Monday 26 November 2018

A West African Scholar: Princess Nana Asma’u

"We begin with the story of Nana Asma’u, the daughter of Uthman don Fodio, who was not only a renowned scholar of her time, but a poet, a political and social activist, and a creative intellectual. She is considered to be one of the greatest women of 19th century Islamic communities. She was born in 1793 in modern-day Nigeria. A princess with an impressive lineage, she was named after a hero in Islamic heritage—Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, who was a strong woman in her support of Islam. She was raised in a supportive Islamic household, having not only memorized the Qur’an, but extensively learned the Islamic sciences and four languages as well.

Asma’u believed in women having a role in society and she led the women of her time by example throughout her life. One of her greatest achievements was compiling the extensive collection of writings of her father after he passed away when she was 27. The degree of respect the scholarly community had for Asma’u is seen here because they chose her to complete such a monumental task. Not only did this job require someone trustworthy, but also someone who was familiar with his writings and was well-versed in the Islamic sciences.

When she was a mother of two and pregnant with her third child, Asma’u completed the translation of the Qur’an in her native tongue and also translated her father’s work into the various dialects of the community. This shows her concern for her community and her desire to bring the knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam to her people.

Asma’u saw a dire need for the teachings of Islam to reach the women in her community and beyond the Sokoto region. She saw that women were absent from the circles of knowledge and stayed in their homes as they tended to their familial duties. Asma’u came up with a brilliant idea to not only teach these women but to teach them in the comfort of their homes. It was then that she gathered knowledgeable women in her community and trained them as teachers. This group, known as jajis, traveled to neighboring communities to bring Islamic knowledge to secluded women. This movement was called the Yan-taru movement, which means “those who congregate together” and “sisterhood”. Asma’u taught the jajis to use lesson plans, poetry, and creative mnemonic devices in their teachings.

Nana Asma’u, by the grace and guidance of Allah (swt), revolutionized the way her community learned Islam. She brought the knowledge of the religion to the people in an easy to remember fashion and wrote in their language. Her legacy is a legacy of scholarship and activism, and her name is still used today in West Africa." 

From the Muslimah's Renaissance page on FB. 

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Rape victims allegedly murdered by relatives in 'honour killing'

In a bid to restore the 'honour' of their tribe, two men in Bhong area of Rahim Yar Khan allegedly murdered two sisters after they had reportedly been abducted and subjected to rape by some influential landlords.

According to local police, the deceased sisters were first abducted and raped by a group of men and later fell victim to their own relatives' wrath when they returned home.

The abduction purportedly took place in Basti Gulab Khan of Mouza Muhammad Murad Dahir area on Sunday when Shah Mureed Kharu and Ali Dost Kharu, the two accused, allegedly kidnapped the siblings, one of whom was 18, and the other 20.

The victims' father claimed in the first information report (FIR) that the suspects had abducted his daughters and abused them before releasing them a day later.

The father said that he was also fearful that the members of their tribe could kill his daughters upon their return for having "smeared the tribe's name".

When the girls returned home following their ordeal, the father said, their uncle Muhammad Saleem and another relative Shah Nawaz allegedly strung a noose around their necks and dragged them to the nearby fields.

The father said that by the time he reached the crime scene, the girls had already been murdered.

The dead bodies were shifted to Sadiqabad THQ Hospital for autopsies.

Thursday 8 November 2018

Melanie Phillips wants to “destroy” the “Muslim world”

In April 2018 – within The Comment Awards’ one year period of consideration for writing – Melanie Phillips wrote an extraordinary article encapsulating this ideology. In it, she threatened that the entire Muslim world would be “destroyed”.

The piece, written in the form of “an open letter to the Muslim world” (archived here) addresses all Muslims and ‘Islam’ as a homogenous bloc of barbarians comprising a wholesale obstacle and inherent threat, by its innate nature, to Western “progress and modernity” – by which the Muslim world will eventually be destroyed.

In this regard, there would be little if anything in the letter that Spencer and his ilk would disagree with (even Phillip’ staunch pro-Israel line would be endorsed by Spencer who supports Israel’s new nation-state law and sees Israel as an example of the kind of ‘ethno-state’ he wants to create in the US).

But Phillips’ writing is careful. Like Islamist hate preacher Anjem Choudary, whose public pronouncements meticulously incited to hatred but only barely within the letter of the law allowing him to continue for decades, Phillips’ language seems designed to be vague enough to slip into legal ‘acceptability’.

You people like killing Jews

The letter begins, “Dear Muslim world”, and moves rapidly into arguing that the entirety of the latter is engaged in a conspiratorial war on Western modernity aimed at destroying “the Jews”, particularly those trying to live in Israel. Phillips blames not Hamas, but the “Muslim world” as a whole for killing 26,000 Jews, including military casualties:

“More than 26,000 dead—with most of the military casualties consisting of Israel’s precious young who must be conscripted to defend their country—purely because there are people determined to prevent the Jews from living in their own ancestral homeland. But you know all about that because you are the people killing them.”

Note the language. The “Muslim world” is equated with a whole “people”, who are de facto culpable in trying to destroy the Jewish people:

“You are the people who have been trying to destroy the Jewish homeland for the better part of a century. Look how hard you’ve tried. You’ve used war. You’ve used terrorism. You’ve used the Palestinian Arabs as pawns. You’ve used the diplomatic game. You’ve used economic boycotts.”

You people have a culture of honour and shame

Phillips goes on, attributing to the “Muslim world” as a people an inherent anti-Semitism rooted not in violent extremism, but in core Islamic teachings—a view held by the likes of ISIS and endorsed by far-right zealots such as Spencer and Tommy Robinson. Not only that, but she insists that the Muslim people suffer wholesale from a “culture of honor and shame” which further reinforces this deep-rooted “hatred of the Jews” (for now, we will merely remark in passing that this flies in the face of the historical record and Islam’s most authentic theological readings):

“We understand why you hate Israel. Paranoid hatred of the Jews is embedded in your religious texts. Moreover, since you believe that any land ever occupied by Muslims becomes Muslim land in perpetuity—and since the very idea of the Jews being your equals in ruling their own land is anathema to you—your culture of honor and shame means that you cannot accept a Jewish state in a region you claim as your own.”

You people know that your religion is not about peace

Phillips goes on to equate her barbaric readings of Islam with a “holy war” being waged by the Muslim world on the West:

“For all the terrible violence and mayhem you have unleashed in the cause of Islamic holy war, your purpose is ultimately defensive. You realize that, in its freedom for the individual and particularly for women, modernity poses a mortal threat to Islam. Unlike the ignorant West, you know that Islam does not mean peace. It means submission. Modernity means submission can no longer be enforced. Which is why, in its seventh-century form at least, Islam is on the way out.”

You people want to destroy the Jews

She does pause to acknowledge that there are an “increasing number of the Arab young, who are on Twitter and Facebook” who “don’t want to fight the unending battles of the seventh century.” But she then goes on to racialise the Israel-Palestine conflict and demonise all Palestinians wholesale:

“Of course, none of this means the Palestinian Arabs are about to abandon their war to destroy Israel… But the unstoppable force of modernity is meeting the immoveable object of Islam, and modernity will win.”

The problem here is not with Phillips’ critiquing Islam. Even if she is completely wrong, which arguably she is, the problem is that she racialises her barbaric depiction of Islam by constructing Muslims – literally addressed as ‘you people’ – as largely intentional vehicles for this inherent barbarism:

“Which is why you believe you have to stop modernity. Which is why you are at war with the West. And which is also why you see the Jews as your enemy of enemies because you believe they are behind absolutely everything to do with modernity. Destroy the Jews, you imagine, and you will defeat modernity.”

But it’s okay because you people will be destroyed by Israel and Western modernity

She closes her piece with the following genocidal double threat:

“If you finally were to decide to end your war against us in Israel, finally decide that you love your children more than you hate us, finally decide that instead of trying to destroy Israel you want it to help you accommodate to modernity, you will find our hands extended in friendship. But if you try to remove us from the earth, we will destroy you.

Dear Muslim world, wake up and smell the coffee. The Jewish people has defied all the odds over and over again, and will continue to do so. You may break our hearts by killing our loved ones, but you won’t break us. Progress and modernity will destroy you instead.”

One threat is conditional and tangibly military (if the Muslim world doesn’t end the war on Israel, it will be destroyed by Israel); and the other is unconditional (either way, the Muslim world will be destroyed by Western progress). Read plainly, Phillips’ reference to both physical and cultural forms of destruction of the entire Muslim world has deeply unnerving and seemingly genocidal connotations.


Imagine if I had written similar words as an ‘open letter to the Jewish world’, threatening that either Muslims would ‘destroy the Jewish world’ if it did not cease its war on Muslims, or ‘the Jewish world’ would be inevitably ‘destroyed’ by the advance of superior Muslim culture. I would be seen, rightly, as a not-so-closet Nazi.

For those that like to assume there are no consequences for such language, this is worth bearing in mind when considering that far-right terrorist Anders Breivik was an avid fan of Phillips, and quoted her approvingly in his manifesto.

Phillips is not doing journalism with pieces like this. She is simply spouting the same brand of bullshit that gives the Spencers, Robinsons and Breiviks of this world a hard on.

I’m not “offended” by this bullshit – I am maligned, marginalised and demonised by this bullshit.


Tuesday 6 November 2018

Why Jew Hating Trump Supporters Love Israel.

Their open fondness is built on two premises:“If Trump is pro-Israel, then he can’t be an anti-Semitic, white nationalist” is the logic that underpins this new right-wing orchestrated talking point, but anyone who follows the machinations of the Israel Lobby and its cadre of Zionist organizations and individuals knows only too well that far-right, white nationalist, and even avowed neo-Nazis have long been courted as allies in their fight to permanently erase Palestinians from the ever expanding Israeli controlled territory.

In fact, Israel not only weaponizes anti-Semitism to provide cover for its brutal security state apparatus, but also it was European anti-Semitism that created the Israeli state in the first place. When Theodor Herzi, the founding architect of the “Jewish state,” brought forward his idea for creating a state in Palestine for exiled European Jews in 1896, prominent Jewish intellectuals dismissed his idea, claiming it undermined Jews who had assimilated successfully in European societies.

Dejected but not defeated, Herzi enlisted the help of the Chaim Weizmann, a prominent British Jewish figure, who, in turn, won support for Herzi’s proposed white European settler colonial project by recruiting the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, an avowed white supremacist.

“We have to face the facts,” Balfour said. “Men are not born equal, the white and black races are not born with equal capacities: they are born with different capacities which education cannot and will not change.”

Balfour also enacted anti-immigration laws that were designed to restrict and prevent Jews migrating to Britain. In many ways, Balfour’s ban on Jews was the 100 year precedent to Trump’s ban on Muslims.

In November 1917, the Balfour Declaration laid the groundwork for the future state of Israel, stating that, “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

Balfour thus became a hero among Zionist Jews, who were only to happy to ignore his demonstrable record of avowed white supremacy and anti-Semitism, which brings us to where we are with Trump and white supremacists today.

During the past year, Trump has deployed anti-Semitic tropes, retweeted anti-Semitic posts, and has given cover to anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi agitators, going so far to label thousands of Nazi flag waving, “Sieg Heil” saluting thugs as “very fine people.”

In return, America’s Jew haters have praised Trump for his “honesty” and his defence of white America. What is telling, however, is the same anti-Semitic hate groups and individuals also support Trump’s decision to validate Israel’s war crime, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

You see, while Nazis and white supremacists might still hate Jews, they simultaneously also love the apartheid Israeli state.

Their open fondness is built on two premises:

Muslims have replaced Jews as the number one target for European white supremacists, and Israel’s abusive mistreatment of a majority Muslim population inspires them greatly, and
They love that Israel is everything they dream of: a fascist ethnocratic brute that suppresses a non-white indigenous population.
Across Europe and the US, Israeli flags now wave comfortably alongside Nazi and white supremacist banners. When 60,000 ultranationalists marched on Poland’s capital last month, Israeli flags were there. When neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, Israeli flags were neatly nestled among flags of the Confederacy. Paradoxically, however, anti-Semitism remains at the heart of the platforms of all white supremacy groups that turned up to either.

Zionism and white supremacy are not strange bedfellows, but natural allies, according to Nada Elia, adding that, “Both represent a desire to establish and maintain a homogeneous society that posits itself as superior, more advanced, more civilised than the “others” who are, unfortunately, within its midst, a “demographic threat” to be contained through border walls and stricter immigration law. American fascism, then, is holding up a mirror to Zionism.”

The intersectionality between anti-Semitism and pro-Israel fervour is no accident. It was a strategy hatched and formulated by far-right, white nationalists in Britain in the late 90s before gaining traction in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

When Nick Griffin, a Holocaust denier, took the helm of the far right, ultranationalist British National Party (BNP) in 1999, he shelved his public anti-Semitism, replacing it with open hostility towards Muslim.

Having never made a public statement about Islam or Muslims previously, Griffin suddenly attacked Islam as a “vicious, wicked faith,” while also claiming the “Islamification” of his country had taken place via “rape.”

From this moment forth, anti-Semitic political entrepreneurs on the far right began adopting pro-Israel talking points to mask their naked anti-Muslim bigotry, and Griffin admitted as much when he penned a 2007 essay that stated the motives behind substituting the far-right party’s anti-Semitism with Islamophobia: “It stands to reason that adopting an ‘Islamophobic’ position that appeals to large numbers of ordinary people?—?including un-nudged journalists?—?is going to produce on average much better media coverage than siding with Iran and banging on about ‘Jewish power’, which is guaranteed to raise hackles of virtually every single journalist in the western world.”

Zionists of all stripes teamed up and leveraged the political mobilizing power of anti-Semitic far right groups. NYU adjunct professor Arun Kundnani noted that by 2008, “a group of well-funded Islamophobic activists had coalesced” in order to demonize Muslims and Islam for the purpose of gaining support for Israeli policies of occupation, segregation and discrimination from far-right voters, white supremacists, and anti-Semites.

These pro-Israel individuals began positioning themselves as “counter-jihadists,” and, in turn, became darlings of the far right media landscape, with some even making their way into Trump’s foreign policy circle. Frank Gafney, for instance, who warned the US government had been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood, continues to have Trump’s ear.

So, no?—?Trump’s move on Jerusalem does nothing to assuage his prior expressed sympathies with anti-Semitic white supremacists. It only reminds us how deeply Zionism and white supremacy are woven into the DNA of two respective white settler colonial states: Israel and the United States.


Thursday 1 November 2018

Huddersfield grooming gang: The Islamophobia issue

Earlier this year, one of the victims of the Rotherham grooming gang anonymously wrote a very informed and intelligent piece on this issue for the Independent.

In it, she said that grooming gangs are upheld by religious extremism and even went so far as to compare them to terrorist networks. But even she - having very good reason to allow herself to be tempted to take the racist approach - condemned the work of people like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson , saying he doesn't speak for her, and said that she and other survivors are 'uncomfortable' with the EDL's protests.

In her own words, she 'experienced horrific, religiously sanctioned sexual violence and torture' and described how her main abuser beat her as he quoted scriptures from the Quran to her. And in Oxford, it was said that sexual assaults were particularly sadistic.

But, despite what some right-wing media and extremists want you to think, the fact is this isn't actually the case with every Asian grooming gang in the news.

It's a point that the prosecutor of the Rochdale grooming gang, Nazir Afzal, has already made.

Speaking about the case in an interview with The Guardian in 2014, he said:

There is no religious basis for this. These men were not religious.
"Islam says that alcohol, drugs, rape and abuse are all forbidden, yet these men were surrounded by all of these things. So how can anyone say that these men were driven by their religion to do this kind of thing?

"They were doing this horrible, terrible stuff, because of the fact that they are men. That’s sadly what the driver is here. This is about male power. These young girls have been manipulated and abused because they were easy prey for evil men."

In an interview with the New Statesman earlier this year, he described the ethnicity of street groomers as 'an issue', but gave more weight to the night-time economy that they often work in, the availability and vulnerability of the young girls who are often around it and the community's silence and lack of action to tackle the problem.

And I believe, based on the evidence heard in court, that what he said is also true of the Huddersfield grooming gang.

One of the victims in Huddersfield was Asian - something that also happened cases such as Rochdale and Newcastle, but is not often reported by the media.

The ringleader, Amere Singh Dhaliwal, converted to Sikhism after the abuse. He wears a turban, carried a kirpan in it and swore on the Guru Granth Sahib before taking to the witness stand. Raj Singh Barsran, who hosted many of the 'parties' in his house, is also a Sikh.

We shouldn't focus on race and religion and the discourse should be about something much more important - for a start, the causes of hebephilia and ephebophilia.