Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Thoughts on a Garden of Alhambra

A relic of a bygone era though it may be, this garden at Alhambra in Granada, Spain continues to offer tranquility, serenity, and an oasis from the rigors and stressors of daily life, if only briefly. For certainly, as a nonMuslim, one may enjoy the serenity of the mountain side palace garden, perhaps there is a tinge of anxiety brought by the ancient, exotic, and yet threatening architecture of the palace.

There may be a chill of threat in that it was from a bygone era of a superpower which was foreign to the Judaeo-Christian "Western" civilization, at least it appeared so. Certainly stone walls and edifices weathered by time are not threatening. Yet, this "Moorish" society/state is somehow the cry of contemporaries who call for a "caliphate" and the resumption of Islam. As if these criers seek to return 600 years into the past to revive some lost civilization. To the common man, that seems a preposterous declaration which instinctly must be resisted and fought, for no people can return to some bygone era. It is against human progress and development.
So indeed, while the garden offers cool humidity from its running water, serene views of flowers, orderly shrubs, with a pastoral and scenic overlook of the entire countryside from its regal mountain side, it perhaps stirs a chill and fear.

To the devout Muslim who follows the Prophet Muhammad (saaw), the Alhambra is NOT a retrogression to anachronisms. The Alhambra represents the achievement of excellence in application of a universal way of life. To the devout and enlightened Muslim thinker, Alhambra is a palace of a caliphate which successfully implemented the Deen of Allah (Islamic system) which successfully produced an advanced, nuanced, sophisticated society which satisfied the needs of all people, and served to advance all people. Thus, though the Alhambra palace is only a historic site run by a Christian Spanish government today, it is a testament to the universal applicability and human capability to implement Islam for the betterment an advancement of all mankind.

And certainly God knows best.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ending the American Empire by Americans

In the light of day, world's collide.

As the accumulation of America's woes grows, so does one's dispair, disillusionment, and dissatisfaction with so much of what might otherwise be percieved as trivialities.

Yet when someone else speaks out about what one sees and thinks, it presents a moment of respite. A moment of respite as if the weight of the world is lifted from your shoulders, if not for only a moment.
This effect arises from the article Case for Imperial Liquidation by Chalmers Johnson:

Americans have been betrayed by the chorus of pundits and business controlled media and political sources that shape public opinion. Who cares about Britney Spears, what Hillary is wearing or what Mitt believes? It will require perhaps 40 years before your house is paid for in full, excluding terrible health costs, criminal charges, or your child goes to medical school. Gas prices will likely reach $4.00 a gallon this years, and likely $5.00 within two years. Are incomes growing at the same pace? The price of milk is, so are the prices for many things. And governments are willing to "lease" public infrastructure like highways, roads, and eventually sewer systems to private firms just to raise funds to pay for governance. The price of living is outpacing real people to the benefit and profit of corporate "persons".

Johnson proposed a list of changes that America must undertake to avoid the ruin of past empires like Rome. Included was the deconstruction of the military industrial complex, the disempowerment of the office of the presidency. These two are perhaps the most difficult. But Johnson notes that the secrecy of the Bush presidency has served to disempower the engaged, active citizenry. He assumes reversing that by shedding light on the presidency: reaffirming the FOI act, opening meetings and contacts to public scrutiny: the Sunshine effect (similar to the Florida state government 'Sunshine' provisions of making public record of all political machinations). But that is not enough.
Recently, a British journalist named Packard said in an interview that the office of the American president as the same powers that the British monarch did 200 years ago. Thus, the British people acted to dismantle the office's powers through legislative process. The American people must take similar actions and dismantle much of the power of the presidency. Can this be done? Can such executive power amendments even pass today in such a political climate where lobbying corporate powers transcend the powers of any and all political parties?
More later....

Monday, May 14, 2007

RE: Spengler's Latest Epiphany concerning Islam

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

It is interesting that Spengler, the opinionist on all things Middle East, Islamic, or Orientalist, for the Asia Times, continues to be confounded by simply comprehending the problem with the West's Civilizational War with the Muslim world. Spengler claims, based on the lamentations of an old Arab poet, that the Arab world is dead. This would in turn imply that Islam and the Muslim world is dead.

By dead, Spengler presumes that the failure of the Arab people

Monday, April 30, 2007

RE: Turkey, Secular Democracy, And the illegality of secular resistance to the Will of the Turkish people

As of this writing, Turkey is experiencing a constitutional and societal crisis. It's largely a conflict where various societal forces, Secular nationalist parties and an Islamic oriented political movement, are coming to a clash. Now its political and legal. But it may very likely become wider.

Asia Times: Turkish military intervenes in Democratic election of president

But unlike normal domestic clashes between various political forces, this clash in Turkey holds important global significance.


Because for nearly 100 years, the Muslim world and its Muslim minority communities abroad have been undergoing a Resurgence towards Islam. Briefly, the 150 years preceding, Western colonial powers had advanced the causes of secularism and nationalism throughout the world. They had successfully raised these two flags within the Muslim world to serve their imperial interests. Thus, Arab and Persian nationalism resulted in these two groups siding against Turks and the Islamic oriented Ottoman state. Eventually after World War I where the Ottoman state fought and lost against the British empire and her allies, British imperial coaxing supported Turkish nationalism in the name of Mustapha Kemal. Through Kemal, the British aimed to finally do away with the remaining Muslim stronghold and the last bastion of Islamic sovereignty on earth: the Ottoman state (technically called the Uthmani khilafah).
But Kemal wasn't just a nationalist. Kemal was an ardent secularist who crafted a secular doctrine, cultural personality, and belief system which was designed to rival the Ottoman state and the Islamic identity which it upheld in every way.
Where the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad (saaw) had a saying regarding public life, Kemal devised a saying. Where the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad (saaw) presented a command or prohibition, Kemal presented an alternative one. Eventually, Kemal's efforts, called Kemalism by its followers, forceably replaced that of Islam from the Quran and the Prophet (saaw) in school, in the media, and in intellectual life of Turkey.

Kemal's idea was to replace everything that Islam and the Ottoman experience provided for hundreds of years. In most respects, Kemal's secular nationalism mirrored Leninist Russia and the fictious Orwellian state of modern literature.

After WWI, the British, French, Greeks, and others engaged in military conquests, acquisitions, and other actions against Anatolia and the Ottoman state. Kemal and his military forces which he led on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan countered. These counter actions by Kemal conspicuously ended in Ottoman victories which were made to bolster Kemal's standing rather than that of the Sultan. Kemal became more popular than the Sultan and more people turned to Kemal for leadership.
Thus, as the Ottoman state and the Ottoman Sultan were in their last days after WWI, at first Kemal pretended to call for a revised Islamic state with Turkish identity and Kemal as a kind of sultan/caliph.
But as Kemal took prominence and won leadership through the parliement, he abolished the Ottoman state, the office of the Sultan, and thus ended the Islamic caliphate. He next move was to form Turkey into a secular nationalist republic which would redefine Turkey.

In the process of redefining Turkey, Kemal took several authoritarian measures which served to destroy the Islamic and Ottoman identity of the people. He banned Islamic texts from public access, placing perhaps 100s of 1000s of texts, official forms and documents, and manuscripts from Ottoman history in govt restricted archives and out of reach of the people. He changed the language from an arabic based script to a latin one, forcing millions to abandon their linguistic heritage which connected them to Ottoman and Islamic history to a new state controlled history of Kemal's interpretations. These authoritarian actions closely resemble Orwellian and Soviet governance in the 20th century. Kemal went on to ban cultural attire from Islamic and Ottoman heritage, such as banning headcovers on women, turbans and fezs on men, and robes on both men and women. Kemalism also meant such Christian centric adopts as the Gregorian calender and the Sunday Sabbath, abolishing the Islamic alternatives. All of these actions and more took place through military power.

Upon forming the Turkish republic at the abolishment of the Ottoman sultanate, Kemal inscripted in the new Turkish constitution that the military would be the power and guardian of the Kemalist based Turkish republic. And as Kemal mde these declarations, he swiftly removed those military officers who showed fealty and ties to the Ottoman state and promoted those who showed obedience to his own ideas. Adn through these measures, the Turkish military served Kemal's agenda obediently. Eventually, the Turkish military would reject soldiers that prayed according to Islam, that wore facial hair according to Islam, that read the Quran or knew arabic or traditional Turkish language or showed Islamic identity in any fashion. This
vetting process served Kemalism to a point where Kemal became more important to Turkey than God, the Prophet Muhammad (saaw), Islam, or Ottoman history.

In this way, Kemal was quoted as saying: "I am Turkey... To destroy me is to destroy Turkey." To no surprise, Kemal imprisoned, executed, and exiled his political rivals. Only his secular nationalist political party was allowed by the military to run government. After years of authoritarian rule, Kemal was crowned by his parliement Ataturk, the Father of the Turks. Kemal's sayings were taught in school, memorized, and quoted in the media, intellectual and political life both forcibly and consistently until generations knew only Kemalism and knew nothing or only little of Islam.

In this historical light does modern Turkey revisit this matter of Kemalist shaped Turkish government facing a global resurgence towards Islam. The Turkish military had engaged in 4 coup detats since 1950 to remove Islamic leaning political movements in Turkey and to maintain the dominance of Kemalism.
However, in a modern Turkey which presents "democratic elections", though they outlaw Islamic political parties or any parties reflecting anything less than Kemalist type thought, Turkey's people once again has voted a majority into the National Assembly that favor Islamic ideas, identity, and political direction.
Once again, the process of the will of the Turkish people has been fairly presented to the world.
And yet once again, as Kemal had designed it, the Turkish military has blocked the will of the people according to their interpretation of Kemalism as it contradicts and counters Islam.

And as this occurs, the world is forced to reconsider whether the "will of the people" through relatively free and fair elections can supercede the secular nationalist ideologies which are forced upon them by their military. For Turkey, the sole candidate for the office of the presidency of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, is legally qualified and personally capable of the position. But according to Kemalist military interpretation, by some cryptic unannounced and unknown reason except their claims of "defense of the republic", the military refuses his candidacy.

Four times they've done this, the most recent in 1990/1991. But this time, more is at risk. For as the crisis ensues, Turkey is pledging to join the EU, which holds adherence to constitutionality and rule of law in a nation more valuable than the Turkish military values Kemalist ideology above the will of the people, or so it seems. And the military intervention serves as a far greater obstical to Turkish membership to the EU which is so prized by the secular parties and the military of Turkey. And so, the Turkish military upholding Kemalism against the will of the Turkish people shows the world that it does NOT value rule of law or constitutionality above its political power.

And so it goes that all the world must question from what source do laws emerge? From dictators and military rulers? From "the people"? From constitutional assemblies representing one, the other, or both? From God Himself?

And which is better for mankind? As it were, many secular Western leaders such as De Gaulle, Sharon, Newt Gingrich, Roosevelt, championed and lauded Kemal as a great example and leader of the world. Yet in his name, the military which he constructed still blocks the will of the Turkish people to advance beyond him and his era of authoritarian rule. What is left for such a people if 80 years later they are still obstructed from advancing and growing beyond him and his followers?

And in this light, who led the protest this April weekend in support of the military, but a minority of people who ally, and most reasonably are organized and supported, and led by the Turkish military? The same military who subsequently used the publicity of the protests to reverse the lawful electoral process based solely on some unknown, cryptic nationalist dogmatic interpretation of which they only refer to in slogans rather than some incriminating evidence.

And so it goes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mind on Attacks on Homeless reported in Orlando Sentinel

The Orlando Sentinel recently ran an article addressing the occurrence of violence on homeless people living in Central Florida.

Orlando Sentinel: Attacks on Homeless at crisis point

Here is my response:

There definitely need to be studies revealing the cause of homelessness. And there certainly must be a concerted community effort to address the problem from a humanitarian perspective first and foremost.

After pondering this crisis, I had an interesting discussion with my wife this morning wherein I arrived at my original concern when we were first married and living in a run down apartment building in Wash DC. The brother of a neighbor was homeless and an alcoholic. His sister, our nieghbor, refused to house him because of his addiction, and likely other addictions, yet the brother continued to sleep in the staircase and on the landing in front of my apartment. My wife and I used to work late and come home at different times, usually stepping over the neighbor's brother.
After some self introspection this morning, I realized that as a new husband and young man, my greatest concern was for my wife's wellbeing. And as a young man, I judged that people in conformity, in particular concerned about one's own personal health and property, were less a threat than those out of conformity. Generally speaking, someone who is not in conformity with general human groupthink of self preservation (do not live on the street, do not sleep where rats live, do not inject drugs and become an addict, etc) was considered by me a threat, at some level.
And, the fact that the man's sister refused to house him revealed that he was some kind of a threat. So yes, I resented that the man slept in a stairwell in a building which I worked hard to house my wife. But my beliefs were to be merciful. I told the man my perspective: that as a young husband, I was prone to distrust him given his state. He agreed with me but he said he only needed a place when it got too cold outside and that the shelters were to dangerous. I said as long as he didn't endanger my family or the neighbors, I wouldn't object. He didn't. But more and more homeless began to linger around the building. One night, I even had to step over 2 or 3 men at the front door even before arriving at the man near my floor.

Needless to say, he became a regular fixture late at night. It was I that moved out of that building before he and the other homeless men did. It was indeed my religious beliefs and the example of Muhammad (saaw) that encouraged me to be merciful to these men eventhough at anytime they could have caused some kind of a problem. One morning, a homeless man likely drunk or high began to oggle my wife while she and I waited at a busstop. His drunken stare turned into him pressing himself against the window behind where we were sitting in a perverse way. That was the only time I had an overwhelming emotion at which I stood up and shouted at him to back away and hit the glass, perhaps almost breaking it.
Those days living on that street motivated me to move to the suburbs.

So questions are raised:
1) what are the causes of homelessness?

2)ascertaining the causes enable us to know the different types of homeless: children and families are a group, adult addicts are another, ex cons are another, mentally unstable are another, simple nonconformists are another- and these groups intertwine or intersect at points to form a unique group.

3) what can be done to address the needs of these groups, kids and families being a priority? The mentally unstable being another priority. Other priorities needing to be ascertained.

4)how much of the homeless problem is a regional or national trend wherein Central Florida is experiencing the result thereof?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Daily Show LBJ Quote for Enemies in Tents

I had to mention this LBJ quote I heard on the Daily Show Weds, March 21, 2007 CE. It was a quote Doris Hearns Goodwyn offered in reference to the Lincoln strategy of bringing political adversaries into his administration so he could hear diverging opinions and ideas on matters. In this context, Goodwyn said that LBJ said:

"Its better to have your enemies inside your tent pissing out, rather than have them outside your tent pissing in."

Can you make those kinds of quotes up?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Saudi Rape Victim sentenced to 90 lashes

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

God said in the Quran (in translation):

4:58 BEHOLD, God bids you to deliver all that you have been entrusted with unto those who are entitled thereto, and whenever you judge between people, to judge with justice.
Verily, most excellent is what God exhorts you to do: verily, God is all-hearing, all-seeing!

An-Nisa (The Women)
4:127 AND THEY will ask thee to enlighten them about the laws concerning women.
Say: "God [Himself] enlightens you about the laws concerning them"- for [His will is shown] in what is being conveyed unto you through this divine writ about orphan women [in your charge], to whom - because you yourselves may be desirous of marrying them - you do not give that which has been ordained for them; and about help­less children; and about your duty to treat orphans with equity. And whatever good you may do - be­hold, God has indeed full knowledge thereof.

An-Nisa (The Women)
4:135 O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God's claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!

Al-Ma'idah (The Table Spread)
5:8 O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.

Al-An'am (The Cattle)
6:151 Say: "Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: "Do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents; and do not kill your children for fear of poverty - [for] it is We who shall provide sustenance for you as well as for them; and do not commit any shameful deeds, be they open or secret; and do not take any human being's life-[the life] which God has declared to be sacred -otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice: this has He enjoined upon you so that you might use your reason;

Al-A'raf (The Heights)
7:29 Say: "My Sustainer has [but] enjoined the doing of what is right; and [He desires you to] put your whole being into every act of worship, and to call unto Him, sincere in your faith in Him alone. As it was He who brought you into being in the first instance, so also [unto Him] you will return:

Al-A'raf (The Heights)
7:181 Now, among those whom We have created there are people who guide [others] in the way of the truth and act justly in its light.

Hud (The Prophet Hud)
11:85 Hence, O my people, [always] give full measure and weight, with equity, and do not deprive people of what is rightfully theirs, and do not act wickedly on earth by spreading corruption.

An-Nahl (The Bee)
16:90 BEHOLD, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards [one's] fellow-men; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as envy; [and] He exhorts you [repeatedly] so that you might bear [all this] in mind.

17:32 Nor come nigh to adultery [az zina]: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils).

24:2 The adulterer and the adulteress, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes. And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of believers witness their punishment.

24:4 And as for those who accuse chaste women [of adultery], and then are unable to produce four witnesses [in support of their accusation], flog them with eighty stripes and ever after refuse to accept from them any testimony - since it is they, they that are truly depraved!


God said in the Holy Quran that zina, sexual intercourse outside of marriage, is prohibited. And that prohibition is followed by a puishment whose severity varies depending on the following categories: married (muhsan) or nonvirgin (thuyyab); virgin (abkar); free or slave; male and female. There are three kinds of punishments: stoning (rajm); whipping (jald); and exile (taghrib). There are many other conditions, but a married, free, male, were he to engage in sex outside of marriage, would be guilty of zina a warrant stoning.

As for the matter of rape:

From the website

"Islamically speaking, the raped woman is not guilty of any sin because she was forced to it beyond her control. Stressing this, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Allah has forgiven my Ummah for their mistakes, what they forget and what they are forced to do.” Thus, the raped woman is a victim and all members of her community should deal with her with honor and kindness and should encourage her to obtain her rights through all possible means.
In an attempt to furnish you with an answer to your question, we would like to cite for you the following fatwa issued by Dr. Ahmad Yusuf Sulaiman, professor of law and Islamic Shari`ah at Cairo University:
If a woman is raped, she should press charges against the one who raped her. If it is proved that she was raped, then the court must apply discretionary punishment or ta`zir on the rapist. Such discretionary punishment may reach the death penalty, according to some schools of thought. This is based wholly on the fact that the rape is confirmed through medical tests and court procedures, without the confession of the rapist himself.
In cases where the rapist confesses the crime, then the penalty for zina (illegitimate sexual intercourse) is to be applied to him. If he is not married, then he is to be whipped 100 lashes. If he is married, then he is to be stoned to death.
As for the rape victim, no punishment is to be inflicted on her. She is to be treated with dignity and honor, and all forms of help should be given to her to gain her rights."

Furthermore, kidnapping and forcible rape is arguably a case of hiraba: brigandage which is akin to terrorism. It is effectively declaring war on Allah and His Messenger (saaw) as cited in the following Quranic verses:

5:33 It is but a just recompense for those who make war [yuharibuuna] on God and His apostle, and endeavour to spread corruption on earth, that they are being slain in great numbers, or crucified in great numbers, or have, in result of their perverseness, their hands and feet cut off in great numbers, or are being [entirely] banished from [the face of] the earth: such is their ignominy in this world. But in the life to come [yet more] awesome suffering awaits them-

5:34 save for such [of them] as repent ere you [O believers] become more powerful than they: for you must know that God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.

It is a matter of judicial insight to determine whether suspects have indeed committed what amounts to hiraba as well as zina, in which case the punishments are truly severe.

The case of the Saudi woman who met a secret male friend and then was allegedly kidnapped at knife point by four men, forced to a rural house and raped repeatedly, later to be tried and convicted of WHAT- is not mentioned- but to be punished with 90 lashed, this matter is not clearly presented yet in order to determine the validity of each allegations testimony, the pertinence of evidence, and the judgements rendered.

According to the Gulf Times:

A rape did occur. This absolved the woman of any responsibility for anything which took place between her and her captors. However, the extent of their punishments do not coencide with the actual Quranic texts or establish fiqh regarding the matter.

From the Gulf Times article:

"The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the Al Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

The four, all married, were sentenced respectively to five years and 1,000 lashes, four years and 800 lashes, four years and 350 lashes, and one year and 80 lashes."

The sentencing punishment of the men is certainly open to appeal by the victim.

Conversely, questions remain as to the crime committed by the Saudi woman prior to the rape. If she was found engaging in sexual intercourse with the male friend she was riding in the car with, that would explain both that man and the woman's punishment of 90 lashes each. However, if she was only riding in the car with the man, then the punishment of 90 lashes would not coencide.

As it were, she is entitled to an appeal by the supreme court given the prejudice shown on behalf of the rapists. And she is entitled to reexamination of her punishment for being in the car with the male friend.
And Allah knows best.