Those Muslims and Islamic movement activists who support ‘democracy’ or ‘democratic’ understandings of Islam often get a bad press within the movement. This is understandable, for many are nothing more than apologists for the wholesale importation of Western political thought into the Muslim world, and with it – whether they realize it or not – Western political hegemony into the Muslim world.
Hajj is the largest gathering of the Ummah, held in Makkah every year. More than two million Muslims from around the world gather in Makkah to perform this pilgrimage. Potential hujjaj (pilgrims) make material, physical and spiritual preparations before they approach Makkah to perform this vital pillar of Islam. One such preparation is to consult Hajj ‘manuals’, ‘guides’ and books that give details of the "hows" and "whats" of the various rituals that comprise the Hajj. Yet very few hujjaj are interested in the "whys" of Hajj rituals; for that matter, there is hardly any Hajj manual that attempts to explain the implications of Hajj. Ali Shari’ati’s Hajj stands out like a beacon to illuminate this darkness and fill this vacuum.
When US president George W. Bush came to the UN General Assembly on September 23, there was some expectation that his tone would be magnanimous and conciliatory. Six months after the US rode roughshod over the UN by launching a unilateral war against the wishes not only of the majority of the world’s unimportant states, but also of senior members of the Security Council, it was expected that the US might come to mend fences, as if from a position of strength, but with the underlying reality that the US needs international cooperation in the administration of occupied Iraq, given the problems it is having in securing its catch.
Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) begins its annual conference on September 26, as Crescent goes to press. On the face of it, the conference will no doubt be an impressive political occasion. It is expected to be attended by up to 2,200 party members, and will be chaired by party chairman Hosni Mubarak. His son, Gamal Mubarak, is due to address the conference’s first session in his capacity as chairman of the party’s influential Policy Secretariat, on the coordination that has been taking place between the party and government.
As the end of the year approaches, American political circles are getting into gear for the electoral campaigns which will dominate 2004, culminating in the presidential elections at the end of the year.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission held a one-day conference on ‘Islamic and Western Percentions of Human Rights’ in London on September 12, 2003, in cooperation with the Islamic College for Advanced Studies and other bodies. This is the first part of the presentation to the conference by ARZU MERALI of the IHRC. The remainder will be published in the next issue.
A spate of recent events highlights the urgency with which the Americans are trying to reshape Islam in their own image and interests. Since mid-August, for example, reports in several Egyptian newspapers have told of dozens of mosque imams and khateebs being sent to America secretly in what are called "cultural exchanges".
The UN’s announcement on September 27 that it is withdrawing its international staff from Iraq for security reasons came as a massive blow to the country’s US occupation authorities, who have been desperately trying to convince the world that they have full control over Iraq and are succeeding in introducing freedom and democracy to a grateful population.
Eighty-three Muslim worshippers were martyred by the bomb that exploded outside the mosque at the Imam Ali mausoleum in Najaf immediately after juma prayers on August 29, but there was little doubt that its main target was Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, leader of Majlis al-Aala l’il-Thawra al- Islami f’il-Iraq (The Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq).
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 Bush administration, apparently unable or unwilling to learn any lessons from its recent foreign policy debacles, is making the same charges against Syria as it used to justify the invasion of Iraq, which have been shown to be not merely exaggerated but patently false.
Muslim regimes have developed ingenious ways to convince the Bush administration of their commitment to the ‘war on terrorism’ . The latest is the ‘numbers game’ of arrested Muslim activists – the more people hauled in, the more unlikely it is that one will suffer the Saddam fate (or so they hope).
Even two years after the Taliban’s removal from power, the hapless Afghans continue to suffer under a reign of terror; the perpetrators are none other than the US-backed warlords ensconced as ministers or wearing pompous titles such as commander. Rape, robbery, and murder and the bloody-mindedness of the US occupation forces have turned almost every Afghan into an anti-American fighter.
In view of the US’s disastrous entanglement in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be logical to expect that Washington would be a little more circumspect in picking fights elsewhere. If logic prevailed in Washington that would be a reasonable hope, but US policy today is in the control of hardcore warriors who are being goaded by a zionist cabal. These men have advanced such demonic notions as "perpetual war" and "pre-emptive strikes." So Washington’s mad dogs and their zionist allies are now barking at Iran over its peaceful nuclear programme.
"Twin explosions in India’s commercial capital": even the headlines after the bomb blasts in Mumbai on August 25 were eerily familiar. Investigations (if any are even being conducted) to date are yet to find the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, or even determine who they really were. But the result of those fateful events has been havoc for Muslims everywhere. In the post-9/11 world, the "war on terror" (really a war on Islam) is the universal agenda. But India, with its amazing ‘consciousness’ of terrorism, has been trying to achieve a "vital breakthrough" by unequivocally declaring that Pakistan is an "epicenter of international terrorism".
The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) was formed in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh state, in April 1977. Its founding president was Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, now professor of journalism and public relations at the University of Western Illinois. SIMI originally emerged as a student wing of the Jamaat-e Islami Hind (JIH).
Most Americans have now seen through the hoax perpetrated by president George Bush and his fellow right-wingers to justify the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bush himself was forced to concede in a speech on September 17 that there was no link between Saddam Husain’s regime and al-Qa’ida but he couched his admission in language that still left most people with the impression that he was. Not surprisingly, most Americans(between 57 and 70 percent, depending on which poll one consults) still believe that Saddam, no doubt a tyrant, was somehow linked to the September 2001 incidents.
Two years after the US’s invasion of Afghanistan, there are increasing signs that the US may be looking for potential partners among the Taliban leaders for a possible peace agreement. At a time when its proxy regime under Hamid Karzai lacks all legitimacy, and anti-American forces representing both the Taliban and other mujahideen groups increasing their pressure on the US forces in the country, it is hardly surprising that the US should be looking for a way out of Afghanistan’s quagmire.
I have followed Crescent since I was a child and have even had the occasion to meet and talk with Zafar Bangash a couple of times. Today the Islamic Movement is facing its worse crisis in over a generation. Yet I am very disappointed with the way Crescent has dealt with 2 issues: the Taliban and al-Qa`idah. The lack of ideological and Islamic clarity on these two threatens to seriously devalue Crescent in future.