Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Apostasy - It can be religious and secular (Part I)

 The death penalty issued for apostasy against the Iranian pastor, Yusef Nadarkhani, evokes memories of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’ affair. At the time, I found it amusing to see how the West was demanding the right of free speech for Salman Rushdie to offend, and concurrently denying the same right to Ayatollah Khomeini for expressing his fatwa. Surely, if Salman Rushdie can speak, so can the Ayatollah of Iran? Yes or no? If Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa is a call to violence, then isn’t the Satanic Verses the cause? Or is the book all benign based on objective research? You have to laugh at the level of hypocrisy, and the West can get away with it having the power of a ubiquitous media, with which it can roar like a lion or howl like a pack of wolves silencing their victims.  

Iran has subsequently retracted the verdict, facing mounting pressure from other states and human rights organisations. Nevertheless, it provides another excuse for the Islamophobes, not that they need one, to launch their usual diatribe against Islam and Muslims. Many of those Islamophobes, lacking elementary education, are unaware that penal codes for apostasy also exist within the Biblical text, and it was applied far more frequently and rigorously in Christian Europe than under Islamic rule. Indeed, like the issues of adultery, homosexuality and idol worshiping, apostasy is not specific to Islam. But the problem is the Muslims have a greater tendency to adhere to Islamic laws, unlike the followers of the Judeo-Christian text.

Before the facts are gathered, the secular-Mullahs trotting the media and the internet have issued their verdict, based on the premise that apostasy law contradicts individual freedom. As we know, such freedom exists for individuals like Salman Rushdie, but not for the Ayatollahs. Of course, in a secular framework, religion is reduced to a trivial personal matter for the individual to accept or reject. Hence, most secular constitutions guarantee freedom of religion because it has been rendered powerless in society. Naturally, under such a framework, it seems harsh to issue any kind of punishment, let alone the death penalty for a trivial personal issue like religion.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Case of Babar Ahmad and the Politically ‘Puritanical’ Muslims

Babar Ahmad, a computer programmer from South London, was initially arrested back in 2003. In the middle of the night, the British police stormed in. By the time he was dragged to the police station, his body had sustained over 70 injuries. Only six days later, he was released without charge; however, in August 2004, he was rearrested by Scotland Yard acting on a US extradition warrant, which he has been fighting ever since. Almost 88 months have expired, and he is still locked up without conviction and the US has presented very little credible evidence. Otherwise, he would have been tried in the British courts, especially given the large amount of anti-terror legislation that has come into existence post 9/11.  

The mainstream Muslims in the UK campaigned hard and successfully secured 100,000 signatures, for the e-petition “Put Babar Ahmad on Trial in the UK”; hence, passing the mark required to start a parliamentary debate. And hopefully, a favourable outcome will create enough pressure to prevent extradition of Babar Ahmad to the US, where he faces the prospect of being tried in a kangaroo court and incarcerated.   

It’s a glimmer of hope that a genuine debate will take place in line with the spirit of democracy, rather than stifled to suit US interest. The Tory leader of the Commons, Sir George Young, is already plotting to muzzle this issue. Such a situation should make the Muslims in the UK think about ways to exert greater influence on the MPs (Members of Parliament); lobbying, voting, and liaising with them, so that they represent the voice of the British Muslim citizens. Often, we see the angry youths complain that the media and the MPs are biased towards Israel and hostile towards the Muslims; that is because the Zionists in collusion with the Islamophobes are actively working with them in various ways, and are reaping the rewards of their effort, unlike the Muslims.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Global Caliphate: Reality or Fantasy?

Groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) are vocal in calling for the unity of Muslim nations under one global Caliphate. Unification can bring about peace and prosperity, provided this is achieved through mutual cooperation, instead of being forced through military invasion. Even tiny Kuwait fought for independence from Saddam Hussein’s invasion back in 1991, despite the fact that both nations have a common language, religion, culture, and history. A similar attempt to unify the racially diverse nations of today would certainly result in war on a larger scale, given the size and diversity of these nation states.

It is a historical fact that the Muslim world never unified fully as one body under a single Caliphate for the large part of its history, which begins from the first Islamic state in Medina to the collapse of the Ottoman State in 1924. A large section of the Islamic world was never under the authority of the Caliphate; some parts for only a short period of time. Just 25 years after the demise of the Prophet (saw), unity fractured as wars flared up. Muawiyah, the governor of Syria from the clan of Banu Ummayah refused to submit to the authority of the new Caliph, Ali (ra), who was from the rival Banu Hashim clan. Muawiyah demanded that the murderers of the third Caliph, Uthman (ra), are captured and put on trial first, since Uthman was from the same tribe. This suggests Muawiyah was partly motivated by tribal allegiance.