Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Zil-Hijjah / Muharram 1423 H
March 2003
Volume 16-03 No : 195
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News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Men, Mission and Machines Muslim Perspectives Investigation Community Initiative Face To Face Women In Focus Book Review Children's Corner Photo Feature Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Religion Cross Fire - S. Abdullah Tariq Muharram Readers Right Living Islam Quran & Science Opinion Islam-My Way Of Life Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

News


Does the US Care for Muslim Sentiments?
Author, Baker Exhorts Muslims To Focus On The Media
Online Medical Journal
Arab Scientists Taste Fruits of Success
Research Reveals Anti-Muslim Feelings
Muslims in Argentina
Bridging the Islam-West Divide
Design Competition for a Modern Saudi House
Malaysia Goes for Gold
Hui Muslims Oppose Terrorism
German Foundation Announces Prize for Islam
Hajj Pilgrims from West Visit Qur'an Printing Press


Does the US Care for Muslim Sentiments?

The indifference of the U.S. leadership and the global media towards popular opinion
within Iraq is consistent with a long tradition of condescension towards the Islamic world

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

Ever since President George W. Bush, Jr. declared a renewal of the U.S. war against Iraq’s Ba’ath government last year, we have lived in an eerie media climate, in which the most unsubstantiated allegations made by the Bush regime and its vassals have dominated global airtime.

By contrast, the public opinion in the Muslim world and the Muslim masses’ anger against USA is being overlooked and neglected. Mainstream television shows us almost nothing of the global movement against the impending attack on Iraq, which has brought together activists, literati, church representatives, students, scientists, former soldiers and large numbers of ordinary, decent citizens.

Islam, which sees itself as a religion of peace, is now associated with murder and mayhem. Never before in history, it appears, has there been a conjunction of factors as in our time that has allowed people to kill and be killed on such a scale, with such extraordinary frequency and in so many gruesome ways.

The former Marxist Tariq Ali in “The Clash of Fundamen- talisms,” explains Islam’s predicament and its relations with the West from a neo-Marxist perspective. The United States as the sole superpower has created global political, social and economic conditions, which create anger and hatred for it. Tariq is equally critical of both American and Islamic extremism or “fundamentalism”. Tariq sees fundamentalism in both the America of George Bush and the Islam of Osama Bin Laden.

The illustration on the front jacket, Bush in a turban and Taleban style beard, and on the back jacket, Osama in a Western suit striking a presidential pose behind a podium displaying the seal of the President of the USA, carries the main content of Tariq’s argument. The “neo-colonial” and “imperialist” America is hated not only in the Muslim world but he describes the joy in Central America, Brazil and China on hearing the news of the events of September, 11 in New York and Washington.

“The subjects of the Empire had struck back.” Samuel Huntington’s essay and later book called “The Clash of Civilizations” have generated a global debate about a supposedly inherent conflict between Islam and the West. What is not well known is that both the term and the idea came from the “Orientalist” historian Bernard Lewis’ essay “The Roots of Muslim Rage” written several years before Huntington’s. In this essay, Lewis also rehearses the arguments in his book, “What Went Wrong?” Lewis argues that the world of Islam was in the forefront of human achievement - the foremost military and economic power of its kind. It was also the leader in the arts and sciences of civilization. Christian Europe was seen as barbaric and remote. Then all changed “suddenly” It was downhill all the way and that is where the Muslim world finds itself. As an explanation for the decline, Lewis argues that the Muslim world failed to produce respect for time, music and literature, which thwarted the development of modernity and democracy. There was no Mozart or Goethe and this was symptomatic of the failure. Though this linear trajectory of Muslim history can be challenged, but it offers an alternative view point.

If Bernard Lewis is, as “The New York Times Book Review” called him, “the doyen of Middle Eastern studies” in the United States, John Esposito is considered by many as the young challenger. Writing “Unholy War” in his usual accessible manner, Esposito sets out to chronicle the rise of extremists groups and explain the emergence of anti-American feeling in Muslim society. It is not driven by religious zeal alone but by the frustration and disappointment at US foreign policy. Many Muslims are also repelled by aspects of Western culture and the impact it has on their own societies. Esposito takes care to underline the fact that the vast majority of Muslims are appalled by the acts of violence committed in the name of Islam. He hammers home the point that we need to distinguish between the religion of Islam and the actions of people like Osama Bin Laden. “Where Do We Go From Here?” Esposito’s final chapter argues strongly against falling into the trap of seeing the clash of civilizations as inevitable. While urging the international community to continue the fight against terrorism, it must not wage a war against Islam. Furthermore, the war against terror must not be used to erode central values in the US or seem to support authoritarian regimes that suppress opposition in their lands.

Unfortunately, the western nations do not always promote their own pluralist political system in the rest of the world. Anti-American sentiment is widespread in large parts of the Muslim world and US policies are often blamed for Muslim rage. Reaction to support for Israel is certainly a major factor. But the policy fuelling this sentiment most is the US decision to continue supporting unpopular authoritarian regimes in most Muslim countries. There can be no doubt that some of these regimes also invoke anti-Americanism as a strategy to seek higher rent for their continued alliance with Washington. US decision-makers know this, which explains their tendency to ignore adverse public opinion in countries whose governments depend on US military and economic aid.

The indifference of the U.S. leadership and the global media towards popular opinion within Iraq is consistent with a long tradition of condescension towards the Islamic world. The belief that the Western powers can dictate political arrangements within the House of Islam is an _expression of the mentality of the 1914-1948 period. Having steadily occupied North Africa and parts of Arabia through the 19th Century, Britain and France defeated the Ottoman Caliphate in World War I and divided it, by the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1920, into a patchwork of mandates and protectorates: borders were arbitrarily redrawn across West Asia, new states created, communities mobilised into new conceptions of dependency, chieftains moved about like pawns on a chessboard. This process reached its climax in 1948, with the creation of Israel: a transference of atonement by which Asians were forced to pay, in land and independence, for the sins of Europe.

It was in revolt against this Western assumption of supremacy that numerous movements of regional self-assertion emerged in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Iran and elsewhere in the Islamic world through the 20th Century

The US has been complacent about public opinion in the Muslim world because by and large it has managed to get its way, notwithstanding genuine as well as manipulated manifestations of anti-American sentiment. US policy would be more effective if it did not ignore Muslim sentiment and encouraged Muslim nations to embrace open political systems that facilitate debate.

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Author, Baker Exhorts Muslims
To Focus On The Media

Jeddah : American author William W. Baker, has exhorted Muslims to get into the media and also invest in the sector in order to counter the pro-Zionist elements who mobilise American public opinion in favour of Israel and for tarnishing the image of Muslims and Islam.

Baker who heads the Christian-Muslim Foundation told a gathering attending a seminar on “Distorted Image of Islam: An Emergency Challenge” at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce that the world media scene was dominated by the Zionists or their stooges in other communities. He said naive American people were being misled by a small clique of Zionist controlled media which distorts the image of Muslims and Islam and extracts a big slice of American taxpayer’s money for sustaining the Zionist state of Israel.

Speaking at the seminar, former US Senator Paul Findley who is currently raising funds for a project to enchance the image of Islam in the United States, said distorted image of Islam in American media was the biggest stumbling block in explaining the lopsided US policies vis-a-vis the Middle East. Findley said funds raised out of the sale of his latest book Silent No More, will be set apart for a project to enhance the media image of Muslims and Islam in the United States.

Findley had earlier authored two books, They Dare to Speak and Deliberate Deception.

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Online Medical Journal

Kuala Lumpur : The Faculty of Medicine of the International Islamic University, Malaysia has launched the International Medical Journal (IMJ). This is an online medical journal published twice a year and comprising sections on original research, case reports, clinico-pathological conferences, medical ethics and reviews. Muslim health professionals are invited to visit the site www.e-imj.com and also contribute articles to the various sections. The journal has been launched with the vision to develop it into a respected international journal that will publish quality scientific work by Muslim health professionals.

Write to Editor-in-chief, International Medical Journal, International Islamic University, Malaysia.
Email: omarkasule@yahoo.com

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Arab Scientists Taste Fruits of Success

Sharjah : Arab scientists worldwide have tasted the first fruits of success through their association with the Sharjah-based Arab Science and Technology Foundation. Arab scientists have invented a clutch of intelligent systems through generous funding by the Foundation.

The intelligent systems - a voice-enabled system, a smart inspector robot for long pipes, and a smart menu navigation system was demonstrated before experts, officials from the telecommunication sector and potential investors, at a two-day workshop held recently. “The main purpose is to introduce and develop the products invented by Arab scientists in the Arab region, instead of giving the production rights to any foreign companies, which have already shown great interest,” officials said.

Dr Abdullah Al Najjar, President, Dr Fakhreddin Karray, chair--person of the Committee on Speech Technology and inventor of the product, and Dr Fathy Ghorbel, member of Board of Directors and Professor of Robotics at the Rice University said the target market for the new technology - users of mobile communication and in-vehicle automotive equipment - will have over two billion users worldwide by the end of 2005, with 200 to 250 million located throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

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Research Reveals Anti-Muslim Feelings

Sydney : A research carried out by an Australian and that polled 5,000 Australians, has shown that apart from their intolerance to the indigenous people and Jews, they now harbour anti-Muslim feelings. The research reveals that Muslims are the most marginalised religious and ethnic group in the country, and many Australians believe that the Muslims and those coming from the Middle East in general are not fit to live in Australia. More than half of those polled said they are not keen on their kith and kin getting married to a Muslim. Forty-five percent of those polled believe that some of the ethnic groups do not integrate with Australian society and continue to stick to their ethnicity, which they say, has weakened Australia in one way or the other.

The researcher, Dr. Kevin Dan, of the New South Wales University, says he would present the findings to a conference on immigration, which would be held here, and he blames the way the media have presented the Muslims for this kind of attitude, as well as the hatred of the West for Islam.

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Muslims in Argentina

The number of Muslims in Argentina continues to increase, and many of the Muslims in this country, particularly among the immigrants, are of Syrian or Lebanese origin. At the moment, the Muslim population in Argentina alone is in excess of 1,000,000, but because for one reason or another, they lack proper organisation and coordination among themselves. For instance, there is a community of 400 Muslim families on the border with Bolivia, yet they do not have a single mosque in which they could meet for prayers, nor do they have a Muslim cleric who could give them guidance and direction in spiritual matters. They do not even have books on Islam and its various teachings and tenets, which they could read and learn from.

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Bridging the Islam-West Divide

 

Scotland : Scotland’s first institute for Arabic and Islamic studies was opened recently, which will serve as a practical step towards a better understanding between Islam and the West. Prof Abd Al Fattah El Awaisi, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Al Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies said that Dundee can claim to be the city which houses the biggest institute for Arabic and Islamic studies in the whole of Scotland, if not the whole of UK. There are three research institutes within it-the centre of Islamic Jerusalem Studies, Centre for Editing Islamic Texts and Manuscripts and Centre for the Study of Islam and Muslims in Scotland. The main aim of the institute is to provide high quality flexible education which would enable students from any religion, gender or cultural background to follow clearly defined pathways which leads to a wide range of knowledge.

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Design Competition for a Modern Saudi House

Riyadh : The Arriyadh Development Authority is inviting entries for a “Design Competition for a Modern Saudi House” with the emphasis on affordability and sustainability. The competition is open to professional architects, designers and architectural students worldwide. The competition is a sign of the growing demand for housing in Riyadh, whose population is projected to hit eight million by 2010, dictating the need for an additional 1.5 million housing units over the next 20 years.

According to the most recent reliable survey, which was conducted five years ago, the percentage of Saudi home owners increased from 59.2 percent in 1987-1991 to 77.5 percent during 1991-97. Participants in the competition have to satisfy a range of requirements, both architectural and functional, with due regard to the physical and environmental context. Cost should also be considered, as the Kingdom’s average per capita income currently stands at $7,500 per year. Two sets of submission will be accepted and judged separately for professionals and students. Entries can be made by individuals or groups. The winners will receive share total prizes worth SR525,000 ($140,000) in addition to certificates, souvenirs and travelling expenses, SR200,000 ($53,333) for the first prize.

For more details, contact The Arriyadh Development Authority, Email: competition@arriyadh.com

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Malaysia Goes for Gold

Kuala Lumpur : Come mid-year, Malaysia is to put into place what is perhaps the first of its kind in the world, the dinar-gold proposal for bilateral and multi-lateral trade among Islamic countries. The plan, which was announced last March by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, aims to prevent another currency crisis of the scale seen in Asia in 1997-98. Just as the capital-control measures the government introduced in response to the financial crisis in 1998 were initially viewed with skepticism by many, the dinar-gold plan has its share of critics and supporters. Malaysia’s concern since the attack on the nation’s currency has been the vulnerability and volatility of money, a bane suffered by this country and others in the region in 1997-98 that it now wants to avoid or minimise. The gold dinar was used by the Muslim world as far back as the second Caliph, Umar (AD 632), until the fall of the Ottoman caliphate. It is “a system that will also allow the ummah to use its collective surpluses to fund each other and help each other grow”, says Nor Mohamed Yakcop, a driving force behind the gold-dinar proposal.

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Hui Muslims Oppose Terrorism

Ningxia : In the parched and impoverished hills of northern China’s Ningxia region, the villagers usually worry about more immediate problems, such as whether their meagre harvest of wheat and beans will last out the year. But here and in other areas of southern Ningxia, where more than 80 per cent of the people belong to the Muslim Hui ethnic group, many are watching the U.S. build-up to war with anger. The village has a cellular relay station, but no one seems to have a mobile phone. In Tongxin, a town about 70 km (40 miles) from Tanshan, restaurant manager Zhang Xiaoling engages guests in polite chat about Hui customs and history before the talk turns to Iraq. The soft-spoken 25-year-old with a spiky haircut, sharp suit and a ready smile answers as easily as if he had been asked for his opinion on local teas. “As an average person, I just want world peace. If the world is peaceful, then we will have peace at home as well,” Zhang said. Then he adds: “But as a Muslim, I am very angry.” In Ningxia, about one-third of the 5.7 million people are Hui Muslims and they have opposed terrorism.

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German Foundation Announces Prize for Islam

Berlin : The Heinrich Heineh Foundation of Germany, which is one of the largest cultural bodies, has announced that its annual award for 2003 would be given for a literary work that portrays the good features of Islam. The Volks Wagen Industrial Foundation will give financial grants for encouraging studies and research in Islam, so that there is a better understanding of this religion. For this purpose, it has set aside a sum of Euros 780,000 for financing research into Islamic civilization at the Ruhr University.

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Hajj Pilgrims from West
Visit Qur'an Printing Press

Madinah : A number of pilgrims from Europe and the North America visited the King Fahd Qur’an Printing Complex in Madinah, where they were briefed on the scientific and technical procedures involved in the printing of the noble book prior to its dispatch to millions of Muslims around the world. The 320-pilgrim delegation from 33 countries in Europe, the two Americas and the Caribbean were received by the Complex’s public relations manager, Salih Bin Abdul Mohsin Alhussain, who reiterated the keenness of the complex on accuracy, revision, and monitoring of the production. The visit came in the framework of a complete program prepared by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), which is responsible for the hosting arrangements of European and American pilgrims sponsored by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd ibn Abdul Aziz.

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News Community Roundup Editorial Readers Comments Men, Mission and Machines Muslim Perspectives Investigation Community Initiative Face To Face Women In Focus Book Review Children's Corner Photo Feature Quran Speaks to You Hadith Our Dialogue Religion Cross Fire - S. Abdullah Tariq Muharram Readers Right Living Islam Quran & Science Opinion Islam-My Way Of Life Matrimonial Jobs Archives Feedback Subscription Links Calendar Contact Us

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