Like millions around the world, I grieve in solidarity with Turkey. A place that played a key part in my personal religious journey is suffering again — this time in Islam’s holiest month. Turkey, home of the majestic Blue Mosque, and resting place of the great Muslim love poet Mevlana Rumi, is now under monthly terror attacks.
The suicide bombings at Istanbul airport this week were only the latest.
Denouncing the terrorism that has befallen Turkey is not a sufficient response to the depth of the challenge the country now faces. Too often, our headlines and concerns are only about the spilling of blood and the lives lost.… Seguir leyendo »
This month, former Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsy was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court. More trials and harsh sentences are expected. Today, more than 40,000 Islamists are in prison in Egypt.
«In Egypt, we have now broken the back of the Muslim Brotherhood,» a senior government official there told me recently. Part of me wishes he were right.
At times, I have felt only contempt for Islamists such as the Brotherhood. They have politicized my religion and made ordinary Muslims the sacrificial fodder of their self-serving plots and protests across the Arab world.
Last month, an adviser to Morsy, Gehad El-Haddad, was sentenced to life in prison.… Seguir leyendo »
Along with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.
Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency.… Seguir leyendo »
«Who do you want to see?» asked the Salafi Jihadists holding their AK-47s at the gate.
«Hamas leaders,» I replied.
«Why Hamas? Why not our Jihadi brothers?» the guard asked.
«Well, Hamas are in government in Gaza.»
«They won’t be in future,» he responded. «They have sold out and become agents of the Israelis, and in years to come we will govern Gaza. Be sure to meet our brothers here in the camp, too.»
The guard then gave me directions to a safe house where someone could take me to Hamas.
This was last summer. I was visiting a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut for book research.… Seguir leyendo »
I have been waiting for two weeks now for someone to explain the deeper meaning of the “Caliph” from Mosul’s Arabic message for Muslims around the world. His appearance on Friday 4th July might have coincided with America’s Independence Day, but his sermon was not written for Westerners. He aimed at Muslims with both his words and his deeds.
Here are seven points of religious symbolism from his sermon that resonated deeply among observant Muslims, but were missed by most outsiders who looked on aghast at Ibrahim al-Baghdadi’s triumphalism:
1. He ascended the minbar (pulpit) slowly, deliberately climbing one step at a time.… Seguir leyendo »
I am sorry to spoil the party, but the caliphate fantasy being peddled by Isis in Iraq and Syria is not of importance to most Muslims around the world. When I read western newspapers, I sense an urgency and significance that is out of sync with reality.
Isis may take pride in its ragtag army, commanding what it calls a caliphate, but no Muslim scholar worth his salt has supported this entity. Even Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a major Jihadi cleric, has rejected the group’s experiment. No Muslim government has recognised it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (now calling himself “Caliph Ibrahim”) this week invited Muslims to migrate to his war zone, a call given prominent coverage by most Western news outlets, but the fact that most Muslims ignored his invitation went unnoticed.… Seguir leyendo »
Egypt is aflame again. After seven weeks of warning of an imminent clampdown against sit-ins in support of deposed President Mohammed Morsy, the unelected and military-backed government is besieging civilian crowds to allegedly «restore democracy.» Emotions are running high on both sides. Dialogue and negotiations are seen as weaknesses. Military might and forceful clearing of Egypt’s public squares will not solve the country’s deep political problems. The solution is with Morsy.
For the large numbers of Egyptians who protested in the heat while starving during the Ramadan month of fasting, Morsy remains the legitimate president of Egypt. And the violent and deadly clashes between security forces and protesters in Cairo will continue and many more lives will be lost unless we recognize and address this basic grievance.… Seguir leyendo »
Full disclosure: I am not a fan of the Muslim Brotherhood. I oppose their politicization of my religion. I take comfort in the fact that millions of Egyptian Muslims are protesting against the ideology and policies of a government led by a Muslim Brotherhood president. Islamism is being roundly rejected by ordinary Arab Muslims. That’s the good news. But there is bad news, too.
My Egyptian friends may not wish to admit this, but their country is home to a modern experiment. It was Egypt in 1928 that gave birth to the Muslim Brotherhood. It was successive Egyptian military rulers who arrested, tortured, killed and exiled thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood.… Seguir leyendo »
On Jerusalem’s ancient walls hung old fans that made a rattling, windy noise. There was no money for air-conditioning. The carpet for worshipers was old and ragged. I was inside one of the world’s most significant buildings, but scaffolding and clutter prevented me from seeing the center of the Dome of the Rock.
Water leaks, disheveled shoe shelves, and unclean antique tiles brought a sense of disharmony to Islam’s third most sacred site. No, this was not the fault of the Jews or the West, but we Muslims who claim to fight daily for “liberating Jerusalem” and yet neglect the very heart of this city.… Seguir leyendo »
“Obama, Obama, we are all Osama” the crowd chanted outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11. The slogan also found its way to Tunis, where a mob attacked the embassy as well, and the chant was taken up in Qatar and other Muslim countries.
Why? What happened to the liberal youth of the Arab world in whom we invested our hopes and support? Why are Muslims so sensitive, so easily offended; why do some so readily resort to violence?
The liberal protesters who demanded freedom and democracy last year were able to unite and overthrow dictators in Tunisia and Egypt.… Seguir leyendo »
When I was invited to visit Bahrain by members of the royal family, I hesitated. They had crushed peaceful protesters last year, and their police had used tear gas against human rights activists. Like everybody else, including some of the Bahraini policemen I later spoke with, I was appalled at the violence and thought the monarchy had blood on its hands. But I felt that declining the offer was irresponsible. I wanted to know the monarchy’s side of the story. So I accepted the invitation — on the condition that I was free to meet Bahrain’s opposition.
Bahrain is a tiny island nation of 600,000 citizens, with a Parliament of only 40 members, and it cannot be understood if looked at in isolation.… Seguir leyendo »
Am I allowed to wear a necktie? I was a 17-year-old Muslim growing up in England in the early 1990s, and questions like this dominated my daily life. Born and raised in London, I was British. But my parents were from India, and I looked different: brown skin, black hair. At the same time, thousands of blond, blue-eyed Europeans were being killed for being Muslim in Bosnia.
During that teenage identity crisis, an older friend I met at a mosque gave me a magazine with a picture of an Egyptian imam from the 1940s, wearing a tie and jacket, albeit with a traditional fez!… Seguir leyendo »
The Post asked experts what America should do about unrest in the Middle East. Below are responses from Steven Heydemann, Stephen J. Hadley, Aaron David Miller, Danielle Pletka, Hussein Agha, Robert Malley, Marina Ottaway, Andrew Albertson and Ed Husain.
Arab regimes are reeling from the aftershocks of events in Tunisia. Governments in Egypt and Yemen are the focus of mass protests expressing the anger that many Arab citizens feel toward their leaders. Surprises are possible, but it is most likely that the Egyptian and Yemeni regimes will survive these «days of rage.»
After the truncheons have done their work, what are U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
As a child, I was unsure if I belonged to Britain, India – or both, or neither. In the day I went to a multifaith, multi-ethnic state school in the East End of London. At school I was taught to question, think and see all religions equally. In the evenings, I attended Koran schools at a mosque on Brick Lane where I was forced to learn to read Arabic, but not to understand meanings of words. I was not allowed to question, but simply to bob to and fro and learn Arabic prayers without understanding. All our teachers were elderly Asian immigrant men, and we were not allowed to mix with girls.… Seguir leyendo »