This Sunday Muslims in the North America are going to celebrate their Eid-ul-Fitr after a month of fasting. Many parts of the world will celebrate the Eid later based on local citing of the crescent moon.
This Ramadan, like some other previous ones in recent years, has not been trouble-free for many Muslims, esp. for those living in war ravaged countries. They had to run for their lives away from harm’s way, and many are living in refugee camps as they fled from war. The lives of ordinary Muslims, esp. the Rohingya, in Buddhist-majority Myanmar have not improved an iota despite overwhelming worldwide condemnation of Suu Kyi and her government’s handling of on-going genocidal activities against them.
Just hear a 11-year old Rohingya Muslim girl’s story as told to Ilona Alexander of the United Nations. “Her father went into hiding from the military and took her two older sisters with him so that they would be safe. He left the girl at home with her mother and two little brothers because he thought the military wouldn’t hurt children. The military came back to their house twice. The first time, the military came and removed her clothing and kicked her. After the clothing was removed and the girl was beaten, the military suddenly left. The next day they returned with seven soldiers and removed the mother from the house. The soldiers locked themselves in a room with the girl and gang raped her.
The girl told me that she doesn’t even know how many of them raped her because she fell unconscious at times and awoke bleeding and injured after.”
More than half of Rohingya refugee women who were interviewed by the UN reported being raped. The actual numbers are higher. Think of how many nameless 11-year-olds are silently living with this trauma with no access to health and psychological care. Their plight doesn’t end there, they are still vulnerable to exploitation in the refugee camps, where 80% of refugees are women and children. The Rohingyas continue to face extinction while Suu Kyi denies any charges. What a joke the Nobel peace prize has become because of moral depravity of people like Suu Kyi!
The criminal outfit Daesh (IS) is still active in Iraq and Syria, trying to hold on to their rapidly shrinking territories. Some of their supporters, comprised of the ‘losers’ in both the worlds (here in this world and the hereafter), living in the western countries have tried to kill and/or get killed in their nihilistic attacks. [As can be seen, here, I agree with President Trump in calling these ragtag fighters for the cause of Daesh as losers because nothing can describe them better. Before joining the Daesh and/or purporting to be its brain-washed foot-soldiers they have been mostly losers in life with no direction. They did neither know Islam nor cared about its do’s and don’ts.] To them, anyone who did not agree with their nihilistic goals is a fair game. To them, the vast corpus of hadith literature and Qur’anic dictums forbidding committing fitnah and fasad, let alone suicide attacks, have no meanings. With powerful messaging and videos, nonetheless, they continue to recruit many brain-dead individuals to their nihilistic causes. Thus, the lives of many people – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – have been threatened by these losers.
We are told by the Saudi Interior Ministry that a terrorist network intended to violate the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth. Security authorities confirmed that the attacker blew himself up when surrounded by security men. They also confirmed that before the incident, security men, on Friday morning, had arrested a wanted criminal at a house in Al-Asilah neighborhood in east Makkah. The criminal led authorities to the location of the terrorist in Ajyad Al-Masafi neighborhood, behind Al-Safwa Hotel. Another terrorist was arrested in Jeddah. Last July, a terrorist blew himself up near the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. Suicide attacks also occurred in Jeddah and Qatif that month.
Just imagine their audacity and the criminal intent! Which Muslim would ever dare to commit such a grievous crime in either Makkah or Madinah that house two of the most visited mosques in our planet? Still these criminals try to sell their identity as Islamic! What a perversion of faith in the hands of extremists and what a joke!
Equally problematic has been the emergence of non-Muslim vigilantes and terrorist outfits that are trying to kill anyone who looks like a Muslim. Muslims have been stabbed, shot at and mowed over by speeding vehicles. In London, the attacker who killed a Muslim and injured many near a mosque — identified as Darren Osborne, a white 47-year-old man — was said to have screamed “I want to kill more Muslims” before being confronted and handed over unharmed by Muslim bystanders to the police.
President Trump who has been rushing messages when groups like the Daesh are suspected to be involved is regrettably silent when Muslims are victims. Don’t forget that early in his tenure, Trump was publicly quiet after a white supremacist shot up a mosque in Quebec City. Such double standards from Trump should not surprise anyone.
As recently noted in the Washington Post by Ishaan Tharoor, “Trump campaigned on anti-Muslim demagoguery and has since sought to implement edicts that many analysts (and some federal courts) consider discriminatory toward Muslims. His administration enlisted senior advisers who don’t see Islam as a real religion.”
This year, bucking an annual tradition that stretches back to 1996 — and by other accounts, more than two centuries — the White House did not host an iftar dinner to commemorate Ramadan. “The absence of such an event now speaks volumes — louder, perhaps, than Trump’s supposed overtures to the Muslim world while visiting Saudi Arabia last month. Even then, Trump made no mention of the millions of Muslims in his own country and avoided talk of the rich achievements of Islamic empires when extolling the greatness of the Middle East’s history. The inference one is compelled to make is that the president has a callous disinterest in the successes of Muslims and is almost exclusively animated by their perceived misdeeds,” Tharoor writes.
Attacks on Muslims in the West does not and did not occur in vacuum. Years of anti-Muslim headlines in tabloid newspapers and Fox TV channels (many owned by Rupert Murdoch), combined with toxic Islamophobia that Muslims are here to impose Shariah and force western women to wear burqa – preached by hate groups like Jihad Watch, Stop Islamization of Europe, Stop Islamization of America – had prepared the groundwork for not only fundamentally dehumanizing Muslim communities living in the West but also providing the necessary ammunitions needed for committing terrorist crimes – against Muslims. [Of course, such heinous crimes are depicted here as only hate crimes and not terrorism (as if the terrorism is synonymous with Muslims).] The Trump White House even includes some of the hateful, anti-Muslim provocateurs.
Trump’s trip to the Middle East has also divided the GCC (seen more as a Gulf Coercive or Conspiracy, and not a Cooperative, Council today) and the Arab world; such a fissure is bound to enrich all those connected with the military industrial complex. Relations with the progressive Qatar by its regressive Arab neighbors have been severed, who have demanded (among 13 outrageous, sovereignty-threatening demands) that Qatar stop Al Jazeera TV network from operating, severe ties with Iran and close the Turkish military base inside Qatar.
Free press has been a threat everywhere to despotic rulers. The latter see it as a mortal challenge to their unbridled authoritarianism. Even in the ‘liberal’ western democracies like the USA, Trump administration has been very hostile to the free press, calling it (all but the Fox News) the ‘fake news’ outlets. So, when it comes to countries that are not even ‘illiberal’ (forget about being liberal) democracies and are, instead, ruled by despots, autocrats, kings and monarchs, one can understand why they want to see Al-Jazeera – the most trusted news media in the world (and not just the Middle East) – shut down.
Thanks to the generous seed money provided by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, Al Jazeera has been a Godsend bringing to the fore the dirty secrets, excesses and abuses of the unpopular regimes and images of depravation and suffering of the ordinary Arabs in that part of the world. Its reporting from the besieged Gaza and bombed-out, mass-murdering fields and streets inside Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush II era have made it an unsubdued foe of the apartheid state of Israel and its powerful patron – the USA government. [No wonder that the American air raids repeatedly targeted Al Jazeera stations in war-torn countries, even jailing (and inducing such in client or friendly states) its reporters on false charges. In 2003, an Al Jazeera staff member was killed and three other employees were wounded by an American airstrike during the U.S. push into Baghdad.
Donald Rumsfeld did not like Al Jazeera coverage on high casualty figures of civilians.] Its real-time coverages of the Arab Spring gave voice to criticisms of autocratic governments in a region where such talk was largely out of bounds. [The network’s coverage of the anti-military popular movement in Egypt quickly drew the attention of the new usurper government of El-Sisi, which in 2014 arrested three journalists working for the outlet’s English-language division. Its journalist Mahmoud Hussein remains detained since December 20, 2016 after traveling to Cairo for a holiday.]
All those unpopular, criminal regimes obviously prefer Al Jazeera to simply disappear. They love the status quo; no toppling of their hated regimes, no revolutions that could kill them!
In our time when no opinion of a pundit is 100% unbiased, Al Jazeera, to its credit, has remained reasonably neutral and objective, thus enjoying much admiration all over the globe. So, we can understand why Saudi Arabia and its Gulf partners – all patrons of the extremist Wahabi brand of Islam that morphed monsters like the Daesh – want moderately Salafi state of Qatar to close the only free press in that part of the world.
We can also understand why the US President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on Qatar, accusing it falsely of being a “high level” sponsor of terrorism. He obviously wants to kill more than one bird with that crisis!
Turkey has backed, and rightfully so, Qatar during the three-week-old crisis. It sent its first ship carrying food aid to Qatar and dispatched a small contingent of soldiers and armoured vehicles there on Thursday, while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Saudi Arabia’s leaders on calming tension in the region.
We surely live in a difficult time where state despotism is becoming a new normal almost everywhere where the ruling class feels that they can do whatever they like, whether those ruled like it or not; they are there to stay forever. They are a remorseless bunch totally oblivious of their accountability before God on the Day of Resurrection.
The ultimate objective of fasting during the month of Ramadan is to create that God-consciousness (taqwa), which elevates a person to become a real human being that is mindful of its deeds and accountability. If this Ramadan has failed in awakening that nourishing spirit, the coming days will only be more painful. May Allah help us all to be conscious of Him in everything we do!