Sunday, 17 November 2013

But Religion Has Nothing To Do With It: Minarets are Political Symbols

As to the decision by Switzerland to ban minarets, I would like first of all to say that, in my years as a correspondent from Jerusalem, I had to bear the Muezzin’s call from a nearby mosque every night at 4 a.m., much before the cock crow. And nor far away from him came many other similar voices. However, I never thought that the Muezzin had to be silent. In his village, he does not sing to be heard also from me, but to call his followers to pray. This is religious freedom and Jerusalem gives it to everybody. Thinking that, down there, he was trying to convey a political message in addition to a religious one would mean to go well beyond what is legitimate for a person who is democratic, liberal and respectful of other people’s culture and religion.

Actually, except for some pathological cases, Islamophobia is an invention of the U.N. Indeed, in 2004, the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan officially defined it as the cause of frustration for many Muslims, without mentioning the rampant jihad and other huge problems. In fact, in most countries of origin and abroad, the official Islam has not accepted the universal declaration of human rights. But it has responded with other initiatives such as the Cairo Declaration, which states that “anyone has the right to support what is right and to warn against what is wrong and evil in line with the Islamic Sharia”.

The ultimate reason that led the Swiss to say no to new minarets is not poor respect for religious freedom. It is not even the loss of identity that is driving us – erroneously – to ask for the cross on our flag. It has nothing to do with this. There are many simple reasons of diffidence that prevent from wishing for the expansion of Islam. Nor should we imagine that this choice invites the Muslim to embrace extremism. There are indeed other reasons behind jihadism – that is fed only by itself and by its unflinching decision to convert the world. The Swiss watch the TV and are concerned: the Sharia leads to death sentences, to the hanging of homosexuals, to stoning people to death. In general, Islamic countries are ruled by dictatorships, the dissidents suffer, they die. The Christians are persecuted, let alone the Jews. The groups and the countries that cry their faith louder are also the most evident ones: certainly both Ahmadinejad's Iran and the Hezbollah, or Hamas or Al Qaida, represent negative, terrorist models.

Of course, the Islam is not all like this. But, let us talk about it. Let us thoroughly examine the problems without being accused of Islamophobia; we have a problem, either we solve it by looking at the Islamic immigration in its eyes, or soon this concern will turn into rejection. And the idea that the true Islam is elsewhere with respect to jihad is not able to placate these fears within the public opinion: there are few and rare instances in which a brave Islamic voice speaks to guarantee the respect for democracy, sexuality, converted individuals, dissidents. It is the politically correct denial that makes jihad prosper: in Switzerland, after the arrest of eight people who allegedly collaborated to some suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia, the reaction of the head of a local Muslim group was that “the problem is not the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, but the intesification of Islamophobia”. In the USA, the same happened after the Fort Hood incident.

It is forbidden to laugh for some cartoons that talk about Islam. It is forbidden to deal with the terrifying oppression of women, it is disgraceful to stress that there is an evident identification between the Islam and totalitarian regimes. It is horrible to raise the issue of honor killing, polygamy and of disfiguring women with acid that push us back in time (yes, many of these episodes result from tribal and not by religious habits, but please let us look at the geographical and sociological distribution of these episodes) and especially it is generic to speak about jihad... And then, since whatever is concrete is forbidden, the reaction is against the symbols of the Islam.

There are millions of mosques without minarets in Islamic countries. But if they are built close to churches, they are taller, more proud and powerful. The construction of an Islamic place of worship has a series of explicit secular meanings that always reiterate the holy competition of the Islam to conquer the world. Many mosques have been built on ancient Jewish and Christian temples.

A revolt against the politically correct on the Islam may occur anywhere and the trigger will not be religious intolerance: it does not belong to us or to Switzerland or to Europe.



Sunday, 10 November 2013

Just confused, the religion u trust??

The title of this article is an email we received from a reader. Below is the email that our editor sent to this person. 

We are against Islam not Muslims. Islam is an evil religion established by a con man.

We are against Hate not Faith.

So, as long as your faith is not Islam, you'll be okay. Have any faith you want other than Islam. We know that Islam is a big lie. Islam is the only religion where the founder made an enemy of all others, instead of preaching love and peace and treating the other as you would treat yourself.

You ask what religion I trust? I do not judge people by religion. People can be very religious, yet not very nice people. People can also be very religious, yet very nice people. Also, people can be atheists to the core, and be very nice people. They can be atheists and be very evil people too. What I am saying is don't look at people through the mirror of religion. Judge people according to the golden rule: Do they treat others as they would want to be treated. This golden rule is universal. It can be found in many religions, be it Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Baha'i,..etc.

In his "Sermon on the Mount" Jesus established Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness within the golden rule. He also made sure he treated the psychological aspects of human nature. When you get a chance, search the sermon on the mount and read its text. It is very inspiring to show we should live our lives. In Christianity, the golden rule is a leading measure for human affairs. Jesus was once asked about the greatest commandment. He answered that the greatest commandment is to love God deeply. Second to that is to love your neighbor as yourself. Isn't that beautiful?

Look what the founder of Baha'i faith said:
Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not.

Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.

Look what Buddhism teaches:
Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill

Look what Hinduism teaches:
One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.

Muhammad violated such rules on a daily basis. He taught his followers to do the same. He established desert piracy on a large scale. Any decent human being should expose the true nature of Islam and show Muhammad for what he is - a lowly thug and bandit .

I hope that I solved some of your confusion. I know I did not give you a complete answer as to what religion one should believe in. This is where you come in and read things and decide for yourself. Some people are happy without any religion, and they are super nice people and treat others with utmost care and love. All I am saying is that "Religion" should not be the lens we look at other people with. The key is avoid Islam at any cost, and you will be just fine.

Kind regards


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Are Minarets the ‘Bayonets of Islam’?

By M. A. Khan

In a public gathering in 1998, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the ruling Islamist party and current Prime Minister of Turkey,
recited: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers...

These words earned him a conviction and minor jail-term for inciting religious hatred.

Taken from Erdogan’s recitation or not, the phrase, minarets our bayonets, it appears, has caught the Swiss with alarm amidst its rising Muslim populations. In a referendum on Sunday, 29 November 2009, some 58% of Swiss voters backed a ban of minarets on mosque-tops in Switzerland on the ground that it’s a symbol of political domination in Islam, which threatens the secular nature of the Swiss society, since there is no separation of religion and politics in Islam.

The backing of the referendum—initiated by right-wing parties, but condemned by the government, major political parties, media and intellectuals, even outside of Switzerland—surprised observers, including initiators of the move, because opinion polls, days earlier, showed only 34% of the voters would back the motion.

Quite understandably, passing of the referendum has caused global uproar and flurry of condemnations. There has been threat of boycott of Swiss products by Islamic countries to hauling the Swiss government before the European Commission and the UN, because legislating the ban would amount to denial of freedom of religion to Muslims.

The backers of the move were quick to reassure Muslims of their religious freedom in Switzerland. Said one activist behind the move, “…this will in no way change their [Muslims’] right to practise their religion, to pray or to gather [in mosques]… However, society wants to put a safeguard on the political-legal wing of Islam, for which there is no separation between state and religion”.

While much has been said about the referendum, this article will focus on what minarets represent in Islam, religiously and historically. In other words: Are minarets a symbol of ‘political domination’ or the ‘bayonets’ of Islam?

Origin: Not at all Islamic but Christian      
Whatever it represents, the bayonet-shaped minarets have become a proud and exclusive symbol of Islam today. Yet, minarets are, fundamentally, neither Islamic nor an innovation of Islam.

Going back to Prophet Muhammad—who basically founded a monotheistic religion, Islam, for the Bedouin desert Arabs, never dreaming it would ever spread out of the Arab Peninsula—he himself had no conception of minarets; he would have duly rejected such sumptuous structures on mosque-tops or attached to them.

Fitting for a desert Prophet and the prevailing sociopolitical situation and institutions, Muhammad founded a creed, perfect for the underdeveloped desert Arab Bedouins. He opposed creating buildings on a grand scale, saying that “Truly the most unprofitable thing that eats the wealth of a believer is building” and that “Every expense of the believer will be rewarded except the expense of the building”.

And, despite founding a powerful Islamic state, poised to dominate the world in the next two decades, the two early mosques founded by Muhammad, one in Koba and the Prophet’s mosques in Medina, were simple structures until his death. Rain leaked through the roof of his ramshackle mosque in Medina. And when a companion asked if it should be repaired, Muhammad answered: “No, a mosque should be simple and modest, a booth, like the booth of Moses.”

Obviously, such structures, as approved by the prophet as mosques, could not even hold minarets on their tops. The idea of minarets never crossed Muhammad’s mind. And for eight decades after Muhammad’s death, minarets were not a part of mosques.

Minarets became a part of mosques in the period of the “Godless” Umayyad dynasty that came to power by ousting the Prophet’s grandson Hasan (661 CE), and later exterminating the Prophet’s offspring, including his other grandson Husayn, a pretender to the caliphate (Battle of Karbala, 680 CE). The Godless Umayyads first introduced the tradition of building gorgeous architectural and building structures, including elegant mosques, defying prior tradition and pious Islamic injunctions against it.

Umayyad Caliph al-Walid I (r. 695–715) was the first to introduce minarets to mosques, emulating the steeple, a bell-tower structure that was a feature of Christian churches. This move faced strong resistance from the pious, who objected to constructing anything higher than walls of the mosque. They also condemned the rulers for incorporating Christian symbols to sacred mosques.

Minarets have undergone refinement, becoming a gorgeous architectural symbol of Islam, but it is obviously not Islamic; in fact, it is anti-Islamic and borrowed from Christianity. It’s a Christian religious symbol in its originality. Even the term mosque, masjid in Arabic, is also usurped from Christianity; it is an Arabic rendering of the Aramaic term masgeda, then in Christian usage, meaning their ‘place of worship’.

What does a minaret represent?
To most observers, minarets would appear as a simple religio-architectural symbol, having nothing to do with ‘political power’, opposed to what Erdogan and the Swiss voters would have us believe. But minarets have a political dimension, at least, from the viewpoint of its origin and history.

After knocking out the world’s second-greatest power, Persia and capturing Central Asia and North Africa, the Umayyads—despite gaining considerable grounds in the Christian East and later in Spain—remained horn-locked in an impossible, and often disastrous, battle with Christian Byzantium as well as Christian Europe. For many centuries, the Christian world remained the enemy par excellence of Islam. Islam’s mission of global conquest, initiated by Muhammad, was persistently held back by Christian Europe, despite slowly losing grounds, before attaining supremacy over the Islamic Jihadis and beating them back, and even going on to capture most of the Islamic lands in the so-called Colonial Age.

Only after the Umayyads turned Islam into the master world-power, they started building imposing structures—initially in the form of sumptuous palaces, to which gorgeous mo mosques, minarets and mausoleums were added later on—all over the conquered lands (although clearly prohibited by Muhammad and the Quran) so as to declare the religious and political supremacy of Islam.

As concerns introduction of minarets, its beginning was, in fact, an act of borrowing the icon from Christian religious structures and using it to declare Islam’s supremacy over Christianity, the arch-enemy of Islam. And there was no better place of doing it than in Palestine, the holiest land of Christianity and the birthplace of Jesus. Here, al-Walid I, in 712, constructed first gorgeous mosque, the al-Aqsa mosque, fitted with a dome (of central Asian origin). The dome was constructed using remains of a destroyed church in Asia Minor. Thereafter, minarets began to be added on mosque-tops all over the world.

Hereon, wherever Muslims has gone, mosques, fitted with imposing domes and minarets, became the feature of all political centers of Islam, from India to Spain to Constantinople, declaring the supremacy of Islam and Muslims over non-Muslims. Indeed, building gorgeous mosques with minarets often became the first building initiative, which Islamic conquerors undertook in the newly conquered lands. For example, in India, the construction of the famed Quwat-al-Islam (Might of Islam) Mosque and the Qutb Minar (minaret) in Delhi were undertaken by Islamic conquerors in the 1190s, well before the founding of the permanent Muslim Sultanate in 1206.

Sky-piercing minarets, thus, became the familiar icon of the seats of Islamic power throughout history. Istanbul—the captured heartland of eastern Christianity Constantinople, which became the indomitable powerhouse of the Islamic Ottomans that terrorized Christian Europe for centuries—is also dotted the world’s finest minarets, an indication of what Istanbul stood for in the Islamic world. Erdogan, a well-versed Islamist ideologue, could hardly be wrong: Minarets are the ‘bayonets’, the symbol of Islam’s power.

Minarets represent a declaration not only of ‘who is in power’, but also of the supremacy of the Islamic creed. It is from here the residents, Muslim or non-Muslim, would be reminded, one likes it or not, in ear-blaring loudness five times a day that Islam is in power, that Islam calls the shot, that Islam is your ultimate choice. It’s not only a call to prayer to the faithful, but also a call to the infidels for the submission to Islam, five times daily, however irritating it may be.

If one has traveled in Asia, he/she would find that, even in the predominantly infidel cities in India, in Singapore, where Islam has been dislodged from power, thanks to British colonial interventions to some extent, but the people, overwhelmingly non-Muslim, must have to bear with the reminder for submission to Islam five times a day, including the most irritating wee-hour call to prayer.

Islamic power has gone from these lands, but the symbol remains. And, given the high breeding rates amongst Muslims, it also amounts to sign of the things to come again: absence of Islam’s hold on power in these lands is not permanent.

The Swiss minaret ban has drawn epithets such as shame, disgrace, Swiss racism, victory of Islamophobia, illiberal decision and so on for the nation. But the Swiss have obviously got it right in taking Erdogan’s message seriously: Minarets are Islam’s symbol of political domination.

Muslims are the fastest-rising populations in Western countries, with increasing Islamic orthodoxy and radicalism. The Islamic world, somewhat secularized in the Colonial Age and by the western influence of socialism/communism in the early 20th century, is witnessing increasing political integration of Islam, too. It is people like Erdogans, who want to turn minarets into bayonets of Islam, get unrivalled political backing from Muslims. Given these fact, the Swiss, indeed the wider secular West, has much to ponder when those lands are poised to witness Muslim dominance in a century, if not in a half.

Muslim immigrants in Europe today may acquiesce to not using minarets for ear-blaring calls to prayers five times a day as the Swiss Muslims have promised. But that’s what is minarets are meant for, and they would be bidding for time: first for being able to use minarets for the loud calls to prayer, and eventually for turning them into the bayonets of Islam by introducing Sharia in the West, something they have been strenuously striving for even at this stage.

M. A. Khan is author of
Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism and Slavery, and the editor of