Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 24th, 2009

Scare Tactics: The Austin case

Power: Modifying the order ranking of natural passions (April 22, 2009)

 

            A reader commented on one of my posts and informed me that the US government and police force have invented a “machine” that can modify human behavior, invade individual privacy, and control our daily habits without having to bring citizens to interrogation.  He went on to say that everyone in Austin TX know about this machine.

            Any individual or institutional power such as executive, legislative, legal, press, media, religion, financial, or economic multinational enterprise has ultimately one purpose: modifying human behavior to coincide with a set priority of natural passions for a period of time that suit the environmental and social conditions.

            Strong institutions who hold real power are not necessarily that impressed of your “free” opinions or how informed are the public.  Their goal is to keep the people in a passive state and waiting for directives and guidelines through thousands of subtle means that they have total control over. 

 

What worry most the power-to-be are people on the move.  They don’t care if this movement is within the right direction of their wishes and desires; they are simply scared of active citizens marching on because the end result cannot be controlled or forecasted. 

That is why in critical periods of unrest, because of financial or economical difficulties, the government and its various branches rely on rumors that insinuate that the government is in complete power of control over the behavior of their citizens. 

This fear technique works most of the time to cow the public into passive status. Karl Jasper wrote in his book “The German Culpability”:  “The one who remained passive knows that he is morally guilty every time he failed to respond to an action for protecting the threatened citizens, for reducing injustice, and for resisting infamy”

 

            I think the reader is confusing predictive models of human behavior with models for evaluating the performance of behavior modifications.  Institutions of power know how to modify behavior for a period, which is their main power.  Institutions sublet research institutions of “scientists” in statistical design, survey, poll taking, quantitative psychologists, social scientists, political “analysts”, and so forth to present models that would corroborate the desires of the fund givers. 

The “professional” scientists with many grants under their belt know how to tamper and adjust models to be biased toward the wishes of the power fund granters. Generally, the power institutions are more astute and foul the scientists more often than not, but it is a game that the scientist learn to grasp and play in due time.

            I doubt that any model for predicting human behavior can outperform the odds of a coin flipping mechanism.  What the models are predicting are the behavior of a restricted sample of people who were subjected with modification treatments, by subtle means unknown to them, but obviously known by the authorities. 

No, the Austin TX “machine” is a scare tactics disseminated by people worked upon.  This is the time to get on the move and be vocal and active.

            If this terrible machine is invading individual privacy then an investigative panel with wide power should be constituted to deliver weekly reports on its findings and progress.  The government policies are to present the image of omnipresence and omnipotent.

WOMEN IN ISLAM (Submission to One God)  (April 24, 2009)

 

 

Note 1:  I published 8 posts on Women in Islam and I decided to join them under a comprehensive essay.

 

Note 2: It interesting to differentiate between the original message of the Prophet Muhammad and the subsequent political applications and practises by the various Moslem sects that do not necessarily correspond to the intention of the message.  The fact remains that the official Koran issued by the third Caliphate Othman bin Affan was emasculated, tampered with, and many verses ommitied and burned  to satisfy political interests in the de facto domination of Islam to vast conquered Empires such as Byzantium and Persia by the time the Koran (of Medina) was officially transcribed.

 

Note 3: Parson Warkat bin Nawfal, the patriarch of the Christian-Jew sect of the Epyionites in Mecca and an older relative of Muhammad, taught the Prophet reading, writing, and transcribing the Arab version of  the Old and New Testaments that were written in Aramaic. Parson Warkat also chaperoned Muhammad in contemplation, meditation, and fasting one month a year.

 

Note 4:   In Mecca and for 13 years, Khadija, the first wife of Muhammad and 15 years older than the Prophet and the richest among her clan, aided the Prophet in transcribing revelations and verses during his epileptic fits. In Medina, Aicha bint Abu Bakr, the youngest, educated, and most beloved wife of the Prophet, was almost exclusively in charge of recording the revelations when the Prophet Mohammad had his bouts of seizures. She would cover him with warm blankets and write down the verses until he falls asleep.  Aicha has dedicated her life into gathering, organizing the revelations and meeting with scholars and close friends of the Prophet to keep a complete record.

 

Introduction:

 

It is still applicable that women are in permanent struggle for equal rights in laws and in daily practices.  Even in the most advanced State of Sweden, women are far behind in equal work conditions and pay; they are beaten and raped by their relative on a wide scale. In most religions, women have had to fight for their rights and dues, and their struggle is ongoing. Christian women have gone to the extreme of changing the text of the Bible to make it less “sexist” and more “acceptable” to women.

 

In a previous post “The unpublished Book” I stated that the Prophet Muhammad was crystal clear in his message: making the religion easy, light, acceptable to most sects, and readable by the language of every nation since a prophet is sent to every nation.  The Koran was focused on the value of life and uniting as many sects as possible satisfying common denominators in belief, stories, and myths.  The Prophet Muhammad did not regard with keen eyes the abstract theological concepts that were limiting and restrictive for particular religious sects (these abstract theological structures were the result of urban cultures prevalent in Byzantium and the Persian Empires that generated schisms to the benefit of the few power mongers of the various sacerdotal castes).

 

The social conditions of women in Mecca and Yathreb before Islam were different. In Mecca, a strict patriarchal structure was instituted; the powerful Christian-Jew sects in Mecca had contributed in transmitting the customs and traditions of the Hebraic laws that suited desert life style.  In Yathreb, a six-day journey north by camels, the independent minded women of Yathrib could divorce their husbands by just turning the entrance of their tents around; the husbands settled in and were attached to the wives’ clans.  Muhammad had a hell of a time submitting the women of Yathrib to what his men followers from Mecca were used to. The many wives of the Prophet (numbering 12 and not counting favorites and concubines) were frequent sources of calumnies and hot stories: situations that forced the Prophet to resume his month long of fasting and isolation until rumors calmed down; these meditation periods were used to re-read the Bibles for wisdoms and appropriate regulations. The Prophet had to issue many verses, as Islam gained strength around Medina, to reduce the women of Yathreb into submission and follow the customs of Mecca and obey their husbands and seclude themselves in their homes and wear the veil when out. In the early period of the message, 13 years in Mecca, women and men were no different in the eyes of God and they enjoyed spiritual equality of the sexes.

 

.           For example, in the sourat Al Ahzab (religious sects) it is said “For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise – for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward”.   In the sourat Al Imran (dedicated to the Virgin Mary and her parents haneh and Joachim) it is read “And their Lord has accepted of them, and answered them: Never shall I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are members, one of another…”   In the sourat Al Natal it is read: “Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, and life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their action.”

 

1) On Infanticide 

 

In Mecca before Islam, infanticide of born girls was prevalent.  The attitude of the pagan Arabian society (Jahiliyyah as opposed to Islam for historical differentiation) buried female babies alive.  This practice is nowaday widespread in India and in China and millions of girls are aborted every year and newborn girls are left to die of hunger and neglect as boys are born. The populous States are experiencing an epidemic of enfanticide under its strict population control laws that prohibit families to procreate more than one child; as most parents want sons, so girls are abandoned and allowed to die, or are killed, so that the parents may eventually have a boy. The laws for infanticide are lenient; the legal system and the administrators turn blind eyes in cases of girl’s killing. Girls are married as early as 8 of age and they are sold as slaves. Even today, many societies view the birth of a girl as bad news and negative omen.

 

       

        The Qur’an expressively forbids killing babies, whether by infanticide or abortion, on gounds of fear of poverty or losing face in the community.  In sourat al Anaam it is read: “Say: Come, I will rehearse what Allah has (really) prohibited you from: join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want – We provide sustenance for you and for them – come not nigh to shameful deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom.”  Thus, Islam gives glad tidings to a woman regardless of the gender of the foetus from the time a child is conceived,. The pregnant woman is held in the highest esteem, and her patience in bearing the discomforts of pregnancy is regarded as an act of virtue which brings her closer to Paradise. If the baby is a girl, this opens up further opportunities for the parents to attain Paradise. The Prophet gave the glad tidings of Paradise as the reward for the parents who welcomes a daughter, brings her up properly, provides a sound education and arranges a good marriage for her. In another hadith, it is stated that the fire of Hell will not be permitted to touch one who goes through trials and tribulations because of a daughter, who does not hate her for society’s prejudice but treats her well against all odds.

 

            In the sourat al Takwir it is read ” When the female (infant) is buried alive then the  question is raised- for what crime she was killed?” Consequently, the Koran says that the parents of innocent girls, who were slain for no other reason than that they were female, will be asked on the Day of Judgement for what sin they were slain.  The crime is that of the parents, not of the child. Parents should not think that they are at liberty to do whatever they like with regard to their children.

 

            Not only does the Koran protect the female infant from being murdered by ruthless parents, but it describes girls’ birth as good news, and grants her the right of inheritance from her father, husband and brother, and gives her the right to own property and conduct business transactions independently and in her own right.  In the sourat al Natal it is said: ” When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the news that he has had! Shall he retain it (and suffer contempt), or bury it in the dusts.  Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on.”

 

2) On Education 

      

Islam has given rights to women in all aspects of life. The spiritual equality of the sexes in Islam extends to equal value quality education for both sexes. The Prophet said: “Seeking knowledge is a duty for every Muslim male and female. Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”. In the sourat Fatir it is read: “Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge.”  Women had to be educated in order to shoulder their rights guaranteed by the message from consent to mariage, to setting the mariage contracts of conditions in writing, to equal inheritance, to managing her household, and to raising her offspring.

 

In sourat Al Nisaa (Women) it is said “Do not covet those things in which Allah has bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn: but ask Allah of His bounty. For Allah has full knowledge of all things.”  Islam bestowed upon women a legal economic entity. A woman could now own, manage, inherit, distribute and sell her own property as she wished and in her own right. Her assets remained hers, and marriage or divorce did not alter her rights. Islam brought these rights to women fourteen hundred years ago, long before equal rights were thought of or campaigned for in other lands.

 

Women’s emergence into the economic arena in the West took hold during the First World War to fill production gaps vacated by the conscripted men for the war effort.  However, it has taken much heartache and a great deal of struggle and striving to bring women anywhere near a position of equal economic status. Even today, the Western woman is economically bound to her husband, who can demand a share from her earnings for ongoing domestic expenses and, in the case of divorce, can claim a share of her savings. In general, the Muslim wife is entitled to be supported by her husband, no matter how rich she may be in her own right; whilst she is a child, she is entitled to be supported by her father and in old age she is entitled to be supported by her children. The Muslim woman is relieved of the burden of having to earn a living, and she is allowed to dispose of her earnings in whatever manner she chooses.

 

In the sourat al Nisaa it is read “From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large -a determinate share.” Islam offers a “ready-made will” that no written will or local tradition can bypass for not allotting women at least half what the males inherit.

 

The reason for men being given a portion twice as much as that given to women if no writen testiminy is left is that men are responsible for taking care of their womenfolk: A man may be required to spend on his mother, sisters or other female relatives. A woman is entitled to dispose of her share of the inheritance as she wishes, and is under no obligation to support anyone, even herself. When these facts are borne in mind, the just and equitable position of Islam becomes reasonable.

 

3) On Polygamy

 

Polygamy in Islam is restricted and may be practiced theoretically only when certain strict conditions are met. It is also the exception rather than the norm in Muslim societies throughout the World. A World Health Organisation census has shown that less than 5% of Muslim men practice polygyny. This is in contrast to other groups in countries such as India, where 15.25% of men from tribal religious groups practise polygyny; 8% of Buddhists, 6.77% of Jains and 6% of Hincus have plural marriages. The percentage of polygynous marriages in India is lowest among Muslims, at 5.7%.

 

The fact that Islam permits a man to have more than one wife has been the cause of much ridicule and misinformation. The fact is that the Mormons, “the pseudo Christian sect in Utah, USA) are still practising polygamy and the blind eye of the State of Utah is functioning though a recent Federal Law has prohibited this practice.

 

Prior to the advent of Islam, women were treated as chattels and objects for the gratification of men; it was the same prejudice of the Jews in Judea and in poor agricultural lands. In the modern world, this practice continues under the guise of frequent divorces, affairs, mistresses and prostitution. Women are left alone to fend for themselves and their children, whilst divorce is so common that there exist groups such as “Single Again”, which cater for people who have been divorced for the second (or subsequent) times.

 

Islam did not abolish polygyny, as it recognised that in some cases, polygyny would be necessary and even preferable to the alternatives of leaving unmarried widows. However, it strictly limited it, to a maximum of four wives at any one time; there are also stringent conditions to be met by a man who wishes to take a second wife.

 

The initial intention of this law was to bring some order to the people of Arabia and neighbouring societies, who had been accustomed to unlimited numbers of wives, and to inaugurate a civil system that would take care of the needs of women; it sought to solve the problem of the existence of large numbers of widows and orphans who were left to fend for themselves after the many raids and warfare among the tribes.

 

 In the sourat Al Nissa it is said: “If you fear that you will not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if you fear that you will not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess. That will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.”

 

Thus, any man who wishes to take a second wife has to meet the important condition of fair treatment of all his wives; he is commanded to treat wives equally, and anyone who is unable to do so should marry only one wife. Equal treatment includes all social, economical and physical needs. It is very difficult for human beings to be completely fair, a fact which is recognised by the Koran  In Al Nissa you read: “You are never able to be fair and just with even two women, even if it is your ardent desire: but turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air)” and  “A man who marries more than one woman and then does not deal justly with them will be resurrected with half his faculties paralysed”.’  In the case of men who had more than four wives when they embraced Islam, such as Ghaylan ibn Umayyah al-Thaqafi, the Prophet asked them to keep four wives and to release the others.       

      

The topic of polygyny cannot be considered complete without some discussion on the Prophet’s Id practice and the historical context in which he and his wives lived. This is a topic which has received much attention from the West, and about which many Muslims are confused.        It should be noted that in seventh-century Arabia, adultery, rape and fornication were the norm. The Prophet remained chaste from the age of 25 when he married Khadijah , who was twice a widower 40 years of age. Their marriage remained harmonious until Khadijah passed away some 25 years later. The Prophet was 50 years of age and started his exile to yathreb (Medina) in 633.

 

The Prophet’s second wife was Sawdah. She and her husband had been among the earliest converts to Islam. They suffered great hardship at the hands of Quraysh(inhabitants of Mecca), so the Prophet had instructed them to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia). There, her husband passed away, and Sawdah suffered much hardship as a widow in a foreign land. The Prophet He knew that he was responsible for the welfare of his followers, so he proposed marriage to Sawdah. This marriage brought relief, respect and status to her, and provided the Prophet with companionship and assistance in raising his children from his marriage to Khadijah. At the time of her marriage to the Pronhet, Sawdah was around 55 vears old.

 

In order to create blood ties and to show his love and respect to his closest Companions who had given up this world for the sake of Islam, the Prophet gave two of his daughters in marriage to Ali and ‘Uthman’; he also accepted in marriage ‘A’ishah and Hafsah , the daughters of Abu Bakr and Umar, respectively. His marriage to these two noble women not only enhanced his close ties with his Companions, but these women were later to offer deep insight into the Prophet’s life. They were responsible for narrating over half of the ahadith which now form the basis of the Islamic code of conduct. ‘A’ishah alone is known to have narrated over two thousand ahadith.

 

Zaynab was a cousin of the Prophet. She had previously been married to Zayd , the freed slave and adopted son of the Prophet Hi. This marriage had been arranged by the Prophet , but the couple were never happy in their marriage and it became apparent that they were not compatible. At the Prophet’s insistence, they had stayed together for several years, but in the end Zayd could not tolerate it any longer, and decided to set Zaynab free from the marriage contract. The fact that an enslave had divorced a woman of the noble Quraysh tribe became the subject of much gossip among the pagans and the weaker members of the Muslim community. Not surprisingly, Zaynab confined herself to her quarters and it fell to the Prophet to relieve her of her misery. He married her, and she was around 38 years of age at the time. This action achieved two ends. One was to demonstrate that Islam makes no distinction between class, race or status, as the Qur’an teaches that the noblest person in the sight of Allah is the one who is most pious. The second was to indicate that adopted sons were not to be counted as blood relatives, as had previously been the custom in Arabia.

 

             It was the custom to have blood ties with the various large tribes for unification purposes. Hence some of the Prophet’s marriages were arranged to establish inter-tribal ties and to further the cause of unity. The Prophet’s marriage to Juwayriyah led her tribe of Banu Mustaliq, who had been among the fiercest enemies of Islam, freeing all their Muslim prisoners. The whole tribe later entered into Islam. Maymunah came from the tribe of Najd, who had murdered the emissaries sent to them by the Prophet. After his marriage to Maymunah, however, their attitude changed and Najd became favourable towards Islam.

 

            All In all, the Prophet had eleven wives, of whom two – Khadijah and Zaynab – passed away in his own lifetime. After the ayah restricting the number of wives to four was revealed, he contracted no further marriages, but his nine remaining wives were regarded as “mothers of the faithful” and as no other man would be permitted to marry them if he divorced them he kept all his wives on the grounds of compassion.

 

With the exception of ‘A’ishah, all of his wives were widows or divorcees. His marriages were all for political reasons or were contracted in order to set an example of compassion, as in the cases of Zaynab and Sawdah. His polygynous marriage all took place rather late in his life, from the age of 55. The prophet Muhammad was in a position of great political power to be choosy but he marry widowers and older women – a sure indication of his upright moral character and desire to set the highest example to his followers.

 

4) On Marriage

       

Mariage is encouraged in Islam at an early age.  This tradition is widespread in underdeveloped countries regardless of religions.  Islam considers sexuality to be a natural part of life, which is to be channeled into a healthy marriage life to avoid exploitation of women through prostitution, pornography, and rape.

 

The Prophet Muhammad advised Muslims: “Whoever is able to marry should marry; that institution will help the Moslem lower his gaze and guard his modesty”. Islam regards marriage as necessary and has raised it to the level of being a positive virtue and described it as being half the faith.

 

Marriage is a consented contract between two equal parties; neither male nor female should be forced into a marriage. Islam clearly states that a marriage contracted without the free consent of the woman is null and void. The Prophet said: “No widow should be married without consulting her, and no virgin should be married without her consent.” Allah said: “When one of you seeks to marry a woman, if he is able to have a look at the one he desires to marry, let him do so”.

 

As an equal partner, the Muslim woman may stipulate conditions in the marriage. The woman may stipulate, prior to marriage, the transfer of divorce power to herself, restricting the husband to one wife only, and clearly defining the conditions of maintenance. Muslim wives have always been allowed and expected to keep their maiden names after marriage.

 

The wife is a spiritual and moral being who is brought into union with a man on the basis of a solemn pledge which Allah is called upon to witness. The Prophet said: “You have seen nothing like marriage for increasing the love of two people”. In sourat Al-Rum (Byzantium) it is read: “And among His Signs is this; that He created mates from among yourselves; that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”  In sourat al-Aaraf (customs) it is read: “It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).

 

In Islam, there is no notion of woman being responsible for the “Fall” or of being the first sinner and therefore responsible for all of mankind’s woes. There is no idea of man being created out of superior material and woman out of base matter. Woman is made equal, both men and women are the progeny of Adam, so both have similar souls. In sourat al Shura (counsel) it is read: “(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves”.  In sourat al Nissaa (women) it is read: “Mankind! Reverence your Guardian – Lord Who created you from a single Person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women – fear Allah, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights).”

 

Islam does not view woman as the instrument of the devil or evil creature. The Koran describes woman as muhsanah (charitable), a fortress against evil, because a good woman helps her husband maintain the path of righteousness.  Muslim men are continually admonished to treat their wives kindly. To those men who oppress their wives then the sourat al Nissaa said: “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dower you have given them – except when they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary, live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be that you dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”

 

      

 Men are commanded by Allah to consort with women amicably and honourably. They should refrain from harshness in speaking to and dealing with them. Behaviour that goes against standards of morality and common courtesy is prohibited. Such wicked and brutal conduct is the sign of ignorance (jahidyyah) which Islam came to abolish.

 

The Prophet Muhammad attended to his own personal needs; he helped his wives in the house, he stitched and mended his own clothes, and kept a cheerful climate when he entered the house.  He demonstrated that a man is never too great to clean and look after himself, and he imparted the following advice:  “The best among you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best among you to his family”.  “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and the best of you are those who are best to their wives. By assisting your wives in their household duties, you will receive the reward of sadaqah (charity)”   In his famous speech given during his Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet reminded the Muslims of the importance of treating women equitably: “O people, fear Allah with regard to women..”

 

            Islam regards men and women as equal partners who should cooperate in making the home, be loyal, considerate and dependent upon one another. They should work together to overcome any problems and obstacles, work together to overcome the shortcomings of each partner, and present a united front to the outside world. They should also provide companionship and comfort to one another.  Islam clearly recognises the equal potential and ability of the sexes, but Allah has created human beings in a manner whereby men and women are better suited for complementary tasks.

    

5) On Motherhood

      

The Prophet indicated that a woman’s status is further enhanced when she becomes a mother. A man once asked him, “Who deserves the best care from me?” He replied, “Your mother”. The man asked, “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother”. The man asked, “Then who?” He replied, “Your mother”. The man asked, “Then who?” He replied, “Then your father”.

 

The Koran reads: ‘”Believer must not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he should be pleased with another.  When a woman breast feeds, for every gulp of milk she will receive a reward as if she had granted life to being, and when she weans her child, the angels pat her on the hack saying, ‘Congratulations! All your past sins have been forgiven, now start all over again”:  “O women! Remember that the pious among you will enter Jannah before the pious men”  “During pregnancy until the time of childbirth, and until the end of the suckling period, a woman earns reward similar to that of the person who is guarding the borders of Islam”

    

            The Koran orders are to be kind and just to women, as daughters, sisters, wives and mothers. Muslim who seek to make their womenfolk happy may expect to earn the pleasure of Allah, and pleasing Allah is the key to Paradise.  The sourat Luqman says: “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), ‘Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal.

 

      

Although Islam tells us to respect both parents, the mother is given precedence. For months she bears the burden in her womb, sufferings the trials of pregnancy. After the exertion of labour, she suckles the baby for up to two years. She sacrifices her own comforts for the sake of her child. So a man has to recognise, first, the rights that Allah has over him, and then the rights of his parents, especially the mother; he must worship Allah, and occupy himself in obeying and serving his parents to the best of his ability.

 

Miqdam reported that the Prophet said: “O people, listen: Allah the Most High commands you to treat your mothers well. Allah the Most High commands you to be good to your mothers, and thereafter to your fathers”. Anas reported that the Prophet said: “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers”. What is meant by this is that a believer may attain the pleasure of Allah, and hence Paradise, by pleasing his mother and attending to her needs. Even if one’s mother is not a Muslim, one is obliged to treat her well and take care of her, so long as this does not entail any disobedience to Allah.

 

6) On Divorce

   

The Prophet said: “Divorce is the most hateful of all lawful things in the sight of Allah”. Divorce is allowed as a last resort.  If divorce were forbidden, then animosity and adultery may become rampant. To save individuals and society from the greater evils, divorce has been permitted. However, it is not a step to be taken lightly or hastily. Sincere attempts at reconciliation are to be made first and – as in the case of marriage – the rights and wellfare of women are to be upheld.

 

Imam al Ghazzali (b.1058 CE) who is honoured with the title of Hujjat al Islam ‘The Proof of Islam’ states, the greatest care should be taken to avoid divorce, for, though divorce is permitted, yet Allah disapproves of it. If divorce becomes essential then the woman should be divorced kindly, not through anger or contempt, and not without a valid reason. After divorce a man should give his former wife a present and not announce to others any of her shortcomings.

 

The Koran advises a couple who are facing difficulties in their marriage to appoint arbiters.  In sourat al Nissaa it is read:” If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation…But if they disagree (and must part), Allah will provide abundance for all from His All-Reaching bounty.”

 

In order to dissolve a marriage, it is essential to pronounce a declaration of “talaq”. There are three types of talaq (divorce) that are practiced among Muslims.

First, talaq ahssan – (the preferable type of divorce): After issuing one pronouncement of divorce, the couple wait for the ‘iddah (waiting period, which consists of three menstrual cycles of the wife, usually three months). During this time, all possible attempts at reconciliation should be made. The husband may take his wife back at any time during the ‘iddah period. During the period of iddah the man must oblige to either keep the woman in the same home or at least furnish her with a comfortable apartment, which is easily accessible to him. Further, the man must provide for her as if no divorce has taken place. At the end of the iddah or waiting period if reconciliation has failed then the marriage is broken. In sourat al-Talaq it is read: “And fear Allah, your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by Allah: and any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul: you know not if perchance Allah will bring about thereafter some new situation.”

            Second, talaq hassan – is a divorce where a man pronounces talaq to his wife in three consecutive state of purity. Third, talaq bid’i where the husband issues three pronouncements of divorce at one time. According to the majority of jurists, this talaq is valid but it is against the spirit of the Shari’ah and so the man is an offender in the eyes of the law.  The last Talaq bid’i is considered a serious act against the Islamic teachings. The second Caliphate Umar, a close companion of the Prophet, used to whip the husband who pronounced divorce thrice at once and in the same sitting.

 

The sourat al-Baqarah (virginity) it is read: ” When you divorce women, and they fulfil the term of their (‘Iddah), either take them back on equitable terms or set them free on equitable terms; but do not take them back to injure them, (or) to take undue advantage; if any one does that, he wrongs his own soul. Do not treat Allah’s Signs as a jest, but solemnly rehearse Allah’s favours on you, and the fact that He sent down to you the Book and Wisdom, for your instruction. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is well-acquainted with all things.”

 

             Islam treads the middle ground in the divorce concept, and safeguards the rights of women. It neither prohibits divorce, thereby imprisoning women, nor does it regard divorce as an insignificant decision. The right to divorce is not restricted to the husband. The woman may also seek a dissolution of the marriage by means of a process known as faskh, whereby she applies to the Qadi (Judge) for an annulment of the marriage. The wife may seek faskh in several cases, including: apostasy (renunciation of Islam) by the husband; lack of equality of status (kafi’ah); lack of compatibility; spoiling of marriage (fasad); incurable impotence on the part of the husband and if the husband ill treats the woman (nushuz). The above cases present valid grounds for a woman to seek divorce from her husband. If the couple come to a mutual agreement for separation and get divorced then this is called khul.  In sourat al Nissaa it is read: “If the wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best…”

 

               Islam has decreed justice for both sexes in the case of divorce. Although the act of divorce is disliked, it is permitted for the sake of weak human souls who cannot always find comfort and solace in the marriage relationship. This is mainly due to lower tolerance levels, high expectations in others and needless desires.

 

7) On Modesty

 

 

Modesty, in the broadest sense, means humility, restraint in manner and conduct, avoiding excess and presenting an unpretentious appearance. In sourat al Nur (light) it is read: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments”

 

            Abdullah ibn Mass’ud reported, “I asked the Messenger of Allah , ‘What is the greatest sin?’ He replied, ‘To set up rivals with Allah by worshipping others although He alone has created you’. I asked, ‘What next?’ He said, ‘To kill your child lest it should share your food’. I asked, ‘What next?’ He said, ‘To commit adultery with the wife of your neighbour’ (zina)”  The Koran warns in sourat al Israa “Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)”.

 

The first step on the road to zina is sight. It is only after a person has had a glance that his desire are inflamed. The believing men and women are restricted from gazing at one another, as this is the gateway to greater sin. The Prophet said: “the zina of the legs is walking towards an unlawful act, the zina of the hands is touching and patting, and the zina of the eyes is casting passionate “lances at those who are forbidden to you”

 

It is the second glance which is punishable. The Prophet advised Ali “O Ali, do not allow your first glance to be followed by a second, because the first glance is permitted for you but the second is not”.  And “Let no male stranger sit in privacy with a female stranger, for the third among them is Satan”‘. And “Do not go to the houses of women whose husbands are absent”.

 

            There are exceptions to this prohibition on looking at members of the opposite sex. In the case of medical examinations or treatment, deciding on a marriage partner, recording evidence or carrying out criminal investigations, the rulings are relaxed somewhat, but proper conduct and modesty must still be adhered to.

            Appearing modestly in public does not correspond to prudism.  Erotism has always been encouraged in Arab traditions and Islam had to frequently turn a blind eye on erotic literatures because initiation to sexuality was transmitted early on for both genders.  Moslem theologians discussed freely on erotical matters, and most open was the most sought after in religious doctrines.  Sexsuality was taught in Mosques as part of education.  You may refer to “The garden of Lovers” by Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya, or “The Perfumed Garden” by Nafzawi, or the various sexual positions by Tifachi.

In fact, Youssef Seddik claimed that Islam was a counter-revolution to the absolute independence of women in Arabia.  Women were the matriach in that tribal society and their effronteries would have surprised today’s feminists.  For example, during the yearly pilgrimage celebration in Mecca women would erect tents and receive lovers.  The next year, the woman would select one of her lovers to be her child’s father.

            A husband who realized that his wife’s passion for him waned would search for another male that might intice the desires of his mate.  During the month long fasting season sexual intercourse was prohibited then quickly rescinded.  By emulating the modesty of the wives of the Prophet the women communities learned new customs that religion could not supplant.

 

8) On Dress Codes

 

            Practically, the free mixing of men and women from the time they become sexually aware to the time they are no longer sexually active is prohibited. Muslims are required to dress modestly and conceal their private parts (awrah).  In the case of men awrah extends from the navel to the knee; in the case of women awrah includes the whole body except the face, hands and (according to some Hanafi scholars) feet. Muslims should wear clothes that are loose fitting, thick (non-transparent) and simple (not ostentatious or gaudy).

 

In sourat al Nur it is read: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O Believers! Turn all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” In sourat al Ahzab (sects) it is said: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

Umm Salamah reported that she and Maymunah (who were both wives of the Prophet ) were with the Prophet when the blind son of Umm Maktumcame to speak with him. The Prophet told his wives to observe hijab in front of the visitor Umm Salamah said, “O Messenger of Allah, he is a blind man and will not see us”. The Prophet said, “He may be blind but you are not, and do you not see him”? The Prophet issued a warning: “Those women who appear naked even though they are wearing clothes, who allure and are allured by others, and who walk in a provocative manner, will never enter Paradise, or even smell its fragrance”.

 

Since antiquity, noble women wore the veil to be distinguished from the working women; the veil was a symbol of ranking because the sun did not alter the freshness of the face since whitness of the skin was very praised.  In Europe, women used to have a veil attached to their hats and they would lower the veil when outside their homes. 

In Mecca, the wives and girls of the rich traders wore the veil when out of their homes.  In Yathreb or Medina women were practically running a martriarchal system and thus, were mostly woking women.  Whe the Prophet Muhamad had to flee to Medina his folowers from Mecca were subjected to a cultural shock.  The Prophet had to be biased toward his followers because they were the backbone of his power.  Gradually but steadily the tradition and customs in Medina were altered. The Prophet took advantage of golden opportunities. After the inevitable rumors and flapps over his many wives behaviors the Prophet edicted that his wives would wear veil when on the streets and be accompanied by relatives.  The society followed the fashion of the famous.

 

The “Chador” and the dress codes of totally covering the body in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and where extra-conservative Moslem sects are predominant are not dictated by the Koran.  They are simply patriarchal political acts meant to humiliate women and relegate them to non-individual class.  The Moslem clerics would like you to understand that the main aim of hijab is to allow Muslim women to enjoy the ability to express their personality and their intellect independently of men’s whims and desires.  It would be interesting to get the opinion of the concerned women on that concept.

 

Note 5: Aicha, the most beloved wife of the Prophet, saved her copies very jealously until the third Caliphate Othman bin Affan ordered the archive to be handed over to him. Aicha didn’t trust Othman and she kept copies of all her documents.  At the time, only rich people could afford to write down documents because they were recorded on special leather in the Arab Peninsula. Thus, rich educated people had the task of transcribing the verses for better retention, memorizations, and an act of devotion.

 

Note 6: By the time Othman decided to issue an official Book for Islam (The Koran of Medina) most of the Byzantium and Sassanide Empires were conquered; Egypt was part of the Arab Moslem Empire. The formal or official Book had to take these political realities into accounts, realities of victors and vanquished.  The Caliphate Othman sorted out the verses and selected what suited the political interest of the new Islamic Empire; many verses were burned and disappeared, others were tampered with such as adding “nassara” (Christian) after Jews though the sentence would break the rime (sajaa).  Othman arranged verses by order of length and the gathered book was considered the official Koran. For example, the shortest revelations or verses are the first chronologically and represent the message of Islam in the first 13 years (The Koran of Mecca) before the relocation to Medina or Yathreb in 633.  The longest verses came afterward and dealt mostly with civil management, daily routine, penal codes, and organization of the converts to Islam.

Bi-Weekly Report (#17) on Lebanon and the Middle East (April 25, 2009)

 

            Every now and then you read optimistic editorials that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is very close because the US wants it, this time around.  I heard these optimistic reflection 15 years ago by the Egyptian Ambassador to the USA who later was appointed Foreign Minister.  You are led to believe that a Syrian-Israel accord is already completed and just waiting for a suitable political climate; and we all wonder and worry what “suitable political climate” entails and it has never been but more wars and massacres to Lebanese and Palestinians.

            In the weekly “Jeune Afrique” (Young Africa) the editorial of Bechir ben Yahmed would like you to sit tight and see a wonderful movie of peace achievement unfold in the region no later than two years from now.  Why?  Because the new US Administration has set its mind that the establishment of a Palestinian State is the corner stone for its long range policies in the Middle East and that the European community badly wants this resolution on ground that it can no longer afford to pay for frequent reconstructions in Palestine and Gaza.

Why the US has finally set its mind?  Simply because a panel of 10 illustrious men in US politics has proposed this resolution; they are Brent Scowcroft, Paul Volcker, Zbigniew Brzezinsky, James Wolfensohn, Henry Siegman, and others. What is the ready plan of the US Administration? First, the return of Israel to its 1967 border with “concessions on several parcels of lands”; second, dividing Jerusalem as Capital for the two States; third, the return of Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian State; forth, the admission of Israel of its responsibility and financial compensation by the “World Community”; and finally, the stationing of International Peace Force on the borders. Nothing more and nothing less; see you all how simple and straightforward has this plan boiled down too! 

In the mean time: first, the Palestinians and the Arab States have to recognize a purely Jewish State in their midst; second, the US has to recognize Hamas as a democratically elected party as it recognized the democratically elected ultra racists Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman; third, the US has to recognize that Israel has nuclear bombs and missiles that can deliver them and thus has the responsibility not to leave decisions of mass destruction in the hands of foolish racist and Arab hate mongers; and forth, the US has to stop delivering white phosphorous bombs to Israel. The German cargo transporter “Wehr Elbe” discharged 300 containers of military ammunitions in Israel and containing White Phosphorous bombs that caused the outcry of the international community for being dropped consistently on Gaza and burning thousands of Palestinians. What else did these containers deliver? Cluster bombs, you guessed it. Every week a child or a shepherd dies or is maimed in south Lebanon due to the millions of cluster bombs that Israel “delivered” in the last day of the 2006 July War. That is not the end of the story; two other cargo shipments are in the pipelines. Why? The previous Bush Administration has signed an accord with Israel for 25 billion dollars in free military package aids!  President Obama does not want to rescind criminal decisions, as if closing Guantanamo Bay prison is of a lesser magnitude in hypocrisy.

            An Iranian proverb says: “Bolding men dies with a toupee of abundant curly regrets” This proverb squarely applies to Israel ex Ehoud Olmer PM.  For three years, Olmert had the opportunity to sign peace agreement with Syria and establish a Palestinian homeland but he failed to do so.  In his departure farewell he delivered a public testament urging his successor Netanyahu to boldly and courageously grab a historic initiative to that effect. If these decisions had no other alternatives then why has Olmert failed in his responsibility?

            Israel, the US, and the European Union would like the general public to consider Iran the main nemesis for world peace.  They don’t dare say that Pakistan that owns nuclear bombs is falling to a Taliban-like extremism.  They also don’t dare say that the over 300 million Moslems in India are mostly of Shiaa leaning like Iran.

            In Lebanon, over 750 candidates for the Parliamentary election in June 7 deposited $6,000 each to be eligible.  Many withdrew from the race and recovered $1,500; the remaining lost their deposit.  The treasury would be over 3 millions dollars richer.  The New York Times published yesterday that Saudi Arabia is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars to support the government candidates.  Saad Hariri is the medium for receiving and distributing the Saudi dirty money.  Saudi Arabia monarchy would like the government to return as majority even with one candidate.  All the main lists of candidates have been formed by both alliances.

            Today is the official anniversary of the Armenian genocide; the Armenians in Lebanon are not happy that Seniora PM decided to hold a meeting for the cabinet today.  I had posted an essay on the genesis of the Armenian genocide under the title “Cursed Cities: Karss”

Cursed Cities: Kars

 

There are geographical locations and regions that are cursed historically, located on the cross roads of invading powers. 

This essay is not about cities that experienced frequent disasters by natural calamities. For example, we have cities that had vanished because built near active volcanoes such as Pompeii in Italy, others because of being located on seismic faults such as Beirut and lately the Abruzzi region in Italy, and others succumbing to tidal waves and hurricanes such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, the USA Gulf regions, and Rangoon where people perish by the hundred of thousands every year and keep rebuilding in the same devastated areas… 

This article is about cities located on major trade routes and suffered recurring genocides because of human greed for domination and power.  I will focus on the city of Kars in Turkey on the eastern side of the Anatolia Plateau (Anadol). 

Kars is built by the river Kars and a must cross location on the route from Georgia, Tabriz (Iran), the Caucasus and Tiflis. I urge my readers to recollect other cursed cities through history.

Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus form one homogeneous geographic area in economy, culture, and social communication and trades. The Armenians on both sides preferred to pay allegiance to Christian Russia and wished that Russia would grant them administrative autonomy in the Caucasus. The Moslems on both sides paid allegiance to the Moslem Ottoman Empire. The triangle of the current States of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were the scenes of major battle fields and invasions through history and is still a hot area till now.

The Nobel Literature Prize winner Orhan Pamuk published “Snow” that described the calamities suffered by the inhabitants of the Kars region.  The Armenian people lived in that region for a thousand years and then many waves of immigrants and refugees from persecutions flocked to it.  The Kars region hosted people from the Empires of Persia, Byzantium and then Moguls, Georgians, Kurds, and Cherkessk.

In the 17th century, the Kars region was predominantly of Moslems and Armenians were second in numbers.

The Russian Empire vied for this region since the 18th century.

In 1827, Russia entered Kars and chased out over 27,000 Moslems and transferred 45,000 Armenians to this city from Iran and the Anatolian Plateau. The city of Yerevan (Capital of the current State of Armenia) that was mostly of Iranians was transformed demographically in 1827. 

In every Russian invasion to the Kars region, the Russian troops could rely on the Armenian population for auxiliary regiments, logistics, and intelligence services. As the Russian troops vacated the region in 1829, over 90,000 Armenians fled with the Russians fearing well deserved persecussion.

During the Crimea War, which confronted Russia against the combined alliance of Britain, France, and the Ottoman, the Russians put siege on Kars in 1855 for many months and all the Ottoman army within the city was massacred.  The Paris treaty of 1855 forced the Russians to vacate the Kars region. The Ottoman troops retaliated heavily on the Armenians.

In 1859, the Cherkessk, lead by their leader Shamel, revolted against the Russians and were defeated; many Christian Russian Orthodox were transferred to Kars to replace the Moslem Cherkessk.  The same eviction process befell three quarter of the Moslems of Abkhazia in 1867.  Thus, in less than 30 years, the Russian Empire changed the demographics of the Caucasus from mostly Moslems to mostly Christians.

Over 1, 200,000 Moslems were forced to transfer to other regions; 800,000 of the Moslems settled in the Ottoman Empire. 

In 1877, the Russians amassed troops on the border with Kars.  Sultan Abdel Hamid preempted the invasion by massacring the Armenians on ground that they will inevitably aid the Russians. After 93 days of war, the Russians entered Kars and a pogrom on the Moslems proceeded for many days.

The treaty of San Estephanos relinquished the region to the Russian Empire. The Russians built a new city south of the city of Kares where the Emperor Alexander III met with his concubines and hunted.

In the next 43 years, the Armenians harassed the Moslems of this region and thousand had to flee. In retaliation, Sultan Abdel Hamid formed in 1891 a special regiment of Kurdish cavalry with the purpose of harassing the Armenians of the Kars region and the pogrom around Lake Van raised an outcry in Europe.

During the First World War, the Armenians again aided the Russians and formed semi-regular armies to fight the Ottoman Empire.  Consequently, in 1915, the Ottoman Empire launched the genocide plan against the Armenians and thousands died of famine during the long march out of Turkey. The Armenians who were settled in Constantinople (Istanbul) and Adana shared in the mass persecution. Only the Armenians in the Caucasus, within Russia, were spared.  The British occupied the Kars region in 1919 and gave some authority to the Armenians who gathered arms from the Moslems and gave them to the Armenians and another round of harassment and massacres took place.

The Turkish General Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) re-occupied the Kars region in 1920 after defeating the Armenian army: the Bolsheviks were then allied to the new Turkish Republic. The Russians transferred the Armenians from the region of Patum to Yerevan.

In 1927, all the properties of the Armenians in Kars were confiscated. The Armenians were robbed of a homeland because Turkey ceased Cyprus to Britain in exchange of guaranteeing the Kars region to Turkey.  Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) also negotiated a political deal with France to relinquish the Syrian region of Alexandrite to Turkey, setting the premises for future regional feuds.

Nowadays, there are no Armenians in Kars. The imposing buildings of Tsarist Russia are government Administrative offices; a vast villa of 40 rooms is transformed into hospital, and a Jewish museum. An entire century of struggles, massacres, harassments, genocides, and useless hate to their neighbors in order to gain self-autonomy rewarded the Armenians nothing. 

The Armenians had to wait for the break down of the Soviet Union to enjoy the Armenian State that is totally dependent in its economy on the neighboring States. 

Kosovo, Kashmir, Jerusalem, Gaza, and Palestine are current examples of lost opportunities for stability and peace.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

April 2009
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