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WORDS OF GRACE
Sura Ahzab, Vs. 41-42: O you who believe! Remember Allah (Subhana Wa Tallah) with much remembrance. And glorify Him morning and evening.
Sura Raad, Vs. 28: Lo! The zikr of Allah (Subhana Wa Tallah) provides satisfaction for the hearts.
Sura Baqra, Vs. 152: Therefore remember Me, I will remember you. Give thanks to Me and reject me not.
Sura Juma, Vs. 10: And remember Allah (Subhana Wa Tallah) much that you may succeed.
Sura Ankabut, Vs. 45: And verily remembrance of Allah
(SubhanaWa Tallah) is most important.
Sura Nisa, Vs. 103: When you have performed the act of
worship, remember Allah (SubhanaWa Tallah) standing, sitting and reclining.
Sura Taha, Vs. 14: And establish salaat for my remembrance.
Sura A’raaf Vs. 205: And remember thy Lord within thyself humbly and with awe, below thy breath, morning and evening. And be thou not neglectful.
Sura Kahf, Vs. 28 : Restrain thyself along with those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, seeking His pleasure; and let not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp of their worldly life; and obey not him whose heart we have made heedless of our remembrance, who follows his and whose
case has gone beyond all bounds.
Sura Kahf, Vs. 100-101: On that day shall we present hell to the disbelievers, plain in view; those whose eyes had been under a veil from remembrance of Me.
Sura Zumar, Vs 22: Then woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against remembrance of Allah (SubhanaWa Tallah). Such are in plain error.
Sura Zukrruf, Vs. 36: And he whose sight is dim to the
remembrance of the Beneficent, we assign unto him a devil who becomes his comrade.
Sura Jinn, Vs. 17: And whoso turns away from the remembrance of his Lord, He will thrust him into ever-growing torment.
“Almighty Allah says, ‘I treat my slave according to his
expectations from me, and I am with him when he remembers Me.
If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him in my heart; if he remembers Me in a gathering, I remember him in a better and nobler gathering (of angels).” Narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairah.
Rasulullah (salallaho-alaihi-wa-sallam) said to his
companions; “Shall I tell you of something that is the best of all deeds, constitutes the best act of peity in the eyes of your Lord, will elevate your staus in the hereafter, and carries more virtues than the spending of gold and silver in the service of Allah (SubhanaWa Tallah), or taking part in jehad and slaying or being slain in the path of Allah (SubhanaWa Tallah).” The companions pleaded to be told of such an act. Rasulullah (salallaho-alaihi-wa-sallam) replied,
“It is the zikr of Almighty Allah (SubhanaWa Tallah).”
Mr. Muhammad Yunus, Qutba Juma, Friday, May 5, 2001
Evergreen Masjid, Evergreen Valley, San Jose, California.
THE UGLY STORY
I also have a story to tell. Very few tell the story as it is. You will need to read this essay several times and study this essay with attention. If you do that you will have gained a valuable insight which will help to guard you against bad pitfalls.
As I sit with my PC thinking where to start this essay, the TV before me is blaring more bad news as it does every day. It reports that the brave Islamic “terrorists” have shot and killed four helpless women who were junior government functionaries employed to go around house to house delivering polio drops to infants. God! Why does this killing go on day after day? Who are “terrorists?”
This is a long, sad story. Most people will not tell. But I will try to tell it as it is, at least some bit of it. There is a huge lot more to explain. A small guy like me cannot tell it all. That I know. But perhaps I can offer some hints. Then you can go on and look for more by yourself. Now please sit up and read attentively. Or close this window and find another time to read the rest of this heart-rending tale.
First a little bit of geography.
Now look at these two maps – Saudi Arabia.
The first map shows the area of Arabia called Hejaz. This area also hosts Mekka and Madina. Our holy Prophet is from there, so he is also referred to as Hejazi.
The second map shows the area called Nejd. This desert highland lies to the east of Hejaz and spans the middle area of modern Saudi Arabia something like this:
Now to continue. On one occasion our Holy Prophet (saw) was sitting surrounded by many people. That was a usual enough. Someone catches the attention of the Prophet (saw) and asks for prayer for his home area, Yemen. The Prophet raises his hands and prays for Yemen. Someone else makes a similar request for Nejd. The Prophet pays him no attention. Someone else requests prayer for Syria. The Holy Prophet immediately complies. The earlier person again requests prayer for Nejd. The Holy Prophet again ignores. Later when the same person makes the same request for the third time the Holy Prophet says, please note:
“From Nejd will arise two horns of Satan.” (Qarn al Shaitan)
I would also like to relate two other ahadiths which please keep in mind as you read along.
“I do not fear that shirkh will enter my umma.”
“But I do fear the time when they will come into great wealth.”
To digress a little, we are all impressed by the enormous religiosity we see in Saudi Arabia, for instance. Is it fake? Not at all. So here we come to another important incident in the life of the Holy Prophet. In this incident we once again meet with another man, from where? Of course from Nejd!
Our Holy prophet, in the presence of sahaba, was distributing some materials to various persons. Amongst those present was a man from Nejd, of the tribe of Bani Tameem, by the name of Zul Khwasir. He gets up and says
“Muhammad, fear Allah.”
Replied the Holy Prophet, if I don’t fear Allah, who will?”
After this comment, Zul Khwasir, the gustaq-e-rasul, turned around and stomped out in sheer arrogance. This show of disrespect enraged those present. Khalid Bin Walid asked the Prophet for permission to go after this rascal. That was refused. However, the Prophet (saw) made significant remarks to the following effect: Remember the appearance of this man. From this man will come a people who will recite the Quran but its message will flee away from them like an arrow which has left the bow. These people will kill Muslims. The appearance of this man has been described as one with deep sunken eyes, a bushy beard, a prominent dark mark on his broad forehead and every sign of a staunchly practicing Muslim. Abdel Wahab was also from Nedj, and was from the same tribe of Bani Tameem. He created a religion dedicated to killing Muslims.
But let us get go back to the main story. Time moves on. We come to the 18th century. On Nov 15th 1703, a man was born in Nejd in a town called Uyayna again in the same tribe called Bani Tameem. He was named Muhammad Abdel Wahab by his father who was a man learned in Islamic books. Abdel Wahab lived a long life of up to 90. He died in 1792. Abdel Wahab took a lot of interest in studying Islam. Strangely, he was immensely attracted by a 13th century maulvi by the name of Ibn Tamiyah. Ibne Tamiya, on the basis of his convoluted thought processes came to the discovery that the parents of the holy Prophet (saw), being kafirs according to him, were burning in the furious fires of hell. (Where he apparently had a ring-side seat?) Please remember the Holy Prophet’s parents had died before the advent of the Prophet’s mission). Ibne Tamiya also argued that anyone visiting the roza Mubarak of the Holy Prophet was in deep shirkh and also that Allah’s angels who were reported to be visiting the roza Mubarak were also mushrikhs. Ibn Tamiyah was arrested for blasphemy. He died in jail. This man’s works thereafter went under the carpet where they lay dormant over the next 500 years – until the 18th century. Then he was re-found and re-energized by Abdel Wahab who incorporated Ibne Tamiya’s ideas as key articles of faith in his new religion. But let us resume our main story.
Young Abdul Wahab was a sharp student of religion. Evenso, he found great merit, not in mainstream Islam, but, as I said, in the long-lost theories of Ibne Tamiyah, especially focused on theories of universal shirkh amongst Muslims. Once his mind was made up, and, in direct contradiction to the Hadith I quoted above that shirk will not enter this ummah, this new radical stood up and declared unilaterally that
1. THE ENTIRE WORLD OF ISLAM WAS IN MASSIVE, ALL-CONSUMING SHIKH and
2. UNDER ISLAMIC LAW ALL OF THEM, BEING MUSHRIKHS, WERE TO BE KILLED WITHOUT OPTION.
His father, who noticed clear indication in his son as a “gustaq-e-rasul” and also noticed his acute ambition and propensity for evil, threw him out. This was not the end but the start of his son’s mission. The theory of shirk was invented by contorting the definition of shirkh to an absurd extent. Other innocent terms were also massively changed to fit the new religion. These words were shirkh, bidah and ghulu. One needs to understand this. To do that please spare a few minutes to see the short video at the following link:
The speaker is an Arab but English sub-titles help.
You will need to go elsewhere for a full biography of Abdel Wahab, but in time he fell in partnership with a local dacoit named Ibne Saud. This vile character is characterized as “warlord” of Nejd.
Ibne Saud had widespread ambitions of his own for further consolidation and expansion of his rule. An astute operator, he immediately saw the value of Abdel Wahab’s new religion of naked atrocity for furthering his own aims for power. To put arrangements on a proper footing, a formal compact was signed between Ibne Saud and Abdel Wahab. This compact, which holds undisputed validity even today, had many clauses, such as:
Thrust for power would rest on Abdel Wahab’s undiluted proclamations and edicts of the new religion with special emphasis on killing of mushrikhs.
Property of killed mushrikhs were property of the “mujahideen.” Property included all assets, not only physical assets but also surviving women who would be taken as sex slaves/concubines.
Once power is expanded and consolidated, all absolute administrative authority, that is kingship, would rest with Ibne Saud and his progeny.
The power of the clergy would vest with Abdul Wahab and his offspring.
These two powerful branches of state shall operate without friction with each other. (So we never see any maulvi comment on the horrendous and shameful conduct of the royals.)
Ibne Saud’s daughter was married to Abdel Wahab as a seal of the contract.
AND THUS: At long last, the grave prophesy of the rise of two horns of Satan from Nejd had materialized!
OK. So what happens next? Implementation.
Again, I cannot tell here the entire story of all that led up to the declaration of the kingship of the House of Saud in 1932, the only country named after a man, by himself. Significantly, its capital, Riyadh, was placed in Nejd, not in Hejaz.
The story of the rise of the Horns of Satan is, amongst other things, a story of great horror: of massive genocides of Muslims, their murders, loot, rape, brigandage. This is the story of one of recent history’s big free-for-alls of a bandit king, his off-spring and his allies. These allies included England and France, colonial countries who had their eyes on the destruction of the ruling Osmania Empire for swallowing up their dominions in the Middle East. Even though I cannot describe here detailed story of the vast brigandage and murder in the criminal history of the ascension to power of the House of Saud together with, and building upon, the religion of Abdel Wahab I can, however, refer you to well-documented and researched books on the subject.
Exact estimates of Muslim men, women and infants murdered by these diabolical killers are not easy to come by. General assessments have placed the number of fatal casualties of Muslims at between 2 to 2.5 lakhs. Here I will tell a little only about some of the blood-curdling atrocities perpetrated in the name of Islam.
The Wahabi forces surrounded Taif. It is a town in Hejaz. The outnumbered residents sued for peace by accepting offered terms that they accept the religion of Abdel Wahab. Gates of the city were opened after agreement. Wahabi armed men then entered the city and SLAUGHTERED EVERYONE, men, women and infants. Here I will hand you over to a historian who died a hundred years ago. Please click on link below and listen to the video talk.
For those unable to access YouTube the following is a description printed at the website.
“Uploaded on Sep 24, 2008
We start with the name of Allah the Lord of the worlds, thereafter this is a book called Umara al-Baladil-Haram authored by the headmaster of the scholars in Makkah and the sheikh of its speakers, the Mufti of the Shafi^ies in it our master Ahmad bnu Zayni Dahlan who died in 1304 Hijri.
This book is printed by ad-Dar al-Mutahidah for Publishing. On page 297 the author said: The Story of the People of al-Taif and what they Encountered from al-Wahhabiyyah. Then he said: and when they [al-Wahhabiyyah] came into al-Taif, they killed people indiscriminately including the elderly, the children, the subjects and the princes, the high ranked and the poor. They [al-Wahhabiyyah] slaughtered infants at their mothers chests. They climbed into houses and kicked out those who were hiding killing them all. They found a group of people studying the Quran, so they killed every single one of them and anyone who was in a house. After that they attacked the shops and mosques killing anyone that was in, even the men who were in sujud praying, till they wiped out all creatures there. Surely [al-Wahhabiyyah] will face the severe punishment of the One Who subjugated the heavens and earths
This is the dark history of al-Wahhabiyyah, and if we want to follow the trail of their crimes through the years we would need so much time to do so, and we would speak volumes about it. It would also be more clear to us how the wahhabies have neither mercy for the young nor respect for the elderly. They have neither shame from Allah nor from the creations. They devastate, destroy and commit all these repulsive actions in the name of Islam, while Islam is far in the clear from such people and such actions.
May Allah protect us from the Wahhabi tribulation, and may Allah uncover their truth throughout the whole world as He is the One Who is able to Do whatever He wills.”
(Ahmad Dahlan, whose description is printed, was the Mufti of Mekka in his time.)
Shias are special targets. Karbala was twice surrounded by Wahabi armed men and all residents were murdered.
Turks who had taken refuge in the Kaaba, to take advantage of the edict that no blood was to be shed in the holy precincts, were surrounded and killed to the last man. The courtyard of the Kaaba was a pool of fresh, flowing Turkish blood. Please remember, the Kaaba too is not in Nejd but in Hejaz, the beloved home land of the Holy Prophet. (Did he foresee all this when he refused to pray for Nejd?)
Let us move downstream a little more in history. All of you who have seen the movie LAWRENCE OF ARABIA have some familiarity with what is known in history as the WAHABI REVOLT against the Osmania Empire. This movie is a story from the First World War when Turkey was allied with the Axis powers. Those who have not seen the movie, please see it now either by getting the DVD of the movie from the market or by seeing it on YouTube by clicking on link below. It is a great movie, a must see, even if we do not like this shameful episode of Arab history.
Please note. Orders of the Holy Quran are clear: you will not become allies of the non-believers and fight against Muslims.
I said above that in this new religion, Shias were and are special targets for murder. Let us come to even more recent history. The Taliban gained power in Afghanistan after withdrawal of the Russians. During their two year rule they came out with full hostility against Shias. The Afghan population includes ethnic Hazaras who comprise Shia population. In 1989 the Taliban surrounded Mazar e Sharif and massacred 5,000 Shias. Somewhat later they again surrounded the Shai population of Bamiyan and committed the same atrocities. They also enslaved their women and took them away as sex slaves.
Next let us see what is happening in Pakistan today. Hardly any day passes without news of a new atrocity of murder of “Mushrikhs.” Sunni ulema are killed. Shrines and mosques are bombed. Schools are destroyed. Bombs are also set off in funeral processions carrying bodies of victims of an attack. There has been a tradition of Shias travelling to Iran for ziarah of their holy places. They travel to Quetta and take a bus to Iran. Religious killers wait in ambush at a lonely spot on the route. They stop the bus, disembark passengers, line them up on the road side, men women and children, and shoot them all. Don’t leave it to me to report here what we read daily in Pakistani newspapers and see on Pakistani TV in all its gruesome details. What we are witnessing in Pakistan is a non-stop show of the utmost level of degradation to which human beings can fall in fulfillment of their religious obligations, men who claim to represent the “true” faith of our Prophet (saw.)
Leaders and members of all our mainstream religious parties are fellow travelers in promotion of these unlimited atrocities. They parrot the same stock explanation for each and all these atrocities saying these are done by American agents and are paid for with dollars. (To say with Petro-dollars would be closer to the truth.)
Now let make an explanation to clear up a general misconception. Are all those who subscribe to the religion of Abdul Wahab insane killers? No, but listen. Let us take any belief system, such as our own Islam. Islam has its codes: believe in Allah, believe in the Quran, pray five times a day, contribute zakat, go on Haj etc. As a Muslim, I subscribe to all the requirements as an intellectual obligation. But do I also actually fulfill all these obligations in practice? No. I have no time for namaz, cheat on zakat, maulvi saheb reads the Quran which is good enough for me and so on. This is so for followers of Abdel Wahab also. THEY UNCONDITIONALLY SUBSCRIBE TO ALL HIS TEACHINGS but all of them do not necessarily put on a suicide jacket and go and blow up school girls. Why don’t they do that if they believe this is an obligation? Because they can sit back and pray: Allah forgive us for our failings, for our inaction to fulfill our religious obligations of murder and atrocity! And more importantly, gravity of these sins of omission can be reduced by VIGOROUSLY PREACHING THE DOCTRINE OF SHRIKH AND MURDER OF MUSLIMS AS PER ABDUL WAHAB! This will hopefully egg on the killers and affirm their virtue as killers. The principle we can discern is this:
All religious killers are followers of Abdel Wahab, but all followers of Abdel Wahab are not active killers.
After an overall review of the movement, Prof Algar of The University of California, Berkeley, writes the following conclusion in his book WAHHABISM:
Wahabbis have seriously distorted fundamental teachings of Islam; functioned for many decades as the ideological mainstay of a regime which has squandered the wealth of the Arabian peninsula; vilified Muslims both Sunni and Shia, as non-Muslims and shed their blood; introduced or exacerbated division and strife wherever they have gone; destroyed a significant part of the cultural patrimony of all Muslims, first in the Hejaz and then in places such as Chechnya, Bosnia and Kosova; and finally failed to contribute anything either to the intellectual elaboration of Islam or to the advancement of its political and civilizational agenda in the present age.
Najd and Ibne Abdul Wahab Najdi :: Part 1
Najd and Ibne Abdul Wahab Najdi — Part 2.avi
Najd and Ibne Abdul Wahab Najdi — Part 3.avi
Najd and Ibne Abdul Wahab Najdi — Part 4.avi
Detailed studies on the Saudi rulers are well documented in many reputable books. A book THE HOUSE OF SAUD was published in 1982. This book was written by journalist and researcher David Holden. He found out too much of the dirty story of the Sauds. He was murdered in Egypt in 1977 by Saudi agents. It was a clean and clever job. The killers disappeared without trace. But the murder accomplished much. Much of the information held by Holden did not come to light. However, another journalist, Richard Jones took up the work and it was published in 1982. In brief the book tells us that:
The House of Saud ruled the region of the Nejed. They dispossesed the House of Rasheed through the use of a fundamentalist Islamic religion called Wahhabism. Then they conquered the Hejez, ruled by the Hashemites. The leader of the Nejed was Ibn Saud. He lived a long and fruitful life, having over 50 sons (no mention of daughters though). When he died in 1953, his sons took over and have ruled since. The current sovereign Abdullah is one of his oldest.
NOTE: This email is only a tip of a horrible iceberg. Everything has not been said. You are welcome to ask for more information.
About some of the complaints I have received, they mostly relate to inadequacies in my “essay.” As a rule, they are correct but on my side I am unable to comply because, as I said, mine was a short write-up and I have no intention of writing a book.
One issue relates to my mention of a hadith to the effect that the Holy Prophet expressed a fear for the time when they will come into great wealth. It seems my essay said something here and then failed to follow up on it, leaving it hanging in the air. This, it seems, is unacceptable in terms of proper essay formulation.
I guess it was unconsciously my thinking that readers would themselves put two and two together and come to their own conclusions. I would still think I was perhaps right. Any way I will add more comment now to make up for the “fault.”
Let us look more closely at what was said.
It implies that
1. Great wealth will come. (A surprising prophesy, in hindsight, of immense meaning.)
2. That wealth will not be used for positive ends.
3. It will, on the contrary, be used to finance negative objectives. (Fitna)
Look at the first presumption. What we see are a desert people in a virtually barren country where even drinking water was always scarce. A people with no education, no capabilities of note. They had no capacity whatsoever to create great wealth as we see it happening in case of Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan because they were a people without capabilities, without any semblance of worldly knowledge in science or technology. As things stood, the prophecy of great wealth made at the time, and even up to more recent times, was beyond comprehension: an impossibility in our realistic experience.
On January 15, 1902, ‘Abd-al’-Aziz ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman Al Sa’ud took Riyadh from the Rashid tribe. In 1913, his forces captured the province of al-Hasa from the Ottoman Turks. In 1922 he completed his conquest of the Nejd, and in 1925 he conquered the Hijaz. Next year, in 1926, Ibne Saud declared himself “King,” a fine upgrade from Dacoit-Warlord. But still only king without a declared kingdom. It was left to Abd-al Aziz who, in 1932, declared the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and proclaimed himself its king.
The condition of the country, its people and terrain was still the same as I have already described. There was no sign whatsoever of great wealth coming from anywhere.
In 1933 an agreement for oil exploration had been signed with Standard Oil of California. Numerous earlier initiatives of foreign companies to find oil were fruitless, failures. It was at last on a fateful afternoon of March 3, 1938 that American drillers of Standard Oil suddenly hit oil in one of their wells in Dammam, today’s Dharan. Over the next few years, however, there was still nothing very spectacular. Great wealth was still in the bush.
OIL EXTRACTION in million barrels per year
1945 – 21.3 mbs per year
1955 – 356.6 mbs per year
1965 – 804.8 mbs per year
1975 – 2,582.5 mbs per year
Going on, however, from limited production of 1945 it thereafter went on to rise. Gradually, in time came the stunning awareness that here was one of the biggest oil resources in the world with one-fifth of the world’s total reserves! It is the largest oil reserve today second only to that of Venezuela. Presently they are at a level of pumping about 100 million barrels per day. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-king-we-will-pump-more-oil-847830.html
The Prophet’s (saw) astonishing prophesy had come home as amazingly true, after more than 1,400 years!
(By 1988, Arabian-American Oil Company, ARAMCO, was officially bought out by Saudi Arabia and became known as “Saudi Aramco.”)
The second implication of the prophesy was that this great wealth will not be used in a positive way. Wealth, by itself is a wonderful resource. It creates great civilizations through building up of universities, schools, massive infra-structure and so much else. Go anywhere in the West and see that happening. What we see in the Kingdom as the use of wealth was a wild proliferation of palaces. Then we saw a proliferation of elaborate, tall commercial plazas of princes displacing all cheap, nearby accommodations around Harmain Shareefain previously used by poor pilgrims of very limited means without local transport. And now we see going upwards the world’s tallest buildings. Each royal person is in competition to go highest.
About this evil, look at the following hadith.
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “The Hour will not be established till …the people compete with one another in constructing high buildings…” [Sahih Bukhari]
Planned new KINGDOM TOWER of Saudi Arabia
A building reaching above the clouds
BY American Contractors
Thus, competing in the construction of tall buildings is one of the fateful signs calling for retribution. In a hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim, Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) told us that “you shall see barefoot, naked, penniless shepherds vying in constructing high buildings.” This hadith apparently describes people who become rich all of a sudden, without effort, and then put up tall structures, not for fulfillment of any real need, but for arrogance in competition. Pay attention to the choice of words used “barefoot, naked, penniless shepherds.” How much respect do these words show for the now filthy-rich oil kings? No sir. Wealth is not a blessing. It is a test of the level of submission to the Almighty. That is a concept many of our “highly learned and qualified” maulvis have not understood and will not ever understand.
We see this today in the Gulf states, after the oil boom. Desert dwellers previously without any means are now competing with one other in erecting tall buildings where there is no need to make such buildings, because space is not at all in short supply! It is not like Singapore or New York or Japan, where they build vertically for lack of space.
The Holy Quran talks about building of superfluous tall structures as a symbol of arrogance, one of the characteristics of the people of Aad, who, on that account, were destroyed by Allah’s punishment.
15. As for the people of Aad, they were unrightfully arrogant (and rebellious) in the land and said: ‘Who is greater in might than we are?’ And have they not seen that Allah, Who has created them, is far mightier in power than they are? And they kept denying Our Revelations.)
Prophet Huud (alaihis salam) took them to task on their building of tall monuments. But does any great maulvi of the Kingdom, (reciters of the Quran,) who works overtime condemning the faith of other Muslims, question what kind of holy ibadah is in progress right under his nose? No. Because they too are a party in gloating over this perfidious competition, that if others can build tall buildings, we can build them taller. (Ha! Ha! By using Western contractors and technology!)
And the third implied component of the prophesy: this great wealth will be used for spread of evil (fitna) over the world. This is what we have been talking about in detail and that now needs no further elaboration.
Another criticism relates to my failure in pointing out enough good recent publications relating to the story of the beginning and spread of the extremist religion in recent times. The problem is these books are expensive. I have not bought any myself. I have read only a few for free by borrowing from the library, so I am in a weak position to recommend them. The following book, one I have read, is a good exposition of today’s critical schisms is Islam. Click on its link below and then scroll down that web page to read many reviews on it. I am printing one review below.
Publication Date: October 15, 2002
In this informed, compelling exploration of Moslem beliefs and of the sectarian conflicts within the community, a Jewish historian paints a sympathetic portrait of mainstream Islam and exposes the centuries-old roots of Osama bin Laden’s extremism.
The difficult, protracted war against terrorism has raised unsettling questions about the nature of Islam and its influence on America’s declared enemies. In The Two Faces of Islam, Stephen Schwartz, who has devoted years to the study of Islam, explains its complex history and describes the profound philosophical and religious differences that distinguish traditional beliefs from the radical sects that have sprung up over the past fifteen hundred years. He focuses on Wahhabism, the puritanical sect to which Osama bin Laden belongs. Founded in the eighteenth century by a radical cleric, this intolerant “Islamo-fascist” sect became the official creed of the Saudi Arabian state and has been exported to Moslem countries from the Balkans to the Philippines, as well as to Islamic communities in Western Europe and the United States.
By setting the current upheavals within an historical and religious context, Schwartz demonstrates that Osama bin Laden and his followers are not really fighting a war against America. Rather, they are engaged in a revolution within Islam itself–a movement that parallels the turmoil within Christianity during the sixteenth century. Schwartz not only exposes the collusion of the Saudi Arabian government in the spread of radical Islam (which makes them at best reluctant allies of the West), he shows that the majority of Moslems have little sympathy for the Wahhabis and that many openly denounce their motivations and goals.
A riveting narrative that never smacks of propaganda, The Two Faces of Islam is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand who we are fighting, what our enemies believe, and who our friends in the Moslem world really are.
–This text refers to the Paperback edition.
“The bare-footed bedouins competing in building tall buildings.” Today we find in the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabs who used to be impoverished herders of camels and sheep, are competing in building the tallest tower blocks.
“The Mosques would be like palaces.” This is clearly the case, even though the Prophet ordered simplicity in the houses of Allah, the mosques have become more and more fantastic, with golden domes, marbled floors, lavish carpets and chandeliers.
NEW YORK TIMES
Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism
ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate
By ED HUSAIN Aug. 22, 2014
ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.
Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.
Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultra-conservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth. After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.
We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.
I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.
This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified.
The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.
Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.
Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND
THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND
By Myra Brooks Welch
‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”, then, “Two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
“Three dollars, once, three dollars twice,
Going for three —- “ But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody sweet and pure
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
And going, and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We don’t quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of the Master’s hand.”
And many a man with his life out of tune,
And battered and scarred by time,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game — and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost gone “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
COOKIES AT THE AIRPORT
A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shops,
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
That the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be.
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between,
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.
So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
As the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”
With each cookie she took, he took one too,
When only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.
He offered her half, as he ate the other,
She snatched it from him and thought…oooh, brother.
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude,
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude!
She had never known when she had been so galled,
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
Refusing to look back at that thieving ingrate.
She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat,
Then sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise,
There was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.
If mine are here, she moaned with despair,
The others were his, and he tried to share.
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.
THE LEAKY BUCKET
THE LEAKY BUCKET
Once upon a time there was a great queen. This queen had many, many servants to take care of every task. One particular servant was responsible for bringing water from the well to the queen’s table. It was a long journey from the castle to the well from which fresh, clean and pure water could be obtained. As this was the time before cars and other convenient machines, the servant carried two buckets – one attached to each end of a long stick – to transport water back to the castle. One of the buckets was new – it shone in the sunlight and it was perfect in every way. The other bucket was old and it had a small hole on one side which caused water to leak from it onto the ground, along the roadside back to the castle.
Thus, whenever, the servant arrived back at the castle, although he had filled two buckets of water, he had only one and a half to present to the queen. This distressed the leaky bucket. Twice a day when the servant picked up the buckets to go to the well, the older one would look longingly at the new one, “Oh, why can’t I be as shiny and flawless as the other?” the bucket would bemoan. The leaky bucket would cast envious looks at the new bucket since not a single drop fell from its new, glistening metal. It tried every possible way of shifting its weight, of rotating its sides to minimize the leakage, but all to no avail. It would always return only half full of water after the long walk back to the castle.
One day, the leaking bucket was distraught and cried out to the servant, “why don’t you just throw me away? I’m of no use to you. I can do barely half the work of your new bucket. You have to walk such a long way back and forth to the well and I leak out half of the water you fill me with. The queen is such a good, noble queen. I want to serve her as well as your other bucket. But I can’t. I can only give her a half-full bucket of water.”
The servant was very wise (sometimes wisdom lies hidden in places where we don’t expect it). He said to the bucket, “Look down. Look below you on the path to the castle, the path on your side upon which you leak your water.” The bucket at first was too ashamed to look and see drops of precious water scattered on the ground. When it finally looked, however, what it saw was a row of beautiful flowers – so many lush, blossoming varieties – lining the path with vibrancy and beauty.
“I pick these flowers every day to decorate the queen’s table ,” the servant said. “When I noticed that you were leaking, I planted seeds all along the path on your side of the road. Then, twice a day you come and water them. Now, they have grown and blossomed into the queen’s favorite centerpiece. She says their fragrance calms her mind and brings peace to her heart. So, you see, you are not useless at all. Rather, you are serving two purposes – bringing water, though only half a bucket, and bringing flowers for the castle.”