Sunday, June 30, 2019

Down to Earth - Video series about Islamic concepts

Most textbooks on Islam tell us that Islam is a way of life. The briefest of reality checks will tell us that Muslims’ way of life is today shaped by a plethora of other influences with Islam as an add-on. This apparent discrepancy has renegaded the notion of true Islam into either the past as a praised but lost historic example from the days of the prophet and his companions or into the future as a utopian dream of a return to the golden age “when the Mahdi comes”. Neither offers much solace or hope for the Muslim struggling with the here and now.

In a previous book (Surrendering Islam, co-authored with David Livingstone whose more recent book Transhumanism is an important contribution to show how pagan religious ideas disproportionately shaped the politics of our age), I have shown how we arrived at this unfortunate state of affairs. As a historical treatise it examined the reasons for having lost our glorious past and is a tale of betrayal. But it does not show the way out. In the attempt to find solutions, serious rethinking is required, namely to deal with ideas or concepts.

Concepts are that which is conceived, initially in the mind, then put into practice; hence the term covers both abstract ideas and concrete plans or intentions. The prophetic saying that “Works are by intention” springs to mind. If the intention is all wrong, the works cannot bear fruit, no matter how diligently they are performed. This is exactly the problem of today’s Islamic reality. Without clear concepts about what Islam represents and aims for, all the effort at Islamic revival is at best misguided and at worst counter-productive.

Conceptual thinking might eventually lead us to a solution to Islam’s ineffectiveness vis-à-vis the dominant secular worldview by re-examining the deeper and wider meaning of Islam. Conceptualising Islam means to move away from the narrow constraints of mere practices and to discover the underlying purpose. Naturally, Islam being a divinely inspired, or rather ordained, way of life, not a man-made system, such a road of discovery must always be guided by the teachings of both the Qur’an and the prophet. Yet, at the same time, it must not get stuck in the environment in which the Qur’an was first taught. Early Muslim scholars well understood this need for adaptiveness. Sadly, most of today’s Muslim scholars are only apt at passing on knowledge, not wisdom.

In trying to re-establish Islam as a living concept, we need to deal with paradigms. The concept remains true, but the paradigms change. Paradigms are patterns or models of how things are, theoretical frameworks within which we operate. They are derived from concepts. One definition of paradigm is that of a framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology commonly accepted by members of a specific community. Both concepts and paradigms are therefore ways of making sense of the world around us. Concepts deal with the larger picture and paradigms with the interactions within a given framework. To benefit us, the two must agree, which is exactly the problem of why Islam does not “fit in” in the globalised society around us no matter how hard we try to adapt.

The key problem of Muslims today is that we are trying to hold on to an Islamic paradigm whilst having willingly surrendered to non-Islamic (secular) concepts. Examples for these are heliocentricity, relativism or evolution. We inertly resent some of their teachings, because they challenge the divine origin and destiny of all that is, and that is exactly what they intend to do. Yet we have become unable to assess their merits and shortcomings since we have accepted “science” as the benchmark of truth, adding a little bit of “Islamisation” at the frills, instead of measuring its claims against the yardstick of revelation.

Like Moses, we have grown up in the dazzling world of Pharaoh’s magicians. Like Moses, we are suspicious of its pronouncements. But unlike Moses, we are unable to challenge their magic since we try to compete with them or beat them at their own game rather than expose and diminish the falsehood of their imposing achievement. Modern-day magic is not conjured by sticks and ropes, it is conveyed through words and images. Words are powerful, be they those of revelation or those of deception. Yet the two are not equal – one swallows up the other. Beating the swindler at his own game, therefore, is impossible and merely turns us all into pretenders.

Conceptual thinking is what Allah gave Adam as a distinguishing gift over other creation. He taught man language in order to both comprehend and express concepts. The quest for meaning is thus ingrained and essential to human nature and where it is abandoned, man sinks to the level of or below that of the animal kingdom. Evolution teaches that man is part of the animal kingdom, stripping him of his dignity. Neither is he central to creation, being a mere accidental development from lower forms, nor is the earth he inhabits central, being a mere rock floating in space. The secular worldview permits worshipping God as a fiction of one’s imagination. What it cannot tolerate is to elevate Him to the absolute supremacy a believer is demanded to afford Him, because in the secular mind-set the existence or non-existence of God is non-consequential.

Truth is absolute and cannot be divided. The claim that there may be many truths is aberrant mind game defying basic logic. Whatever is true cannot, at the same time, be false, hence the opposite of an established truth cannot, at the same time, also be true. Relativism, therefore, is an erosion of truth. The common accusation hurled by secularists at believers is that they are fanatics. Yet, so are the secularists, as neither are prepared to compromise their religion. Either is only willing to tolerate the other as long as he doesn’t challenge their supremacy. Thus, the status quo is not only a result of ideas but also of power.

Power can be taken or given. Sometimes, power feels the need to be justified, at other times it views this as a weakness. However, power does not exist in a vacuum. It has both a source and a purpose. We need to understand where a given power is derived from and what it aims to achieve. Hence, simply wanting to usurp power in the hope that this will change everything is a fallacy. The path to empowerment is through education and, again, particularly through understanding concepts. Reviving those concepts should, I hope, lead to empowerment of us Muslims, first individually, then collectively. Entering battle unequipped is suicidal. Seeking a confrontation with the wrong opponent equally so. Knowledge is a source of power, and by that I mean knowledge of both the truth and how it has been covered up. Wisdom is the art of applying knowledge correctly within a given situation, taking account of all circumstances. Knowledge can be learned. Wisdom needs to be acquired through experience. Experience is gained from both success and failure. Too much success tends to make people careless, too much failure, on the other hand, despondent. The latter very much describes our present reality. After too many a lost battle, it becomes necessary to retreat, regroup and go back to the drawing board.

With a view to kick-starting this process I have recorded a series of short talks on Islamic concepts to be screened on my Youtube channel and called them “Down to Earth”. The first of those talks (episode 1: being grounded, staying focused) is available here. My hope is that it will move the discussion from the “niceties” of being a Muslim, to the substantial, and that this in turn might lead to a genuine revival of Islamic thought in the 21st century. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Shamima Begum – state abuse and victimisation

Politics in our so-called democracy has descended to such a low level of shameless impudence that the voting public no longer care and any serious commentator will find his words wasted in a media in bed with power. Nonetheless, I venture to weigh in with my opinion on the topic of “jihadi brides”, so symptomatic of how most of the civilised values – and the principles they were built on – have been cast away or turned upside down in the post-colonial new grab for territory and control. The media attention brought to the case of this so unfortunate teenage woman who has lost three of her children, with the last death directly attributable to the decision of home secretary “uncle Tom” Sajid Javid to revoke her British citizenship, is full of copy-selling semantics and exotic drama but fails to realise that it is dealing with a prime example of how the “war on terror” has corrupted us all. To the gutter press, she is an “IS bride” who is now somehow paying back for the exotic holiday she went on when the rest of the British public had to slave away to pay their mortgage. In reality, she is no bride at all and not going to get married any time soon – she is a casualty of another illegal war our government ventured into and traumatised by the experience for which she can hardly be held responsible.
The new mantra of regime change has changed international politics forever, from Iraq via Libya and Syria to Venezuela. Western governments have attributed to themselves the right to decide who should govern a given country, rather than leaving that decision to that country’s people, and out goes all the hype about democracy. A new twist is to try the non-military approach to undermining sovereignty, and once the genie is out of the bottle it can’t be put back. When Juan Guaido declared himself president by virtue of the backing he received from a superpower having long wanted to make Venezuela more subservient again, and when all the “allied” or bought countries of the world followed suit in recognising him, he set a trend for similar imposters in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Will post-Brexit Britain be next to have a self-declared prime minister, backed by China maybe?
In trying to topple the legitimate government of Syria – and the question is not whether it is popular or liked by everybody, but whether it is legitimate; it is fair to say that the majority of British people do not like Donald Trump or Theresa May either – the US-led alliance actively promoted and armed rebel militias to bring civil war to the country, and this, though not openly admitted, included ISIS who killed their victims, mostly Muslims, with US weapons and ammunition. And to hide the dirty game from their publics at home, the state-sponsored and controlled Western media (bribery works just as well as censorship!) did not expose that a proxy war between the US, Russia and China was being fought in numerous theatres of war from Afghanistan to Syria, but elevated the IS brand in order to turn this murderous mess into a righteous fight against those barbarous Muslims. On some impressible minds, however, like that of schoolgirl Shamima, the propaganda had a damaging effect, scarring her for life.
The lives of many British teenagers, Muslim or not, tend to be quite bleak, with boredom at school and few prospects afterwards, and so they look for distraction, excitement and adventure. Some find it in partying, alcohol and drugs, others get sucked into the ever growing gang culture. Too many young lives are destroyed in this way, yet whilst we punish those who were caught actually committing crimes, we tend to think that they still deserve being rescued and rehabilitated. Likewise for those youngsters who, for the very same reasons, joined the armed forces young and foolishly, unaware that they would be sent away as cannon fodder in wars which had no meaning to them. To those who come back traumatised, even if they committed atrocities or participated in torture, like in Abu Ghraib, we offer counselling and hope to integrate them back into society, although the attempts often fail as indicated by the high suicide rate amongst ex-servicemen. Yet here is a young British teenager whom we want to wash our hands off, because she joined the wrong gang, and it is so much easier to blame her instead of admitting to our own failings.
Her father humiliatingly apologised for her actions, but neither he nor her, were responsible for the trends outside their control which shaped their lives. As a young girl she went to a British school, duly inspected by Ofsted. Does the school shoulder its responsibility for failing her? I have not heard an apology from either her head teacher or the local education authority. Will we get an apology from Prevent, that failed anti-terrorism and anti-radicalisation strategy beloved by the home secretary? After all, if the policy of spying on Muslims wholesale and alienating that community and breaking down the dialogue between them and others had not failed so utterly, this girl might not have been radicalised under their radar and gone abroad. Instead we are pouring more money into strategies which have been proven to cause more harm than good. And when the 15-year old travelled to Syria on a British passport, do not the UK Border Agency share some blame who are so obsessed with the politically charged topic of immigration that they don’t give a hoot who leaves their shores and where to? And the security services? Being heavily involved in Syria, they would surely be aware of naïve young girls flocking into that country to serve in a lost cause? Remember, whenever there is a terrorist attack on European soil we subsequently learn that the perpetrator “was previously known to security services”. But they don’t care to save individuals setting out to harm themselves – the security and anti-terrorism industry is big business, and keeping the threat alive is certainly more lucrative when it comes to job security in the services they work for. So let them go to kill and get killed in order to become an example of the dangers we face! Yes, this is the age of cynicism and prevention being better than cure is not part of the equation when the cure (this includes the privatised prison system) pays good money.
So the government, busy with being the Brexit-joke of Europe, opts for the easy route. No need to admit having, motivated by greed and inflated ego, made a mess which is coming back to haunt us or to take responsibility for the results and promise lasting changes: let’s just blame it on the victim and feed her to the dogs. And in doing so, another of those Western values we could once be proud of goes out of the window: British citizenship is no longer worth the paper it is written upon, for the state can disown you whenever you become a burden. And this is the fault Shamima’s father should maybe admit to being culpable of: having thought that British citizenship was sacred and worth sacrificing so much for, including his own children. Had they not been socialised in the UK, he most likely would not have had to see his daughter suffer and his grandchildren die.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Zionism and Judaism – two sides of the same coin?

Critics of Zionism and its excesses are usually keen to stress that their criticism is not aimed at Judaism as a religion but at Zionism as a racist and supremacist political movement. This claim of the two being diametrically opposed to each other is eloquently expressed by Hajo Meyer in a video interview with David Zlutnick, quoted approvingly at electronic intifada[1]: “Zionism and Judaism are contrary to each other. Because Judaism is universal and humane, and Zionism is exactly the opposite. It is very narrow, very nationalistic, racist, colonialist, and all this. There is no ‘National Judaism’. There is Zionism and there is Judaism, and they are completely different.”

However, this distinction is not always as clear-cut as its supporters would like to assert. Rather, Zionism is a product of Judaism and would not exist without it. In some ways, their relationship is like that of a worn-out marriage in which the partners are no longer particularly attracted to each other, yet do not wish to divorce due to the benefits of retaining the union. Or, maybe more aptly, Zionism is the prodigal son of Judaism who often embarrasses his parents, yet they cannot get themselves to disown him.

For sure, there are critics of Zionism within Judaism. Amongst them Neturei Karta, a Hassidic Jewish movement who take issue, however, not with the idea of Zion or Jerusalem as the centre of the world but with the premature timing of the Zionist project: “the Torah forbids us to end the exile and establish a state and army until the Holy One, blessed He, in His Glory and Essence will redeem us.”[2] Of the many others who think the Zionist project “unwise”, Edward Corrigan gives a long list.[3] But altogether there are very few Jews outspoken enough to expose the bigotry of the Zionist project publicly, such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shahak or Israel Shamir, and on the whole they are disliked and ostracised by their fellow Jews due to their apparent lack of family loyalty.

In many ways, Zionism is a natural extension of Judaism, restoring to the wandering Jews the notion of a homeland coupled with political influence. Its bold supremacism mirrors the ordinary Jewish elitism derived from a self-perception as the Chosen People. The Talmud as the authoritative Jewish interpretation of scripture abounds in differentiation between Jews and Gentiles, with the former being given clear preference over the latter. A bizarre aberration of this attitude occurs when secular Zionists want to claim God’s special favours whilst at the same time seeing no need to believe in Him or act upon His commandments.

When Jews speak out against injustices visited upon non-Jews in Palestine, they frequently don’t do so because of a belief that Palestinians should have the same human rights as Israeli Jews – hardly any of them supports a single-state solution with equal rights for everyone –, but because they sense that the unbridled aggressive arrogance of the protagonists of Zionism will damage their overall reputation and standing in a world where Jews still remain a minority in many places and depend on the good-will of their majority host communities. They are also worried about the moral fall-out regarding the future legitimacy of the Zionist state. In the words of Uri Avnery: “What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints. This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet. In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against the State of Israel.”[4] Naturally, whilst being a critic of Israeli military tactics, he opposes calls for a boycott of the country in response.[5]

Whilst the dream of Zion is as old as the diaspora and there were earlier attempts to exploit Jewish identification with the Holy Land for the benefit of British Imperial designs against the threat of continental progress under Napoleon, Theodor Herzl and Benjamin Disraeli are recognised as the founders of political Zionism as a distinct movement.[6] Herzl is also said to have been the original author of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”[7]. The Zionists aspirations for political power were not immediately shared widely amongst European Jews and their ideas of setting up an exclusive Jewish state were initially ridiculed and rejected, but gradually gained currency, not least due to waves of anti-Semitism purposefully promoted and aided by the Zionists.[8] In his “Diaries”, Herzl noted: “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends and the anti-Semitic countries our allies”. And Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion went on record saying: “If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them to Israel, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children but also the history of the people of Israel.[9], showing his open contempt for Jewish lives in furthering Zionist political ambitions.

Neither Herzl nor Disraeli, or any of the prominent Zionists of the founding years of the state of Israel, were defenders of the Judaism of the Torah. But that does not mean they weren’t proper Jews. Most gentiles do not realise that the God of the Bible is not the only God holding sway over Jews in their synagogues. During their Babylonian captivity, Jews also learned the dark arts of occult mysticism and magic which they developed into the Kabbalah, in which all reality emerges from Zion, and the God of their belief system is no other than the antagonist of the Biblical deity – Lucifer.[10] He is the free spirit who liberates man from the shackles imposed by God and the restrictions of a moral code, thus enabling man to become god-like himself through enlightenment. It is this other god in whose service Jews became prominently involved in freemasonry with its references to the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and in revolutionary movements as well as licentious movements to undermine public morality, such as the one preached by Sabbatai Zevi. And it is this aspect of Judaism, the racist elitism without further need for God and His commandments, which gave birth to political secular Zionism.

This mindset also accounts for Israel’s lack of restraint in suppressing actual and perceived opposition. The most recent assaults on Gaza were notable by their brutality with the full weight of a sophisticated and well equipped army having been brought down indiscriminately on a defenceless population. But they were no isolated occurrences as earlier massacres, such as Shabra and Shatila, testify. In these incidents we see the destructive combination of superiority complex and lack of moral constraint by which Zionism is so often characterised.

Whilst one might expect that Torah Jews, who may well be repulsed by such atrocities, would see reason not only to distance themselves from the worst of these crimes against humanity but outright disown their Kabbalistic brethren, this rarely happens, because Judaism is not merely seen as a religion but also as a race which they all share in spite of their differences in beliefs and practice. The chosen people thus are no longer chosen because of religious observance but because of the superiority of their bloodline. The accusation of Israel being a racist apartheid regime is therefore not merely polemic but supported by the very foundations of the state of Israel.

This multiple personality complex of Jewish identity lies at the heart of why such apparently disparate people continue to stick together in the face of criticism, however justified. It is this unity which does not permit us to separate Zionism and Judaism as distinct, albeit interrelated, systems. Amongst themselves, Jews may dispute the wisdom or otherwise of the Zionist project, but vis-à-vis the wider world, generally perceived as hostile, they are two sides of the same coin.

When we perceive the origins of Zionism in this deviant occult strand of Judaism, we also gain an understanding of such apparent contradictions as both Herzl’s and Hitler’s almost identical beliefs on racial purity and shared love for Wagner[11], the collusion between the Nazi and Zionist movements in the creation of anti-semitism and transfer of Jewish people from Europe to Palestine[12], and the hand of British foreign policy in recruiting both of these charismatic proponents of their respective racist ideologies from within the intellectual left-over of the collapsed and decadent Hapsburg empire in Vienna for the purpose of bringing about the new dawn of global domination by Britain in an age where steel and oil threatened the natural advantage of the hitherto unrivalled sea power. Zionism always has been and remains a very British god-child and a testimony to the influence of Sabbatean Judaism on the British ruling classes. This is perfectly epitomised in Blake’s hymn Jerusalem having almost become a rival national anthem for the United Kingdom.

Hence, in the metaphor of Zionism and Judaism as two sides of the same coin we find that the Zionist side of the coin has become the more recognisable one and the Judaic side has worn away to a large extent. Or, returning to the prodigal son similitude, the son has established himself firmly, and it no longer matters whether his parents disown him or not. No longer dependent on them, he now exerts his influence upon them.

In the course of history, Jews in the diaspora have allowed their religious identification as the people of the Torah to be eroded and replaced by a racial identification of the Jewish people. This racial perception of themselves strengthened the occult Kabbalistic elements within their ranks, for whom blood and racial purity have always been more important than scripture. Jews no longer represented a faith but became a nation, and, arguably, a nation needed a state. To the disappointment of nostalgics like Neturei Karta, this nation state could dispense with the need for a future messiah. All that mattered was the here and now.

Because of the indifference of Jews around the world to the abuses by those who claim to represent them, Zionism has grown out of control like a cancer which is not being reigned in by religious exponents of Judaism (nor by the Western powers who sponsored its growth). If Judaism really wants to be universal and humane and wants to be respected as different to its Zionist offshoot, then non-Zionist Jews must stop turning a blind eye and replace their complacent toleration of Israel’s excesses with a clear denunciation of Israel’s racism as having no place in their midst. This does not necessarily mean the need to call for Israel as a state and political entity having to be dismantled, but would require support for a single-state solution where each citizen, Jewish or not, has identical civil rights and duties. Obviously, this means the end of a purely Jewish state in reality and its transformation into an ordinary secular state with Jewish roots. Those who find this anathema support the myth of Jewish supremacy and, in spite of their protestations, can only be described as covert Zionists.

 [Originally published in "Blood and Shekels" edited by Troy Southgate, Black Front Press 2018]

[6] For an extensive expose of the British origins of Zionism see Mark Burdman, How Britain’s Biggest Racists and Financiers Created Zionism, accessed 3/05/2015
[7] David Pidcock, Satanic Voices Ancient and Modern, Mustaqim 1992
[8] Francis Nicosia, Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany, Cambridge University Press 2008; Joseph Massad, Zionism, anti-Semitism and colonialism accessed 3/05/2015; Zionism is also responsible for destroying the mostly amicable relationships between Jewish and Arab communities in the Muslim world, in some documented cases even by orchestrating terror against Jews, such as the 1950 Baghdad bombing campaign designed to get Iraqi Jews to migrate to Israel, see “Jews in the Arab World” in accessed 4/05/2015
[9] Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism, Veritas Press 1988
[10] Livingstone & Bleher, Surrendering Islam, Mustaqim 2010
[11] Leah Garrett, A Knight at the Opera: Heine, Wagner, Herzl, Peretz and the legacy of Der Tannhäuser, Purdue University Press 2011; accessed 3/05/2015
[12] cf. Ben Hecht, Perfidy, 1961; reprinted by Milah Press, Jerusalem, in 1997