O you who believe, respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger when He calls you to that which would give you life...
m a g a z i n e RABI
Iran and the Great Shaytan HOW IRAN IS HELPING AMERICA IN THE MIDDLE EAST - IS AMERICA’S DECLINE REAL OR IMAGINARY? - THE OTTOMAN KHILAFAH AND ITS EUROPEAN LEGACY - CONCEPTS FROM ULOOM AL QURAN - THE OBSESSION WITH GROWTH IN CAPITALISM AND THE ISLAMIC VIEWPOINT - RAISING THE BAR ON THE NIQAB DEBATE
election, the US and Karzai signed a security deal, but needed it to be accepted by the Afghan people. In this context, an Afghan assembly of tribal elders was gathered by Karzai in late November 2013, to vote in favour of the security deal with the US. The security pack included 9 permanent bases in Afghanistan for the US, immunity to US soldiers and the continuance of night time raids on people’s homes. Who in their right mind would ever agree to such a deal which maintains US hegemony? Hamid Karzai has acted throughout his tenure as the viceroy of the US, and this security pact is his final act of betrayal, which just changes the US occupation, not ending it.
mergers were restricted to disparate groups working together in conducting missions or establishing coordinating bodies. However the Islamic Front is a merger and a unifying alliance bringing several groups into one group – on the basis of Islam. The group stated it will be built gradually over the next three months as the brigades work towards integrating their organizational structures. The Islamic Front leadership indicated that they are currently reviewing requests from prospective members. Even as it stands, the new group has an estimated 45,000 fighters and span critical battlefronts that including Damascus, Homs, Idlib, Latakia, and Aleppo.
// KAYANI ERA COMES TO AN END // ELECTION FARCE IN BANGLADESH The ruling Awami League, after systematically decimating the opposition over the last year, went ahead with elections on the 5th of January 2014. With the BNP-Jamaat alliance boycotting the elections, 153 seats were won without any contest! Millions have been spent and hundreds of lives have been lost in ensuring this farcical election takes place. Democracy in Bangladesh has proven to be of the Awami League, for the Awami League and by the Awami League! After 22 years of so called democracy in Bangladesh, the country is now in complete political gridlock. Through this game of democracy and elections, the Awami League has managed to turn Bangladesh into a single party state. With every successive election since 1990, Bangladesh has plummeted further into political instability and uncertainty. In 2007, the military stepped in when similar political chaos ensued following BNP’s spell in power. Twenty years of AwamiBNP democracy has brought nothing more than corruption, criminality and destruction for the country. Surely its time for Bangladesh to not only get rid of the Awami League and the BNP, but to get rid of the flawed democratic system that continues to recycle them into power. // KARZAI’S FINAL BETRAYAL 2014 is drawdown year for the US in Afghanistan and the US is scrambling to ensure it maintains its political architecture as it reduces its military footprint in the country. With Hamid Karzai unable to stand for the 2014 presidential
General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani finally ended his tenure as the Chief of army Staff (COAS) after 6 years in the post. Pakistan’s army played a critical role in the region and in the last decade has been an essential component in America’s war in Afghanistan. Countering terrorism and fulfilling America’s demands have together left their impression on the army. Whilst it was General Pervez Musharraf who joined America’s war on terror, he was, however, eclipsed by his replacement General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who completely embraced the notion of the war in terror. Under Kayani, the army carried out various operations in the tribal areas. Areas targeted by the army witnessed massive and severe bombardment with helicopter support, leading to massive displacement of the local population. What of Kayani’s replacement? Lt Gen Raheel Sharif not only progressed through the army ranks alongside Musharraf, but was instrumental in posturing the army towards counter insurgency as Inspector General for Training and Evaluation. // SYRIA’S LATEST ISLAMIC ALLIANCE As the West struggles to cobble together loyalists in its Geneva 2 conference, another Islamic alliance has emerged in Syria. The ‘Islamic Front’s’ You-tube announcement in November 2013, undermined Western attempts to dilute the demand for Islam. The seven rebel brigades that formed the founding members of the Islamic Front included some of the country’s strongest groups. Prior to this announcement, all previous
// ‘UPRISING’ STOLEN FROM THE UMMAH In the week that US secretary of State John Kerry stated the Egyptian revolution was “stolen” from the youth who started it by the Muslim Brotherhood, nearly two dozen women and girls, some as young as 15, were handed heavy prison sentences for protesting in a court ruling under a tough new anti-protest law. Sisi’s regime was focused on crippling the Muslim Brotherhood and other backers of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, but now everyone is a potential threat to the state as Security forces have moved against youth activists opposed to the military and police. Among them were seven girls of ages 15 and 16, who were sentenced to prison terms until they turn 18. The rest - mostly aged 18 to 22 - were sentenced to 11 years in prison. Six other Brotherhood members were sentenced to 15 years in prison for inciting the demonstrations. Secretary Kerry was silent on this issue probably because the overthrow of the Brotherhood government was described by Kerry as democracy being restored. In a final act of hypocrisy, the Muslim Brotherhood was designated a terrorist group by the military picked judiciary, this makes all funding and activity an illegal act.
How Iran is helping AMERICA IN THE MIDDLE EAST ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
hat was considered unthinkable only a few months ago finally came to pass as America and Iran began the process of normalising ties. On November 23 2012, a deal was reached in Geneva, Switzerland and made public by US officials. The agreement was not a final settlement on all outstanding issues, but regarded as a first step. In return for about $7 billion sanctions relief, Iran has agreed to halt its nuclear activities for the next six months. Unlike previous talks, the Geneva talks were conducted in a different atmosphere. In the past, the US usually left direct negotiations to other countries of the P5+1 (US, Russia, Britain, France, China plus Germany). This time, US officials at the highest levels negotiated directly with their Iranian counterparts, the first such meeting since 1979. On this occasion, the US did not renege on the talks as has become common
practice but was rather interested in a settlement. These talks came soon after Hassan Rohani, the newly elected president of Iran, make his first trip in his new role to the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2013. A sense of change has been in the air.
three ways: it enlisted the help of regional nations bordering Iraq, notably Turkey, Syria and Iran. It divided the insurgency by playing on ethnosectarian divisions and constructed a political architecture with the help of various opportunists, corrupt groups and individuals.
These events have been quite unprecedented. Why is the US warming up to Iran in this way? Why is Iran making these overtures whilst it has always called the US, the Great Shaytan? As Muslims, we should always diligently pursue international developments so we can assess what is really going on behind the scenes. Understanding the objectives of the global powers and their political plans in our countries will ensure the correct political path is followed to liberate the Ummah. With this in mind, we should understand the political context in which this agreement between the US and Iran took place in, and what this means for the region and the Islamic Ummah as a whole.
The US has been working for some time to reorient its posture by reducing its military footprint and consolidating the political architecture it has created. What made these talks even more urgent were the Arab spring and particularly the Islamic revolution in Syria. The Arab spring has seen America’s architecture challenged in the Middle East, as a result the US was forced to work with liberal Islamic groups. Whilst in Egypt, America has somewhat controlled the revolution by bringing in the military, in Syria the Islamic groups continue to pose a formidable political challenge to America in the region. America is desperately trying to keep Assad in power, whilst the rebels continue to make significant gains.
The Iraq and Syria Conundrum These talks and agreements are taking place after a decade of war in Iraq. When the US invaded Iraq back in 2003, none of its military options ever envisaged a long term US military presence. US military plans envisaged the complete capitulation of the Iraqi army with its precision guided munitions. The US expected Iraqi civilians to welcome them for liberating them from Saddam Hussain. Whilst the Iraqi Army was brushed aside after a month, the welcoming party never arrived, an insurgency began which only got worse as the years progressed. By 2005, the US was marred in an insurgency that it could not end, and US military planners started looking for an exit strategy that could save them face. America dealt with this in
It is in this context that Iran plays an important role to US plans. Without Iran involved in such a plan, America’s political hegemony will simply fall apart. In Syria, Hizbullah members have admitted that without Iranian support the al-Assad regime would have fallen a long ago to the rebels. As such America is working hard to normalise relations between both countries. The Middle East from Tehran Iran’s ambitions in the region are to dominate it. This has been outlined by various politicians in Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, said in 2009: “Iran is emerging as a regional superpower given the increased role Tehran plays in international affairs.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said:
FOR IRAN, NORMALISING TIES WITH THE US GIVES IT THE INFLUENCE IT SO CRAVES IN THE REGION AND FOR THE US IT ALLOWS IT TO KEEP THE MUSLIMS WEAK BY PITTING SHI’AH AGAINST SUNNI. THIS IS A VICIOUS PLAN CONCOCTED IN GENEVA BY BOTH WASHINGTON AND TEHRAN. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
"We are rapidly becoming a superpower. Our strength does not come from military weapons or an economic capability. Our power comes from our capability to influence the hearts and souls of people, and this scares them.
Syrian uprising when the al-Assad regime was on the verge of collapse. Without the Iranian intervention, through deploying its Revolutionary guards (IRGC), the Syrian regime would have collapsed.
Iran’s main tools to achieve this include making itself the official representative of the Shi’ah globally i.e. the Shi’ah crescent and using this as a pretext to interfere in countries with significant Shi’ah populations. This is a key aspect of Iran’s strategy to deal with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s Eastern provinces are where the Shi’ah mainly reside and are also the areas that contain Saudi’s oil fields. Iran has on a number of occasions supported uprisings in order to weaken Saudi Arabia. A similar policy has been used in Bahrain where a Sunni minority rules over a Shi’ah majority. One of the reasons Saudi immediately sent its troops into Bahrain during the Arab spring was due to the fact that Iran would use the instability to weaken the rulers of Bahrain.
Iran’s major challenges in the region include Saudi Arabia and Israel - who are also attempting to spread their influence in the region. Iran also faces challenges from the world’s superpower the USA, who does not want to share the region with anyone.
The Iranian regime maintains close ties with the Syrian leadership in order to act as a bloc in the region. These ties include military, economic and political ties. Iran has transferred significant weaponry to prop up the al-Assad regime and has provided oil and gas at reduced prices due to the lack of energy reserves in Syria. Political ties can especially be seen in Iran’s intervention in the
Iran’s policy has often shifted between not trusting the US to trying to engage with the US, in order that it is taken seriously in the region. In a BBC documentary in 2009 on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution Muhammad Khatami, President from 1997-2005 outlined the various attempts made by his administration to normalise relations with the US. Khatami outlined Iran’s sharing of intelligence with the US on targets in Afghanistan after the US led invasion. Khatami highlighted Iran’s central role to the Northern alliance taking over Kabul and the help Iran gave the US to create the new government in Kabul. Khatami said that if the US attacked the Taliban this would be in Iran’s interests. Another attempt to normalise relations in 2003 was spurned by the US.
On the issue of Iraq, the BBC documentary included an interview with Khatami and quoted him: “Saddam Hussein was our enemy, we wanted him destroyed, lets repeat the Afghanistan experience in Iraq, let’s make it 6 plus 6, the six countries bordering Iraq and America and the security council members and Egypt look at Iran as a power that can solve problems rather than as a problem itself.” Whilst Iran was keen to take part in removing Saddam Husain, the US spurned the country’s help. Despite this, it was Iran’s patron the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), a group created in Tehran in 1982 that gathered the Shi’ah factions to join in the US constructed political system. This then ended the insurgency in the south of Iraq and allowed US forces to concentrate on the insurgency in central Iraq. Through promises of positions in government, bribes and rewards, the US co-opted pro-Iranian elements into its solution for Iraq. Iran came to America’s rescue when it could have bled the US to death. The Middle East from Washington America’s fundamental challenge has been on how to deal with Iran’s ambitions and as a result, US policy has regularly shifted between containment, engagement and aggressive bellicose language. Iran’s ambitions to dominate the region directly conflict with US aims in the region, and this has always been America’s
FOR IRAN, NORMALISING TIES WITH THE US GIVES IT THE INFLUENCE IT SO CRAVES IN THE REGION AND FOR THE US IT ALLOWS IT TO KEEP THE MUSLIMS WEAK BY PITTING SHI’AH AGAINST SUNNI. THIS IS A VICIOUS PLAN CONCOCTED IN GENEVA BY BOTH WASHINGTON AND TEHRAN. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// as this would significantly strengthen Israel. For the US, Iran’s ambition of a Shi’ah crescent cuts right through the Muslim world and this sectarian division keeps the Ummah not just divided on sectarian lines, but pitted against the Shi’ah rather than the America.
fundamental problem with Iran. On many occasions, the US has been able to use Iran to achieve its aims in the region. However many within the US political class do not trust Iran and as a result, attempts to normalise relations with Iran have never been successful due to the opposition within America’s political class. The quagmire in Iraq and then Afghanistan and now Syria has forced America to engage with Iran openly as it needed to save itself in the region, after being humiliated, militarily, by the Ummah. The threats of regime change by the neoconservative administration very quickly gave way to engagement with Iran on common issues. America’s fundamental problem is how to deal with Iran, should they be engaged in order to influence them or should they be contained to curtail their regional ambitions. America until now, achieved much of its interests in the Middle East by creating a balance of power in the region through pitting different nations against each other. The US needs to contain Israeli expansion in the region, for which Iran has played a central role. It has also needed to contain Iranian ambitions for which the US uses Israel. To stem both nations the US supports Saudi Arabia, who in turn supports and provides arms to groups in the region against Iran and Israel. This ensures the US doesn’t need to militarily intervene. This also explains why the US has always been against Israel’s continued push for military strikes on Iran’s nuclear installations
After using Iran’s ambition in the region to justify US military presence in the Middle East, now America finds itself struggling to create a stable political architecture in the region post the Arab revolutions. A Marriage of Convenience For Iran, normalising ties with the US gives it the influence it so craves in the region and for the US it allows it to keep the Muslims weak by pitting Shi’ah against Sunni. This is a vicious plan concocted in Geneva by both Washington and Tehran. It proves once and for all there is no ideological call or spreading of Islam by Iran, neither is there really any promotion of Shi’ah Islam. Iran’s interests are nationalistic, they are merely for Iran to dominate in the region. The only factor that Iran uses to judge which policies to pursue are those that will give Iran dominance in the region and Iran is prepared to use any pragmatic means to achieve this. This is why its Shi’ah crescent policy is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. This is because in reality, Iran does not extend support to all Shi’ah globally but only to those that will aid it to achieve it dominance of the region. Iran has not extended support to the Shi’ah in Azerbaijan or Tajikistan even though they are oppressed, as they do not achieve her objectives, whist the Shi’ah in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia receive considerable support as they are central to Iran’s aims of dominating its region.
Conclusions These deals between American and Iran are part of a sinister plan to bolster Iran in the region so America can use Iran to keep the Ummah divided along Shi’ah Sunni lines. Iran is serving America well in Syria, where without Iran’s support, Assad will fall paving the way for an Islamic alternative in Syria. The prospect of an Islamic Khilafah emerging in Syria post Assad is what is driving American policy makers to bring Iran from the cold. Politicians and thinkers across the Middle East need to raise their voices against sectarianism and for unity upon a political system not based on sectarian principles. Unity upon Islam is for all Muslims and not only Sunni’s and Shi’ah. Any state for only Sunni’s or Shi’ah itself cannot be Islamic. What we are witnessing is the culmination of a marriage of convenience that will save US blushes after a decade of failure in the Middle East. Iran has now shown its true colours and also proven that’s its ambitions are merely interest driven and has nothing to do with Islam. For the moment, only the nuclear aspects of this US-Iran marriage have been revealed. Iran’s support for proxy groups, its role in Syria and US tools in the region have in all likelihood been discussed and will never be revealed. But, what is for certain, is that it is Iran once again and not Israel or Saudi Arabia that is coming to America’s aid to maintain its hegemony in the region.
Is America’s decline real or imaginary? Today, the subject of America’s decline as the world’s super power is no longer a novel discussion that is exclusively limited to a select band of analysts to debate. On the contrary, it is common to ﬁnd a variety of people talking and debating America’s decline in diﬀerent parts of the world as if it is a kitchen table issue. Amongst the topics discussed is the nature of the decline i.e. is America waning politically, economically or militarily, as well as the most important question what comes next. In a series of three articles, Abid Mustafa examines America’s decline, and whether its ability to inﬂuence and shape global politics has undergone any noticeable changes. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Introduction
ince the beginning of civilisation, human beings have organised themselves to live in families that are part of larger tribes. These tribes are organised along certain characteristics—chief amongst them is the creed that binds them together and moulds their viewpoint about life. The gathering of tribes around specific creeds gives birth to nations. Nations do not live in isolation and compete over wealth and resources, land and geography, honour and prestige, and over power and supremacy for an ideology. The centuries of interplay between nations to secure their respective interests have given rise to boh bilateral and multilateral relations. In turn such relations are governed by norms and standards defined by the most powerful nation i.e. the leading state. The political ability of the leading state to manage international situations and events is known as the international order. The leading state always has a rival that at times cooperates with it, and at other times, opposes it and challenges it for primacy. In addition, there are other powerful nations or major powers that possess the ability to take
the place of either the leading state or the rival state. The international order changes only when the leading state is removed or displaced from its position by the rival state. This usually happens when there is a noticeable decline in the leading state’s ability to maintain the international order and prevent the threat posed by the major powers which includes the rival state. Hence the international order is always susceptible to change. The degree of change in the international order is always proportional to the decline of the leading state. The greater the decline, the greater the opportunity other major powers have to change events in their favour and weaken the international order. In modern times, another category of powerful nations have emerged that are more powerful than the major powers ie super powers. Super powers have the ability to truly protect their interests globally through the projection of military power. Before 1945, only major powers existed. Britain was a major power as well as the leading state. Germany was also a major power and was the rival state to Britain. After 1945 and during the Cold War, only two states dominated the world—
the US and the Soviet Union—and were regarded as super powers. The rest of the major powers were too weak to oppose them. America’s unipolar moment During the Cold War, two super powers stood head and shoulders above the rest, and much of the world was divided between the then Western and Eastern camps. However, after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, America found herself in a unique position— she was not only the world’s leading state but also the world’s lone super power. The unprecedented global power at America’s disposal prompted some American commentators to gloat about America’s new found international prestige. The famous American thinker Charles Krauthammer described the immense opportunity that lay ahead for the world’s sole super power— America’s unipolar moment. Writing in Foreign Affairs, he wrote an essay on ‘America and the World’ in which he said: “The immediate post-Cold War world is not multipolar. It is unipolar. The centre of world power is the unchallenged superpower, the United States, attended by its Western allies...The most striking feature of the post-Cold War world is its uni-polarity. No doubt, multi-polarity will come in time. In perhaps another generation or so there will be great powers coequal with the United States,
JUST AS AMERICA’S POLITICAL ELITE WAS MULLING OVER THE DAMAGE DONE BY THE IRAQ WAR TO AMERICA’S GLOBAL SUPREMACY, THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS STRUCK IN THE SUMMER OF 2008. THE FEROCITY OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS FURTHER RATTLED AMERICA AND SHOOK THE CONFIDENCE OF BOTH ITS INTELLIGENTSIA AND ITS PEOPLE. ALAN GREENSPAN, THE THEN CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE, DESCRIBED THE CREDIT CRUNCH WHICH WAS AT THE HEART OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AS ‘ONCE IN A CENTURY CREDIT TSUNAMI’. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// and the world will, in structure, resemble the pre-World War I era. But we are not there yet, nor will we be for decades. Now is the unipolar moment.” He was joined by another famous thinker Francis Fukuyama who earlier in 1989 unequivocally proclaimed that Western liberalism had triumphed over all other systems. Writing in the National Interest in the summer of 1989 he penned an essay called “The End of History?” in which he stated: “The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism...What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affairs’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.” For the next decade it appeared that Krauthammer and Fukuyama might be proved right in their assessment of America’s ability to expand its hegemony, and political influence around the globe. The defeat of Saddam’s forces in Iraq in 1991 enabled America to entrench its foothold in the Gulf and the wider Middle East through the establishment of military bases, security pacts, and the commencement of peace talks(Madrid
Conference) between Israelis and Palestinians which are carrying on to this very day. This gave the US unprecedented leverage on how best to shape the region to safeguard her interests. In Europe, the relentless expansion of the European Union and NATO to include countries in the post-soviet space like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania etc. bolstered America’s stranglehold over Europe and further weakened Russia. The crowning piece for America’s primacy in Europe was the political management of the disintegration of Yugoslavia that eventually led to the culmination of the Kosovo war in 1999. In short, the US was able to marginalize both Europe and Russia. In Africa too, America made huge strides in eclipsing the wings of old Europe. Military incursion in Somalia, Zaire (Congo), Liberia marked the beginning of campaigns to shrink British and French influence in Africa. In the Americas it was business as usual, as America exerted greater political control through the promotion of democracy and tightened its economic noose over the continent. America under the Clinton administration furthermore opened up many parts of the world to American multinationals through globalisation and free trade. So emphatic was America’s supremacy that it prompted France’s Foreign Minister to use the term hyper-power to describe America’s pre-eminence in the world. The new term he thought best described “a country that is dominant or predominant in all categories.”
The Turning Point The beginning of the 21st century saw the continuation of American preponderance. But this time under the Bush administration the neoconservatives had different ideas on how best to use American power and unilateralism to shape American interests around the globe. American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq saw unprecedented revelling amongst American politicians and supporters of the Bush administration. But the momentum in favour of American exceptionalism was shortlived and soon after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, America was embroiled in a protracted guerrilla war that exposed its racist worldview. Despite America’s military fire power in Iraq, the Bush administration was faced with a catalogue of challenges: Sunni and Shia uprisings, local anger towards repeated massacres committed by the US military, extrajudicial killings carried out by American stooges, the fiasco of Abu Ghraib, political instability, and widespread anti-American sentiments across the Muslim world. Within a space of three years, America was struggling to extricate itself from the quagmire of Iraq. What was meant to be a showcase victory for liberal democracy as envisaged by neoconservatives in the Bush administration, Iraq had quickly degenerated into a fight to rescue American primacy in the Middle East and her prestige internationally. Criticisms rapidly engulfed the Bush administration regarding its neoconservative policies. Leading Democrats and Republicans
together with a host of eminent politicians were damning in their assessment of Iraq and what it meant for America going forward. In 2006, the Iraq Study Group stated: “The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating …”. Richard Hass, former head of the Council of Foreign Relations, foresaw a reduction in America’s ability to shape political events in the region. He stated: “For much of the last two decades the US enjoyed an historic advantage in the region, with the end of the Cold War and the domination that it showed in the region after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Now though, we are seeing something fundamentally different. Essentially, we are looking at a messier, a much more complicated, a much more troubled Middle East, where the capacity of the US to shape affairs is much-reduced. ” Graham Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, described that because of the Iraq debacle, America’s allies and adversaries were able to effectively limit America’s ability to mould events. In 2006 he wrote in the National Interest: “...diverse countries have deployed a multiplicity of strategies and tactics designed to weaken, divert, alter, complicate, limit delay or block the Bush agenda through death by a thousand cuts.” Just as America’s political elite was mulling over the damage done by the Iraq war to America’s global supremacy, the global financial crisis struck in the summer of 2008. The ferocity of the economic crisis further rattled America and shook the confidence of both its intelligentsia and its people. Alan Greenspan, the then chairman of the Federal Reserve, described the credit crunch which
was at the heart of the economic crisis as ‘once in a century credit tsunami’. In the immediate aftermath of the economic crisis—America’s decline became a subject of heated discussion and debate. Broadly speaking two camps emerged. In the first camp, the common view was that America’s decline was a permanent feature of the international order. However, what was in dispute was the severity of the decline. In 2008, the US National Intelligence Council admitted for the first time that America's global power was indeed on a declining trajectory. In one of its periodic futuristic reports, Global Trends 2025, the Council cited “the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way, roughly from West to East” and “without precedent in modern history,” as the primary factor in the decline of the “United States' relative strength— even in the military realm.” Nonetheless, there were others who tried to predict a much earlier decline or even a complete collapse for the US. One such figure was the Russian professor Igor Panarin who in 2008 said, “There’s a 5545% chance right now that disintegration [of US] will occur.” The other camp’s adherents espouse the view that America’s decline is reversible. Some of America’s most formidable thinkers can be found in this camp. Zbigniew Brzezinski still maintains that America can revitalise itself to meet the current challenges facing America: In his latest book Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power he states: “Thus, America's central challenge and its geographically imperative mission over the next several decades is to revitalize itself and to promote a larger and more vital West while simultaneously buttressing a complex
balance in the East, so as to accommodate constructively China's global status and avert global chaos. Without a stable geopolitical balance in Eurasia promoted by a renewed America, progress on the issues of central importance to social well-being and ultimately to human survival would stall.” Friedman and Mandelbaum share similar sentiments and earnestly believe that America by its very nature responds to difficult challenges. In their book That Used To Be US - What Went Wrong With America- And How It Can Come Back, they state: “The other reason for optimism about America's future is that over the course of its history The United States has rarely failed to meet major challenges. It is in fact our failure to meet major challenges that is unusual--or, one might say, “exceptional.” When tested, from the days of the revolution in the eighteenth century to the drawn-out Cold War struggle in the twentieth, America and Americans have found ways to excel. The country's past supplies fertile grounds for optimism about its future.” What is undeniable in both camps, is their unanimity on the fact that America is in decline. Closely related to America’s decline has been the decline of Western civilisation and power itself. In the past few years climatic, social, economic and political conditions have all converged to put Western civilisation under extreme strain and it has been often exposed to have little or no clue on how resolve the multitude of problems that stem from interdependencies of these extreme conditions. To be continued
The Ottoman Khilafah and its European legacy T
he Khilafah system has left its mark on history, but contrary to a basic view of history, the Khilafah did not just leave one mark but several. It was able to adapt to different cultures and people and moved from one seat of power to another. Arguably the strongest incarnation of the Khilafah system was the Ottoman Khilafah. Its rule was uninterrupted for over 600 years and is comparable to any civilization throughout history. It is still a scar on the psyche of Europe and to this day breedâ€™s resentment and hatred towards Islam and Muslims. This article aims to address many of the
misconceptions about the Ottoman Khilafah, since they are likely to be repeated time and again. The article will address the following areas: 1.
The motivations of the Ottoman Khalifs
Was the system adopted by the Ottoman state Islamic? Political impact of the Ottoman Khilafah
1) THE MOTIVATIONS OF THE OTTOMAN KHALIFS The Islamic motivations of the Ottoman Caliphs have come under scrutiny. The BBC in a
recent documentary specifically cited the example that over several hundred years no Ottoman Khalif made hajj to exemplify their so-called Machiavellian tendencies. In fact Orientalists have often explained their conduct of honour, kindness, valour and justice were all accredited to their own personal character, while their misdemeanors were put down to Islam. The Islamic motivations of the Ottoman Khalifs are very clear. For example, the second Ottoman Sultan, Orhan (the son of Osman) specifically adopted the Hanafi school of thought as the official state madhab. He took care in understanding it, familiarizing himself and then implementing its practices. In 1324 he passed a
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// law granting land for the building of mosques as part of official policy. This law was enacted in every newly conquered land thenceforth and is the prime reason for the proliferation of mosques across Eastern Europe. Such care to expand Islamic learning demonstrates their Islamic inclinations at a time when they were becoming the dominant force in their region. They wanted to demonstrate their noble stock by commissioning genealogical experts to trace their heritage back to the Prophet Nuh (as) so as to ensure that their Islamic legacy endures . They were able to clarify that the land from which they emanated from was given to Nuh’s son, Japeth, from whom they descend. This gave them an Islamic sense of mission. This view disseminated down, one khalif after another. For example, the famous Khalif Muhamamd at-Fatih was well versed with the hadith of the Prophet (saw), when he stated ”One day Constantinople will be conquered, a good army and a good amir will achieve it”. This particular hadith acted as a motivation for the fathers of Mohammad al-Fatih. Many examples abound to demonstrate the Islamic motivations, but the quote below from Albert Hourani (the pre-eminent Arab historian) is clear enough: “The most fundamental duty of a Muslim ruler….was to maintain the Shariah. In the Ottoman period, the institutions by which the Shariah was preserved were drawn into closer union…than ever before. The school of law favoured by the Ottomans was the Hanafi School, and the judges who administered it were paid for directly by the government. They created a special corps of ulema and ranked and graded them. They created a new military court (kadikaser)…” to curb the excesses of previous caliphs. It is explicitly clear from this, that the Ottoman Khalifs were motivated by Islam and saw themselves as the carriers of the Islam. 2) WAS THE SYSTEM ADOPTED BY THE OTTOMAN’S ISLAMIC? In summary, the Ottomans followed the following structure. At the Head was one of the “House of Osman”. The laws of succession were not rigid, and the most competent son was usually chosen as the next khalif (as opposed to the eldest). The system was run by the Sadr-i-Azam (commonly known as the grand wazir), who reported directly to the Khalif. The Khalif could choose to appoint several Wazir’s if the need
required, but they would report to the Grand Wazir (sadr-i-azam). The Sipahi’s or Cavalry officers collected the taxes, and they were later augmented by the janissaries. From the 16th Century, the kalimiye (bureaucratic system) grew to deal with the vast expansion of the State. This system standardized documentation, and established processes and protocols that can be unified around the entire state. Given the vast size of the state at the time, this was a huge feat of organizational excellence and is studied to this day by the best management schools as a case of best practice. The highest officials met regularly in the palace council (divan), which made decisions on policy. Local government decisions were made by the (sancak) and sometimes grouped together in larger provinces (weyalat). Both forms had government representatives reporting back to the Sultan and scholars ensuring that the decisions were based on Shariah. This system they implemented is consistent with the principle of ruling laid out by the Prophet Muhammad (saw), with the same checks and balances, source of ruling and enactment of the people’s authority. The main argument to demonstrate un-Islamic rule are the Tanzimat reforms. Tanzimât emerged from the minds of reformist sultans like Mahmud II and Abdülmecid I, and were pioneered by Grand Wazir, Ahmed Rashid Pasha, as well as prominent reformers who were European-educated bureaucrats. These reformers believed that the old institutions and practices no longer met the needs of the Khilafah in the modern world. Most of the symbolic changes, such as uniforms, were aimed at changing the mindset of imperial administrators. Many of the reforms were attempts to adopt successful European practices. The Napoleonic Code and French law under the Second Empire heavily influenced the reforms. Changes included universal conscription; educational, institutional and legal reforms. Though these reforms proved to be a major problem for the Ottoman Khilafah, they never understood nor adopted the secular basis of law making, nor the democratic system of government. Hence, rather than adopting values and ideas, they imitated solutions. The Prophet (saw) gave a clear description of when a state becomes unislamic, in the famous hadith: Al-Bukhari narrated: “… He said, the Messenger of Allah (saw) called upon us and we gave him the Bai’ah,
Ottoman Caliph Sultan AbdulHamid II
and he said, of that which he had taken from us, that we should give him the pledge to listen and obey, in what we like and dislike, in our hardship and ease, and that we should not dispute the authority of its people unless we saw open Kufr (kufr buwah) upon which we had a proof (burhan) from Allah” Open Kufr cannot be committed unless there is an understanding by the one who commits it of what they have committed. In this case, they were not at a level to understand what the underpinning values were, but rather imitated solutions. This is exemplified by the statement of Shaykhul Islam Mustafa Sabri who worked for Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Khilafah. He was exiled to Egypt by the Kemalist regime. He said: ‘Khilafah i.e. succession to the Messenger of Allah means: obliging the adherence of the rules of the Shari’ah over the Muslims by the one who assumes authority, it by this way one is successor to the Prophet. And the abolition of the Khilafah is abolition of this adherence....This has actually happened in Turkey after the abolition of the Khilafah. So what has succeeded it is a secular government.’ The point here is that he considered the Ottoman state, even in its weakened state, Islamic in its basis until it was destroyed. Sheikh-ul-Hind Maulana Mahmud Hassan and many other contemporaries agreed upon this view. To conclude this section, we can see that despite some areas of weakness, the Ottoman State was
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// The great Suleiman al-Qanuni focused almost exclusively on Europe and established himself as the most powerful man in the world. His contemporaries included Charles V (of Spain), Francis I (of France) and Henry VIII. Suleiman’s political maneuverings were legendary, and he existed at a time of four major powers; Austria (under the Habsberg’s), France, Russia and Spain, the most powerful of these were the Austrian Habsberg dynasty who stood between him and wider Europe. He was able to take advantage of Christian intrigue and separate France from the Christian bloc by rescuing their King Francis I on the request of his mother (who had lost hope that she would ever see her son again) against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He accentuated European disunity by encouraging a different form of Christianity (Protestantism) by allying with Henry VIII and William of Orange and entered into the FrancoOttoman Alliance in 1536 , which was a series of concessions made by the Sultan in return for French loyalty and an extension of support across Europe!
Abdul Medjid II the Last Ottoman Caliph
based on Islam, motivated by Islam and never ceased to implement Islam. The allegations of secular implementation are often malicious and politically motivated. 3) Political impact of the Ottoman Caliphate The previous sections deal with some of the negative questions raised about the Ottoman Khilafah. What is ignored is the sheer dominance and progress of the Ottoman’s in their heyday. The political impact of the Ottoman Khilafah in Europe is long lasting and profound on a number of levels and is the main source of European resentment to this day. Three Ottoman Sultan’s were most notable in this area; Mohammed Al-Fatih, Selim I and Suleiman al-Qanuni. The cornerstone of their overarching philosophy was to take Istanbul and then Rome, thereby destroy the Roman Empire as a result. Their motivations stemmed from the famous ahadith of the Prophet (SAW).
It caused a scandal in the Christian world and was designated as "the impious alliance", or "the sacrilegious union of the Lily and the Crescent"; nevertheless, it endured since it served the objective interests of both parties. The strategic and sometimes tactical alliance was one of the most important foreign alliances of France and lasted for more than two and a half centuries, until the Napoleonic Campaign in Egypt in 1798–1801. Once Suleiman nullified the French threat, he then marched into Hungary, took Budapest and annexed it under his authority, while French support for Hungary did not arrive due to their agreement with the Ottoman’s. This set the Ottoman Khilafah in direct conflict with the Austrians Habsberg’s who ruled Hungary at the time and Suleiman unsuccessfully laid siege to Vienna twice. By 1544, Suleiman eventually ensured the defeat of Ferdinand of Austria and his brother Charles V (of Spain) and forced them to conclude a humiliating five-year treaty with Suleiman. These were the two most powerful men in the Christian world at the time so this was a most significant treaty, leading Suleiman to be considered unanimously the most powerful man in the World and considered the true 'Caesar'.
examples, but two are particularly pertinent. Firstly, Sultan Murad III came to the aid of the Protestant Queen, Elizabeth I who came under attack from the Roman Empire (in the guise of the Spanish Armada). Popular convention states that Sir Francis Drake symbolised English nonchalance and cunning in the face of danger. First, according to the legend drummed into every pupil, he insisted on finishing his game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe as the Spanish Armada approached in July 1588. Then he dispatched the enemy ships with little more than a few burning rowing boats and a favorable breeze. The truth is a bit more humbling – it was the Ottoman Khilafah that dispatched its deadly naval forces and engaged the Spanish all the way from the Mediterranean to Plymouth harbor, decisively weakening it and allowing Drake to finish the Spanish off. Secondly, in 1845, the onset of the Great Irish Famine resulted in over a million deaths. Ottoman Sultan Abdul Majid I declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers, despite on-going economic problems within the Ottoman State. However, Queen Victoria requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling herself. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived in Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors. This act of kindness was well received and the Irish sent a letter of gratitude to the Ottoman Sultan, which is still displayed in the Topkapi Palace. In conclusion, we should take note that despite the cracks towards the last 200 years, the Ottoman Khilafah was only rivaled by the Roman Empire as the dominant force in Europe throughout its history. We should not fall victim to the propaganda against the Ottoman state. The fact is, even a weakened Ottoman state would be far better than any of the rulers we have today. The current Muslim leadership consists of rulers that are not independent of external influences, have no ideological system that guides them and produces results and are merely self-serving. The fact remains that the best Ottoman Khalifs rank amongst the best heroes in the history of Islam.
Muhammad Jilani This section would not be complete without providing some British context to the Ottoman state’s intervention. There are numerous
Concepts from Uloom al Quran (Sciences of the Qur’an) Meaning of the word ‘Qur’an.’ The most popular opinion regarding the linguistic meaning of the word ‘Qur’an’ and that held by at-Tabari is that the word ‘Qur’an’ is derived from qara’a which means, ‘to read, to recite.’ Qur’an would then be the verbal noun of qara’a which thus translates as ‘The Recitation’ or ‘Reading.’ There are many definitions of the Qur’an but they differ in wording only. There is no difference in opinion in what the Qur’an is, but merely what the best way to define it is. One of the more appropriate definitions is as follows: “The Qur’an is the Arabic Speech of Allah, which He revealed to Muhammad (SAW) in wording and meaning and which has been preserved in the mushafs and has reached us by mutawattir transmissions, and is a challenge to mankind to produce something similar to it.” Arabic Qur’an Allah (SWT) says in reference to the Qur’an: “We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an.” (TMQ
Yusuf: 2) “An Arabic Qur’an with no crookedness in it, perchance they will be God fearing” (TMQ Al Zumar:29) “And thus We have revealed unto you (O Muhammad [SAW]) a Qur’an (in Arabic” (TMQ Shurah:7) The term ‘Arabic’ refers to the language of the Qur’an, not to its scope or ideas because the Qur’an addresses all Arabs and non-Arabs. The rules of the Qur’an are universal and not restricted to one ethnic group or a specific area or time. All the Qur’an is in Arabic and contains no foreign tongue. Imam az-Zarkashee said “Know the Qur’an has been revealed in the language of the Arabs. Therefore, it is impermissible to recite it in any other language.” Elaborating the definition The next part of the definition of the Qur’an states that it is the ‘..Speech (Kalaam) of Allah..’. The Qur’an is the Speech (Kalaam) of Allah
(SWT), that He (SWT) spoke in a manner that befits Him (SWT). This excludes all speech that emanated from men, jinn and angels. The next part of the definition states ‘..which He revealed to Muhammad (SAW)..’ This excludes any other Speech (Kalaam) of His that He spoke. The Kalaam of Allah (SWT) is infinite, as the Qur’an says, “And if the trees on earth were pens, and the sea (were ink wherewith to write), with seven seas behind it to add to its supply, still the Words (Kalaam) of Allah would not be exhausted. Verily Allah is Almighty, Wise” (TMQ 31:27) The Qur’an is specifically the revelation sent down to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). “And truly this Qur’an is a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, which the Trustworthy Spirt (Angel Jibreel) brought down; Upon your heart (O Muhammad) so that you maybe among the warners” (TMQ 26:192-4) The next part of the definition states in ‘..in word and meaning..’ This affirms that these words are from Allah (SWT) and not from Jibreel or Muhammad (SAW). This definition also
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// the Book of Allah is best known. “Say: If all mankind and jinn were to gather together to produce something similar to this Qur’an, they would not be able to produce it – even if they helped one another” (TMQ 17:88) 2) The Kitaab. This name is also mentioned over seventy times. This is the Book that Allah (SWT) sent down upon his final Messenger (SAW) containing all the Guidance than man needs. “Alif, Laam, Meem. This is the Book, there is no doubt in it, a Guidance for the pious..” (TMQ 2:12) 3) The Furqaan (Criterion). Allah (SWT) has used this name four times in reference to the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the Criterion between tawhid and shirk, truth and falsehood and good and evil. “Blessed is He Who sent down the Furqaan to His Slave (Muhammad SAW) so that he may be a warner to mankind” (TMQ 25:1)
excluded Hadith Qudsi which is only inspired in meaning while the wording is from the Prophet (SAW). ‘…which has been preserved in the mushafs..’ A mushaf is a written copy of the Qur’an. It refers specifically to the copies that Khalifah Uthman (RA) ordered to be written. Therefore it includes 114 surahs starting with Sura Fatihah and ending with Surah Naas. The Qur’an must be written in any one of the mushafs of Uthman (RA). ‘.. has reached us by mutawaatir transmission..’ A transmission is called mutawaatir when it is reported by a large number of people such that they could not all be mistaken or intentionally forge a lie. In each generation so many people narrated it that there is no question of its authenticity. The last part of the definition states ‘.. and is a challenge to mankind to produce something similar to it..’ This is regarding the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) has challenged mankind to produce even a chapter similar to it, and this challenge is reserved for the Qur’an and not for the ahadith. Names of the Qur’an The Qur’an has referred to itself by a number of names: 1) The Qur’an This name is mentioned seventy three times, thus it is no surprise that it is by this name that
4) The Dhikr (Remembrance). This occurs fifty five times in the Qur’an. The Dhikr signifies that the Qur’an is a Guidance and Remembrance of the purpose of life, the history of past nations and the description of Heaven and Hell. “And verily the Qur’an is a Reminder for you and your people” (TMQ 43:33) 5) The Tanzeel (Revelation). This name along with all other derivatives, is used to describe the Qur’an in over one hundred and forty verses. The root word ‘nazala’ signifies the descent of an object from a higher place to a lower place. The Qur’an is therefore a Revelation that was sent down from Allah (SWT) to the Prophet (SAW). “And it is indeed a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds” (TMQ 26:192) There are many other descriptions of the Qur’an which some scholars have taken as ‘names’ but it is more appropriate to say that they describe the Qur’an and are not names as such. The Muhkamaat (clearcut) and Mutashaabihaat (ambiguous) The Qur’an is composed of ayat which are Muhkamaat (clearcut) and ayat which are Mutashaabihaat (ambiguous), due to the saying of Allah (SWT): “In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book; and others not entirely clear.” (TMQ Al-Imran: 7)
Muhkam As for the Muhkam (clear) part, it is the text whose meaning is apparent and clear such that it precludes the possibility of having any other meaning, i.e. its indication is explicit and not open to interpretation. Imam Qurtubi (died 671AH) said “The muhkam is the (phrase or word) whose interpretation is known, its meaning understood and its exposition clear.” Such as the saying of Allah (SWT): “Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury).” (TMQ Al-Baqarah: 275) “Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female.” (TMQ Al-Ma’ida: 38) “And there is (a saving of) life for you in Al-Qisas (the Law of equality in punishment), O men of understanding (TMQ Al-Baqarah: 179) Mutashaabih As for the Mutashaabih (ambiguous) part, it is the opposite of Muhkam. It is the text which is open to more than one meaning. It is open to a number of conflicting meanings. For example: “And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods.” (TMQ Al-Baqarah: 228) “Unless they (the women) agree to forego it, or he (the husband), in whose hands is the marriage tie.” (TMQ Al-Baqarah: 237) “And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honour will abide forever.” (TMQ Ar-Rahman: 27) “For verily, you are under Our Eyes.” (TMQ At-Tur: 48) The wordings in these ayats have a number of apparent conflicting meanings which cannot be reconciled initially. Rather they need a linguistic Qareenah (indication), which would specify one of the meanings. It might also have an apparent meaning that implies anthropomorphisation of Allah (SWT), a matter that is not possible, either rationally or by Shar’a, for the word to indicate it. So, it needs a linguistic or Shariah Qareenah (indication) to determine the intended meaning. The word mutashaabih comes from a root word which means ‘to resemble’, to be ‘similar to.’ Mutashaabih has two meanings, the first one is ‘resembling’ and the second one ‘unclear.’ The second meaning is related to the first, since those objects which resemble one another are difficult to distinguish, hence ‘unclear.’ It is used in both of these meanings in the Qur’an and Sunnah. For example, the Jews say in the Qur’an, ..to us, all cows
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// look alike (tashabaha).. (TMQ 2:70) In this verse, the word is used in the first meaning (‘resembling’). It is used in the second meaning (‘unclear’) in the famous hadith of the Prophet (SAW) in which he (SAW) said, “the halal is clear and the haram is clear, but between the two are matters which are unclear (mutashabihat). On occasion Allah (SWT) describes the entire Qur’an muhkam. For example He (SWT) said: “Alif, Laam, Raa. These are the verses from the hakeem Book” (TMQ 10:1) In these verses Allah (SWT) is saying that the whole Qur’an is a clear, perfect Book which acts as a Criterion between good and evil. Imam AtTabari said “ Allah has protected (ahkama) His verses from any evil entering it, or any flaw, or any falsehood. He set it forth with commands and prohibitions. This is because to ihkaam something means to better it and protect it.” On other occasions, Allah (SWT) calls the Qur’an mutashaabih: “Allah has sent down the best statements, a Book that is mutashaabih, oft recited..” (TMQ 39:23) The meaning of mutashaabih in this verse is that the verses of the Qur’an resemble and complement one another in their eloquence and
beauty, and in their beliefs and laws, so that there are no contradictions or differences in them. In one verse, however, Allah (SWT) describes the Qur’an as being part muhkam and part mutashaabih. “He (Allah is the one who has sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book. In it are verses that are muhkam – they are the foundations of the Book and others are mutashaabih. So as for those who have a deviation in their hearts, they follow that which is mutashaabih, seeking to cause confusion and chaos, and seeking for its ta’weel. But none knows its ta’weel except Allah and those well grounded in knowledge; They say “We believe in it, all of it (both the muhkam and mutashaabih) is from our Lord. And none receive admonition except those of understanding” (TMQ 3:7) From the various definitions of muhkam and mutashaabih, it can be concluded that the muhkam verses are those that are clear in meaning and cannot be misinterpreted wheras the mutashaabih verses are those that are not clear in meaning by themselves and in order to properly understand them, it is necessary to look at them in the light of the muhkam verses. The Prophet (SAW) once recited this verse and then said, “ So when you see those who follow the mutashaabih of the Qur’an, these are the ones whom Allah has mentioned, so beware of them.” In this hadith, the Prophet (SAW)
warns Muslims against those people who follow the mutashaabih without properly understanding them. The phrase ‘…follow the mutashaabih’ implies that these people who are being warned against take only the mutashaabih verses and interpret them according to their own desires. It is reported that Ibn Abbas said “I am of those well grounded in knowledge, who know the meaning (of the mutashaabih).” This shows the correct meaning of the mutashaabih is possible and there is no harm if one is qualified to do so. In conclusion, Allah (SWT) has called the whole Qur’an muhkam, meaning that it is a clear source of Guidance and a Criterion between good and evil. He (SWT) has also called the Qur’an mutashaabih, meaning its verses are similar to one another in terms of beauty and aid one another in meaning; and finally He (SWT) has called part of it muhkam and part mutashaabih. The portion that is muhkam forms the foundation of the Book, meaning that it comprises all the rules and laws that mankind need for its guidance. The mutashaabih portion of the Qur’an is clear in meaning to those ‘grounded in knowledge’ and it is necessary to understand these portions in the light of the muhkam verses. The actuality of the mutashaabih verses, however, is known only to Allah (SWT).
The Obsession with Growth in Capitalism and the Islamic Viewpoint THE BELOW IS AN ABRIDGED VERSION OF A REPORT: “THE ECONOMIC GROWTH IMPERATIVE” WRITTEN BY SAFRAZ WALI AND JAMAL HARWOOD, AND PRESENTED AT THE SHARIAH ECONOMICS CONFERENCE, HANOVER, GERMANY, FEBRUARY 2013 /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ccording to all mainstream schools of Capitalist economic thought, growth in production is the solution to the fundamental economic problem facing society. Adam Smith, the founder of modern Capitalism, considered that if society focused on maximizing production, this would equate with raising the level of wealth for all.
ecosystem imposes limits to growth.
recessionary phase of the business cycle.
The classical school, born out of the work of the 18th Century economist Adam Smith, postulated the efficiency of free markets to generate wealth however many market imperfections would act as impediments to this ideal market behaviour.
GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION MASKS MARKET FAILURE IN THE CAPITALIST MODEL
Soon it became clear that the unregulated free market approach of the Classical school of Adam Smith was good at increasing production but poor at distributing the gains of production. Since then, new thinking came in the latter part of the 20th Century through works such as the 1956 book entitled ‘The Future of Socialism’ which argued for a new way of breaking the disparity between rich and poor by not focusing on the size of the slice of the poor but the size of the pie. The argument being that a small slice at a larger pie would give more wealth to the less privileged classes.
Later approaches would see various government interventions, to help the market reach efficiency. The champion of this approach was John Maynard Keynes who argued in the 1930s that when markets are in a slump, the government needs to spend and this will create a self sustaining recovery. The government would typically do this via central banks who are permitted to create money from ‘thin air’ now, allow the government through such money to undertake massive spending projects and create employment and paying the debt off in the future by raising taxes when the economy recovers.
All modern capitalist economic schools of thought, of both the left and right persuasion became mesmerised by growth as a result. This paradigm exists to this day despite a study by a think tank called Club of Rome whose study in 1972 called ‘Limits to Growth’ argued that the
Since then, other approaches have arisen, such as the Monetarist approach of Milton Friedman and the return to the neo liberal approach post 1980s. However there has been no disagreement on the need to maintain growth by prolonging the boom phase and minimising the
None of the Capitalist schools however demonstrate any profound understanding of market failure and therefore merely treat the effects of market failure by hiding behind growth. Constant growth masks market failure by temporarily delaying the recessionary phase of the business cycle which is the manifestation of this failure. Let us consider 4 types of market failure prevalent in Capitalism: LARGE CAPITALIST COMPANIES DESTROY COMPETITION It is well known that smaller companies are responsible for the bulk of job growth. Despite the appearance of diversity, company consolidation has been occurring and this has destroyed competition. The lack of new jobs and resultant growth in unemployment presents a major market failure in the current global economy.
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// TRADE RESTRICTING REGULATION Firstly, regulation that is on balance useful in protecting the less powerful often gets bypassed through loopholes and other legislative oversight. Secondly much regulation is hijacked by powerful economic actors and used to penalize weaker market players, for example by creating barriers to entry. LABOUR MARKET INFLEXIBILITY When the economy is in recession, firms usually fire workers rather than drop salaries, resulting in less demand causing further unemployment. In an efficient labour market, wages would fall to allow such workers to be kept in employment. However, in the Capitalist prism, we see the constant fear of inflation acting as an impediment to workers accepting pay cuts. This is not a reality under the Islamic currency model based on Gold and Silver. INABILITY TO HANDLE DEFLATION This is the inability of Capitalism to handle deflation which is the economy wide fall in prices. It is argued that deflation has many negative effects such as the harm to debtors, impotence of monetary policy and the supposed delay in purchasing goods that occurs in a deflationary environment. None of these apply to the Islamic system. To avoid deflation, production, it is argued, must be increased at all costs, hence another driver of the growth imperative. Due to these failures, and the inability to handle recessions which are the manifestation of this failure, growth is the scapegoat. The moment the economy detracts from constant growth, we see disastrous consequences such as the Great Depression of the 1930s.
STRATEGIC GROWTH ADVANTAGES IN THE ISLAMIC SYSTEM Measurement of the economy in Islam is not driven by empirical measures such as growth. Rather the purpose of the economy is to meet certain inalienable rights (including food, shelter and clothing) and enabling individuals and companies to flourish within a comprehensive and stable regulatory environment according to the Shariah law. The only solution put forward during the financial crisis has been a toxic mix of money printing and austerity. There is another way. An environment in which spending and investment is encouraged is required. Islam tackles this in
two ways. Firstly, by removing all interest based investments, and coupling that with laws preventing the hoarding of wealth/money, society will naturally seek returns on capital via business investment. Consequently, the investment market in an Islamic state is very vibrant and participants share in risks and rewards with investment dependent upon actual participation in the company rather than anonymous “trading” in/out as espoused by western markets. A second key element is the taxation system which taxes heavily un-invested capital, providing another incentive for full investment. Of great importance is circulation of wealth amongst all in society, with incentives for investment and strong dis-incentives for hoarding, hence maintaining the momentum and velocity of the economy. "In case it (wealth) circulates solely among the wealthy from amongst you." [Translation of the meaning the Quran surah Al-Hashr, 59:7] AN ALTERNATIVE STRATEGY TO JUST PURSUING GROWTH 1) Gold/Silver based currency The currency is fully administered and managed by the State treasury (Bait al Mal). The state is obliged to back 100% any issued currency notes (with physical gold and silver) – no fractional banking is tolerated by Shariah and gold/silver reserves are fully open to public audit. As a consequence, fractional reserve banking is not allowed within the state and no growth of money (open market money creation) via banking groups or the state is tolerated. With monetary supply dependent upon wealth within the state, currency induced inflation is minimal and cannot reach the levels seen during the 1970’s after the US took the world unilaterally away from the gold standard in 1971. Inflation, from the viewpoint of price instability, is harmful as business proprietors cannot calculate prices and hence do not undertake investment given uncertainty towards costs, sale prices and profitability. Under the gold standard, prices are more stable over the long term leading to a more stable environment for investment decision making. The passing of power to central banks to enable manipulation of the money supply in recessionary times risks uncontrollable inflation. Lastly, gold and silver is the ultimate currency and physical gold and silver (not paper based investment products) have no counterparty risk.
2) Non Interest Economy “Whereas Allah has permitted trade but forbidden usury (interest)” [TMQ Al-Baqarah 2:275] The provision of interest across most financial transactions acts as a form of taxation, it is an additional cost and consequently is a drag on profitability, investment and growth. The interest/debt model popular in Western economies has meant that banks and finance providers can not only create money from nothing (fractional reserve banking) but can charge interest (expense) and guarantee returns via collateral. As most fiat money exists as debt, then the need for interest payments on debt necessitates an ever increasing expansion of the money supply to keep the system afloat. In the ten years prior to the financial crisis of 2008, over 100 Trillion dollars of money (debt) was created, the deleveraging of this debt is continuing to this day and acts as an anchor against economic recovery and growth. Despite steadily decreasing interest rates in the Japanese economy - an indication that policy makers recognise that interest is injurious to growth - growth has been elusive over the past 20 years. Current attempts by the US and other central banks including the UK to steadily reduce interest rates to generate growth through lowering the costs of borrowing clearly show that interest is costly to the economy. It is strange that governments now are close to a zero interest rate policy – given to some banks – whereas a zero interest rate policy for all borrowers is not adopted. 3) No hoarding of wealth “And those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend them in the Path of Allah then announce to them a painful torment” [TMQ 9:34] With interest based economies and the associated bust and boom cycle means, wealth is alternately readily available for investment in times of growth and withdrawn from investment in recessionary times. A consistent environment for growth in the economy requires a consistent flow of wealth into the economy for investment. The interest based banking system is dominated by banks which provide liquidity when it suits them and withdraw capital when deleveraging as in the current cycle. When felt not to be profitable, banks will not lend money and this forms obstacles to the circulation of wealth and a return to growth in the economy.
NONE OF THE CAPITALIST SCHOOLS HOWEVER DEMONSTRATE ANY PROFOUND UNDERSTANDING OF MARKET FAILURE AND THEREFORE MERELY TREAT THE EFFECTS OF MARKET FAILURE BY HIDING BEHIND GROWTH. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// wealth out of circulation, banks, large corporations, and wealthy individuals will hold onto wealth and perpetuate the dis-investment cycle. Contraction in business, fewer jobs and further declines in government taxes result. 5) Equity/Partnership rather than debt based financing
4) Taxation policy The plethora of taxes imposed on the public in Western economies is a great oppression. By focusing upon accumulated wealth which is not invested (Zakat at 2.5% per annum), taxes on the productive capacity of the land (Kharaj) and head taxes (Jizya) for those who can afford them, the Islamic State is encouraging work/enterprise and investment, and discouraging the withdrawal of wealth from circulation, exactly the conditions which bank/debt dominated Western economies are suffering most from. Inevitably, the consequence is a smaller footprint for the state which coincides with the general perception that governments in the western world have taken on too much responsibility (and high budget deficits) and are stifling recovery with ever higher taxes—taxes which fall unevenly on the poorer via income and consumption taxes. With little or no disincentive from taking
Capital markets in the Islamic state are dominated by partnership and company formation in which the key features are: offer and acceptance, defined profit and loss sharing between investors/partners, a specific corporate body (not anonymous share ownership), and no limited liability. Additionally there is no organised share trading market (stock market), as transfer of ownership must be agreed between owners on a case by case basis. As a consequence the ownership and management of companies is tightly controlled and all partners/investors have specific responsibilities rather than the often anonymous and opaque ownership structures in western markets. 6) Absence of limited liability A necessary requirement for all company formations in Islam is the existence of partners/owners who take full responsibility for all transactions/contracts entered into. Losses are apportioned to partners/owners in the proportion of capital invested in the business. This contrasts with the excessive risk and borrowing approach adopted by the large Wall Street banks. The “Too big to fail” banks were often up to 40 times leveraged with little or no responsibility on the directors. The consequent bailouts of these banks have placed immense burdens upon taxpayers and the economies of these western countries. Bailouts in the UK alone have amounted to more than £1.2 Trillion, greater than the size of UK yearly output. Under Shariah the State and its leaders are not authorised to bailout any failed companies.
7) Gambling is prohibited Islam forbids most of the derivative or virtual economy transactions which have led to massive volatility in financial markets and which have spilled over into the real economy. Much of the need for many of the financial products that act as insurance to the volatility of the current economic approach is negated as the same degree of uncertainty does not exist within the Islamic economy. Gambling and derivative contracts also add nothing to the economy but heightened counterparty risk. As winning and losing bets are between respective parties, it is often felt that the economic impact is neutral. However the counterparty risk of a bank failure, and an attendant domino collapse was highlighted at the time of the collapse of Lehman brothers in 2008. 8) No intellectual property rights It is argued that intellectual property i.e. patent protection is vital to create entrepreneurial drive, as without knowledge protection, there is insignificant incentive to develop innovative productive science. In Islam, knowledge is purchased along with the purchase of the good or service as far as this knowledge can be obtained. This means that many firms can develop on existing knowledge and bring the new innovations to market quickly, leading to rapid increments to innovation. This approach negates some of the limitations in development of commercial projects on the same scale as the capitalist PLC companies. 9) Flexible labour markets where wages are able to adjust to deflationary environments The Islamic system creates efficient markets due to sound concepts of value and Rizq.
IN ISLAM, AS WEALTH PROCUREMENT IS NOT THE ULTIMATE AIM IN LIFE, AS IS EARNING THE PLEASURE OF ALLAH (SWT), BOTH THE WEALTH AND THE MEANS TO OBTAIN IT LIE FIRMLY UNDER THE DOMAIN OF THE INDIVIDUALS DESIRE TO ADHERE TO THE SHARIAH RULES WHICH MANIFEST THIS GOAL IN LIFE. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// A significant factor in explaining why recessions occur is due to market pricing failure. Employers do not drop wages and salaries to levels necessary to ensure that they can keep their existing staff employed. Instead they prefer to preserve fewer staff at current wage levels. However this increases unemployment and is very damaging for the wider macroeconomic environment due to a decrease in aggregate demand at current price levels. 10) Land reform The aggregation of vast land tracts into the hands of a few has led to widespread poverty amongst the masses. In the US, 15% of the population now depends upon food stamps for basic food needs. Land ownership in one of the largest and most fertile countries in the world is but a dream for most, as it sadly is in most of the Muslim world, as Islamic law is not currently applied. Shariah law in this regard is very dynamic and enables widespread ownership amongst the many. If land is not utilised for a period of 3 years, it reverts to the State and will be re-allocated to those that will use it. Any member of the public can claim dead or unused lands, and leasing of lands by those that cannot utilise it directly is forbidden. 11) Ethical trade and trader rights In Islam, there are numerous rules and provisions which ensure traders feel confident that either contracting party will not be subjected to any form of exploitation and in the event that this has happened, to have fair and decisive redress in the form of annulling of the contract. Therefore market failure due to knowledge asymmetries is not a reality in Islam. Furthermore the Prophet (SAW) said as narrated from Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn
Hibban: â€œIf you purchased say there is no deception, then in every commodity you purchased you have the choice after three nights to accept (the commodity) and thus hold it or to return it back to its owner.â€? This is conditional of their having been ignorance on the part of the buyer or seller as to the market price and the deviation from the market price being excessive. Under such an environment, traders will be more forthcoming to trade, knowing that a fair mechanism to seek redress exists. 12) Regulatory framework In Islam Regulation in Islam aims to foster a safe and productive environment where wealth that is generated can be more equitably distributed than the current Capitalist economy. It is not a means of creating entry barriers for small business or allowing favours to be granted by the political structure in response to lobbying and other underhand means.
the current system given the finite and rapidly diminishing resources of the world, which are to be used to try and meet the demands of compounding interest and ballooning derivatives gambling. The world is ready for an alternative root and branch vision based on the unique solution offered by the Islamic alternative. Islam shows how the economy should function and grow through sustainable practices so as to attain a more equitable distribution of wealth. It offers an approach with the correct balance of savings, investment and consumption to achieve real wealth for all. The Islamic economy is not founded upon forced re-distribution of wealth in efforts to drive some form of equality, nor completely un-regulated markets where strong corporate interests can dominate. The Islamic economy focuses upon a clear and consistent set of rules which are consistently applied across society. The results throughout history of the Islamic State (Khilafah) has been one of widespread circulation of wealth to ensure all can benefit from it, rather than a divisive accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few.
In Islam, as wealth procurement is not the ultimate aim in life, as is earning the pleasure of Allah (SWT), both the wealth and the means to obtain it lie firmly under the domain of the individuals desire to adhere to the Shariah rules which manifest this goal in life. Furthermore, many rules are aimed at aiding traders to enter markets to create a healthy competitive environment for sustainable growth unlike the regulations which penalise small businesses and lead to substantial barriers for entry. CONCLUSION There is a growth imperative within the capitalist system and this permeates all mainstream Capitalist schools of thought. This growth imperative is leading to an implosion of
RAISING THE BAR ON THE NIQAB DEBATE “HAVE YOU (O MUHAMMAD) SEEN HIM WHO HAS TAKEN AS HIS ILAH (GOD) HIS OWN DESIRE (HAWAH)? WOULD YOU THEN BE A WAKIL (DISPOSER OF HIS AFFAIRS) OVER HIM? OR DO YOU THINK THAT MOST OF THEM HEAR OR UNDERSTAND? THEY ARE ONLY LIKE CATTLE; NAY THEY ARE EVEN FARTHER ASTRAY FROM THE PATH.” [AL-FURQAN: 43-44] ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
s the attack on the niqab by politicians and the media intensifies in Britain, Canada, and other Western secular states, Muslims have once again felt pressure to defend yet another of their Islamic practices and to argue against its ban. Some have used the concepts of “personal freedom” or “human rights” to argue the right to wear the niqab. However, such ideas are not universal values. Rather they fundamentally contradict the Islamic Aqeeda for they originate from the man-made secular way of life and liberal ideals that believe that God should have no say in the organisation of life’s affairs and that individuals should be permitted to legislate, and live their lives according to their own whims and desires, rather than in line with religious laws. In stark contrast, Islam states that Allah (SWT) is the Legislator in all spheres
of life, and commands believers to perform actions and to mould, regulate, and fulfil their desires according to the Laws and Limits laid down by Him (SWT). He (SWT) says in Surah Al-Furqan “Have you (O Muhammad) seen him who has taken as his ilah (god) his own desire (Hawah)? Would you then be a Wakil (disposer of his affairs) over him? Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay they are even farther astray from the Path.” [Al-Furqan: 43-44] In addition, these liberal freedoms implemented within Western and other secular societies are the basis upon which men and women are permitted to dress publically in a sexually provocative way and to engage in extramarital relationships, even adultery. They are the basis upon which businesses and the advertising, entertainment, and pornography industries are given license to expose, objectify, and sexualise the bodies of women for profit. And they are the basis upon which insults against the Qur’an, our beloved Prophet (SAW) and our Deen are accepted, entertained and even encouraged within societies that sanctify freedom of expression. None of this can we possibly accept as Muslims.
Furthermore, the ideal of “Human Rights” as defined by secular institutions such as the UN or the European Court of Human Rights is not a value common to all human beings regardless of religious belief. Nor are they simply associated with the right of individuals to the protection for example of their life, property, or religion. Rather such “human rights” also have an ideological basis for they stem from the preservation of liberal freedoms. In the pre-amble to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, it states, “Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, which essentially refers to liberal freedoms, including the right of individuals to leave their faith and pursue any sexual relationship they desire, which Islam rejects. Alongside this, we have witnessed countless times the erratic, unpredictable and hypocritical manner by which secular governments and institutions implement such freedoms and ‘Human Rights’. In 1998, even the European Court of Human Rights
AS MUSLIMS, OUR RESPONSE TO THE ATTACK ON THE NIQAB OR ANY PART OF OUR DEEN MUST BE TO DISPEL THE FEARS AND MISCONCEPTIONS THAT LEAD TO THE NEGATIVE VIEWS TOWARDS OUR DEEN AMONGST THE PUBLIC. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (ECHR) (the highest human rights court in Europe) in a case against Turkey’s hijab ban in public buildings, ruled in favour of upholding the ban, justifying their decision on the basis of protecting the secular basis of Turkey. In 2004, the ECHR also ruled in favour of the French hijab ban in state schools, commenting that the actions of the French government did NOT violate “freedom of religion” and that such bans issued in the name of separating church and state (i.e. to protect secularism) could be considered “necessary in a democratic society”. It is clear therefore that personal freedom and human rights under secular states and institutions are guaranteed only for those who tow the secular line. So as Muslims, we should reject such non-Islamic ideas and not use them as the basis to formulate our arguments against attacks on our honourable Deen, or to defend our right to practice our noble Islamic beliefs. Rather, our response to calls for bans on the niqab or any other aspect of Islam should be based upon Islam alone. As Muslims, our response to the attack on the niqab or any part of our Deen must be to dispel the fears and misconceptions that lead to the negative views towards our Deen amongst the public. For example, false accusations such as large swathes of Muslim girls and women being forced to wear the Islamic dress, or that the niqab divides communities, poses a security threat, makes the woman inferior to the man, or prevents women from playing an active part within the society must be challenged and shown to be untrue. In doing this, we should not be fearful of explaining that Islam is fundamentally different in its belief, values and laws from the Western secular liberal way of life and system.
Furthermore we should explain the outcomes that the whole body of Islamic laws achieve for society. For example, when talking about the Islamic dress, it should not be viewed in isolation but as part of a comprehensive Islamic social system that regulates the relationship between men and women within society in a manner to safeguard the status of women, strong family units, and the rights of children, as well as ensure healthy cooperation between the genders that is not cheapened by sexual distractions. SO HOW SHOULD MUSLIMS RESPOND TO THE ATTACK ON THE NIQAB? Firstly, we need to understand that this demonization of the niqab is simply a continuation of the age-old Western secular narrative that Islam is oppressive, backward, and uncivilised, while the secular liberal system is modern, progressive, civilised, and liberates women from oppression. We need to therefore turn this debate on its head by explaining that through this constant attack on the Muslim woman’s dress, it is the secular system that has exposed its inherent flaws, contradictions, and oppressive, backward nature. It has shown itself to be founded upon an irrational and unpredictable ideology that denies human beings the basic desire to practice their deeply held religious beliefs, and where there is no permanency in rights - these can be discarded based upon the irrational fears and prejudice of the public or those who govern. It has shown that it is incapable of accommodating fully the religious faiths of different communities to create harmony within society and respect for all, and that it is an intellectually weak ideology that coerces
individuals to accept its beliefs through force of law, rather than force of argument. Furthermore, it has shown that it is full of contradictions – where dressing modestly is vilified and under some secular states criminalised, while sexualisation of the woman, promiscuity, and lewdness are celebrated. And it has shown itself to be an unjust and dangerous system where women can be stigmatised, discriminated against, and excluded from society simply for adopting a religious dress, and where politicians are allowed to engage in the dirty secular politics of inciting hatred and fear towards the culture of minorities to gain a few cheap votes, despite fuelling racism and sowing the seeds of division between communities while all the while shamelessly blaming a six inch piece of cloth for creating barriers and tensions within society. Alongside exposing the flaws of the manmade secular, liberal system, we should also explain how the ideology and system of Islam, carries the correct view and laws to protect the rights of religious minorities to establish harmony and good relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. In Islam, all citizens enjoy the same right to the protection of their life, property, honour, and religion, and it is not permissible for the State to discriminate between the people, rather it must view everyone with the same view regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender, or colour and treat all with equal fairness and justice. Under the Islamic rule of the Khilafah, non-Muslims are allowed to practice their religious worships without harassment, fear, coercion to change their beliefs, or state intervention or interference in their religious practices. Furthermore, any insults, mockery, or
SO, WE SHOULD TAKE THE DEBATE AWAY FROM THE NIQAB AND RAISE A DISCUSSION AS TO THE TYPE OF SYSTEM THAT CAN EFFECTIVELY SECURE THE RIGHTS AND GOOD TREATMENT OF MINORITIES... ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
demonization of their faith is prohibited. In addition, the rights of all citizens are fixed and not fluid, for legislation is not derived from the fickle, changeable minds of human beings but rather the Islamic texts which prohibit laws to be altered based on the whims of those who govern. Surely all this exemplifies the principles of a truly civilised, just, modern, and progressive system? So, we should take the debate away from the niqab and raise a discussion as to the type of system that can effectively secure the rights and good treatment of minorities, create harmony between different faith communities within a society, and organise the affairs of mankind effectively and with justice. Secondly, we need to dismantle misconceptions and challenge the false accusations that lead to negative views towards the niqab and the Muslim woman’s dress. For example, it is not the niqab that makes women invisible within society, but rather the demonization and bans of the Islamic dress under secular systems that either make Muslim women too scared to leave their homes, or excludes them from schools, employment, and society. In addition, it is not women covering their faces that is a cause of community division within Western states, its hysteria and attacks by secular politicians and media that carry racist undertones against the culture of minorities and hence creates suspicion between people, sometimes leading to conflict, as seen in the recent riots in France over its
niqab ban. Also, while some secularists promote the lie that Islam orders the woman to cover up because it views her as a temptress and a cause of corruption for society – an allegation that has NO basis in Islamic texts – in reality it is the Western capitalist system that actually markets the woman as a temptress, allowing businesses to exploit her feminine charms and sexualize her body for the sake of profit. Furthermore, how can a simple religious dress be labelled oppressive, while the restrictive, unrealistic templates of beauty relentlessly promoted by the beauty, fashion, and entertainment industries within capitalist liberal states be described as liberating? These are images that fuel eating disorders, pressure women to go under the knife in lifethreatening cosmetic procedures to fit the socalled ‘perfect body’, and cripple the self-esteem of young girls who are not able to meet these irrational beauty standards. All this is psychological oppression of women. And thirdly and importantly, we need to take this debate away from its focus on the Islamic dress and explain as mentioned above that this dress is part of a comprehensive set of rules that form the Islamic social system which regulates the relationship between men and women and achieves certain tangible, positive outcomes for society. This social system also includes the prohibition of the beautification of women in public life, and the prohibition of the objectification and sexualisation of women and society. It also does not permit an unrelated man and woman to be alone together, the socialising of unrelated men and women, and intimate relationships outside marriage, with harsh punishments prescribed for fornication or adultery. These laws direct the triggering and fulfilment of the sexual instinct away from public life and to marriage alone. All this protects the unity of the family unit and the rights of children who are born under the contract of marriage, knowing who their parents are and hence who are responsible for their provision, care and
upbringing. This Islamic social system also enables men and women to cooperate in education and in economic and political life, as well as for other important purposes within society in a manner that is productive and not cheapened or hindered through the sexualisation of this interaction. In addition, the prohibition of the objectification of women and the sexualisation of society prevents the creation of a dangerous environment that degrades women and exacerbates crimes such as violence, rape, or sexual harassment. However, all these laws will only materialise comprehensively under the rule of the Islamic Khilafah system that implements the entire Shariah laws upon the society. It is therefore not Islam that should be on trial, nor the Muslim woman’s dress, but the capitalist secular liberal system that rejects the idea that the relationship between men and women needs regulation, and consequently governs over an epidemic of broken families, child neglect, teenage pregnancies, single mothers, and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as grappling with high levels of rape, sexual harassment, and abuse of girls and women. So as Muslims, rather than allowing others to argue over a six inch piece of cloth, we need to raise the bar on this debate on the niqab. This is by raising robust arguments against the capitalist secular values and system, alongside presenting the sublime Islamic values, laws and system in a frank and comprehensive manner, as the alternative to organise the affairs of mankind and secure the rights of women “Who is better in speech than the one who calls (men) to Allah, works righteousness and says I am one of the Muslims.” [TMQ Fussilat: 33]
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
hizb.org.uk m a g a z i n e
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, Suite 301, 28 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3SS Tel: 07074 192 400 - www.hizb.org.uk - email@example.com