These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 15, 2012.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Gulf Arabs In Egypt Demonstrate Their Pan-Muslim Sympathies
From The Daily Mail:
Sordid trade in the 'summer brides': Arab tourists are 'buying underage Egyptian sex slaves' to serve them for just a few months'
- Poor families paid a 'dowry for the temporary marriages
- Young victims suffer sexual slavery and forced to be servants
Wealthy tourists from the Persian Gulf are paying to marry under-age Egyptian girls just for the summer, according to a report.
These temporary marriages are not legally binding and end when the men return to their homes in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The tourists pay a 'dowry' to poor families through intermediaries with prices ranging from £320 to £3,200.
Arabian nights: Egyptian girls under 18 are sold as 'summer brides' to wealthy Gulf tourists by their parents
The young victims - some under 18 - suffer sexual slavery and are forced to be servants to their 'husbands', claims the U.S. State Department report 'Trafficking in Persons'.
BRIDE, 17, WHO WAS SOLD FOR £2,120
The shame of Aziza one of several 'summer wives' who live in villages around Giza, was highlighted by the paper.
Aziza - not her real name - married a 45-year-old man from Saudi Arabia when she was 17 because he promised to find a job for her brother in the Gulf, and gave her penniless parents the equivalent of £2,120,
The Saudi Arabian also bought her dresses and took her to top restaurants. He stayed a month before returning home, but promised she could join him later.
After waiting several months and now heavily pregnant, she tried to trace him through the Saudi embassy so her child could be formally recognised.
But her marriage was not officially registered which meant she could not prove her claim. Aziza had to return to her family and raise her baby as a single mother.
No foreigner can marry an Egyptian girl if there is an age difference of 10 years, according to state laws. But parents and marriage brokers are getting round the restriction.
They will forge birth certificates to make the girls appear older and the men younger. In 2009, a court in Alexandria jailed two registrars for conducting temporary marriages of hundreds of girls under 18.
Sex before marriage is banned under Islamic law and most hotels and landlords demand proof before allowing a couple to share the same room.
But the report found that many parents will marry their daughter without her consent and often the girls agree to the arrangement because their families have no money.
Some of the victims are taken back to their husband's country to work as maids while those left in Egypt are shunned by the conservative society - particularly if they have children during their temporary marriage.
The shame leads many of the girls to dump these youngsters in orphanages or abandon them with thousands of other Egyptian street children.Many of these 'brides' are also targeted by Egyptian men and forced into prostitution.
Dr Hoda Badran, who chairs the NGO Alliance for Arab Women, told the Sunday Independent that she believed poverty was the major cause of the trade.
She said:'If those families are in such a need to sell their daughters you can imagine how poor they are. Many times, the girl does not know she is marrying the husband just for the short term.
'She is young, she accepts what her family tells her, she knows the man is going to help them. If the girl is very poor, sometimes it is the only way out to help the family survive.'
Posted on 07/15/2012 9:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
J. B. Kelly: Of Valuable Oil And Worthless Polices (originally apppeared in June 1979)
This article first appeared in the British magazine Encounter in July 1979. 29 years later, Kelly's observations remain relevant, and especially, the description of the propaganda that made the West believe it had something in common with the primitive kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
There has been a great squawking and flapping of wings late in the capitals of the West as the chickens from the Middle East have come home to roost. Not only has the noise been heard in the halls of the Pentagon and the State Department and along the corridors of impotence in Whitehall but it has also disturbed the tranquility of academies and think-tanks and other ateliers of informed opinion. For the convulsion which swept away Muhammad Reza Shah and the apparatus of orderly government in Iran in the winter of 1978-79 also exposed the rickety foundations upon which Western policy in the Gulf region had rested throughout the present decade, a policy which was initially fashioned from illusion and has been sustained ever since by deceit.
When the government of Harold Wilson announced in January 1968, two months after abandoning Aden and South Arabia to the crypto-Marxist National Liberation Front, that it intended also to withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971, the shadow foreign secretary, Sir Alec Douglas Home, condemned the decision in the House of Commons as “a dereliction of stewardship, the like of which this country has not seen in the conduct of foreign policy before.” Three years later, as foreign secretary in Edward Heath's administration, he implemented the decision. No provision was made at the time for the future protection of British and Western interests in the region beyond the grant of limited assistance to the Sultan of Oman in defeating the guerrilla insurgency in his southern province of Dhufar, an insurgency which had only assumed dangerous proportions after the British abandonment of Aden at the end of 1967.
After 150 years of keeping the peace of the Gulf Britain had walked (or rather sidled) out. Her departure represented a triumph for that school of thought which, ever since the defeat at Suez fifteen years earlier, had held that there was no call any longer for “a British presence” anywhere in the Middle East. For the United States, which had tried – rather late in the day- to prevail upon Britain to reconsider the decision to leave the Gulf, the British withdrawal posed a twofold problem. There could be no question of the United States actively assuming the role that Britain had relinquished; for the national neurosis induced by the war in Viet Nam had already begun the slow paralysis of American foreign policy which has today almost reached a terminal stage. On the other hand, an area as intrinsically unstable as the Gulf, containing half the known oil reserves in the world, could not simply be left without any form of regional security, especially as there were other outside powers inimical to the West, the Soviet Union in particular, who would welcome the opportunity now granted them to intervene, in one guise or another, in the Gulf's affairs. Confronted with this dilemma, the United States sought an easy solution – and found it in the expedient of building up Saudi Arabia and Iran, the twin pillars, as guardians of the Gulf.
The basic flaw in this arrangement was that these two states had been the principal troublemakers in the Gulf for a good century-and-a-half, and they showed no signs of changing their spots. Ever since the close of the 18th century the House of Saud had been trying to extend its sway over the entire Arabian peninsula, desisting only when internecine quarrels or the intrusive activities of its neighbours periodically distracted it. By the early 1930s King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud (the father of the present ruler) had conquered the bulk of the peninsula, the further extension of his power being blocked by Britain's treaty relationship with the petty states of the Arabian littoral of the Gulf, as well as by her protectorate over South Arabia and her longstanding friendship with Oman. The discovery of oil in Hasa, the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, did not abate Ibn Saud's appetite for fresh territory. On the contrary, beginning in 1934, he advanced large claims to the Rub al-Khali, the “Empty Quarter” and parts of Oman and Abu Dhabi, on the assumption (which time was to prove correct) that they also might contain oil deposits. His sons and successors persisted with the claims after his death in 1953, resorting to a fair number of dubious tactics in an effort to enforce them - including gun-running, bribery, attempted assassination, subversion in Oman and encouragement for a tribal rebellion in Dhufar. An eventual accommodation was reached in 1974-75 – in so far as anything can be said to be settled in the flux and reflux of Arabian politics – when some substantial pieces of Oman and Abu Dhabi, one of them containing a large oilfield, were made over to Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz as the price of his recognition of the newly-formed “United Arab Emirates.”
Iran, like the Saudi amirate of Najd, had resisted nearly every effort by Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries to civilise the Gulf and bring it under the rule of law, whether by the suppression of piracy and maritime warfare, the outlawing of the slave trade, the curbing of the arms traffic, the charting of the Gulf's waters, the laying of the telegraph or the establishment of quarantine stations and regulations. This policy of obstruction was accompanied by, indeed, largely arose from, an almost pathological addiction on the part of Persian governments to the assertion of large and insubstantial claims to dominion over much of the Gulf region – to the Shatt al-Arab and parts of Kuwait, to Bahrain and other islands in the Gulf, to tracts of Seistan, Makran, and Baluchistan, and to western areas of Afghanistan. In part these claims were occasioned by a desire to compensate for territory lost to Russia in the Caucasus and beyond the Caspian, and as such they were often encouraged by the Russians. They also sprang, however, from a conviction (similar to that held by the Al Saud of Najd) that wherever in the world an Iranian foot had once trod that spot remained thereafter irrevocably and eternally Iranian.
Illusions of grandeur and an obsessive pre-occupation with what were held to be Iran's sovereign rights in the Gulf region also dominated the thinking of Muhammad Reza Shah. His modest ambition was to bestride Western Asia like a Colossus, to recreate the empire of Darius and to make Iran, within the space of one or two decades, into the second industrial nation in Asia after Japan.
Casting about him for ways in which to impress his neighbours and the world outside with his puissance and majesty, he tore up in 1969 the treaty with Iraq governing the maritime régime in the Shatt al-Arab, gave conspicuous aid to the Kurds in their revolt against the government of Baghdad, seized the islands of abu Musa and the Tunbs on the eve of Britain's withdrawal from the Gulf, with the intention of controlling the Straits of Hormuz, and a couple of years later sent troops to Dhufar to help suppress the insurgency there.
The benefit to the West of these various actions was highly questionable. His quarrel with Iraq and the seizure of abu Musa and the Tunbs led to the conclusion of the Soviet-Iraqi treaty of April 1972 and to Colonel Qaddafi's expropriation of British Petroleum's concession and assets in Libya. The contribution of Iranian arms to the defeat of the insurgency in Dhufar was hardly decisive, while at the same time it caused ripples of apprehension along the Arabian shore of the Gulf. As for the Kurds, the Shah unceremoniously abandoned them in the spring of 1975 in order to improve his relations with the Baathist junta in Baghdad.
While all this was going on, the United States, having promulgated the theory of the “twin pillars”, had been trying to invest the conceit with substance.
In May 1972 President Nixon and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, stopped in Tehran on their way back from disarmament talks in Moscow. They gave the Shah assurances of virtually unhampered access to America's arsenal, without having to run the gauntlet of the normal scrutiny accorded arms requests by the Departments of State and Defence. It was an unprecedented act of policy by a US administration towards a non-Western power, for it allowed the Shah to purchase advanced weapons of a kind whose export had hitherto been restricted to NATO countries. What Nixon and Kissinger did not foresee was the huge increase in Iran's oil revenues following the quadrupling of oil prices by OPEC late in 1973, an increase which enabled the Shah to indulge to the point of satiety his passion for the deadly trinkets of war.
Much the same kind of carte-blanche was subsequently given to Saudi Arabia, and for the same inadequately considered strategic reasons. The policy was given an added impetus, as well as a meretricious economic justification, by the oil-price rises of 1973-74, the accepted wisdom of the day being that the money paid out for oil could be “recouped” by selling the Arabs and Iranians vast quantities of arms and other expensive gewgaws. Much rubbing of hands and greasing of palms ensued on both sides of the Atlantic as Britain, France, and the United States set out to array the Saudi and Iranian armies like Caesar's legions. In so doing, as the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations discovered in 1976 in its investigations into the Lockheed and Grumman scandals, they managed to plumb some exceedingly murky depths.
To sell the “twin-pillar” policy to the Congress, some members of which in both the House and the Senate were inclined to question its practicability, the State Department conducted a tireless campaign to depict Saudi Arabia and Iran as dependable allies of the United States: dynamic, stable, forward-looking, economically progressive, and militarily strong, or at least potentially so. It was an undertaking which called for a fair degree of ingenuity and considerable powers of imagination; but the State Department, with some assistance from the Pentagon, was equal to the task. From 1971 onwards, in appearances before Congressional committees concerned with foreign affairs, witnesses from the State Department built up a picture of the Shah as an enlightened despot (the particular phrase was not actually used, being considered perhaps a little inapt to the purpose at hand), anxious to regenerate his country, to modernize its economy, educate its people, and defend them against their enemies. More than this, however, it was earnestly asserted, the Shah was capable of being entrusted with the care of Western interests in the Gulf and its surrounding seas, since there was a close and even irresistible identity of interests between Iran and the United States.
Thus Philip C. Habib (under-secretary for political affairs at the State Department) told a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September 1976 that the United States and Iran “have generally seen our respective interests as parallel, at times congruent, and we share many objectives.” He was, he explained, only reflecting the views of his chief, Kissinger, who more than once had stated that the policies of the United States and Iranian governments “have been parallel and therefore mutually reinforcing”, and that cooperation between the two “grew out of a leadership that is clearly independent, that pursues its conception of its own national interest based on a history of 2,500 years of Iranian policy . ..” (The most charitable comment one can make upon this syntactic bizarrerie is that Kissinger was not a close student of Iranian history.) Habib's statements were made in the context of the proposed sale of yet more advanced aircraft to Iran – 160 F-16's at a cost of $3,800 million – a subject which was at that moment also engaging the attention of Senator Frank Church's sub-committee on multi-national corporations. Though the Church sub-committee hearings were uncovering the existence of some fairly louche transactions between American aircraft and armaments manufacturers and the Shah's government, the State Department did not appear in the least disconcerted by them. Nor did it – nor did anyone else, for that matter - profess the slightest unease at the possibility that the Shah's profligate expenditure upon arms might be bankrupting Iran, to the eventual detriment of his own position and his function as America's northern sentinel of the Gulf.
Much of the same kind of creative licence, with appropriate adjustments, was used in depicting the strength and importance of Saudi Arabia. Here, instead of a contemporary Xerxes and the burgeoning “second industrial power in Asia”, we had the Badu Kingdom, ruled over by the stern yet benevolent House of Saud, supported by and themselves upholding the austere verities of the Wahhabi practice of Islam. Borrowing heavily from the propaganda circulated in the United States for many years by the Arabian-American Oil Company, the State Department in successive hearings before the Congressional committees spun a tale about the Saudi ruling house, its rise to power, its mode of government, and its' conduct towards its neighbors that the ghost of Scheherazade could not have bettered. At the heart of the State Department's presentation lay the argument – first propounded and assiduously propagated for many years afterwards by ARAMCO for its own obvious purposes – that a natural affinity existed between Americans and Saudi Arabs, a sense of immediate camaraderie that made them logical allies. To give this notion of a mutuality of interests and outlook between the citizens of the world's most advanced democracy and the inhabitants of one of the world's most unenlightened states a little more credibility, ARAMCO in its publications had employed a terminology deliberately evocative of the American West in pioneer days, of Badu homesteaders, of grazing ranges (diyar in Arabic), of the Saudis as Unitarians (muwahiddun, “believers in the unity of God”) of manifest destiny – in short, of Arabia as America's last frontier. The State Department adopted the same practice, while updating the imagery to that of Pittsburgh and Houston arising by the Red Sea, of a grand economic Saudi-American partnership, with the Saudis supplying the oil and finance and the Americans technology, arms and political guarantees.
To some extent the State Department was aided in its endeavours to portray Saudi Arabia as a rapidly evolving, modern kingdom by the gullibility of some Senators and Congressmen.
“The notion that we are dealing in Saudi Arabia with primitive Bedouins is not only patronising but obviously mistaken”, George McGovern informed his colleagues in the Senate in May 1975 after a lightning visit to that country. As one American Embassy official had put it to him, “What you are dealing with here is a government run by 3,000 American university graduates. . . . “ Further testimony to the efficiency of the Saudi government – its constructive use of its oil revenues, its benign outlook upon its smaller neighbours in the Gulf, its reliability as an ally of the United States, and its solicitude for the economic health of the West, as evidenced by its moderating influence in the counsels of OPEC – was liberally provided by the parade of witnesses from the universities, the oil companies and other outside bodies who appeared before the Congressional committees from 1971 onwards. It was a rare display of an even rarer unanimity of views, made all the more interesting by the fact that no Western scholar or casual inquirer was allowed to ravel in Saudi Arabia to see conditions there for himself and form an independent judgment about the country.
Where does the West stand today with respect to the security of its oil supplies from the Gulf – now that the great over-arching edifice of Saudi-Iranian cooperation, which the United States, Ozymandias-like, had decreed should dominate the Gulf, has turned out to be a sham? . . . “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone/Stand in the desert.”
Strategic control over Middle-Eastern sources of oil was deemed essential by the major Western powers until recent years. Britain had exercised such control through the British government's shareholding in British Petroleum, through British management of the Iraq Petroleum Company, and through her political and military presence in the Gulf. France, which had a minority shareholding in the Iranian consortium, in IPC and in operations in the lower Gulf shaikhdoms, tried in the 1960's to ensure security of supply by means of her “special relationship” with Algeria, an attempt which ended in failure in 1971. The United States after the Second World War entrusted the protection of her strategic interest in Middle-Eastern oil to the major American oil companies operating in the Middle East, which meant, in effect, turning the responsibility over to ARAMCO and its parent companies.
During the 1960's the argument developed and took hold that physical control of Middle-Eastern oil, as exercised by the oil companies' concessionary rights and the British presence in the Gulf, was no longer necessary, indeed, was positively detrimental in its effects. The irresistible strength of Afro-Asian Nationalism, the shifting balance of power in the world, the passing of the imperial age and all the other familiar excuses with which the West has cloaked its descent into lethargy were invoked in support of the argument. The supply of oil, like its price – so it was contended – was purely a commercial question, a matter of supply-and-demand, and to be treated as such. The reigning consensus of opinion was summed up by the fashionable adage, “The Arabs can't drink their oil.” As we have come to learn, however, they, and the Iranians, are not averse to attempting the feat. Neither the creeping nationalisation of the oil companies (under the disingenuous label of “participation”) nor the oil embargo and the huge price increases of the autumn of 1973 had much effect in casting doubt upon the validity of the dogma. A few cosmetic adjustments were made and the dogma re-emerged in the guise of “re-cycling”, a magical process by which the vast sums paid out for oil would be recovered both by the sale of equally vast quantities of industrial goods and arms and by luring the Arabs into investing their financial surpluses in the West. What few paused to consider, or if they did, resignedly rejected as impracticable, was whether it would not be wiser to press for a reduction of oil prices. After all, if for any reason the contracts for arms and other Western manufactures were to be cancelled, the West would still be compelled to pay excessive prices for oil without being able to offset them by the sale of Chieftain Tanks and F-16s.
The battle against higher oil prices, however, was lost almost as soon as it began in the early summer of 1970, when Colonel Muammar Qaddafi unilaterally raised the price of Libyan oil under the threat of shutting down production by the Western oil companies operating in Libya. Despite efforts by the major American and British oil companies to impress upon the US government the consequences of allowing Qaddafi to succeed with his extortion, the State Department refused to stand up to him. When the rest of OPEC emulated the Libyan leader's tactics and threatened the oil companies with an embargo unless their demands for increased prices were also met, the State Department, after initially assisting to make a combined negotiation by the companies legally permissible under US anti-trust legislation, then proceeded to sabotage the subsequent negotiations with OPEC at Tehran in January 1971 by withdrawing its support when the going got rough.
From that moment onward the struggle with OPEC was lost. Henceforth oil prices were progressively to be fixed, not by negotiation as in normal mercantile transactions (pace the exponents of treating oil like any other commercial commodity) but by OPEC fiat. The unedifying display of pusillanimity and sauve qui peut which constituted Western Europe's reaction, and in particular that of Britain and France, to the Arab oil embargo of 1973 only confirmed the Middle-Eastern members of OPEC in their contempt for the Western powers. It is little wonder that, with allies like these, the Americans turned in the summer of 1974 to making their own arrangements to safeguard their oil interests in the Arabian peninsula by entering into comprehensive agreement with Saudi Arabia for the provision of arms, military training, and assistance with economic development in return for guaranteed oil supplies and promises of Saudi financial investment in the USA. The agreement amounted, in sum to an American undertaking to preserve the integrity of Saudi Arabia and the primacy of the Al Saud within it.
However advantageous or disadvantageous this arrangement may prove to be for the United States, it does little to safeguard the vital interests of Western Europe and Japan in the Gulf. In the final analysis, the United States can do without Middle-Eastern oil. Western Europe and Japan cannot. Moreover, it would be unwise as well as politically undesirable for them to place the entire responsibility for the defence of Western interests in the Gulf upon American shoulders alone. That the Americans are at present alone in bearing this responsibility is largely a consequence of their own actions and policy since the Second World War in striving to eradicate British and French influence from the Middle East. The attitude adopted by the State Department towards the nationalism of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (BP) in 1951 – which in many ways can be regarded as the starting point of the gradual loss of Western strategic control over Middle Eastern oil – was equivocal, to say the least. Subsequently the State Department pushed the major American oil companies into participating in the Iranian consortium as a means of underwriting Iran. By failing to curb the Shah in the early 1970's when he was leading the OPEC pack in its hunt for higher oil prices, the State Department simply fed his megalomania and paved the way not only for his downfall but also for the eventual extinction of the Western oil companies' rights in Iran.
Across the Gulf in Saudi Arabia, where the State Department had effectively resigned the making and conduct of American policy into the hands of ARAMCO, it had watched with placid indulgence the efforts of the Al Saud from the late 1940's onwards to subvert the authority of the legitimate rulers of Oman and Abu Dhabi within their own borders with the object of annexing their ancestral territories along with any oil deposits that might lies beneath them. The British persisted in their determination to uphold the independence of Oman and Abu Dhabi against Ibn Saud and his successors. So ARAMCO set itself the task, which it accomplished without undue effort, of persuading the State Department that he ending of the British connection with the Gulf would not only benefit American oil interests in Arabia but was also a desirable end in itself, as eliminating an anachronistic remnant of Imperialism and thereby improving American relations with Saudi Arabia and the Arab world at large. Tempus edax rerum. When the implications of the Harold Wilson government's decision of January 1968 finally sank in, the State Department began to experience some slight misgivings. By then it was too late. The British had lost their spirit and were packing their bags. The State Department had to make the best of a situation it had had more than a hand in creating.
It did so by conjuring up the “twin-pillar” conceit and by pretending that the Gulf, with each passing year, was becoming more and more like Chesapeake Bay.
It is almost redundant to say that it is not. Beneath the veneer of modernity it is as turbulent and unpredictable as ever, and the same tinder that started the conflagration in Iran is present in some measure in all the principalities along the Arabian shore.
The vast riches, which have flowed into the Gulf in this decade have generated prodigality and corruption on a comparable scale. The native tribesman, now that the age of abundance has arrived, will no longer soil his hands with toil; so the heavy manual work of building the contemporary Xanadus arising along the Gulf coast is done by Iranian, Baluchi and Pakistani labourers in their thousands (and in Saudi Arabia by hundreds of thousands of Yemenis), while the skilled tasks are performed by Europeans (“white coolies”) and Arab émigrés (most of whom are Palestinians).
Well over half the population of Kuwait is made up of immigrants. It is the same in Qatar. In the United Arab Emirates immigrants outnumber the indigenous inhabitants two or perhaps three times over.
Yet the bulk of the oil wealth is reserved for the native Arab population, distributed to them in the form of public services, housing, welfare benefits and cash allowances, all of which are designed to ensure their continuing allegiance to their rulers. For the mass of the immigrant population there are no such benefits. The resultant discontent, aggravated by the mindless extravagance all about them, affords a potentially fertile breeding ground for political agitation.
Radical political notions, of Marxist, Baathist or other provenance, have been circulating in the Gulf states for some years now. This has been particularly so among sections of the Palestine community and among the native jeunesse dorée of Kuwait and Bahrain. They have dabbled in the shallows of revolutionary politics in much the same way as their counterparts in the West have done, and for similar reasons of satiety and boredom. Whether they will ever translate the hotchpotch of ideas which excite them into political action is a moot question. They are also influenced by the current mood of Muslim revivalism which is so pronounced around the shores of the Gulf and which has expressed itself in Iran in a virulent out break of anti-Western sentiment.
Over and above the problems of internal security which exist in the Gulf states, the states themselves are divided by long-standing and vexatious antagonisms arising from dynastic rivalries, tribal vendettas, sectarian antipathies, territorial disputes and other historical causes. They have rarely, if ever, been able to sink their differences for any length of time in order to confront a common danger; and there is no sign of their successfully doing so today. On the contrary, they are as ready as ever they were to settle their differences by the sword.
Should any one of the numerous irritations which bedevil relations among Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and minor Gulf states erupt in to open conflict, the entire oil industry of the Gulf, thanks to the indiscriminate arming of most of these states by the West with the fearsome weapons of modern war, could be put at deadly risk.
Why the State Department has persisted in playing Pollyanna over the Gulf defies understanding. It may be simply incomprehension on its part or conscious self-deception, or it may also be deliberate misrepresentation for some obscure purpose. Henry Kissinger, in an interview published in The Economist (10 February), excused the failure of American policy in Iran, a policy of which he had himself been an author, by saying that “all of us paid insufficient attention in Iran to the proposition that political construction should go side by side with economic construction. The failure was less of intelligence agencies than of a conceptual apparatus.”
But could it not also have been due to a lack of understanding of Iranian society and history, an insufficient appreciation of the force of Shii Islam in Persian life, and a refusal to see where the Shah's profligate expenditure upon arms was leading?
A staff report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the summer of 1976, for instance described the arms programme as running out of control, the Iranian armed forces (the Air Force in particular) as being incapable of absorbing the complicated weaponry with which they were being inundated, and the State Department as being uninformed as well as unconcerned about the whole affair. Yet when questioned about eh report in September 1976, the State Department's spokesman assured the committee that the arms programme, around which American -Iranian relations revolved, was going swimmingly.
The same heedless and badly thought-out policy has been pursued, and is still being pursued, with respect to the arming of Saudi Arabia. Here, again, huge quantities of advanced weapons are being poured into a country whose armed forces are even more ill-equipped to handle them than were the Iranians. Nor is it entirely clear that the Saudi budget, despite all the common assumptions to the contrary, is capable of sustaining the expense involved in their purchase. The United States is even more deeply committed to Saudi Arabia than she was to Iran. If the need for American intervention should arise – to safeguard American oil interest or to defend the ruling house against its enemies from within or without, the United States will be faced with a series of acute dilemmas.
Intervention will have been made domestically difficult because of conflicting statements on the subject made by members of President Carter's administration and the hostility to the idea expressed at various times by leading Democratic senators. Intervention would be hazardous in a Middle-Eastern context because of the religious as well as the political antipathy it would arouse. Nor, in the form on e would normally expect it to take in military terms, would it necessarily prove effective, at least so far as the preservation of the integrity of Saudi Arabia and the rule of the Al Saud were concerned. A military occupation of the Hasa oilfields might well send reverberations across the peninsula which would surface in insurrection in the Hijaz-and no Western troops could be dispatched to the Holy Places of Islam to suppress it.
What has to be weighed, in the final assessment, is the importance of the Gulf's oil to the West against the dangers which would attend any positive move to assure strategic control over it. Every passing year since the start of this decade has revealed more clearly the folly of depending for continued access to the regions' oil reserves upon the goodwill, capacity and sense of responsibility of the willful and capricious régimes that rule the Gulf. Every year, too, has seen the dangers to the region's security multiply, whether from the rarely glimpsed but nevertheless active seditious elements within the Gulf states or from the steady encirclement of the area by the Soviet Union and its clients.
The Russians are now established in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ethiopia. Down in the south-western corner of Arabia they sit entrenched in the former British base at Aden, along with their Cuban and East-German auxiliaries, ready to direct them and their South Yemeni vassals eastwards into Dhufar or northwards into the East European satellites, is growing; and they cannot afford to pay for it in hard currency or acceptable manufactures. The temptation to take by subversion what they cannot afford to purchase will surely grow at a commensurate pace. They have learned the lessons of sea-power, which they West is in danger of forgetting, and they recognise the truth (which the Western powers flinch from acknowledging) of Macaulay's dictum - “That the essence of war is violence, and that moderation in war is imbecility.” Those flapping wings and harsh cries we hear around us may not be chickens, after all, but birds of more sinister and predatory aspect.
J.B. Kelly is a historian specialising in British relations with the Middle East. His books include "Eastern Arabian Frontiers" (1964) and "Britain and the Persian Gulf 1795-1880" (1968): and the study of the West and its Middle Eastern oil policy, "Arabia, the Gulf and the West."
Posted on 07/15/2012 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Saudi ARAMCO World's Current Propaganda Campaign To Backdate The Muslim Presence in Europe
e are standing in the heart of the Latin Quarter of Paris. Famous landmarks, such as Nôtre Dame Cathedral, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Cluny Museum, the Panthéon and the Sorbonne are within blocks. Yet hidden in full view around us is another Paris that is often forgotten in the bustle: historic Arab Paris.
For many, an Arab Paris may seem of more interest to journalists than historians. After all, it's only relatively recently that hundreds of thousands of Parisians speak Arabic as their first or second language, and that couscous, mezze and shwarma have become as common as coq au vin. So it's all too easy to overlook a history that began some 500 years ago, when France became the first Christian nation to establish a diplomatic alliance with the Ottoman Empire, initiating a flow of diplomats, intellectuals, tourists and students from the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa to the French capital. [utter nonsense -- there was "no flow" at all until the 20th century, and before the 18th century no "diplomats, intellecutals, tourists and students" if the author, Nancy Beth Jackson, means Arabs and Muslims. In the aftermath of Napoleon's campaign in Egypt that began in1798, a handful of eople -- Greeks, Syrians (a word that then meant only Christians), Copts -- returned with Napoleon's troops, with conceivably a smattering, a handful, of a few Muslims as examples of human exotica That's it.]
"By the end of the 18th century, relationships with the Muslim world were so common as to have become banal. People walked about Paris not even blinking when they saw someone wearing a turban, because they were so used to it," says Ian Calder [the author's name is given incorrectly -- it is Ian Coller], history professor [in truth a lowlly lecturer, who teaches all kinds of things, including "Film Studies"] and author of the 2011 book Arab France. [if he had written a book about the French mania for pharaonic things, expressed in wallpaper, and chairs, and ceramics, that is part of the history of fashion and has nothing to do with a factitious, completely imaginary "Arab France" at least as presented by the hapless Nancy Jackson in her articleforher Saudi paymasters at Saudi Aramco World. And the period Coller writes about is from 1798 to 1831, and it makes no sense for him, or her, to assert that "[b]y the end of the 18th century, relationships with the Muslim world were so common as to have become banal. : because Napoleon only went to Egypt in 1798, and even that Egyptian mania for ancient Egypt -- nothing to do with Arabs or Islam -- was a mania precisely because Egypt was seen as so exotic, so strange, not because the sight of things connected to it were so banal and ho-hum; Coller and Jackson get the Egyptian mania all wrong. Besides, until the last half-century Egyptians were "Egyptians" to themselves and never "Arabs." That's a Nassserite phenomenon]. ] Turbaned figures were simply part of the crowd in engravings, watercolors and oil paintings of the period—even in Jacques-Louis David's early-19th-century "Coronation of Napoleon," where the Ottoman ambassador can be spotted among the dignitaries. [so that's Coller's idiotic evidence: that's it, the turban of an ambassador at an official ceremony, and in "engravings, watercolors and oil paintings" of scenes from the exotic East -- none of that supports the preposterous claim by Ian Coller that "People walked about Paris not even blinking when they saw someone wearing a turban, because they were so used to it." Whatever else Ian Coller is, he is no historian. ]
|*This link requires that you have Google Earth installed on your computer. If you wish to install it now, go the free installation site here. Tour producer: Ryan Petrie.
When the Institut du Monde Arabe (ima, or Arab World Institute), a cultural partnership between France and 22 Arab countries, launched its 2½-hour walking tour of Arab historic sites in Latin Quarter six years ago, its primary goal was to educate the public by exploring France's historical links to the Arab world. "Now our mission is also to help first- and second-generation French citizens to find and understand the roots of their grandparents' language and civilization," explains Mona Khazindar, ima director general. Many participants come on school field trips, and the public tours are on Saturday afternoons from May to October, €16.70 ($21) a head. Individual visits can also be arranged.
On the spring Saturday when we set out to explore historic Arab Paris, we meet our guide under a tree by the iron gate of the Collège de France, the Royal College until the French Revolution. François i established the institution in 1530 to encourage independent thinking and break old modes of academic inquiry. An art collector, he also nudged France into the Renaissance by bringing Leonardo da Vinci to Paris and, with him, the "Mona Lisa."
|The ima begins its tour at the gate of the 482-year-old Collège de France, where Arabic texts were among its first library acquisitions and the Arabic language was first taught to Europeans.
"The Collège was established as an alternative to the Sorbonne," explains our guide Anne Vincent, speaking in French. "The king wanted to free scholars from controls on their research by both church and state and to allow students to study without paying fees." It was at the Collège, she tells us, that Guillaume Postel introduced the first Arabic-language courses in Europe. In the following centuries, the Collège would become the cornerstone for the study of Oriental languages in France, and it would attract innovative scholars: Jean-François Champollion, who unlocked the Rosetta Stone's hieroglyphics, was among them.
Until François i, Europe still viewed the Levant as a Crusader battlefield, but François looked to the east primarily for commercial and strategic partners. Ignoring criticism from his fellow monarchs, he was the first to exchange ambassadors with the Ottoman Empire, which then stretched across North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and north into Hungary. In 1536, he and Suleyman the Magnificent established an alliance that would last nearly three centuries. About the same time, France and Morocco also exchanged ambassadors.
In advance of the agreement with the sultan, Hayreddin Barbarossa, the powerful Ottoman admiral and governor of Algiers, dispatched a delegation to France in 1533. Bearing a lion and 100 Christian slaves as gifts for the king, a second delegation arrived the following year to coordinate Franco-Ottoman offensives against the Holy Roman Empire and to accompany the new French ambassador to Constantinople. With the ambassador traveled Postel, the Arabic linguist who is sometimes called France's first Orientalist. The king sent him along as an interpreter, but also with the assignment of bringing back Arabic manuscripts, particularly scientific texts, to enrich the royal library. Among Postel's souvenirs was a thesis on Arab astronomy that is still part of the French National Library collection.
|Second stop on the tour is St. Julien le Pauvre, a 13th-century church whose current Melkite congregation claims roots among Christian Arabs who followed Napoleon back from Egypt to France.
Before moving on from the Collège de France, Vincent nimbly fast-forwards to the 19th century by introducing us to Jean-François Champollion, whose 1822 translation of the Rosetta Stone, found by Napoleon's troops in Egypt, opened millennia of Egyptian history and created the scholarly discipline of Egyptology. An archeologist by training, Vincent warms to her tale: Champollion had studied Arabic and other Oriental languages at the Collège de France, where he was later appointed chair of Egyptian history and archeology. Also the first curator of the Louvre's Egyptian antiquities department, Champollion was part of what became a mania for things Egyptian. Winged lions, scarabs and other Egyptian motifs appeared in fashion, furniture and funerary art, particularly at Père Lachaise Cemetery, where Champollion himself is buried under an obelisk-shaped tombstone.
"The French were mad about the Orient," Vincent says. "There were sphinxes everywhere." Not to mention the Luxor obelisk at the Place de la Concorde, a gift in 1829 from Muhammad Ali, the Egyptian ruler who established a school in Paris where Egyptian youth could study military science, mechanics, medicine and other practical skills. (He also presented Charles x with a giraffe, a creature that hadn't been seen in Europe for over 300 years; an estimated one-eighth of Paris's entire population came to see "Zarafa" after she was installed in the zoo at Jardin des Plantes, the city's botanical garden.)
These were heady times in Paris. When a Moroccan delegation arrived in the winter of 1845-1846, the local press was abuzz. One journalist reported that "the envoy from Morocco has caught the imagination of Paris. Everything about him recalls the court of the Moorish kings of Granada and the brilliant Abencerrages of whom he is a descendant." Muhammad as-Saffar, a scholar traveling with the ambassador, chronicled their social whirl of dinners, concerts, balls, theater and tours around town. They received so many invitations that "we only accepted invitations from the royal entourage or men of state."
|Along the way, the tour passes bookshops and cafés with long histories as gathering places for the Arab students and writers who made the city an Arab capital.
The glitter of that winter season was evident when as-Saffar described running into Egyptians, including two grandsons of Muhammad Ali, at the king's New Year's party. "In all, there were about 60 people sent there by Muhammad Ali to learn the sciences [that] one finds only there. These Muslims were not dressed like Christians, but wore long gowns covered with so much gold embroidery, pearls and precious stones that the cloth beneath could hardly be seen. Their buttons were studded with gems, and the girdles from which they hung their swords were heavy with gold. Their splendor was indescribable."
But there was also a spiritual side to the Paris-Arab relationship. We dodge traffic as Vincent leads us down Rue Saint-Jacques for our second stop: St. Julien le Pauvre, a tranquil spot on the banks of the Seine across from Notre Dame. Outside this tiny church, which dates from the 13th century, a poster advertises classical music concerts. The church is known for its superb acoustics, but we are here to learn about its historic Arab connection. At first, it strikes us as strangely bare of the religious statuary so common in French churches, but Vincent explains that we are not standing in a Roman Catholic church: St. Julien has been a Melkite (Byzantine rite) church since 1889. Its congregation can trace its beginnings to Christian Arabs who were among the hundreds of refugees who followed Napoleon back to France after his defeat in Egypt. She calls our attention to the iconostasis, the wall of icons and religious paintings between us and the altar. Services, considerably lengthier than in the Roman tradition, are conducted in Arabic.
|Fine woodwork reminiscent of the mashrabiyyah screens of Egypt and the Levant decorate the third stop on the tour, St. Ephrem's Chapel, which since 1925 has offered rites in Aramaic and Arabic to France's Syrian Catholics.
We take a break from history outside the church, although it is hard to escape history in the Latin Quarter. Vincent points out that we are standing in the shade of a propped-up locust tree, reputedly planted in 1601, that is considered the oldest tree in Paris. A German tourist asks Vincent who, today, is an "Arab" in France. How can North Africans be called Arabs, he asks, if they are Berbers, and not, for example, from the Arabian Peninsula?
It's a familiar question for Vincent that touches the heart of the tour's educational mission. "It is defined by language. An Arab is someone whose language is Arabic," Vincent begins. "There are 22 countries in the Arab world, but not all are ethnically Arab." Most Arabs in Paris are from the Maghreb, the group of North African countries from Libya westward. Mashriq is the term for Arabic-speaking countries east of Egypt and north of the Arabian Peninsula. And Egypt is, well, Egypt. Because of France's long colonial history, the majority of Arabs in Paris hail from Algeria, but when it comes to restaurants, she smiles, "the Lebanese are everywhere."
|The tour ends at the Great Mosque of Paris, whose early 20th-century minaret, top reflects North African style, using a light stone that blends into the city's streetscape. The gardens are open to the public, and it is a popular site for weddings, above.
Paris has at times been described as an Arab capital, because so many Arab students, writers and artists came to Paris as exiles in the early 20th century. "It was there and in Cairo that Arabic liberal thought had its early footing," Fouad Ajami wrote in 1998 in The Dream Palace of the Arabs. Intoxicated by a spirit of liberty, in Paris they founded Arabic magazines and newspapers, Arab bookshops and publishing houses. They gathered in coffee shops to smoke shisha (waterpipes) and argue politics. Many were profoundly changed, like Tawfiq al-Hakim, who came from Egypt in 1925 in a red tarboosh and went home five years later in a blue beret to write pioneering plays in Arabic. "For the Orient, Paris has always been an intellectual capital. Beginning in the 20th century, generations of students wanted to believe that the spirit could breathe on the banks of the Seine," observed Nicolas Beau, author of Paris, Capitale Arabe.
Leaving St. Julien le Pauvre, we begin a hike up and over Mount St. Geneviève, the highest point in the Latin Quarter, walking in the direction of the Oum Kalthoum Café and the Baghdad Café, where Arab students gather in the Latin Quarter today. Halfway up the hill, we pause for breath on rue des Carmes in the stone courtyard of the Corinthian-style St. Ephrem's Chapel, which since 1925 has been home to Syrian Catholics in France, with services in Aramaic and Arabic. Like St. Julien le Pauvre, its superb acoustics make it a popular venue for concerts.
At the top of the hill is another reminder of the centuries-old ties the City of Light has with the Arab world: Sainte Geneviève Library, named after the patron saint of Paris. Now part of the University of Paris, it may be the city's oldest library, begun in a Benedictine abbey in the sixth century, when monasteries prized Arabic manuscripts for their scientific and mathematical erudition. Reestablished as a scholarly library in the early 17th century, its first librarian was Jean Fronteau, an expert in Middle Eastern languages.
Our final stop is the Great Mosque of Paris, an early-20th-century contribution to the cultural relations between France and the Arabic-speaking Muslim world. It covers nearly a hectare (2½ acres), yet seems tucked away behind the Jardin des Plantes. We are taken by surprise when we turn a corner and find ourselves in front of an Arabic bookstore and a minaret soaring 33 meters (130') above a Moorish-style mosque.
|The colorful walls of the mosque are ornamented using traditional patterns from Andalusian and Moorish zillij tilework.
"When they built the mosque, they took elements from throughout the Arab world to create the ideal mosque. It has the only minaret in Paris, but there is no call to prayer. That would be impossible in the Latin Quarter," Vincent says as we enter the courtyard through a massive bronze-studded oak door to find ourselves in a kind of neo-Andalusia. Walled with tile mosaic, the terrace is paved in white marble and filled with pools, fountains and flowers. Tourists can visit the public spaces anytime, but the areas for prayers, sermons and the reading of the Qur'an are restricted to Muslims.
The largest mosque in France and third largest in Europe, the Great Mosque was inaugurated in 1926 by the president of France with the bey of Tunis and the king of Morocco on hand. Built to serve the religious needs of French Muslims, it honors the 100,000 Muslim colonial troops who died for France in World War i. But in addition to being an important religious center, the mosque is a highly popular enterprise among tourists and Parisians, Vincent points out.
You can eat lamb couscous or a tagine (Moroccan stew) in the mosque restaurant, nibble on baklava or smoke shisha under fig trees in the patio, shop for North African souvenirs in the afternoon souk or even steam away your tensions in the domed hammam, or traditional spa. It's no coincidence that our historical walkabout ends here, very much in the present. We are ready for a plate of honey-soaked pastries and mint-infused black tea, which the waiters pour with a great flourish.
||Nancy Beth Jackson, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is a journalist and journalism educator who has lived in Paris, Cairo and Abu Dhabi. She is now based in Alton, Illinois, a historic river town near St. Louis.
||Isabelle Eshraghi ([email protected]) is a photojournalist who covers news around the world from Paris. Born to a French mother and an Iranian father, she has won several awards for her extended coverage of both women and men in the Middle East.
This article appeared on pages 18-23 of the July/August 2012 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.
Posted on 07/15/2012 11:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
At The Corner Of Fig Tree And Vine: Michael W. Schwartz On Why In New York The Ratification Was Delayed By A Day
'A Great Compliment Paid the Jews'
A recent work about the ratification of the U.S. Constitution rescues from oblivion an amazing and moving story about the Jews of post-Revolutionary New York and the solicitude their Gentile neighbors showed them. In the course of describing the ratification process in New York, Pauline Maier’s Ratification (Simon & Schuster, 589 pages) makes fleeting reference to the fact that a huge parade through New York City in 1788 by supporters of the Constitution was put off for a day “to avoid July 22, a Jewish holiday.” This postponement, and its significance, have been lost to history until now.
The rediscovery of this incident is only one of many good reasons for reading Maier’s masterly and groundbreaking account of the state conventions where the proposed federal Constitution was debated and ultimately approved. Maier relies (as no historian before her has or was able to) on the Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. This massive work, 23 hefty volumes and counting since the project began in 1976, is a collation of the vast and dispersed contemporary record—minutes, newspaper stories, pamphlets, memoirs, and letters—of the Constitution’s ratification. Maier uses it to show us how, in state after state, public officials and citizens debated with skill and clarity the complex issues facing the country, and how the fairness and thoroughness of the ratification process led to the Constitution’s winning support even from those who were originally its determined opponents. Along the way, she unearths all manner of interesting nuggets about the personalities and events she describes—none more so than the moment in late July 1788 when the supporters of ratification in New York accommodated the religious needs of their Jewish fellow citizens, even at some risk to the success of their cause.
A little table-setting is needed to put the story in perspective. New York’s was one of the last conventions to be held, and its approval of the Constitution was far from assured. New York had long been dubious about the Constitutional project: Two of its three delegates to the Philadelphia Convention had left in protest, objecting to its failure to respect the limited terms on which it had been called. Only the third, Alexander Hamilton, was present to join in the vote by which the Constitution was approved and sent to the states for consideration. The delegates chosen for New York’s convention the next summer contained a clear majority of opponents of ratification (one source puts the breakdown at 46–19 against), and the opponents were led by New York’s powerful governor, George Clinton. While the Federalist proponents were hardly unrepresented—they included Hamilton and John Jay, two of the authors of The Federalist Papers—they certainly faced an uphill battle.
When the convention began, on June 17, 1788, only eight states had ratified, one shy of the nine that the draft Constitution required. One week into the convention, the delegates in Poughkeepsie received word that New Hampshire had ratified, and so the Constitution, by its terms, succeeded the previous Confederation and became the new nation’s governing document. On the same date, Virginia also voted to ratify. Nonetheless, Clinton and the opponents of ratification continued to insist on changes to the document, and still “in mid-July, the two sides remained unalterably apart,” as Hamilton’s biographer Ron Chernow puts it. The convention did not finally vote to ratify—and then by the narrowest margin in any state—until the end of July, more than a month after the United States had come into existence.
Although by mid-June New York’s approval was no longer required to bring the Constitution into effect, the state’s failure to join the now established United States could well have been a death blow to the new nation. It would have stood as a geographic obstacle to movement between the southern states and New England and, more important, would have deprived the United States of its leading commercial state. New York as a stand-alone entity might have found itself forced to seek an alliance with Britain, and therefore again come under British domination. Moreover, since the supporters of ratification were strongest in New York City and opposition to ratification concentrated outside it, there was the prospect that the city might try to secede from the state and ratify on its own. Hamilton referred to just such a possibility in a speech to the convention on July 17.
The Federalists employed a variety of means (including republication in book form of the celebrated Federalist articles) to bring pressure on the hostile convention to ratify. Among them was the decision to stage what was called a Grand Federal Procession in New York City, to demonstrate the support that ratification enjoyed among all classes of citizens. Similar events had been held in Boston, Baltimore, and Charleston after their states had ratified, and a major procession was held in Philadelphia on July 4, after the actions of New Hampshire and Virginia had brought the American republic into existence.
Planning for the New York Procession had been ongoing throughout June and was originally scheduled to coincide, like Philadelphia’s, with the Fourth of July celebration. But the event kept getting put off, principally, as the chairman of the event later wrote, in the “hope that this state…would likewise accede to the Union.” A postponement was also necessitated because the elaborate parade preparations took longer to complete than had been anticipated. In particular, the construction of a scaled-down frigate, the “Federal Ship Hamilton,” which was to form part of the procession and honor New York’s Federalist leader, would not be ready until July 18.
The procession was finally scheduled for July 22. But, as Maier discovered from two letters contained in the Documentary History, it was put off for an additional day because it turned out that July 22 in 1788 coincided with a Jewish holiday: 17 Tammuz, the day on which the Fast of Tammuz is held.
This minor fast day (lasting only from dawn to dusk rather than a full 25 hours, as in the Yom Kippur fast) commemorates the beginning of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple by the Romans. Seventeen Tammuz in the Jewish calendar was the day in 70 C.E. when Titus’s legions breached the walls of Jerusalem. The rabbis also determined that a number of other disasters in Jewish history occurred on that date, including Moses’s destruction of the first set of tablets on Mount Sinai, following the sin of the Golden Calf. In addition, 17 Tammuz commemorates the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C.E., although that event is said to have occurred on 9 Tammuz.
For Ashkenazi Jews, 17 Tammuz marks the beginning of the period known as the Three Weeks, which culminates in the full fast day of Tisha B’Av (the ninth of Av), commemorating the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians. During this 21-day period, Ashkenazim observe various restrictions, including not taking part in joyous activities. For Sephardim, 17 Tammuz is a fast day, but the restrictions leading up to Tisha B’Av do not take effect until the first day of Av 12 days later. As we will see, this difference in religious practice is of significance to the New York story.
Volume XXI of the Documentary History includes an announcement that appeared in the New York Daily Advertiser on July 17, reporting that “The PROCESSION is postponed till WEDNESDAY, the 23d instant.” The announcement gives no reason for the postponement from the previously announced Tuesday, the 22nd. The explanation comes in a letter dated July 16 to Nicholas Low, a wealthy New York City merchant, from one of his agents, Peter Collin. Collin reported: “It is said that the procession is postponed till the 23rd Inst. in order to give the Jews an opportunity to Join in the Festivals, the 22nd being one of their holidays.” The same reason is referred to in another letter from one Adrian Bancker, a Staten Island grandee, on the 20th of July. Bancker wrote to his brother: “I Observe the Grand procession is put of[f] to the 23d I think it is a great Compliment paid the Jews.”1
“A great Compliment paid the Jews” indeed it was. For it cannot have been a simple or risk-free course to postpone the procession further, after all the earlier false starts, even by a single day. On July 15 or 16 when, at the latest, the decision to take the extra delay must have been reached, the convention was deadlocked, and there was no indication that the opponents had any intention of yielding. To be sure, Hamilton and the Federalists believed that the longer the convention continued, the better their chances of prevailing. But this was only a hope—and they had no assurance that, if Clinton and the forces he led came to the same conclusion, they might not simply vote to adjourn the convention without acting.
The procession itself, moreover, required extensive preparations. It was to be a huge event, in which representatives of 60-odd trades and professions, roughly 5,000 people (a quarter of the city’s population), were to participate, marching under banners proclaiming support for the new Constitution. The organizers hoped to outdo the Philadelphia Procession of several weeks earlier, out of civic pride and in hopes of winning for New York City designation as the new country’s capital.
The participants were not only numerous but also organized to march in a highly structured fashion. As volume XXI of the Documentary History sets forth in detail, the “Order of Procession” as the event unfolded began with “Horsemen with Trumpets,” “1 piece of Artillery,” and then a total of 10 “Divisions” organized by trades, with a total of 76 distinct groups of marchers. The “Second Division” included “Coopers, Butchers, Tanners and Curriers and Leather Dressers,” and the “Seventh Division” included the Hamilton, together with “Pilot Boat and Barges, the Marine Society, and representatives of the Printers, Book-Binders and Stationers.” The tradesmen’s groups had constructed elaborate floats for the event and prepared banners celebrating their trades and the adoption of the Constitution. Major Pierre L’Enfant, later the planner of Washington, D.C., had designed an elaborate structure consisting of three pavilions able to seat 6,000 guests at the post-parade meal.
To hold all this in abeyance even for 24 hours–while the convention remained deadlocked–must have represented a major hardship to, and gamble by, the New York Federalists. In the report of the event that the procession chairman published shortly after it was held, he noted that following the earlier postponements, taken in the hope that the Poughkeepsie convention would ratify, “the Committee of Arrangements found it impossible any longer to oppose the patriotic ardor of their fellow citizens.” Gotham, Edwin G. Burrows’s and Mike Wallace’s indispensable history of New York City, describes the procession as “an event of almost transcendent significance in New York’s post-Revolutionary history.” Nonetheless, on the evidence that the Documentary History has collected and Maier brings to light, the “patriotic ardor” was made to wait, and the “transcendent” event put off a day, to accommodate New York’s Jewish citizens.
There weren’t many. A knowledgeable contemporary estimate of the Jewish population of New York in 1773 said that the whole community “consist[ed] of between twenty and thirty families.” New York had only a single synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel, at which both Sephardim and the increasingly numerous Ashkenazim (who had become the majority of New York’s Jews by 1720, according to historian Jonathan Sarna) both worshiped. And even though the community enjoyed a degree of freedom and acceptance unrivaled in the world at that time, as late as 1737, the New York Assembly had voted to deprive Jews of the franchise—an action shortly thereafter repealed—and anti-Semitic violence occurred occasionally, perhaps inspired by resentment at the very success of the tiny Jewish community.
The decision to postpone the procession on their account makes clear that, whatever the controversies delaying New York’s ratification of the Constitution, a modern spirit of tolerance and fellow feeling had taken hold even before New York finally acceded. Indeed, it doesn’t seem a stretch to say that the day’s postponement is itself powerful testimony to the success of the Revolution even before the United States government took form. After all, at this date, Jews in England were still subject to all manner of legal restrictions and disabilities.
It is also true that Jews had a claim upon their fellow citizens’ good will. Howard Sachar’s standard history of American Jewry records that approximately 100 Jews performed military service in the Revolution, most in state and local militias. A few died, Sachar records, and some were wounded or captured. Some rose to high rank. In addition, Jews were instrumental in enabling the Revolution to evade the British blockade of American shipping. And Jews were prominent among the civilian contractors who provided the Revolutionary armies with “clothing, gunpowder, lead, and other needed equipment.”
The portion of the Jewish community of New York that supported the Revolution—a solid majority, by all accounts—had also suffered greatly in the face of Washington’s defeat in the Battle of Long Island in 1776 and the ensuing British occupation of New York. Sarna recounts in his book American Judaism how Gershom Mendes Seixas, the religious leader of Shearith Israel, led patriotic members out of the city in August 1776, taking with him Torah scrolls and other religious items. They remained in exile for seven years, first for four years in Stratford and Norwalk, Connecticut, then in Philadelphia, returning to the city only after the war’s end. The postponement of the procession to accommodate 17 Tammuz thus may well have reflected Federalist gratitude for patriotic services rendered and hardships endured by American Jews.
Conceivably there was also an element of rivalry with Philadelphia. Thus, at the Philadelphia Procession three weeks earlier, history records that “the clergy of the different Christian denominations, with the rabbi of the Jews, walk[ed] arm in arm,” “united in charity and brotherly love.” And among those in attendance was a teenaged Naphtali Phillips, who later relocated to New York, married a niece of Gershom Seixas, and served as president of Shearith Israel. In a remembrance published in his old age, Phillips recalled that, at the end of the Philadelphia Procession, “there was a number of long tables loaded with all kinds of provisions with a separate table for the Jews who could not partake of the meats from the other tables, but they had a full supply of soused [pickled] salmon bread and crackers, almonds, raisins, etc.”
There is much that we still don’t know about the postponement. Maier mentions it only in a passing phrase, and the Documentary History speaks to it only in the two letters I have quoted. Thus we have no direct evidence of how the postponement came to be decided upon, what role New York’s Jewish citizens played in procuring it—they must have been the ones to bring the significance of the date to the attention of the procession’s organizers—and whether the decision to postpone was in any degree a matter of controversy. Perhaps there exist letters or other records that have escaped the zealous researches of the editors of the Documentary History that will shed further light on this.
However, it is a safe speculation that the moving force behind the request for the postponement must have been Seixas. The religious leader of New York’s only synagogue was also a prominent figure in the life of New York City, and he had many friends and associates among the city’s Protestant elite. In 1787, he was named to the board of trustees of Columbia College (the next Jew to receive that honor was Benjamin Cardozo in 1928), whose chairman, James Duane, was the mayor of New York. By virtue of his exile during the British occupation, Seixas became known as “the Patriot rabbi of New York” (although he was not, technically, a rabbi and was called “hazzan” by his congregants). He is clearly the person most likely to have been in a position to obtain the postponement on behalf of his small community.
His experience during the exile, moreover, included an event that would have made him particularly sensitive to the significance of 17 Tammuz. Part of his exile was in Norwalk, Connecticut, and it is therefore entirely possible that he was present when that city was invaded by the British and their Hessian mercenaries and burned to the ground in July 1779. In American Judaism, Sarna notes that Norwalk’s destruction occurred during the three weeks following 17 Tammuz. Reflecting on this, one New York exile, whose letter describing the savage British/German attack Sarna quotes, wrote that he and his fellow Jews “truly realized the Anniversary Season [i.e., of the destruction of the Temple] with all its gloom that our predecessors experienced.”
One shouldn’t overstate the significance of the postponement. The degree of liberty and acceptance enjoyed by New York’s Jews was unique among the states of the new nation. Well after the Constitution and the First Amendment came into effect, eight of the original states continued to deny Jews equal political rights. It was 1833 before Massachusetts eliminated the religious test for office, and it was a Reconstruction legislature that, in 1868, finally changed North Carolina’s constitution to eliminate it. Nonetheless, the postponement of the procession should temper our acceptance of Sachar’s dour conclusion that, “in the early days of the new republic, Jews remained at best an object of curiosity, more commonly of faint distrust or distaste.”
It should be added that the one-day postponement met the needs of the Jews of New York for an interesting reason. While the Jewish population at that date was already more Ashkenazi than Sephardi, the two sub-communities, between whom there was considerable friction, had come up with an arrangement whereby the lay leadership of Shearith Israel would be Ashkenazi, but the Sephardi ritual and practice would be followed. (In Sarna’s phrase, the Sephardim “exercis[ed] religious and cultural hegemony.”) Thus, the religious needs of New York’s Ashkenazi population were satisfied by the one-day delay, since one day was all the Sephardi practice required by way of observance. And, tolerant of their Jewish neighbors as the procession organizers showed themselves, it is hard to believe that they would have agreed to postpone the event for a full three weeks, as would have been necessary had the Ashkenazim of the day considered themselves obliged to follow Ashkenazi ritual.
As events turned out, on the 23rd, the delegates at Poughkeepsie reached a compromise on the issue that had prevented ratification—whether to condition New York’s ratification on the subsequent addition of amendments to the Constitution, a pseudo-ratification that would almost surely have been unacceptable to the new United States Government. So the Procession wasn’t, after all, needed to bring New York into the ratification column. Formal approval by the convention, by a knife-edge three-vote margin, followed on July 26.
A brief coda, concerning food: Gotham’s account of the New York Procession describes how, after the procession, the participants resorted to L’Enfant’s pavilions for “a feast of roast ham, bullock and mutton.” The Documentary History contains an excerpt from the New York Journal for July 24 confirming that, after the parade, “two bullocks and a mutton had been roasted whole, for their regale, together with hams, &c. &c.” Neither the Documentary History nor any other source mentions whether the Jews—whose 17 Tammuz fast day had been so memorably respected—also received the further “great Compliment” of being served food that did not violate kashruth. But one is entitled to hope that the city’s rivalry with Philadelphia—which had set a separate kosher table for its Jewish citizens—induced the New York organizers to make similar provision for their city’s Jews. For could New York City, even then, have let itself be outdone in the matter of catering? Surely the question answers itself.
1 Shortly after this article went to press, Endowed by Our Creator: The Birth of Religious Freedom in America, by Michael I. Meyerson, was published by Yale University Press. Meyerson briefly discusses the postponement of the New York Procession, citing to the same two letters in the Documentary History as are quoted above.
Posted on 07/15/2012 2:39 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
A Musical Interlude: Let's Misbehave (Irving Aaronson & His Commanders)
Posted on 07/15/2012 2:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Introducing Sheikh Hamza Yusuf
Read here all about the "moderate" Hamza Yusuf,
Zaytuna College, and the waging of the "jihad of the tongue" in a land, America, where non-Muslims still dominate, and where the approach Muhammad took in Mecca -- not later in Medina, when he was more powerful -- has still to be employed.
Posted on 07/15/2012 7:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
JIhad Of The Tongue, Or, Hamza Yusuf Must Be Very Pleased
Strange religious bedfellows unite for letter against hotel porn
Dan Merica ("CNN," July 12, 2012)
A letter penned by two notable scholars – a Christian and a Muslim – and sent to a number of different hotel industry executives has asked those hotels to remove pornography from their company’s in-room movie selections.
Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton University and the past chairman of the conservative National Organization for Marriage, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, a Muslim school, wrote the letter to urge hotels “to do what is right as a matter of conscience.”
“We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good,” reads the letter.
The letter marks the joining of two unique men with two distinctly different faiths. Yusuf says they were able to put aside their disagreement on other issues because of their commitment to this cause. “We need to see that those things that are threatening our society today are much graver than anything that may divide us,” he told CNN.
Posted on 07/15/2012 7:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Hamza Yusuf, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyan, And How Muslims Living In Non-Muslim Lands Can Still Conduct Jihaad Al-Kalima
Muslims Living in Non-Muslim Lands
By Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah, Zaytuna Institute
Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah visited the Bay Area in the last week of July 1999. He offered a week long course on Usool al-Fiqh in Fremont, California. He then gave a talk on July 31, 1999 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. An edited transcription of that talk appears below. As Shakyh Abdullah spoke, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf translated. At times, Shaykh Hamza added some of his own comments and explanations. These appear in brackets in the text.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf's Introduction of the Shaykh
Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, hafidhu Allah, is an extremely well-known and well-respected scholar amongst scholars. In fact, he is a scholars' scholar since many of his students are actually considered scholars now in the Muslim world. His students study extremely difficult texts with him that even very well qualified scholars are not capable of understanding with any facility.
Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah grew up in one of the eastern provinces in West Africa in Mauritania. From a very young age, he showed extreme gifts intellectually and a profound ability to absorb a lot of information and a lot of the text. During his studies, he memorized an extraordinary number of texts. Then, at a very early age, he was appointed with a group of people to study legal judgements in Tunis and went there for a period of time. When he returned to Mauritania, he became a minister of education and later, a minister of justice. He was also one of the vice-presidents of the first president of Mauritania. However, due to the conditions in Mauritania and the military change of governments that took place, he began to teach, and he ended up going to Saudi Arabia and becoming a distinguished professor at The University of Usool al-Fiqh.
The shaykh is presently involved in several organizations in the Muslim world, such as the organization which is known as Al Majma' al-Fiqhi, which is comprised of a body of scholars that come together from all over the Muslim world and from all the different madhhabs and different viewpoints; they analyze and study a lot of the modern issues to come up with Islamic solutions to the issues confronting modern Muslims in the modern world.
Shaykh Abdallah is also involved in writing. He has written several books and has delivered lectures all over the world. This is the first time that he has come to America, so I think we are very fortunate that he has come a long way for us. His books are really interesting, and he has expertise in a lot of areas that have been ignored. One of the areas of expertise that he has is in what is know as fiqh al-aqaliyaat which is the fiqh or juristic rulings related to minority Muslims. Because the Muslims tended to prefer hijra to countries where Muslims were the majority, there are not a lot of scholars that work in the area of dealing with how Muslims in minority areas should actually live their lives and how they should behave when confronted with issues that often are in contradistinction to their deen. So, we asked him if he would talk about this subject tonight, and I'm hoping that we will gain a lot of benefit, and I'm certain we will in sha' Allah. The shaykh is going to speak in Arabic-he is very fluent in French, but he is not fluent in English yet. So, we are going to go section by section, and as he speaks, I'm going to translate in sha' Allah for the people who do not know Arabic.
The Shaykh's Insights on the Muslims' Condition and Responsibilities in America
[Bismillah irahman iraheem. The shaykh began his talk by praising Allah subhaana wa ta'aala and sending prayers on the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam.] I wanted to speak tonight about your conditions, your circumstances here. You are a group that is small in number and yet strong in faith, a group that has diverse ideas and understandings and whose individuals come from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, a group that is few amongst a dominant group that is many. The dominant group is strong in many areas; in fact, they are controlling many areas of the world. I would like to speak tonight about what the priorities of such a group would be: What are the obligations of such a group? What are the responsibilities of such a group? I would like to present some ideas to you, and I hopes that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala helps me to present some ideas that relate to a methodology, to approaches, and to things that will be beneficial to this group if they implement them.
I want to speak about the responsibilities that you carry here. In contrast to Muslims living in the dominant Muslim world at large, you are, in many ways, strangers in a strange land. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Tuba lil guraba." In other words, the conditions of the stranger are blessed conditions, and it also means, "lahum al-jannah: they have paradise" for bearing the burden of alienation. An Arab proverb is, "ya ghareeb kun adeeba: oh stranger in a strange land, be a man of courtesy and cultivation." There is also a hadith, "Islam began alienated and will return as it began, alienated. So, blessed are the alienated ones." This alienation should not mean that you distance yourselves from the rest of the people. That is not the meaning of this state of estrangement. It does not mean you should not work with others or that you should avoid the dominant society and distance yourselves completely from it even though your state is one of estrangement.
Since we know that Islam has legal injunctions and that Muslims have a code of law, a question that occurs immediately to us in looking at these conditions here is whether or not there are rules in our deen that apply to one land and do not apply to another land. As we know, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala has made incumbent upon you to fulfill certain obligations, and Allah has also set boundaries for you, so do not transgress those boundaries. As we know, these rules in Islam relate to every Muslim. In terms of human beings, every one is equal in relation to these rules. You cannot say that one Muslim does not have to pray and another one does. All Muslims who are responsible adults have to pray. So, these rules of prayer and fasting, what are know as the arkan al-Islam-the pillars of Islam, the foundations of Islam-are things that are binding upon all Muslims, no matter where they are or what place they are in.
In addition, there is another type of set of rules in Islam that is known as al-ahkam as-sultania, and these are rules related to governmental authority, to the state. These rules involve certain things, such as the penal code of the Muslims. There is a code related to criminal law: if you do this, then this is the punishment. The implementation of those laws is related to the ahkam as-sultania or the rules related to the legitimate authority of the state. The ahkam as-sultania include the rules related to jihaad-in other words, martial activity in which men fight in war and battles. They also include the rules related to zakaah collecting: the gathering of wealth that Allah has obliged people to pay. In addition, they relate to the establishment of imams, not only the greatest imam, who would be the khalifa, but also the aaimma who will be in the masaajid and the qadaat who are the people who give the khutba on the jumu'a. All these types of things are traditionally related to the authority of the legitimate governing body of the Muslims. Muslims need judges; they need courts; they need police-all of these things relate to these ahkam. These types of rules which are known as the ahkam as-sultania are not the concern of those people who are living in a land in which there is not a legitimate state authority of Muslims.
If we want to look at an analogy, we will find it in the Makkan stage of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam. If you look at the Makkan period, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was not making any claims to government authority. He was calling people to tauheed: the unity of Allah. He was calling people to prayer. He was calling people to the purification of their hearts. He was calling people to leave shirk. All this is known as the jihaad of the tongue: jihaad al-kalima; it is not the jihaad of the sword-or now the gun or the atom bomb or whatever. It was the jihaad of the tongue. Allah subhaana wa ta'aala said, "jaahidhum bihi jihaad al-kabir." "Jaahidhum bihi" means to struggle against them with the Quran. In other words, "speak the Quran to them, and struggle against them with the truth in word;" and this was the jihaad of Makkah. You can say in a modern sense that this is speaking with a strong tongue in the face of wrong, in the face of injustices.
When the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, went to Medina, a different stage began, and there was now a jihaad of a physical type, a martial struggle where they went out. However, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says to fight them until the war comes to an end. This type of jihaad has an end in time, and yet jihaad in its broader understanding in the sharia' never ends. The struggle for the sake of Allah never ends as long as somebody is in this abode. This is why jihaad is the expenditure of one's efforts for the sake of good. It means to do good things. It means to exert one's effort in the society to help people, to expend one's wealth-to give charity-to change the conditions around you: if they are bad, make them better. This can be done without martial effort in many places, and this is still a type of jihaad. This is why it is wrong for people to narrow the understanding of jihaad to some limited definition which only gives the understanding of military struggle because that is not what jihaad means in Islam.
Next, I would like to address the issue of our responsibilities. Given our state of weakness and our minority status here, the governmental aspects of the sharia' do not apply to us. We are not legally responsible for the governmental aspects because of our condition here. Given that, what becomes our responsibility? If Allah has removed from us those governmental responsibilities here, what then are the responsibilities that we have? I want to look at two aspects.
Relationships of Muslims with Other Muslims
The first aspect concerns the relationships that we have with one another. These relationships have to be based on brotherhood. They have to be relationships based on love. Since we are minorities here and are few in number, we have to understand that we need to have solidarity. In order for us to have solidarity, there is something that is very important that we must understand about our legal structure, which is the jurisprudence of difference of opinion: fiqh al-khilaaf. We have to look deeply into this because if we understand this, this is a way in which we can be united and have good feelings towards each other and not negative feelings based on our understandings of valid differences of opinion amongst us. This last week in the classes that many of you have attended, we have been looking at usool al fiqh: the foundations upon which our fiqh is based. We looked at many differences of opinion amongst the scholars and how they were linguistically valid, how they were actually differences of opinion that had foundations; they were not differences based upon empty opinions. They were differences based on real issues that have validity and substance. If we understand that, this will enable us to rise up spiritually to another level of relationship with our fellow Muslims. It will take us to a higher level so that we begin to have differences that are still based on love and mutual respect. We will begin to see that there are different ways of doing things and that there is validity in them all.
We can learn a lesson from the western people who have individuality as one of the foundations of their culture. They respect the rights of people to explore their individuality. There is some good in this understanding, and the Muslims should learn from this even though it is originally from our own tradition. We should see that part of their strength lies in this ability. What this will enable us to do is build bridges. Despite the fact that there are two different opinions which place us in two different positions, this love and mutual respect enables a bridge to be built from one perspective to another perspective, and this creates contact; this creates the ability for us to visit each other, to be together. We should look at these hadiths in which the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "the Muslims are one hand;" "the Muslims are strong;" "a Muslim is strong by his brother;" "the Muslims come together as one hand against those who oppose them;" "the Muslims are like one body: if one part becomes afflicted with some illness, the rest of the body shares in that affliction with insomnia and fever."
Furthermore, the Quran says, "Do not disagree:" do not "tanaasi'u;" that is a strong word in Arabic. It is different from "ikhtilaaf: disagreement." "Tanaasi'u" is saying, do not have conflict with one another-not disagreement-but conflict. Do not have conflict with one another, and if you do that, the wind that gives you strength to move forward will dissipate, and you will fail in your task. You will fail in what you want to achieve. Allah subhaana wa ta'aala said, "Rectify what is of between you." That is, Allah says to rectify the differences that you have. Rectify the hearts, so that you come together. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam,said, "Al-muslimu akh ul-muslim: The Muslim is a brother of his fellow Muslim." He does not oppress him nor does he give him up to the enemy. Thus, all of these are indications that we should be together in spite of our differences if those differences are based on valid fiqhi differences; and this is why we must look into the jurisprudence related to differences of opinion.
We should look at these differences of opinion like different trains that are carrying different baggage or that are going to different places. These trains could be traveling on the same track at different times. If you do not organize them, the result is a disaster. They will crash. But if you organize them, the trains could be using the same tracks even though they are going to different destinations, have different concerns, and have different purposes. So, the blessing of organizing these differences is that the differences do not cause us to crash into each other so that we do not get anything done in the end.
In a sense, we could look at this like a famous fable. There is a legend about a lion and three bulls who were in the jungle. One of them was white, one was yellow, and one was black. The lion was not able to eat these three bulls because if he came near them, they would all stand up together, and each one of them would face the lion, so he could not eat them. The lion began to think about how he could get them to become divided.
He saw the bulls grazing once, and he approached the black and the yellow ones, and he said, "You know that white one over there" He kind of looks like the people around here. He's different from us. Why don't you let me eat him?"
The two bulls said, "Yeah, go ahead. Get rid of him." So, the lion went and ate the white one.
Then, the next day, the lion came to the yellow bull, and he said, "Haven't you noticed that you and I look the same? We have the same color. We're really cousins! And this black one over here-he's different from you. So, why don't you let me eat him?" The yellow one said, "Yeah, you're right. Go ahead."
So, the lion went and ate him. Then, on the third day, the lion came for the yellow bull and said, "I'm going to eat you." The yellow one replied, "I was eaten the day you ate the white one."
This is what happens when you get separated. You lose your strength; you lose your power to do anything. We have to realize that what unites us as Muslims is so much greater than what divides us as Muslims. Our areas of difference are very small in relation to our areas of agreement. This is why we should recognize the power of being together setting aside our differences. In the western world, you have arbitrators. In the whole world, you have arbitrators. You don't want to bring in a judge. You want to bring in somebody who arbitrates. What an arbitrator tries to do is get both people to be satisfied so that one does not lose while the other wins. An arbitrator will try to get each group to compromise a little bit, to come to some kind of compromised agreement where they are both content; each one has given up a little bit, but in giving up, they have come together, and there is a win-win situation. You go to the qaadi (judge) as a last resort-"aakhiru dawaa' al-kay: surgery is the final remedy." You do not go to a surgeon the first time. The surgeon is always the last one you go to in the line of specialists. Doctors will try to cure you in other ways first and will send you to the surgeon as a last resort.
One of the disasters of the situation that we find ourselves in here is that you have Muslims making hijra to these lands from the Muslim world bringing their baggage along with them. So, they are bringing all of these problems with them that have nothing to do with the new circumstances they find themselves in. Furthermore, the challenges that they have in these new circumstances are so great that these problems that they are opening up are causing all kinds of trouble for them. Thus, the are not able to unite. They are not able to do things to benefit them because they are arguing about all these ridiculous things. There is something that we can learn from in the qawaa'id of the Maliki school. [The shaykh gives legal opinions or fatwas from all the schools even though the primary school that he studied was Maliki.] This particular qaa'ida is one that you find only in the Maliki school. This interesting qaa'ida is "jama'til muslimeen taqumu maqaam al-qaadi: a group of Muslims can stand in lieu of a judge." That is, the group can actually take the place of a judge.
[I told the shaykh the other day that there is an American researcher who says that the twelve jury system that we have here in America is from the Maliki school. It was actually taken by western people from the Maliki school. The principle is that a jury of peers will judge you because in those days they did not have qaadis (judges).] The wisdom behind this principle that Imam Malik was indicating is that when people come together, there is a synergistic power of unity in which they will more likely be right in their judgments than wrong. So, if the group makes a judgment, this is why their judgment has the weight and authority, in the Maliki school, of a legal scholar making a judgment based on his knowledge of the sharia'.
The Need for Three Institutions
In order for us to come to a point where we can work together in spite of our differences, or with our differences, we need three institutions. The first one is the institution of fatwa. Fatwa is a non-binding legal opinion. It is not binding on all the Muslims. It is binding on those who ask for it, but it is a non-binding opinion, and there is room for differences and other opinions. The mufti is somebody who gives legal opinions based on the understanding-on the ijtihaad-of all of the different areas of need in the sharia', such as marriage, the rules of buying and selling, the rules of prayer, and the rules of tahaara (cleanliness and purification). The mufti is involved in all of these different things. So, we need a muassasa that deals with this for the Muslims. They need a sound source for guidance when these issues occur in which there are differences.
The second institution we need is a muassasa of tahkeem, which is an institution that issues rulings. In this culture, it is called people's court. A people's court is where the state does not get involved with the case. The parties that are differing agree to go to somebody who will listen to both sides and then make a judgment, and that judgment becomes binding upon them based on the prior agreement of the two. This has been done already in the United States in Texas, so there are Muslims that are doing this, and we should be competing with them in good.
The third institution we need is the sulih. A musassasa deals with sulih which is reconciliation. It deals with bringing people together. Somebody brings the differing groups together and reconciles between them so that they can work together or work separately in peace; thus, they are not fighting each other, undermining each other's work.
All of these institutions are necessary, but it is impossible to get these without having the least amount of respect and desire to bring this about. There has to be a desire for this, and if the desire is not there, then it is a disaster. Furthermore, setting up these particular institutions is not different from setting up other organizations such as those that are created for social issues, for helping the needy, and for doing all the other different things that organizations do. These three institutions are necessary for us in order for us to move on and to resolve a lot of the things that are causing disruption.
Relationships Between Muslims and non-Muslims
The first thing we looked at was our relationship between Muslims in these lands living together. The second thing we have to look at is the relationship that we have with non-Muslims. Now, an issue that we must look at is that of the abode: the daar. Although there may be some people who are educated in Islam who are aware of this issue of the abode, there are many people who are unaware of this issue. In fact, you will even find some people who are fuqaha, scholars of Islamic law and the legal system, who are unaware of this issue. The issue of the abode is this: most people think that the world is divided into two abodes, the abode of peace and the abode of war. The abode of peace is the land of the Muslims, daar al-Islam, and the abode of war is everywhere else. In Nixon's book that I read a translated version of called Seizing the Moment, Nixon wrote a long chapter on the Islamic phenomenon of the modern world. One of the things Nixon said after praising Islam a great deal and saying many nice things about Islam is that one of the most fundamental problems with the Muslims is that they view the world as a dichotomy of two abodes: the abode of peace and the abode of war. So, the central aspect of international relationships with the Muslims is aggression; it is one of war. This idea is wrong. There are three abodes: there is the abode of peace, the abode of war, and then there is the abode of treaty where there is a contractual agreement between two abodes.
For instance, when I came into this country, they issued me a visa, and I signed something. In the issuance of the visa and my signing of it, a legally binding contract occurred which was a sulih. It was an agreement that when I came into this country, I would obey the laws and would follow the restrictions that this visa demanded that I follow. This was a contractual agreement that is legally binding according even to the divine laws. In looking at this, we have to understand that the relationship between the Muslims living in this land and the dominant authorities in this land is a relationship of peace and contractual agreement-of a treaty. This is a relationship of dialogue and a relationship of giving and taking.
We should remember that when the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was in Makkah, what he asked for from the Quraish was just that they left him alone to do his da'wa. He said, "Khalu bayni wa baynan naas: Leave me alone to talk to these people. Let me speak to them; let me call them." And they wouldn't let him do that. However, in this country, the ruling people are allowing you to call people to Islam, and this is exactly what the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was asking that they allow him to do in Makkah. These people here are allowing you to call people to Islam. They are not prohibiting you. If you go out and proselytize, they don't come and arrest you; they don't punish you; they don't torture you. This idea here should be understood, and the verse from the Quran that we should take as the overriding verse in our relationship with this people is where Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says concerning those who neither fight you because of your religion nor remove you from your homes that He does not prohibit you from showing them birr: righteousness. "Birr" in the Arabic language is the highest degree of ihsaan-it is the 'aala daraja of ihsan. Allah does not prevent you from showing them excellence-moral excellence-in your transactions with them nor from sharing with them a portion of your wealth.
Qadi Abu-Bakr, Ibn 'Atiyah, and others have also said that this is what "antuqsitu 'ilayhim" means. You give non-Muslims qistan: a portion of your wealth. In the early period of Islam, this is ta'lif al-quloob: one of the things that they used to do in order to bring people close. They would give monetary gifts to people whom they saw had inclinations towards Islam in order to draw the hearts. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "give gifts to each other and love one another." So, the act of giving something naturally inclines the one who is receiving the gift to have feelings of love towards the person who is giving them. The reason for doing these things-for treating these people with respect, showing this good character, and having this good courtesy-is that you will get from amongst them those who respond and will actually enter into Islam. This really is how we should see our relationship. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, not only gave gifts to some of the mushrikeen in Makkah, he also received gifts from them because his goal was that they become Muslim. He did not want to fight them-that was the last resort. The goal was that they become Muslim, that they enter into Islam.
Also, it is necessary for us to show respect to these people. Islam prohibits us from showing aggression towards people who do not show aggression towards us. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Do not enter the houses of the Christians nor eat anything of their fruits except with their permission." Islam prohibits theft; it prohibits fraud; it prohibits cheating; and it prohibits these things in relation to the Muslims and in relation to the non-Muslims. The things that you cannot do to a Muslim, you also cannot do to a non-Muslim. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, also said, "None of you truly believes until he wants for his brother what he wants for himself." Imam Shabrakhiti ibn Rajul al-Hambali and others mentioned that "brother" here not only means your brother Muslim because this is a close brotherhood of Islam that others are not in, but it refers to the greater and broader brotherhood of our Adamic nature. It is a brotherhood in the sense that we are all from Adam, that Adam is the father of all us. Understanding this should cause us to realize that we have distant relations with all of these people out there, and all of them are potential Muslims. We should see them as potential Muslims.
Allah, subhaana wa ta'aala, for that reason says, "Call to your Lord with wisdom and with a beautiful admonition, and dispute them in the most excellent of ways." In other words, debate with them and dialogue with them in the most beautiful of ways. Don't be argumentative; don't be cruel; don't be mean; don't humiliate them. Do it ways in which they can listen to the truth, respect the truth, and come to the truth. For this reason, we have to be du'ahtis salaam: people who are callers to peace.
We also have to be good citizens because an excellent Muslim is also an excellent citizen in the society that he lives in. This does not mean that we lose our distinction, that we become completely immersed in the dominant society to where we no longer have our own identity-that is not what I'm calling to. We have to maintain those things that are particular to us as a community, but we also have to recognize that there are other things that are not particular to us but rather general to the human condition that we can partake in; and these things are not things that we should be ignorant and neglectful of but things that we should be engaged in. We have to maintain our roots. We have deep roots in our faith, but at the same time we have to be open to allow others to come into that deep-rootedness.
In addition, we have to recognize that the creation itself is a creation of diversity. It is a creation in which you see variation of colors. Allah did not make all the trees one, and He did not make all the animals one. He diversified the creation. He diversified even our colors and our languages; and He did all this for a wisdom. Not only that, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala made us on different religions and different paths, and He did that intentionally because He said in the Quran, "They continue to be in differences except those whom your Lord has shown His mercy to, and for that reason He created them." So, Allah subhaana wa ta'aala is saying that He actually created us in order that we differ-that there is a wisdom, a divine wisdom in the differences that we have. He created us to show mercy to us as well. So, we have to rise up to this challenge. This is a high challenge, and we as Muslims have to rise up to this challenge.
Another thing that is very important for us to remember is the moderation of Islam. This is a deen of wasatiyyah: it is a deen of moderation. We are a moderate community. We are between the two extremes of excess and deficiency. We are in the middle. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Those people who go into matters too deeply will be destroyed." [The shaykh is an expert in the Arabic language, and he said, "those people" are people involved in "tatarruf" or extremism. That is what "tanatau'" is.] The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "The extremists are destroyed," and he said, "Beware of extremism in the deen." The Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, warned against extremism, and he did not like it. Notice that one of the things that extremism does is that it causes you to lose your rational component so that you are not able to weigh things rationally. Once you have gone to an extreme, you can no longer see things in any balanced way. You have lost that balance of the middle way. This makes you think that what you are doing is right even though it is clearly wrong to others.
As an example, take note of the Khawaarij when there was a difference of opinion between Sayidana 'Ali and Sayidana Mu'awiyah, radi Allahu 'anhuma. They differed. Sayidana 'Ali was the legitimate khalifa, but Mu'awiyah did not take baya' with him; they had differences. So, they called for arbitration. At that point, there was a group of people who were with Sayidana 'Ali, radi Allahu 'anhu, and they were extremists in the deen. They interpreted the Quran on their own whims. When they heard that Sayidana 'Ali had accepted arbitration, they quoted an ayah which says, "La hukma illa lillah: There's no arbitration except by Allah." Allah is the only one that can make judgment. So, they said, how can you call a hakam into this situation for them to decide when it is Allah who will decide this situation? Sayidana 'Ali, radi Allahu 'anhu, replied that the ayah is a true word but that they were using it for a false purpose. They did not listen to him despite that he said and proved to them in the Quran there are many instances where Allah subhaana wa ta'aala calls for arbitration where people must be brought to decide: between marital disputes; on the on the Haj, when somebody breaks a tree or kills an animal; and there are many other examples of that. Their extremism prevented them from seeing the truth, and this is why things have to be weighed in the balance of the sacred law and of the rational, middle understanding of a human being that is balanced in his nature.
This means that we should not fear, but we also should not be aggressive. In other words, we should not be people who are cowards, and there is cowardice in our nature, but nor should we be people who are extremists, going to the other side and being aggressive. An example is people who blow up innocent people in the name of religion and do things that the sharia' is really completely against. These are means that they are using that are unacceptable to the deen of Islam. What they end up doing is creating a completely distorted picture of Islam so that people who are outside of Islam are completely repelled by it and are not attracted to Islam. This is why Imam Shaatabi, radi Allahu 'anhu, wrote in his Muwaafaqaat, one of the greatest books written on usool al-fiqh, that this sharia' lies between excess and between want. It is the middle way; and the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "Khair ul-umoom ausatuha: the best of affairs are those that lie in the middle."
Other Matters of Importance
Next, I want to go into some more detail in looking at the general aspect of our condition here. I already spoke about the two most important concerns which are the relationships between Muslims amongst each other and the relationship between Muslims and the dominant culture. Now I would like to go into a few important points that relate to more detail. The first thing is that it is absolutely essential that you respect the laws of the land that you are living in. There are a number of reasons for this, but the least of this is the principle "al-muslimu la yudillu nafsa: a Muslim does not place himself in a state where he is humiliated." You are living in a land in which the people are very serious about their laws, and if you break the laws, this can result in you being tried as a criminal and being sent to prison and being completely humiliated as a Muslim where non-Muslims are putting you in a cage and preventing you from your own human dignity of freedom and other things. So, it is essential that we remember that.
The second thing I want you to understand is that your circumstances here are not normal circumstances by any means. You are in very unusual circumstances, and because of that, there are certain things that the sharia' allows that it does not allow in times and places where those circumstances do not exist. One of things that is really important for you all here to really take to heart is that the textual positions which we have concerning women that are more lenient should be applied in these lands. We should open up the situation of the woman, not to where it takes us outside the pail of Islam-that is not what I am saying at all-but where we remain within the pail of Islam, and take it to positions that go to the limits of facilitation for the women. Among those are, for instance, the position of the Hanafis stating that a woman can marry without a wali. That is because the conditions of men and women in this land necessitate that type of a ruling. However, the ideal situation is for her to have a wali, and the wali can be any one of the Muslim community male members if she is new in Islam and does not have anybody to do that for her, but the Hanafi position should be seen as a valid position because it is a valid position, and we should not fault women who take that position.
In addition, we should remember that there are positions in Islam that today to many Muslims are quite shocking, such as the decision of Imam Fadari. He was an imam mujtahid: he had his own madhhab. Although it is no longer being applied, he had his own madhhab, and he was recognized by the other Muslims as a valid imam. He believed that a woman could be a qaadi in all the areas of sharia'. He said that there was nothing in the sharia' that would prevent a woman from being a qaadi if she had the intellectual and educational background to fulfill that role. Also, Imam Abu Hanifa radi Allahu 'anhu stated that a woman could be a qaadi in everything other than penal matters-blood and things that are related to blood-but in the other matters that did not concern blood, she could be a qaadi. So, it is important that we really broaden that area, but we should use that broadening to work for Islam and not against Islam, and we should take this into consideration.
Another matter that is important is zakaah. The Muslim organizations in this country need to play an important role in the collecting of zakaah. Even though it is permissible for people in the absence of a legitimate Islamic authority to give zakaah to whom they please, there is a need for zakaah here, and there are organizations that are working in areas which are beneficial and are working to help people. [The shaykh used the examples of Rahima and Zaytuna who are doing this type of work because he has come here for a short time, and he knows only those two names, but this includes the many, many organizations in this country that are working for Islam, that help people, and that know the needs of their community.] These are organizations people go to when looking for help. Whereas they might not go to you and know that you have zakaah to give, they will go to that organization because it is a name; they know of it; and they will say, "I need zakaah." So, those organizations should be able to facilitate the movements of zakaah money to the people who are worthy of taking the zakaah. That is important, and obviously, these organizations which you give to should be ones that you feel are trustworthy.
[Next, the shaykh gave an example of a situation that he was involved in where there was a need for facilitation that related to the jumu'a prayer.] I am a member of a fiqh counsel in Europe which has an number of scholars including Dr. Yusuf al-Qardawi; it is called The Counsel of Islamic Legal Rulings in Europe. We go to Europe for our meetings, and this year, we met in Germany. One of the issues that was placed in front of us was the issue of laborers who work in factories and are not able to go the jumu'a at the time it is done. The council agreed that in these types of circumstances, we need to look at the easier rulings. For instance, in the madhhab of Ahmed ibn Hambal, radi Allahu 'anhu, the khutba is permitted to be delivered before the actual time of the prayer comes in. We need to take rukhas, which are legal licenses, to facilitate for people because of our conditions here-we are not living in a Muslim country where the ruler is encouraging the practice of the prayer and actually making sure that the prayer is being said in its right time-[and we know that rulers in many countries don't do that even in the Muslim world now any way]. This facilitation also includes the joining of prayer. It is acceptable to join Dhur and 'Asr at the time that they share according to Imam al-Qaraafi in his majestic work, TheKhira. Imam al-Qarafi is a famous Maliki qaadi, and it is understood in the Maliki school that there is a time in which the prayers are shared between Dhur and 'Asr. There is also such a time between Maghrib and 'Isha. There is a valid opinion amongst the recognized fuqaha of the sunni school-not of the shia' school-that enables the delaying of Maghrib until the time of the 'Isha prayer when they meet at that point. So, in circumstances where people really have a difficult time, it is better that they join their prayers rather than lose their prayers altogether because if you do not present those options for them, there are people who say, "I can't pray. It's too hard. I'm working and this and that;" and their iman might be weak. So, in these types of situations, there has to be facilitation for these people.
What is prohibited in Islam is the joining of all five prayers at one time. You cannot do that. You cannot do that. Some people wait until the end of the day and pray them altogether. No. You have to pray in the times that the fuqaha have allowed for in the joining of the times. [This should not be an excuse for people to say, "Oh great! The shaykh just gave me a fatwa, and now I don't need to worry." He is talking about situations that are really difficult for people. He is not just saying go out and do what you want. No. You know your deen is your most important thing that you have; and your prayer is the most important thing in your deen after your tauheed; and whoever does not guard the prayer has not guarded his deen. The prayer has times, and they are prescribed times. But what the shaykh is saying simply is there are situations where people really do have a difficult time, and the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in a sahih hadith in Bukhari according to Ibn 'Abbas, radi Allahu 'anhu, joined the prayers. They said to Ibn 'Abbas, "Why did he do that?" He replied, "So that his ummah would not have difficulty and feel bad about doing this later," and he said, "the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was concerned about even the last of his ummah." The Messenger, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, in a hadith, said, "Ikhwaani, ikhwaani: my brothers, my brothers!" at the Kabah, and Abu Dar, radi Allahu 'anhu, said, "Aren't we your brothers?" But he replied, "No, you're my sahaba (companions)." He said, "My brothers come after me. They believe in me and they've never seen me."]
[The shaykh had given me permission to add anything that I had thought was important, so he just reiterated what I had added about the importance of prayer.] You should not make the joining of your prayer a norm, but in certain excruciating circumstances, that is a valid position which is recognized, and it becomes an option for people having difficulty. Another thing to remember is the importance of your neighbors. Your neighbor has rights over you. These rights are inclusive of the Jewish, Christian, and other neighbors you may have. There are many examples of that, but a story that comes to my mind is that of Abu Hanifa, radi Allahu 'anhu, who is called imam al-'aadham: the greatest imam.
It is well known that Abu Hanifa, radi Allahu 'anhu, did tahajjut every night. He would spend his night reciting the Quran. He had a neighbor who was an alcoholic, and he used to drink a lot and sing love poems. This used to bother the imam. But one day, the imam did not hear this man's revelry, so he went and asked about him. They said, "Oh, so-and-so. They took him to jail." So, the very well respected imam went to the jail. He was the most respected imam and qaadi at the time in that place. When the ruler found out the imam went to the jail, he asked for the reason and was told that the imam was concerned about his neighbor who had been arrested. So, the ruler said to release the man, and he was released. The neighbor then asked Abu Hanifa why he did that, and he replied, "Because you have a right upon me as a neighbor, and I have not been neglectful of that." That was the reason that the neighbor made tauba to Allah subhaana wa ta'aala.
Next, there is another subject that may be a little difficult for some people to understand, even for some people of knowledge, but I am not in any way claiming to have more knowledge than those people, and I am certain there are people who have come here who have greater knowledge than me. This subject concerns the difference between ahlu l-dhimma and ahlu l-'aahad. Ahlu l-dhimma are people who are in a minority status in the Muslim lands. Ahlu l-'aahad are Muslim people in minority status in non-Muslim lands. Each of these groups has different rules that apply to it. In relation to the people of 'aahad, there are things that we have to understand. [The shaykh explained that he is giving you his personal opinion, and it is the amaanah (trust) of the translator to relate that.] I feel it is important that people are concerned with political candidates in this country. If we support the candidates who are known to have positive attitudes towards the Muslims and who are supportive of Muslim causes and even those who are just better people than the opposing candidates, in the usooli knowledge, this would be considered taking the lesser of two evils. In a non-Muslim situation, voting and not voting are both not good situations, but as a community that does not engage themselves and yet is affected by the political instruments, the lack of participation can end up being a greater evil than the participation itself. This is something that has to be looked at and balanced. In my opinion, it is probably a greater evil not to be participating at all and to simply be disengaged from the process. So, as Muslims, people should come together as one hand and create blocks to where they can try to have some influence to the best of their ability.
Finally, I ask that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, in sha' Allah, gives me taufiq in what I have said and that I have not said anything inappropriate. I ask that that it benefits me and also benefits you in sha' Allah. [Then the shaykh made a du'ah that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, in sha' Allah, accept this from us and give us taufiq. Jazakum Allahu khairan.]
About Shaykh Abdallah
Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, hafidhu Allah, is an extremely well-known and well-respected scholar amongst scholars. In fact, he is a scholars' scholar since many of his students are actually considered scholars now in the Muslim world. His students study extremely difficult texts with him that even very well qualified scholars are not capable of understanding with any facility. Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah grew up in one of the eastern provinces in West Africa in Mauritania. From a very young age, he showed extreme gifts intellectually and a profound ability to absorb a lot of information and a lot of the text. During his studies, he memorised an extraordinary number of texts. Then, at a very early age, he was appointed with a group of people to study legal judgements in Tunis and went there for a period of time. When he returned to Mauritania, he became a minister of education and later, a minister of justice. He was also one of the vice-presidents of the first president of Mauritania. However, due to the conditions in Mauritania and the military change of governments that took place, he began to teach, and he ended up going to Saudi Arabia and becoming a distinguished professor at The University of Usul al-Fiqh. The shaykh is presently involved in several organizations in the Muslim world, such as the organization which is known as Al Majma' al-Fiqhi, which is comprised of a body of scholars that come together from all over the Muslim world and from all the different madhhabs and different viewpoints; they analyze and study a lot of the modern issues to come up with Islamic solutions to the issues confronting modern Muslims in the modern world. Shaykh Abdallah is also involved in writing. He has written several books and has delivered lectures all over the world. He has expertise in a lot of areas that have been unfortunately ignored by the vast amount of contemporary scholars. One of the areas of expertise that he has is in what is know as fiqh al-aqaliyaat which is the fiqh or juristic rulings related to Muslims living as a religious minority with a dominant alien territory. Because the Muslims tended to prefer hijra to countries where Muslims were the majority, there are not a lot of scholars that work in the area of dealing with how Muslims in minority areas should actually live their lives and how they should behave when confronted with issues that often are in contradistinction to their din.
Posted on 07/15/2012 7:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Interfaithfully Yours, Or, What Was Robert P. George Thinking?
I do not think the letter addressed to various hotel chains, signed by two men, Professor Robert P. George, a well-known conservative Catholic, and Hamza Yusuf, a clever American-born "revert" to Islam, originated with Professor George, but more likely, with Hamza Yusuf, who then sweetly, ecumenically, let's-join-forces-on-this-issue interfaithfully for the greater good, who did so.
Why do I suspect that? Because if the letter had originated with Robert George, he surely might have found others -- Southern Baptists come immediately to mind, as do Orthodox Rabbis -- who would have willingly signed such a letter. But either the letter originated with Hamza Yusuf, who had his eye on George as someone he might inveigle into signing such a letter with him, or George asked Hamza Yusuf who replied immediately, and once Hamza Yusuf was involved, that would -- rightly -- have made others who might have signed reluctant to do so, lest they lend their own respectability to Hamza Yusuf. Robert George has been the head of a Family Values organization. One wonders if he gave any thought, before joining forces with the likes of Hamza Yusuf, to the family values of Islam. These include: the view of women as diabolically sexual creatures the very sight of whom drive men, savages incapable of controlling themsleves, wild, and since men cannot hold themselves in check, they must drape the women to conceal their allure, in some cases in a niqab in which there are only eye-slites, or, in the Taliban variant, not even that. Women's testimony is worth half that of men, women are entitled to inherit half of what a male sibling will inherit. A woman can be divorced -- a subject about which, we must assume, Robert P.. George cares a lot --- by her husband merely repeating three times a single word: Talaq, Talaq, Talaq. He can even do it by email, or by fax. Does Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton, not know any of this? He disapporves of adultery, but does he approve of the punishment in Islam for adultery, where the woman, but not the man, is stoned to death in countries -- such as Saudi Arabia and Iran -- that try most to be true to the spirit and letter of the Shari'a? What about, as part of Islamic "family values," the ability of the man who exercise complete power -- including the power of life and death -- over his wife or wives and his children? Does Robert P. George not know about any of that? He can read Joseph Schacht on Islamic law. He can read any number of Muslim scholars on family law according to the Shari'a. He can read the handbook provided by the Sunni preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi; I have a copy myself, for it's not hard to find. He could read, if he wants to find out about how non-Muslims are treated under Islam, the book by the late Maronite law professor in Beirut, Antoine Fattal. H
He could do what many people who write at this site, or come to read it, have done. That is, he might have bothered to educate himself, , by reading the canonical texts, Qur'an (with an intelligent guide), Hadith, and Sira, and by studying the history of the treatment of the many non-Muslim peoples -- Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others -- whose lands fell to the Muslims, and he might have consulted the testimony of the many articulate ex-Muslims now living and writing and speaking in the West. Ideally, the person who wishes to be well-prepared will have done all three.Oh, there's a lot he could have done, and he apparently did none of it.
I wonder with whom the idea for this joint letter originated. Did Hamza Yusuf call him up, send an email, write a letter.
Did it go something like this:
Dear Professor George,
I write to you as a member of a faith community that is shocked, and disturbed, by the ever-present pornography in American society, and I believe that you may help me in my desire to express to the people most likely to begin to help curb this scourge that wreaks such havoc on families, and on the right relations between men and women, and helps create a world when marriage, and its only legitimate end, children, becomes ever rarer and ever more, as an institution, is undre siege.
I know that you and I have many disagreements. But you and Iboth belong to, and can honestly represent, the two large faith communities that, in the world today, are the most strongly opposed to the breakdown of marriage and family life. And both of us, whatever our other disagreements may be, have no disagreeements, are united as one, in the desire to preserve the institution of marriage, and of sexual life rightly conceived and understood. So I write to you to ask if you will join me in signing a letter that we would address to the owners of hotel chains, and at the same time, make public as a way to put pressure on them. Some, I know, will urge you-- if you consult with them -- not to join forces "with a Muslim." And on my side, I assure you there are those who would counsel me not to attempt to join forces with a non-Muslim, even such a sincere and devout representative of the faith as you are. But I will not listen to those telling me to have nothing to do with you, even in good cause, and I fervently hope that you will not listen to those who may tell you to have nothing to do with me.
The issue of family values, of marriage, of sexuality within marriage and only within marriage, all of which the terrible omnipresence of pornography damages, as the same terrible images do such damage to the human soul -- this is simply too important a matter for me, and I hope for you too, to worry about whether or not we should work together on this matter or jointly sign, the letter I propose we write and send out into the world. Too many people have been, and are being, and will be harmed, if we do nothing.
With respect for your work on behalf of the American family, I await your reply.
Or words to that effect. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Robert George interfaithfully reached out first to Hamza Yusuf. But I suspect it was Hamza Yusuf who started it, perhaps after meeting Robert George at a conference, or hearing from a friend that he was ripe for the interfaith anti-pornogrphy plucking.
It would be interesting to find out, in any case, what Robert P. George understands about Islam and "family values" and if, fuerther, he grasps exactly to what use Hamza Yusuf will be able to put that joint letter, that association with Robert P. George. And if he understands the Jihad of Propaganda (Jihad of the Tonque), which he can find out about by reading the piece I put up here by Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (whose speech was introduced, and translated, at Zaytuna College, by none other than Hamza Yusuf) will he allow himself to feel even the slightest regret for what he has so regrettably done, or is this, at this point, simply impossible? .
If he does recognize all the ways he has made a mistake, he can do the handsome thing, and the right thing, by telling us just how, and why, he allowed himself to be so inveigled, thereby damaging, or at least vitiating, the very thing he rightly sought to achieve --curbs on the pornography that is all over the place and which is part of this vast experiment of "Anything Goes" that the Western world has been engaged in for the last several decades, conducting on its own people as the hapless guinea pigs, an experiment that, as everyone sensible now knows (but doesn't know what to do about, for in this respect pornography is like the large-scale presence of Muslims in the West), has had disastrous results.
A dignified Mea Culpa would be enough. A Mea Maxima Culpa would be too much to ask.
Posted on 07/15/2012 7:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
A Cinematic Interlude: Alastair Sim (from "The Green Man")
Posted on 07/15/2012 8:09 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Can Hillary Clinton Or The Other Confused People In Brief Authority Grasp The First Thing About Islam?
From The New York Times:
July 15, 2012
After Meeting With Clinton, Egypt’s Military Chief Steps Up Political Feud
CAIRO — Egypt’s top military official stepped up his feud with the Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday, saying the army would prevent Egypt from falling to a “certain group,” according to the state news agency.
The remarks by the official, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, did not mention the Brotherhood by name but were widely seen as a reference to the group and to Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s newly elected president and a former Brotherhood leader. And they came just hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with the field marshal in Cairo in an effort to prod Egypt’s military to hand its power to civilians.
The accelerating dispute between the military and the Brotherhood marked the latest unpredictable turn in Egypt’s chaotic transition, and underscored the challenges Mrs. Clinton faced on her two-day visit to Egypt.
Constrained by an almost complete mistrust of the United States’ motives, Mrs. Clinton was forced to avoid strong calls for a quick end to military rule, favoring language instead that called for Egyptian solutions along with respect for minority rights.
And with little leverage except a promise of economic assistance, she struggled to coax the military and Mr. Morsi to resolve their rift.
She also faced anger from Christian leaders, including some who boycotted a meeting with her on Sunday, objecting to what they said was interference by the United States in Egypt’s politics in order to aid an Islamist rise to power.
Though there is little evidence that the Islamists needed American help in gaining power — or indeed, received it — the complaints reflected the country’s anxious politics and growing concerns among many Christians and secular-minded Egyptians about Islamist rule.
After meeting Mr. Morsi on Saturday, Mrs. Clinton sat down on Sunday morning with Field Marshal Tantawi, whose military council took power after President Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year. The military still retains broad legislative and executive authority, having seized further powers before the presidential election in June.
After the meeting, which lasted a little over an hour, a senior State Department official said Field Marshal Tantawi and Mrs. Clinton had discussed the economy, regional security, “the political transition” and the military’s “ongoing dialogue with President Morsi.”
Field Marshal Tantawi emphasized that Egyptians needed “help getting the economy back on track,” the official said. “The secretary stressed the importance of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities.”
But just hours after the meeting, Mrs. Clinton appeared to have achieved little reconciliation between the two sides. “Egypt will not fall,” Field Marshal Tantawi said at a military ceremony. “It is for all Egyptians, not for a certain group — the armed forces will not allow that.”
Mrs. Clinton’s afternoon meeting with leaders of Egypt’s Christian minority touched on one of the transition’s rawest nerves: the fear that Mr. Morsi and his allies would move swiftly to lay the foundations of a pious, Muslim state.
Those anxieties have caused some liberals and Coptic leaders to support the military in its feud with the Brotherhood, and even to call on the generals to keep power until new elections for Parliament can be held.
In trying to ease the Islamists’ grip on government, liberals have also been accused of being content to subvert the will of Egyptians, who voted a majority of Islamists into Parliament. And despite the Brotherhood’s repeated successes at the ballot box, some have continued to implicate the United States.
Youssef Sidhom, who attended the round-table afternoon meeting with Mrs. Clinton at the American Embassy here, said some of the discomfort was rooted in the timing of American statements on Egypt, which seemed to “bless democracy” just as Islamists were winning.
“She kept repeating and assuring us that she has no intention to take sides,” said Mr. Sidhom, who edits a newspaper that deals with Coptic concerns. He said that Mrs. Clinton, noting the Brotherhood’s political skills, spoke to the Christian leaders about becoming a more organized political force.
A senior State Department official, speaking of meetings on Sunday with entrepreneurs, women’s groups and Christian leaders, said Mrs. Clinton was trying “to make absolutely clear where we stand on this political transition, which is that we support a full transition to civilian democratic rule and a constitution that protects the human rights and freedoms of all Egyptians.” [you can't have the Ikhwan in power which is what "a full transition to civilian democratic rule" would mean, and at the same time have a constitution, or a polity, that "protects the human rights and freedoms of all Egyptians." Choose one. Andjust imagine how ruthless Ataturk would have fared in his attempts to constrain Islam for the greater good of Turkey's people, had the Hillary-Clintons of this world been in charge, in the 1920s and 1930s, in the chanceries of the West.]
In Egypt’s current muddled politics, though, those goals are hard to reconcile. Revolutionary groups and human rights activists have warned that continued involvement by the military, which many people here accuse of staging a de facto coup, would undermine the Constitution’s legitimacy. But others, including Christian leaders Mrs. Clinton met with on Sunday, see the military as the only guarantor of a constitution that protects minority rights.
“She can say what she wants concerning the issue,” said Emad Gad, a former member of Parliament who said he had refused to attend the meeting with Mrs. Clinton.
“We are living in an unstable period. If the SCAF goes back to its barracks,” he said, referring to the military council by its initials, “the Brotherhood will control everything.”
Posted on 07/15/2012 10:52 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Chizhik, Chizhik, Gde Ty Byl?
So he was in good old Budapest, and no doubt there were many, of the kind who cheerfully participated inmass killigngs by Hungarian Fascists, like the Rumanian version almost outdooing the Germans in their glee. He, LadislausCsizik-Csatary, has already lived at least sixty years too long. I suppose there's not much to be done to him now, but whatever can be done to ensure that he has a horrible end, it should be. Forget this morally odiotic "but he's an old man" stuff. It's the least that can be done.
Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary, 97 ans, est accusé de complicité dans la mort de 15.700 Juifs pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Il a été retrouvé vivant à Budapest par une équipe de journalistes britanniques.
Posted on 07/15/2012 10:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 July 2012
E. U. Keeps Funding Hezbollah Instead Of Standing By Maronites
Europe has committed €3.8m for the development of a citizenship education programme in Lebanese schools but it is being used for 'indoctrination'
13 July 2012
Hezbollah is at the nadir of its popularity. Tainted by its support for the murderous Syrian regime, the Iranian proxy finds itself on the wrong side of the so-called Arab Spring. Although the looming presence of its fearsome black-shirted militia has so far enabled it to dominate the Lebanese government, Hezbollah knows that brute force alone will not sustain its hegemony in the long term. A lesson currently being learned by its Ba'athist friends in Damascus. If Hezbollah is to consolidate its rule over Lebanon, it must command the loyalty of the country's youth. And, having inherited the previous government's five-year education sector development plan or ESDP, Hezbollah is in the ideal position to achieve this by embedding its own ideology into Lebanon's education system.
Keen to support the strengthening of 'student national identity and civic responsibilities' in a nation as perennially blighted by sectarian strife as Lebanon, the European Union has committed €3.8m for the development of a citizenship education programme in Lebanese schools. Well-intentioned as this is, it overlooks the fact that Hezbollah's conception of civic responsibility is fundamentally at odds with Europe's. This was most starkly evident in February, when the Lebanese Minister of Education issued a memorandum obligating all public schools to spend an hour imbuing 'the culture of resistance' in children.
Nor has Hezbollah's attempt to indoctrinate an entire generation stopped there. As part of the ESDP, which the EU is co-financing with a total budget of €13.7m, the Lebanese government is seeking to launch a standardised history curriculum. According to the most recent proposal, history lessons will include an agenda teaching pupils to appreciate 'the resistance's importance in terms of defending Lebanon'. The draft syllabus has also been criticised for writing the pro-democracy Cedar Revolution out of Lebanon's history, as well as omitting the country's struggle against the Syrian army and Palestinian militias, during the civil war. To all impartial observers, it is clear that Hezbollah is exploiting the ESDP to greatly exaggerate its centrality to Lebanese national identity.
When the United Kingdom Independence Party MEP Paul Nuttall submitted a parliamentary question asking whether the European Commission would cancel its financial assistance to the Lebanese Ministry of Education, in light of Hezbollah's efforts to brainwash students, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle responded by saying that any cessation of funding "would be counterproductive".
Given that the Lebanese education minister announced in May that he had enlisted the help of his Iranian counterpart in implementing the ESDP, the commission ought to consider that what is a truly counterproductive position in sponsoring a project that appears to have been outsourced to Hezbollah's paymasters in Tehran. None of this is to dispute that Lebanon's education sector is in critical need of restructuring and investment. But it is difficult to see how it is in Europe's interests - or, indeed, in Lebanon's - to facilitate the process of reform while it is under the direction of a Hezbollah-led government.
Posted on 07/15/2012 11:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald