Reflections of an American Muslim
|THE CRISIS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD AND THE RESPONSE OF AMERICAN MUSLIMS|
|Written by Dr. Shahid Athar|
Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] had said, "The nations will gather against you like those who are invited to a feast while they are starving." The companions asked, "Is this going to occur when we will be few in number?" The messenger of God (PBUH) replied "No, you will be in large numbers, but you will be like the foam, that floats on the ocean. Your enemies will no longer fear you. The wahm will be in your heart." They asked what is wahm? He replied, "The love of this life and fear of death."
Let me first explain the magnitude of the problem. While it is true that Muslims are one billion in number, I believe there are too many zeros in that billion. While it is true that there are 52 independent countries, they are subservient to those who gave them independence. While it is tirue that Muslims control half of the world's oil fields and 40 percent of natural resources, that money is being used for the West. While it is true that some of the richest people on earth are Muslims, yet most of the Muslims live in poverty and below the standard of human dignity. There are 20 million refugees in the world who are homeless, driven out from their own land, and 80-percent of them are Muslims. Since 1979, from the invasion of the Red Army to Afghanistan until now in 1993, 1 have figured that at least 5 million Muslims have given their lives in all of the wars and catastrophes which have been imposed on them. That includes close to 1.5 million in Afghanistan and close to I million in the Iran-Iraq war, a war which was imposed on Iran by Saddam Hussein, then the friend of the West, close to one-half million in the Iraq and U.S. war, or what is called, "Operation Desert Storm" and another large portion in the present who are in former Yugoslavia. Of these 52 Muslim countries, they have a total of 4 million superbly trained armies but these governments and their armies are busy fighting Islam in their own country; therefore, they have no real power to fight the enemies of Islam.
Let us examine the weapons and tactics of our enemies. After nearly 200 years of colonization and ransacking of Muslim countries and steal ing their diamonds and natural resources and subjugating them to all kinds of oppression, they have been given so-called independence. However, with the independence comes the revival of Islam and also the liberation for Muslims in the former colonial powers. Thus, in order to defame Islam and Muslims, we have been labeled terrorists, hostage takers, hijackers and backward people. If you look at the world, it appears that Muslims are victims of the state-controlled terrorism as you see in Israel and former Yugoslavia rather than those who are terrorists themselves. The problem of terrorism is not of the religions but rather a strug- gle between those who have not and those who are oppressed and those who are oppressors. Thus you will see that there is a lot of violence in many countries where there is no Muslim presence. Looking at their own history, it was not Muslims who started or maintained the Second World War. These people who love blood killed nearly 20 million people in the Second World War and another 4 million people in the Vietnam War and you see in Korea, South Africa, South America and in Ireland, there is a lot of violence and bloodshed where there is no Muslim involvement.
While they have accused Muslims of spreading Islam by the sword, the sword never reached in most of the countries which have 90-percent Muslim population like Indonesia or many parts of Africa. They themselves have used the latest weapons to annihilate or destroy Muslim pop- ulations including the use of chemical bombs, cluster-bombs, Tomahawk missiles, all kinds of weapons as they have been used in Operation Desert Ston-n. While they accuse Muslims of making Islamic bombs, they themselves are the ones who have used two atom bombs to destroy two cities in Japan and killed close to a million people.
They have used and are using food as a weapon as one sees in Somalia, Iraq, Eriteria and in Sudan where close to four million people have died in the last several years. They have used water as a weapon as one sees the water problem in Jordan and Israel Muslims are not known to run any concentration camps and cause genocide but they have done it to themselves in the Second World War and now they are doing this is former Yugoslavia. Now, according to the reports by Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights, the mass rapes which are happening in Bosnia and in India are not just a male instinct or occasional incident by certain army soldiers. They are using this for what they call, "ethnic cleansing." This should be better described as "ethnic pollution" since those people are very proud of their heritage and of their purity. In order to destroy their honor and heritage, it became necessary for them to pollute them by raping their women and impregnating them. In Bosnia alone, close to 50,000 women have been raped out of which 35,000 became pregnant. After raping these women many, many times, they were not allowed to leave these concentration camps until they became pregnant and pregnancy reached the later state that abortion could not take place. This has all been published from a report published recently in Newsweek and also reported by Physicians for Human Rights which sent a team to investigate the war crimes. In their desire to subjugate and humiliate Muslims forever, the forces of the West and of Israel and the Jews and Hindus have combined under the umbrella of the United Nations. God says in Quran,, "When it is told to them, 'Do not make mischief on the earth,' they say, 'We are peace makers only.' They are indeed the mischief makers, but they perceive it not" (2:12). Thus under the pretext of making peace, UN forces are indirectly or directly sometimes supporting the oppressors in Bosnia and elsewhere.
Now let us see what the real reason is behind what is happening in all these places of trouble. The reason there are Muslims in Bosnia and surrounding states is not because of forceful conversion by the Ottoman army. In fact, the Ottoman army was invited to make peace between the warring factions of the Roman Empire and Eastern Orthodox in the 13th to the 14th century. Subsequently, many of the Ottoman army soldiers settled down and it is through their conduct and invitation that many of the local residents accepted Islam. There are close to 4 million Muslims in that area; however, now they are being driven out from their own land and close to 200,000 have been killed and 400,000 have been injured in the war in Bosnia. The Muslims of Albania and other neighboring states are under direct threat from Serbian forces. What is happening there is the worst fear of having a Muslim state in Bosnia. One of the Serb leaders in Kosovo has said that we are fighting this war to save Europe from Islam.
In aresearch document presented to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it was pointed out that these researchers thought that at least 65 percent of Muslims in Europe are invovled in Islamic activities and thus a threat to the West. After Serbia has occupied 70 percent of Bosnia. To enforce the Vance/Owen peace plan on Bosnia is to accept the status quo of the land which has been grabbed by Serbs and in fact, dividing with them what they got illegally and also not questioning their war crimes and their murder, rape, and concentration camps, etc.
Now let us change our direction to Somalia. What happened in Somalia, which was colonized by British and Italians after the Second World War , is the direct result of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union. They both dumped weapons and encouraged sections to fight each other. A well-known dictator, Said barre, was installed just like Marcos in the Philippines who ruled with an fist for twenty years under the protection of the United States and when the Soviet empire fell, there were a lot of weapons left in the country and that is how the infighting started between the tribal forces and secular forces as well as Islamic forces. Close to 1 1/2 million people have already died of starvation and another two million are starving. So this peacekeeping and humanitarian effort was started but as published in a newspaper recently, the real reason behind such humanitarian effort was something different and these were: 1) oil has been found in Somalia and it will become a state like Kuwait in terms of its oil capacity and production and 2) there is a strong tendency in Sudan for making an Islamic state and in order to contain that Islamic government in Sudan and also to punish Libya who are the neighbors of Somalia, a force has to be there to do so. So from the strategic location of Somalia, the forces which will be there will be able to control not only Sudan, Egypt, Ethopia, and Libya, but Oman and Saudi Arabia will also be able to direct and control the flow of oils and weapons to and from Iran. The acting U.N. Secretary General has been urging the United States to disarm the Islamic forces in Somalia and also later on in Sudan where just recently the Pope visited and gave his ultimatum.
Now let us turn to India where close to 120 million people are Muslim. Such a large number, which is twice the population of France and nearly half the population of the United States, cannot and should not be considered a minority. However, the majority is five times more. Thus, the Hindus had developed a plan for their own ethnic cleansing. They accused Muslims of being the invaders although the Aryans themselves were the invaders in India. Thus the recent drives in which the his- toric Babri mosque was destroyed by militant Hindus and there were close to an additional 20 or more mosques elsewhere which have been destroyed in India. Close to 10,000 Muslims have been killed and thousands of Muslim women have been raped. India's secular status and non- violence is totally exposed to everyone. Historically, Hindus have blamed Pakistan for all of their problems but the Babri mosque was not destroyed by Pakistani agents nor in Bombay were the Muslims killed by Pakistani police.
To get rid of such a large population of Muslims in India, it would be difficult but not totally impossible. The Muslims are being given a choice -either you become Hindu or you die or you leave the country. Some Muslims are bowing to these pressures. They have begun to be assimilated in the melting pot. Inter-religious marriages are becoming common in India and there are many secular and Communist Muslims. Urdu became a victim or oppression and thus a lot of Islamic history and culture and values were lost by the new generation of Indian Muslims by losing Urdu. India's desire to occupy and brutalize the people of Kashmir, where the Muslims constitute the majority, has been present for the last 5 decades. All the human rights organizations in the world have confirmed the atrocities of burning houses and killing people and raping women in Kashmir because the people of Kashmir wanted their own state. The West's double policy of granting and supporting independent democratic states in eastern Europe and in Russia does not apply when it comes to Kashmir. Thus the weak and innocent people of Kashmir are suffering and continue to bleed until the help from God comes.
What about Iraq? Iraq as the former seat of the Caliphate was always a sore eye in the eyes of the West and a crusade could not have been completed without destroying Baghdad. Thus, first the Iraq-Iran war was started in which close to $5 billion of Muslim money was used to make them fight each other and kill close to a million people and then Iraq would not be kept alive as a threat to Israel or other countries; therefore, it has to be destroyed itself. Thus with the help of Muslim rulers and Muslim money, close to $632 billion, the destruction of Iraq was accomplished Again Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights have extensively described the damage done to civilians in this war. Close to 200,000 soldiers died but more than that were the civilians in the city, especially the children who were the target and 90-percent fell on hospitals, homes and bridges and then to complete the suffocation, total economic blockage took place to bring down the Iraqi people to their knees. At this moment, Iraq has unofficially been divided into 3 portions. The southern portion, where there is a no-fly zone, is totally controlled by the U.S. which still has a presence of 20,000 troops and 100 combat aircraft and another portion which is kept as a buffer zone between Turkey and central Iraq. This zone was created to help so-called Kurdish people but is actually to subjugate them from Turkey. They have frozen all of Iraq's assets which are close to $50 billion just like they froze $30 billion of Iran's assets in the western bank as a means to reduce the $1 trillion deficit.
What about Israel? It was created as an illegitimate child in the heart of a Muslim country in order to serve as a police state and an extension of the West's arms policy. It is being given close to $5 billion a year in military aid so that it will develop weapons and test on Muslim land and flesh. Human rights violations in Israel are of no concern to the West. Israel deported 450 Muslim Palestinians to a no-man's land. These people were born in Israel and they are university professors, doctors, and other intellectuals in no way linked to the PLO or any other terrorist organizations. In the Intifada, close to 5,000 young boys and girls and children died by so-called rubber bullets of Israelis for the crime of throwing stones. The Palestinians who have been living in tents for the last 40 years are living under subhuman conditions with no education, very little water, very little food and torture. Their human rights are not considered to speak of. In 1992, reports by Amnesty International have outlined very well the human rights violations by Israel in Palestine.
What about the southern Russian Muslim Republics? After the breakup of the Soviet Union, six Muslim republics were created of which Tajikistan is in the worst shape right now as Communists are fighting the democratic movement soon after the creation of the republics. The U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Baker, was sent to tell them they should never support any Islamic movement in those countries nor should they try to be friends with neighboring countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. Thus, the Communists in Tajikistan were encouraged to kill their own people. 100,000 of them have now migrated to Afghanistan and many died on the way. The Russian Army along with Uzbek forces have been doing the same there which the Serbs are doing in former Yugoslavia. The only difference is that in Western papers, you don't hear much about these things because the sufferers are Muslims.
What about Burma? Muslims have lived since the 17th century in large areas of Burma joining what is now Bangladesh and have enjoyed a rich culture and governed themselves for 350 years. However, now the Buddhists who are the majority in Burma were encouraged to call the Muslims invaders and they are now being persecuted and being killed and being deported to neighboring Bangladesh. Again, these Muslims, like the Muslims of the former Yugoslavia, or Kashmir, are not being persecuted there because they are terrorists or members of the PLO but they want to identify themselves as Muslims and lead a life of Muslim as ordained to them.
So they are being persecuted and we hardly hear much in the Western reports because there is no oil in that section of Burma just like Bosnia is Kuwait without oil fields. In Indonesia, Muslims are in the majority. The real rulers are secular Western dictators like Suhardo or his Christian associate, General Madni. Thus, with the encouragement of the United States and Church leaders including the Pope who has visited there, while Islam is being suppressed, Christianity is being encouraged to flourish. It is a real threat that in a few years, the population of Java will be changed to become a Muslim minority.
Now I want to turn your attention to that state of Islamic movements in Muslim countries. We cannot blame the Hindus, Christians and Jews for all of the sufferings of Muslims. We have to assume some responsibility ourselves too. Islamic movements in Muslim countries are being persecuted under the direction of the secular governments installed by the former colonial powers. Thus, in Turkey, we see that the government is doing its best to fight the Islamic revival and prosecuting Muslims in large numbers. It has also, for years, been oppressing the people of the Kurdish area. No wonder that since Turkey is engaging fighting Islam, it cannot use its forces to fight for Islam. Wearing the modest dress is banned for Muslim women in Turkey if they are attending universities. In Algeria, 82-percent of the people voted in October 1991 to elect an Islamic government. In Saudi Arabia, many many Muslims, and especially Islamic scholars and ulama, are being persecuted and put in jail for opposing the introduction of foreign troops on that soil in the Operation Desert Storm. In Syria, the secular government has been fighting Islamic brotherhood and has now come to some kind of compromise to share power with them. In Egypt, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak all were and have been engaged for the last 40 years in crushing the Islamic revival and movement while encouraging leftist and secular Muslims. Special torture cells and prisons were created in which Muslim brotherhood members were tortured for many years some of them I know personally. By encouraging Coptic Christians, Egypt is on the verge of breaking into a northern Christian and a southern Muslim state. Similarly, both in Morocco and Tunisia, it is dangerous to be identified as a practicing Muslim. Islamic movements are banned while the Jews and secular Muslims are in power.
Under these circumstances, what should be the role of American Muslims? We are a number close to 6 million in this country. We have the most educated Muslims of the world gathered here and it is true that we can practice Islam better in this land of freedom than many Muslims can do in their own country. Thus we have an obligation to establish Islam here.
First of all, this crisis in the Muslim world has renewed a new awakening among us to be aware of the sufferings of Muslims all over. We have to learn to recognize our enemy, the enemy outside our ranks and enemies within our ranks. We have to learn that God's help will not come unless we fix ourselves first. Our first agenda should be to establish Islam in our own self and in our family and in our community where we live.
Establishing Islam to me does not necessarily mean memorizing verses of the Quran or just performing the daily prescribed prayers, but it is a comprehensive idea to include the tools of survival which are our physical well-being, a spiritual and moral well-being, economic strength, educational pursuit, and political expression. We cannot live in a shell or in a closet or preach Islam from the top of a mimbar nor should we come down to the foot of the hill in order to melt in the melting pot. We have to identify ourselves as Americans while Muslims by the way of life.
We have to share the sufferings and the concerns of all Americans irrespective of their color or religious background. We have to be part of the mainstream political process to become a voter and express ourselves. We should be able to educate fellow Americans about the sufferings of Muslims in Muslim countries and Muslim minorities in non-Muslim countries and be able to explain why they are being oppressed. We also need to express our solidarity with Muslims in Muslim countries in a justifiable cause. This support we can give in our speeches and writings by monetary and other means. We should join in hands with human rights organizations in this country and form also an independent American- Muslim human rights organization to monitor the human rights violations in Muslim countries. We should coordinate our efforts to have a better impact rather than a hundred different organizations doing the same thing.
Finally, we should send a message to the oppressors that the Muslims of this country will not tolerate what is happening the Muslims in Bosnia, Kashmir, Somalia, and all Muslim countries that we cannot conduct business with oppressors, be Hindu, Jew, or Serb, in a normal relationship unless they stop oppressing our people. Most importantly, we should trust in God as He has directed to us in the Quran. God says, "If God is your helper, no one can overcome you and if He withdraws His help from you, who is there to help you, in God do find believers put their trust" (3:160).
Brothers and sisters, be aware that we are not the chosen people. If we do not do our job right, then God will choose someone else to do this job. He says in the Quran, "God is free of all wants and it is you that are needy. If you turn back from the path, He will substitute in your stead another people, then there would not be likes of you (timid and weak hearted)" (47:38). None of these things we can do either in this country or elsewhere unless we have unity among them ourselves and the only criteria for such unity is that we are believers who are conscious of God.