Most Muslims know that shirk—associating partners with Allah—is the greatest sin one can commit. There are numerous ayaat in the Qur’an (2:165, 4:48, 6:22, 6:137, 6:151, 31:13 and many others) that attest to this. What is less well understood is that there are different forms of shirk.
Muslims today find themselves facing a curious paradox. While some Muslims are involved in intense struggles to throw off the yoke of foreign domination and oppression - in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance -others in these very societies and elsewhere are busy facilitating the re-colonization of the Muslim world.
The West’s all-out assault on Islam and Muslims–from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine to the political and military occupation of Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia by the US–has murdered or maimed millions. Muslims living in the West were spared such assaults in the past, but no more. One only has to glance through Western newspapers, magazines or television programmes to feel the intensity of hatred directed at Muslims. While the West has always been intolerant of ‘Others’, since 9/11 the mask of civility has come off, and there is barely the pretence of respecting human rights and the rule of law.
Western imperialists have a number of strategies that they use to impose their will on others. Brute military force is one such weapon, of course, but the language used to justify it is just as important; in fact, often more important, if the victims of imperialism can be persuaded to consent to their own exploitation. The resort to force is often a tacit admission that the moral argument has been lost.
Since Israel is the new temple and zionism the new religion of the West, any mention of eliminating zionism or the zionist regime inPalestine is immediately branded as anti-Semitism and a threat to world peace. This is especially true of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, whose speech on October 26, 2005, has been so widely misquoted that promoting the lies has effectively become official policy in many Western countries. Even the United Nations Security Council was duped into issuing a statement condemning Iran for calling for Israel’s “destruction”.
There are more than 56 Muslim nation-States in the world today, yet few would register on an informed Muslim’s radar screen as being particularly significant. What determines a country’s importance relative to others? Before answering this question, let us first list those that would probably make the top grade without assigning any specific order to them: Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Lebanon.
The month of August included the anniversaries of three important events in Islamic history, two reflecting Islam’s glory and the third the Muslims’ current impotence.
Pakistan will turn sixty on August 14, but one would be hard-pressed to detect any sign of maturity in its political or social dealings. Successive rulers—civilian and military—have stunted its growth like a slave permanently shackled in a cage. All have also faithfully served foreign masters, while lining their own pockets at the expense of the country’s impoverished masses.
That the world is a nasty place is not in doubt; what is seldom admitted is the depth of the plight of the oppressed, especially Muslims, and the level of hypocrisy that passes for the rule of law and international order. The militarily powerful oppress and terrorize the weak under the guise of fighting “terrorism”, while the rich exploit the poor in the name of progress.
This month marks a painful anniversary in modern Muslim history: the defeat of the Arab states by Israel in 1967, and the loss of al-Quds and the Masjid al-Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest site. In the subsequent four decades, not one Muslim army has successfully defended its country’s borders or the honour of its people. Instead, all they have achieved, with ruthless efficiency, is to attack the parapets of power in their own countries, banish civilian rulers, and seize control for themselves.
If a country’s architecture can be taken as indicating its status in the world, that of Istanbul reflects fairly accurately both Turkey’s past and its present. While the grandeur of its historic buildings are vivid reminders of past glories, the blandness of its contemporary buildings–concrete and glass boxes–reflects the disrupting influence and ultimate vacuousness of its Westernization.
That the Muslim world is engulfed in numerous crises is not in doubt; what is debated is who is responsible for this state of affairs and how to rectify it. There are some—Muslims and non-Muslims—who put all the blame on the Muslims; others say it is the direct result of colonialism and continued foreign interference in the internal affairs of Muslims
Muslims struggling for peace and justice will continue to face many challenges, but perhaps none more difficult than the propaganda against them in the West. Even as the lies spun by the Western media, in cooperation with their governments, about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in 2002-2003 have been exposed, more lies are churned out against Iran
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 say which is worse: nationalism or sectarianism in the Ummah. The ruling elites in the Muslim world exploit both these weaknesses to advance their own nefarious agendas. Just as nationalism is alien to the political culture of Islam, so sectarianism is the very antithesis of Muslim unity.
America’s defeat in Iraq is resulting in unforeseen consequences that will affect global politics in profound ways. Virtual civil wars have erupted both in Washington and in Riyadh among the hordes of Saudi “royals”. Fought only rhetorically, the war in Washington is more serious as it involves two powerful groups within the establishment: the oil lobby and the zionist lobby.
Visiting Vietnam last month, US president George Bush tried to put a positive spin on the US’s defeat in Iraq by comparing it with the US experience in that country. The truth, however, is that the US defeat in Iraq surpasses the humiliation it suffered in Vietnamin terms of its political implications.
Every US president enters the twilight zone of his presidency with trepidation. Given the enormous power and prestige of this office, seeing it slip from one’s grasp must be a particularly painful experience. For George Bush it is even worse, as he has presided over a series of disasters regarded as largely of his own making.
At the same time that Muslims are elated at Hizbullah's brilliant victory over Israel's war machine, they are deeply troubled by the mayhem in Iraq. Although much of the trouble is Iraq is foreign-instigated, the Iraqis themselves are not above blame. The two countries offer stunning contrasts in acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and important lessons for the global Islamic movement. In Lebanon, Hizbullah has achieved with a few thousand fighters armed with iman triumphs that have eluded hundreds of thousands of heavily armed Arab soldiers fighting under the banner of nationalism. In Iraq, what seemed to be and opportunity for the Islamic movement has become a disastrous mess.
Hizbullah's stunning victory over Israel has boosted many people's morale, especially Muslims who are struggling for peace and justice all over the world. By defeating the most powerful military machine in the Middle East, Hizbullah has not only demolished the myth of Israel's invincibility but also shaken the Arab potentates in their huge palaces to their boots.