Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11 Rumors that Harden into Conventional Wisdom

The Preceeding article was taken from the International Herald Tribune, The writer tries to dissect the results of a research of Arabs opinions, beliefs on the incidents regarding 9-11.

The article however does not represent the blogger's personal opinion, the blogger appears to agree with the respondents opinions, reading the article may provide insights to how western Media distorts facts.

I posted so that our readers may see the other end of peoples viewpoints.

9/11 rumors that harden into conventional wisdom

CAIRO: Seven years later, it remains conventional wisdom here that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda could not have been solely responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that the United States and Israel had to have been involved in their planning, if not their execution, too.

This is not the conclusion of a scientific survey, but it is what routinely comes up in conversations around the region — in a shopping mall in Dubai, in a park in Algiers, in a café in Riyadh and all over Cairo.

"Look, I don't believe what your governments and press say. It just can't be true," said Ahmed Issab, 26, a Syrian engineer who lives and works in the United Arab Emirates. "Why would they tell the truth? I think the U.S. organized this so that they had an excuse to invade Iraq for the oil."

It is easy for Americans to dismiss such thinking as bizarre. But that would miss a point that people in this part of the world think Western leaders, especially in Washington, need to understand: That such ideas persist represents the first failure in the fight against terrorism — the inability to convince people here that the United States is, indeed, waging a campaign against terrorism, not a crusade against Muslims.

"The United States should be concerned because in order to tell people that there is a real evil, they too have to believe it in order to help you," said Mushairy al-Thaidy, a columnist in the Saudi-owned regional newspaper Asharq al Awsat. "Otherwise, it will diminish your ability to fight terrorism. It is not the kind of battle you can fight on your own; it is a collective battle."

There were many reasons people here said they believed that the attacks of 9/11 were part of a conspiracy against Muslims. Some had nothing to do with Western actions, and some had everything to do with Western policies.

Again and again, people said they simply did not believe that a group of Arabs — like themselves — could possibly have waged such a successful operation against a superpower like the United States. But they also said that Washington's post-9/11 foreign policy proved that the United States and Israel were behind the attacks, especially with the invasion of Iraq.

"Maybe people who executed the operation were Arabs, but the brains? No way," said Mohammed Ibrahim, 36, a clothing-store owner in the Bulaq neighborhood of Cairo. "It was organized by other people, the United States or the Israelis."

The rumors that spread shortly after 9/11 have been passed on so often that people no longer know where or when they first heard them. At this point, they have heard them so often, even on television, that they think they must be true.

First among these is that Jews did not go to work at the World Trade Center on that day. Asked how Jews might have been notified to stay home, or how they kept it a secret from co-workers, people here wave off the questions because they clash with their bedrock conviction that Jews are behind many of their troubles and that Western Jews will go to any length to protect Israel.

"Why is it that on 9/11, the Jews didn't go to work in the building," said Ahmed Saied, 25, who works in Cairo as a driver for a lawyer. "Everybody knows this. I saw it on TV, and a lot of people talk about this."

Zein al-Abdin, 42, an electrician, who was drinking tea and chain-smoking cheap Cleopatra cigarettes in Al Shahat, a café in Bulaq, grew more and more animated as he laid out his thinking about what happened on Sept. 11.

"What matters is we think it was an attack against Arabs," he said of the passenger planes crashing into American targets. "Why is it that they never caught him, Mr. bin Laden? How can they not know where he is when they know everything? They don't catch him because he hasn't done it. What happened in Iraq confirms that it has nothing to do with bin Laden or Qaeda. They went against Arabs and against Islam to serve Israel, that's why."

There is a reason so many people here talk with casual certainty — and no embarrassment — about the United States attacking itself to have a reason to go after Arabs and help Israel. It is a reflection of how they view government leaders, not just in Washington, but here in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. They do not believe them. The state-owned media are also distrusted. Therefore, they think that if the government is insisting that bin Laden was behind it, he must not have been.

"Mubarak says whatever the Americans want him to say, and he's lying for them, of course," Ibrahim said of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president.

Americans might better understand the region, experts here said, if they simply listen to what people are saying — and try to understand why — rather than taking offense. The broad view here is that even before Sept. 11, the United States was not a fair broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it then capitalized on the attacks to buttress Israel and undermine the Muslim Arab world.

The single greatest proof, in most people's eyes, was the invasion of Iraq. Trying to convince people here that it was not a quest for oil or a war on Muslims is like convincing many Americans that it was, and that the 9/11 attacks were the first step.

"It is the result of widespread mistrust, and the belief among Arabs and Muslims that the United States has a prejudice against them," said Wahid Abdel Meguid, deputy director of the government-financed Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, the nation's premier research center. "So they never think the United States is well intentioned, and they always feel that whatever it does has something behind it."

Hisham Abbas, 22, studies tourism at Cairo University and hopes one day to work with foreigners for a living. But he does not give it a second thought when asked about Sept. 11. He said it made no sense at all that bin Laden could have carried out such an attack from Afghanistan. And like everyone else interviewed, he saw the events of the last seven years as proof positive that it was all a United States plan to go after Muslims.

"There are Arabs who hate America, a lot of them, but this is too much," Abbas said as he fidgeted with his cellphone. "And look at what happened after this — the Americans invaded two Muslim countries. They used 9/11 as an excuse and went to Iraq. They killed Saddam, tortured people. How can you trust them?"

Nadim Audi contributed reporting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Eulogy for a Man who had a Leap of Faith

The following eulogy is in memory of Imam Warith Muhammad, the leader of African American Muslims who have recently passed away taken from the Chicago tribune which can be browsed at the links at the end of this article:

Mohammed says he considers himself a "rational man" who thinks through every possible angle of an issue. But he admits with a big laugh, his eyes twinkling, "I've made some female choices that weren't rational."

He has been married four times, twice to the same woman, his first wife. He has nine children, ranging in age from 12 to 42. Several of his children work for him, including Gina Muhammad-Ali, director of advertising at his community's newspaper, the Muslim Journal.

A few years ago, he and NGina attended a Prince concert together. He greatly admires the rock star. "I've been following Prince since he was outrageously nasty," he says. "I was able to see past the nastiness. I saw him as a very intelligent man with a cause. He was in a spirit to lead people away from the grip of the world and free their minds."

Mohammed also has a lifelong love of movies. He used to have to sneak to see movies when his father was alive, because movie-going was prohibited in the Nation of Islam. He once put on a fake mustache and sunglasses to slip unseen into a show. When he took over the Nation, he lifted the ban.

For decades after it was founded in 1930 in Detroit, the Nation of Islam thrived and survived on rigid rules, discipline and blind loyalty. Conformity was a virtue, independence a sin. In the Nation, a Muslim man better have his suit pressed. His hair cut. His fingernails clean. His weekly quota of Muhammad Speaks newspapers sold. The Fruit of Islam, the Nation's security force, was watching.

Wallace Muhammad was always different. Quirky. When he wore a suit, folks say, you'd remember, because it didn't happen often. He had other things on his mind.

It was easy for Wallace to be different then. He was The Elijah Muhammad son, a prince of the "Royal Family." When the Royals came to a Nation gathering, the sea of believers would step aside to clear a path. But being Elijah Muhammad's son did not protect him from Elijah's wrath, especially when he questioned his father about the Nation's theology. Physically, The Messenger was a small man, frail and tormented by asthma. Yet he blew away challenges to his authority like a hurricane. The Nation was not a democracy.

Over the years, Elijah Muhammad banished his son at least three times for heresy. Wallace never could accept the idea that God was a man who walked the Earth in the person of Master W.D. Fard Muhammad, the mysterious founder of the Nation of Islam. The man Wallace was named after.

The believers called such banishment being "put out." For the devout, it was a harsh punishment: Friends wouldn't talk to you; your own blood would turn their backs if they saw you coming down the street.

In the early 1960s, Wallace was put out for being too close to The Messenger's former acolyte, Malcolm X. Both were disillusioned by revelations that Elijah Muhammad had children outside his marriage. Both loved The Messenger, but questioned his message. Both wanted him to change.

"I was influenced by my father all my life," Mohammed says, a trace of sadness in his voice. "And by Malcolm."

The Nation sought to be self-contained, and it had almost everything a believer would ever need--grocery stores, restaurants, schools, clothing shops, cleaners, a bank, farms, a fleet of trucks, a jet, an army of men, office buildings, apartment houses and 80 temples around the country and overseas.

"We were isolated and insulated," says Imam Darnell Karim, Mohammed's friend of more than 60 years. "We shut our ears to everything. We heard only one voice, the leader's."

Then in the late 1940s, Elijah Muhammad invited in the outside world, hiring a Muslim from the Middle East to teach Arabic at the school. Wallace, still a teenager, began reading the Koran with fresh eyes and started seeing more and more discrepancies between the Koran's Islam and his father's. What he learned greatly disturbed him. "All my life I had been trying to understand what my father was teaching," he says. "When I decided it was not acceptable, I really started searching the Koran, looking for answers."

Still, he tried to keep his doubts to himself. He wanted to be an obedient son. He went into the family business, becoming a student minister in the Nation of Islam, speaking publicly at the mosque for the first time at age 17 or 18. His friend Karim remembers him being so nervous that he gripped the rostrum like a life preserver as he spoke. Mohammed remembers speaking for only a few minutes. But he says his closing words shot through the Nation: "We give more attention to the Devil than to Allah."

Mohammed quickly climbed the ranks of the Nation, from foot soldier in the Fruit of Islam to student minister to chief minister of the high-profile Temple #12 in Philadelphia in 1959. "He didn't teach like the other ministers," says his nephew, Wali Muhammad. "He talked much more about the spirit and the soul. He talked much more about the Koran.

Two years later, on his 28th birthday in 1961, Mohammed was sent to federal prison in Minnesota for refusing induction into the United States military. Once again, he was being the obedient son: His father and many of his followers had been imprisoned during World War II for refusing induction. They considered themselves citizens of the Nation of Islam, not the United States. They would not defend a country that lynched their brothers and humiliated their sisters, segregated their families and told their children they were no good, a country that had turned its back on them and pretended they were invisible.

In his 14 months in the Minnesota prison, he spent most of his days and nights studying the Koran. He became even more convinced that the Nation of Islam had to change its message. But he had no idea how. His father had all the power, befitting the Last Messenger of Allah.

When the prison gates opened in 1963, Mohammed returned to the Nation, looking for allies. He found one in Malcolm X, who was becoming openly critical of Elijah Muhammad. In 1964, this association was what got Mohammed "put out" for the first time. His rejection of his father's basic teachings that Fard was God led to his banishment again in the late '60s and for the last time in the early '70s.

On the outside of the Nation, wanting back in, Mohammed and his family were living in Chicago in the early 1970s. To make ends meet he drove a cab, worked as a welder and did whatever else he could find.

When Mohammed was finally readmitted to the Nation in 1974, Elijah Muhammad had only six months left to live. Mohammed says his father gave him great support in his last days. "He told [his staff] I was free to preach. He wasn't holding me to their language any more."

The Elijah Muhammad died the day before Savior's Day, the annual celebration honoring W.D. Fard Muhammad. That year the 20,000 Muslims who filled the hall roared their approval when Wallace, with his family's backing, was proclaimed the supreme minister. According to family and Nation legend, Wallace had been preordained for this moment. The story goes that when Clara Muhammad was pregnant with her seventh child, God, in the person of Fard, told her husband Elijah that the child would be a boy, a special boy, whom they should name after him. The boy would help his father someday and do many great things.

One Muslim says family legend wasn't the only reason Wallace was named the new leader. Many of the ministers who supported him did so "because they thought he was like King Tut, a fool they could control. He fooled them," the man says. "He fooled them all."

Mohammed knew he had to move fast to assert his leadership once his father was gone. "I felt there could be trouble," he says, from potential rivals who might emerge "and maybe start preaching the old way. I also thought the people should have a change right away, while they were mourning my father's death. That would be the time they would be most serious and respectful."

The changes came fast and furious. He had years of pent-up ideas and frustrations. He ordered the chairs ripped out of the mosque so worshipers could prostrate themselves in prayer on the floor like Muslims all over the world. He stepped from behind the rostrum to teach the congregation the proper way to pray. Bilal, the mosque secretary, remembers the "officials gritting their teeth when they bumped their heads on the floor."

He disbanded the Fruit of Islam security force. When he was in exile in 1964, openly criticizing his father, he accused the FOI of stalking him and threatening him with harm. And he once described the FOI as a "punch-your-teeth-out" squad.

He ended the policy of requiring male members to sell 300 copies of the Muhammad Speaks newspaper each week and buy any they did not sell. The circulation of the paper dropped. So did the revenue. "I could have kept the money coming in, just like my father," he says, "but I knew it was un-Islamic. Getting poor people to pay more than they can pay is against the religion. As a Muslim, you should be helping them."

He decentralized the mosque structure, giving individual mosques across the country control of their own affairs.

He said whites could join.

Heads were spinning.

He moved too fast, says Aminah McCloud, an Islamic expert at DePaul University. The people did not have a chance to soak in one change before another came hurling at them from the rostrum. "The people were being psychologically whipped to death."

One of the first whites to join was Dorothy Fardan, a 35-year-old former Catholic with a doctorate in sociology. She walked into the mosque in Albany, N.Y., in the summer of 1975. Her musician husband, Donald Elijah Muhammad, was a longtime member of the Nation of Islam, and she had tried to join years before. The Elijah Muhammad, however, had disapproved of interracial marriages, and certainly did not approve of devils in the mosque.

"I felt no resentment towards the Honorable Elijah Muhammad," Fardan says. "I admired him. I felt he told the truth about the United States. I never personally felt I was a devil."

Fardan, who now teaches at Bowie State University in Maryland, eventually drifted away with her husband from Mohammed's community, though she is still a Muslim "under the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad." They were unhappy with The Change, although she thought Mohammed sincere and not lusting after power.

One of the things Fardan objected to was Mohammed's embrace of patriotism in 1976. He walked across a stage carrying an American flag, saying it was time for Muslims to recognize and celebrate the U. S. as a great country. Today, he has American flag decals on his car and his hat.

It wasn't easy selling patriotism to his followers in the beginning, he says. He argued that black people had fought and died in every American war. They had blazed trails across the West and designed cities in the East. They had contributed their blood and brains to building the country.

He is not selling a love-it-or-leave-it brand of patriotism, he says, more of a love-it-and-make-it-better. He knows that race matters, that black boys and girls still have a higher hill to climb. And he is not happy about talk of a unilateral invasion of Iraq or about the treatment of Palestinians by Israel and its chief ally, the United States.

"Muslims," he says, "get whipped on too much."

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, he notes, there was harassment of Muslims, including his 12-year-old son, the youngest of his nine children. "Even now," he says, "we have to be somewhat fearful." But he says the attacks also "woke everybody up" in his community to the need to be more involved in the larger society and its political life.

"I think we have some of the best Americans around," he says. He particularly wants them to get busy in businesses. "Now that the soul is right," he says, "we have to finance the religion. Our imams have to depend on charity."

But he does not want to repeat the mistakes of the Nation's past. He does not want the imams or their mosques controlling and operating the businesses, as was the case in the old days when temptation led to corrupt management. He wants a high wall between God and commerce.

His plan is to find Muslim entrepreneurs and support them with loans and other assistance. His followers operate a meat-processing plant in Hazel Crest and an export/import business and other concerns across the country.

Meanwhile, Mohammed fights the cult of personality every chance he gets. It bothers him that people still want to know if the imam approves even the smallest tasks before anything gets done

"That's from the old school," he says ruefully in an interview. "My father had such control over the people. When he passed, a lot of people were numb, dead almost."

He tells young Muslims at the annual convention not to put him on a pedestal. He insists he's a little guy, and he rattles off some of his I-don't-haves to prove it.

"I don't have a PhD," he says. "I don't have a master's degree. I don't even have a BA. But I'm connected to something mighty great," he continues. "It makes me respectable, honorable in the company of kings, queens and presidents."

What he has, he says, is the same thing the roomful of 250 teenagers share with a billion people around the globe.

"That," he says, "is Islam."

Inna Lillahi wa inna Ilayhi Rajiun

May Allah Bless Warith Muhammad's Soul and grant him jannati ferdaus.

The man who brought back a people back to the correct teachings of Islam .

http://www.chicagot news/chi- 080909-w- deen-mohammed- photogallery, 0,1283549. photogallery

http://www.legacy. com/CHICAGOTRIBU NE/GB/GuestbookV iew.aspx? PersonId= 117200662

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Terror not Islam’s way

Terror not Islam’s way
Husnul Amin

Peshawar, Pakistan - An Afghan driver and three female relief workers employed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) were shot and killed in the Logar province of Afghanistan last month. The New York-based IRC has been assisting Afghans since the 1980s. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the killings saying, “We don’t value their aid projects, and we don’t think they are working for the progress of our country.” 

Across the border in Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban has been routinely harassing and banishing relief workers and NGOs. In the last few months, they have also bombed hundreds of schools, hotels, bridges and video shops in different areas of northwest Pakistan. According to media reports, over 61 girls’ schools in the Swat Valley alone have been burnt down. 

Are aid workers, students and women the Taliban’s new targets in the so-called “war on terror”? What does Islamic theory and practice have to say about such acts? And who is authorised to issue edicts on the matter – traditionally educated scholars or extremists? 

As far as war ethics in the days of early Islam are concerned, several hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) forbade the killing of women and children, as is clearly stated in a hadith narrated by the Caliph Omar (Bukhari, 4:258). Abu Bakr, the first caliph and friend of the Prophet Muhammad, summarising the Prophet’s message, telling the leaders of his armies, “Do not kill a woman, a child, or an old man. Do not cut down a blossoming tree, do not destroy a building, and do not kill a sheep or camel, except for the purpose of eating it. Do not submerge or cut down a palm tree. Do not be excessive, and do not be cowardly.”

There is a nearly universal consensus among Muslims that the killing of civilians is not acceptable, even in conflict. However, the Taliban and Al Qaeda appear to be redefining this notion to suit their ambitions. 

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s number two in command, declared such acts, including suicide bombing, as justified in times of war. However in Islamic tradition issuing such a religious legal opinion – also known as a fatwa – is the prerogative solely of learned scholars who are specially trained in Islamic legal tradition, not of informally trained militants killing in the name of Islam.

Claims that killing innocent people, burning down schools, harming aid workers and resisting developmental projects can be justified under Islam have come under harsh criticism by traditional Islamic scholars, sometimes costing them their lives. Maulana Hasan Jan, a respected Islamic scholar from Pakistan and an imam of Darwish Masjid, a central mosque in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, criticised such acts in his Friday sermons, claiming that taking the law into one’s own hands was a blatant transgression of Islamic teachings. Soon thereafter, he started receiving death threats and was eventually shot dead by Taliban militants in September 2007. 

Maulana Hasan Jan was not alone in issuing such a verdict. Centres of Islamic scholarship, which have the right to issue Islamic legal verdicts in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Gujranwala and Peshawar, declared attacks targeting innocent victims alien to Islam. Even Maulana Sufi Mohammad, the hardline leader of the Movement to Implement Shari’a who was arrested on charges of instigating youth in tribal areas to go to war, declared suicide bombing and mass killing un-Islamic. 

The Taliban and Al Qaeda have been unable to rally support from the majority of traditional Islamic scholars and jurists who consider their extreme tactics a deviation from true Islam and a result of misinterpretation of religious texts. 

Thus Muslim scholars and jurists have the leverage to reverse the growing trend of attacking aid workers and development organisations. They have a largely untapped potential in the field of conflict resolution and prevention. In fact, this potential is being realised as many universities in Muslim countries start new disciplines examining peace-building and conflict resolution in Islam. In Pakistan specifically, Karachi University and the National Defence College in Islamabad have begun to offer courses in peace and conflict studies. 

Likewise, there are many Islamic scholars throughout the world actively involved as teachers, researchers and activists asserting and explaining Islam’s peaceful approach toward civilians. These scholars can and should continue to speak out, asserting Islam’s pro-development posture, deflating the ability of violent militants to use Islam to justify their actions and making Islam part of the solution.


*Husnul Amin is a columnist for the Urdu daily, Mashriq, and a PhD candidate in development studies at the Institute of Social Studies at The Hague in the Netherlands. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 9 September 2008,
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

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