-contaminated
refugee camps in Mitrovica (Kosovo/a) –
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INy1Svn8bo8&feature=channel_page /
http://www.toxicwastekills.com

2. Preface to Open Letter from Ed Vulliamy to Amnesty International

Noam Chomsky has been invited to give the annual Amnesty International Lecture in Belfast. This is the second time in four years that Chomsky has been invited to give an Amnesty International Lecture (following Dublin in 2006). To celebrate Chomsky’s forthcoming Lecture appearance Amnesty gives him a respectful and uncritical platform for his views over three pages of the latest Amnesty (UK) Magazine.

Amnesty appears oblivious to the controversies that surround some of Chomsky’s views on human rights, and in particular the support that he has offered and continues to offer to polemicists who deny the substance, scope and authorship of atrocities perpetrated during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

In recent years Chomsky has caused particular controversy through his support for the author Diana Johnstone, known for her “revisionist” views on Bosnia , in particular concerning the Prijedor concentration camps, the Srebrenica genocide and the existence of the Bosnian rape camps.  Chomsky salutes her “outstanding” scholarship and defends her “serious, honest work”.

He represents his support for Johnstone as a defence of her right to freedom of speech while at the same time he denigrates the testimony of The Guardian’s reporter Ed Vulliamy whose eyewitness account of the reality of the Omarska and Trnopolje camps forced the horror of what was happening in Bosnia onto the attention of the rest of the world and saved the lives of many of the prisoners detained in them.

Without explanation Chomsky describes Ed Vulliamy’s description of Omarska and Trnopolje he describes as “probably” wrong while endorsing the claim by Thomas Deichmann and LM magazine that Vulliamy, Penny Marshall and Ian Williams gave a false account of the situation in the Prijedor camps as “probably” correct.  Chomsky disregards the finding of a High Court libel action which – following the evidence of a doctor detained in one of the camps – confirmed that Vulliamy and his colleagues had told the truth.

When asked why Amnesty offers a platform to a man who challenges the reporting of human rights abuses that Amnesty itself substantiated and champions the seriousness and honesty of individuals who try to deny those abuses, Amnesty’s response was to observe that invitees are not representatives of Amnesty International nor expected to deliver an Amnesty International policy position within their lecture, but rather they have been invited as having something interesting and thought-provoking to say about human rights in the world today and Amnesty International does not necessarily endorse all their opinions.

When Ed Vulliamy was asked to comment on Amnesty’s invitation to Chomsky he wrote the open letter below.  The language expresses his depth of feeling, not only on his own behalf but also on behalf of the friends forced to suffer “the ghastly, searing, devastating impact” of Chomsky’s denial of their experience.

Anyone who shares these concerns can express their views for the attention of Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, at

http://www.amnesty.org/en/contact

or Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK (AIUK), at sct@amnesty.org.uk

3. Open Letter to Amnesty International

To whom it may concern:

I have been contacted by a number of people regarding Amnesty International’s invitation to Professor Noam Chomsky to lecture in Northern Ireland, a place he knows as little about as most others.

The communications I have received regard Prof. Chomsky’s role in revisionism in the story of the concentration camps in Northwestern Bosnia in 1992, which it was my accursed honor to discover.

As everyone interested knows, a campaign was mounted to try and de-bunk the story of these murderous camps as a fake – ergo, to deny and/or justify them – the dichotomy between these position still puzzles me.

The horror of what happened at Omarska and Trnopolje has been borne out by painful history, innumerable trials at the Hague, and “most importantly by far” searing testimony by the survivors and the bereaved. These were places of extermination, torture, killing, rape and, literally “concentration” prior to enforced deportation, of people purely on grounds of race.

Prof. Chomsky was not among those  (“Novo” of Germany and “Living Marxism” in the UK) who first proposed the idea that these camps were a fake. He was not among those who tried unsuccessfully (they were beaten back in the High Court in London, by a libel case taken by ITN) to put up grotesque arguments about fences around the camps, which were rather like Ferdnand Leuchter’s questioning as to whether the thermal capacity of bricks were enough to contain the heat needed to gas Jews at Auschwitz.  But Professor Chomsky said many things, from his ivory tower at MIT, to spur them on and give them credibility and energy to spread their poisonous perversion and denials of these sufferings.  To use the analogy of Holocaust denial, he was more David Irving than Leuchter – the man with acadamic pretentions, doing it all from a distance, and giving the  revisionists his blessing. And the revisionists reveled in his endorsement. In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Chomsky paid me the kind compliment of calling me a good journalist, but added that on this occasion (the camps) I had “got it wrong”.

Got what wrong?!?! Got wrong what we saw that day, August 5th 1992 (I didn’t see him there)? Got wrong the hundreds of thousands of families left bereaved, deported and scattered asunder? Got wrong the hundreds of testimonies I have gathered on murderous brutality? Got wrong the thousands

whom I meet when I return to the commemorations? If I am making all this up, what are all the human remains found in mass graves around the camps and so painstakingly re-assembled by the  International Commmission for Missing Persons.

These people pretend neutrality over Bosnia, but are actually apologists for the  Milosevic/Karadzic/Mladic plan, only are too pathetic to admit it. And the one thing they never consider from their armchairs, is the ghastly, searing, devastating impact of their game on the survivors and the bereaved. The pain they cause in immeasurable. This, along with the historical record, is my main concern.  It is one thing to survive the camps, to lose one’s family and friends – quite another to be told by a bunch of academics with a didactic agenda in support of the pogrom that they never existed. The LM/Novo/Chomsky argument that the story of the camps was somehow fake has been used in countless (unsuccessful) attempts to defend of mass murderers in The Hague.

For decades I have lived under the impression that Amnesty International was opposed to everything these people stand for, and to defend exactly the kind of people who lost their lives, family and friends in the camps and at Srebrenica three years later, a massacre on which Chomsky has also cast doubt. I have clearly been deluded about Amnesty. For Amnesty International, of all people, to honour this man is to tear up whatever credibility they have estimably and admirably won over the decades, and to reduce all they say hitherto to didactic nonsense.

Why Amnesty wants to identify with and endorse this revisionist obscenity, I do not know. It is baffling and grotesque. By inviting Chomsky to give this lecture, Amnesty condemns itself to ridicule at best, hurtful malice at worst – Amnesty joins the revisionists in spitting on the graves of the dead.  Which was not what the organisation was, as I understand, set up for.  I have received a letter from an Amnesty official in Northern Ireland which reads rather like a letter from Tony Blair’s office after it has been caught out cosying up to British Aerospace or lying over the war in Iraq – it is a piece of corporate gobbledygook, distancing Amnesty from Chomsky’s views on Bosnia, or mealy-mouthedly conceding that they are disagreed with.

There is no concern at all with the victims, which is I supposed what would one suspect from a bureaucrat. In any event, the letter goes nowhere towards addressing the revisionism, dispelling what will no doubt be a fawning, self-satisfied introduction in Belfast and rapturous applause for the man who gives such comfort to Messrs Karadzic and Mladic, and their death squads.  How far would Amnesty go in inviting and honouring speakers whose views it does not necessarily share, in the miserable logic of this AI official in Belfast?  A lecture by David Irving on Joseph Goebbels?

Alistair Campbell on how Saddam really did have those WMD? The Chilean Secret Police or Colonel Oliver North on the communist threat in Latin and Central America during the 70s and 80s?  What about Karadzic himself on the “Jihadi” threat in Bosnia, and the succulence of 14-year-old girls kept in rape camps?

I think I am still a member of AI – if so, I resign. If not, thank God for that. And to think: I recently came close to taking a full time job as media director for AI. That was a close shave – what would I be writing now, in the press release: “Come and hear the great (and highly paid) Professor Chomsky inform you all that the stories about the camps in Bosnia were a lie – that I was hallucinating that day, that the skeletons of the dead so meticulously re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons are all  plastic? That the dear friends I have in Bosnia, the USA, the UK and elsewhere whose lives were broken by Omarska and Trnopolje but which they now try and put together again are making it all up.

Some Press Release that would have been. Along with the owner of the site of the Omarska camp, the mighty Mittal Steel corporation, Amnesty International would have crushed it pretty quick.  How fitting that Chomsky and Mittal Steel find common cause. Yet how logical, and to me, obvious.  After all, during the Bosnian war, it was the British Foreign Office, the CIA, the UN and great powers which, like the revisionists whose champion Chomsky is, most eagerly opposed any attempt to stop the genocide that lasted, as was encouraged by them and their allies in high politics, to last, for three bloody years from 1992 until the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

Yours, in disgust and despair,

Ed Vulliamy,

The Observer.

4. On the heels of its announcement of the Chomsky lecture Amnesty published a report on the ongoing search for justice by the victims of rape in Bosnia.

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18431

Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe Programme Director, acknowledges that “During the war, thousands of women and girls were raped, often with extreme brutality. Many were held in prison camps, hotels and private houses where they were sexually exploited. Many women and girls were killed.

To this day, survivors of these crimes have been denied access to justice. Those responsible for their suffering – members of military forces, the police or paramilitary groups – walk free. Some remain in positions of power or live in the same community as their victims.”

Alisa Muratcaus of the Association of Concentration Camp Torture Survivors, Canton Sarajevo, insists that people who deny that the mass rape of Bosnian women was a strategic element of the war are talking “nonsense”.  Her Association, composed of Muslim, Croat, Serb, and Romani members, many of them victims in camps and prisons throughout Bosnia of atrocities including rape and other forms of sexual torture, works closely with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague which has established beyond doubt that rape was used in Bosnia as a weapon of war.

5.  Message from Daniel of the “Srebrenica Genocide” website:

There is a growing build of genocide denial and leftist-apologist garbage on the internet.
We need some kind of media web site that will publish counter arguments in widely read sources, such as Google News. I will start building up such a web site and hope to finish it in about 2 weeks.  The attack on the truth and memory is getting out of hand. We need to stand up with Ed and we need to stick together to defend unquestionable truth and memory of genocide and concentration camps in Bosnia. I ask you to send me your ideas what type of web site would you be interested in. This takes a long time to build, but I am willing to do several suicide shifts to get this thing working. Let’s call this project “a counter-response.” Thank you Ed for the letter, but this time we need to strike deniers where it hurts the most. Please send me your suggestions.

6. Related links, etc. – by Owen Beith

Anyone circulating the message about Chomsky’s invitation and Ed’s open letter to Amnesty couldn’t do better
than to accompany them with a link to all the wealth of Balkan Witness’s material dealing with the activities of the denial lobby.

Roger of “Balkan Witness” has given links to two specific pages:
http://www.glypx.com/balkanwitness/Articles-deniers.htm and
http://www.glypx.com/balkanwitness/Articles-Bosnia.htm.

The following links within those pages provide information that’s
particularly relevant to Chomsky’s reluctance to acknowledge the reality of
Prijedor and Srebrenica and his wilful challenging of Ed’s veracity.
http://www.glypx.com/balkanwitness/Articles-Bosnia.htm#ChomskyInterview and
http://www.glypx.com/balkanwitness/Articles-Bosnia.htm#Trnopolje.

It is difficult to believe that anyone in the UK with the slightest
awareness of the unremitting campaign to distort the reality of the human
rights violations that took place in Bosnia would be unaware of this
controversy, let alone Amnesty International.

If Amnesty really are as incapable of referring back to their own
experience as they seem,  they couldn’t find a better place than Balkan
Witness to start reacquainting themselves with the subject.

Thanks for all the invaluable work, Roger.  And also a thank you to Dan for
all his relentless and unstinting work refuting the campaign of
misinformation pursued by by deniers and apologists, including members of
Karadzic’s defence team.

http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com/

7. Open letter from Tilman Zülch to Noam Chomsky and Amnesty International (AI)

On the occasion of the Annual Amnesty International Lecture being given today, Friday, in Belfast

Göttingen/Belfast, 30 October 2009

You are a genocide denier, Professor Chomsky!

Dear Professor Chomsky,
Dear Friends of Amnesty International,

Once again you find yourself invited to appear in a public forum, this time in Belfast. In the past, Belfast was a city with a long-standing reputation for discrimination against the Catholic population, but today those of us who are familiar with the city’s past history of conflict, crime and disorder are pleased and relieved that the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland have finally emerged from a long dark tunnel.

The focus of our human rights organisation’s work is the support that we give to minority groups who have been the victims of genocide and dispossession. The two guiding principles inspiring us are that firstly we work with the people “Von denen keiner spricht” – the people no-one talks about, and secondly we are “Auf keinem Auge blind” – never turning a blind eye.  We believe that “persecution, extermination and expulsion, the establishment of concentration camps and rape camps are always and everywhere crimes, now just as they were in the past.  Irrespective of which government is responsible and on which continent and in which country those crimes are being perpetrated. The legacy bequeathed to us by all the victims of yesterday is an obligation to come to the assistance of the victims of today”.

You, Professor Chomsky, choose to ignore those precepts.  You call genocide when it suits your ideological purposes.  Who could condone the murkier aspects of American foreign policy or fail to condemn the way that policy has supported and encouraged crimes against humanity? But you express your criticism of the crimes of the recent past in a perverse way, that makes genocide the almost exclusive prerogative of organisations with close links to the US. It is only then that you consider it to be genocide.  And it is only your political/ideological friends who are apparently incapable of committing genocide.

That was the situation in Cambodia.  While the international press was reporting how the genocide of the Khmer Rouge had eliminated one in every three or four of that country’s inhabitants, you were laying the blame for those crimes at the door of the US.  That was shameful and in any reasonable person stirred memories of Holocaust denial elsewhere in the world.

In the same way you have denied the genocide perpetrated in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Serb forces who killed not only Bosnian Muslims but along with them Bosnian Serbs and Croats as well who had chosen to remain alongside them, in the besieged city of Sarajevo for example.

To deny the fact of genocide in Bosnia is absurd, particularly when both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and the International Court of Justice, also in The Hague, have had no hesitation in confirming that genocide was perpetrated in Bosnia, above all at Srebrenica.

For the benefit of the apparently unpolitical and ideologically uncommitted Friends of Amnesty International we are prepared once again to provide a summary of the facts of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And we should like to remind you of them, too, Professor Chomsky, in your denial of genocide:

1. 200,000 civilians interned in over one hundred concentration, detention and rape camps.

2. Many thousands of internees murdered in concentration camps including Omarska, Manjaca, Keraterm, Trnopolje, Luka Brcko, Sušica and Foca.

3. Members of the non-Serb political and intellectual elites systematically arrested and eliminated.

4. Approximately 2.2 million Bosnians displaced, exiled and scattered to the four corners of the globe.

5. Many thousands of unrecorded deaths still missing from the official statistics, including children, the elderly and sick and wounded refugees.

6. 500,000 Bosnians in five UN so-called “safe areas” (Tuzla, Goražde, Srebrenica, Žepa, and Bihac) and other, fallen, enclaves such as Cerska besieged, starved, sniped at, shelled and many of them killed over a period of as long as four years in some cases.

7. A four year-long artillery bombardment of the sixth UN safe area, the city of Sarajevo, killing approximately 11,000, including 1500 children.

8. Massacres and mass executions in many towns and municipalities in northern, western and eastern Bosnia (the Posavina, the Prijedor area and the Podrinje).

9. Hundreds of villages and urban areas systematically destroyed.

10. The entire heritage of Islamic religious and cultural monuments, including 1189 mosques and madrassas, destroyed, and extensive destruction of Catholic religious monuments including as many as 500 churches and religious houses.

11. Remains of approximately 15,000 missing victims still to be found, exhumed and identified.

12. 284 UN soldiers taken hostage and used as human shields.

13. Over 20 thousand Bosnian Muslim women raped, in rape camps and elsewhere.

14. 8376 men and boys from the town of Srebrenica murdered and their bodies concealed in mass graves.

The history of Kosovo is familiar to people who know Southeastern Europe: in 1913, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and against the will of the Albanian majority, Kosovo was handed over to Serbia and occupied. Following the original occupation and then again in the 1920s, 1930s and 1950s Yugoslavian and Serbian governments expelled the Albanians to Turkey where well over one million people of Albanian origin live today. After the gradual dismantling of Kosovo’s autonomy, proclaimed too late by Tito, Slobodan Milosevic’s army and militia killed some 10,000 Albanians and forced half the population – roughly one million people – to flee. The NATO military intervention, some specific aspects of which must certainly be condemned, halted the killing and expulsions.

Someone like yourself, Professor Chomsky, who on various occasions has shown himself unwilling to acknowledge genocide and goes so far as to deny it forfeits all credibility.  That is why we question your moral integrity and call on you to stand up before the public in Belfast and apologise for those hurtful comments of yours concerning the Cambodian, Bosnian and Kosovar victims of genocide.

Yours sincerely,

Tilman Zülch

President of the Society for Threatened Peoples International (STPI)

8. For inspiration and guidance on issues of justice, injustice, oppression and resistance in the world, I recommend reflecting upon the relevant verses from a chapter of the Koran such as “Abraham” (Ibrahim, Surah no. 14)

Death Threats to Sayyid al-Qimni, Egyptian historian and thinker

August 4, 2009

Update: 5th August 2009

People have pointed out that Sheikh Ali Gomaa (who is Shaykh al-Azhar, not the Grand Mufti) is against the death penalty for apostates, so he can’t have encouraged killing Qimni.  It seems he may have been asked about Qimni and said that he was an apostate.  This might be insensitive, given what happened to Faraj Fouda & Nagib Mahfuz.

Similarly, it is unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood would officially call for Qimni’s killing.  It has millions of supporters though, so some of them might have done.  It should also be pointed out that the MB has repeatedly suffered the arrest without charge of some of its members over the years, and this continued recently.  Egyptian society needs greater openness and justice.

The whole situation is actually a good opportunity for Al-Azhar, MB, Sh. Qaradawi and others to calm people down and show some maturity and wisdom, dialogue and engagement rather than rushing to death threats at the slightest whiff of heresy.  Surely the last thing Egypt and Islam need is another Faraj Fouda or Salman Rushdie situation?

With the Name of Allah

The secular, liberal Egyptian historian and thinker Sayyid al-Qimni, son of a traditionalist Azhari sheikh, has had serious death threats issued against him by many (mainly extremist) religious scholars in Egypt since the end of June, as detailed in his Appeal (below) which he describes as ” a distress call to all bodies and individuals, a call to the consciences of every free individual in the world.”

The latest threats to him seem to have been sparked by his being elected to receive the Egyptian State Award for Social Sciences on June 25th.

In particular, it is alleged that those who have declared that he is an apostate and should be killed (perhaps even by ordinary Egyptians, not just by the state) include:

1- The Muslim Brotherhood
2- Al-Azhar Scholars’ Front headed by Yahya Ismail Habloush
3- 5,000 mosque khatibs in their Friday sermons on July 24th
4- Sheikh Ali Gomaa himself (currently still the Shaykh Al-Azhar, as far as I know)

The situation of a polarisation between religious and secular currents in is repeated in different Muslim-majority countries, eg Pakistan, Turkey, North Africa, etc., so this case is symbolic of a much wider and deeper issue, of course.

Whatever we feel about his views (I think he’s too apologetic about the history of Jihad, for example, and he should not ridicule the Islamic practice of constant remembrance of God out of frustration with the religion-exploiters), clearly, the death threats are pathetic, appalling and totally unacceptable.

Now, our FCO and embassy in Cairo has been working with Sheikh Ali Gomaa and Al-Azhar over the last few years, and also recently hosted the charming Rector of Al-Azhar in the UK.  The Archbishop of Canterbury has also been working with Sheikh Gomaa – I was present last year at Cambridge University when they were the two main speakers at a “Common Word” event.  I also took part in the FCO Projecting British Islam delegation to Egypt last year, which is partly why the matter concerns me.

I’m therefore asking for your help in encouraging our friends in the following places to do the right thing in this regard (and praying to God that they do so, if appropriate!): i.e. to investigate the death-threats and to take appropriate steps to promote peaceful dialogue and debate, including between secularists and fundamentalists, believers and non-believers, etc.

1- The FCO, especially the Foreign Secretary
2- Our embassy in Cairo, as well as the embassies there of other influential countries
3- Al-Azhar University and its various affiliated institutions
4- The office of Sheikh Ali Gomaa
5- The Muslim Brotherhood
6- The office of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.  Qimni is highly-critical of Qaradawi.  From what I know of Qaradawi, he is at least open and committed to dialogue with others, plus he has a less-hardline position on the alleged death-penalty for apostasy.  Therefore, perhaps he may be able to have a calming influence here.
7- Religious scholars and shaykhs generally, especially those with links to the UK & Egyptian governments and religious circles
8- Lambeth Palace & the office of Dr. Rowan Williams
9- Members of the “Common Word” initiative
10- Human rights organisations & lawyers

I would appreciate your advice, suggestions, help, prayers, etc.  Please publicise this matter and forward it to the relevant people.  I attach pertinent quotes and some weblinks below.


The Arabic Network For Human Rights Information:  Sayyed Alqimni’s Life Is At Stake Amidst An Extremist Campaign. Iftaa Council Declares War Against Free Enlightened Thought.

Abu Aardvark: The secularism debate.

Politics & Religion Blog: Egyptian Reformer Sayyid al-Qimni.

Egyptian Liberal Sayid Al-Qimni & London Islamist Hani Al-Sibai Debate Secularism & Fundamentalism in Arab World.

Sayyid al-Qimni’s blog (in Arabic)

Sayyid al-Qimni is on Facebook also, with that spelling.


This appeal can be found at the Copts’ website as well as at ME Transparent.

(I have edited it for what look like translation errors.  In particular, the Arabic takfir can mean both atonement and excommunication, but clearly the latter is meant throughout this appeal.  Also, salafi means fundamentalist or traditionalist in this context.)

AN APPEAL TO THE WORLD’S CONSCIENCE
From the Egyptian writer and academic researcher of Islamic Affairs, Dr. Sayed Mahmoud El Qemany, who is being exposed to incitements to assassinate him

Qimni photo
In the context of my academic research and practical work I have been able to provide an important set of motion in the stagnant Egyptian situation. I have attempted to make reforms from the inside and worked on the disarmament of those who exploit Islam politically and make it a source of livelihood at the expense of the simple, good people of Egypt. I have therefore created a secular movement that has imposed its presence, although still at a formative stage.

In a free ballot of Egyptian thinkers, I was granted the State Award for Social Sciences, on June 25th 2009. The hard-line radical militant groups considered that the state has adopted this intellectual secular trend officially, infuriating the mentioned group which called on the State to withdraw the prize with the declaration of my defection from Islam and excommunication which means in our country, I could be slain; any citizen is allowed to kill me and be awarded by God in Paradise.

The following parties have participated in the statements of excommunication (takfir), noting that none of them have read a single word of what I wrote, and have not been able to hold a dialogue to discuss my ideas:

1 – Al-Azhar Scholars Front headed by Yahya Ismail Habloush, which issued the first statement of excommunication on July 10, 2009.
2 – The Islamic Group (condemned terrorist group) issued a statement of excommunication on July 10, 2009.
3 – The Muslim Brotherhood hailed the excommunication, and were represented at the parliament by Hamdi Hassan requesting the withdrawal of the award and the declaration of religious-defection and excommunication on July 7, 2009. The Muslim Brotherhood also declared my excommunication on Mohwar Channel on July 11, 2009 and on Al Faraeen Channel on July 13, 2009.
4 – The Salafi (Fundamentalist) Group (condemned terrorist group) dedicated its Internet site named “The Egyptians” for excommunicating me and incitements to kill me, since the date of obtaining the prize until today.
5 – Al Nas channel, which represents the theoretical side of bloody terrorism which declared excommunication and demanded “all citizens who can” to kill me immediately, on July 24 and 25, 2009.
6 – The Hisbah Sheikh Youssef Al Badri in Egypt declared on the channel “ON TV” on July 3, 2009 that I have cursed God and the Prophet Mohammad in my books even though I have challenged him and others to refer to a single text written by me where such claims were made. Due to this proclamation, he has issued an incitement to kill me.
7 – A member of the Al-Azhar scholars, Sheikh Mohammed El Berry, on Mihwar TV Channel on July 11, 2009 announced my excommunication as he also said that he did not read any of my writings since he does not read “garbage”. He repeated the same words on the channel “ON TV” on July 22, 2009
8 – Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the former Chairman of the “State Religious Affairs Advisory Board”, issued a statement declaring my infidelity and calling for slaying me for “insulting the Prophet of Islam, the God of Islam” on July 24, 2009.
9 – The Sheiks of more than 5,000 mosques on Friday prayers on July 24, 2009 declared the incitement to kill me, especially in my hometown, which led to the rampage against my family and relatives, and that could possibly evolve to some serious consequences in the coming weeks.

Due to the above, I call upon the conscience of all humanity in the free world to come to me and my children’s rescue by providing moral support and the condemnation and denunciation of the radical thinking with quick solutions to save us from the danger that is luring around us.  This is a distress call to all bodies and individuals. A call to the consciences of every free individual in the world.

Signed
Sayed Mahmoud El Qemany- Researcher

================================

We, the Liberal Egyptian intellectuals, students, followers, readers and lovers of Dr. Sayed El Qemany call upon the officials to intervene to save our distinguished and respectable intellectual from the threats of radical Islamic movements who continue to incite to murder him, openly and publicly in mosques and on satellite channels, financed by those who exploit religion to serve their political agendas for nothing but their inability to hold a valid and a scientific argument with him and totally lost their minds over his being granted the State Award for Social Sciences, The fact that lead to their predicament that the state has adopted a secular ideology, which is synonymous with heresy and atheism in their ignorant minds.

We also urge the Press Syndicate to address the abuses of the fundamentalist brothers Mahmoud and Gamal Sultan as well as Jamal Abd al-Rahim against Dr. El Qemany inciting the general public to kill him. We call upon the Attorney General as well, to bring to justice those held accountable for incitement to kill an Egyptian citizen whose only crime was to use his mind.

LET’S ALL STAND UP TO THE FUNDAMENTALIST INQUISITION!

El Qemany’s Appeal About Sayyid al-Qimni Qemani text I (English) Qemani text II (English) Qimni – Azhar – Extremism Qimni – Muslim Brotherhood – civil society Qimny on Jihad attitudes

Cover snapshots of Qimni’s books:

Qimni book 1 Qimni book 2 Qimni book 3 Qimni book 4 Qimni book 5 Qimni book 6 Qimni book 7