IRAQ Illusions of Victory Back into the Stone Age

Bombing Iraq back into the ‘Stone Age,’ and with more than 1,000,000 killed, U.S. policy makers continue propagating “mission accomplished, a dictator removed, democracy established, and the Iraqis have been liberated.” But, is this the reality? Since the U.S. began reducing its troops in Iraq, political infighting and violence has afflicted every aspect of Iraqi life. This is the legacy America has left with the Iraqi people.

The 10 year anniversay of the war in Iraq occurred with no official statement, or acknowledgement, with no ceremony or special declaration by the federal government. In fact, it was not met with so much as an announcement, a fact that was noted in the media and political circles. What’s tragic, is that the human suffering inflicted upon Iraq for 13 years prior to the invasion of 2003 in the form of economic sanctions, pales in comparison to the horrors and daily misery suffered by the average Iraqi citizen after the invasion. Perhaps the human cost of the Iraqi war would have been justified if Saddam Hussein truly did harbor chemical and biological weapons with intent to use them against innocent civilians. Perhaps the human cost of the war in Iraq would have been “worth it” had Saddam Hussein had links with illegal organizations. In fact, the world witnessed then Secretary of State Colin Powell testify to the United Nations with satellite pictures of alleged chemical weapons storage facilities. More than that, then CIA Director, George Tenet claimed that they had a “slam dunk” case against  Saddam Hussein, implying that they could prove he was a threat, justifying their invasion of Iraq. Perhaps if these allegations were true, the “Coalition of the Willing” that the U.S. corralled to help justify it’s aggressive invasion of Iraq would have been justified. The bitter truth is that all of these allegations were in fact lies, as evidenced by the fact that 10 years later, the supposed “Weapons of Mass Destruction” are no where to be found.

The 10 year anniversary of the invastion of Iraq bears the bloody fingerprints of a brutal occupation gone terribly wrong. Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, 75% of the babies born in the city of Falluja have a fatal birth defects, some which doctors have never seen before and are even unable to classify, thanks to the chemical weapons used by coalition forces including depleted uranium shells, phosphorus, and other chemical weapons. The 10 year anniversary brings to mind the brutalities and humiliating treatment of the prisoners of Abu Ghraib and other prisons, which arguably was no better than the prisons under the dictator Saddam Hussein. The 10 year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq brings to mind the senseless bombings against innocent civilians in the streets and markets of Iraq, and a sense of sectarian violence that the country had not seen in its history. Dividing the Iraqi’s into ethnic and religious sects, to keep them divided and confused. Continue reading IRAQ Illusions of Victory Back into the Stone Age →

GUIDANCE Comes from Allah (swt)

“And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk, that he might make (the message) clear for them. Then Allah sendeth whom He will astray, and guideth whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Wise.” TMQ 14:4

The subject of guidance and misguidance is a crucial one for Muslims to understand, because if it is not understood correctly, it could cause doubt and questions. From the early days of Islamic history, Greek philosophers and Christian missionaries sought to find contradictions in the Quran. Thus the concept of guidance and misguidance has been exploited to create doubt and suspicion in people’s belief in Islam. This article seeks to clarify the Islamic stance on guidance and misguidance by putting the Quranic verses which mention guidance and misguidance in context.

How Does Allah Guide and Misguide People?

The verse above suggests that Allah sends astray whom He will and guides whom He wills. Some philosophers and Christian missionaries have used that and similar verses to assert that if Allah guides and misguides people, how then can they be held accountable and punished in Hell for disbelieving? Whereas other verses say that guidance and misguidance is up to the human being, not that he is compelled into belief or disbelief as in surat al Kahf:

“Say: (It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire.” TMQ 18:29

Firstly, these verses should be understood from a legislative aspect, meaning that it’s important to understand why these verses were revealed and the reality for which they were legislated. While some verses may ascribe guidance to man and others ascribe it to Allah, each one focuses on a different aspect than the other, and this makes the legislative meaning clear. The point is that no Quranic verse should be taken in isolation from the rest of the Quran and the Ahadith.

“Say: It is Allah Who guides to the truth,” TMQ 10:35
the other ayah says:
“So whosoever receives guidance, he does so for the good of his own self.” TMQ 10:108

The first verse indicates that Allah is the One who guides and the second verse indicates that man is the one who guides himself. The guidance of Allah in the first verse means that Allah creates the capacity for guidance in man, meaning man has the will to choose to accept or reject it. The second verse indicates that man is the one who practices/takes up what Allah has created in terms of the capacity for guidance, so it means that he guides himself.

That is why He says in another verse:
“And (have We not) shown him the two ways (good and evil), (meaning the path of good and the path of evil.)” TMQ 90:10, Continue reading GUIDANCE Comes from Allah (swt) →

World News

130 Guantanamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike

Now more than 130 detainees at the United States’ infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba are staging a hunger strike to protest disrespect of the Qur’an and confiscation of personal items, The Associated Press reported on Monday.
Aamer, who has spent over a decade at the prison without charges, said that he has lost 32 pounds (14.50 kilograms) during the strike that started on February 6.
Reports say many others have also lost dangerous amounts of weight, and are now being force-fed through the nose.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has increased its visits to Guantanamo, raising concerns about the health of the hunger strikers.
On Thursday, a group of lawyers stated in an emergency motion filed with a federal court in Washington that the Guantanamo guards had refused to provide drinking water to hunger strikers and kept camp temperature “extremely frigid” to break the strike.
The lawyers also said the lack of drinkable water had led to medical conditions affecting the kidneys, urinary system, and the stomach of the prisoners on strike.
Rights activists accuse jail authorities of seeking to downplay the extent of the situation inside the detention camp.

49,000 Killed in Pakistan Since 9/11

At least 49,000 people, including 15,000 security personnel, have been killed in violence in Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, a security report says.
According to a report presented to Pakistan’s Supreme Court, attacks carried out by bombers have claimed the lives of over 9,000 people and security men in the tribal regions over the past five years.
The number of civilians who lost their lives stood at 5,152 with 5,678 others injured during the same period, it said.
The report added that the five-year span saw 3,000 militants being killed and 1,228 injured in operations carried out by the Pakistani army in the tribal regions.
It added that a total of 235 attacks by bombers as well as 9,257 rocket attacks and 4,256 bomb raids were carried out in the tribal regions and the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in the 2008-2013 timeframe.
The document went on to say that as many as 1,479 soldiers have been killed and 5,745 others wounded over the past five years.
Pakistan has been experiencing violence since 2001, when Islamabad entered an alliance with Washington in the so-called war on terror. In addition to the casualties, thousands of people have also been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy in the country. Continue reading World News →

National News

Record High of 50 Million Americans on Food Stamps

New figures show that poverty is on the rise in the US, as the number of people receiving food stamps has soared to a record high of almost 50 million Americans.
The number of Americans who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased by 70 percent since 2008 to 47.8 million as of December 2012, according to recently-published figures by the Wall Street Journal.  This means a staggering 15 percent of the American population is receiving food stamps, which is almost double the rate of 1975.
Looking at American children, almost half of all kids receive benefits from SNAP, including nearly 10 million who already live in extreme poverty. Despite previously-reported figures, which showed more people are working, the number of enrollees in the SNAP program continues to grow.
Last year, the US government spent a record USD 74.6 billion on the program. The number of people receiving food stamps tends to correspond to the number of citizens living in poverty, with nearly one in six Americans living in poverty, according to the US Census Bureau.
This comes as US President Barack Obama signed a bill on March 26, making permanent USD 85 billion in sequester cuts, which will slash billions of dollars from programs helping those in poverty, including housing assistance, pre-school education, nutrition benefits, and many other such state-provided privileges.

Iraq & Afghan Wars Will Cost US up to $6 Trillion

The US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost American taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion in the long run, according to a new study by the Harvard University.
The report that was released the end of March, has taken into account the medical care of injured war veterans and expensive repairs to US military force worn out by over a decade of fighting, The Washington Post reported.
Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report, “As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives.”
“The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come,” Bilmes noted.
She said that years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost Washington $2 trillion, which is only a fraction of the ultimate price tag.
Adding to costs will be the interest Washington will have to pay for borrowing to fund the wars, Bilmes stated.

US City Enters Bankruptcy Protection

A federal judge has approved a Californian city’s petition for bankruptcy, making Stockton the most populous American city ever to enter bankruptcy protection.
US Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Klein announced the ruling on April, 1st, which grants the city, with a population of 300,000, protection from creditors, while negotiation talks are held regarding its debt repayment.
The city’s officials will now start restructuring the obligations that currently engulf its finances, which were crippled by the recession and housing crisis. Continue reading National News →

Shooting and Violence (not Final)

“And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided” TMQ 3:103

On January 29th, 2013, 15 year-old honor student, Hadiya Pendleton was shot in a park by alleged gang members shooting at what they thought were rival gang members. The suspects, 18 year old Michael Ward and 20 year old Kenneth Williams were apprehended on the day of Hadiya’s funeral one week later. Police later reported that Williams was shot by a rival gang member in July of 2012, and as is commonly seen in gang crimes, refused to help law enforcement find the people that shot him. Instead, 6 months later, he and Ward sought revenge, looking for the gang rivals that shot him, shooting Hadiya and 2 others in Chicago’s Kennicott Park by accident.

This  murder has become the latest focal point of the gun debate in this country. It was preceded by the killing of 20 school children and 6 adults in Connecticut just one month earlier, and by the killing of 16 year-old Treyvon Martin in Florida before that by a gun-wielding citizen. The gun debate is being fought by both conservatives and liberals, with each side claiming they have the answer to this problem. As the political saying goes, “don’t let a good crisis go to waste”.

This sad event is nothing new in Chicago. For years,  Chicago has had one of the highest murder rates in the nation, and this unfortunate event was just one of 40 murders that took place in January of 2013. However, what makes this murder different was the relationship between young Hadiya Pendleton and U.S. President Barack Obama. Pendleton, who had just performed in Washington D.C. for the inauguration festivities of Obama’s second presidency a few days earlier, was thrust into national headlines, and put Chicago at the center of the national debate over gun control. Continue reading Shooting and Violence (not Final) →

Syria: Assad on the Defensive

“And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between you.  Surely in that are Signs for those who reflect” TMQ 30:21

The fall of Taftanaz Air Base to the armed opposition at the beginning of January marked a significant shift in the war against Assad’s regime, particularly in Syria’s northern region. Taftanaz had been a major helicopter and logistics-supply base for the Syrian forces in Idlib province. Its capture has severely mitigated Assad’s capacity to not only engage in short-range aerial attacks in the region, but has far wider implications in terms of his grasp of the country.

As land-based supply routes in the North became increasingly risky for Assad’s forces (due to the increasing presence of the opposition), Taftanaz became vital in ensuring that ammunition and other necessary supplies for government forces were restocked (through air-transport). The loss of Taftanaz (and its logistical importance) effectively blocks Assad’s forces from carrying out their offensives in Idlib, and has put other bases in the North, such as Wadi Deif and Hamdiyeh, on the defensive against increasing opposition attacks. Serving a similar purpose as Taftanaz, another major air base in the North, Mannagh, is also under pressure by the opposition, the capture of which would result in the opposition being able to claim control of the North.

The loss of northern bases to the opposition will pose significant challenges for Assad’s forces. On the one hand, Assad’s reliance upon air power as an important means to level decisive damage against the opposition (particularly civilians) will be curtailed, at least in terms of northern offensives, such as in Idlib. The unavailability of air bases in the North for refuelling and re-supply will place additional pressure on Syrian air bases in other regions in terms of mounting northern offensives, namely by forcing a greater concern for fuel (thus reducing the shipment of weapons). Further successes for the opposition would also force the regime to fortify base defences elsewhere in the country, thus diverting resources away from offensively sieging opposition-administered-areas.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) estimated (in October 2012) that the Syrian Air Force would be unable to deploy more than 200 of its fighter aircraft and helicopters (i.e. 30% of its total fleet). This is primarily due to maintenance restraints (such as depletion of spare-parts), but one could also attribute further depletion of this power as a result of the mounting financial costs of the war, as well as an increasingly precarious human resources situation. An example of this could include the reported defection of a Syrian air force pilot with his MiG fighter on Continue reading Syria: Assad on the Defensive →

HOW to Fight Lies Against Islam and Muslims

“O you who believe! If a Fasiq (disobedient person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.” TMQ 49:6

On December 11, 2012, the Washington Post published an article titled “In northern Mali, Islamists’ attacks against civilians grow more brutal”. The article documents a litany of brutal and “barbaric” attacks on civilians by so-called Muslim militants. Prior to that, in Pakistan, the case of the 14 year old girl, Malala Yousufzai garnered international attention because so-called Muslim militants brutally shot her in the head as she was returning home from school. News of the incident immediately filled Pakistani airwaves and newspaper headlines. Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaque Pervez Kiyani and President Asif Ali Zardari whipped up plans to attack the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, where the suspected militants were allegedly from.

Both incidents, the so-called attacks in Mali and the ones in Pakistan spread through the international media, and demanded calls for action from the likes of US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

This is not the first time that Muslims have been blamed for heinous acts of violence against innocent civilians. This tactic has been used by the Algerian government in the 1990’s against the Islamic Salvation Front which won the 1992 Algerian elections. These kinds of lies are routinely used to demonize Islam and Muslims. They are designed to create divisions and mistrust between Muslims so that they are confused and harbor suspicions about their brothers.
Furthermore, such stories occur against the backdrop of drone attacks that kill scores of innocent Muslims. They tell lies to divert attention away from their crimes. So while the Pakistani government allows the US to drop bombs on innocent civilians from unmanned aerial drones, they concoct a story of so-called “militants” attacking innocent civilians so the public’s collective anger is focused on the shadowy “militants” and not the treacherous and deceitful actions of the government. Continue reading HOW to Fight Lies Against Islam and Muslims →

World News

100s of Rohingya Muslims Found Adrift off Indonesia Coast

Sixty-three Rohingya Muslims, including 23 children, fleeing the violence in Myanmar have been found adrift in a wooden boat in western Indonesia, in the second such event in one week.
Indonesia police said on Friday that the vessel was found by fishermen with no engine while drifting off the eastern coast of Sumatra island near Aceh Province.
“Fishermen found the boat with 63 Rohingya late Thursday afternoon around 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the coastal town of Idi Rayeuk. They then towed the boat to shore,” provincial police chief Muhajir said.
The Rohingya asylum seekers were sent to an immigration office in the nearby Langsa town, Muhajir said, adding that they would be transferred to a detention center.
Earlier the same week, Indonesian fishermen also rescued 121 Rohingya Muslims, including six women and two children under the age of five, about 25 kilometers north off the coast Aceh Province.
One of the survivors reportedly said that Thailand authorities had shot at them and taken their food and petrol supplies as they passed Thailand’s waters.
Recently, another boat was found off Sri Lanka’s coast, with 33 dehydrated Rohingya refugees and 97 dead. The surviving passengers said Thai military had taken the boat’s engine and left them to float at sea for 25 days without water and food before being rescued.

Vatican Accused of Sex Scandal Cover-Up

Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien admitted to sexual misconduct during his career as a priest, archbishop, and cardinal. He resigned as
archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh last week.
The Vatican has been accused of having covered up the sexual misconduct of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, for five months.
The scandal came into limelight after the British paper the Observer revealed that three priests and a former priest in Scotland had complained to Vatican’s ambassador to Britain, nuncio Antonio Mennini, about allegations of O’Brien’s inappropriate behavior against them about 30 years ago.
Reports said that the first allegation went back to 1980, when the complainant, then a seminarian, claimed that O’Brien sexually abused him after night prayers.
He added, “It was assumed I left the priesthood to get married. I did not. I left to preserve my integrity.”
In a second complaint, a priest said inappropriate contact took place between him and O’Brien when he claimed the cardinal visited him in a parish.
In a third complaint, another priest said he was involved in unwanted behavior with the cardinal when he was invited to spend a week at O’Brien’s residence in the 1980s.
The third priest claimed O’Brien maintained contact with him over a period of time, adding the cardinal used night prayers as an excuse for his inappropriate acts. Continue reading World News →