23 November 2008

''Making the coastal areas lucrative for local fishermen again could encourage pirates to return to legitimate livelihoods' It is all about justice

''Beyond the immediate need to temporarily send warships to police the troubled waters, a coalition force tasked with fishery protection should be deployed. It could be done under the auspices of the United Nations, African Union, or a coalition of willing states.
This option will address a root cause of the piracy problem, rob the modern-day buccaneers of their legitimacy, and be more acceptable to the region as an enduring part of the solution.
First, this option will address the very problem that originally sparked this rise in piracy. The problem of piracy in Somalia originated about a decade ago because of disgruntled fishermen.
The headless state had no authority to patrol its tuna-rich coastal waters and foreign commercial vessels swooped in to cast their nets. This proved a slap in the face for Somalis, who saw these vessels as illegal and raking in profits at the expense of the local impoverished population. To make matters worse, there were reports that some foreign ships even dumped waste in Somali waters.''

• Katie Stuhldreher is a graduate student at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University, where she's currently researching Somali piracy.

04 November 2008

The Many Salafisms

Yes, I know what you must be thinking: misogynist, arrogant and supremacist. This in fact is the dreary picture painted by the sociologist Riaz Hassan in his book Inside Muslim Minds of what he labels "Salafibism". Fortunately, mortal muse is never that wholly encompassing of truth. Take for example the Muhammadiyah Association. Reporter Amy McQuire who toured East Timor and Indonesia with the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre in July came into contact with Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim group in Indonesia. What did she find? That it runs hospitals and schools in urban, regional and remote Indonesia. And "it does not discriminate in providing services to all sectors of society. Muhammadiyah also has an active women’s branch called Aisyiyah, which is involved in several charitable works aimed at empowering women."

All this good from a group which if we have been told is an inherently evil form of expression colluding with sectarian fantasists of old?

From the Muhammadiyah website:
On 25th May 1957 a group of students from Madrasah Raudatil Atfal and students of the late Ustaz Abdul Rahman Harun, Ustaz Rijal Abdullah and Ustaz Amir Esa had organized an Eid Adha Hari Raya Gathering. In that gathering the students had unanimously agreed to strengthen their group and officially established a Sunnah/Salafi movement in Singapore.
I'd argue there is nothing uncommon about a humane, tolerant Salafism. Just like there are many Sufisms, there are many Salafisms. Some of them are dubious, some of them are not. The routine mutual slander (as occurs on the blogosphere) is neither here nor there. Moreover, an individual humanity supersedes prejudice.

The task of a contemporary Muslim, in my view, is also to struggle with labels and meanings. In order to achieve that, we must first emotionally distance ourselves from group-thought, and then, come to common terms.

I'd like to voice my own personal disagreements with a lot of what is established, but it'll probably cause more division. I have come to the realisation that dialogue and everything sounds good but at the end of the day we're going to disagree. Let us live together and clog the hurt. Sectarianism is one of the biggest problems facing Muslims.

It doesn't help when Irfan Yusuf blames all terrorism on the "Wahhabis". There is more to it and more to a range of a peoples than meets the eye. Terrorism, in fact, is the legacy of Sayyid Qutb who subscribed to the colossal Leninist irony that killing of innocents on whatever scale is justified in a quest for earthly utopia. This ideology lies at the heart of Al-Qaeda's error: "there is no hope". The actions of terrorists suggests that God is unable to govern with fairness and permits debauchery and killing in the service of depraved, elitist maniacs. Certainly not the God of Islam. Not the God of man. In Islam triumph is always of unrelenting faith, of good, of meekness, of patient labour and of small kindnesses.

Salafis, Sufis and Shias must stop fighting and start building.

We are mortals, of course, balancing immortal revelations. Separated by land and sea and culture and viewpoints. Yet, there is no excuse for slander.

02 November 2008

If Things Must Change...

I just read a disturbing story of a thirteen-year-old Somali girl who was raped and then -- by a form of twisted logic -- stoned to death by "Islamic militants". There is no denying that the judges were Muslims acting in the name of Islam. Once again, we must look at this news from a different angle first. Somalia has been invaded by Ethiopia at the behest of the United States. This report like all others also serves as a propaganda by Uncle Sam as it tries to incriminate the enemy. You can bet your bottom dollar that Ethiopia has been stoning teenage girls as well, but you never hear of that as it besmirchs the status quo. The establishment feels no sensitivity toward the rape victim. It is merely to garner outrage from the public.

For those who sincerely care about incidents like these (divested from politics) in Muslim countries, there is one solution. Islam has witnessed the death of the "activist scholar", those knowledgeable Muslims who championed the causes of the poor and disfranchised. Instead, a scholar now speaks what the congregation wants to hear. Muslims are now indulging in lashing out at others for their misfortunes. This has given rise to progressive groups and other groups sunk in the quagmire of tradition in response to the literalists, all of them unable to seize the spirit of classical Islam. Hence, now is a need for scholars to speak up against the thousands of cases of injustice against thirteen-year-old girls like Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow. Islam can only move forward with the participation of conscientious scholars. I even believe that if all the scholars in Iraq united and condemned the sectarian violence, Iraq would be free. Islam has been let down by effective leadership.