God help us all.
Archive for September, 2007
Well, I wrote a short post on the past week’s sporting events.
Seems to have been lost (I think t’internet dropped out).
In any case, the cricket has started. New Zealand make a confident start against Pakistan.
You cannot reform that which you ignore.
[L]et’s not circumscribe our definition of a traditionalist too narrowly. There is not only a need for unity but there are many places of unity among the various traditionalist strands, as Yahya Birt points out. “Traditionalism, used in its normative sense, refers to that approach which allows for the authentic perpetuation and embodiment of the Islamic tradition and that contains a collective system of ongoing self-correction and refinement” — that is how Birt defines traditionalism. It is an excellent way of putting it. The same concept exists in Western philosophical thought. Kant called it kritik; the act of reason to turn back and revise itself. Tradition, therefore, is a very rational thing to believe in. As such, I do not want to appear to undermine that in any sense of the word, and I hope that Islamic traditionalism in all of its strands — including the Shi’a — continues its ongoing development.
Now I recognize that traditionalism is predicated on the erection of a certain hierarchy — the “scholars” or “teachers.” In some areas their presence is certainly problematic, but in some areas it is essential. When I first got to law school, the first thing we were told was that we were no longer lay-people. We were specialists because we were armed with a way of thinking that not everyone has access to. I think the scholars — whether they are juridical or spiritual teachers — are trained in certain things as well. One of the things that they are trained in that we aren’t is in not being lay-people, and as such, their existence gives me the freedom to just be a lay-person. I certainly don’t want to make it seem that I am now suddenly espousing some kind of entrenched clerical system, nor do I wish to degrade the important theological work that scholars do by dragging them into the corrupt and hypocritical world of politics. Nevertheless, between erring on the side of antagonizing them, and respecting them, I will go with the latter.
India beat Pakistan in the most exciting game of the Twenty20 World Cup so far. India had to win to qualify for the next round, given their match with Scotlan was rained off. Mohammad Asif recorded 4/18 as India reached 141/9. Pakistan, despite a good start, were checked by a mini-collapse and reached 141/7 with one run required off the last ball. Misbah, who had hit a superb 53, was run out leaving the match tied. Where football has penalty shoot-outs, cricket has the bowl-off. Indian bowlers hit the stumps three stumps; with Pakistani bowlers failing to hit the stumps at all, India assured a place in the Super Eights.
Another match between two deadly rivals, England and Australia, ended in more normal fashion. Australia ended their losing streak of one by thumping England (nothing new there then) in Cape Town. England did have the chance to send the Australians home early, but struggled to post a decent total. Like Aggers, I was surprised by England’s decision to bat first as well some poor English bowling. Both teams progress to the Super Eights, as England had already defeated Zimbabwe on Thursday.
Bangladesh sent the Windies home earlier this week, with a 20-ball 50 from Ashraful.
Elsewhere, defending champions England were destroyed by South Africa 36-0 in the Rugby World Cup, taking place in France.
A key Sunni ally of the US and Iraqi governments has been killed in a bomb attack in the city of Ramadi, Iraqi state television has reported.
Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was the leader of an alliance of Sunni Arab tribes that opposed al-Qaeda.
He was killed in a bomb attack near his home in Ramadi, provincial capital of the western province of Anbar.
Abu Risha was among a group of tribal leaders who met President George W Bush during his visit to Iraq last week.
Abu Aardvark has more on Abdul Sattar Abu Risha.
A recent glance at the Low Countries revealed that, nearly three months after its latest general election, Belgium was still without a new government. It may have acquired one by now. But, if so, will anyone notice? And, if not, will anyone mind? Even the Belgians appear indifferent. And what they think of the government they may well think of the country. If Belgium did not already exist, would anyone nowadays take the trouble to invent it?
In this interview, Nawaz discusses his attempt to sue Egypt for torture through the British courts and about the ideas of Hizb al-Tahrir in general. Nawaz and two other British Muslims were arrested back in 2002 for being members of HT, which is banned in Egypt. Nawaz claims they were tortured by the Egyptian “security” services (which is really not hard to believe).
In contrast to his recent Newsnight interview, Nawaz was unabashed about his membership of the Party and its ideological stances in the HARDtalk interview. The blogger Salman Al claims to know Nawaz in person, and says the Newsnight interview is a complete turn around from when he last met him:
Since his return from Egypt, [Nawaz] has been an even bigger supporter of the Hizb and the rule of Islam in Muslim countries. It was as if the suffering and torture he endured in Mubarak’s torture chambers “recharged his batteries” and made him a better Muslim. At least that was the impression I got when I spoke to him on numerous occasions at SOAS where he was finishing his interrupted degree studies. Also, the TV interviews he participated in since his return from Egypt show no sign of any ideological retreat. He was still calling for the rule of Islam in Muslim countries.
Of course, it is not beyond the bounds of reason that he has changed his views since that interview; but it will cast certain doubts (rightly or wrongly) about the personal narrative given in Newsnight.
One thing does become clearer though: Muslim middle-classes run the Islamic agenda in Britain, whether they be Islamists, celebrity ex-Islamists, conservatives, progressives, media pundits or bloggers.
I saw the interview with Maajid Nawaz yesterday on the Newsnight website. I thought he gave a very measured interview.
Nawaz’s solution to tackling the Party is what I have suggested previously: rather than banning the organisation, let its arguments be undermined. He said he hoped members would leave the organisation and Party would ‘fizzle out’. Obviously, this requires Muslims to take up the challenge by examining their arguments (historical, textual, political and so on). It looks like Comment is free has become the space where some of this argument is taking place on the web. Nawaz himself has started to take textualist look at Islamic sources.
Nawaz also said that Hizb are not involved in terrorism and affirmed this was the position inside the Party. However, he said that it fostered a culture of separateness which has been harmful to Muslims. More importantly, were the Hizb to take control of a state, it would engage in the ‘killing of millions’ through aggressive wars and liquidation of opponents. If you have spent time speaking to Hizb operatives you quickly realise that they see their own organisation as Islam itself. That is to criticise the Party means you’re criticising Islam. This is something Nawaz also notes in his interview.
How not to Fight Hizbi Ideas