Allah & Freedom of Speech

Tolerance of the almighty in the Holy Scripture

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Among the most intense discussions between philosophers, thinkers, politicians and even ordinary people is freedom of speech and its entitlements, limitations, benefits and drawbacks. Apparently, history has witnessed battles and wars being waged for the sake of this sacred right, which has been seized from many through the course of history. In addition, regardless of today’s technological advancements and various triumphs accomplished by some bright individuals, freedom of speech and tolerance is still debated and requested for many groups, who lack it. The United States, which is considered leader of the free world and other western nations are still suffering from racism, intolerance of certain ethnic, racial, sexist and religious groups. Therefore, if freedom of speech is such an important and crucial matter for the survival of humanity, then the best examples for implementing this notion must exist as well.

Dissecting the verses of the Quran will reveal the most tolerant and accepting existence in the universe is the almighty lord himself. However, it might be argued that conducting an analogy between the creator and the created might not be a suitable comparison, but considering the core nature and essence of the holy book will present the following notions:

  • The almighty narrated and presented narrations and stories for the sake of presenting a guideline for his subjects.
  • The verses and the examples given in the scripture are not taken out context, as the literal interpretation of the words and terms is used to derive conclusions.

The Quran holds astonishing examples of Allah’s tolerance toward opposition, challenge and questioning, as his reply toward many such cases can be discussed as a case of accepting freedom of speech. In addition, browsing through historical sources and narrations of different monarchies, dynasties, regimes and governments we’ll witness the history written by them always marginalize the oppositions and in some cases even eliminates their existence. Nevertheless, in the case of Allah the story is entirely different, as he narrated the details of many oppositions, challenges and questionings that were placed before him.

1st case of challenge & questioning

  • Creation of Adam & Eve: The story of Adam & Eve is among the many stories narrated by the Quran, which presents several details about the beginning of human race in this universe. The Quran narrates that once Allah created Adam, he told the angels: “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority”. The reply of the angels to this statement by Allah was: “will you place upon it (earth) one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare your praise and sanctify you”.

Knowing the role of the angels and the nature of their existence will raise the question of, why would they question the will of their lord, if angels were created to only abide and cohere to the orders of Allah. However, the fact that concerns us from this 30th verse of Quran’s 2nd chapter, lays in the tolerance of Allah toward the notion of questioning him, when he replies: “Indeed, I know that which you do not know”. Then Allah certifies his intent to the angels and proves to them, his absolute wisdom and will. The 31st verse of Quran’s 2nd chapter continues the story and states: “And He taught Adam the names, all of them. Then he showed to the angels and said: inform me of the name of these, if you are truthful”.

The discussion between Allah and his angels continues in the 32nd and 33rd verses of Quran’s 2nd chapter: “They said: exalted are You. We have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Indeed, it is You who is the knowing, the wise”. “He said (Allah), O’ Adam, inform them of their names. And when he had informed them of their names, He said: Did I not tell you that I know the unseen aspects of heavens and the earths? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed”.

Supposedly, this conversation is between the master of this universe and the angels, which he has created to cohere to his orders and wills. Nonetheless, although Allah was questioned about his intention to place a successive authority on earth by those coherent creations, he replied in calmness and proved his intention with certification and clarity. Therefore, aside from any internal interpretation that might exist about these verses by Islamic scholars, the verses reveal that Allah was very tolerant toward his subjects and freedom of speech was clearly practiced in that encounter.

  • Satan challenges Allah: Once the previous encounter between Allah and his angels is sealed, he commands his angels to prostrate to Adam. The 34th verse of Quran’s 2nd chapter states: “And mention when we said to the angles, prostrate before Adam. So they prostrated, except for Iblees (Satan). He refused”. The exact narration of this encounter between Allah and Satan is stated in the verses 71 – 84 of Quran’s 38th chapter: “so when I have proportioned him and breathed into him of my created soul, then fall down to him in prostration”. “So the angels prostrated – all of them entirely”. “Except Ibleed (Satan), he was arrogant and became among the disbelievers”. “Allah said: O’ Ibleed, what prevented you from prostrating to that which I created with my hands? Were you arrogant then, or were you already among the haughty?” “He said: I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay”. “Allah said: then get out of paradise, for indeed, you are expelled”. “And indeed, upon you is my curse until the day of Recompense”. “He said: My Lord, then reprieve me until the day they are resurrected”. “Allah Said: so indeed, you are of those reprieved”. “Until the day of the time well-known”. “Iblees said: by your might, I will surely mislead them all”. “Except among them, Your chosen servants”. “Allah said: the truth is my oath, and the truth I say”.

Considering the literal translation of this conservation between Satan and Allah, Satan is challenging the authority of Allah and his command to cohere to a specific order. Note, Allah enquires about Satan’s action and demands explanation for his refusal to follow an order, which others abided by. In addition, Satan replies to Allah and makes an analogy about the material, which he was created from and from, which Adam was created from. Ultimately, Allah expels Satan from the place, where he had been elevated to many years ago and tells him that he is not to return there anymore. Then Satan makes a demand to be reprieved until the day of resurrection and he challenges Allah again and promises to allure and mislead humans. In return, Allah grants Satan, what he demanded and he is granted leave.

This conversation itself portrays a perfect example of tolerance and freedom of speech being practiced by the created before the creator, not to mention Satan being compensated for his years of worship, by being reprieved until the day of resurrection.

There are hundreds of examples and cases, where individuals and tyrants challenge Allah and disobey every single order of his, but yet they are granted remorse and time. However, some thinkers believe that the power of will and choice, which God has granted to humans is a form of tolerance and freedom of expression itself. Humans commit wrongdoings, misdeeds and sins and yet God is generous and tolerant to a point that he grants the mercy of repentance. Allah’s tolerance goes to an extent, where he will willing to erase the entire misdeeds of a subject if he/she repents and asks for forgiveness. Well, if this is not tolerance and freedom of expression, then what is?

 

Geography & Social perspective

How religion is viewed according to geographic regionalism

By: Hussein Al-Rumaiti

Humans tend to generalize about how a specific ideology is viewed by the followers of that ideology, neglecting many aspects that influence the formation of individual and collective perspective on matters. Perspective formation of any individual is affiliated with economic status (pleasure VS necessity), political affiliation, education, social class, interaction and many other aspects that shape the daily life of a human being. However, one of the most influential aspects that develop the perspective of an individual about an ideology and more specifically on religion is geographic regionalism, which simply translates to where someone actually lives.

It would be safe to say that Christianity and view of Jesus is drastically different from someone, who lives in New York than someone who lives in Latin America, even though both these individuals might be catholic or protestant. The same notion applies to a Jewish person, who resides in North Toronto compare to another one who lives in Jerusalem. Although one might argue that political realities vary from one region to another, and the comparison might be unjust on many levels, but the fact that both individuals carry a common belief entitles us to develop such an analogy.

In addition, on a diminutive scale the same comparison exists between the followers of one faith in one specific region or even a country, as for instance, the view upon Islam to a Muslim might be entirely different between a Muslim, who resides in Austin Texas and a Muslim who resides in Dearborn Michigan. The existence of such phenomenon is derived from various aspects, as the priorities, necessities, interaction, education and the demographic of each region are outlined by the nature and the regionalism of that specific geographic destination.

Applying the same analogy for Muslims around the world also, should enable an observer in distinguishing between the various ways and perspectives the religion of Islam is viewed and practiced. Therefore, it should not be a matter of complicated science to determine that a Muslim residing in the west, who has been accustomed to western liberalism and secularist nature of life, influences his/her perspective of Islam and how Islam is portrayed. In addition, a Muslim who resides in Saudi Arabia’s closed society, whether he/she supports the political authority or not, is influenced by that society, when it comes to portraying his/her belief and expression of opinion. Nonetheless, these regionalist implications influence the practice of Islam, as anyone can witness the Islam practiced in Turkey is entirely different than the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. Although it should be noted that, the aim of this argument is not about the obligatory practices and rituals of Muslims, like the daily prayers, fasting and pilgrimage, as this comparison addresses the social and even the legislative aspects of Muslims countries.

Therefore, in a place like Bangladesh that is known to be among the world poorest nations, the Muslim majority of this country have elected more female heads of state than many Muslim and western countries. Nonetheless, in Saudi Arabia the country that is considered the heart of Islamic nation, women are stripped from many of their most simple rights and entitlements. Although, the regionalism perspective of Islam in Saudi Arabia is absolutely absurd and unacceptable by rationality and Islam itself, yet the status of women in this country is derived from its historic and regional fundamentalist perspective on Islam.

A similar analogy can be made for countries that have a Christian majority in Africa, where in Eritrea and Ethiopia the rates of female gentile mutilation are very high and worrying. However, these types of practices are fully rejected and even outlawed in other parts of the world, where Christians are the majority of population. Therefore, it would be safe to say that regional and geographic aspects, which consist of social norms, principles, values and even tribal practices are very influential in developing the perspective on religion.

The Refugee Crisis: Facts VS Presumptions

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The recent attacks in Paris and even in Beirut have raised many questions about the possible outcomes that welcoming the refugees might have in western societies. Although the concerns have existed prior to the recent attacks, but the issue has been a hot topic in the headlines and there are many oppositions to any notion of welcoming and accepting those refugees. The argument presented for opposing these refugees is based on several issues, which can be described as following:

  • The possibility of having terrorist sleeping-cells among those massive numbers of refugees is very high, as one of the terrorists in the Paris attack had a Syrian Passport on him.
  • The amount violence and trauma these refugees have been exposed to, makes them rational candidates for radicalization and ultimately vengeance while on western lands.
  • The time-line to accept these refugees, which has been set by the United Nation and some of the western nations, poses many dangers to the security and stability of them, as conducting a thorough background security check on these refugees requires sometime. Therefore, according to the time-line, which has been accepted by some of the western nations would not be sufficient to conduct an effective background check on those refugees.

In addition, some extreme voices have raised the notion of only accepting the refugees that can assure their Christianity and not accepting any Muslims. Although, many of these extreme and radical calls are exclusive to Europe, certain groups and individuals in the United States have raised similar voices as well.

Therefore, it would be beneficial to examine the legitimacy of the concerns raised against accepting and welcoming refugees into Europe and North America. This examination would aid in shaping a better comprehension about this complicated issue, as some of the concerns raised are legitimate and rational. In addition, there are many hidden or forgotten facts, when it comes to the refugee crisis, which make the ability to have a decision on this topic hazy and rather difficult.

Refugees VS Terrorists

No one denies the fact that the percentage of possible terrorists among the current refugee crisis is a very tiny portion, which will not exceed 0.0001% at best. Therefore, majority of these refugees are desperate and victims of a bloody conflict that has left them displaced and forced to leave their homes and cities to secure their lives and loved ones. In addition, claiming a refugee status is only one of the ways that someone can get to a specific country and reside there, as majority of the current refugees in Western Europe have arrived there illegally. Therefore, the chances of having terrorists among those refugee already exists and poses a great danger to Europe, which means the fear of terrorists among those refugees is no longer rational, when a country wants to accept few thousands refugees through the legal channels and immigration procedures.

These refugees can be screened and selected through numerous filtration methods, which can assure only qualified individuals are selected and accepted for refugee status. In addition, there are thousands of orphans and widows among those refugees that require immediate attention and consideration for refugee status, and those groups can be prioritized for screening.

Nonetheless, the routes for arriving to a certain country are not only through refugee status, as mentioned earlier, and terrorist groups are definitely able to fabricate documents and files for any individual to be accepted as a student, an investor or even a tourist into any country. In addition, the same illegal ways are still available for others, as there are thousands of people in the United States, who have crossed into the US illegally and conduct their affairs like any other resident in the US. Therefore, the same methods can be utilized by terrorist groups and radical individuals can find a way intro any country, if they decide to pursue such a method.

Nevertheless, most of the recent terrorist attacks in the west were carried out by home-grown elements and individuals, who were citizens of those countries and some of them were even born and raised in the west. Therefore, the quantity of radical elements in the west diminishes or decreases the fears of having terrorists among refugees.

Psychological status of Refugees

The concern of the psychological status of the refugees and exposure to tremendous amount of violence and trauma is taken out of context and used unethically for political and partisan intentions.  Obviously, the current refugees have been exposed to a great amount of violence and trauma and obviously they have witnessed many horrific scenes that no ordinary human should ever witness. This exposure and this great amount of violence is the primary reason, which has forced those people to flee their country and homes and seek safety in a society that differs from, what they have lived in for years.

In addition, majority of the current immigrants and refugees in the west (Europe, United States and Canada) were victims of violence, terrorism or authoritarian regimes. Some of the immigrants and refugees, who are now citizens of many western countries are still suffering from their past experiences, and many of them struggle to forget the great amount of oppression or violence they had to experience. Therefore, why wasn’t this notion an issue when accepting those refugees? The immigrants and refugees from the Balkan war, the refugees from the first Gulf war, the refugees from Congo, the refugees from South Sudan, the refugees from Europe post WWII. These are all victims of violence and oppression, who still suffer from trauma and exposure to scenes of genocides and massacres. Therefore, this issue should not even be raised, as the ethical responsibility is on our burdens to help those refuges pass through these experiences and return to their normal life and routines.

Background screening and security checks

Without doubt this concern is the only legitimate issue that can hold its ground in any discussion or deliberation, when it comes to the refugee crisis. The United State has agreed to accept 10,000 refugees into its borders and Canada has agreed to accept 25,000 refugees, and countries like Germany and Sweden, which have already let thousands of refugees through their borders, have pledged to accept and legalize thousands. Therefore, the issue of security and background check on refugees in Europe is sort of meaningless, as Europe is already overwhelmed by refugees, and the streets of Berlin, Frankfort, Stockholm and other major cities are filled with refugees.

This concern is majorly a North American issue, which can be considered as legitimate and rational as mentioned earlier, since the time-line suggested by the United Nation and pledged by the US and Canada to accept those numbers is irrational. For instance, the Canadian government led by the newly elected Liberal Party, has pledged to accept 25,000 refugees within a time-line that doesn’t exceed 60 days. The Obama administration also has pledged to accept the 10,000 refugees based on an expedited sets of procedures, which has raised many concerns and criticism in the US. Therefore, to be rational and logical, the time-line set for accepting those refugees, put a great amount of pressure of immigration offices and officers, as they are required to process a tremendous amount of procedures, within an unorthodox required time window. Background and security checks require patience and a great deal of thoroughness, as the information needed to make a decision for each application is processed through many global security agencies. These information need to be verified and coordinated in a professional manner, which assures the safety of the citizens and a hassle-free journey for the refugees to their final destination. Incomplete procedures can ultimately cause distress and discomfort for the refugees once they arrive to the United States or Canada, which can also lead to social and psychological unrest for the refugees that can delay the process of integrating to the new society.

Therefore, providing and forming dependable camps for the refugees in Europe, through a coordinated and a shared international effort will ensure the refugees are temporarily contained and a reasonable time-line is available for the western countries (USA & Canada) to conduct the necessary screening procedures. In addition, the numbers of refugees to be accepted by Canada and the United States are not as big as the numbers that have been pledged by European countries, which means the wait times would not be as lengthy as many might think. Therefore, these nations have abided by their pledges and a reasonable solution has been reached and outlined for future cases.

Nevertheless, the refugee crisis will continue and remain as one of the most complicated symptoms of the conflict in the Middle East, and as long as the conflict in Syria is not solved the flow of refugees will continue. Therefore, the international community is obligated to end this conflict and bring stability to this region before the situation get to a point that cannot even be contained.

Lessons from the Tragedy of Karbala

By: M.K

The tragedy of Karbala left the Islamic World with valuable lessons to reflect upon. The battle in Karbala took place in 60 Hijri when Imam Hussain (a.s) and his followers sacrificed everything they possessed dear for the sole sake of God. The opposing party, namely the Umayyads with the tyrant ruler, Yazid shed innocent blood on the land of Altaf (Karbala) for fulfillment of selfish motives that neither obeyed nor followed any religious teachings of the Apostle of God. Therefore, there can be many lessons that can be learned from the eloquent portrayal of dignity, sovereignty, patience and love for God that was displayed by the sacrifices of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) and his followers on the battlefield.

The first lesson involves importance that is given to Amr Bil Maroof (Enjoining Good) and Nahi Anil Munkar (Forbidding Evil). We are taught not to waiver from what is right and not panic during discharge of obligations. A believer must be firmly ready to face the consequences of his actions on the Day of Judgment as well as in the Hereafter. This also means that a believer must know and discharge only those duties that are within his capacity to carry out as that is what he will be accountable for. The results must be left to God.

  • Karbala sheds light on the importance of learning Fiqh (Islamic practical laws). And this is observed from a scene with Lady Zainab (a.s). Lady Zainab (a.s) asked the Imam of the time (a.s) for edict even as the tents had been set on fire.
  • We learn that importance has also been laid on spouse selection and religious upbringing of children. Two events can be described here. Firstly, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s) chose Lady Ummul Banin as his wife and the pious marital union resulted in a progeny like Hazrat Abbas (a.s) [brother of Imam Hussain (a.s)]. Secondly, Imam Hussain (a.s) addressed the Ummayad troops; It was the fault of their forefathers that impacted the Ummayad troops’ upbringing and made them fight against the nephew of Allah’s Apostle. Furthermore, adding to the point about spouse selection, husband-wife relations have also been stressed. The Imam (a.s) was heard saying that he did not like a house that was devoid of Rabab and Sakina. Therefore, the wife is to be a ‘peace’ source for the husband.
  • It is important to learn ilm (knowledge). This is so that our lives can be led as per our Creator’s will. Ziyarat Arbaeen eloquently describes Imam’s (a.s) sacrifice, “I give witness that the entire purpose of the total sacrifice was saving people from ignorance.”
  • The event teaches believers the importance of Ikhlas. This means that the believer must do all of his duties for the sake of Allah only without Riya (showing off) involved. Therefore, the Aqaed (belief) in the Hereafter should be strong and this is when one can truly sacrifice material pleasures for achieving permanent benefits of the Hereafter.
  • Having control over emotions has also been stressed. The event teaches us that we should control our emotions when acting for God’s sake. This is not to say that human beings must be prevented from expressing their emotions but rather, a believer must do so without comprising on the actions that are required for God’s sake.
  • For women, observation of Hijab (head covering) is undoubtedly another important lesson taught by the events in Karbala. The pious ladies from the family of Ahlul-bayt (a.s) were always witnessed covered from the eyes of non-mahrem until the Ummayd’s dhulm (cruelty/oppression) pulled away their Hijab on the 10th of Muharram.
  • Lastly, Karbala teaches us to submit to the will of Allah at all times and in all states. For instance, Imam Hussain (a.s) was seen offering sajda (prostration) of shukr (thanks) in all times of difficulty.

Sources:

http://www.duas.org/Moharram/lesson_from_kerbala__1.htm

http://www.imamreza.net/eng/imamreza.php?id=3846

Islamic prospective on Right to Bear Arms

 

Legitimacy & Containment

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The topic of bearing arms in its most contemporary use and understanding has triggered ingoing discussions, about limitations, entitlement, safety, containment and persecution. According to the second amendment of the United States constitutions, the right to own and bear arms has been granted to citizens for personal use and protection. Other countries around the world have different laws and regulations about this notion, which suits their own social structure and foundation. However, due to recent polls and numbers released by poll agencies, for instance the number of people killed by guns in the US from 2004 to 2013 is above 350,000. In addition, the same poll tells that terrorist activities have only killed about 400 people during the same time-line, which opens the discussion about the legitimacy of gun ownership and its accessibility. The position of Islam on this specific matter might be very surprising for many observers and even many Muslims, as this topic is not really relevant in this modern age. However, Islamic jurisprudence and Islamic scholar have presented detailed answers about the notion of owning and bearing arms.

Islamic countries & Guns ownership laws

Islamic countries and more specifically Middle Eastern states are very sensitive, when it comes to this topic, as in some places owning a weapon can lead to death penalty and sever punishments. Majority of Muslim countries are led by authoritarian systems and dictatorships, which are afraid of any notion that might place their rule and legitimacy in danger. One of the main purposes of the 2nd amendment is for well-regulated militias that are able to secure the freedom and rights of the people and change the state, if the state ever turned against its own citizens. This type of talk and right in the Middle East is equivalent to suicide, as the regime are eager to control the arms and keep them only in the hands of the state. Therefore, a citizen might be able to write, protest and criticize the state, but he/she will never be able to confront the state coercively and set it on the right path once again.

However, such a strict rule by the state, has also addressed other necessities of owning arms, as personal use of arms is linked with personal protection and security. Nonetheless, the level of security and safety in most authoritarian regime is higher than many western and democratic nations around the world. For Instance, from the year 1998 to the year 2010, there were only 35 cases of homicide in Syria, which is an amazing record. Even some western diplomats, when asked about which countries are they most interested for serving in, they would answer authoritarian countries, which there is outstanding security, and many of them would not fear for their lives.

Islam’s position of owning and bearing arms:

The primary jurisprudential Islamic rule states, that everyone is entitled to own and bear arms preliminary. However, in a secondary ruling this law is subjected to modification and change, where it would become prohibited and illegitimate to own and bear arms, if it causes disorder and chaos in society.

In addition, observing the history of Islamic countries during the course of history, will reveal that owning and bearing arms was a norm and in many areas a social necessity. It would be safe to say that almost all male subjects of the state were carrying weapon with them, and these weapons varied from a small dagger to a sword a bow and arrows. The rates of crimes and homicide in Islamic countries was very low or close to zero as well, which might have been due to the heavy presence of arms and weapon at people’s disposal. However, the social conduct of a society is very crucial in stabilizing and containing such arms presence, since it can be a recipe for instability and disorder. In addition, there are numerous cases, where armed rebellions by the public took place to repeal oppression and tyranny of the governors, rulers and injustice. Therefore, it would be safe to say that the right to own and bear arms, has a positive record in Islamic history.

Contemporary laws & Right to bear arms:

Currently, this law has been criticized by many thinkers and politicians, due to the high numbers of victims that have lost their lives due to gun violence, especially in the United States. However, this dilemma is caused by the contradictions that exist within federal and state laws, as the constitution affirms this right and the states have placed many limitations on it, where there has been great amount of ambiguity. In addition, the deterrent methods for gun violence don’t match the level of the crimes happening, as many of those criminal are granted life sentences, where they spend their lives behind bars at maximus security. Therefore, this right should either be totally taken away or reshaped to enable all citizens take advantage and secure themselves against possible threats and dangers.

Is the West really after Middle Eastern Oil?

 

Petro-Dollars & Post Fordism global variables

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

One of the questions that has a unilateral answer by majority of Muslims and Arabs is, ‘what are the western powers doing in the Middle East?” The answer that will be presented for this question is: “they are after our oil”. However, this answer might be somehow true if we were living in post WWII, when Fordism and Keynesianism was the prominent way of life that drove politics, economics and social evolvements. Nonetheless, since the mid-70s or specifically after the global oil crisis in 1973, the rationales and tendencies of western powers regarding their foreign policy in the Middle East shifted drastically in an entirely new and different direction. The priorities of the western world in that part of the world had changed, as the entire western political and economic system was evolving and shifting itself toward new means, as the old system was viewed as limitation on benefiting from global economy.

Fordism & Keynesianism

The notion of Fordism and Keynesianism is applied to the time after WWII (1945) until mid-1970s, where the global economy was entirely dependent on oil, as almost all commodities and prices were linked to oil. The characteristics of western societies during that period, which was named after Henry Ford can be summarized in the following points:

  • Giant manufacturing firms, where assembly lines and division of labour was sought to be the best way for mass production of standardized goods.
  • High wages, job protection (unions) and growth of Middle class.
  • Suburbanization or manufacturing regions.
  • Heavy participation in politics.
  • Heavy government intervention.

Therefore, once the oil crisis hit the global economy the western powers were facing what was known as the ‘legitimacy crisis’, as majority of people lost the hope and trust in their governments, since they were unable to address the rising prices and stagnant growth. This crisis was mandating a drastic and total evolvement and change, as diversifying the global economy was becoming a necessity since alternative sources of fuel and means of revenues were becoming necessitated.

Post-Fordism & Neo-Liberalism

As mentioned earlier, the old system was viewed as a limitation on benefiting from the global economy, which was rapidly growing in different parts of the world. Therefore, the states shifted their intervention toward facilitating globalization and free-trade. Due to this shift, majority of large corporations and manufacturing firms moved their operations to the (third world countries) or what is known today as the developing world or global south. This action, which was as a result of multi-national corporations forming in various part of the world, enabled those companies to maximize their revenues, as high wages and job protection means were not sought in their new locations.

In addition, to diversify the local economies of western societies and address the employment plunging rates, emphasis on new industries was introduced. Finance, Insurance and Real State were the new industries that were leading the global powers, and all the previous upper giant manufacturing firms had to adopt to the new system. Therefore, to facilitate the growth of those new industries, empowering new means of evolvement and sufficiency was conducted by emphasis on high-tech and innovational firms. Silicon Valley, Seattle, Wall Street and other destinations were rapidly becoming the new economic giants leading the global economy, as they were creating and developing various means revenue generation and alternatives for diversification.

As the technological superiority of the west grew the tendency to reduce dependency on oil was increasing, as corporations started researches to develop new sources of fuel. Wind Turbines, electric generators, nuclear reactors, Hybrid technology, Flex Fuel capability and most recently the technology to extract oil and fuel from sand was the last path to achieve energy and fuel alternatives.

In addition, the new world had introduced certain cities that were controlling the entire global economic system, and even the oil market was being driven by these market and their supply and demand ratios. Places, like New York, London, Tokyo, Beijing and ultimately the new emerging economic powers (India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Russia) developed a system were the entire world market is dependent on their market and its fluctuation. Therefore, oil was not the driving force of world economy any more, as even oil producing countries have realized that high prices of oil are not in their benefit, since such a notion would only encourage the tendency to develop alternative sources of energy.

Petro-Dollars

However, to conclude that oil is no factor in Middle Eastern politics is a vague and inaccurate statement, as the impact of petro-dollars in Middle Eastern politics is very evident and affectual.  The revenues generated by oil has enabled Middle Eastern states to adopt a distributive system, where wealth is allocated according to political agendas, legitimacy and containment means. Presently, it is obvious that oil producing countries (Gulf States, Iraq and Iran) are the centre of various regional conflicts and tensions, were petro-dollars fuel proxies and direct military intervention. Therefore, other priorities and necessities such as global security, economic security and collective stabilization of the Middle Eastern region have mandated western powers to re-shape their involvement in this part of the world.

Selective Sympathy

The current refugee crisis

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The notion of sympathy with a certain individual, group, belief or ideology has been able to shift the outcome of many crisis and conflicts, as the global opinion mandated for affirmative action to be taken in certain cases for resolution. However, the same sense of sympathy that applies to certain cases has marginalized and sidelined many victims of horrendous crimes, which has happened or still happening. Therefore, it is witnessed that certain victims are prioritized and sanctioned due to political reasons, while other are left to suffer continuously under the blade of whomever has oppressed them. The recent case of selective sympathy was witnessed in the past weeks, during the current refugee crisis in the Middle East, when a Syrian-Kurdish child was found drowned and dead on the shore of a Turkish town. Indeed, the picture of that child was heartbreaking, as he summarized the entire afflictions and sufferings of Middle Eastern children, and the amount of violence they have been subjected to. The story of that boy was even more heartbreaking, when news headlines announced that the boy’s mother and older brother had been drowned and dead as well, during their attempt to escape the deadly war in Syria and find safety in Europe.

The global headlines made the story of that Syrian child, as the face of the refugee crisis, which placed enormous pressure on European and other western states to take imminent actions to end the crisis. Ultimately, Germany decided to take thousands of those refugees and other state like Austria, Hungary, Italy and other European states started taken lesser numbers, due to the public pressure.

Primarily, many observers believe the crisis could have been evaded, and none of the current dilemmas were supposed to even happen, as a coordinated political solution to the Syrian crisis, would have resolved the Syrian conflict. In addition, the resolution of the Syrian conflict would have been affected the Iraqi political scenario as well, as ISIS and other terrorist groups would have never been able to mobilize their fighters easily in and out of Syria.

Nevertheless, now that the crisis has happened and millions have been displaced and dislodged, it would primarily be the responsibility of other Muslim countries to host the refugees. It is not a secret that some of the richest countries in the world are in the Middle East, which raises a question that what have they not accepted any of those refugees. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who were the primary supporters of many armed rebels in Syria, have not accepted one refugee in their lands, and other states like Kuwait, UAE have acted as no crisis even exists.

However, the question that truly requires the attention of all observers and the global masses, is the intention behind creating the selective sympathy that is witnessed regarding certain cases. Even though, the Syrian child’s photo brought tears to the eyes of many people, including state leaders, it must be asked: why are other crisis and cases of child abuses and victimization are not being considered as important? For instance, wasn’t there another children in the same boat that carried the Syrian child and his family? An Iraqi woman appeared on the National TV and narrated how her two children drowned in that boat as well, as the group guide fled and let them alone before the massive sea waves.

The Iraqi scene is filled daily with pictures of students and innocent children being the victims of explosions, genocides and organized crime, as the Iraqi government stays motionless and unable to resolve the matters. The so-called Arab coalition to retrieve Political Legitimacy in Yemen, has been bombing the Yemeni cities for the past few months, and thousands have been killed in those strikes. Among the victims of those strikes are hundreds of innocent children, as one picture showed a Yemeni child losing his skin due to use of prohibited weapons. Another Yemeni child was buried under her house for days, and after few days she was found alive, but taking her out of the wreckage was not possible, therefore, she died before the rescuers, as they could not do anything for her. In addition, the current bombing campaign against Yemen is being supported by majority of western states, which contradicts the notion of acting humanly with the current refugee crisis.

The other victims, who require and deserve immediate attention are the people of Bahrain, as hundreds of women, minors and children are persecuted and victimized daily by the Bahraini regime. There are numerous footages on YouTube and other sites, where Bahraini women and children are being beaten or humiliated by the Bahraini authorities. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other organizations have recorded hundreds of similar cases in that country, which are not receiving any media coverage or public attention.

Therefore, it is a moral obligation upon any free soul to sympathize with these victims and use any possible peaceful and legit mean to help them regain their dignity and the honorable life they deserve. The notion of selective sympathy itself, is a kind of oppression against all of those, who are not being considered as victims and sympathized with.

14 Years since 9/11: What has changed?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The course of modern history was changed on the morning of September 11, 2001, when four coordinated terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda (Islamic Terrorist Group) on symbolic United States landmarks took place. The casualties of these attacks were over almost 3000 people dead and over 6000 injured, as majority of these casualties were in New York City (World Trade Towers). The US government under the administration of President George W. Bush conducted several foreign and domestic policies, which are still affecting the global politics until this day. In addition, many of the current political developments are directly linked to those events and the policies placed after the attacks by the US administration and other western states.

However, as Muslims, whether residing in the west or the Middle East, the political developments and policies have influenced our lives in various ways, which have often created many challenges and struggles. The pre-emptive approach adopted by many western states, became the rationale behind persecution and detainment of many innocent Muslims, as they were placed under surveillance and black lists, for their last names, acquaintanceship, family affiliations, profession and expertise. In addition, rendition of several Muslim US-Citizens was revealed in the headlines, where individuals were subjected to torture and excruciation in foreign countries by the request of US government. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan was toppled, as a massive western coalition invaded that country, since the base of Al-Qaeda was believed to be in Afghanistan. In 2003 the United States and Britain alongside other countries invaded Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and toppled the notorious regime of Saddam Hussein. Drone attacks were ordered by the US administration inside Muslim countries, which targeted terrorist sites and groups, which (mistakenly) took the lives of innocent people. The rise of Islamophobia in the west and public criticism of Islamic principles and teachings was witnessed in several countries, which set a precedent, as satiric cartoons of Prophet Mohammad were drawn in Europe, which created global outrage among Muslims.

In addition, some political observers believe that even the regime changes in the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring were related to 9/11, and the policies and event post those attacks, as the tendencies of western powers in the region were shifted and changed. Regardless, the events in planet earth are currently being labeled as pre-9/11 and post 9/11, which shows the impact of this date on all aspects of life upon the entire humanity in general.

Therefore, it would be beneficial to dissect the new conditions and variables within Islam as a religion and Muslims as general, which have been caused by those events. The necessity of this dissection is derived from the notion that within each misfortune or struggle, an opportunity presents itself. Therefore, as Muslims we must apprehend and acknowledge the opportunities that have presented themselves to us, post September 11, 2001.

9/11 & Islam

To be precise, the negative impact of 9/11 was majorly on Muslims and Middle Easterners, as arguing that a religion followed by over 1 billion people is entirely violent is a bogus and absurd claim. Therefore, Islam as a religion not only did not suffer from the attack of 9/11, it can be argued that Islam did benefit from the aftermath of those events. According to many statistics and polls, Islam was the leading topic searched on the Internet globally post 9/11, as many people (non-Muslims) wanted to know more about the religion, those attackers claimed to follow. The curiosity within these researches came from the fact that many Muslims had lived in the west, and many non-Muslim had interacted with them through the years, and nothing unordinary was sited. Therefore, it was essential to find out, whether all Muslims were adopting such extreme view, or whether Islam did support such extreme ideology.

In addition, the attack of 9/11 opened the eyes of many observers and non-Muslims, upon many essential and necessary details about Islam and its different ideologies, as Muslims were not viewed through the same scope. The difference between Wahhabism, mainstream Sunni Islam, Shia Islam and other Islamic sects was being distinguished and outlined, which was enabling non-Muslims to make more precise and thorough statements about Muslims and Islam. Nonetheless, the same results were mandating Muslims to outline the roots of radicalism and terrorism in their religion, which resulted in several academic works that identified the source of fundamentalism in Islam. In addition, due to the attacks by Anti-Islamic activists and groups that Islam was a violent religion and its prophet spread his religion through coercive means, Muslim were learning about the different methods to defend their religion.

9/11 & Muslims

No one can deny that 9/11 attacks were behind many limitations placed upon Muslims around the globe, where they were subjected to verbal, physical, social and even financial abuses. There are hundreds of cases in North America and Europe, where Muslims were subjected to racism, unnecessary screening, and physical abuses. Therefore, Muslims were faced with new necessities and priorities that mandated them to establish organizations and institutions that defend them and treat their struggles through legit and legal means.

In addition, the retaliation methods adopted by the United States and other western states in their war on terror, or their security measures were used by many radical scholars and preachers to revive new means of radicalization. Although these policies and measures will never justify the actions of terrorist groups, but western presence in Muslim Lands, Neo-Colonialism, Abu Gharib torture photos and other titles were used to draw new blood for radical and terrorist groups.

Therefore, Muslims were mandated to more active in various methods to defend their religion on two fronts. The first front was before the external attacks on Islam and its prophet, which even pushed many second generation Muslims to enter universities and higher education institutions to study social sciences. Therefore, we have witnessed many more Muslim students in Political science departments, journalism, criminology, sociology and security agencies. These development helped the Muslim communities in west to develop modern means and methods to defend themselves and secure their freedoms and rights.

The second front was among Muslims themselves, as Muslims were mandated to challenge radicalism within their own circles. Many Islamic centers and institutions were reviewing their policies and sermons to ensure they promote the peacefulness of Islam and reject any notion of fundamentalism. In addition, if bad apples were not contained, many communities reported them to the authorities to place them under surveillance or even detain them. Nonetheless, even mainstream Muslims were more cautious about their actions and conducts in their homes and in public, as they did not want to give any implications that they have radical tendencies.

Conclusion:

It is argued by many academic scholars and observers that majority of terrorist attacks around the world, were motivated by political struggles, where Islam was used as a legitimacy cover. However, whether political policies or religious ideologies were behind those development, the aftermath of 9/11 forced Muslim to develop new means for asserting their co-existential tendencies within the societies they reside in. In addition¸ the political and religious awareness among Muslims has been dramatically increased, which helps Muslims prevent radicalization and western societies understand Muslims better.

Politics: Academic Approach VS Popular Belief

Differences & Similarities

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The general belief about politics is, politics is boring, twisting and unethical, and in some cases even deceiving depending on who is asked about politics.  In addition, majority of people tend to ignore following political analysis about domestic and global matters, since they believe all the mentioned notions about politics. Therefore, a great opportunity is created for politicians to use election times for persuading their constituents, about the policies they have supported or will support, as they know the public doesn’t know the entire facts affiliated with policies and decisions. However, in the recent years the political awareness of the public has been increased and much higher than previous decades, as technology and social media enables people to receive information through various methods. Nonetheless, the political awareness delivered by the public is still based on experiences, struggles and what the public is actually acknowledged with. Therefore, in some cases extreme cases, such as conspiracy theories are developed and in other cases total abandonment is adopted by others, as they believe their involvement will not change anything.

Opposite to popular belief, the academic approach to politics is entirely separated from the conduct of politicians, as political tendencies and decisions are determined and outlined through ideologies and philosophies developed by philosophers, sociologists and thinkers. Therefore, each political decision is dissected and examined through a set of principles and methodologies that are adopted by the governing body or the politicians. Academics view each political decision and policy as a corroboration that belongs to a certain position on the political spectrum, which makes the policy makers conservative, progressive, socialist, liberal or on a more general level realist, liberal, idealist or even isolationist.

However, these two diverging views toward politics give the impression that somehow there is a gap between the academic environment and the public, when it comes to politics, but as mentioned earlier the basis for political evaluation is different. Therefore, the outcome of a question about politics presented to an ordinary citizen and a political science academic might sound different.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that unless a political entity is using coercive methods to rule its subjects, the methodology for political evaluation will remain the same, as any just academic will express his/her dissatisfaction with the system, if it becomes abusive. The benefit of living in free societies lays in the ability to elect the political system or ideology, the citizens see suitable for governance and administrating the affairs of the state. Therefore, the role of academic environment becomes as advisory, where legislatures and decision makers turn toward, in case they need to play by the books.

Regardless, the actual political world is entirely different than universities and political research institutions. State leaders deal with fiscal challenges, security issues, foreign policies, sovereignty and national interest, which might mandate certain realities that are not accepted by any contemporary philosophers and political science academics. Therefore, when it comes to actual effectuality on political shifts, the decision and tendency of popular belief is more applicable than the opinion of political science scholars and academics.

Why is ISIS still able to recruit fighters from around the globe?

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

Many western countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and France are investing heavily to identify the reasons behind the recent rising numbers of foreign national joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It is very strange and shocking for many observers to see young people, who were born in the west, are easily putting behind the glamorous pleasures and facilities, to join fighting alongside terrorists against their own countries. Many of these youths have been raised and educated in western societies, and some of them have never even stepped foot in the Middle East, let alone having this type of coherent connection and sympathy. In addition, the youths within Muslims societies are still joining ISIS fighters as well, although they are witnessing the great amount destruction caused by this group, and the vast numbers of victims. Therefore, the question, which arises before these realities is, why is ISIS still able to recruit fighters from around the globe?

Political Struggles:

The primary political justification used by almost all terrorist organization is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its current stalled state of settlement. One of the most important twinges that moves and triggers the emotions of Muslims, is the issue of Palestine, which some Islamic writers call it ‘the wound of Islamic nation’. In addition, the inability of Arab and Muslim leaders to resolve this issue, has given the radical groups the legitimate argument, which they can use for marketing their fundamentalist ideology. Liberating Palestine from the ‘Jews’ and their ‘affiliates’ can be a very catchy slogan for many passionate Muslims, who are witnessing their state leaders talking about normalizing relations with Israel, or penalizing Palestinian politicians.  Therefore, convincing a random Muslim from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other places, about the necessity of taking initiative for liberating Palestine, would not be a hard task.

This type of reality was witnessed in Iraq and even in some cases in Syria as well. There are numerous video footage released by the Iraqi government, which show the confessions of detained terrorists. The terrorist in these footages are asked: what are you doing in Iraq, and the reply is: we are not in Iraq, we came to liberate Palestine and we are in Palestine and you are Jews and Israelis.

Economic Struggles:

The economic hardships and struggles are the means for creation of a fundamental environment, as these hardships often prevent people from achieving their goals and future plans. Therefore, if no help and hope is presented for these groups and individuals, they become secluded and they marginalize themselves. In addition, after a while these groups and individuals start blaming the entire society and whomever, doesn’t share their afflictions and struggles for their failures and mis-achievements. Ultimately, these types of groups are easily exposed and welcoming to any type of ideology, which offers them legitimacy for their punitive and vengeful desires. Therefore, whether in the west or Muslim countries, we witness that even though some of these individuals are not recruited by ISIS, they choose to carry out a mission on their own and pledge allegiance to groups like ISIS and others.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that ISIS, unlike any other terrorist groups, considers itself a ‘STATE’, and it has done some of the most unorthodox and vicious acts of terrorism to assert and affirm this notion. This new reality, has even prompted some political observers to introduce the concept of soft-terrorist for groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban, who have never committed some the crimes carried by ISIS. ISIS, calls itself a state, and even recruitment methods by recruiters are based on this fundamental, which enable them to promise and facilitate many amenities and desires for their fighters, when they are recruited. Many ISIS fighters are promised lands, properties, wives, concubines, slaves and privileges that are out of the reach of most random people, which makes the thought of fighting alongside other Muslims for the sake of a proposed (ideal nation), according to ISIS principles very appealing for them. Therefore, a random ISIS fighter comes to a conclusion that he has secured his materialistic life, through Jihad for the sake of elevating the flag of Islam.

Hate Preachers:

The social media renaissance, as some sociologists like to call it, has been like a double sided blade, which has helped many oppressed nations to deliver their struggles to the outside world, and also for many fundamentals to preach and spread their corrupt ideologies. Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter have been the best ground-zero for many Wahhabi and radical scholars to express their ideology and fundamentalist views freely. These modern types of communication, are easily accessed and used, which enables these scholars to transfer their opinions globally and makes their thoughts and opinion globally accessible as well. Therefore, even a flagged Salafi or Wahhabi scholar doesn’t have to travel thousands of Kilometres to Europe, Africa, North America and other places to directly express his opinions and ideology.

These scholars, use their fundamentalist ideology, as the religious legitimacy and the political and economic struggles as the baits for authenticating their claims for the necessities and priorities they preach for. Israeli – Palestinian conflict, Western presence in the Middle East, corrupt Middle Eastern leaders and governments, economic hardships, inflations, unemployment and most importantly ignorance are the perfect tools for convincing many of those young fighters, who join a group like ISIS.

Religious intolerance

This notion is directly linked to the social conduct of many Sunni societies of the Middle East region, which has developed many intolerant citizens in general. Although, this notion is not exclusive to Sunni societies, as some Shia societies have experiences similar development and conduct, but this reality is vastly witnessed and developed in the Sunni societies. A random Muslim is intolerant toward the simplest matters within his/her family, friends, surrounding circles, which will reflect directly on his/her religious belief as well.

Unfortunately, intolerance and rejection of others has been infiltrated into the minds of many Sunni Muslims, through their educational systems. It is very normal to see a grade five religious studies curriculum, presents Shias, Druz and other religious minorities as infidels, and the punishment of an infidel is death. It is very normal to witness the same curriculum portrays the Prophet of Islam as a blood thirsty individual, who used sword and coercion for spreading his religion in Arabia. These types of intolerant ideologies are sufficient to rip the social fabric of any society, and ruin any sort of co-existence among the members of that society, which will ultimately lead to the existence of a group like ISIS.