Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 6, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Geopolitics

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, was-salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

This next section has to do with the Muslim world on the world stage. AHM deals with the life of Muslims in the West, as well as the relationship between East and West, and how Islam circumscribes politics. He does deal with certain regions of the world by name (Europe, Turkey, India, etc.) but I will be adding those sections here shortly.

Spirituality and Politics
20. Remember: the history of Islam is the history of the Muslim ego.
-Most of the Muslim conquest were done for glory or prestige and this is the case again today

54. If you put down your tasbih you will not pick up a rifle safely.
-The importance of spirituality (inward mujadaha) in tandem with physical outward jihad or else we will have a bad beginning in our battles

45 Sufism is the belief that we should not act against the political interests of Islam.
-Perhaps he is referring to the fact Sufis are seen as an apolitical, pacifist Muslim alternative by the West when they are very much involved in politics and war

4. The Dajjal will only be king when only the blind are left in the valley.
-‘In the valley of the blind the one-eyed man is king’ (Erasmus)

83. Hijra today means the move from the cenobitic to the idiorhythmic.
-Cenobitic, is the community of righteous monks as opposed to the idiorhythmic monk who lives alone so hijra today is moving away from a corrupt community in other words, and fleeing to the hills alone.

65. The ethical is only possible where there is a sense of place. (‘We have ennobled the sons of Adam, and carried them upon land and sea’.)
-The doing of good deeds is part and parcel with considerations and understanding of a place, but also this may refer to having an understanding of the culture (‘urf) and praiseworthy aspect of certain cultures

1. Activism will only succeed when it remembers that history is in good hands.
-History is in God’s hands as the Qur’an says, the night and the days are between His hands and the hadith says the hearts of His servants are between the fingers of ar-Rahman

65. The purpose of society is to produce saints.
-It is not the maximizing of freedoms or of pleasure seeking but of creating exemplary individuals, both internally and externally and not just superficially like in Western societies

4. Do not play politics with sacred politics.
-If you play politics with God it is similar to Adam’s disobedience and how it led to his fall and has consequences for the faith of people to come

13. His name in our age is al-Sabur.
-Allah is more patient with us now than He probably has ever been in our history

19. We have not grown out of the Shari‘a, we have shrunk out of it.
-When we say we have grown out of the Shari’a we are being proud and arrogant and that is a sign of our having shrunk out of the Shari’a

63 The function of the Caliph is to defend people’s lives, not to interfere with them.
-The purpose of the Caliphate is to help Muslims worship and make things easy for them, not to push them around like a bully

24. Politics is one cell within the body of Islam. If it grows unduly, it is a cancer.
-Politics has its place but it is not everything, and if it grows it becomes a tumor that impairs the body of Islam, hurting spirituality, justice and reason in Islam

20. The Mahdi will be appointed by Theos, not Demos. The blood of warrior-patricians will run in his veins.
-Imam Mahdi will be appointed by God, not the masses

70. Civil society is the deodorant of kufr.
-Being civil and acting polite is just to hide the stench of disbelief
-This doesn’t apply to our society as much but it can apply to Islamophobes. It applies best to the mushrikeen who would be civil though they were hateful since they wanted to preserve what dignity they felt they had

33. There is justice, and there is just-us.
-‘Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.’”(Quran 4:135)

18. Everything is political, but politics is not everything.
-You can politicize just about anything, and that is because there is a tendency for that to happen with any social interaction, but that does not mean politics is our complete potential

40. Those that sell Tornadoes shall reap the whirlwind.
-”They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7
-Comment on politics and Islam but also on those who ‘swerve’ in their speech and actions

Umma
-AHM mentions the hadith, ‘This umma is an umma that has mercy on it, its punishment is not in the next life but in this world, through fitan (trials/tribulations), earthquakes and killing.’

3. This sin of the Muslim world: menefregismo.
-Meaning we Muslims couldn’t care less and we are in a state of deep apathy or that we are in apathy about our state of apathy

9. The Umma without its Law is like a man without his Prayer.
-The connection with the salah has been disconnected with the disconnection from the Sharia

25. The Law upholds the Umma better than the Umma upholds the Law.
-The Sharia is keeping the Muslims functional moreso than the Muslims efforts to uphold the law, which may be a reference to extremism or shoddy religious scholarship

38. Muslim solidarity can never force us to lower our standards.
-Were we to agree to the lowest common denominator, it would not be a useful solidarity and wold probably impair the growth of Islam

40 Ummatolatry: from Islam to Izlam.
-Ummatolatry is a portmanteau of umma/idolatry, the idolizing of the ‘umma’ is a manifestation of nationalism, and Izlam is a reference to the arrows that were cast before the idol Hubbal mentioned in the Qur’an. Are we then casting arrows to this idol of Islam?

20 If your morale is built on the Umma, beware. If it is built on God, rejoice.
-AHM says elsewhere the umma provides us with fear while Allah provides us with fear
-If our morale were a sole consequence of what happened with us and we were in the Prophetic era we would collapse and give up on God since the Prophet was surrounded by trials and yet he remained firm with reliance in God, so we should follow the Prophetic example

28. Our condition is ignorance of our condition.
-We don’t know that we don’t know

21. ‘One lives so badly because one always arrives in the present unfinished, incapable, distracted’. (Rilke)
-We are not whole, our attention is distracted and lack the courage to do anything about it
-The salah and Qur’an are helpful because they connects and brings harmony between body and spirit and thereby dignify us so that we want to strive for a more nobler life

43. We claim the whole of the truth for ourselves, but not to have monopolised it.
-Their are other ummas alongside us in the past and in the present day who have access to the truth

Us and God inside the Religion
15. We are punished because we don’t know that we deserve to be punished.
-Our punishment is to make us cognizant of our shortcomings and to alert us of our faults

94. Only when distant from God do we crave what is distant from God.
-We see what is around us and find that what is distant from God is closer to us, when in reality it is distant from our spiritual nature

61 Ethics is the treatment for our exile from God.
-Through ethics or akhlaq we can near the Prophetic example and be remitted to the Divine mercy

65 We are too busy being right to have time for God.
-This is one of the virtues of being wrong that we turn to God, but its not about being wrong or right, but about thinking you are always right

Identity
-In one of his papers AHM says: “…In particular, it has failed to see that identity movements, by their nature, cannot defend authenticity, because they remake it in the act of defining it as authentic. In particular, it has failed to see that identity movements, by their nature, cannot defend authenticity, because they remake it in the act of defining it as authentic.
-Our debate has become the voicing of despair from turbulence of identity

79. We are Muslims because we practice Islam, not vice versa.
-We are not practicing Islam because we are Muslim, we subscribe to belief in Allah and not belief in our identity

73. The identity-merchant says ‘Un-Islamic’; the Godfearing says: ‘Makruh’ or ‘Haram.’
-It is not about us, but about God

31. Islam is not about ‘being yourself’; it is about improving yourself.

68. Beware the denial of identity that is not a denial of the self.
-If you deny your identity in anger and pride then you haven’t truly denied your self

8. Identity religion: be proud of your prison!
-An identity is a confinement since the body is simply a vessel and to be proud of it is to be proud of essentially a prison

60. How do I know who you say that you are?
-Is there an ideal or abstract idea of a Muslim or any other race or culture or grouping? How can we confirm this is what you are? The idea AHM is hinting at is the fluidity of identity and how it changes over time so that realistically speaking it is quite a meaningless identification

83. Religious practice is important only as a means of serving God
-It is not important as a form of show or belonging but only important insofar as it is beloved to God

Muslims in the West

-AHM says in one of his papers, ‘The sign of Islam’s enactment of this primordial covenant on earth is Abrahamic, and more particularly Ishmaelite, since the universalizing implications of Ishmael’s exile mean that the whole world, Hebrew and Gentile, forms part of an umma, which is, at the very least, ummat al-da’wa, the umma-in-waiting, the community of those equipped to under- stand. According to a hadith the Muslims are told: ‘Show piety in dealing with the protected peoples, those of the settled lands, the black, the crinkly-haired, for they have a noble ancestor and marriage ties [with us]’. In his SÏra, Ibn Hisham adds: ‘by “ancestry” the Prophet referred to the fact that the prophet Ishmael’s mother came from them.’7 In the Ishmaelite vision, it seems that even the Kushites, elsewhere despised, are capable of a full and equal understanding.’

73. Islam in the West: there is isolation, or assimilation, or success.
-In a way we are like Ishmael and Hajar in Mecca isolated at first but then later joined by others who come to Islam, but then assimilation occurs and then there may be success that comes later on as in the Prophethood of Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam)

94. If you are threatened by a materialist civilisation, make yourself economically
indispensable.
-This is the strategy of many communities who have realized they are protected insofar as they are needed for economic survival and its a model Muslims are adopting

94. Ishmael finds a Bab El even in Babel.
-A Muslim finds a door to God even in the West

37 Preferring rida to riba is the choosing of the milk over the wine.
-If we choose usury over contentment it will intoxicate us and lead us astray in the way Christians were led astray into the state today of unchecked capitalism
-The milk and wine allegory is an explicit hint to the Isra wa’l Miraj where the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was offered milk or wine by Jibreel and he (salallahu alayhi wasalam) chose milk, and was told if he chose wine then his (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s umma would have gone astray
-There is a dua in the sunna for milk and its baraka to be expanded and among the ulema, milk is considered a food and not a drink while wine in Islam is only good when it is non-intoxicating as in the descriptions of Jannah

35. Dar al-Islam? Rome is where you will be most proud to be a Muslim.
-You won’t be proud to be Muslim around millions of Muslims, no, but you find pride in upholding Islam when you are surrounded by non-Muslims

52. Secular decadence is less ugly than religious decadence because only organic matter can really decompose.
-The secular has always been dead and inanimate like plastic, while Islam is like the gardens one finds in the mosque complexes of the Muslim world, they decay only because they once had life

14. A faith that is only a social consequence will mainly be concerned with its own social consequences.
-If Islam for you is just a consequence of heritage and geographical history, then you will see Islam only in the problems it has in society
-If Islam for you is divine decree then you will try to search for the designs of destiny in your society

12. Be a good Muslim and you won’t want to lie. Be a very good Muslim and you won’t need to lie.
-AHM may be hinting not just to speaking the truth but also to silence

82. Today’s believer is a disbeliever in most of what the disbeliever is a disbeliever in.
-We share common ground with liberals and Christians who have caught up with our beliefs about rights and dignity and that is a good starting point of discussion

39. Being heretics to the Monoculture requires both courage and style. But we should have room for those who have neither courage nor style.
-We should accomodate for Muslims who aren’t going to have any courage or style in resisting the monoculture; those who will neither wear the dresses nor show our Islam
-AHM has suggested Muslims create an ‘indigenous’ style or culture of Islam in America to go against the monoculture, and that is difficult and requires courage because it means not imitating modernity. In regards to mosque architecture he mentions the imperial design of Ottoman mosques, nor the Baroque styles of churches, but suggested looking into some of the ideas of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, though not imitating him completely

25. It is better to be tolerant than to be terminated.
-The Prophetic example in Mecca is to tolerate hardship rather than fight for what will ultimately futile to the cause of Islam

67. If you can’t beat them, be joined by them.
-The history of Islam is replete with examples of foreign enemies joining the Muslim ranks. The question then is how can we make them come to join us?

88. Da‘wa should start at the point of harmony, not the point of dissonance.
-We should start our dialogue with non-Muslims on common ground as the Qur’an suggests, rather than on a point of difference

East and West

-AHM says elsewhere, ‘Medieval Islam and Judaism imported freely from Athens; but they seem to have instinctively excluded those dimensions which obstructed diversity: poetics, drama, architecture.’

59. The West treats other civilisations like stroke victims.
-That they are paralyzed and need help doing everything, and Muslim leaders take this as a luxury when really its a service at a cost

12. Islam was the sharpest of all medieval Western problems of theodicy. The West is the sharpest of all problems for modern Muslim theodicy.
-The medieval wrestled over the problem of evil and why God would create evil (i.e. Islam) but
-We were the evil who were a problem, now the West is the evil that is our problem

14 Islam cannot be a way of being modern; but it can be a way of being Western.
-We Muslims cannot totally embrace modernity, but we are a part of the Western monotheistic tradition and are, in fact, the culmination of that tradition

32. Islam is the only way of being pro-Western.
-Islam will be the sole inheritor of the Western monotheistic tradition

56 Fear of death marks the difference between modern and Islamic art.
-Islamic artwork embraces death as paradisaical while modern art sees death in jaded, psychologically distraught as if drowning spiritually

47 Islam’s heart is ethical; the West’s skin is ethical.
-The West is superficially ethical while Islam is intensely spiritual
-Skin wears out with time, but the heart heals much quicker and holds something that is eternal

71. Traditional architecture: materials praising their Maker. Modern architecture: materials praising Man. Postmodern architecture: materials mocking man.
-Architecture is like music made solid, and like music it affects our behaviour, our minds and souls. As architecture has ‘progressed’ it begins to talk back and comment on our desires and the nature of our society. It does little to nourish us spiritually as traditional architecture of various traditions used to, but now instead only offers back to us our own attitude for endless critique

89. To be with Islam is to live in the valid diversity of signs. To be with the Monoculture is death.
-The monoculture has an invalid diversity of signs, that is, signs of distraction with which we don’t live as much as we drown in

72. Tradition: a low expectation of this world; high hopes for the next. Result: happiness. Modernity: high hopes for this world, low hopes for the next. Result: misery.
-’He who has hope has everything’ (Arab proverb)
-The vast majority of human experience is not in ends but in the journey to things or in beginnings and often what we deem and end is just another beginning

62. Uncle Same is lord of the Monoculture. Allah is Lord of the Worlds.
-America is the head of the monoculture movement but Allah is the Lord of every seen and unseen world.

43. Tradition: we are on Religion’s leash. Modernity: religion is on our leash.
-Caesaropapism is the idea of combining religion with secular power or making secular power greater than religious power, while Weber defines it as ‘the complete subordination of priests to secular power.’

23. Religion desires to change the age. The age desires to change religion .
-The vehicle of historical change is religion so if religion is altered, then it will steer the ages to come in certain directions

96. Islam: there is a basis for cumulation. The West: there is only cumulation.
-There is a basis in Islam for accumulating wealth and worldly goods, since it can be used for good, as the example of the wealthy Companion Abdur-Rahman bin Awf demonstrates, but for the West there is no end to accumulating worldly goods
-Imam al-Qurtubi sees wealth as rain water, that if it is hoarded and remains stagnant then it will spoil, so it has to remain flowing with generosity and proper use

10. The East is content without form; the West is form without content.
-To borrow a famous Sufi saying one is a ‘Name without reality’ and the other’ a reality without a name’

19. Will our dialogue be clearer if we have lost our teeth?
-Malcolm X has put this succinctly that no one resents a religion (with punishments and the will to fight) except a wolf that intends to make you his meal

Muslim governments
27 Never before has praise from a sultan been so insulting.
-For the ulema to be praised by a Muslim ruler, in an era where Muslim political leaders have abandoned the religion more than ever, is a gross insult and there is no honour in it

77. The kings were ruled by adyan; now they are by duyun.
-The kings used to be ruled by religions and to answer to religious authority and this was how they were kept in check, but now they must answer to ideologies

55. Which Muslim state is not a bad parody of a Western model?
-The dress, the ceremonies, the terminology, the way the government buildings are modeled on European or American models
-The Ottomans built palaces like the Dolmabahçe Palace which imitates the Baroque and other European building styles something which is clearly superficial and unnecessary, a clear sign of love of the West

67. But for God’s mercy, we would have the governments we deserve.
-If we had the governments we deserved in relation to our sins and heedlessness, then the Muslim governments would be punishing us day in and day out, similarly the non-Muslim governments also

9 Today’s Umma deserves the Law as imposed by those who do not deserve it.
-Related to the previous Contention due to our sinfulness we deserve the distorted ‘Sharia punishments’ carried out by those self-appointed religious authorities who don’t understand the Sharia

87. Our name among the nations matters only when da‘wa is important.
-When we speak to people about Muslim countries as examples we find it hard to point to a good example to strengthen our da’wa

4. You no longer have the privilege of the Umma’s protection. (‘And upon God … ’)
-Now we are in a time where we have no umma or caliphate to protect us and God is the Caliph and upon Him alone we rely

84. The world will not rejoice until we deserve success.
-We are the last surviving robust religious community and the anger of atheists has to do with religious people not upholding the moral standards they claim to believe in, so when we uphold that

60. It is better that the injustices of others should stand than that our own injustices should stand.
-Even if an injustice may yield a temporary victory, it will haunt us and so its better we be wronged than to wrong others
-Our pride may ache but that pain cannot compare to the heart ache of the soul
-Europe’s example of the Holocaust is pertinent here, where they are haunted by a collective guilt, ashamed before the Jewish community and therefore always appeasing it

3. Real Islam is successful. If it is not successful, it is not real Islam.
-Success is God signature and we Muslims have always succeeded when we adhered truly to Islam

64. In a democracy there should be no private beliefs.
-Anonymity is a sin and there has to be maximum transparency where the line between private and public has changed in the technological age
-The same can be said about so-called democracies in the Muslim world where one can’t speak their mind even in their own homes

Arab World

77. The caliphs’ prayers ended with Hamidun Majid.
-It did not end with praise of oneself as the King or dictator or father of the nation but with praise of Allah as is mentioned in the prayers of the sunna
-AHM may be hinting to the names of the last Ottoman caliphs: Mahmud II and Abdul Majid II as a sign of God

49. Arab humiliation is usually the result of Arab pride.
-To fail gloriously or to be dramatic in listing one’s grief, as if to take a pride in one’s grief as a badge to show how invulnerable one is
-Arab dignity is the result of Islam as Umar has said in a famous saying, ‘We were a people who lived in humiliation and then Allah gave us honour through Islam. Accordingly, if we were to seek honour through anything other than Islam, Allah would humiliate us once again.’

84. Do not accuse the Arabs of stupidity.
-You don’t accuse people of stupidity, you insult them. And the Arab situation is one of being smart in feigning stupidity under brutal dictatorships that are only recently collapsing and just making the best of it

11. Arabdom is not congenital.
-Being an Arab is not by birth but it is by the spirit of Islam
-When pan-Arabism was beginning many Christian Arabs were adamant that Islam is a crucial part of Arab history and that there is no separating the leadership of Sayyidina Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam) from Arab history

5. Aid for ‘moderate’ Middle Eastern regimes is meals on wheels, because it does not expect to rejuvenate.
-It will not bring about the ‘moderate’ stable leadership of the Ottomans but its only meant to keep these regimes alive bit by bit, on life-support or as if on a leash

60. Palestine: the burnt offering that atones for Paul’s original sin.
-In Christianity, Christ’s death atones for the original sin of Adam and Eve
-What AHM is suggesting that Palestine will pay the price for Paul’s sins, which is referring to the prophecies of the Apocalypse and the rise of Jerusalem before the return of Christ and fundamentalist American Christianity is trying to speed up his return by aiding Israel

61. It is better to be exterminated entirely than to give away the Holy Land.
-For what use is a body and the soul when the heart has been taken out of the body?
-This is most likely an allusion to the words of the last Ottoman Caliph Abdul-Majid who said to the Zionists that he would rather have a spear go through him than to surrender the land of Jerusalem to anyone

23 Do not wonder at the Arab’s love of emotion. Has not everything else been taken away from him?
-Has Islam been taken away from him? In many cases, it has and that may explain the boiling over of emotions in the Arab world.
-AHM does mention how the pre-Islamic Arabs would resort to suicide as a protest and it was these suicidal protests that ignited the Arab Spring protests in the Arab world

95. Arabs! Bright lights at Fajr, and loud loudspeakers, are errors that belie the Faith.
-AHM may be referring to dance clubs that party till sunrise in Arab countries, that their should be a shame in not honouring the Fajr time, a time of baraka, recitation of the Qur’an and spiritual theophanies

America
-Uncle Same is AHM’s play on words for the American monoculture
-Condelezza Rice has referred to the Muslim world as “the roadkill of history”
-’If they merely took pleasure in affirming their imagined superiority, the illusion would only do harm to themselves; but their most terrible offense is their proselytising fury: in them the spirit of conquest goes under the disguise of “moralist” pretexts, and it is in the name of “liberty” that they would force the world to imitate them.’ (Guenon)

46. ‘It’s kind of bad we destroyed everything, but at least we gave them a chance for a new start’ (Uncle Same’s warrior, after Fallujah).
-An example of the greediness in generosity and false comforting oneself being of more important than actually helping someone

35. Uncle Same: choice should be both legal and improbable.
-The legal system deals with non-issues and moral dilemmas that make people feel important, as if they are creating a law that is as momentous as revelation

91. Uncle Same twists us into different figures, but it is always the same twisting.
-Its the same strategy and technique but in different topics and areas

38. An empire must be an umpire.
-The ruling American hegemony is the one that makes the laws and calls the fouls, whether or not they have occurred, and that is what counts
-An umpire can never kicked out of the game

87. The American for erotic is erratic.
-America is always changing its ideas regarding sexuality

30. ‘Terrorism and precipitate responses to it almost always produce the opposite of what is intended.’ (Robert W. Funk)
-America’s actions abroad and the terrorism that has come in response to their action and the American counter-response just make things worse for Americans and those whom they attempt to ‘liberate’

96. America is Rome. Europe is Athens. Islam is Jerusalem.
-We are like the Jews living under Roman rule, elsewhere AHM also says that we are the true inheritors of Athens

Peace
80. Loyalty is simple: it is to the oppressed.
-When the question of loyalty to our countries or to Islam applies, then this is the response we should give

90. The fight against suffering in this world that takes no account of the next world can only yield a suffering that is greater still.
-We will not find any relief or any sense for suffering if we do not have God’s justice, punishment and reward in mind
-One conversion to Islam was of a woman who felt it was impossible for justice to not reach

96. Peace at any price? Not at any price.
-Certain prices for peace will just create frustration that will renew hostilities and this is better elaborated by the Contention, ‘2. Peace without justice is not peace at all.’

64. It is better to keep the enemy hull-down on the horizon than to fight him at close quarters.
-Its better to keep Islamophobes afraid of us slightly and remain safe than to go after them in an aggressive way that may worsen the situation

Pacifism

64. Pacifism? Better armed than armless.
-In non-violence guilt is an arm and weapon used against an oppressor, if there is a conscience there, but conscience isn’t it

96. If you believe in peace, you will not believe in pacifism.
-Pacifism can easily become an ostrich escapism, hiding until the problem goes away

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa anta astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


Responses

  1. Thank you for putting AHM’s contentions in the spotlight.

    His work needs to get wider circulation; there is so much we can gain and discover about Islam and ourselves. A food for reflection and contemplation.

    I disagree with a few of your interpretations, but that’s the thing about interpretations I guess, there could be many different explanations. Keep up the wonderful postings.

  2. As salamu alaikum wa rahmatllahi wa barakatuh

    I hope this doesn’t come off as self-righteous but there are a few instances of the word “Prophet” without the Salam (SalAllahu Alahi Wa Salam).

    Otherwise an excellent effort. Jazak Allah Khair,

    Wa alaikum as salam

  3. asalam-o-allaikum
    jazakALLAH

  4. Reblogged this on Islamic Articles.


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