Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why blame religion for our failures

In order to examine what role religion plays in our lives, we should also look at what other factors influence or guide us in becoming what we do become. Any list would include, self interest, tribe, culture, parental or family influence, race, political ideology etc. In fact in much of the developed world, these factors far outweigh the factor of religious affiliation and Religion is looked upon as an obsolete notion. The developed world has in fact developed their own definitions of moral codes and morality which are exercised under man made laws in the cause of enlightened self interest.
Religion was supposed to transcend the self interest of man. It was supposed to transcend tribe,race,culture. Not replace them, but to be above these accidents of birth. Religion came when the self interest of man created unfairness and injustice and concentrated power in the hand of a few exploiters of humanity. Religion advocated a balance between worldliness and spirituality and the superiority of God's laws over those of men. It wasn't as if people were not religious before the great religions came but there was no evidence of guidance coming directly from God.

Unfortunately men used religion to create as much division as to create unity. The Crusades are only one such example. When the messages of Judaism, Christianity and Islam were still fresh, these religions helped to create vibrant tribes, nations, empires and legacies. In fact to this day a lot of our non religious morality is heavily influenced by what we learned from religion.

So we can see that religion can be a double edged sword. It inspired people to be good human beings because they believe it is the word of their Creator but it can also cause people to be bigoted, intolerant and close minded because for some reason they read into their scriptures that they are the rightly guided. The Quran is quite explicit in its texts to say that those people will not receive any guidance from it who do not think ( and are therefore embarking on a mindless activity). It is also quite clear in saying that those people will also receive no guidance from it who think but do not believe.

As long as people believe whether overtly or subconsciously that religion is but another tool to further their worldly goals, they will use it as such and not only give it a bad name but prove to those who are inclined to believe this that religion has done nothing to bring about a higher purpose of life to humanity. We live in a world today that is in need of a spiritual awakening because it has tilted far too much towards self interest and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few exploiters. We are not in need so much of an ideology ( the ideology is already there, belief in God) as a leader. The abject failure of Obama points to the failure of the chances of such a leader coming from the secular world. The forces of self interest are too powerful to allow one of their own sons to destroy the temple on which they pray.

Although religious extremism is being blamed for the ills of this world, the twenty first Century is truly being defined by the violence perpetrated by the worlds sole super power. As if the violence was not enough this same power then went on a lending frenzy not ever seen in the world's financial systems which almost led to the collapse of the worlds economy. Millions of people world wide are unemployed and struggling to make a living because of the excesses of the United States. We live in a world that is struggling not because of suicide bombers but because of the excesses of the rich and powerful.

I am trying to put things in perspective, lest we lose sight of who or what threatens the delicate balance of this world. It is not Afghanistan or Somalia that is causing the waste and depletion of the world's resources. It is OK to say that this is the price that must be paid for progress but whose progress are we talking about?


Friday, January 22, 2010

Comments on Tariq Ramadan's ideas on reform in Islam

The 'ibâdât or ritual duties may be timeless, but when it comes to the mu'âmalât, or social issues, there is room to manoeuvre. The basic rule here is: everything is allowed which the text does not expressly forbid! This opens the door for progress, for a reformist interpretation of the law that responds to modern times and circumstances.

He therefore calls for “equal councils uniting 'ulamâs and specialists in the various fields (human and natural sciences) in order to enable legal statements in keeping with the age in which we live”’


Ramadan's suggestions make sense. One thing that Muslims should also study and learn from are the mistakes of Secular societies. Today we have greater evidence that there are very serious flaws in these models. The increasing trend towards greed, exploitation and racism confirm that Islam can offer many solutions to these societies. In fact these societies would be more accepting of Islamic Principles and their benefits if the Muslims were to actively practice them, themselves.

The "no compulsion in religion" principle is not practiced in large parts of Islamic Societies and is a major hurdle for Muslims to understand their own religion. The problem of Islam is not with modernity as the west makes us believe but in Muslims not practicing their own religion in its entirety. Ramadan is right in wanting to give more attention to Muamalat in which there is a need for greater discussion amongst Muslims.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The failure of wars started by America has not made them any wiser

"The impetus for weaning Americans away from their infatuation with war, if it comes at all, will come from within the officer corps. It certainly won’t come from within the political establishment, the Republican Party gripped by militaristic fantasies and Democrats too fearful of being tagged as weak on national security to exercise independent judgment. Were there any lingering doubt on that score, Barack Obama, the self-described agent of change, removed it once and for all: by upping the ante in Afghanistan he has put his personal imprimatur on the Long War. " Basevich


Basevich has been kind in this article to American leaders. Not only have the wars launched by America been failures they have ended up having the opposite effect. The war in Iraq as an example removes from the scene, Iran's greatest enemy Saddam Hussain. The Shias were brought back to power and after exiting Iraq, the US will effectively hand over Iraq to a grateful Iran.

Similarly in Afghanistan, the US can hold themselves singularly responsible for making heroes out of the Taliban. The Taliban have singularly resisted not just the US but also NATO. An eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave the country to a resurgent Taliban who will no longer be beholden to Pakistan. It will also leave them friendless in Pakistan, their most critical ally in the region. In spite of giving generous aid to Pakistan, the US is highly unpopular with the general populace there.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How we can keep terrorism alive

Terrorism has now become a tool in the hands of political strategists for both political parties in the US. The public has been driven into a funk about "attacks on the homeland" and how the only way to avoid them is to stop the "friends" of the would be attacker, ten thousand miles away. Both parties claim that the evidence of a lack of attack in the US is the main evidence of how effectively the administration is dealing with the Security of Americans.

Decisions about Pakistan and Afghanistan are being made in Washington with one eye on how it would help the chances of the party in power to stay in power. If these decisions don't make sense to people in Pakistan or Afghanistan it is because they think that America truly sees the Taliban or Al Qaida as a threat to their interests. If these decisions are eventually going to back fire then the people in power do not care because they will not be around to take the heat. Bush is sitting happily in Texas after wreaking a heavy toll on Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan but he got to strut around on the world scene for 8 years.

What if it cost the US trillions of dollars with nothing to show for it, that is Obama's problem.

The Europeans on the other hand are besides themselves with consternation and would have pulled out many many years ago but for American arm twisting. NATO wants no part of this neither are they needed but for the American desire to depict this as global rather than an American problem.

Obama could have and should have blamed Bush for destroying America's credibility and prestige and bringing about the collapse of the Economy partly through waging unwindable wars with bottom less appetites for troops and money. Why has he not done this and instead continued with Bush's disastrous Foreign policies? Simply because his political advisers are telling him that the American public has been frightened gutless into believing that they are not secure and want only those people to be leading them who make them feel secure. Traditionally this has been the Republican party despite Truman, Roosevelt and Kennedy. In this era the Democrats wrongly believe that as the Party of peace they need to appear war like to the public. Hence Obama's senseless decision to pour more troops into Afghanistan.

The more Obama's popularity plummets by the day the more hawkish he will become and we can expect drone attacks to escalate and perhaps Yemen added to the list of casualties. Fortunately the US has run out of money and cannot afford to attack Yemen leave alone Iran. This limits them to staging fake attempts to blow up airlines in the US. I am not saying the current administration is up to it but what about the opposition? I can be wrong but nothing makes sense when major decisions are being taken affecting the lives of millions of poor and innocent people around the world on the basis of how these decisions will play out on CNN and NBC.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Why are Isarel's bombs more justified than those of others?

Israel is just as capable of unleashing it's nuclear might as the US was in dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The idea that we have more to fear from Iran than from Israel is a product of the Western mindset that we are the good guys and the good guys are justified in eliminating the bad guys. This black and white world view which was the trade mark of Bush and earlier US Presidents is being continued by Obama.
The US did not bomb Hiroshima to stop the war as the propaganda goes but to say to the world, I am now the strongest, do as I say or else, see what I did to the innocent Japanese.The relentless propaganda to paint the Iranians as the bad guys
is a repeat of the past. Although Iran denies it, but if it were building a nuclear war capability, it would be fully understandable. Every one understands why Pakistan had to do it, to defend itself against a much stronger and avowed enemy. (India).
Even Yasmin Alibhai a pro west British subject is aghast at the double standard, yet talk to any American on the street and they will not be able to see the contradiction. Israel represents the single biggest reason for the US having very little credibility in the world as a leader with any standards.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Does Israel control the US or is just an agent of the US

I believe that Israel through AIPAC controls our political machinery. There is no other explanation for Obama not being able to do what he believes in. No politician can hope to get elected if he so much as believes in having an even handed policy towards the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. From time to time you will hear me say that our political system is broken and that is what I mean. It is too beholden to the various lobbies.

It is true that the Israelis have been smart enough in becoming the tools for our imperialist agenda but the policies towards Iran in particular and Islam in general are Israel originated and are harmful to the US. Israel's survival on the other hand depends on such policies.

This is a good subject for debate and discussion, but I believe that our destiny is no longer in our hands and has not been for some time. Whether you and I can do anything about it remains to be seen.