Tribalism & Islam

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Citizens of the Arab world uniquely identify themselves by notions other than what the world knows them by. They identify themselves by religion, sect, nationality, political affiliation and most uniquely by tribe. The rationale behind this type of identification is due to numerous reasons and socio-political factors, which can be categorized as:

  • Early historic foundation of the Arab world (Arabic Peninsula) was based on the tribes and their mobility through the lands of this region. Therefore, the oldest and original identity of this region is directly linked to the notion of existence and survival.
  • The political dynasties that existed in this region, asserted the role of the tribes by creating alliances and coalitions. Therefore, being associated to a tribe was accompanied by benefits and securities, which were not available through other means.
  • Role of Islam in expanding the role of tribes as a mean of law and order to maintain social fabric along with Islamic norms and traditions.
  • Political instabilities in the region, which have led the masses seeking for affiliations as a mean of  survival, since the states have not been able to provide the basic necessities of life, such as; security, shelter, food, financial security and etc. Therefore, seeking a common identity is guaranteed through tribalism, since other affiliations like religion, sects and politics tend to create possible tensions and lack long-term security.

The strong existence of tribalism in the Middle East and specifically the Arab world, which is clearly evident until this day, has given the tribes extra influence and ability to utilize their influence to gain political and social advancement. However, due to the strict nature of traditions and norms that are practiced by the tribes, the extent of suppression and marginalization of some groups have forced scholars of Islam to take position against some tribes. Unfortunately, the expansion in role of tribes mean in the current era means the state has not been able to enforce its laws and executive powers as a mean of spreading order and stability. Therefore, the tribes have taken the place of the state in providing justice and stability. However, the justice and order that the tribes acknowledge is completely different than what a modern state believes in, which leaves a nation in a state of contradiction and bi-Polarism.

Whether a nation is ruled by non-Islamic or Islamic system, the type of social order enforced by the tribal system is unfair and unjust to many groups, including women and children. However, by making such a statement, there should not be an imagination where tribes are viewed as camel riding people who live outside the cities in an uncivilized way. There has been numerous scholars and great thinkers, who have originated from these tribes that live among the people in cities and suburbs, just like everybody else.

Contradictions: ISLAM VS TRIBES

The geographic and timeline, which Islam emerged from mandated presentation of sets of rules and regulations for social conduct and interactions. The Arabian Peninsula, which was mainly a tribal society was ravished by piracy, incursions, unfair social classes, intolerance and austerity. Therefore, Islam’s goal was to diminish these notions and replacing them with respect, mercy, equality and tolerance. However, the gradualism of this transformation was the essence of its success. Islam did not rule out all the norms and traditions that were practiced by tribes, and in many cases the Prophet of Islam chose to affirm some of the traditions and norms practiced by the tribes, as a way of completing the noble code of ethics and morals.

Nevertheless, some of the unjust and unethical conducts and traditions of tribalism, which are still being practiced in modern Arab world, have been criticized by western observers as being part of Islamic legacy. Unfortunately, these types of actions, have been part of other conducts that have remained as obstacles for the rectifying attempts by Islamic scholars.

  • Forced capitation.
  • Forced marriages.
  • Forced dislodgment.
  • Autonomic penal codes. (Killing one man from a tribe in front of a murdered man from another)
  • Status of women. (Objectification of women and viewing them as a basic necessity for personal pleasures and needs)

These are some of the notions that put the tribes before criticism and accountability. In some sever cases, some tribes enforces biological traditions upon women that leaves them in everlasting pains and sufferings. The issue of female circumcision, which has been a hot topic for western media for a long period of time, is one of these issues that puts Islam and its teachings in a direct confrontation with the tribes and their traditions.

The authenticity of free will, freedom and dignity of a human is guaranteed by the religion of Islam, and the fact that, those conducts contradict with the core teachings of Islam, is the purpose of this article. The status of women and her tremendous rights, which are guaranteed through Islam, enable a woman to become an effective member of the society and seek education and social status is she desires. In addition, Islam has given a woman the right to refuse and accept any person for marriage. Any sort of matrimonial sermons, without the permission of the woman is not acceptable, and the marriage is considered annulled and not satisfactory.

The political and social alliances and coalitions between tribes are not acceptable according to Islam, if they marginalize or suppress the rights of others. All alliances and coalitions must consider the risk of oppressing other groups and take precautions for minimizing the possibilities of such outcome. Nonetheless, Islam is not against the notion of political gain and utilization, nor it forces its rule upon groups, tribes, parties and individuals if they choose not to follow the teachings of Isla. However, Islam’s main goal is to assure not a single individual is oppressed and victimized due to the interest of a group.

Finally, it must be acknowledged that tribalism has asserted some the most noble and honorable traditions and norms humanity has ever known. The notion, of abidance and submission to the will of elders and more experienced figures of the tribes, which gives the younger generations a better chance to  make informed decisions. The notion of generosity, hospitality and munificence are among the known attributes of tribal people, who are willing to give up their wealth for the sake of a guest. There are numerous other norms and traditions, which Islam has chosen to honor and practice as mentioned above, as a way of delivering a message of tolerance and acceptance.

Weekly Science and Technology Roundup

By Ali Reza

Note: We’d  like to introduce you a new weekly round up on latest science and technology discoveries and developments. We will have this roundup at least once a week, God-willing.

Science News

A Mini Solar System Discovered in Our Galaxy

Astronomers have recently discovered a star system that is similar to our solar system Yale News calls it a replica solar system. This solar system has a star like our sun that acts as host to a solar system of five small exoplanets — from the size of Mercury to the size of Venus.  The Yale News calls it “an ancient solar system” because according to the astronomers, this system dates back to the first appearance of the known galaxy.

“This system shows that planet formation could take place under very different conditions from the ones in which our solar system was formed and has implications for estimating the total number of planets in our galaxy, and other galaxies” said  Yale University professors of astronomy Sarbani Basu who along with Debra Fischer announced this  discovery today the Jan. 27, 2015 in The Astrophysical Journal. These findings are the result of collaborations with NSASA observed through NASA’s Kepler spacecraft over a period of four years.

A Living Fish Discovered Half a Mile Under Antarctic Ice

Scientist were surprised to discover a live fish after drilling through almost 2,500 feet (Over 760 meters) of Antarctic ice. The Christian Monitor calls it a Bizarre fish that is able to survive perfectly in the cold and ark waters where the rocky surface of the ocean keeps the seafloor barren.

It appears that this is the first time scientists have drilled deep through an ice shelf all the way down to its grounding line. This is rather a challenging task because these ice shelves are very thick that floating attached Ice glaciers.

Technology News

Microsoft to Buy Revolution Analytics

Microsoft announced this morning a deal to buy an Analytic company called Revolution Analytics known to be a top commercial provider of software and solutions for the open-source R programming language that that is used for statistical and predictive computing. “We are making this acquisition to help more companies use the power of R and data science to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics” says Joseph Sirosh, one of Microsoft’s vice presidents. The Financial numbers of this transaction are yet not provided.

YouTube Stops Using Flash For HTML5 Videos By Default

YouTube has announced that it has completely stopped using Adobe Flash by default and now uses HTML5 video player by default in Chrome, IE11, Safari 8, and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers.

YouTube also finally defaulting to its HTML5 player on the web deprecating the “old style” Flash object embeds and its Flash API.

Apple Watch on track to ship in April

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that development of Apple Watch is on track and the device is expected launch sometimes in April.

There is a great deal of interest in Apple Watch, after Apple unveiled its first wearable device last September in an iPhone event. Apple didn’t specify the number of key details or release date in that even just mentioning that it would be launched in “early 2015”.

Google/s Space Documentary Now Available on Youtube

Titled ‪Back To The Moon For Good – The New Space Race, is the mini-documentary created by Google that was created to provide additional information on the Google’s Lunar XPrize contest, a content that is is designed to inspire competing teams to land a spacecraft on the moon.

Scientific documentaries  are not only educational but they are very profitable. In addition to Google, companies like Netflix and Amazon seem to be getting into the documentary and movie creation business which some experts , this Google’s stunning documentary could be a pathway of Google entering the film production business.

 

Defining Political Parties According to Ayatullah Shirazi

By Ahmad Ali (Contributor)

There is no right political career without parties competing for power. That is one of the political realities one can see among the democratic countries  around the world.

The political parties have a great deal of impact on a democracy when majority is supposed to agree  so one can say that there is no true democracy without the political parties because they are the bases of a democratic society in the modern time is organization through such parties.

It is a necessity in a democratic country to have a democratic parliamentary system in which a particular multi-party state participate and contribute to best represent their people which is the vision of true democratic country,

As for the importance of  the political parties in the communities we find that there are those who believe in the necessity of its existence as a unit that will be a factor of stability and support for governments and political systems, and there are those who believe it could be divisive and nationalist conflict and instability factor.

Definition and Goal of a Political Party

John Benoit defines the political party as an organized rally to contribute in the conduct of institutions or access to the highest political authority in the country to implement the program and the interests and of its members.

In all of the cases, the aim of every political party is getting into power or at least the influence at the decisions of the governing authority. And if they do not seek the power or the influence it can’t be called a political party.

And political parties are related to government as a central state authority and representation in Parliament and this relationship isn’t on one level, there are distributed in many dimensions there are trends which dominate the political process, and there are other parties which have participation in power, and there are parties which are marginalized in the taking of the political decisions, and there are the opposition parties to the political process who show resistance to the high power authorities.

Characteristics and Roles of a Political Party 

The political parties have  a number of characteristics which can be summarized as:

  1. Permanence and continuation.
  2. National regulation.
  3. Seek to get into power and thus they distinct from the civil society organizations because they don’t seek it, and this also what distinct them from lobbyists and pressure groups, these groups seek to achieve their aims in many ways and styles, but does not seek to reach them.
  4. Seeking the popular support.
  5. A party should have a political-social-economic vision which defines the it’s identity and the nature of it’s composition from the community and the social and political aims that the party is trying to achieve when it reaches the power.

The functions of the parties are

  1. Activate the political life: through political competitions, and showing their programs and ideas and attempts to gain the support of the public opinion to win the elections and stay in power.
  2. Forming the public opinion: through directing the citizens and make them aware of the political problems and explain their proposals to solve them, and encourage them to participate in the public affairs and formulate their opinions in a certain direction.
  3. The formation of political leaders: as the party starts to train its members to engage in political work practice the power and nominate them for the general elections and then take public positions.
  4. Achieve political stability: through driving the trends of public opinions to control and regulate the aspirations of the citizens and contribute to solve their problems.

Types of Political Systems

And when it come to the types of party systems most of the specialists have adopted the triple division when they study the types of political systems, unilateral, bilateral and pluralistic, as follows:

  1. One-party system: a non-competitive system makes the political actions monopolized on one party, it has been invented by the Marxism, Nazism and fascism, And it spread to the countries of the Third World, but many of those countries has left it behind with the democratic developments that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  2. Bipartisan system: it’s based on the presence of tow major parties in the country which are vying for power, and one of them wins and the other stays in a constructive opposition.
  3. Multiparty system: This system is based on the presence of three or more parties in the country who are competing to reach the power.

Because of his awareness of the importance of political parties and their role in the life of society, the grand scholar Ayatullah Muhammad al-Husseini al-Shirazi wrote (the grace of god be upon him) about this subject in more than one of his books.

The Consultation in Islam
In his book (Shura in Islam) “the Consultation in Islam”, which was published for the tenth time in 1999 Ayatullah Muhammad al-Husseini al-Shirazi  talks about this subject starting with the definition of the party and which he sees it as Arabic definition (in Arabic the words meaning is: a team or a group of people who have one type of thinking and one aim). Then he goes to the definition of a political party, saying:

A political party is a part of the social class which is struggling a certain system in order to secure its interests and gain power and apply its behavior and its ideological path and lead the society and the social conflict field“.

And as he writes about parties, he held a comparison between the political life in the West and the Arab and Muslim world, and believed that parties in the western countries are a necessity for western society and one can observe that having a stable government without backing a party is hardly noticeable in a western democracy. These parties are usually divided into two types, active outside parliament\congress (the minority party) and those that are in control of parliament\congress (the majority).

The deceased scholar also believes that the common interest of a group of individuals was and still is the  reason that these individuals are gather in parties. The Ayatullah divides the parties according to their directions and programs to:

  1. Radical parties (or progressive radical): consisting of opposition and discontent social groups which aim to change the social, political and economic conditions in the community with any cost.
  2. Moderate progressive parties (or Liberal Parties): Consisting of social groups which don’t show resentment and discontent with the prevailing conditions in the community, but at the same time they are ready for any change in the situations in a quiet non-hasty way.
  3. The conservatives –  this group shows satisfaction about the status quo and don’t want any major changes, even though they claim that they are trying to improve the prevailing situation in the society.
  4. Reactionaries – this group of people expresses satisfaction about the current situation in the community and don’t want any improvements or changes in the current situation.

The deceased Ayatullah sees these divisions unstable depending on the choices of people and their ages, because people in the different ages change their views. The youth tend to be more progressive or hardline, but as they get older they may change their views and that change may continue until they are old where many may adopt more of reactionary trends.

Reviewing Hermeneutics: Relativity of Truth, Knowledge & Texts – Part 2

Part 2  – Primary Definitions of Relativity. (Based on the thoughts and theories of Ayatollah Sayed Murteza Al-Shirazi

 The post below is continuation of  introduction to Hermeneutics where the author will elaborate more on each concept within Hermeneutics. Article Part 1 was posted last week below will be the second post of several posts to come elaborating on this concept. 

By: Dr.Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Other asymptotical definition for relativity & its assessment

Observing relativity from its own perspective would mean it could be relative and not be relative. Therefore:

  • Relativity might contend generalization and permanence and therefore, it would have an attribute of non-permanent and non-generality for interpretations according to the theory of relativity itself. One of the interpretations of relativity is to refute the attribute of generality in its permanent nature, when it comes to definition or truth and knowledge.

Therefore, since relativity is a concept derived from numerous conceptions and a truth derived from numerous truths, relativity cannot be always relative. Due to this fact, relativity would invalidate itself, and it would be equivalent to saying: (all issues are fragmentary), therefore, if issues don’t include themselves, the concept of fragmentation would not be applicable, since the inapplicability of fragmentation is fragmentary, and if it included itself, it would contradict and invalidate itself once more.

  • Relativity is not a normative and objective measurement. According to some relativity beliefs, there is no measurement and objective standard to distinguish right and wrong and true and false.
  • Relativity is not necessary unerring and faultless, since any definition or matter might be true or false according to difference of eras, circumstances or societies. Therefore, whomever applies the notion of relativity, cannot eliminate and exclude it from this particular interpretation as well.
  • Even if relativity is said to be unerring and faultless, it would be false and incorrect based on the relative concept that states contradictory and inharmonious cognitions are unerring and faultless. Based on this notion, there will be no comprehensive fundament, which in addition would include the paradox of relativity as well.
  • Relativity is not a reality, which was explored and derived by apprehension and astuteness and neither was the notion of absolutism. Relativity and absolutism are the creations and inventions of intellect, whether through experiment or not.

Therefore, if intellect is the creator of mathematical concepts and four theological definitions, as Kant would argue, why wouldn’t it be the creator of relativity? This notion would be collided by the following criticisms: intellect is capable of inventing the paradoxical interpretation, which means the possibility of deception and illusion is present, and the notion of relativity was invented for any concept. Therefore, intellect has been able to create the opposite notion relativity, which would be interpret relativity as parallel to illusions and imaginations.

  • According to some definitions, relativity includes proportionality but it is not same as the notion of addition which can be parallelism, equality and superiority. Nevertheless, in addition to what is the absolute nature of this notion, relativity would be non-relative as far as it is relative. Under any circumstances, if there was an inherent transformation of relativity to a non-relative nature, the notion of relativity would be non-relative in its new era and relative in its previous era.
  • Relative cognition is not part of secondary philosophical rationalities, which can be applied externally and examined by intellect. It is part of the secondary logical rationalities that does not have the nature of possibility, which puts the notion of external application, intellectual examination and unity in a different synonymous apprehension for existence, parity and singularity.

Nonetheless, relative cognition is considered to be definitive and affirmative notions of secondary logical rationalities, due to which they are attributes of matters and knowledge, and therefore, they are intellectual concepts as agreed upon.

The affirmation of this attribute for relativity is an absolute notion and not relative, since relativity is always and never part of secondary logical rationalities, and any transformation to primary rationalities or secondary philosophical rationalities is not comprehensible. In addition, relative cognition is an absolute notion according to other relativity definitions, if we accept the relativity of external reality, as this relativity would be part of secondary philosophical rationalities, which is also absolute according to its nature.

Regardless, there is a reality to relativity, which has been forced upon it. Therefore, any other type of rationalities that was formed beyond the intellectual conformation, if becomes stratified with relativity would be unerring, and if it doesn’t it would be amiss and incorrect.

Mercy the Essence of Islam in the Prophet’s Approach

Glimpses of the thoughts of Ayatollah Seyed Sadigh Alshirazi

Translated by Ostad Mostafa Daneshgar

There are many great tragedies which the Islamic world encounters with today. This is because there has been an absence of teaching of the moral and educational approaches of the prophet of mercy Mohammed (SAWS).

There are those who belong to Islam and take it as their religion only by the name and don’t work by its correct teachings and they don’t take the biography of the prophet as their method. It’s like only the name (and appearance) is enough and they don’t heed to Islamic moral conducts and teachings. The main reason is that we (Muslims) distanced ourselves from true teachings and traditions of prophet whom always handled every situation with mercy and clemency well documented in his actual life. It should be path to educate us Muslims and teach us true Godly morals in order to earn everyones love or respect. His example was so obvious and strong that even his enemies didn’t find a reason makes them keep fight Islam, because truly it’s the religion of mercy and humanity.

And here the great scholar Ayatollah Seyed Sadigh Alshirazi wonders in one of his directive lectures saying: “Why do we miss the moral dealings? No doubt that the reason is in the weakness of our following the prophet of Islam (SAWS)”. This is indeed a true statement and the current scene proves that there are those who belong to Islam but have offended both Islam and Muslims in many ways with their misguided ideas and ill behavior. They miss the great opportunity to be merciful dealing with others, contradicting that very important tradition of holy prophet which is mercy, compassion and forgiveness.

And he also says in the same lecture that the upscale dealing of the prophet of Islam, as mentioned in the scholarly work of  Seyed Mohammed Alshirazi (The mercy and clemency) that everyone even prophet’s enemies encountered his mercy and it is possible that rulers can rule the world peacefully with less bloodshed.

Instead of violent radicalism and bloodshed, there is another way to reclaim rights and freedoms and this method stems from the prophetic approach and traditions where mercy and clemency were the successful way and style a society and deal with others wether they were supporters were or enemies. That means it’s not right to deal with others not even the enemies by the method of violence and terror, as many so called Islamic groups who claim they are are defending Islam are doing.

So Ayatollah Shirazi questions again in his lecture is this extreme style has any thing to do with prophets path (SAWS)? And he ask the offenders of Islam: “Dose it represent Islam when children slaughter people with the shouts of Allah Akbar?!”.

Demonstrations against Islam

What good do is in it for Islam and Muslims to be violent? Indeed being violent is not a method or tradition of of the prophet (SAWS) it is indeed the method and tradition of the misguided extremists for indeed they have hidden agendas. If someone follows and traces the money and see the hands that support them, He or She can find out that such radicalism are not teachings of Islam but some individuals or groups that take  violence as their path to achieve their political or worldly goals. Indeed doing so, they hurt Islam and Muslims from within because it usually leads to fueling hostility in the region and ultimately in the West and Non-Muslim countries where those countries become against Islam.!

Is this is the right way that Muslims should defend their religion? Why don’t Muslims follow the tradition and behavior of prophet that contradicts it  when Muslims know that prophet was able to win the hearts of his enemies by his kindness and fairness. It does not seem that most Muslims have learned much lessons from the prophet (SAWS) the true leader of the the Islamic nations who forgave the people of Quraish and Mecca when they were under the mercy of the Islamic army.  Over twenty years the enemies of Islam fought Muslims and looted their homes and displaced them and seized their properties, tortured and killed them them, and yet Muslims, according to order of Prophet, dealt with them with mercy and pity!

Wasn’t that the right prophetic approach? Where do you see radical demonstrations, violence and the bombing and slaughtering in Islam?  Islam is pure of all these evil behaviors and misconducts.

And eminence Seyed Sadigh also says about this:

Many demonstrations happened in many western counties against Islam, and the demonstrators demanded the rejection of Islam and they refused to build mosques in their countries. And the reason of this rejection is the distorted image of Islam which the world sees today from some people who covered in name of Islam”.

Is it right to support Islam with this extreme method (that are not part of prophets traditions and teachings)? Did Muslims do enough to show the pure honorable image of Islam and indicate the prophetic approach which stands for mercy and clemency and forgiveness? The simplest duties of a Muslim is to try clarifying the right methods and approaches of Islam, and reject and expose the lies of those who claim to be Muslims.

Here eminence Seyed Sadigh Alshirazi clearly questions saying: “isn’t it very important for Muslims men and women youth or old to do this duty, and show the world and tell the people that these actions (violence and terrorism) do not represent Islam and Islam is innocent of them. Yes all these actions and all the violence has nothing to do with the Islamic teachings or the prophetic method which stands for mercy and clemency and reason.

This is the duty of all who believes in the true Islam, and who studies and follows the biography of the prophet Mohammed (SAWS), and the prophetic approach. A muslim needs to live according to that approach and tradition of prophet which affirms the pillars of Islam. Doing so a Muslim can best spread prophet’s teachings in the society same way as prophet did when he was able to revert a nation of intolerance, extremism and ignorance to one of the most sophisticated societies in the history.

Our duty towards Islam

Basing on what was said, about extremism and the continuous attempts which some individuals and groups who try to hurt Islam and tarnish Islam’s image and essence,  Muslims must follow prophet’s teachings and traditions more seriously which stands for mercy and clemency and manors. Muslims must do their duty towards whats happening of tarnishing the image of Islam and its essence and and fight these attempts  and clarify the true method of Islam, the Islam of the prophet Mohamed (SAWS) which is based on humanitarian ethics and forgiveness and mercy.

And eminence Seyed Sadigh Alshirazi  reminds Muslims of the prophet’s  example when the holy prophet dealt with his extremists enemies with mercy and forgave them all after Muslims won back Mecca.

All of the world should know that this is the right tradition of prophet to be the true Islamic teachings and not the way of extremists and radicals who commit violence and terrorism, slaughtering innocents and creating mayhem. Such actions are not of Islamic teachings  thus it’s our duty to show the bright true essence of Islam with all the possible ways, wether it be by our daily actions or demonstrate it via media and social media and any other possible way.

We must offer the alternative right and peaceful way of Islam which is contrary to what misguided Muslims show and do. Indeed Islam is the victim of such people because of their actions and misguided extremism that are not among Islamic teachings nor prophetic merciful traditions.

Thus eminence Seyed Sadigh Alshirazi calls all of the Muslims who believe in the prophetic traditions to handle this great duty and do it with the care and best peaceful possible ways. That we must show the world the mercy of Islam and the clemency of Islam and the manors of Islam with all the possible peaceful and modern ways.

Integration and Being Part of the Western Society

Shia Muslims in the West

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The issue of integrating the Muslim communities within the societies in the west has been a hot topic for a long period of time, especially every time there is an event, which involves Muslims. Whether a terrorist attack or a case of domestic violence or even a social media statement, it could trigger the debate about integration and if Muslims are able to be part of western societies. Addressing this issue would require a set of preliminary refutation arguments and a set of affirmation arguments, which will clarify the notion of integrating Muslims within the societies they live in.

This article would assert the fact that Muslims and specially Shias have been active members of society in the west, and the issue to integration is an illusion, which has been created by the media. Nevertheless, the real issue that makes this notion still an issue for deliberation is acceptance rather than integration. In addition, the political conflicts of the Islamic world have overshadowed much of the impressions and conceptions about Muslims in the west, which makes it very hard for majority of westerners to find an alternate view about Muslims rather than the one shown by the media.

What does it mean to live in a western society?

Prior to addressing the issue of integration and whether Muslims have been able to adapt to the life style in the west, we must clarify the definition of a western life style, and what it means to be a western citizen. As a person who lived in couple of totalitarian states, I must admit that the picture drawn for me about the west included nothing but negative aspects and attributes. Social meltdowns, absolute sexuality without any consideration for morals and ethics, and mainly the west was portrayed as a place where a human loses his/her faith. However, after coming to North America and witnessing the life style of this continent, I realized numerous facts and realities, which made me think about the real meaning of the phrase “western life style” and whether it really exists.

A western society and specifically North American societies embody to major aspects, which are often viewed as one, whereas they are completely separate and independent of each other.

  • Western System
  • Western way of life

The notion of a western system is what distinguishes a western country from rest of the world. The laws and legislations that govern a western state are the real defining aspect of a western society, rather than the life style that is adopted by the majority. Therefore, the lifestyle that has been affected by the western system is being portrayed as what the west is really about. For instance, instead of stating the west has laws and rules, which protect the rights of humans, we tend to say, western citizens respect the rights of others and prioritize human rights. Even thought, the second statement is often accurate, but it is an illustrative statement and not a definitive one. Therefore, we tend to generalize our interpretation of a western society based on the way the citizens of the west do things, and not the way the west has systematized its societies.

Therefore, to describe what it means to live in a western society, it would be accurate to state the following:

  • No one is above reproach when it comes to the law and constitution.
  • Laws and regulations of the state are enforced, with zero tolerance.
  • Everyone is considered equal according to the constitution.
  • Violating the laws and regulations has its retributions and sanctions.
  • Protecting and valuing the life of humans is the main priority of the state.
  • Political definitions like sovereignty, national security and national unity are considered sacred, and any attempt to bluster and threaten these aspects is considered a major crime.

Therefore, I would define a western society by these definitions and not the way western citizens live and adopt values, which means any person regardless of faith, ethnicity, race and background, who chooses to abide by these definitions has adapted him/herself by the western values, and he/she is an active and member of a western society. The unnoticed fact is that western societies consist many minorities and majorities, which identify themselves by labels that are separate from their national identity. The national identity is a unifying aspect, which enables all citizens to declare themselves as Americans or Canadians or any other nationality. Beyond the national identity, each group is able to identify itself in the way it desires, which can be African-American, Latino-American, Arab-Canadian, Italian-Canadian or any other way they desire to be identified. However, by adopting such identities and labels, it means that person practices the values and the traditions associated by his/her identity, which might be viewed as strange, uncommon, conservative, radical and etc.

Conclusively, by defining the meaning of living in a western society, Muslims who abide by the laws and legislations of their western countries have integrated themselves fully within their societies, but have chosen to identify themselves as Muslims, which includes practicing specific sets of values and norms, just like any other group residing in the west.

Muslims in the West

The rogue elements are a reality, which exists in any group regardless of background and faith. Therefore, putting forward the concept of integration is equivalent to wrong generalization against any specific group. Muslims have been in the west for a long period of time, and they have attributed in many ways to the societies they have lived in. Muslims in Europe and North America have been able to assert their place as effective members of the society by abiding by the laws and rules of the western states, and they have integrated themselves through education, professions, cultural exchange, matrimonial relations, social interaction and many other means.  There are many Muslim legislatures and politicians active in the west that are equally concerned about the safety and interest of their societies like any other citizen. There are numerous wealthy Muslim businessmen and women that are part of the economic wheel of their societies, and have employed hundreds if not thousands of individuals. Therefore, I can proudly state that not only we have integrated into our societies, we have been part of the evolvement and the advancement of our societies in the west.

Martin Luther King Was Inspired by Ghandi and Ghandi Was Inspired By….

The ‘Immortal Hussein’

By Ali Reza

Martin Luther King Jr. is a well known and  respected civil right leader best known for his “I have a dream speech and his achievements in genuine progress toward racial equality in America. In fact he really needs no further introduction among those scholars who truly value and respect human rights and  equality and justice for all humans.

Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a successful civil right leader who was inspired by many great people among them was the Indian civil right leader Mahatma Gandhi.  Although he never met Mr. Ghandi he was greatly  influenced by his teachings and methods of nonviolence.

Dr. King was introduced to Gandhi’s teachings when he attended at Crozer Theological Seminary School.  He also traveled to India where he called his trip to be a transformation, as if “the spear of frustration” had been transformed “into a shaft of light“. When he arrived in india on Feb. 10, 1959 and he declared: “To other countries, I may go as a tourist but to India I come as a pilgrim.

His Praise of Mahatma Ghandi
Dr. King had praised Mr. Ghandi on many occasions regarding him as his teacher on human rights and nonviolence. He has been quoted to have said “Jesus Showed the idea, but Gandhi gave us the method. Ghandi unpacked the life of Jesus more than anybody in history”.  Dr. King also said that Mr. Ghandi was an excellent teacher of humanity: “If Humanity is to progress, Ghandi is inescapable. He lived, thought, and acted inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace & harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk.”

It is clear that life of Jesus (a) was also a great inspiration for Dr. King because of his Christian faith but as he himself claimed, it was Mahatma Ghandi show really showed the methods of achieving true victory.

Who Inspired Ghandi?
Every great leader has a great teacher and a  role model. In case of Mr. Ghandi it was Hussein (a). Mr. Ghandi had many great teachers, it was Hussein (a) that showed him the way where he could win battles against strong opponents.  In fact, Mr. Ghandi  himself said that Imam Hussein (a) was his great teacher in achieving victory ‘while being oppressed‘:

“I learnt from Hussain how to achieve victory while being oppressed”. Referring to great victory of Karbala when Imam Hussein (a) and his few companions and relatives were killed by the misguided Muslim army ruling the majority of Muslims. That ultimate sacrifice ended up as a great victory for true Islam as it kept it alive. A true Islam that stands for fairness, pluralism, human rights, equality and equity. As rare as this form of Islam may be today, it is still alive. In today’s world where the Islamic world is misguided by evil forces from within, the lovers and followers of Hussein (a) are still around 1400 years after, spreading his message which is message of true Islam; a message of peace, equality, and justice.

My faith is that the progress of Islam does not depend on the use of sword by its believers, but the result of the supreme sacrifice of Hussain….If India wants to be a successful country, it must follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain.”   – Ghandi

 

Shia Islam: Beliefs & Principles

What it means to be a Shia Muslim

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The misconceptions about the beliefs and ideologies of Shia Islam has been influenced by numerous factors such as, political, social and sectarian aspects. Every time the term Shia appears on TV or an article, observers tend to think of Iran and its Islamic government, Iraq and its Shia majority, Lebanon and its notorious Hezbollah group and Saudi Arabia with its oppressed Shia minority. However, all of these perceptions are factual and real, but what’s being ignored by majority of observers and readers is the reality of Shia Islam and its principles and beliefs. Therefore, it would be beneficial to distinguish the difference between this Islamic sect and other ones, since one side of the sectarian conflict on the Middle East are the Shia Muslims.

Fundamentals of Religion

In order for a person to identify him/herself as a Shia Muslim, he/she must believe in the following five fundamentals. A Shia Muslim is not allowed to follow a scholar in these matters, and he/she has to have full knowledge about them through dissection and research.

1. Monotheism: the belief that there is only one God. This concept are very obvious and definite according to its name and nature. Although all Islamic sects believe in this fundamental as a necessary part of Islam, the details and attributes of God, defined within the different sects make the difference. According the one of the sermons by Imam Ali (P.B.U.H), who is the first Imam of Shia Islam, he defines the concept of monotheism in the following form: “The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute.

Thus whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognizes His like, and whoever recognizes His like regards Him two; and whoever regards Him as two recognizes parts for Him; and whoever recognizes parts for Him mistook Him; and whoever mistook Him pointed at Him; and whoever pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and whoever admitted limitations for Him numbered Him. Whoever said: ‘In what is He?’, held that He is contained; and whoever said: ‘On what is He?’, held He is not on something else.

He is a being, but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only one, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence”.

2.Prophet Hood. This fundamental mandates all Shia Muslims to believe in the existence of all previous prophets and messengers, beginning with Adam and finishing by the seal of the prophets, Prophet Mohammad. The issue of prophecy in Shia Islam is considered one of the necessities of creation and it is linked to the notion of free will and evil. Therefore, since there is evil (Satan) and since God has given humans the power of will, there has to be messengers sent by God to show the right path, which God has intended for the humans. To reaffirm this notion the Quran says: “we are not punishers, unless we sent among them a messenger”. Therefore, the issue of prophecy is linked to the justice of Allah and his mercy upon humans.

3.Imamate. To believe there are twelve Imams (successors) after Prophet Mohammad. This is one of the major principles that differentiates a Shia Muslim with others. The majority of Shia Muslims are considered Twelvers, which means, they believe in the succession of Imam Ali after the death of Prophet Mohammad, and followed by his son Imam Hassan, and later his other son Imam Hussein, followed by nine Imams from the progeny of Imam Hussein until the last Imam, who is in occultation currently. Unlike, Sunni Muslims, the Shias believe that, the first three caliphates after the Prophets were extorters and tyrants, and they acclaimed a position, which was rightfully for Imam Ali. The continuance of Imamate after prophecy is also linked to the justice and mercy of God, since people needed the presence of an infallible model among them to implement the laws and orders of God, in the way he wanted them.

4.Justice. This concept is related back to God, and is considered the main attribute of God after absolute knowledge, ability and existence. God does not create evil, and evil is formed due to the desires of humans, and therefore, God’s justice and mercy has mandated the existence of prophets and Imams for the sake of humans. In addition, all events, misfortunes, calamities, good things are due to God’s justice, and even though some matters might seem unjust and undesirable, God’s knowledge and justice is for the benefit of humans.

5.The after world. All Muslims including the Shias must believe in judgement day and the after world. Eventually, this day would come, and all humans would be resurrected once again and gathered for judgement. On judgement day, God will determine the final punishment and reward of all humans according to their deeds and conducts.

Shia Islam VS other sects:

Here are some of the major concepts and beliefs that distinguish a Shia Muslim from a non-Shia.

      • Infallibility: Shia doctrine believes in the infallibility of all prophets and Imams and considers the issue of infallibility as a necessity for the attributes of a prophet or an Imam. Disbelieving this notion is considered a major sin and flaw within a Shia Muslims belief.
      • Following a Scholar (Taqleed): this doctrine is exclusively for Shia Muslims, and it mandates all Shia Muslims to follow a scholar of religion in the absence of an infallible Imam. At the present time, majority of Shia Muslims are followers of different scholars and Ayatollahs. As mentioned prior, the concept of Taqleed is not permitted in fundamentals of religion, and it is only allowed within supplicatory and transactionary deeds, such as prayers, fasting, Haj, Jihad, marriage and etc.
      • Imam Al-Mahdi and the concept of occultation: the doctrine of occultation and the existence of Imam Al-Mahdi although he was born more than one thousand years ago is a mandatory belief within Shia Islam. Although, majority of other sects believe in the idea of Imam Al-Mahdi and his return, they don’t yet believe that he was born.

There are other doctrines and principles within Shia Islam, which makes this sect, the most tolerant and accepting among other Islamic sects and groups.  However, Shia Muslims are famous for their exquisite ability to reason and present intellect to affirm and prove their ideology and beliefs. However, due to the actions of some Shia governments and groups, and the actions of some Shia Muslims, this sect has been presented as a destabilizer factor in the Middle East.  

Human Rights Role in Establishing Social Justice

By: Jameel Oudah (From Adam’s center for defending rights and freedoms)
Translated by: Ali Maash

The general committee of the United Nations has submitted the international declaration of human rights which consists of thirty articles on December the 10th in 1948.  The articles of this declaration have put a firm foundation for forming international agreements which could help to firmly establish the human rights on civil and political levels or on the economic, social and cultural levels.

Now, the question is: what is the relationship between human rights and the foundation of the concept of social justice? And how can these rights contribute to achieving the values of equality and justice among human beings.

Undoubtedly, the right of equality is generally considered the most important human principle that nations and peoples yearn to abide to, and it also considered one of the fundamental intrinsic elements upon which the international declaration of the human rights has been built.

The right of equality is unanimously considered one of the oldest and the most important, adhesive and genuine to the human race; for it is the core of all rights. For that it is unfair for any human society to be built on gender, race or religious discrimination. According to (René Cassin) the godfather of human rights; this declaration is the beginning of a long route to deep-rooting the principles of equality and justice among the human beings.

Article (1) of the international declaration of human rights states the main principle of rights equality among all human beings. From the view point of social specialists, this principle is regarded the cornerstone in relation with the top important principle of justice which directs the attention to what is just or unfair egalitarian; which is based on biological factors beside psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs along with the individual contribution in others luxury.

The equality in rights indicates that the idea of social justice is inseparable from the idea of human rights. Thus, social justice is an essential credit of man emerging from his own merit as an individual qualified to have a number of social, economical and political rights as it is confirmed in the international declaration of human rights and in a wide range of other covenants, conventions and international agreements such as the international covenant of social and economical rights along with the agreements that concerns child, woman and minority rights. The idea of social justice is attached to the concept of achieving humanitarian needs of human beings due to, the humanitarian of any man is incomplete and his dignity is not achieved, unless he is able to satisfy his humanitarian needs.

Determining the concept of social justice and the best mean to achieve it, is often subjected to a big controversy. The outline of the concept of social justice is in constant change because the idea itself is a result of a changeable system of values and culture. Although the huge variation in defining social justice, and the uncountable definition of it, a big number of academic researches and scientific books agree on availability of certain elements to achieve social justice such as: equality, anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, equal distribution of resources and duties, social security and providing public goods.

One of the common approaches in defining social justice is equal opportunity and the chances of equal life; which mean that you have an equal chance of having a good education and job just like anybody else as in having equal chances of enjoying a decent life. Everybody should be protected against life’s risks such as illness, accidents, residence loss and unemployment..etc.

On the occasion of the world day of social justice, the United Nations secretary-general said: “social justice is a primary principle of peaceful coexistence within the nations and between them as prosperity is accomplished under its shadow. Since we will work on achieving gender equality or reinforcing the rights of both original nations and immigrants, we can raise the principles of social justice to a higher position. When we remove the barriers nations face whether if they are age, race, ethnic descent, religion, culture or deficiency, then we would have accomplished a big part in uplifting social justice”.

This means that social justice includes satisfying man’s basic needs and sharing material resources on the basis of equality as it targets giving opportunities to everyone to obtain basic services in the field of health and education besides providing security to both deprived individuals and groups. Basing on the previous, social experts consider justice and social justice as main defense mechanism to every type of oppression and a foundation to the most equitable human resources development.

As a result we can say the case of social justice that human rights principles are trying to seek and achieve is:

  • The one that power and money are not involved in injustice, oppression, deprivation and exploitation, as poverty, marginalization and social isolation are vanished as well as unacceptable social differences among individuals, groups and states within the country.
  • The one that everyone enjoys even economical, social, political and environmental rights as well as enjoying equal freedom. And where the present generations overtake the rights of future generations; where a sense of fair, solidarity, a joint liability and social contribution is prevailed.
  • The one that each individual of the society has an equal chance to develop their abilities and to release their potential energies where those abilities and energies are well employed to serve in progressing and developing the society.
  • The one that society is not under economic misuse and is not depending on other societies whereas enjoys a clear independence and domestic control over political, economical and social decisions.

The United Nations secretary-general said on that same occasion on February the 20th 2014: “we have to do more in order to empower individuals in the sake of providing the opportunities of a decent work, to support people through providing social security, and to secure listening to the voices of poor and marginalized people. We have to work on continuing our efforts to achieve the millennium development goals and to write down a new development plan for the era after 2015 as we make social justice a foundation tool in achieving an equal and everlasting prosperity to everyone”.

De-Radicalizing Islamic Disquisitions

By: Dr. Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Monitoring many Islamic and semi-Islamic TV channels and Islamic media networks would reveal a tremendous amount of radical ideology and promotion of hatred and intolerance. Many of the Friday sermons and Islamic speeches in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere are filled with intolerant ideologies toward other Muslims groups and non-Muslims in general. There are weekly Q&A programs on these TV channels and networks that show the guests of these programs declare other sects and groups as infidels or astray and in some extreme cases there are invitations for genocides and slaughtering of other groups. Last year in Egypt, due to some radical speeches on TV networks and Islamic media sites, a Shi’a Muslim scholar was beaten to death along with some of his followers.

The hilarious side of this notion is that, those preachers and radical scholars claim to be anti-Al Qaeda, and they condemn the actions of terrorist groups, yet their disquisitions are full of hatred and intolerance toward Muslims and non-Muslims equally. On the other side, the Middle Eastern states are seeking help from the western power for the purpose of defeating the terrorist groups and eliminating ISIS and other groups, and yet they are giving authority to these channels to operate on their soils, without any sanctions. Basically, the recruits of radical groups are being targeted and eliminated, but the recruiters and preachers of radicalism are being left alone, and free to promote their hateful agendas.

The extent of influence these networks have on Muslim masses is outrageous and enormous, and they are able to bring out thousands if not millions to the streets to protest against many of the politicized matters of today’s world. These networks, which sometimes are funded and supported by the states, would make realities so blurry and ambiguous, which make the masses totally unaware about the actual problem and conflict. For instance, prior to invasion of Iraq in 2003, there were numerous rallies and protests in the Arab nations against the military action against Iraq. However, the illusion that was being promoted to those masses at that time, had nothing to do with neo-colonialism and presence of foreign forces in the Middle East. Many official and semi-official networks were presenting Saddam Hussein as a heroic and good character, who was the guardian of Arab gates. They were promoting a conflict with a sectarian nature, by claiming the Shi’a majority of Iraq are seeking the help of United States and the west to topple the Sunni Saddam Hussein. In addition, there are other examples, which show the amount of influence those disquisitions have on Muslims masses.

What should be done?

It must be realized that deracinating the effect of these disquisitions and speeches on Muslims, from the Muslims world would not be any easy task under any circumstances. There are numerous domestic, external, political, social, historical and religious aspects to this notion, which make this process very lengthy and difficult. To simplify these tasks, it would be very objective to categorize them as following:

  • Ratification of authentic and legitimate traditional religious books and interpretations. This process requires a thorough dissection of the Islamic texts that are presenting Islam and Prophet of Islam as a violent religion and figure. The Quran calls the prophet of Islam (Mercy to Mankind). Therefore, any notion that contradicts this statement must be analyzed and taken out if necessary. In addition, there are books and legacies by early Muslim scholars, which are the main source of legitimization and rationalization for the radical groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda. These books and traditions must be condemned by Muslims and Muslim scholars, since their existence is considered an insult to the Prophet of Islam and his peaceful and tolerant legacy.
  • Elimination of all rouge and radical elements within the Islamic institutions. This step should be implemented very precisely, since the presence of such individuals would prolong the existence of radical ideologies. Under any circumstances if guiding these individuals is not possible, they should be banned from giving speeches and interact with the Media. However, if allegations of human rights violations are raised, the nature of what type of things they can say and write shall be limited and supervised, since they have the ability to threat the lives of innocent people.
  • Promotion of multi-faiths sessions and dialogues. This method would be an excellent tool to promote tolerance and co-existence among the followers of different beliefs and religions. The radical views and ideologies in all religions have created a barrier among people, which prevents them to interact freely with each other. Therefore, it is imperative to make Muslims and other groups realize they can believe they follow the only right path, but they cannot ignore the existence of others.
  • Advocacy of scholarly works and researches to prevent the masses from adopting violence as a mean of asserting their belief. Although there are numerous resources, journals, researches and books about this topic, but they have not been adopted and promoted by the states. Taking such a measure, would enable the scholars to refute any claims made by radicals and terrorist groups about the religion of Islam and its Prophet.

Reality VS Idealism

Although the process of de-radicalizing the Islamic disquisitions and speeches is very necessary and imperative at the current time, but it shall not be forgotten that many of the Middle Eastern states are actually the beneficiaries of such agendas and ideologies. The existence of radical groups and sectarian conflicts is the new mean of legitimacy for these states, and so far they have been able to create a bogey called (Radicalism & Sectarianism), which is making the Muslims masses very unwelcoming intolerant toward any notion of change and revival.

Therefore, prior to taking the necessary steps toward de-radicalization of Islamic disquisitions, there must a will within the Muslims world to accept radical political reform within their societies. As long as there are policies of marginalization, favoritism and corruption, none of the steps taken toward de-radicalization would be effective and practical.