An estimated two million Muslims from around the world will converge on Makkah this month for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj. There are many dimensions to this most challenging of ‘ibadaat. ZAFAR BANGASH, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought sheds light on some aspects that have been virtually forgotten as part of a deliberate policy to ritualize and therefore, trivialize Hajj.
Two narratives have dominated news about Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential elections. The first is the corporate media’s hype that democracy in America is vibrant because even an African-American can be elected president. The second is the global euphoria over Obama’s “historic” victory carrying the implication that a similarly “historic” shift is about to occur in US policies.
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.
The celebrations in large parts of the US and most of the rest of the world following the election of Barack Obama as next president of the USA were perhaps understandable, even though there was very little chance of his failing to be elected, given the totality of the failure of the neo-cons under George W. Bush over the previous eight years.
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.
When a government official announced on November 5th that 21 people sentenced to long prison terms for belonging to a banned “Islamist party” had been released as part of celebrations to mark the twenty-first anniversary of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s rise to power in 1987, the irony in the announcement could not have been lost on the Tunisian people.
Last month the Lebanese army smashed an Israeli spy ring and discovered something that may have far reaching implications for another terrorist operation: the 9/11 attacks on the US. Two brothers, Ali and Youssef al-Jarrah, operating in Jlela region of the Beqaa Valley near the Syrian border, were found in possession of spying equipment while operating under the cover of the National Association for Medical Services and Vocational Training and claiming to run a humanitarian mission.
Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has become a virtual war zone, thanks to the US-led war in Afghanistan that has now engulfed Pakistan’s tribal areas as well. On November 18, two American missiles struck the village of Janikhel near Bannu, a settled area, killing several people.
In the 16-year period since the destruction on December 6, 1992 of the historic Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh (UP), by a Hindu mob, Hindu terrorism has grown alarmingly in India. Police and anti-terrorism experts have discovered an unholy alliance of so-called Hindu holy men and army personnel behind the terror campaign in India that has killed more than 150 people this year alone.
Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed was sworn in as president of Maldives on November 11, exactly 30 years to the day his autocratic predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had ascended to the top post. It was sweet revenge for the 41-year-old Nasheed who had spent six years in prison trying to organize his supporters and to create space for political involvement.
Interfaith dialogue has become fashionable these days. The dialogue bug has spread so far and wide that even the reclusive king of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has been infected by it. He has become some kind of an expert on peace and interfaith dialogue holding one almost every month.
On November 12, the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, Interpal received notification from their bank, the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), that Lloyds TSB (their clearing bank) had served notice on IBB to cease all dealings with Interpal. Clearing banks are responsible for processing all financial transactions.
Generations of university graduates have been deliberately deprived of any encounter with Islamic civilization. It is nothing less than an egregious disservice to students — no educational institution can strive for excellence if it allows such a disservice to continue.
As an Islamic state, Iran’s policies — both domestic and foreign — are based on certain fundamental principles. The guidelines for these policies were laid down by Imam Khomeini during his lifetime. After he passed away in June 1989, his successor, the Rahbar Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei has adhered to these policies closely.