Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The genesis of the hatred against Gulen and the Hizmet Movement

Every now and then, we are subjected to a purportedly investigative report by a ‘respected’ (pun intended) journalist about famed Turkish Scholar, Fethullah Gulen and the movement he inspired: The Hizmet (service) Movement. On reading the said article or report, we realize it is the same innuendos, fabrications and the macabre claims of stealth infiltration in the state bodies of someone’s own motherland and the supposed takeover of the state. Along the same lines, some facts are given in order to make the article look credible. Theirs is mixing good and evil with evil being their real intention.

For example, Dan Bilefsky and Şebnem Arsu’s recent article in the International Herald Tribune (“Shadow Force Grows in Turkey,” published on April 18) about Gulen and the Hizmet Movement is a classic example of shoddy journalism that’s judgmental and less factual. It is a comically weak article, full of highly questionable characterizations and buttressed by anonymous quotations that don't actually demonstrate what they're supposed to be. 

Everything aside, I want to comment on this bizarre but repeated claim that Gulen and his followers are hell-bent on infiltrating the state and taking over it with the supposed aim of establishing of a (I) conservative and a (II) shari’a based Islamic state in Turkey. There are two elements here: one represents Sebnem Arsu and other Dan Bilefsky. The third element which is always found in articles like these are those written by elements that hate Erdogan and his government and want to pick a bone with the Hizmet movement for their support of the Erdogan government. This can either be internal elements or some people who are driven by geo-political security issues.

In this case, Arsu, (probably) a 'white' Turk is driven by disdain. The disdain for 'black' Turks, the Anatolian hinterland folks who flooded in the last two decades Istanbul and Anakara’s posh areas with their ‘filthy’ and long clothes, bearded faces and headscarves. These folks who form the majority of the Gulen followers decline to drink, fast during Ramadan, wear headscarves, remain communal, hold Islam in high regard but are very tolerant of others and many are conservative in mannerism. But in the last two decades, they have made it big in every sphere you can think of. That’s scary for some people.  For them, these peasants have infiltrated the state which was the exclusive domain of some hardline secular mandarins.

These ‘infiltrators’ were the people who were banned from walking on certain streets in Istanbul and Ankara during the early days of the Republic for they could dirtify it. These are the people the regime labeled “internal enemies of the Republic” and waged a perpetual, crippling war against them. These are the people whose daughters were denied university education because they wore ‘un-modern’ clothes. It is worthy to note that Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, undoubtedly Turkey’s most powerful politician after Ataturk was even forced to send his daughters to the US after the regime guardians denied his daughters to join the public universities because they wore headscarves and therefore were ‘infiltrators’. 

His wife once tried to visit a friend admitted at a military hospital and she was turned away because as a head scarf wearing woman, she was an infiltrator. That was the way of protecting secularism in Turkey. President Gul’s daughter lived with the indignity of putting on a wig over her headscarf every morning in order to get university education. As they defend the gruesome guardians of a past but suffocating Turkey like Ahmed Sik, neither Dan nor Arsu decries the bizarre and the inhumane treatment meted on the overwhelming majority of Turks in the name of secularism.

For Dan Bilefsky, probably his concern is Islam. As much as he engages in sophistry, you can taste Islamophobia in his article. The language he uses is the smart one used by Islamophobes. Don’t show any enmity to Islam, but show purported concern, legitimate concern of others, particularly fellow Muslims about Islam itself or those who choose to live by it. He depicts a scary picture, the language used is potent. The shadowy nature depicted is terrifying. The secretive nature-call it takiyya is real. The West must be wary of Gulen and his followers. The world must defend the civilized and the secular people in Turkey who are being brutalized by the “Islamic” forces who want to establish shari'ah based state. 

It is interesting how the illiberal elements of yesterday are depicted as the perpetual sufferers of today as the defend an ideal; the secular ideal, while nothing is said about Turkey’s bizarre understanding of secularism, brutality against observant Muslims in their own country, against the Kurds and the minorities who were subjected to unspeakable crimes.

Gulen inspired schools that serve millions across the globe are depicted in a conspiratorial tone and portrayed as a grand scheme of global stealth Jihad and infiltration but with no evidence. One wonders if  this is journalism or hatchet man’s work! If Turkey wants to turn a page on an ugly history that involved coups, assassinations, executions, imprisonment, inhuman treatment and the worst of all, a bizarre mentality that gave some people the exclusive duty to run Turkey as a fiefdom without any accountability and do to the Turkish citizens as wished, and the Gulen movement supports turning that page forever, then they are right in supporting the new development for they have been the primary victims of the coups and military guardianship. 

This battle is not about secularism. Gulen and his followers are fine with it, in fact advocate for it. What they are not fine with is military tutelage and an ideology that was experimented with in the last century and failed. What they are not fine with is less democracy, less freedom and less equality. What they are not fine with is to be subjugated to in the name of secularism while it is not. 

No one denies that Gulen followers have had or do have a role in Turkey just like other citizens or grouping in Turkey. And in this regard, some may have wronged others, others may have been less open about any mistaken role or engagement, others may have given unlimited support to Erdogan’s ruling Ak Parti and others may seem to have over-zealously supported the purge against the gruesome Maoists in the Military who opposed liberalism, market economy, personal freedom, engaged in coups and executions and perverted the constitution and the rule of law. While criticism in light of these issues or positions may be legitimate or credible, engaging in innuendos and sweeping condemnation, and using a McCarthyrite witch hunt tells more about those who do it than Gulen and his followers.

Gulen has inspired millions of people to do good. The evidence is there. The schools that were established by his followers have assisted millions of poor people across the globe to make a leap into the brighter side of life and have been beacons of hope and multiculturalism. The media that his followers established helped in opening up Turkey and making it a force to reckon with in the region. But more importantly, this media has assisted in the democratic process that Turkey desperately needed and Turkey deserves no less freedom and democracy than any other nation that enjoys full freedom and democracy. This media has been the greatest supporter of freedom for all including the non-Muslim minorities and the Kurds. 

Neither Gulen nor his followers are angels who are not burdened with human pitfalls, desires or failures. But every critical article that I have read about Gulen and his followers has centered on the ludicrous and ironic claim that they are infiltrating the state. This can only be said by those who still subscribe to the military’s “internal enemies” policy which designated observant Muslims, Kurds and minorities as enemies who must be prevented from integrating and kept at the gates. Today, observant Muslims have less fear. The Kurds can openly speak their language and name their kids in Kurdish. The minorities continue to get back their foundations that were appropriated by the secularists and the juntas. That’s something worth celebrating not decrying; unless we are held captive by the disdain some were brought up with or the benign Islamophobia that’s evident in many articles critical of Gulen and his followers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yearning for the Fethullah Gulen of Africa

Imagine an old, simple man with no authority, power, political ambition and grandeur yet who inspires millions to act good and inspire hope in millions of people across the globe. A man who creates enduring stories that offer a glimpse to the better side of man? Yes, such man exists and he is the Fethullah Gulen of Turkey.

Demonized by the militant secularists of Turkey as the godfather of Islamism, he has been labelled as a threat to the secular order of his nation and has been lampooned for years. But as a student of Mawlana Rumi, he has taken all that in his stride. Many a time, Hoca Gulen has responded to his critics with his trademark retort: 'I have forgiven those who have harmed me'.

There is no doubt that Mr. Gulen cherishes a higher goal. But his critics fail to know which goal is it. They say he is paving the way for Islamic rule in Turkey through soft power and state infiltration. They accuse him of what they have done for decades: infiltrating the state to oppress fellow citizens whom they accused of not being ‘modern’ I.e praying and fasting and dressing modestly. Like the Somali proverb says: they accuse others of what they are.

Gulen has inspired millions of his students and admirers to do one thing: to serve humanity. The sheer scale of their charitable work is amazing. Their determination to touch the hearts of the poor and the down trodden in the four winds deserve utmost praise. Their courage and fatigue represent the spirit of human good.

In Africa where suffering is synonymous with the continent, it is ironical that there has never been our Gulen; a man of deep honesty and compassion, a man whose priority is to uplift broken spirits and help others take a leap into a better life. A man to inspire a Hizmet (Service) Movement. The Movement he has created is a true reflection of the community Allah (swt) describes in His Glorious Quran when He said: "You are the best people ever raised for the good of mankind because you have been raised to serve others; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah." (3:111)

Our scholars have been pre-occupied with issuing mediocre fatwas and religious edicts that serve no major purpose. They have been busy with inter-fighting and ruling each other out of order. Yet, the Muslim Community’s suffering in Africa has been great. In Kenya alone where Muslims constitute the largest unemployed segment of the nation, our scholars have been busy with mundane issues that help none. Broken marriages (above 56% in both the Coast and North Eastern Provinces NEP) where Muslims constitute the overwhelming majority have not been addressed. Poor education standards have become a trademark of Muslim regions and NEP’s poor performance has been accepted with a degree of hopelessness.

Our girls miss schools every month because they can’t find sanitary towels and knowing the deep cultural prejudices we cherish in that region, you can imagine the impact such challenges have on the education of our girls. No wonder there has never been a single girl from that region to attain an A mark for decades. Despite these challenges, there has never been a Gulen of our own. Simple and godly, but determined to remind people of God’s decrees and lead the way. A man to remind people of the higher call of the Heavenly Message.

Compare our situation to the gleaming schools the Gulen followers have built in Turkey and in tens of other countries including Kenya. The NGOs that help the poor, the destitute and the disadvantaged. The aid they give to Muslims and non-Muslims and the hospitals they construct where they are needed most. His message is devoid of emptiness and superfluous lessons. His is touching the hearts!

When I examine our scholars vis-a-vis Hoca Gulen, I remember a story I read in the website of Al-Arabiya TV circa 2007 where a young Egyptian man tried to harm the Sheikh of the Mosque he used to frequent while he was on the pulpit delivering the Khutbah. The young man's mother was bedridden and he sought help to no avail. Finally, the hospital bills ballooned and he was instructed to take his mother out. In desperation, he approached the Sheikh for help but he provided none.

When the Sheikh stood to deliver his khutbah which was about Taqwa, the young man stood with a dagger in his hand and swaggered towards him and hurt the Sheikh slightly. He was overwhelmed by the worshippers and subdued. After he was asked why he had attacked the Sheikh, he said: "He is talking about Taqwa and we are suffering. What's Taqwa if fellow Muslims can't care for a brother whose mother is thrown out of hospital?" In this, there are lessons for whoever heeds!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The making of a (Kenyan) constitution: Part One

An interesting NTV documentary on the Lancaster constitution. Pay attention to what Martin Shikuku says about the Kadhi Courts. Also featured are Charles Njonjo and G.G. Kariuki who comment on the issue. As the men who were there when it was happening, I think their input is too critical to miss, especially at a time like this where we have malevolent revisionists who want to ignore Kenya's history.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Failing to be a bridge: Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah of Malaysia

Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah is a Malaysian Muslim convert of Chinese descent. He is a senior lecturer at Malaysia’s National Defence University. He is also the Secretary General of Islamic Chamber of Commerce Malaysia. Dr Tee has a Sunday column at Utusan Malaysia, a newspaper owned by Malaysia’s ruling party Umno and it is this column that introduces him to the outside world.

That he is controversial can be seen from the words written on the upper part of his poorly attended to English blog.
“You have absolute rights not to continue reading or to discontinue accessing this blog immediately if you are disagreeable with the personal views provided by Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee”. It is clear that he is less inclined to engagement and even correction. You don’t agree with me: you leave, that’s what he says. How far from Calipha Omar (ra) who used to say: I love good advice.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and Muslims constitute the majority at 60%. Most of these Muslims are Malays, the dominant race in Malaysia which is also defined as Muslim constitutionally. In fact, the Malays apart from the
Maldivians and the Somalis of the collapsed Republic of Somalia, no other Muslim society is constitutionally defined as Muslim.

Ridhuan Tee’s own race; the Chinese who are about 25% of Malaysia are overwhelmingly Buddhist with relatively large Christian presence too. Indians account for 7-8% and most of them are Hindus. For those who know Islamic history, the role Muslim converts played in being a bridge between Islam and their people is quite well known and they have done it well.

Those who come from non-Muslim majority countries like me get shocked when we see a man who has converted to Islam, who hails from a people who have less interest in Islam or misunderstand it, and rather than engaging them, appealing to them, explaining Islam to them in a good way, having good manners to have an impact on his own people behave like a nasty tribal warlord from an enemy enclave. He has been politicized so much, or he wants it so much (for personal gain I guess) that he has forgotten his higher call.

May be it is because of
Utusan Malaysia, the paper he writes for. My Malay is not good, therefore I rely on translations offered by some news blogs, personal blogs and Google translations. Utusan is so racialist and tribal that even for a foreigner, you will feel chocked. It lacks sense and integrity. It lacks vision and fairness. It lacks honesty and the truth. It lacks God’s fear and good judgment. It lacks morality and mannerism. And the man seems to lack what Utusan lacks. They have become of mutual bargain and that’s dangerous.

Malaysia has a relatively troubled history like any other nation and the May 13, 1969 racial riots that claimed hundreds of lives define this nation. The atmosphere is so charged that behind the veneer of tolerance and harmony, there is deep animosity, hatred and anger. No race is exempt from this. The Malays are it, the Chinese are at it and the Indians too are at it, but each one blames the other.

Mohd Ridhuan Tee is immersed in this mess. I would have preferred if he was an scholar, a distant observer to this poisonous racial talk and engaged with his people on issues dear to them and became a bridge between them and the Malays who are Muslim and the government with whom which he has a good relations. But that’s not the case. He lambastes them weekly; he uses obscene words against them. He calls them names, ultra kiasu and other nasty labels. He humiliates them. He even threatens them!

Dr Tee fails to understand that he has an Islamic duty to take Islam to his people. And one way of taking Islam to them is to engage them, take their issues into consideration, sympathize with them, treat them well and handle them with care and compassion. Take their grouses to the ‘Islamic’ government he serves as a lecturer and a columnist. It is mandatory upon him to return to his people and preach to them with wisdom.

Siding with one group vs another while you have a higher role to play is wrong. He doesn't have to agree with everything the Chinese in Malaysia demand nor is he obliged to be their spokesman, but he has a duty to call them to Islam with beautiful preaching and better engagement. A concerned person shares with his people the beauty of the higher call like
al Habib al-Najjar who did so even when he was killed by his own people.

As Allah (
sw) tells him to enter Paradise after they brutally killed him, he says: “He said: O would that my people had known. "For that my Lord has granted me Forgiveness and has enrolled me among those held in honour!" (Holy Quran 36: 26-7) Ibn Abbas said this man advised his people both when he was alive and when he died. His concern for his people is clear that he even regrets that his people might not have known about Allah’s message when he has left the earth.

On the other hand, Dr Tee lashes at his own people. Rather than engaging them and becoming a bridge, he patronizingly preaches to them about tribal politics and Malaysia’s social contract. He even calls them names. He says they drink, gamble and fornicate. That’s not Islamic etiquette. And it is immoral. Muslims drink, gamble and fornicate and they have been expressly forbidden from engaging in all these vices yet they do. I’m not vouching for the Chinese doing this, but denouncing them as if that’s unique to them doesn't help.

I have met with many Chinese and I have asked a number of them why they have not considered Islam. The response I always got was simple: I don’t want to be a Malay. In Malaysia, there is this obnoxious thing called
masuk Melayu (to enter Malayness) where Malaysian Muslim converts have to become Malays culturally. Now this is both un-Islamic and dangerous.

No religion has given due attention to a convert’s culture than Islam. This was part of Islam’s accommodation mechanism that has served this great faith very well. While Islam itself is a culture, the universal culture that unites all Muslims, you will find that respective cultures of Muslim communities have coloured Islam. This is because culture always colours religion than religion colouring culture.

It was Scottish Orientalist and one time Harvard professor H.A.R. Gibb who in appreciation of Islam’s unique cultural accommodation of diverse people and communities wrote:
“But Islam has a still further service to render to the cause of humanity. It stands after all nearer to the real East than Europe does, and it possesses a magnificent tradition of inter-racial understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of success in uniting in an equality of status, of opportunity, and of endeavors so many and so various races of mankind... Islam has still the power to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever the opposition of the great societies of East and West is to be replaced by cooperation, the mediation of Islam is an indispensable condition. In its hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is faced in its relation with East. If they unite, the hope of a peaceful issue is immeasurably enhanced. But if Europe, by rejecting the cooperation of Islam, throws it into the arms of its rivals, the issue can only be disastrous for both."

I’m a Muslim, my people are 100% Muslim (at least that’s what we claim), I’m Sunni and belong to the
Shaf’I School yet my culture is so different from that of Muslim Malays who are Muslim, Sunni and Shaf'I (syafie) like me, but we are still Muslims despite our different cultures. One doesn't become a better Muslim by embracing the culture of another community.

One is supposed to enter Islam and not a race, Islam repudiated race and it has no place in a supposedly believing society. Allah (
sw) orders Muslims to enter Islam wholeheartedly. "O ye who believe; enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One.” (Holy Quran 2: 208)

With that express order to submit to Islam, due recognition to one’s race, colour, culture or region in relation to Islam is forbidden. Calling a non-Malay Muslim convert
muallaf is wrong. I say this because it is something I have learnt here. A muallaf is someone who is yet to convert but has shown signs that he/she has interest in Islam, someone whose heart is being drawn to Islam. It is not a Muslim convert. That’s why a muallaf is due to Zaka as indicated in the Quran 9: 60. Once someone submits to Allah through Islam, he/she is a brother and an equal Muslim and no longer a muallaf. In fact, that new sinless Muslim is better than those of us who have been Muslims but carry many sins.

muallaf or second status Muslim convert issue is something Western Muslims are avoiding to a large extent and I’m happy that they are doing it. This obnoxious culture of entitlement to God’s grace is something that’s prevalent in all Muslim societies including mine. In fact, we have legendary stories where our hypocrisy was exposed as to how we treated some new Muslims. While we ordered the news ones to observe Islam, we never did it, after all, we were Somalis, we were Muslims, we were destined to the Paradise, but Paradise is only for those who are righteous.

One story says an Italian convert saw many Somalis drinking, gambling and never praying but calling themselves Muslims. These same people will order him to observe Islam and shun what’s prohibited. Then one day, he stopped praying and started drinking. A Somali friend of his was shocked. The Italian explained himself, ‘
Abdi doesn't pray and drinks and gambles and yet he is a Muslim.” The Somali friend retorted: ‘but Abdi is a Somali.’ In other words, his race makes him perfect; his race entitles him to Paradise. There is nothing of such in Islam. Being a Muslim in name doesn't count; it is the faith and the good deeds that count.

Dr Tee
Abdullah is more of a Malay tribal small timer than a Muslim convert mandated to take Islam to his people. He desperately tries to appeal to the average tribal Malay whose understanding of Islam and the world is shaped by Utusan, a paper where intellectualism is an alien thing. And that is a failure my dear friend. There is nothing great in spewing village type tribal talk.

I’m for Dr Tee protecting Malay interests and fighting for Islam. But I ask: which part of his vomit inducing tribal talk serves Islam? Where is the wisdom? Where is the good preaching? Where is the benevolence? Where is the justice? Where is the honour of the people? When he sweepingly humiliates his own people and accuses them of adultery and fornication (the article on
Teoh Beng Hock is an example) and even threatens them with dire consequences ala May 13, what is his intention? Where is the Islam that’s supposed to refine our souls and make us just and loving?

Friend, you are threatening and humiliating your own people rather than acting as a bridge and a messenger and Islam denies you that even while in war. At the height of war, when the Holy Prophet marched to free his birthplace: Mecca from the hands of the idolaters who violently chased him out of his birthplace, you remember how he demoted a Companion who belittled the

What happened?
Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah who was carrying the flag of the Helpers (Ansars) passed by a detained Abu Sufyan who was already given an amnesty by the Holy Prophet and even his house declared a sanctuary and taunted him saying: “Today will witness the humiliation of Quraish." Immediately, Abu Sufyan complained to the Holy Prophet and the Prophet (pbuh) stripped S’ad of the flag and appointed his son Qais in his place and he said: “"Nay, today Al-Ka‘bah will be sanctified, and Quraish honoured." Muslim scholars say the Holy Prophet was passionate about the honour of all people, Muslim and non-Muslim. Which parts of your incriminating, ultra-kiasu (to borrow your words) talk and articles is modeled along the Prophet’s teachings?

Gertak has invited you to pour scorn on the Chinese. I have no problem with Gertak getting concerned about the welfare of the Malays and Islam, but I have a problem with Gertak’s dishonesty and your failure. Neither Gertak nor you will help the Malays and neither of you is honest anyway. Like Malay intellectual Dr Bakri Musa wrote, I'm still to find the papers presented in the Kuala Terengganu Gertak talk. Empty rhetoric and small timers' politics.

What part of insulting the Chinese helps the Malays? Did you feel any pain when
Musa Safri said they have descended from prostitutes? You are included by the way. In all honesty, do you believe the Holy Prophet (pbuh) would have allowed a Companion of his to call the mothers (like the Chinese women who came to Malaysia in the early 20th century) of another community prostitutes? But Utusan says that’s fine and that’s why Umno, the “Islamic party” (I love it) won’t even consider punishing him. I remember Ibrahim Ali praised Musa Safri calling him a man! This hubris will bring ruin.

Would the Prophet (pbuh) allow Hamida Osman to call other people snakes? We have to live by his message and that is our destiny. The moment we fail, we perish and Allah (sw) will no longer help us. This is not petty Utopian rhetoric, this is our destiny. We honour him and his message and his ways and we survive and lead. We fail to do that, we perish. "You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah." Our hope in meeting with Allah is tied to our conduct vis-a-vis that of our Prophet (pbuh).

Don’t depart from justice and God’s fear. Your hatred for anyone, for any race, for any tribe
doesn't mean shunning justice. Allah (sw) orders Muslims: “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” (Holy Quran 5: 08)

As he tried to awaken Muslims in the 18
th century, Muslim activist and nationalist Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī wrote in his magazine: “Allah does not change a condition of a people to honor, authority, luxury, living, safety and comfort, until those people change what is in themselves—through illumination of the mind, soundness of thought, and depth of vision; from taking lessons from the actions of Allah with previous nations, and reflecting on the situation of those who joined forces against the path of Allah—for they were destroyed—and those who neglected the practice of justice, and left the path of insight, resolution and wisdom—for they were ruined.
Unite together in commitment to righteous work, truthfulness of speech, soundness of the heart, chastity in the face of desires, and protection of truth, standing for its victory, and cooperating in its protection!”
How apt is that advice today!

You may believe that you are doing favour to Islam and the Malays by being tough against the Chinese (in fact, say opposition Chinese because Vincent Tan won’t disturb you), but I will tell you that’s counterproductive and even simply
un-Islamic for the following reasons.

1. People including Muslims hate someone who deserts them and then attacks them from outside or from the trenches of the enemy. In fact, they hate more, the opportunist who trades in the anguish, ignorance or the naivety of the host. Today, it is Muslims who suffer a lot from this phenomenon. We have many purported Muslims, (they even created atheist Muslim) who are thorn in our flesh. They pose as critics but they are venomous enemies and subcontracted

While many Chinese don’t see any problem with you being a Muslim, they have a problem with you behaving like a traitor to them by constantly attacking them, supporting groups like Perkasa and Gertak. These groups are of no help to the Malays too.

2. You make the Chinese hate Islam. In Islam, they see an assimilating religion that appreciates no culture except its own and since in Malaysia Islam’s culture is seen as that of the Malays, they refuse to consider Islam or even become its friends and your rhetoric, actions and pronouncement don’t help.

3. You portray Islam as something racial to them. When you claim to be a Malay and talk like a Malay as you do, they simply see a tribal man talking and not a fellow Chinese with a message. It is important to be honest and impartial for your message to find reception. And by the way, you are not a Malay, you will never be one.

You will always remain a Chinese and you being a Muslim is a favour of Allah than it is because of you masuing Melayu. “They make it a favour unto you (Muhammad) that they have embraced Islam. Say, "Count not your Islam as a favour upon me: Nay, Allah has conferred a favour upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if ye be true and sincere.” (Holy Quran 49: 17)

You are doing the Malays disfavour because you portray them in bad light. Nothing in your purported defence of them is fair, just, moral, Islamic and intellectual and thus you bring more disdain to them than you imagine. You sound like a conscripted hatchet and that
doesn't help the Malays. In fact, you remind me of Ergun Caner, the Turkish-Swedish-American fraudster. Furthermore, Islam is about intellect and deep personal stories, nothing in your articles explains that and your salvation journey. You are always political and petty! There is need for spiritual stories that make people think and look inward so that they correct themselves.

5. You are always unjust, selective and partial and that impairs your ability to reach to others. I have many Malay brethren who always complain about you and say you are besmirching Islam and their people by kowtowing to
Utusan than to Islam’s message of justice, honour and grace. Would the Malays lose anything however small it is by being fair and just? Neither justice nor charity diminishes a society. That’s the eternal truth.

Gertak or Perkasa or Utusan will invite you and then you will deliver a speech where you will harangue against the "ungrateful" Chinese and their ultra-kiasu culture. At the end of the day some questions need to be answered. What part of your speech helped Malays to rise to glory? To produce more? To be decent and dignified? To be just and moral? To be industrious and productive? To be thinking and critical? To be writers and intellectuals? None! You have simply insulted, slighted, humiliated or unfairly targeted another community and that doesn’t help the Malays. There is nothing motivational in blame politics and that's what you have perfected.

7. You make the Chinese hate Islam and Muslim societies. If you fail to make people Muslims, you try to befriend them so that they remain our friends. Muslims trying to make others Muslim is sharing God’s grace upon us and not out of a desire to see others vanquished or depleted. But you make them see Islam as unfair, cruel, violent, and less
accommodating and simply an assimilating tribal culture. When you show less concern to their wellbeing and pain, they care less about ours.

Did you realize that it is the Chinese in this country who care the least about the
Palestinians? I have observed this issue since my arrival and I came to know that their understating of this human issue has been shaped by what they consider as a bitter experience of their own and thus they laugh when they see Muslims in this country calling for fairness and justice in the Palestinian issue. For them it is simple, why should we care when they don’t care about us here.

Of course their
understanding and judgment is wrong but that’s how a bitter person judges things. That’s why a certain blog that's so anti-Palestinian is also so anti-you. In fact, they side with the Zionists whom they believe are under attack. Just post a news article concerning Palestine and see how they respond to it. Well, it is wrong and they are wrong but they may do that simply to spite you and fellow Muslims whom they see as less just and considerate. Furthermore, you can't have them as friends to polish Muslim image outside.

8. By failing to live the message of the Companions of the Prophet (
pbuh) where they have always asked for his advice to take Islam to their people and his predictable advice that they should honour their people and be fair to them makes many young Muslims fail to know the essence of Islam and that lays the foundation for decadence and failure. Justice is our shield.

9. By being selective, uncritical and out rightly unfair, you fail to make some arrogant and hateful Chinese to understand the predicament of the Malays. When you are cool and fair, people listen. When you foam at the mouth, throw stones and humiliate people, they don’t and that’s what you are doing. There are some malevolent Chinese who need to understand the history of this nation and its own realities today, but they can’t understand through your lenses. Leave that tribal talk, social contract thing and abusive language to the Malays of Utusan. Your duty is to warn both sides, bring them together and criticize both sides when they go wrong. That way you help both, you help Islam and you help yourself.

10. Talking selectively about Malay poverty as if they have monopoly on it (reminds me of Dr Tariq Ramadan's Muslim monopoly danger's talk) makes your message rejected. There are poor Chinese and Indians and when you call upon the government to help them, they will realize your honour and see a good man in you. A refined man shaped by Islam who is fair to all. And when you criticize them, they will accept because you have shown earlier that you care for them. I have personally seen poor Chinese and Indians. It is mandatory, and I repeat mandatory upon the Muslims of this country to help them.

One day, Calipha Omar saw an old man begging and he asked which People of the Book he belonged to. The man responded that he was a Jew. Omar then asked him why he was begging. The old man responded that since he was old, he couldn’t work so he was forced to beg to feed himself and also to pay jizyah as was the situation then.

Omar took the man by his hand and they went to his house. He gave him food and clothes and money. He then took him to the Muslim Treasurer (bayt-al-mal) and instructed the Treasurer to take care of the man and whoever was like him. Omar added that with this man we have not done justice to him as we took jizyah from him when he was young but we forsook him when he was old. Verily, the sadaqa is for the poor and destitute. And this one is a destitute from the People of the Book. So Omar exempted taking the jizyah from him. (Kitab-ul Kharaj)

There are old Chinese and Indians who need assistance, there are Chinese and Indian orphans who need assistance, there are Chinese and Indian widows, there are Chinese and Indians whose businesses failed and need help to restart, there are Chinese and Indians who can’t pay their fees, there are Chinese and Indians who feel excluded. Muslims are the followers of Omar and it is their duty to help them. It is the duty of the government to formulate policies that cater for their needs. Of course not all can be helped, but doing something however artificial it is helps.

Helping some of them would do. So when the government helps the Malays in big ways, they can’t complain. Yes, the Malays own this land, but it is Allah (sw) who owns it and to whom is the final return and we know that Allah (sw) has expressly ordered Muslims to be fair to all people. You can't deny someone assistance because of his race. That is not Islam. By being fair, you will prosper, you will be respected, exalted, honoured and helped. You will lose nothing however little it is by being considerate, helpful, just and fair. But you will lose all by being otherwise.

When I take a cab and the driver is an Indian or a Chinese, he curses the Malays. If he gets some help, he won't I guess and Malay honour is thus protected. I want to highlight the word Malay honour. It is very important to protect it. It is corruption that makes this nation fail. It is not the little things the non-Bumis demand. Billions are being lost, wasted and mismanaged. It should pain you more than an 18 year old Indian girl from Perak crying for a scholarship. It is corruption and mismanagement that poses existential danger to this nation. This crony capitalism that has turned Malaysia into Darul-Kroni is what poses danger to the Malays. This behind the scenes negotiations, inflated construction works, the same Malay groups winning contracts is what hampers Malay development and makes the others curse them. You better address that!

Be creative in your articles, be challenging, be fair, be productive and be an intellectual, be critical, be persuasive and be a Muslim and thus righteous. Be faithful, be patient, be concerned, be truthful, fulfilling, be honest and be God fearing. May Allah (sw) bless us and accept our deeds and show us His grace. Allahuma Amin!

“That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for Allah doth provide for those whom He will, without measure.” (Holy Quran 24: 38)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Missing the point on our priorities

While reading a purportedly Kenyan Muslim blog, I was quite shocked to see the blog carrying some inflammatory messages and even praising terrorism. They were even praying for Allah (sw) to "keep Osama bin Laden" for the Ummah.

They also tore into Somalia's interim President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad accusing him of being a hypocrite and not waging 'holy war' against the Americans and the Jews. Jamaican scholar Faisal al-Abdullah too was praised despite making some outrageous comments.

Whoever is behind that blog needs to understand Osama bin Laden is not a favour upons Muslims. No one has dragged Muslims through mud in modern history than Osama did and like Sheikh Salman bin Fahd al-Oadah said; 'how many Muslims were killed due to Osama's actions?' And as Kenyans, we need to know our priorities rather than getting entangled in regional politics.

Lack of employment, failing marriages, low standards of educations, drugs, low Muslim participation in national affairs, lack of advocacy groups, grinding poverty, illiteracy, disunity and many other ills are the challenges that await Kenyan Muslims and in particular the youth. This Osama nonsense has nothing to do with Islam and Muslims and we are the least that should feel attached to this un-Islamic bigot.

I'm a Somali by ethnicity though a Kenyan and I know why Somalia has failed. It failed because the Somalis themselves wanted their nation to fail. They are the least patriotic people on earth, inherently corrupt (Sayid Mohammed Abdulle Hassan who fought the British and Somalia's unrivalled hero famously said this one) and everyone of them wants to be satisfied otherwise nothing will proceed.

Such a society doesn't need conspiracies to know as to why they have failed. They are the only homogeneous society in Africa, all Muslim, all belong to one School: the Shaf'i School and all are quite moderate, yet they slaughter each other and rape their daughters simply because of tribalism. Then you come and blame America and Jews. Stupid. First of all, they should shun what Islam taught them to shun and that's tribalism.

The vazi la Sharif (kiswahili-the clothes of Sharif) banner (below) is extremist and utterly outrageous and it is disturbing that we have people who are so concerned about Somalia that they believe fighting America and the Jews is all what's needed to salvage Somalia, yet as a non-Somalis, their own understanding of Somalia is very minimal. Quit Antisemitism for it only serves the Zionists.

Of course, we have foreign countries contributing to the destabilization of Somalia, but that's what would happen to any country that avails such opportunity to outsiders. And as the Kiswahili proverb says: Usimwamshe alalaye, ukiwamsha utalala (don't wake up your enemy otherwise he will destroy you). If Somalia slept, don't expect it to awoken by any other nation. Only the Somalis will have to do that and Allah (sw) doesn't change the condition of a people unless they first change themselves.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The rise of Islamophobia in Britain and Europe

Dave Weltman of the Socialist Review has a compelling take on the rise of Islamophobia in Britain and across Europe. He writes:

The trend towards making anti-Muslim racism "respectable" continues to grow relentlessly throughout Europe. There is the success, for example, of those who look likely in the next few months to win a ban on Muslim women wearing garments to cover the face - whether citing "security" concerns in Belgium or "defence of national values" in France. In Switzerland the recent outlawing of minarets through a referendum is being looked upon by reactionaries across the continent as a step towards normalising the arguments that portray mosques as "alien" and threatening cultural impositions. More HERE.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mutahi Ngunyi: from an intellectual commentator to a hatchet subcontractor

I used to like Mutahi Ngunyi (left) and his compelling articles in the Sunday Nation. But that was before 2007, when he acted like a patriot and a progressive intellectual who loathed tribalism and corruption. A man who spared no one in his incisive commentaries. His ranting against the tribal clique that surrounded President Kibaki and his prophetic warning that Kenya was headed for doom unless this mischievous coterie was stopped is remembered with sadness as it came to pass.

However, as Kenya headed to the disastrous 2007 General Elections, Mutahi switched camps and joined the very people he has been lambasting. It was no-brainer, it was pure tribalism motivation. From that day, he has acted like a juvenile, like a bigot unashamed of his fraud and betrayal of the Kenyan nation and his own conscience.

His metamorphosis reminds me of that vile Zionist Nick Cohen of The Observer. Cohen transformed from a rational commentator on issues to a pen-violent Islamophobe and an ardent Zionist vouching for the genocidal tactics of the extremist Talmud oriented regime in Tel Aviv. And what's more: the man became a certified Islamophobe who fans hate against Muslims particularly those of Britain. Polemic Muslim columnist of the New Statesman Mehdi Hassan highlighted this metamorphosis in a fantastic piece in the New Statesman. Read it here.

Mutahi's latest piece in the Sunday Nation was disappointing and unfortunate. Like a far-right Evangelical bigot and a patronizing buffoon, he even talked of dark Muslim influence in the post Lancester constitution and talked of the Nation of Islam somehow gaining disproportionate influence. No one knows how he arrived at that figure and even what he meant by the Nation of Islam. But one can guess.

Since he has dismissed the new draft which is his right anyway, the man has been dishing out naked lies and myths. In his desperate attempt to convince Kenyans to reject the new constitution, he has been appealing to the religious bigots and the venomous tribalists. And a man is the people he joins. Mutahi is no less than a tribal bigot and religious fanatic , an apocalyptic Evangelical hate-monger, trabalist and islamophobe. Ashindwe milele!

Ms Njoki Ndung'u who is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Proposed new law ripped into this snobby intellectual and huckster in a piece the Nation published today. Read it here. I would like to thank Ms Njoki for shedding light on this spent force who has been subcontracted by the dark forces in defeating the Kenyan will and fomenting hate and bigotry. And thanks to the many Kenyans who said NO to his fraud and hate in the comments section, both to his article and that of Ms Njoki.

Update I: There was no Mutahi Ngunyi in the Sunday Nation yesterday. Instead, four critical letters, one of them from a 13 year old girl were published. Hmmmmmmmmmm...

Update II: I had a private email exchange with Mutahi. And we agreed to disagree though he complained that I was harsh on him. I'm sorry if I was I harsh but he has to change because he is harsh too!