Jihad Economics and Islamic Banking

8 04 2009

Source: Rightsidenews


By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen
[From Armed Groups: Studies in National Security, Counterterrorism, and Counterinsurgency; Edited by
Jeff rey Norwitz; U.S. Naval War College , June 2008, chapter 28.
]

The
United States and the West cannot win the war against radical Islam merely with the most sophisticated military strategies. Winning requires understanding the role of shari’a and the Muslim Brotherhood in developing a global ideological and political movement supported by a parallel “Islamic” financial system to exploit and undermine Western economies and markets.

This movement is the foundation and the major funding source for the political, economic, and military initiatives of the global Islamic movement.1

Shari’a finance is a new weapon in the arsenal of what might be termed fifth-generation warfare (5GW).2 The perpetrators include both states and organizations, advancing a global totalitarian ideology disguised as a religion. The end goal is to impose that ideology worldwide, making the Islamic “nation,” or ummah, supreme.3

Rising oil prices and the West’s dependency on Middle East oil, combined with willful blindness and political correctness, provide a surge of petrodollars, making financial and economic jihad so much easier to carry out. Moreover, according to shari’a, Muslims hold all property in trust for Allah.4 Therefore, under the shari’a, all current and historic Muslim acquisitions everywhere, including the United States , belong to the ummah, in trust for Allah.

Shari’a is the crucial source and ultimate authority dictating the actions of practicing individuals and radical Muslim states and movements alike. Failing to understand the political use of shari’a hampers the U.S. ability to mount effective policies, plans, and strategies to successfully counter this fast-growing totalitarian threat.

This ignorance is illustrated by the statements of Massachusetts representative Barney Frank and Utah senator Bob Bennett. Responding to opponents of Bourse Dubai’s then-proposed acquisition of 20 percent of NASDAQ in September 2007, Frank quipped, “In the ports deal, the concern was smuggling something or someone dangerous. . . . What are we talking about here”–smuggling someone onto a stock exchange? 5 Similarly, Bennett said, “ Dubai is making a purchase on the open market of an asset that’s for sale. What’s wrong with that?”

Although Senator Bennett is correct—buying portions or all of NASDAQ is legal, and NASDAQ regulations could not be changed without Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approval—Bourse Dubai’s shari’a influence in the heart of the U.S. markets and economy should have been of grave concern.

Shari’a is the set of Islamic laws established by Muslim jurists, based on the Qur’an and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, as recorded beginning more than 1,200 years ago. Its end goal, for all time, is establishing a world ruled entirely by Islam and the harsh shari’a laws. These laws govern every aspect of daily life and prohibit individual, political, and religious freedoms.

Financial Jihad

Funding the jihad, i.e., financial jihad, or Al Jihad bi-al-Mal, is mandated by many verses in the Qur’an, such as chapter 61, verses 10.11: “you . . . should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives,” and chapter 49, verse 15: “The [true] believers are only those who . . . strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah.” This has been reiterated throughout Islamic history and in recent times. “Financial Jihad [is] . . . more important . . . than self-sacrificing,” according to Saudi and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) spiritual leader Hamud bin Uqla al-Shuaibi.6

Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most prominent Sunni scholars in the world today, reiterated the legal justification for “financial jihad [Al-Jihad bi-al-Mal]” in a lecture he gave on 4 May 2002 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to him, “collecting money for the mujahideen (jihad fighters . . . ) was not a donation or a gift but a duty necessitated by the sacrifices they made for the Muslim nation.” 7

Historical Development

The origins of the modern financial jihad infrastructure, including all Islamic economic and financial regulatory organizations like the 1991-Bahrain-registered and -based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), date back to the 1920s and were an invention of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. He designed political, economic, and financial foundations to enable Muslims to fulfill a key form of jihad mandated by the Qur’an—financial jihad.8

He viewed finance as a critical weapon to undermine the infidels—and “work towards establishing an Islamic rule on earth.” 9 He was first to understand that to achieve world domination, Muslims needed an independent Islamic financial system to parallel and later supersede the Western economy. Al-Banna’s contemporaries and successors (such as the late Sayed Qutb and current Yusuf al-Qaradawi) set his theories and practices into motion, developing shari’a-based terminology and mechanisms to advance the financial jihad–– “Islamic economics,” finance, and banking.10

Early 1930s MB attempts to establish Islamic banking in India failed. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser shut down the second attempt, in 1964, after only one year, later arresting and expelling the Muslim Brotherhood for attempts to kill him.11

But Saudi Arabia welcomed this new wave of Egyptian dissidents, as did King Saud bin Abdel Aziz earlier waves in 1954 and 1961.12 Their ideas so appealed to him and his clerics that in 1961, Saud funded the MB’s establishment of the Islamic University in Medina to proselytize its fundamentalist Islamic ideology, especially to foreign students.13 In 1962, the MB convinced the king to launch a global financial joint venture, which became the cornerstone and engine to spread Islam worldwide. This venture created charitable foundations, which the MB oversees and from which most Islamic terrorist groups benefit.14

The first were the Muslim World League (MWL) and Rabitta al-Alam al-Islami, uniting Islamic radicals from 22 nations and spinning a web of many other charities with hundreds of offices worldwide.15 In 1978, the kingdom backed another MB initiative, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), which, with all these “charities,” is implicated for funding al Qaeda, the 9/11 attacks, Hamas, and others.16 These “charities” are used to advance the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi political agenda, namely empowering the ummah and imposing worldwide shari’a. “I don’t like this word ‘donations’,”. al-Qaradawi told BBC Panorama on 30 July 2006. “I like to call it Jihad with money, because God has ordered us to fight enemies with our lives and our money.”17

In 1969, the Saudis convened Arab and Muslim states to unify the “struggle for Islam,” and have ever since been the Organization of the Islamic Conference’s (OIC’s) major sponsor. The 56 OIC members include Iran, Sudan, and Syria. The Jidda-based, “pending the liberation of Jerusalem,” OIC’s charter mandates and coordinates “support [of] the struggle of the Palestinian people, . . . recovering their rights and liberating their occupied territories.” 18 The OIC charter includes all the MB principles. Its first international undertaking in 1973 was to establish the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) “in accordance with the principles of the shariah,”19 as prescribed by the MB—and to launch the fast-growing petrodollar-based Islamic financing market. The IDB, more a development than commercial bank, was established largely “to promote Islamic banking worldwide.” 20 “[A]n Islamic organization must serve God… and ultimately sustain …the growth and advancement of the Islamic way of life,” writes Nasser M. Suleiman in “Corporate Governance in Islamic Banking.”21

And the IDB has done just that. Between 1975 to 2005, the IDB approved over $50 billion in funding to Muslim countries,22 ostensibly to develop their economic and educational infrastructures, but effected little regional economic impact. Its educational efforts, however, paid huge yields—via the rapid and significant spread of radical Islam worldwide. Moreover, in 2001 alone, the IDB transferred $538 million23 raised publicly by Saudi and Gulf royal telethons to support the Palestinian intifada and families of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IDB has also channeled UN funds to Hamas, as documented by bank records discovered in the West Bank and Gaza. Yet, the IDB received UN observer status in 2007.24

According to a 1991 U.S. Library of Congress report on Sudan, the IDB also supported Faisal Islamic Bank, established in 1977 under Sudan’s Faisal Islamic Bank Act by Saudi prince Muhammad ibn Faisal Al Saud and managed by local Muslim Brotherhood members and their party, the National Islamic Front. Soon other political groups and parties formed their own Islamic banks. Together, Sudanese Islamic banks then acquired 20 percent of the country’s deposits “providing the financial basis to turn Sudan into an Islamic state in 1983, and promoting the Islamic governmental policies to date.”25 Sudan Islamized its banking in 1989. However, Pakistan was the first country to officially Islamize its banking practices, in 1979.

Rising oil revenues encouraged MB leaders to formalize al-Banna’s vision. In 1977 and 1982, they convened in Lugano, Switzerland, to chart a master plan to co-opt Western economic “foundations, capitalism and democracy” in a treatise entitled “Towards a Worldwide Strategy for Islamic Policy,” also known as The Project. MB spiritual leader al-Qaradawi wrote the explicit document, dated 1 December 1982.26 The 12-point strategy includes diktats to establish the Islamic state and gradual, parallel work to control local power centers . . . using institutional work as means to this end. This requires “special Islamic economic, social and other institutions,” and “the necessary economic institutions to provide financial support” to spread fundamentalist Islam.27

Consequently, the IDB founded the AAOIFI in 1990. AAOIFI members include the Saudi Dallah al Baraka Group, al-Rajhi Banking & Investment Corporation, and Kuwait Finance House28—all implicated in funding al Qaeda and other MB offspring, according to Richard Clarke, the former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection, and counter-terrorism.29 The 18 AAOIFI members also include Iran and Sudan, both on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list; Iran is a U.S. State Department-designated terror-sponsoring state, too. UAE banks wired most of the funding for the 9/11 attacks.30

In addition, the “de facto Islamic Central Bank,” the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB),31 was established in 2002 in Kuala Lumpur “to absorb the 11 September shock and reinforce the stability of Islamic finance.” Chairing the organizers’ meeting, then Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir stated, “A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing to abolish this slavery [to the West].” IFSB members include the central banks of Iran, Sudan, and Syria (all designated state sponsors of terrorism) and the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), which is widely documented since its inception to be a terror funder.32

According to Dallah al Baraka Group and Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) president Saleh Kamel,33 more than 400 Islamic financial institutions34 currently operate in 75 countries.35 They now hold more than $800 billion in assets 36 growing 15 percent annually. HSBC, UBS, J.P. Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds TSB, and BNP Paribas are but a few that offer Islamic banking and shari’a-based products to their Western clients—and promote them as “ethical investments.”

Billionaire Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel and his family, like other wealthy Saudis, have built their terror-funding-affiliated $3.5 billion Dallah al Baraka Group to service the shari’a.37 Its business, finance, and media sectors incorporate agriculture, communication, health care, real estate, tourism, trade, transportation, and finance companies—including 10 banks and many leasing and finance firms, Arab Radio & Television and Arab Digital Distribution, and the International Information & Trading Service Co., producing the Top 1000 Saudi Companies Directory, among other publications.

Rapidly rising oil prices fill the coffers of Islamic banks, fuel the expansion of shari’a economics and financial jihad–-and threaten the United States and the entire non-Muslim world, in real time. Indeed, shortly after 9/11, Osama bin Laden called on Muslims “to concentrate on hitting the U.S. economy through all possible means. . . . Look for the key pillars of the U.S. economy. Strike the key pillars of the enemy again and again and they will fall as one.” 38

The NASDAQ acquisition, purchases of over 52 percent of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and 47.6 percent of OMX (Nordic exchange), and vigorous expansion of shari’a finance all steadily implement al-Banna.s plan to spread and ultimately impose shari’a worldwide.

Bourse Dubai in December 2006 loudly proclaimed its new conversion to “shari’a compliance and accounting practices.”39 Yet, responding to a specific inquiry on the Islamic nature of Bourse Dubai from the Partnership for New York City on 22 October 2007, Bourse Dubai denied being an Islamic exchange.40 Still unaware of the implications of importing shari’a finance, however, hoards of Westerners eagerly attend such pricey events as the October 2007 Islamic Finance Summit in New York,41 which focused on the “innovations in shari’a compliant finance.” According to an eyewitness, when one participant timidly inquired, “What is shari’a law?” a leading Islamic scholar responded from the podium: “It’s good for you.”

Lost on the attendees was the inescapable fact that shari’a calls for the supremacy of Islam, thus negating the U.S. Constitution.42

Zakat

Zakat, we are told, is to help the needy. But as Janine A. Clark’s excellent 2004 study shows, zakat is used to support the middle class, to strengthen its loyalty to the rulers, and to back their radical ideology’43

Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi decrees, “Declaring holy war . . . is an Islamic duty, and fighting . . . is the Way of Allah for which Zakat must be spent.” In his 1999 publication, Fiqh az-Zakat, al-Qaradawi adds, “The most important form of jihad today is serious, purposefully organized work to rebuild Islamic society and state and to implement the Islamic way of life in the political, cultural and economic domains. This is certainly most deserving of Zakat.” 44 And as previously demonstrated time and again, Muslim jihadist-terror organizations are indeed prominent zakat recipients.

The use of charities to fund jihad, however, is not limited to radical Sunnis. On Jerusalem Day, 5 October 2007, Al-Manar TV broadcasted Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s cantankerous speech giving religious, moral, and political justification in support of “the armed Palestinian resistance” and calling for financial support to the Palestinian terrorist organizations. Nasrallah “gave Khomeini’s fatwa [45] . . . allowing charity funds . . . and the tax of 1/5 (khums)[46] to be transferred to the Palestinian terrorist organizations . . . to pay for their campaign.”47

The definition of zakat in The Encyclopedia of Islam includes in “category 7” of eligible recipients “volunteers engaged in jihad,” for whom the zakat covers “living expenses and the expenses of their military service (animals, weapons).” 48

Millard Burr and Robert Collins’s compelling study Alms for Jihad documents that when zakat, which is obligatory to all Muslims, is given “in the path of Allah,” it is given to fund jihad. There are seven broad categories of eligible recipients: the poor, converts, wayfarers, those in bondage or in debt, those committed to Allah for the spread and triumph of Islam, newcomers whose faith is weak, and new converts to Islam “whose hearts have been [recently] reconciled [to truth].” Moreover, zakat may be used to support those who admin ister it.49

In a 2006 federal case, alleged al Qaeda supporters Emadeddin Z. Muntasser and Muhammed Mubayyid were charged with soliciting and spending “funds to support and promote the mujahideen and jihad, including the distribution of pro-jihad publications,” through their now-defunct “charity” and front organization, Care International. The Boston-based organization published, among other things, the English version of al Qaeda cofounder and key Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdullah Azzam’s “Join the Caravan.”

It states, “The individually obligatory nature of jihad remains in effect until the lands are purified from the pollution of the disbelievers.”50 They collected more than $1.3 million in contributions. In their defense, Muntasser and Mubayyid claimed to merely have exercised their religious freedom and obligation to give zakat as part of their constitutionally protected freedoms. Their motion for dismissal (which the court denied) cited chapter 9, verse 60, of the Qur’an, describing “those entitled to receive zakat.”

Incredibly, the suspects’ attorneys also argued that such charitable giving, to support jihad and mujahideen, is rightfully tax exempt under the U.S. constitutional protection of religious freedom.51 Court records show Care International deposited checks “with handwritten notes such as ‘for jihad only,’ ‘Bosnia Jihad fund,’ and ‘Chechen Muslim Fighters’.” The U.S. Constitution provides protections for religious freedom, but most certainly was never intended to protect religiously sanctioned or encouraged war in or against America.

The First Amendment bars Congress from enacting laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” However, the Constitution offers no protection to any group or religion supporting “holy war” against the United States or its citizens.

State Zakat Agencies

Saudi Arabia

In 2007, Saudi Arabia collected $18 billion in zakat52 —which includes the 20 percent flat corporation tax from foreign companies. The Saudis claim that the money collected develops their infrastructure. However, two-thirds of Saudi men are unemployed and the infrastructure is crumbling.53

Illustrating how funds are used, Saudi Arabia’s secretary-general of the official Muslim World League Koran Memorization Commission stated on Iqra TV, on 29 August 2005, “The Prophet said: ‘He who equips a fighter…it is as if he himself fought.’ You lie in your bed, safe in your own home, and donate money and Allah credits you with the rewards of a fighter. What is this? A privilege.”54

Since the 1970s, the Saudi government has spent more than $100 billion 55 to build thousands of mosques, Islamic centers, and Islamic studies programs in universities worldwide to advance the ummah’s power and undermine Western economic, political, cultural, educational, and legal structures and replace them with the shari’a.56 In the last 13 years alone, the Saudis gave at least $459 million to British universities for Islamic study centers, according to Professor Anthony Glees, of Brunel University.57

The worldwide Muslim riots following the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in Denmark’s largest daily, Jyllands-Posten, began only after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark; after Sheikh Osama Khayyat, imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, praised on national Saudi television the Saudi government for its action; and after Sheikh Ali Al-Hudaify, imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, called “upon governments, organizations and scholars in the Islamic world to extend support for campaigns protesting the sacrilegious attacks on the Prophet.”58 Saudi-controlled OIC initiated and coordinated Muslim rioting worldwide after the Danish Muhammad cartoon publications.59

Moreover, to wield more control over Muslim communities worldwide, better orchestrate “spontaneous demonstrations,” and better allocate funds for them, the Saudi-backed OIC established the clerical International Commission for Zakat (ICZ) on 30 April 2007. Previously, there were more than 20,000 organizations that collected zakat. Now, however, the Islamic clerics’ centralized “expert committee” based in Malaysia also supervises and distributes zakat funds globally. The new committee distributed roughly $2 billion collected over Ramadan 2007 to Muslim “charities”.60

In a show of unity, the Shiite Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah argued, “If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini’s fatwa against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so.”61

The Saudi role in terror financing is no secret. Yet, the U.S. admin istration keeps telling us that the Saudis are our allies. On 10 December 2002, criticizing the Joint Inquiry Staff (JIS) report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Senators Jon Kyl and Pat Roberts stated, “The pervasiveness in Saudi Arabia of Wahhabism, a radical, anti-American variant of Islam, was well known before 9/11. The JIS should have inquired why the country of Saudi Arabia was given such preferential treatment by the State Department and whether the intelligence agencies were complicit in the policy.”62

In early 2008, however, U.S. government officials publicly noted that the Saudis continue the financing of radical Islamic groups.63 United Arab Emirates64 Like every Muslim country, the UAE collects mandatory Islamic charity (zakat. the Third Pillar of Islam—an annual wealth tax), of 2.5 percent to 20 percent from Muslim institutions and companies. Being non-Muslims, foreign banks and oil companies theoretically don’t pay zakat. But foreign banks and oil companies do pay at least 20 percent

of their profits in the form of a mandatory tax rather than zakat. In 2003, the UAE established an independent federal agency collecting zakat on government tax revenues from “companies listed on the Dubai Financial Market and Abu Dhabi Securities Market . . . oil-producing companies and branches of foreign banks.” In 2007 these revenues were estimated at $13.5 billion.65

Although presenting itself to the West as a moderate. ally, the UAE has consistently supported the. peaceful. and violent advancement of shari’a and terrorism worldwide. In 2006, to support suicide bombing, the UAE gave $100 million to the Palestinian Authority to build a new town named Sheikh Khalifa City, in honor of the UAE president. The city houses families of “shahids and prisoners” andprisoners.and was built on the ruins of Morag, one of the evacuated Israeli settlements in Gaza.66

On July 27, 2005, the Palestinian Information Center carried a public HAMAS statement thanking the UAE for [its] “unstinting support.” The statement said: “We highly appreciate his highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan (UAE president) in particular and the UAE people and government in general for their limitless support . . . that contributed more to consolidating our people’s resoluteness in the face of the Israeli occupation.”

The HAMAS statement continued: “the sisterly UAE had . . . never hesitated in providing aid for our Mujahid people pertaining to rebuilding their houses demolished by the IOF. . . .

The UAE also spared no effort to offer financial and material aids to the Palestinian charitable societies.”67

Indeed, as documented by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (CSS),68 Hamas charitable societies are known as integral parts of the Hamas infrastructure, and are outlawed by the United States and Israel.

Hamas also included a special tribute, promising to “never forget the generous donations of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan [al Nahayan of Abu Dhabi],”69 the current UAE president’s father. The multibillionaire was an early PLO patron and, from the 1970s until his 2004 death, contributed millions of dollars to the PLO’s terror agenda, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad.70

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan was the first Arab ruler to understand the strategic importance of economic jihad71 against the West. He was first to use oil as a political weapon after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.72 He was also the major sponsor of the first international Islamic bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). The bank was created to serve as .the best bridge to help the world of Islam, and the best way to fight the evil influence of the Zionists.”73 BCCI, which was shut down in July 1991 by New York City district attorney Robert Morgenthau, 74 funded and otherwise facilitated terrorist organizations and states, including the Sandinistas, Hezbollah, abu Nidal, the PLO, al Qaeda, Syria, Libya, Iran’s Islamic revolution—as well as Pakistan’s nuclear program, to create the “Islamic Bomb.”75

Immediately before the 1991 Gulf War, Sheikh Zayed branded the United States the Muslims” “number two enemy” after Israel. As of this writing, the UAE votes against the United States 70 percent of the time in the UN.76

Human Appeal International (HAI), a UAE government-run “charitable” organization, whose board includes the UAE president,77 continues to fund Hamas and other Palestinian organizations, .martyrs,. and Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families. The HAI modus operandi includes transferring funds to the Palestinian Red Crescent, whose West Bank and Gaza branches Hamas runs. Hamas, in turn, distributes the money to Hamas “charities.” The Toronto, Canada, Orient Research Center reports that the UAE compensation. plan for the Palestinian intifada in 2001 included $3,000 for every Palestinian shahid, $2,000 for his family, $1,500 for those detained by Israel, and $1,200 for each orphan. In addition, the families of terrorists whose homes Israel demolished each received $10,000. Also in 2001, the UAE held two telethons to support the “martyrs’” families. One entitled “We Are All Palestinians” raised 135 million dirham, or $36.8 million, and another called “For Your Sake Palestine” raised 350 million dirham, or $95.3 million.

On 15 February 2005, the Hamas Web site reported on funds transferred from HAI to two West Bank Hamas front organizations, IQRA and Rifdah, outlawed in Israel.78 On 22 March 2005, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam reported that in 2004 the UAE Red Crescent donated $2 million to Hamas “charities” for 3,158 terrorists. orphans.79

A detailed 25 March 2005 report, in the Palestinian daily Al Hayat al-Jadeeda, noted that the UAE Friends Society transferred $475,000, through the UAE Red Crescent, to West Bank “charitable” organizations in Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarem to distribute to families of “martyrs,” orphans, imprisoned Palestinians, and others.

And in July 2005, Osama Zaki Muhammad Bashiti of Gaza’s Khan Younis was arrested while returning from the UAE80 for often transferring as much as $200,000 at a time to the Gaza branch of Hamas.

Continuing UAE support for Hamas follows the agenda of the late Sheikh Zayed. His Zayed Center for International Coordination and Followup, founded in 1999 as the official Arab League think tank,81 was shuttered under international pressure in 2003. It championed Holocaust deniers like Thierry Meyssan82 and Roger Garaudy83 and provided a platform for anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish extremists like Saudi economist Dr. Yussuf Abdallah Al Zamel, who blamed the Iraq war on “radical Zionist and right-wing Christian” influence.

In October 2000, shortly after the beginning of the last Palestinian intifada against Israel, Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi established the “Union of Good,”84 operated through the London-based Muslim organization Interpal. The Union of Good is an umbrella organization composed of 50 Islamic “charities,” including Hamas- and Hezbollah-affiliated organizations. It was supposed to raise funds for only 101 days, but its initial success led the founders, mostly Hamas members, to maintain its operations to date. Millions of dollars generated in Europe and elsewhere through the Union of Good-participating Muslim “charities” fuel all Palestinian terror organizations. Interpal was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States in August 2003, but remains free to operate in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Al-Qaradawi, who established and leads the Department of Islamic Law (shari’a) at the University of Qatar and the Institute for Sunnah Research there, is also on the board of directors of the Al-Taqwa Bank, designated by the United States as a terrorist-funding organization in November 2001. In August 2004, al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa saying, “All the Americans in Iraq are soldiers, there is no difference between enlisted soldiers and civilians, and they must be fought because American citizens came to Iraq to serve the occupation. The kidnapping and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [Muslim religious] obligation to force them to leave the country immediately.”85

UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan stated that the emirates were and remain a. strong ally of the U.S. in combating terrorism.; continuing UAE support of Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations proves otherwise. This raises legitimate concerns for the West about trusting UAE banks, shari’a finance institutions, or government tax or zakat collection agencies. Furthermore, it raises alarms about giving the UAE legal control or influence over Western investment houses, banks, or markets.86 The same applies to every other Islamic financial institution or state.

Bourse Dubai began operating as the world’s first fully shari’a-compliant stock exchange in December 2006.87 shari’a compliance requires companies traded to also be shari’a-compliant and establishes a special tax on all the others to. Purify them. The Islamic “purity” (tazkiya) of Bourse Dubai was approved by the shari’a Board of the AAOIFI.88 The AAOIFI laid the groundwork for the global Islamic financial network and regulates all Islamic financial organizations and products, including Bourse Dubai.

How the West Can Win
The adversary’s skill at manipulating media and public opinion cannot be underestimated. The propaganda offensive is so successful that even Colonel Thomas X. Hammes’ description of what led to the Second Intifada is a rehash of the Saudi-sponsored Palestinian fabrication and propaganda. Ham mes claims that the Palestinian Authority named the new intifada “the al Asa Intifada” to suggest that the Palestinian violent reaction was a direct result of then Liked party leader Ariel Sharon’s visit to the al-Asa Mosque. Moreover, Hammes’ speculation that Sharon knowingly sparked Palestinian violence using his own fourth-generation warfare strategy suggests a deliberate disregard for thousands of dead Israelis and Palestinians in the resulting mayhem.

The fact of the matter is, Sharon never entered the al-Asa Mosque but rather visited the Jewish holy site of the Temple Mount. Moreover, careful study of the Palestinian modus operandi makes it clear that naming violent outbreaks is done in an opportunistic fashion and this one was preplanned. Mad Al-Hifalutin, then Palestinian Authority communications minister, stated on several occasions: “The PA had begun to prepare for the outbreak of the current Intifada since the return from the Camp David negotiations, by request of President Yasser Arafat.”89

The United States is now drawing new military and defense doctrines to win the fourth-generation warfare. In addition to improving technologies, the focus seems to be on the development of lighter and more flexible armies, and a greater understanding of the individual characteristics of our enemies. Writing about strategies needed to win the next war, Colonel Thomas X. Hammes states that the “most powerful [U.S.] message” to the world is that “we treasure the individual.”90

But a measure of the enemy’s success is our reluctance to identify the shari’a for what it is. Its adherents value only the ummah, and they enslave the individual to achieve their goal—global domination. As long as the enemy—shari’a—has not been acknowledged and understood, we stand no chance. Exposing shari’a and all its adherents, be they states, organizations, or individuals, is crucial to our ability to defend ourselves. It will also enable us to undermine sharia’s global structure, turning its adherents against it, the way we did with communism.

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Sharia Banking Conquers Europe

8 04 2009

Source: Brussels Journal

All over Europe Islamic banks are establishing branches, Western banks are offering Sharia-compliant financial services, and European governments are trying to outcompete each other in welcoming them. Proponents of banking along the lines of Sharia (Islamic law) claim that the Islamic banking system is “more ethical” than the West’s capitalist system. This is not true. Unfortunately, however, in our age of crashing financial markets, many Westerners – not just the traditional anti-capitalist European left – seem very eager to buy that argument.

Early this month, even the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano voiced its approval of Sharia banking. “The ethical principles on which Islamic finance is based may bring banks closer to their clients and to the true spirit which should mark every financial service,” the paper said in a downright stupid and “unethical” article published on March, 4.

The article, entitled “Islamic finance proposals and ideas for the West in crisis” [pdf] suggests that the basic rules of Islamic finance could relieve suffering markets and particularly international financial systems. It says that in the current atmosphere of crisis banks should take Muslims as an example and that the Islamic finance system may pave the way for the establishment of new rules in the Western world.

Islamic or Sharia banks differ from regular banks in two major ways. As commanded in the Koran, the charging of interest is prohibited in all monetary transactions. The other defining feature of Islamic banks is that they are supervised by a board of Islamic scholars and clerics whose job it is to ensure that the banks’ activities comply with Sharia law.

Its proponents argue that Islamic banking is “ethically superior” to the capitalist principles of the “materialistic” West because, as Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of Osservatore Romano says, Sharia banks take “the human dimension of the economy” into account.

The two dirty secrets of Islamic banking, however, are that, like all banks, Sharia banks do charge interest – they just give it another name – and that the clerics supervising the banks have ties to extremist, even terrorist, groups which work towards the Islamization of Europe and world dominance.

Helena Christofi, an expert on Sharia banking, explains that Islamic banks extend a type of Islamic “credit,” called murabaha, that shifts risk to the borrower in a manner similar to interest.

“An Islamic bank granting murabaha credit to a customer for an automobile, for example, would purchase the automobile for the customer for $15,000 and the customer would owe the bank $20,000 in a year’s time. Similarly, under the ‘diminishing musharaka’ credit, the Islamic version of a mortgage, the bank and the customer purchase the property together. The customer must make monthly payments to the bank and pay a monthly rental fee, both based on the portion of the purchase price the bank still owns. Ironically, the interest this amounts to ranges between one and two percent higher than the interest on a conventional mortgage. Although the resale price of the vehicle and the rent paid on the house are akin to simple interest charges, the banks’ sharia boards legitimate the charges by renaming them ‘commissions’ or ‘profits.’”

The Sharia boards supervising the Islamic banks and Sharia-compliant financial services offered by regular European banks are composed of members of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. This Council is headed by Sheik Yousef Al-Qaradawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and instigator and financier of terrorism in Europe and the Middle East. Both Al-Qaradawi and the Council have expressed their hope that “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror.”

With ever larger Muslim populations there is a growing internal demand for an “ethical alternative” to conventional banking for Muslims. A 2006 poll by Lloyds Trustee Savings Bank in Britain found that over 75% of British Muslims want Sharia-compliant banking products, while in 2005 Mufti Abdul Barkatullah, Sharia adviser to Lloyds TSB and an imam at a North London mosque reported that 20% of inquiries into Islamic products at Lloyds TSB came from non-Muslims who have bought the argument that conventional capitalist banking is somehow unethical.

Alun Williams, marketing director of the Islamic Bank of Britain, established in 2004 and one of the first Sharia banks in Europe, told The Guardian (April 2, 2005):

“Our biggest appeal outside the Muslim community will be to those who feel disenfranchised by, and bitter about, mainstream banks. […] Non-Muslims are fascinated by us, the more so because we intend offering […] an ethical dimension.”

That was four years ago. Meanwhile, Islamic banking has boomed all over Europe and interest from non-Muslims has grown in the wake of the financial crisis, which some, such as the Vatican paper, claim is due to the free-market model having “grown too much and badly in the past two decades.”

Sharia principles, however, not only prohibit the collection and payment of interest and investing in companies involved in gambling, alcohol, tobacco, pornography and the production of pork, but also forbid women from opening bank accounts without their husband’s approval. How “ethical” the latter is for the non-Muslims “fascinated” by Sharia banking is unclear. However, Western banks offering Sharia-compliant services to non-Muslims do not seem to insist on barring women. According to Christofi,

“The justification for replacing capitalism with the Islamic model is based on an intentional corruption of Sharia law, but the banks’ clerics don’t seem to mind undermining their theological philosophy, since the ethical image their misrepresentation has created for Islamic banking has managed to spread Islamic ideology to non-Muslims in Britain. According to Al-Qaradawi, Islam’s ideological infiltration into the West will be the vehicle through which it will establish an Islamic government over the entire globe.”

Although Al-Qaradawi and other members of the European Council for Fatwa and Research are connected to Islamist circles, the British government continues to promote the UK as a hub for Islamic banking. Western governments welcome Sharia-compliant banking because of the huge sums this attracts from Muslim immigrants, “ethically”-driven non-Muslims, and investors from Muslim countries.

In December 2008, the French Senate looked at ways to eliminate legal hurdles for Islamic financial services and products in France. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde announced France’s intention to make Paris “the capital of Islamic finance” and said several Islamic banks would open branches in the French capital in 2009. French sources estimate this area of the financial market is worth from 500 to 600 billion dollars and could grow by an average 11 percent a year.

In July 2007, Wouter Bos, the Dutch Finance Minister (and leader of the Dutch Labour Party), said the Dutch government actively encourages Islamic banking, despite the risk that this acts as a Trojan horse in the Western banking system for groups linked to terrorists.

“In the first place because Islamic banking meets a demand from the Muslims living in the Netherlands. In the second place because we see an opportunity here for the Dutch financial sector. A third reason is that banning Islamic banking from the perspective of fighting terrorism will have a counter-productive effect. Denial of an actual need can lead to money-flows running via alternative channels out of the sight of the government.”

Switzerland, too, wants its share of Sharia banking. Years ago, Swiss banks already opened branches in the Middle East, offering worldwide Sharia-compliant financial products to wealthy Arabs.

In October 2006, the Swiss authorities granted a banking license to the first Switzerland-based bank that operates according to Sharia principles. Others have followed. “There are simply not enough financial products being created in the West for Muslim clients,” says John Sandwick, managing director of Swiss asset management firm Encore Management. “If no effort is made whatsoever, I am afraid the world will pass Switzerland by in the race to control the rich prize: which today is worth hundreds of billions, but in the future will be trillions of dollars of Islamic wealth.” Michael Fouad Chahine of Credit Suisse says “The development of Islamic banking has so far been limited to countries with a higher percentage of Muslims. But this is changing as more international regulators accept the importance of Sharia. It is now also accepted as socially responsible banking.”

How “socially responsible” and “ethical” is it to try to grab a share of the billions of dollars amassed by rich Arabs, while turning a blind eye to the fact that a substantial part of the money is used to promote terrorism and the establishment of an Islamic government over the entire globe?

In one of his sermons, Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi, one of the supervisors of the Sharia-compliant financial services offered in Britain, speaks of “the conquest of Rome.” In view of the recent article of the Osservatore Romano, Al-Qaradhawi’s words sound rather ominous:

“The city of Hirqil [Constantinople] was conquered by the young 23-year-old Ottoman Muhammad bin Morad, known in history as Muhammad the Conqueror, in 1453. The other city, Romiyya [Rome], remains, and we hope and believe [that it too will be conquered]. This means that Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor, after being expelled from it twice […]. In one of my previous programs, I said that I think that this conquest [of Rome] would not be by the sword or armies, but by preaching and ideology. Europe will see that it suffers from materialistic culture, and will seek an alternative, it will seek a way out, it will seek a lifeboat. It will find no lifesaver but the message of Islam.”

Will the Vatican Bank be the next to go Sharia?





New Afghan law worries Nato chief

5 04 2009

Women in Afghanistan

The law has been described as “oppressive” for women

Nato’s head says it could be difficult to persuade European countries to contribute more troops to Afghanistan because of controversial new laws.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the planned laws violated human rights and were unjustifiable when Nato troops were dying to protect universal values.

Critics say the law limits the rights of women from the Shia minority and authorises rape within marriage.

Aides to President Karzai insist the law provides more protection for women.

Permission

Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told the BBC’s Mark Mardell: “We are there to defend universal values and when I see, at the moment, a law threatening to come into effect which fundamentally violates women’s rights and human rights, that worries me.”

Nato chief’s Afghan law fears

He added: “I have a problem to explain and President Karzai knows this, because I discussed it with him. I have a problem to explain to a critical public audience in Europe, be it the UK or elsewhere, why I’m sending the guys to the Hindu Kush.”

France’s Human Rights Minister Rama Yade also expressed her “sharp concern” at the law, saying it “recalls the darkest hours of Afghanistan’s history”.

The UN earlier said it was seriously concerned about the potential impact of the law.

Human rights activists say it reverses many of the freedoms won by Afghan women in the seven years since the Taleban were driven from power.

They say it removes the right of women to refuse their husbands sex, unless they are ill.

Women will also need to get permission from their husbands if they want to leave their homes, unless there is an emergency.

The law covers members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority, who make up 10% of the population.

It was rushed through parliament in February and was backed by influential Shia clerics and Shia political parties.

Defenders of the law say it is an improvement on the customary laws which normally decide family matters.

A separate family law for the Sunni majority is now also being drawn up.

Nato is holding its annual summit in Strasbourg.

President Obama is to present his new Afghan strategy to his allies.

Ahead of the meeting, a number of leading charities warned that an increase in military deployments in Afghanistan could lead to a rise in civilian casualties.

They called on Nato leaders gathering in Strasbourg to do more to protect the population.

Last year more than 2,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan.

In a report titled Caught in the Conflict, 11 aid groups including Oxfam, ActionAid and Care called on Nato to change the way it operates.

“The troop surge will fail to achieve greater overall security and stability unless the military prioritise the protection of Afghan civilians,” Matt Waldman, head of policy for Oxfam International on Afghanistan, said.





Muslim Women “Warriors”: By Frances Kissling

8 03 2009

March 6, 2009

Source: religiondispatches

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a good time to reflect on the efforts of women of faith to reform or repeal texts and practices within their religions that contribute to women’s inequality or oppression.

For those of us in the United States and Europe, of Christian and Jewish traditions, the effort has focused on reinterpreting texts, working for the inclusion of women in ministry, for non-sexist language, and for the elimination of violence against women. The effort has not been easy; Christian and Jewish women still have a long way to go and we’ve experienced a fair amount of derision and even lost jobs, but none of us has actually risked our lives or ended up in jail as a result of this work.

Some of the most prophetic among us have found some acceptance. The Philadelphia Eleven, Episcopal women who were “irregularly” ordained in 1974, ushered in regular ordination by 1976 and the consecration of the first woman bishop, Barbara Harris, in 1989. Roman Catholic women began ordaining themselves in 2004 after an initial irregular ordination by a male bishop in 2002.

While these women (who number about 50 priests and five bishops) have been excommunicated, they are living proof that the institutional church has only the power we give it. They go about the business of ministry and service with skill and good grace.

Increasingly, Buddhist women have been seeking full ordination within the various branches of Buddhism. In Korea, Taiwan, and China, Buddhist nuns have been fully ordained for centuries, in an unbroken lineage back to the Buddha. In other countries and branches of Buddhism, the practice of fully ordaining women has not survived. Buddhist women have organized for ordination, and these are increasing. Thai Theravada Buddhism, which is linked to the state, has been most resistant to these ordinations, and Tibetan Buddhism under the Dalai Lama has been considering reviving the tradition, but as of today, no final decision has been made.

Muslim women—and feminists—are following a different and complicated path. This was brought home last month when I participated in a five day international conference in Malaysia which brought together 250 women from 47 countries, many of them predominantly Muslim with strong links between religion and state. The conference launched the Musawah Movement, a loose network of Muslim women’s groups working to ensure that Muslim family law recognizes and operationalizes the equality of women within the family. Muslim feminists are as diverse as other feminists which was reflected throughout the conference; Muslim feminism is not new. This conference, for example, was the result of 20 years of research and advocacy by a Malaysian group called Sisters in Islam (SIS). Zainah Anwar, the coordinator of Musawah (equality in Arabic) said:

Musawah is in some ways a vindication of a long and difficult struggle to find liberation within my faith and to translate into action my utter belief in a just God. This is the last frontier in the feminist movement to break the theological stranglehold of the patriarchs that prevents Muslim women from enjoying equal rights.

For Sisters in Islam finding liberation in their faith has involved a two-prong strategy: theological education and political advocacy. SIS takes religion seriously. In its early years, SIS reached out to Islamic scholars, studied the Qur’an and came to adopt a modernist methodology of interpreting the Qur’an and the Hadiths. Those of us with less knowledge of Islamic scholarship are unaware of the fact that since the mid-19th century (and before), Islamic scholars have offered modernist methodologies of interpreting Islamic texts that have been developed independently but share some characteristics of modern biblical interpretation.

Abdullah Saeed, the Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Melbourne University and a conference speaker, offered a methodological framework for interpretation that included understanding the Qur’an as a text influenced by the history of the time in which it was written and requiring analysis of how it was and is received as an element of legitimacy. He notes that progressive scholars and classic modernists in Islam emphasize “core Islamic values of justice, goodness and beauty” and engaging both Islamic tradition and modernity on the issues of human rights, social justice, gender justice, and pluralism.” It is this tradition that Sisters in Islam and Islamic feminist scholars including Norani Othman, Fatima Mernissi, and Riffat Hassan have engaged.

Not all at the conference (nor in the broader Muslim feminist community) are in sync with a theological approach to Muslim feminist advocacy. There was loud grumbling on the second day of the conference from feminists who want nothing to do with religion. For them, the task of Muslim feminism is to secure pluralism and democratic legislation in Muslim countries, based solely on human rights theory and treaty obligations.

Zainah Anwar weighed in on this approach in an opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune:

The decision of so many activists to ignore religion has had undesirable consequences. It has left the field wide open for the most conservative forces within Islam to define, dominate and set parameters of what Islam is and is not.

Anwar makes sense. In many Muslim-majority countries civil family law is based on Shariah. To try to change those laws without addressing its underlying religiosity and offering a respectful but different understanding of the Qur’an is unlikely to succeed. Moreover, in some countries where Shariah is not accepted as civil law, Shariah courts exist within the Muslim community and Muslim women are urged by their families to take issues of family law to these courts rather than civil courts. There have also been efforts by Muslim conservatives in the UK and Canada to pass legislation that would make Shariah courts the legal arbiters of family law for Muslims. These moves have been opposed by Muslim women and human rights advocates although some mainstream political leaders have naively assumed that recognition of such religious courts was an act of respect for cultural diversity.

Shariah is already interpreted differently from country to country, used and abused to justify practices that limit women’s human rights. Women are stoned to death and imprisoned for adultery, and even for reporting rape. Custody laws, which automatically award children to husbands, keep women in abusive marriages. In some countries, women can be divorced without their consent and with no provision for support. So-called honor killings go unpunished; girls’ education is limited or forbidden; women are beaten with impunity by husbands, fathers and sons.

One moderator of a “talk show”-format session, in which women leaders described their personal efforts to change conditions for women, called them “warriors.” In some quarters of feminism and religion, such a word would raise hackles. We are a “kind and gentle people.” But in other circles we combine a fierce sense of bravery and rage, a willingness to do battle for women with the instruments of reason, scholarship, and compassion in pursuing justice and equality. Let us celebrate all the strategies women use to survive and thrive.





Pervez Hoodbhoy: Pakistan needs a new vision?

8 03 2009

Pervez Hoodbhoy: Pakistan needs a new vision?

Source: Ittfaq


A leading Pakistani intellectual has described the Taliban as ‘barbaric’ because they are against elementary forms of civilisation and argues that negotiations are not possible with their leadership. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Nuclear Physics, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, also says in an exclusive interview to Shyam Bhatia of asianaffairs that the constitution of Pakistan needs to be altered to give equal rights to all citizens.

AA: Bearing in mind what happened at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, could you tell us how deep rooted are the Taliban in Pakistan?

PH: It was three or four years ago when we first heard of the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan. That translates into the Pakistan-Taliban movement. Prior to that we had thought the Taliban existed only in Afghanistan. Yes, we knew they were Pakistani creations, but in 1995 the ISI had formed and promoted them. That’s how they won their great battle in Jalalabad, that?s how they took over Kandahar and that’s how they ultimately took over Kabul. They were Pakistan’s favoured allies, Pakistan was the first to recognise the Taliban government. But after September 11, 2001 Pakistan made its famous U-turn. I think they did right by doing so, but that was also the time that the establishment betrayed its allies. Nonetheless, even after 2001, for years after that, Pakistanis assumed it was just a problem for Afghanistan.

AA: But when does the link start with Pakistan?

PH: In 2004 we hear that they have an existence in Pakistan and are so powerful that the Pakistan Army is making compromises. So you have the famous treaty of Shakai in 2004 in which it was agreed that the Taliban would not be attacked, that they would be compensated for their losses, that they in turn would not attack Pakistani troops. So one starts wondering at that time what the heck is going on! How is it that the Pakistan Army, which is reputed to have such good fighting skills, is making compromises over there and then suddenly once after that, we start hearing that the Taliban have spread into Swat, that mullahs are broadcasting fiery messages on their private FM stations that they have indoctrinated a fair percentage of the population of Swat. Then comes the January of 2007 when the Taliban essentially took over the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. The way it started was that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) announced it was going to demolish eight illegally constructed mosques in Islamabad. When they began doing this, I remember being astonished but pleased that they were finally taking notice of these illegal constructions. These had been intruding upon playgrounds, public parks, green areas and so forth.

Immediately, there was a reaction. The Red Mosque authorities started organising people. They launched a campaign to stop the illegal structures from being pulled down.

Lal Masjid was associated with Jamia Hafsa which was a madrassa for girls. It was originally sanctioned as a simple madrassa, which means one storey. It ended up as four storeys and accommodating between three and four thousand students, whereas it should have been for about 300 students. It was part of the Lal Masjid complex, or rather it became that, and at the end of January the students under the instruction of Lal Masjid mullahs took over the neighbouring children’s library, a government building. The government watched, there was no action. After that it was all the way down the steep slippery slope until July 4, 2007. In the intervening six months there is much that the government could have done to stop it. For one thing it was obviously illegal for girls of Jamia Hafsa to go out on to the streets, to kidnap women alleged to be prostitutes. It was obviously illegal and wrong for them to break into shops accompanied by male madrassa students armed with Kalashnikovs, destroying CDs, DVDs and videos. They set up their own parallel justice system and there was apparently no check on their activities.

Three months into the Red Mosque issue, I was introduced to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. He is a former prime minister and was Musharraf’s emissary to the Red Mosque and he was very much in the news at that time. He also made statements, were published in the newspapers, that he had agreed to all the demands of the girls; these fanatical women with bamboo sticks accompanied by Kalashnikov-toting males.

He said to them, ‘Aap to hamari baitiyon ki tarah hain, aapkey khilaf hum koi operation nahin karengey’ (You are like our daughters and we will not launch any operation against you) and he said he agrees to their demands for having Sharia in Islamabad.

So when I was introduced to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in Islamabad, I asked him, ‘Chaudhry sahib, is that what you said?’ He replied, ‘Yes, it is.’ I asked him, ‘Who gave you the authority to do that?’ He pointed to a portrait of General Musharraf and said, ‘He gave me the authority.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘you are a disgrace to Pakistan and its people’.

AA: Who signed the treaty of Shakai that you referred to earlier?

PH: That was General Aurakzai. He was a corps commander who later became governor of the Frontier province.

AA: Could you elaborate on the role of women in the Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan and are there women suicide bombers as well?

PH: There are now suicide bombers to the extent of maybe 10 per cent and they are particularly effective because they can get through without being checked. This is a tactic that has been learned directly from Iraq. The women in Jamia Hafsa – the madrassa next to the Red Mosque – were under Ummeh Hassaan, the wife of Maulana Abdul Aziz. He was one of the two brothers – the other one was Abdul Rashid Ghazi who was killed – and he is currently in custody. He tried to flee from the siege by hiding under a burka. He was apprehended and exposed on television, leading to a temporary loss of status. Now his release has become a cause celebre.

Now astonishingly enough the Zardari government has decided to restore Jamia Hafsa. After the military action Jamia Hafsa was razed to the ground. Under pressure from the right-wing they are now restoring that women’s madrassa. They have already released Ummeh Hassaan and the pressure is now on to release her husband.

AA: But what about the role of women in this militancy? Do they take their cue from the Iraqis?

PH: They are girls who have been brought mostly from the FATA and the tribal areas. They came under desperate circumstances, sent by their fathers. They spent their formative years in the madrassa and were brought up in a particular mindset. So when this whole thing happened (the siege of the Red Mosque), the girls were given the choice of leaving the madrassa. They chose to stay there and many were killed.

AA: You mentioned more than 60 suicide attacks in 2007. Was that one a week?

PH: It was mostly between July and December. And Islamabad has seen its 10th suicide attack. One of those, which left me quaking, was because of my daughters could have been in the path. They were scheduled to accompany the chief justice at a rally in August. They were heading towards the courts and it was then that the suicide bomber blew himself up and 32 people died.

AA: What are the favoured targets of the suicide bombers? Is it buses, public buildings?

PH: The favoured targets of the suicide bombers are first of all the military and ISI. The military has been devastated by the suicide bombers who have obviously acted upon inside knowledge. They have been able to get past security barriers, they have managed to kill special forces commandos. One of the suicide bombers breaks into their mess and manages to kill 16 of them. There have been attacks on the general headquarters, there have been successful attacks on the ISI headquarters in Rawalpindi. I remember that day so well because my students were late. I asked them what happened and they said Murree Road was closed and again it was a suicide bomber who got through. He apparently knew the security codes. I had a student who joined the ISI and then dropped out because he did not know who was on which side.

AA: Would you comment on our perception from the outside that the ISI is actually very heavily involved with the Taliban?

PH: The ISI is bitterly divided within itself, as is the army. These are organisations that were brought up on the premise that defending Islam was just as important as defending Pakistan’s national borders. After 2001 they find themselves in a quandary. Who must they obey? What they have been brought to believe, or those people who are in charge of the state, and don’t have the same convictions? So that has been extremely divisive, which is precisely why one cannot say that the Pakistani state speaks with one voice. This is a fact with which the leadership of Pakistan is confronted. It may not be the fault of the present leadership. This is a legacy they have inherited from Zia-ul-Haq.

AA: Didn’t Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah make a distinction between mosque and state?

PH: Mohammed Ali Jinnah did not leave any clear blueprint for the state of Pakistan. Had he lived longer he might have had a greater say in how the state was to be structured. But that’s a hypothesis. He was primarily concerned with bringing Pakistan into existence. What he had in mind is unclear because he did not write any books, he did not author any academic titles wherein he expounded on his vision of Pakistan. He gave a number of speeches at different points and at different places. But some of those were based on expediency, others reflected his true thinking. But which reflected his expediency and which reflected his thinking is unclear. So, for example, he never used the word secularism. When he was asked, ‘Will Pakistan be a secular state?’ he replied, ‘I don’t know what a secular state is.’

Thereafter he had an interesting exchange with journalists from Australia where he essentially dodged the question. But precisely because he dodged the question, it has remained a question.

AA: Why do some people in Pakistan refer to the Taliban as barbaric?

PH: I would like many more people to use the adjective ‘barbaric’. The reason is obvious. These are people who do not want girls to be educated. In fact they blow up girls’ schools roughly at the average of two per week. They are opposed to music, they have declared that every form of music, whether classical or folk, is haram. They do not allow even simple pleasures like kite flying or traditional pleasures like bear fighting. They sent in a suicide bomber in Kandahar who blew up in a crowd of 1,000 who were spectators, killing a hundred and wounding who knows how many. They say no man who doesn’t have a beard will be allowed to walk the streets and whip those without beards.

They have issued threats against barbers and tailors because they say even tailoring clothes for women is inherently against Islam. They are against those elementary forms of civilisation and they are indeed barbarians. I feel their leadership cannot be negotiated with. It must be destroyed because people who follow this level of primitivism cannot be persuaded out of it.

On the other hand I think the rank and file of the Taliban is made up of simple folks. They are those who have been used to simple ways of living, they are in desperate circumstances, they are also subjected to culture shock because when they look at life in the cities finding it totally out of consonance with the life that they have been leading. And, of course, there are plenty of criminals as well.

AA: Where do they draw their inspiration from? Is it 18th century Wahabis from Saudi Arabia or the Deobandhi School?

PH: Before 1979 the Frontier region was populated by heavily armed tribals. The Soviet invasion led to the organisation of the great global jihad under the leadership of the U.S., joined in by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But the logistics were primarily placed in Pakistan. The aim was to defeat the Soviet Union. To enthuse the mujahideen, the U.S. projected this as a religious war and said Islam was under threat. So it was not a question of one country invading another. The Reagan administration thought that the most efficacious way of doing this was to declare this as jihad. Soon the CIA, working under the Reagan administration, brought in the most hardened warriors from across the globe. The religious sanction came from Saudi Arabia, the logistics from Pakistan, the money and the weapons from the U.S.

AA: Islam would justify this level of violence?

PH: The history of Islam has not been peaceful. Personally, I think no religion is peaceful. It can be used when necessary and parts of its history can be used to justify virtually anything.

AA: So the Americans in Afghanistan and their allies created a kind of goonda cult and took out whatever suited them from the religion, handed it to them and said now go ahead and do what’s necessary.

PH: It wasn’t the goondas, it was ideologically charged Islamic fighters that they brought in. Remember that at that point in history – the time of the Cold War – it was communism versus Islam. They brought the fatwas from all the maulvis and mullahs from across the world and they projected it as a religious war.

AA: Is there anything in the speeches of the Prophet and in the hadiths that proscribes music or that you should not educate girls?

PH: There are arguments you can make both ways and people cherry pick. I cannot say that Islam liberates or oppresses women, it depends on how you read it. To my mind saying that Islam is a religion of peace is just as wrong as saying that it’s a religion of war. You just pick out the pieces you like.

AA: The Taliban have created problems for and in Pakistan, yet many Pakistanis remain ambivalent about them. Why?

PH: Let’s try and understand what the Taliban demand. Their demands to the government of Pakistan are three in number. First, that they should be allowed to fight the Americans in Afghanistan for as long as the Americans occupy Afghanistan. The second demand is that the Sharia should be ordered as the law of the land in Pakistan, starting with the Frontier province and then extending to all of the country. Sharia is the system of law set down in the hadiths. What it means depends on what school of thought you belong to and there are four major schools. The third one is that whatever harm has been done to them by the Pakistani state should be compensated, prisoners released and so forth. But basically it’s just these three demands.

The problem is with all of these. First, if Pakistan gives them sanction to attack the ‘infidels’ in Afghanistan, where does that leave Pakistan? Is it ready to fight the U.S. as a declared hostile state? On the second demand, if the Sharia is to be imposed then that’s the end of civil law in Pakistan. It will also lead to infinite divisiveness. Pakistan may be Muslim, but it’s infinitely sectarian. Even more, it has a 20 to 30 per cent Shia minority. Forget about the one to two per cent Hindu, Sikh and Christian minorities. So what happens to all except the majority Deobandis and Baralvis? The third demand means you allow the Taliban to carry weapons, to give back all those that have been taken back from them. All three are extreme demands, but nevertheless the rejection of the Taliban by the Pakistani people has not been unequivocal. Why? Two reasons: one is that Pakistanis have been told from the very beginning that Pakistan was made from Islam.

If the Taliban say they are the true followers of Islam, then even if some of their acts are extreme, they are still in the right direction. They are simply seen as being too enthusiastic about things, but they are seen as basically right.

The second thing is that they are fighting the Americans and they are the only ones doing so today. This is more important than the first reason.

AA: You and others speak of the need for a new vision of Pakistan. Is the country in desperate straits?

PH: To my mind Pakistan has to stop pretending that it is a religious state. That it is defined by a religion. The fact is that there are many different faiths living within Islam, as well as faiths living outside of Islam. If all those who live within the geographic boundaries of Pakistan are to be considered as citizens, they are going to have to be given equal rights and be regarded equally. The constitution of Pakistan will have to be altered to express that fact. To have anything different means that those who do not belong to that one particular sect of Islam are going to be discriminated against, are to be excluded. And that is simply not possible for a modern state to have. If Pakistan is to have a future, it will have to have ethical and moral premises that are independent of the particular linguistic and religious backgrounds of its citizens.

AA: If Pakistan implodes, how will that affect India?

PH: India has a particular responsibility to see that Pakistan stays together, does not implode or explode, because in either situation the people of India would be in extreme danger. One always talks of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, but even if those nuclear weapons are somehow captured or neutralised, that too would not be sufficient. Here is a country of 170 million. If a tiny fraction is possessed of the idea that it must go out and change the world and use horrible methods, it would be an extreme danger for the world and in particular for India and China. So as a citizen of Pakistan I have to fervently hope that Pakistan stays together. That’s for our own people but also for the rest of the world. The fact is that geographical boundaries in this day and age do not constitute any insurmountable obstacles to terrorists. How difficult is it to cross two miles? Well it is difficult to cross directly, but then you can go around the world pretty much get to where you want. India’s well-being lies in Pakistan holding together.

The girls(who have taken to militancy) are mostly from the tribal areas and come under desperate circumstances, sent by their fathers.

The favoured targets of suicide bombers are, first of all, the military and ISI.

One of the legacy of Zia rule is that ISI and the army were brought up on the premise that jihad was the most important thing and it was the duty of Pakistan armed forces to further that role. India has a particular responsibility to see that Pakistan stays together, does not implode or explode.

FEMALE TALIBAN: Girls from the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, affiliated to the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, had set up their own parallel justice system in 2007

LIVING WITHIN ISLAM: If Pakistan is to become a modern state, it will have to grant equal rights to its minorities





Lahore ‘Cricket’ attack may mark a shift in Pakistan

4 03 2009

Source: Asia Times

By Syed Saleem Shahzad, March 04, 2009.

KARACHI – Pakistan might recently have signed peace deals with militants in its tribal areas, including with vehement anti-establishment Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, but militants on Tuesday staged a brazen attack in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province and the second-largest city in the country.

The attack by 12 heavily armed gunmen on a convoy escorted by police transporting Sri Lankan cricketers to a match against Pakistan has set off alarm bells in the capital Islamabad that militants are now taking their battle into major urban centres.

At least five people died and six of the cricketers were injured in a 25-minute battle in which militants wearing backpacks and carrying AK-47s, rockets and grenades fought police. The assailants then all fled. The Sri Lankan cricketers have called off their tour and are heading home immediately.

The attack bore some similarity to that of 10 well-armed gunmen, also with backpacks, who rampaged through Mumbai in India last November, killing 140 people. They were later found to have connections to the banned Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“This was a planned terrorist attack. They had heavy weapons,” Salman Taseer, who heads the provincial government as governor of Punjab, was reported as saying. “These were the same methods and the same sort of people as hit Mumbai.”

Numerous Pakistani analysts have been quick to point a finger at India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for staging what they say is a tit-for-tat attack on Tuesday, although there is been no official announcement in this connection.

A press attache at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Islamabad thought it highly unlikely that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who a waging a bloody separatist war in Sri Lanka, had anything to do with Tuesday’s events.

Rather, judging by what was shown on Pakistani television, the attack is the hallmark of those that were waged by militants (many of them Punjabi) against Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir up until a few years ago. They were trained by the Indian cell of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

In 2005-06, these militants joined forces with the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan resistance after Pakistan closed down their training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a move that changed the dynamics of the war theater in the region. Beside the Mumbai attack, Tuesday’s assault was similar to the storming of the Serena Hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul in January 2008 and the unsuccessful July 2008 attack on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. In all of these incidents, the attackers abandoned their weapons and quickly melted into a thickly populated area of the city where, apparently, they were whisked away by waiting colleagues.

Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Nawaz, a former interim minister the Interior and a close aide of former president General Pervez Musharraf, commented to Asia Times Online, “This proves that striking peace deals [with militants] will not serve any purpose and there is a need to handle them with iron hands. I blame the government for negligence.

“Providing a single elite police commando bus was not enough. They should have been provided VIP [very important people] security like the state provides for governors and chief ministers. Traffic should have been blocked on their route,” Nawaz said.

Former Pakistani cricketer Zaheer Abbas said, “I am not a politician to comment on who was behind it, but it has damaged Pakistani cricket very badly. I don’t understand why anybody would target Sri Lankans because they don’t have any role in the region. There might be some forces who want to damage the cause of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket.”

Possible attackers

Pakistani analysts, including retired General Hamid Gul, who is a former head of the ISI, blame India’s RAW.

However, there is no precedence for RAW having the capability to carry out such attacks in Pakistan. Its operations in Pakistan have been of two kinds, according to the records of Pakistani security agencies, documented in files and books narrated by their retired officials:

Small bomb blasts in urban centres.

The use of Indophile political parties such as the Awami League in 1970, the Pashtun sub-nationalist Awami National Party, the Baloch separatist group the Baloch Libration Army and the Muttehida Quami Movement.

However, these parties were always used in a limited political context. For creating a law-and-order situation in the country, RAW has always used bomb blasts and other small-level sabotage activities. It has never had the capacity, like the ISI had in India, to use armed groups to carry out guerrilla activities in Pakistan.

More pertinent is to view Tuesday’s attack in the context of the peace deals in the Swat Valley and the tribal areas which have stopped the fighting between ethnic Pashtun-dominated militants and the Pakistani army.

Prior to the signing of the deals, the matter of the release of militants who did not belong to the Swat area was raised, that is, non-Pashtun militants. These included Maulana Abdul Aziz, who was apprehended while trying to flee the radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in July 2007.

However, after deciding on the level of compensation packages for the families of militants killed or injured by the security forces and other matters related to Swat and the tribal areas, the matter of non-Pashtun militants was deferred and the peace agreements were signed.

In effect, non-Pashtun militants have been ignored and the attack in Lahore could be a bloody message to the government that the “Punjabi militants” have the capacity to cripple urban centres at any time and place of their choosing.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com






Islamic council’s fatwas divide Indonesia Submitted by Marina Dimova on Thu, 02/26/2009

1 03 2009

Souce: Visitbulgaria.info

A series of religious edicts issued by Indonesia’s council of Muslim scholars has triggered controversy, exposing sharp divisions between conservatives and liberals in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

In January, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning Muslims from practising yoga that includes Hindu rituals, such as chanting.

It also ruled smoking in public and abstaining from electoral voting are sinful.

The rulings, which are not legally binding, sparked criticism from some Indonesians who worried about their implications on human rights and democratic freedom with some critics going further by suggesting that the government disband the council.

The council has been criticized for fatwas issued in 2005 declaring that liberalism and secularism are against Islamic tenets and that the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect is heretical because it does not recognize Muhammad as the last of the prophets.

The fatwa on Ahmadiyya has been blamed for a series of attacks on the property and followers of the sect by fundamentalist Muslims.

The council has defended its edicts, saying its job is to provide guidance to Muslims on issues of public concern.

“It’s obvious there are Muslims who don’t understand religious laws, and they need fatwas on issues that are not clearly stated in the Koran,” said Amidhan, a council deputy chairman who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

But some liberal observers said they believe the fatwas are a threat to the country’s reputation as a tolerant nation that respects diversity.

Muhammad Syafi’i Anwar, executive director of the International Centre for Islam and Pluralism, said the edicts showed that the council was aligning with groups that seek to impose sharia, or Islamic law, in Indonesia.

“This is part of creeping ‘shariaization,’ but I’m optimistic they won’t go very far,” Anwar said. “I believe the media is critical.”

The council and other groups representing followers of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism were set up by the government of former dictator Suharto as part of his efforts to maintain religious harmony and his grip on power.

The council is not a government institution and is funded by public donations, but under Suharto’s rule, which ended in 1998 amid widespread unrest, the council’s fatwas tended to toe the government line.

“The MUI is trying to assert its power because it was only a rubber-stamp institution during the Suharto era,” Anwar said “They have more influence, thanks to the backing of groups that promote conservative agendas.”

The overwhelming majority of Indonesia’s 190 million Muslims are moderate, but a vocal Islamist minority has been clamouring for the imposition of sharia.

Fachry Ali, a political analyst at the University of Indonesia, said he did not believe the council had ambitions beyond what it sees as religious duties.

“Yoga, for example, is problematic in the context of pure Islam, which is against all forms of idolatry,” he said. “MUI is just one of those groups seeking to purify Islam.”

“The MUI believes that the views of the liberals are not based on religious texts,” Fachry added. “It’s hard to reconcile when both sides stick to their points of departure.”

The council said Muslims could still practise yoga, which is increasingly popular among middle-class Indonesians, if they don’t use chants associated with Hinduism and treat it purely as a form of physical exercise.

The council said it fears the ancient Indian exercise could erode the faith of Muslims

Dian Putri, who works for a media company, said she did not intend to follow the council fatwas although she does not practice yoga with chanting.

“They’re too extreme,” she said. “It’s like they’re playing God. Maybe those fatwas are useful for religious Muslims, but for more liberal ones, sometimes their statements are disturbing.”

But Henri Basel, a teacher, said he supported the council.

“People criticize the fatwas without reading them in their entirety,” he said. “Of course, people can choose not to follow the fatwas if they also have sound religious reasonings, but there’s no point in making a fuss about it.”

“Those so-called liberals have access to the media like newspapers, TV and the Internet, but the majority of Indonesians don’t necessarily agree with them,” he said.