Monday, September 30, 2013

( 11 ) " Islam and India. "

By Sodium

Before I touch what Graham Fuller has embodied in his fascinating and provocative book , entitled, " A World Without Islam, " it may be in order to provide the novice and interested readers with a brief background about the current political geography of India, as how it was and how it had become:

In 1947, India was one integrated country colonized by Great Britain. In other words, it was considered a mere British colony. After 1947, it was fragmented into three separate and sovereign countries, namely:  India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In the process of shifting population, by the British, from one locality to other localities, within the geographical boundaries of India, the British gave the state of Kashmir to Hindu India to govern and rule, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of the population of Kashmir was ( and still is ) Muslim. Such an action has not been accepted by Muslim Pakistan ever since. Hence, India and Pakistan had waged three wars against one another in the last 50 years. And yet, the conflict/dispute over Kashmir has not been settled. To allow this conflict to remain unsolved can be too dangerous, since both India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals; and thus a nuclear exchange has become in the realm of possibilities, if not in the realm of probabilities, in future wars. All it takes a fanatical leader on ether side to start the horror.

Although the conflict " APPEARS " to be based on differences in religious beliefs, all historical and even cultural facts have indicated that religion has little to do with the conflict as much as greed for territories or/lands grab and geopolitical hegemony, as planned by the British colonial rule to serve British interest.

Back to the review of the chapter of the book, " A World Without Islam," for this topic ( 11 ) Islam and India:

What has initially attracted my attention in the review for this particular topic are the following historical facts:

Fact One:
 India is fundamentally Hindu and has been known so since time immemorial.

Fact Two:
 Islam had reached SOUTHERN India, in peaceful ways ,through Arab merchants in the 7th century A.D..

Fact Three:
Islam entered NORTHERN India in none-peaceful-ways, through Afghani, Persian and Arab warriors.

Question: what is the point for listing the three historical facts above?
Answer: for simply re-emphasizing the well known adage ": violence breeds violence,"  because what the world sees, at present time, occasional horrible violence in India occurs in the NORTHERN part of India and not in SOUTHERN India, where the Muslim population has been totally assimilated within the traditions, customs, norms, mores and culture of Indian..

The following quotations from the book, " A World Without Islam " may provide the novice and interested readers with basic essentials in order to accumulate adequate knowledge about Islam and India:

Quotation One:
" In our alternative scenario of a world without Islam, the lines in India are less clear. In one sense, things would be quite different without Islam: the world would have been deprived of the brilliance of the Hindu-Muslim fusion civilization of the Mughals. At the same time, it might have been spared some of the ugly religious struggles between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs that have characterized recent history. So, in this context, the more interesting question might be, Was the religious strife between Hindus and Muslims inevitable?  Did this have to be a bloody border?  Why are we where we are today?  And how much is really about religion?  Or can the roots of the problem also be traced to the self-serving policies of British colonial rule in India? "

 Note: Based on quotation one as quoted above, it is obvious that the questions embodied in in  it needed solid answers, or, at least, reasonable or acceptable answers. Perhaps, the quotations listed below,( namely quotations two, three, four, and five, plus final words ),  may provide some answers, if the content of one quotation is connected to the others, in order to establish an integrated whole from all of the quotations were being quoted. Of course, it is up to the interested readers to make such connections.

Quotation Two:
" For Hindu nationalists, the Hindu religion is as deeply rooted in Indian soil as anything can be; any other religion intruding on that soil is either absorbed into its embrace or seen as an unwelcome foreign intruder. Thus, both Islam and Christianity are seen in this latter light-more on political and cultural grounds than on theological grounds. Both Islam and Christianity sought to roll back Hinduism in their own favor. The fact that the most widespread international symbol of India today should be quintessentially Muslim architecture of the Taj Mahal rankles Hindu nationalists deeply. Yet an India without its Mughal fusion civilization would have been a culturally far less rich place.

   More liberal-minded accounts of the same history take pride in the rich fruits of Hindu-Islamic civilization. Each culture markedly influenced the other in profound ways, suggesting the creative absorptive power and malleability of both. Yet today, Indian Muslims have become disadvantaged minorities within the great Indian society they once ruled and helped shape. They have come in from outside, been at the top, fallen to the bottom, and are now mulling over their place as a minority in the new conditions of the modern Indian state. Maybe it is this diverse historical trajectory that has given Indian Muslims the most subtle and complex vision of Islam in multicultural society to be found anywhere."

Quotation Three:
" India TOUCHED Muslims in particular ways. First, it is one of the many areas of South and Southeast Asia where Islam did not initially come by the sword. Trading connection between Arab seafaring merchants and the southwest coast of India were well established long before Islam. According to Hindu records, the first actual Muslim settlement on the Indian subcontinent took place in the early seventh century in just one such Arab trader settlement. Reportedly, the first mosque was established in Kodungallur in today's Kerala province in 612 CE, during the Prophet lifetime."

Quotation Four:
" Historians draw major distinctions between the nature of Islam in the north and in the south of India. In the south, Islam came on the scene early via trade and missionary work; in the north Islam entered many hundreds of years later as one of  the many invaders of north India from Central Asia. As a result, tensions between Muslims and Hindus are more pronounced in the north than in the south, where the Muslim population gradually integrated into the local culture, as opposed to the Muslims who invaded the north with their armies of mixed Persian, Arab, Turkic, and Mongol blood."

Quotation Five:
" With the gradual collapse of the Mughal Empire in the face of encroaching British imperialism, the Mughal system began to lose its power, and with it came a gradual decline of Muslim status. The British, too, perceived a greater degree of resistance to their rule from Muslims than from Hindus and hence began to give preference within the system to the Hindus, whom they felt were more "reliable" or "pliable."

Final Words:
It is clear from quotation five quoted above why the British favored Hindus over Muslims and hence because of this favoritism had awarded Muslim Kashmir to India instead of Pakistan in spite of the fact that the British had no right to award any thing under their imperialistic rule to anybody. And as I examine the regions which the British colonized and eventually withdrew from, on their own. or expelled from by other means, I see one pattern repeated over and over again: they created disputes, if not conflicts, in the places they colonized. Examples:

~  Before leaving India, they created the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
~  Before leaving Cyprus, they created the conflict between Greeks and Turks over Cyprus
~  Before leaving Palestine, they created the conflict over Palestine between Zionists and Palestinians.

Was it the brutal policy of " divide and rule " or rather " divide and conquer "  ? You bet it was. And at the end, blame the whole results of such a brutal and selfish policy on differences in religions..


Next topic will be topic ( 12 ) Islam and China.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

( 10 ) " Muslims in the West: Loyal Citizens or Fifth Column ? "

By Sodium

Graham Fuller, author of the book, " A world Without Islam, " has a fascinating talent through which he raises provocative questions and answers them in a persuasive manner.  This writing technique of his has attracted me profoundly to his book, since day one, as I came across it accidently and in an unexpected way. And the more I dig deeper in this particular book of his, the more fascinated I have become by the way he presents his exceptionally unique approach to the problems facing not only Muslims, but also Christians and Jews as well-in fact, facing humanity as an integrated whole. Through this sense of connection across the ethnic, religious and political dividing lines that makes the content of " A World Without Islam " such badly needed ideas to explore and apply in order to make our lives less violent and perhaps less agonizing.

Beside the question, Muslims in the West: Loyal Citizens or Fifth Column ? Graham Fuller has also asked, in the chapter for this topic, the following questions:

~  " Is there something different about Islam that puts Muslim immigrants (in the West ) into a special category from other immigrants ? "  Graham  Fuller has turned the question around and puts it as: " If they were not Muslim, would the problems and issues be fundamentally different ? "

His answer to the above question is : " The answer seems to be a qualified NO " which really means that it does not make a difference, whether they are Muslims or not, since we are dealing, here, with human conditions. Yes, indeed, human beings who are being entrapped in poverty, illiteracy, and high unemployment etc... in some of the countries of Western Europe. This is not so about the Muslim Americans who, according to Mike Wallace, the once famous anchorman of " 60 Minutes " TV program of CBS. are among the most educated, most successful groups in the United States. And Wallace has added on his " 60 Minutes " program that their income is above average. Therefore, one may be compelled to exclude the Muslim Americans from the miserable social policies the Muslims in Western Europe have to unjustly shoulder, because of the incompetence of European politicians who might have found it easy to pass the blame on their Muslim population because they are Muslims or Arabs. And the problems have nothing to do with religions or with ethnicity or with national origin, but have everything to do with Europe and its social problems and incompetent politicians.

In spite of the fact that the Muslim Americans are law-abiding citizens, they are discriminated against by some well known politicians, political activist groups and a spectrum of Islamophobes, ranging from American Right Wingers to Christian Zionists, in addition to the evangelical preachers of the Rod Parsley's and Franklin Graham's varieties. More about Preacher Rod Parsley and Preacher Franklin Graham will be written shortly below. 

Another question Graham Fuller raises in the chapter of this topic is, and I quote:


As usual, Graham Fuller answers his own question and says: " Muslims make up about 5 percent of the total EU population. France has the largest number of Muslims, about 4,5 million, followed by 3 million in Germany, 1.6 million in the UK and more than half a million each in Italy and the Netherlands. Under half a million each in Austria, Sweden, and Belgium. Of all this Muslim population, approximately half are foreign-born."

Many of the parents and grandparents of the Muslims in Europe migrated from their countries to Europe after the Second World War, when Europe was badly in need of labors. When Europe has faced serious unemployment problems and melt down economic conditions, it has become easy to point fingers at Muslims and Islam. It is human nature that has not changed yet, since Cain killed his own brother Abel, as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible.

What has made the divide even greater is what ugly speeches being aired and televised as the ones quoted by Graham Fuller below:

" The situation is not improved by the presence of others in the West who see Islam and Christianity as locked up into an implacable struggle--the world image of the worldview of the al-Qa'ida zealots. Take Pastor Rod Parsley of the huge World Harvest Church of Columbus, Ohio, a spiritual advisor to the Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008. Parsley writes: "

"    I cannot tell you how important it is we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is....I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam .I know that this statement sounds extremes, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed. and I believe September 11,2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

     It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492. Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America."

Graham Fuller has further quoted another evangelical preacher:

" Famous evangelist Franklin Graham told NBC news following the September 11, 2001 attacks: "  We are not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He is not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It is a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion."

The fanatical Muslims are not innocent either. They are just as horrible, in their beliefs, as Rod Parsley and Franklin Graham and perhaps more so. Graham Fuller has made the following quote: " Alarmists about Islam bolster their case by pointing to what are genuinely incendiary remarks by a small group of radical clerks, such as the sensationalist Syrian Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad, once the darling of London Shock television:

"   Why should I condemn Osama bin Laden ?  I condemn Tony Blair, I condemn George Bush. I would never condemn Osama bin Laden or any Muslims....We do not make any distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. Only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value. it has no sanctity."

And then Graham Fuller has made the following quote:" Or the remark of Dyab Abu Jahiah, a Lebanese settled in Antwerp, who denounced the Western ideal of assimilation as " cultural rape," and aims to bring all the Muslims of Europe into a single independent community."

Since such wild antagonists exist in opposing sides, one wonders whether or not humanity can ever live in harmony and peace !

Answering the question stated in the title of this topic: Muslims in the West: Loyal Citizens or Fifth Colum ? has become less difficult, in views of the foregoing in which we have an educated, successful and prosperous American Muslim community and poverty-stricken, illiterate and unemployed European Muslim minorities scattered across Western Europe. The American Muslims must have been truly loyal citizens for achieving what they have achieved, meaning they have played by the rules. When you play by the rules in the United States, it really means that you are a law-abiding citizen; and since you abide by every aspect of the laws, you certainly cannot possibly be a fifth columnist by any stretch of imaginations, regardless how hard you may try. No way.

As to the Europe's Muslims who were described as poverty-stricken, illiterate and unemployed, how can such a case of misery be a fifth columnist is beyond my ability to comprehend. The fact he or she is illiterate neutralizes the question totally and completely. Those Muslims in Europe struggle in every day of their existence just to survive, let alone spying and acting as fifth columnists Again, no way..

Final words:
While I was contemplating an answer to the question: Muslims in the West: Loyal Citizens or Fifth Column, I could not shy away from a similar question I have not known any American or Western authors or writers had ever raised about some powerful lobbyists running the U.S.Congress as they see fit, on behalf of foreign powers: Are those lobbyists loyal American citizens or fifth columnists ? I do ask.

 Let us play it in a fair way. Graham Fuller has raised an important question concerning the Muslim citizens in the West and he certainly has the full right to raise such a question. And through his own unique methodology of persuasion, he has, at least, attempted to convey to his readers that the answer to the question he has raised is NO, meaning they are not a fifth column. By the same token, I felt it was incumbent upon me to raise a similar question concerning the lobbyists who lobby our elected representatives and senators, on behalf of foreign powers.

Needless to remind all interested readers of the fact that elected Representatives and Senators, to the U.S. Congress, are elected by the American people to serve their interest, not the interest of foreign powers. Period.


Next topic will be topic ( 11 ) Islam and India.       

Monday, September 2, 2013

( 9 ) " Russia and Islam: Byzantium Lives ! "

By Sodium

Most people in the Western World are under the impression that France has the largest numbers of Muslims, outside the Islamic World. Such an impression is incorrect. The largest numbers of Muslims, who live outside the traditionally well known World of Islam, are in Russia, excluding India and China, since both India and China are totally in Asia while Russia is partly in Europe and partly in Asia. We are talking about Muslims in the Western World. The fact that Russia is a Eurasian country must be considered partly a Western power and partly an Asian power, as well as a Christian power. It has become the main home for Christian Orthodoxy, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 A.D.

France has roughly five to six million Muslims, while Russia has at least 20 million adherents to Islam. The Muslims who live in Western Europe and North America are originally immigrants from some Islamic countries. The Muslims of Russia are indigenous of the lands that became Russian by either through Russian conquests or Russian geopolitical expansions. In fact, Russia has lived with its Muslim population for more than a thousand year. One question that may arise: how Islam had reached Russia, in the first place ?  The question and its answer are outside the boundaries of the topic at hand, and require separate treatment. Whatever the answer that might have been, it was not by the sword, as some claimants had liked to claim.

In the last topic, topic number ( 8 ), it has been made clear that Russia has inherited the legacy of the Byzantium Orthodoxy, after the fall of Constantinople, in 1453 A.D. to the Ottoman Empire. It has also made clear that certain Orthodox Russian Tsars had made alliances with Muslim Turkic, Tatars and Mongols, instead of accepting an Anti-Muslims alliance proposed by the Pope in Rome. This topic at hand reemphasizes this propensity of the Russian Tsars to establish alliances with the Muslim Turkic, Tatars and Mongols, rather than an alliance with the Pope in Rome, meaning that the struggle between the Latin Church in Rome and the Byzantium Orthodoxy was so deep and would have remained deep whether there was Islam or not.

In short, Tsarist Russia, which had adopted and sheltered the Byzantium Orthodoxy, was, at the same times, most accommodating to Islam and Muslims. The proof was the alliances it had made with the Turkic, Tatars and Mongols Muslims.

The following points are the core of this topic:

~  Tsarist Russia had remarkably managed in keeping its Russian Muslim population content and consequently loyal Russian citizens to the great mother land: Russia.
~  After adopting and sheltering the Byzantium Orthodox Church, after the fall of Constantinople, Tsarist Russia kept it tamed. Otherwise, the Byzantium Orthodoxy wanted to convert everyone who was not Christian to Christianity, including Muslims
~  When the Bolshevik Communism succeeded in ruling Russia, all religions in Russia were marginalized, including Islam. As years passed by, the Muslims of Russia had lost touch with their religion and forgot even how to pray, let alone remembering the five pillars of Islam.
~  After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a sort of Islamic revival has been going on in Russia and Muslim Russians have started learning about their own religion all over again.

The following quotations may provide additional insight about the content of the chapter of this topic:

Quotation One:
" Since it was Muslim Turks ( Ottomans ) and Arabs who brought down the Byzantine Empire, it would be reasonable to assume that Russians would be strongly hostile to Islam and Muslims. But it is hard to blame the fall of Constantinople on Islam. Can we really believe that if the Ottoman Turks had not been Muslim, they would have opted not to invade and conquer Greek Byzantium, a rich and weakened state, regardless of whatever religion Byzantium practiced ? "

Note from the writer of this review:
Please notice that the author of the book has called " Byzantium " in the quote above, " Greek Byzantium."  The reason behind such a nomenclature is the fact that the people who lived in the Byzantine Empire spoke Greek, not Latin language, while the affairs of the Byzantine Empire were run by the Latin language.. In addition, Greeks and Turks did not like each other. ( and still do not like each others and this dislike has been going on for centuries. Look what has happened in Cyprus, at present time: North of Cyprus is occupied by Turks, while Southern Cyprus is inhabited by Greeks. )  A powerful empire, like the Ottoman Empire at its peak forms then, certainly would not hesitate of conquering Constantinople and the rest of Byzantium, whose population spoke the Greek language and, most likely, felt like Greek, regardless whether the Ottomans were Muslims or not. The determining factor behind the Ottoman's conquest of  Constantinople and the rest of Byzantium was not religion, but ethnicity ( Greek-Turk animosity ), and geopolitical goals related to the global position and prestige of the powerful Ottoman Empire, at that time of the conquest.

Quotation Two:
" During the three hundred years of the Romanov Dynasty then, the Russian state persisted in claiming its ruling authority as " grounded in religion."  The Romanov state project came to be based on a " shared moral universe."  These policies largely succeeded. Just as secular rulers in Islam must uphold the principle of Islamic society and law to claim legitimacy, the non-Muslim Romanovs could in principle be accepted as rulers over Muslims, as long as they permitted Muslims to Maintain their Islamic way of life and upheld Islamic principles within Russian Muslim communities.  Muslim subjects were even encouraged to bring their grievances and disputes to the Tsar for adjudication, thereby legitimizing the Tsar and preserving the unity, well being, and satisfaction of the Muslim population."

Quotation Three:
The coexistence of Islam and Orthodox Christianity within the Russian Empire is a significant experience in the history of the Islamic people. The Muslims of the empire could extend their loyalty to the Russian state precisely because they were not being forced to assimilate, or to give up their personal and communal identity for a Russian Christian one."

Quotation  Four:
" Despite its many wars with neighboring Muslim states, the Russian empire nonetheless actively engaged in diplomacy with the Ottoman state, with Iran, and served at the same time as official protector of Orthodoxy in the Holy Land of Palestine under Ottoman control.  Moscow cared greatly about the opinion of foreign Muslims toward Russia; at the same time Moscow sought to enlist Russian Muslims to advance Russian Foreign policy goal in the Middle East, so that Moscow could speak as a Muslim power as well as Christian power. Thus, rather hindering the expansionist vision of the Russian state, Islam actually facilitated it."

Quotation Five:
" But the Russian engagement with Islam is older, deeper, more extensive, and more complex than Europe's. One key reason is that the Russian Empire encountered Muslims as a result of contiguous overland expansion east and south, unlike the European imperialists who encountered Muslims only through distant voyages of conquest overseas. Russian forms of coexistence with Islam persist and always will, simply because they inhabit common space. Russia remains the sole state in the West that embraces a significant Muslim community among its citizenry."

Quotation Six:
" Russia will never wish to lose its own unique historical character that is rooted in Orthodoxy. Russia has never been truly accepted as part of the West by the West. Nor can Russia's strategic orientation ever lie with the West; it will continue to seek partners from Eastern cultures to bolster it-emphasizing Russia's abiding Eurasian and Orthodox character. Russia's serious engagement in the Sino-Russian-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organization further demonstrate this geopolitical orientation, which includes many Central Asian states and a strong expression of interest from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey. Geopolitics transcend religion-Islam, in this sense, is mere frosting on the broader geopolitical cake that is driven by suspicion or fear of Western power and intentions, deeply rooted in history."

Final Words:
Twenty million Muslims living in Russia is no small number. Just for the sake of objectivity, one may raise the following question:

Since some Islamic countries have small population, that does not exceed 5-6 million, and nevertheless, they are members of the Islamic Organizations, whatever their exact names are, why not admitting Russia, with more than 20 million Muslims, to these Islamic Organizations, as a full pledged member ?

Let us be honest and face the fact that Russia, through out its entire recorded history, has always been a powerful country, even at its lowest state of economic collapse. Therefore, one may conclude that permitting Russia to be a full pledged member in any global Islamic organization would provide such an organization with strength and more say in the global geopolitical fierce competitions. Just think objectively and critically of  these final words whose intent have been based upon historical facts about the great land the good people of Russian call: " Mother Russia."


The next topic will be topic ( 10 ) Muslims in the West: Loyal Citizans or Fifth Column ?.