Like most visionaries and revolutionary thinkers, Dr Kalim Siddiqui, who passed away on April 18, 1996, was far ahead of his times.
Dr Kalim’s understanding of history went beyond the mere recording of events. He incorporated the understanding of broad trends and movements of social and political change, and the factors that influenced them to derive lessons for the future.
The West never had any problem with Bashar al-Asad as long as he did their bidding. Following the “Arab Spring”, the West thought Asad was a low hanging fruit ripe for picking. Three years later, they are waking up to reality.
Islam enjoins unity among Muslims while allowing for differences of opinion. Such differences, unless expressed with the requisite civility, can easily lead to serious problems, even violent conflict as witnessed in places like Iraq, Pakistan and Syria.
Muslims have been at the receiving end of western aggression long before the events of 911 that the west has used to justify its wars on Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries.
The fact that Muslims have not abandoned their values in the face of repeated assaults on their revered personalities is itself a great achievement. They should continue to protest and denounce such attempts at denigration.
American politics is a game of blatant lies and distortions. It makes little difference to the life of Americans whether a Democrat or Republican is in the White House.
US enmity towards Iran has nothing to do with Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. It is merely a pretext used by Washington for Iran’s refusal to fall in line with US demands.
In this column last month, I discussed the context and implications of the Ikhwan’s success in Egypt’s presidential elections in June.
The confirmation on June 24 that Muhammad Mursi, the candidate representing the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, had been elected President of Egypt, has a certain air of inevitability.
In last month’s column, I reflected on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnia War, which began in March 1992.
Early last month, Bosnians marked the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the genocidal war waged against them by the Serbs and Croats of former Yugoslavia, a war whose objective was the extermination of the largest indigenous Muslim community remaining in Europe.
The key objectives of the Islamic movement is the reassertion of Islamic values in Muslim societies, and the establishment of Islamic states in place of the corrupt, self-serving regimes that currently predominate in the Muslim world.
The West never had any problem with Bashar al-Asad as long as he did their bidding. Following the “Arab Spring”, the West thought Asad was a low hanging fruit ripe for picking. Three years later, they are waking up to reality.
For a civilization and value system that places such great emphasis on “freedom”, there are still plenty of ways that dissidents can be targeted in the modern West. Freedom has been described as a “hurray word” — a word “with little substantive meaning… an empty signifier in a hegemonic language game, to which we all have to defer”, in the words of Mark Haugaard, political scientist and editor of the Journal of Power.
For many Muslims and Islamic activists around the world, in so many different places and fields of work, the unity of the Ummah is a basic premise of everything we do. At the same time, differences of understanding, approach and methodology are inevitable in a global Ummah of more than 1.5 billion people.
Every four years the world watches the political soap opera of the US presidential elections with a combination of amusement, bemusement and incredulity as the world’s most powerful nation, and the supposed flag-bearer of democracy, lays open its true nature. Although the polls are not due for over a year, the formal process began months ago, with Barrack Obama having announced the start of his re-election campaign in April.
Barack Obama’s announcement on October 21 that US troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year might have been regarded as a masterpiece of political spin, except that very few people were fooled.
Early month, as much of the western world was either wallowing in sentimental commemorations of the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001, or reflecting on the far greater atrocities perpetrated by the US in its aggressive exploitation of 9/11 in pursuit of their imperialist interests worldwide, warnings of an emerging tragedy of potentially even greater proportions were largely ignored.
Islamic movements, intellectuals and activists long tended to have a love-hate relationship with democracy. On the one hand, democracy has been associated with the aggressive, brutal, exploitative, hegemonic policies of the post-colonial Western powers, the cynicism, manipulation and dishonesty of Western politics and the increasing moral degeneracy of individualistic and hedonistic Western societies.
This month, as in every June since 1989, Muslims around the world will hold prayer meetings, lectures and other events to mark the anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini, who died in Tehran on June 4, 1989, a decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran with which he will always be associated. The usual speakers will give the usual speeches, focusing on the usual aspects of his life and character.
There were a slew of new revelations about the politics of the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq last month, when the Independent newspaper in Britain published details of documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information.
In last month’s issue of Crescent International, in his column, “From the Editor’s Desk”, Zafar Bangash highlighted the fact that the paper recently completed 40 years of publication, masha’Allah. This month marks another significant anniversary: 15 years since the death of Dr. Kalim Siddiqui in South Africa on April 18, 1996.
The attempted assassination of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson Arizona on January 8 (six people were killed in the attack and 14, including Giffords, injured) inevitably provoked a storm in the country. The main focus of the debate has of the debate has been the role of right-wing politicians and commentators, particularly the Republican former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The Palestinian issue has been virtually stalemated since before Israel’s war on Gaza in 2008–2009, with Hamas, the most popular and legitimate Palestinian leadership bottled up in the besieged and densely populated Gaza, and the West Bank under the increasingly repressive rule of Mahmood Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA).
The New Year is traditionally a time when people reflect on their situations in life, as well as contemplating the possibilities of the year to come. This New Year in the Gregorian calendar coincides (more or less) with a new year, 1432, in the Hijri calendar; Muharram 1 fell on December 7, 2010.
Considering the low expectations that Egyptians and other observers had of the country’s parliamentary elections (the two rounds took place on November 28 and December 5, 2010 respectively), it should perhaps be recognised as an achievement of sorts for the Mubarak regime.
Egypt’s parliamentary elections will take place on November 28, by which time this issue of Crescent will have gone to press. Normally, this would be problematic from a news point of view; one of the most difficult issues for any periodical is when major developments are expected between its press deadline and its publication date.
This writer has never had the privilege of performing Hajj. It may be many years before I am able to do so, although I hope and pray to have the opportunity before the end of my time on this earth, insha’allah.
The city of Istanbul is among the world’s most popular destinations among Muslims, largely because of the legacy of the Ottoman period and the numerous mosques and other monuments that survive there, through which Muslims can relate to a golden period of Islamic culture.
Several articles in this issue of Crescent International discuss the problems faced by Muslims living in western countries, particularly since the launching of the “war on terror” after the attacks on the World Trade Centre
The announcement by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on August 20 that the US is to host direct talks between Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas and Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu has singularly failed to raise hopes of progress toward any level of justice for the suffering people of Palestine.
The holy month of Ramadan, the month of fasting and the most special time of the year for most Muslims, is almost upon us. It is a time that Muslims everywhere look forward to with anticipation, and the passing of which for another year is widely mourned.
Almost every statement in the above paragraph, except perhaps for the simple statement of fact with which it starts, could prove the subject of heated debate.
The key objectives of the Islamic movement are the reassertion of Islamic values in Muslim societies, and the establishment of Islamic states in place of the corrupt, self-serving regimes that currently predominate in the Muslim world...
Like so many activists and institutions in the Islamic movement, we at Crescent International take the unity of the Ummah as a basic assumption and premise of everything that we do. As we have so often affirmed, the understanding that we all have in common as Muslims far outweighs our many differences.
The long-stalled Middle East peace process was finally resumed last month, when proximity talks mediated by US envoy George Mitchell between Israel and the Palestinian Authority finally began on May 9...
Britain goes to the polls on May 6, to elect the government that is expected to run the country for the next five years. Unlike most elections in recent years, the contest is genuinely too close for the results to be predicted...
Democracy is undoubtedly the most commonplace and widely accepted political concept in the modern world. It is barely an exaggeration to say that it has achieved the status of a universal myth; very few people in the world dare challenge the principles associated with it, and most accept it...
There is certainly no doubt that Allawi’s success is something of a surprise in terms of the pre-election expectations...
This month marks the seventh anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The invasion was no surprise of course; it was preceded by months of international politicking as the neo-con Bush administration tried to build international consensus for the war...
The Muslim Institute emerged from talks in 1972-73 among a group of young Muslims in London led by the late Dr Kalim Siddiqui. Its foundation proper can be dated to the publication of the Draft Prospectus of the Muslim Institute, its foundation document, in 1974.
In an age before the Internet, therefore, the key instrument of this work was the Crescent International newsmagazine, published from Toronto.
The Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, inaugurated in 1992, emerged from a study into the Muslim situation in Britain by the Muslim Institute, London, under the leadership of Dr Kalim Siddiqui, during the Rushdie affair in 1989-90. Unfortunately it was to decline rapidly following his death in 1996, and was defunct to all intents and purposes within a few years.
The election last month of Mohammed Badei as the eighth Murshid al-‘Am (General Guide) of the Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, and the results of December’s elections for the Ikhwan’s Maktab al-Irshad...
That sense of unity was based on a common faith of course, but was supported also by a number of other factors that have been lost...1
When news emerged of fighting in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after jumu‘ah prayers on August 14, many observers would have been surprised to learn that it was between Hamas authorities and militants belonging to a Salafi-Jihadi group known as Jund Ansar Allah — “Soldiers of the Followers of Allah”...
AN ENQUIRY INTO THE ALGERIAN MASSACRES edited by Youcef Bedjaoui, Abbas Aroua and Meziane Ait-Larbi. Pub: Hoggar Books, Geneva, Switzerland, 1999. Hbk: UK24.00 (UK); pp: 1,473.
To be a European Muslim by Tariq Ramadan. Pub: The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, 1999. Pp: 272. Pbk: £5.95.
There are many possible explanations for the unrest that has broken out in Iran since the presidential elections last month. One thing that has become quite clear is that there was a pre-existing plan by enemies of the Islamic State to exploit the political uncertainty of the election period for their own purposes, regardless of the results; now perhaps we can see where the resources that the Bush administration had committed to destabilising Iran have been used.
Imam Ruhullah Musawi al-Khomeini (September 24, 1902 to June 3, 1989) is among those iconic figures of history about whom everybody thinks they know much more than they actually do.This month, to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini, Crescent International and the Islamic Books Trust, Kuala Lumpur, have published a book of essays on the Imam’s life and thought. Here we present an abridged version of the introduction to that volume, written by former Crescent editor Iqbal Siddiqui.
Since the announcement on April 8 that Egyptian authorities had arrested 49 members of a “Hizbullah cell” in the country, we have been subjected to a variety of explanations for the arrests and several different accounts of exactly what happened, when it happened, and why it happened. Much of this information has been leaked by Egyptian authorities, and little of it has survived critical scrutiny.
Question: What does a great power do when it suffers an unexpected defeat and a major setback in its plans for achieving an acceptable solution to a problem? Answer: It sits back, regroups, deflects public attention to other issues, and works quietly behind the scenes to prepare the ground for a new attempt to achieve its objectives by some other strategy in future.
In the March 9 issue of Newsweek magazine, Fareed Zakaria, the magazine’s editor and formerly both an adviser to the Bush administration on US policy in the Middle East and a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, published an article under the heading “Learning to Live with Radical Islam” and the tagline “It’s time to stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists”.
Iraq and Afghanistan were far from the only victims of the neo-cons’ aggression under George W. Bush. Several other Muslim countries suffered grievously too, without receiving nearly as much attention in the world media, and, by extension, among Muslims. Somalia is perhaps the single greatest example. Crescent has covered developments there as best we can, largely thanks to M. A. Shaikh, who writes on the new government of Sherif Sheikh Ahmed in this issue, but elsewhere in the Muslim media Somalia has been largely ignored.
As the Israeli military machine battered Gaza earlier this year, during weeks of the most ferocious assaults on Palestinians seen in decades, it seemed that a major and significant turning point had been reached in the struggle between Zionist expansionism and Palestinian resistance.
When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president of the United States of America in January 1981, Iran and its recent Islamic Revolution was an obsession for the US and all in it. Almost 30 years later, little has changed in that regard.
For three weeks, as the Israelis subjected Gaza to some of the most brutal total warfare seen since the US assault on Falluja in 2003, most of the Muslim world could do little more than watch in shock and horror. After the Israeli ceasefire, as Palestinians adjust to the new reality of life in the devastation left by the Israeli blitzkrieg, it is possible to place the events of the last month or so in some sort of political context.
Such was the artificiality of the hype surrounding the election of Barack Obama at the beginning of November last year — only two months ago — that the elation has largely dissipated even before he has taken office. For many Americans, the realization that nothing much is likely to change has emerged from his appointment of establishment political figures to all major offices in his administration.
The problem with taking on the superpowers is that they never seem willing to admit that they are beaten, with the result that however successful the resistance to them, there is never an outright victory. Whenever the superpowers have projected their power and been met by determined local resistance, such as the Russians in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and the Americans in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and (indirectly) Palestine, the resistance faces the problem of actually sealing their victories in political terms.
November saw both an intensification of Israel’s low-level war on Ghazzah, and a further murderous tightening of its economic blockade. But hopes for healing the breach between Fatah and Hamas failed yet again, largely as a result of internal political pressures on Fatah and the Israelis. IQBAL SIDDIQUI reports.
The last few weeks have seen the stirrings of what may become the basis for another world-wide Muslim protest movement like those about the Rushdie fitna and the Danish cartoons insulting the Prophet (saw). Beaufort House, a minor publisher in the US, has published a sleazy work of fiction called The Jewel of Medina, by Sherry Jones, which has been described as a work of “soft porn” set in the time of the Prophet and taking a bowdlerised version of the life of Hadhrat A’isha (r.a.) as its theme.
In a few months’ time, Crescent International will insha’Allah complete 37 years of publication. During that time, it has inevitably seen many changes. It began as a local community paper in Toronto in the 1970s, before being transformed into a newsmagazine of the global Islamic movement after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the influence of Dr Kalim Siddiqui.1
The last Friday of Ramadan each year is marked around the world as Yaum al-Quds: the Day of al-Quds. This tradition was begun by Imam Khomeini r.a. shortly after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, as an annual affirmation of the Ummah’s solidarity with the Muslims of Palestine in their struggle for the liberation of al-Quds .
During the early 1990s, the war in Bosnia dominated Muslim attention much as a war in Iraq has in the last few years, considering which it is perhaps surprising how little of the events of those years is known to many young Muslims today.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN’s anti-nuclear watchdog – left Syria on June 25 after spending three days collecting samples and other materials from the al-Kibar site bombed by Israel in September last year.
The US is facing two deadlines in its dealings with the government in Iraq over the proposed “security treaty” by which it hopes to legitimise its continued occupation of the country. The first is the expiry of the UN mandate to remain in the country, which expires on December 31.
This month, millions of Muslims all over the world will mark the nineteenth anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini on June 4, 1989. The Imam was undoubtedly the most important figure in recent Muslim history, the man whose thought and leadership effectively gave birth to what we now know as the global Islamic movement.
Five years after the US invasion of Iraq, it is now widely accepted that the war was based on a web of lies deliberately spun by the Bush administration to justify a war that they were determined to execute come what might. A number of other groups have also been criticised for their roles in the deception, including the US intelligence community and the British government.
The neo-cons’ commitment to promoting democracy in the Muslim world was quietly discarded after Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections in January 2006, when they finally realised what most observers had been saying all along: that free elections in Muslim countries would almost invariably result in governments that the West would not like because they would promote the concerns and interests of their own people above those of Washington.
Every month or two, a new controversy concerning Islam and Muslims erupts in the UK. Sometimes they concern terrorism or extremism, sometimes education or women, sometimes anti-semitism. Often they are based on wildly sensationalised reports of the statements of some Muslim or another, stoked up by the right-wing media to demonise the Muslim community as whole.
At a time when the entire world of Islam is under intense attack from external enemies, most of them directly or indirectly associated with the United States of America, the sole superpower of the modern world, it is sometimes easy to forget the key objectives facing Islamic movements. Defending our lands and societies from outside attack is undoubtedly essential, but our main objective must be the establishment of Islamic institutions and orders in our own societies, most importantly Islamic political orders.
A week after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the political dust has settled sufficiently for us to hazard some analysis of the situation Pakistan faces and where it might go from here. The announcement that elections have been postponed until February 18, and the appointment of Benazir’s husband and son to lead the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – confirming it to be a family fiefdom rather than a political party in any real sense – have established some of the parameters of Pakistani politics in the post-Benazir era. And yet, in perhaps the most important ways, her death really changes very little.
The end of the year is often a time for looking back and reflecting on events past. This is particularly the case in Western countries, where the new year coincides with the annual Christmas break, the main holiday period in most Western countries, although it is no longer a particularly Christian or spiritual occasion. This year, the Islamic new year follows very soon after the new year on the Gregorian calendar; in fact, 2008 will be a rare Gregorian year because it has two Islamic new years, as the year 1430AH will begin at the end of next December.1
Alan Greenspan’s recently published memoirs cut through a great deal of the official American bluster about the US involvement in Iraq, going straight to the heart of the matter. “I am saddened,” he wrote, “that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.”
Many people reading the recent news from Darfur may be confused. On October 25, just days before peace talks on the conflict in Darfur were due to begin in Libya, anti-government rebels in Darfur were reported to have attacked oil installations in the neighbouring region of Kardofan, kidnapping two foreigners and warning other foreign oil workers that they had a week to leave the country or they would face similar attacks. The start of the talks in Sirte were then delayed because rebel groups refused to take part.
For a little while last month, as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to address the American people in a series of media opportunities and a high-profile speech at Columbia University during his visit to New York to address the General Assembly of the UN, it appeared that we were back in the days when former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami was championing “dialogue between civilizations”, to the delight of Western liberals who hoped that the “reformists” might bring Iran back into the West’s sphere of influence – their definition of civilization.
Iraqis have become victims of violence in many different circumstances since the American invasion of the country in 2003. Many have been victims of sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shi‘i communities, in which Shi‘i religious institutions and occasions have been particularly targeted by Sunni militants. Few, however, could have anticipated that the Shabaniyah festival in Karbala on August 28, to mark the anniversary of the birth of the twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, would end with over 50 people killed in fighting between Shi‘i gunmen and Iraqi authorities, sparked by the heavy-handed security arrangements in the city.
Asked about the lesson of fasting, Imam Husain (r.a.) is reported to have replied that “the rich should feel the pangs of hunger and appreciate what the poor have to endure, and therefore share Allah’s bounty with them.”As Muslims begin the month of Ramadan later this month, they should think of the suffering of their brothers and sisters in Palestine, and Ghazzah in particular.
Dr Ali Shariati, who died in London in June 1977, was among the most important figures of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, which unfortunately he did not live to see; and yet, 30 years after his death, his contribution and legacy are largely forgotten. During the 1970s, his lectures and writings played a crucial role in preparing young Iranians, brought up during the secularising and “Westoxicated” policies of the Shah’s regime, for the possibility of Islamic rule. In this paper, IQBAL SIDDIQUI analyses major elements of his thought, particularly his belief that Muslims need what Dr Kalim Siddiqui would later call “an intellectual revolution” in their under-standing of Islam.
One little-noticed story in the international media last month was the reported arrest and interrogation of 40 men in Egypt, allegedly for having links with al-Qa’ida. According to reports first carried in Al-Masry al-Yom, an independent Egyptian daily newspaper, the men were actually arrested in April but news of the arrests was deliberately not released. Subsequent media investigations have unearthed further details, many of them inconsistent.
In June 2007, the Islamic Centre of England hosted a conference on “Proximity amongst Islamic schools of thought: a necessity for Muslims in the contemporary era” (see Crescent International, July 2007). This is the paper presented IQBAL SIDDIQUI, a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) and editor of Crescent International.1
June turned out to be a month of speeches and conferences for this writer. It began with Imam Khomeini memorial programmes in the UK. These were followed by a visit to South Africa, which was as special as always, and where I spoke at a conference organized by the local office of Crescent International, along with Zafar Bangash and Imam Muhammad al-Asi, as well as speaking at a couple of smaller events. At end of the month there was a major conference on Islamic unity in London, attended by a number of senior figures from around the world, at which I also presented a paper. Inevitably, discussions were dominated by two or three topics: Iraq and the tragic blood-letting there; the problem of sectarianism; and, because they were in the news at the time, the recent developments in Palestine in particular.
As the tragedy of Iraq draws attention to the problem of sectarianism in the Muslim world, the Majma al-Taqrib in Tehran has led efforts against this problem. IQBAL SIDDIQUI discusses issues that arose during its latest conference, at the Islamic Centre of England, in London, on June 23 & 24.
This month, as in every June since 1989, Muslims around the world will hold prayer meetings, lectures and other events to mark the anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini, who died in Tehran on June 4, 1989, a decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran with which he will always be associated. The usual speakers -- such as this writer -- will give the usual speeches, focusing on the usual aspects of his life and character.
At the end of April, western human rights and charitable bodies organized a series of events to mark the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan. During this period, Darfur has become a by-word for human tragedy, with the Sudanese government of Omar Bashir being blamed for perpetrating a “genocide” against “African” tribes-people in the region, with the help of the notorious Janjaweed, described as militants belonging to “Arab” tribes, supported and equipped by the Sudanese government.
Iqbal Siddiqui on the desperate need of an Islamic movement in Pakistan..
Political commentators observing developments in the Muslim world have a tendency to project their own fears and prejudices onto the Ummah. This is particularly true of Westerners who like to speak about the “moderate” majority of Muslims -- ie. those who are not anti-American, and welcome the US’s civilizing and democratizing mission against “Islamic extremism”.
It is difficult to imagine the scenes on the ground in the small and remote Somali village of Hayo on January 9, when a heavily-armed American AC-130 gunship appeared in the sky and “rained gunfire” into the village.
There was uproar in Egypt last month when a small number of students at al-Azhar University, supporters of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, wore black uniforms and balaclavas, and performed martial arts exercises, during a protest against the university authorities. The government immediately condemned what they said was evidence that the Ikhwan has a secret military wing.
Malaysia is the favourite Muslim country for many Western Muslims. The reasons were not difficult to see when this writer visited the country last month; Malaysia can perhaps be characterised as Muslim but not too Muslim. You can eat halal food wherever you go, there are suraus (prayer rooms) in malls, hotels and most other public buildings, and virtually all Muslimahs wear hijab. But in terms of their development, modernity, looks and general atmosphere, Kuala Lumpur and surrounding urban areas such as Petaling Jaya feel more like Islamised versions of cities in the West than Muslim cities like Cairo, Damascus, Tehran, Karachi or Jakarta.
We at Crescent routinely criticise “extremists” of various kinds within the Islamic movement, whether they be sectarian extremists, or militant extremists, who regard military jihad as the be-all and end-all of the struggle of the Islamic movement; or religious extremists, who reduce Islam to nothing more than personal or spiritual religiosity.
The unity of the Muslim ummah is a reality proclaimed in the Qur’an, in the ayaat above and numerous others like them; it is one of the key strengths of the Ummah at many levels, from the cultural to the political. It is the unity of the ummah, the common understanding that all Muslims are brothers and sisters in faith, that makes Muslims feel at home wherever they may go in the Muslim world.
The “silly season” is an annual feature of British life: the period every summer when the country’s politicians depart the Westminster village for their holidays and the newspapers have to scrabble around for something else to write about in order to keep readers interested.
One feature of current events in the Middle East is that the three Islamic movements that perhaps deserve the greatest respect and recognition from the global Ummah are standing together against the onslaught from the West.
The protests that have erupted around the Muslim world in support of the Muslims of Lebanon and in protest at the Israelis’ war on the country have been dominated by placards of Hizbullah’s leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah.
In May, Lebanon marked the anniversary of the Hizbullah’s successful expulsion of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon in 2000. For Muslims around the world, the Hizbullah success was a triumph for the courage and steadfastness of its members in the field of battle and in the far more complicated arena of Lebanese politics.
Working on the preparations for the Dr Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference in April provided an opportunity to go back and read many of his writings after many years. What was truly remarkable about them was how much of what he wrote years ago, in what were apparently very different historical times, remains as fresh and relevant today as it was at the time.
On April 23, the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) and Crescent International hosted a Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference in London. The theme of the conference was The Islamic movement: between extremism and moderation. Here we publish an abridged version of the keynote paper, presented by IQBAL SIDDIQUI, the editor of Crescent International.
For us at Crescent, the month of April was dominated by two conferences, a massive one in Tehran from April 14-16 in support of the Palestinian struggle, attended by about 1,000 people from all over the world, and a much smaller one in London on April 23, convened by Crescent International to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the late Dr Kalim Siddiqui, Director of the Muslim Institute, London, founder and leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain, and the man responsible for transforming Crescent from a local community newspaper in Toronto to an international newsmagazine of the global Islamic movement.
As we at Crescent and the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought prepare for the Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference to be held in London on April 23, it is remarkable how many echoes of his work we find in events unfolding around us.
April 18 this year will be the tenth anniversary of the death of Dr Kalim Siddiqui, the founder of the Muslim Institute, London, and the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain. For the last decade and a half of his life, between the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and his death in South Africa in 1996, Dr Kalim dominated Islamic movement activism in Britain and was a major figure in the global Islamic movement.
In the 1980s, the Islamic movement was associated with progress and liberation in Muslim countries. Today, it is all too often associated with terrorism and violence. IQBAL SIDDIQUI discusses the reasons for this change and the need for voices of intelligent, moderate Islamic moderate leaders to reclaim the leadership of the Islamic movement...
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High-Finance Fraudsters by Greg Palast. Published by Constable Ltd., London, 2003. Pp: 400. Pbk: £7.99. By Iqbal Siddiqui This is an expanded edition of a book that was first published, to considerable acclaim, in 2002. Greg Palast, an American journalist who writes for British newspapers because he is seldom able to get his material into American publications, has produced an impassioned expose of many of the lies and myths that the West’s financial and political elites (which are closely linked) peddle in the name of democracy. In doing so, he is following the established tradition of Western dissident intellectuals and journalists such as Naom Chomsky, Howard Zinn, John Pilger and Michael Moore.
One feature of Palestinian politics for the last 15 years or so, since the first intifada, has been the increasing political importance of Hamas, the main Islamic movement in Palestine, despite the entrenched political positions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the main representative of the Palestinian people on the international stage, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the main civil authority in Palestine since 1992.
Officials of the new Palestinian administration under Mahmood Abbas, elected president in flawed elections on January 9, claimed success on January 24, when Hamas, Palestine’s main Islamic movement and leading militant resistance group, reiterated its willingness to suspend military operations provided Israel do the same.
September 2004 was described as “a month of death in Iraq” by one Arab commentator after a series of major clashes in which at least a thousand Iraqis, many of them civilians, were killed...
In the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq last year, the Bush administration spun a careful web of propaganda and deceipt designed to prepare US public opinion for the war that neo-conservative leaders had decided to wage even before coming to power...
The US formally transferred responsibility for the government of Iraq to a sovereign interim government on June 28, two days before the scheduled handover date of June 30...
With the US presidential elections due to be held in November, and painfully aware of the fact that the terrorist attack on Madrid in March was timed for maximum political impact in Spain's elections, the Bush regime is desperate for something they can present as progress in Iraq as soon as possible...
The US attack on Fallujah last month, in which at least 1,000 people have been killed, thousands more injured and an estimated 60,000 – out of a population of some 300,000 – forced to flee their homes, appears to have been carried out in a similar spirit...
The assassination of Shaikh Ahmed Yassin as he returned to his home after fajr prayers on March 22, 2004 (Safar 1, 1425) was a shock but not a surprise. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon had declared him to be at the top of the list for assassination, and he had survived an attempt on his life in September last year, when Israeli fighter aircraft fired several missiles at the building in which he was staying...
The "essentially disputed" concept of democracy now dominates much of Muslim political discourse. IQBAL SIDDIQUI questions its utility, suggesting that it is virtually meaningless and creates more problems than it solves.
We open the section with IQBAL SIDDIQUI, editor of Crescent International, discussing the centrality and relevance of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the Islamic State that it created, to the struggle of the contemporary global Islamic movement.
Speaking on the campaign trail in Kentucky on October 10, George W. Bush brushed aside the embarrassing failure of US officials to find the weapons of mass destruction that he had made the centrepiece of his case for war in Iraq, saying that the US invasion "thwarted future plots against the US by the madman Saddam."
Hamas leader Shaikh Ahmad Yassin said on September 24 that Hamas, Palestine’s leading Islamic movement and the most popular political group among Palestinians, would not accept any suggestion that it should disarm or declare a truce.
The relationship between Islam and ‘democracy’ dominates much of contemporary Islamic political thought, particularly among western-educated and ‘modernist’ Muslim intellectuals.
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: An Investigative Reporter Exposes the Truth about Globalization, Corporate Cons, and High Finance Fraudsters by Greg Palast. Published by Constable Ltd., London, 2003. Pp: 400. Pbk: £7.99.
The War We Could Not Stop: The Real Story of the Battle for Iraq edited by Randeep Ramesh. Pub: Guardian Newspapers Ltd., with Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 2003. Pp: 303. Pbk: £7.99.
Tens of thousands of celebrating Iraqis welcomed Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq’s main Islamic movement, as he journeyed through the south of the country to Najaf after his return from exile in Islamic Iran on May 10.
General Jay Garner, the American-appointed ruler of Iraq, faced massive demonstrations in the centre of Baghdad on April 28, as he convened a conference of Iraqi leaders intended to discuss the formation of an interim administration — under his supervision — for the country.
At a time when the world is debating the legality and morality of America’s determination to invade and occupy Iraq, the Turkish parliament’s rejection on March 1 of a motion allowing US troops to deploy in Turkey on their way to northern Iraq was widely seen both as a major act of anti-American defiance from a state which has recently seen a (vaguely) Islamist government win power...
Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, who is widely regarded as having instigated the anti-Muslim pogroms in April 2001 in which thousands of Muslims were killed and at least 150,000 driven from their homes and land, was rewarded last month with a massive victory in the state’s elections.
The US’s long-planned war on Iraq moved a significant step closer on November 8, when the US succeeded in extracting from its reluctant allies in the UN a legitimising resolution providing it with a fig-leaf of legality for its plans to topple Saddam Hussain and occupy Iraq...
espite major developments in the politicking over Iraq during the past two weeks, there can be no doubt that the US remains as determined as ever to go to war against Saddam Hussein at the earliest possible opportunity, with the avowed intention of replacing his regime with one that will be more amenable to Western interests in the region.
Later this month, the US and its allies will mark the first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11 of last year. IQBAL SIDDIQUI discusses some of the implications of the events of the last year for Muslims and the global Islamic movement
What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response by Bernard Lewis. Pub: Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 2002. Pp: 180. US$23.00.
While public attention has recently been on the commemoration of the first anniversary of the attacks of September 11 last year, the major subject of political debate has been neither the war against terrorism nor events in Afghanistan, but George W. Bush’s fierce lobbying for his planned escalation of war on Iraq.
Two Hours that Shook the World — September 11, 2001: Causes and Consequences by Fred Halliday. Pub: Saqi Books, London, UK, 2002. Pp: 256. £12.95.
fghanistan’s long-awaited Loya Jirga (council of leaders) finally opened 24 hours late, on June 11. The circumstances make it clear that the traditional Afghan institution is in fact now little more than a front for decisions being made behind the scenes by the country’s established faction leaders...
Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid. Pub: Yale University Press, New Haven, USA, and London, UK, 2002. Pp: 281. Hbk: $24.00 / £16.95.
Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia by Robert W. Hefner. Pub: Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA, 2000. Pp: 286. Pbk: $17.95 / £12.95.
Here we present an abridged version of a speech given by IQBAL SIDDIQUI at a conference on Terrorism: Definitions, Causes, Roots and Solutions convened by the Institute of Islamic Studies, London, at the Islamic Centre of England on November 13, 2001.
Islam and Secularism in the Middle East edited by John L. Esposito and Azzam Tamimi. Pub: New York University Press, New York, NY 10003, USA, 2000. Pp: 214. Pbk: $18.95.
One prominent feature of the West’s current war in Afghanistan, and its wider ‘war against terrorism,’ is the deliberate distortion of key facts in order to create a totally false impression of the situation for casual observers.
Northern Alliance troops were reported to be moving south through the Afghan countryside towards Kabul on November 11, two days after their capture of Mazaar-e Shareef from Taliban forces.
One feature of the crisis that began on September 11 has been the extent to which the US’s subsequent policy has been questioned and opposed by so many people even in the West. Even in America, where war-fever has been most intense, opposition to the attacks on Afghanistan has been evident, in demonstrations on university campuses, in New York and other cities...
Muslims are justifiably angry about the lynch-mob mentality that has been generated and encouraged by the American authorities since the attacks. It has caused hundreds of Muslims in America, Britain and other countries to be attacked in the streets, harrassed by the authorities, prevented from flying by airlines, and otherwise treated as though all Muslims are guilty of the crimes of September 11.
The ICIT’s next Seerah conference takes place in Erasmia, South Africa, later this month (September 21-23, 2001). It follows similar conferences previously organized by the ICIT at the same venue and also in Pakistan, Canada and Sri Lanka.
History is a broad church (to put it mildly) and the term ‘historian’ covers a bewildering range of sinners, from those deliberately hiding from unpleasant realities in the study of the deadest-possible past (agrarian life in the Aztec empire, say) to contemporary historians whose agendas are blatantly political, with no end of variation between.
Hamas: Political Thought and Practice by Khalid Hroub. Pub: Institute for Palestine Studies, Washington DC, USA, 2000, pp. 329, $16.95.
A key part of Western propaganda is the creation of the myth of the good life in modern Western societies. At the same time, the Western media machine regularly reports on the conditions of poor parts of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and other places.
Iranian president Sayyid Mohammad Khatami was re-elected to office on June 8, in the country’s eighth presidential elections since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The Israeli war against the Palestinian people reached new heights on May 18, when Israel used F-16 fighter aircraft supplied by the US to attack targets in Nablus and Ramallah. A total of 10 people were killed in the two attacks.
Palestinian ‘president’ Yasser Arafat launched his expected crackdown on popular movements sustaining the Al-Aqsa Intifada last month. Dr Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi, the Hamas spokesman in Ghazzah, was arrested on April 28, reportedly for making ‘inflammatory’ statements.
Eqbal Ahmed: Confronting Empire edited by David Barsamian. Pub: Pluto Press, London, UK, 2000. Pp: 326. Pbk: £11.99.
Over the past eighteen months, several Muslim states in northern Nigeria have introduced shari’ah, to Muslim jubilation and non-Muslim consternation. Last month, IQBAL SIDDIQUI attended a conference in London to discuss the ‘Restoration of Shari’ah in Nigeria: Challenges and Benefits’.
Ariel Sharon’s ascension to the zionist premiership late in February has had marked effects on the zionist strategy for countering the on-going Palestinian intifada against Israeli occupation. Other things, however, have remained very much the same.
The Russian government claimed on February 20 that the London School of Economics was being used as a recruitment ground for “Chechen terrorists”.
The election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister of the zionist state was supposed to be a statement of intent that Israel was tired of talking to the Palestinians and had turned away from the peace process in favour of a hard response to the Palestinians’ continued uprising.
Two more Palestinians were killed by Israel on January 25. One was a 22-year-old youth shot dead by troops; the other was a 16-year-old boy who died in hospital, one day after being shot by Jewish settlers.
Contending Images of World Politics edited by Greg Fry and Jacinta O’Hagan. Pub: Macmillan Press, Basingstoke, UK, and St Martin’s Press, New York, USA, 2000. Pp: 314. Pbk: UK£19.95.
All over the Muslim world, Ramadan is a time of peace, reflection and piety. In Algeria, however, it has become known as an annual peak in the brutal and apparently mindless killings of innocent people that the government blames on Islamic activists, but most ordinary people attribute to forces linked to Algeria’s security agencies.
The west, we are so often told, owes its pre-eminence to the universality of its liberal values and democracy of its political institutions. It is these, we are further told, which entitles it to lead the world, claiming the moral high ground on every issue, and imposing its will (for the greater public good, of course) on all others.
Hamas leader Shaikh Ahmad Yassin, whom Yasser Arafat was obliged by public pressure to greet as a hero when he returned to Ghazzah last year after eight years in an Israeli jail, was placed under house arrest by Palestinian police on October 29.
Israeli scientists are working on a genetically-targeted biological weapon which would kill Arabs without affecting other peoples, the Sunday Times of London revealed on November 15.
Palestinian protests against the Wye agreement broke out in Ghazzah and the West Bank towns on November 20, as the true nature of the agreement and Israeli attempts to further distort it became apparent.
In March 1991, as Yugoslavia was being pulled apart by the insatiable demands of its Serbian and Croat nationalists, Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Croatian president Franjo Tudjman - supposedly implaccable foes - met secretly at a hunting-lodge at Karadjordjevo, formerly one of Tito’s favourite retreats.
One of the tragedies of the Muslim situation today is the extent to which we have to rely on non-Muslim sources of information to understand our own world and movements...
The death of Dr Kalim Siddiqui in April 1996 deprived the Islamic movement of an intellectual and a leader whose loss has been sorely felt. His last book, Stages of Islamic Revolution, was published just days before his death. Now, over two years later, his final paper, Political Dimensions of the Seerah, has been published for the first time.
Let us first get a simple point out of the way: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was declared in 1932. The Al-e Saud’s rise to power did not begin until their alliance with the British in the first world war.
The first point any informed reader will note about this book is that Malcolm uses the Serbian form ‘Kosovo’ throughout in preference to the Albanian form ‘Kosova’, used by Kosovars themselves. As in the Bosnian case, the use of terminology in discussing Kosova is politically sensitive.
Muhi al-Din Sharif, a senior and well-known Hamas mujahid, was buried in the Palestinian town of Ramallah on April 2. He was martyred by Israeli agents in Ramallah on March 29, in an assassination disguised to look like a bomb explosion.
This biography of Dr Kalim Siddiqui is divided into five sections. It is based on the commemorative booklet published by the Muslim Institute and the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain on the occasion of their ‘Kalim Siddiqui Memorial Conference’ in London in November 1996. It has been edited and updated by Iqbal Siddiqui, who also wrote the original booklet.
The work of the Muslim Institute after its formal establishment in 1973, and particularly following the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978-79, made Dr Kalim Siddiqui a senior and respected figure in the global Islamic movement. However, in Britain he remained relatively little known outside the circles of Islamic activists.
The inauguration of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain on January 4, 1992, was greeted by a frenzied attack from the British media and establishment. For some days, Dr Kalim Siddiqui was the most hated man in Britain, attacked by Conservative government ministers and opposition leaders alike, and vilified in the press.
Dr Kalim Siddiqui referred to the Muslim Parliament as both 'a minority political system for Muslims in Britain' and a 'non-territorial Islamic State.' Many people regarded these terms as meaning the same thing, and being virtually interchangeable. Dr Siddiqui, however, understood and meant them quite differently, and the distinction is vital to appreciating his vision of the Muslim Parliament.
Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of Turkey’s ‘Islamic party’, was finally confirmed in the prime minister’s office when he won a vote of confidence on July 8.