Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Drawing Up Of Wills: Chapter 37, Essential Message of Islam الوصية: الفصل السابع والثلاثون من كتاب الرسالة الأساسية للإسلام

Drawing Up Of Wills: Chapter 37, Essential Message of Islam الوصية: الفصل السابع والثلاثون من كتاب الرسالة الأساسية للإسلام

محمد يونس و أشفاق الله سعيد
(نشر حصريا على موقع نيو إيج إسلام بإذن المؤلفين والناشرين)
ترجمه من الإنجليزية: نيو إيج إسلام
24 أغسطس / آب عام 2015
إن القرآن يأمر المؤمنين الذين يتركون المال بالوصية (2:180) أمام اثنين ذوي عدل منهم. وإذا كانوا يضربون في الأرض ويخافون مصيبة الموت، فكان عليهم أن يأخذوا الشاهدين من غيرهم (2:180، 5:106). وإن كنتم في ريب حول الشاهدين فعليكم أن تجعلهما يقسمان بالله تعالى من بعد الصلوة أنهما لن يشتريا به ثمنا ولو كان ذا قربى ولن يكتما شهادة الله تعالى (5:106).كما جاء في القرآن الكريم أنه إذا عثر على أن الشاهدين ارتكبا إثما كان الآخران يقومان مقامهما من من بين الأقارب أو المستحقين بعد القسم بالله تعالى (5:107 ، 5:108).  وينص القرآن الكريم أيضا أن الذين يغيرون الإيصاء من شاهد و وصي فإن إثم الإيصاء المبدل كان على الذين يبدلونه. لكنه يسمح لمنفذ الوصية بتغيير ذلك للإصلاح بين الأطراف المتنازعة، إذا خاف جنفا أو إثما من موص (2:181 ، 2:182).
(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ) (2:180) (فَمَن بَدَّلَهُ بَعْدَمَا سَمِعَهُ فَإِنَّمَا إِثْمُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ) (2:181) (فَمَنْ خَافَ مِن مُّوصٍ جَنَفًا أَوْ إِثْمًا فَأَصْلَحَ بَيْنَهُمْ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ) (2:182)
(يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا شَهَادَةُ بَيْنِكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ حِينَ الْوَصِيَّةِ اثْنَانِ ذَوَا عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ أَوْ آخَرَانِ مِنْ غَيْرِكُمْ إِنْ أَنتُمْ ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَأَصَابَتْكُم مُّصِيبَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۚ تَحْبِسُونَهُمَا مِن بَعْدِ الصَّلَاةِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّهِ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ لَا نَشْتَرِي بِهِ ثَمَنًا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَىٰ ۙ وَلَا نَكْتُمُ شَهَادَةَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا إِذًا لَّمِنَ الْآثِمِينَ) (5:106) (فَإِنْ عُثِرَ عَلَىٰ أَنَّهُمَا اسْتَحَقَّا إِثْمًا فَآخَرَانِ يَقُومَانِ مَقَامَهُمَا مِنَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَحَقَّ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَوْلَيَانِ فَيُقْسِمَانِ بِاللَّهِ لَشَهَادَتُنَا أَحَقُّ مِن شَهَادَتِهِمَا وَمَا اعْتَدَيْنَا إِنَّا إِذًا لَّمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ) (5:107) (ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يَأْتُوا بِالشَّهَادَةِ عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهَا أَوْ يَخَافُوا أَن تُرَدَّ أَيْمَانٌ بَعْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاسْمَعُوا ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ) (5:108)
وكثير من العلماء بما فيهم محمد الأسد (مترجم اللغة الإنجليزية) قد فسروا مصطلح "بينكم" المذكور في الآية 5:106 كمسلمين. وهكذا، كان "الآخران" غير المسلمين ولكن المؤمنين بالله لأنهما يقسمان بالله تعالى تصديق شهادتهما. أبو الكلام آزاد، مع ذلك، واضح في تفسير "آخران" للدلالة على غير المسلمين. 1
ملاحظة:
1.       أبو الكلام آزاد، ترجمان القرآن، عام 1931 ، تم إعادة طبعه نيودلهي عام 1989، المجلد الثاني، ص: 679.
(مرجع واحد)
محمد يونس : متخرج في الهندسة الكيماوية من المعهد الهندي للتكنولوجيا (آئي آئي تي) وكان مسؤولا تنفيذيا لشركة سابقا، وهو لا يزال يشتغل بالدراسة المستفیضة للقرآن الکریم منذ أوائل التسعینات مع الترکیز الخاص علٰی رسالتھ الأصیلة الحقیقیة۔ وقد قام بھذا العمل بالاشتراک و حصل علٰی الإعجاب الکثیروالتقدیر والموافقة من الأ زھر الشریف، القاھرہ، في عام 2002م وکذالک حصل علی التائید والتوثیق من قبل الدکتور خالد أبو الفضل (يو سي آي اي) وقامت بطبعه مکتبة آمنة، ماری لیند، الولایات المتحدة الأمریکیة، عام 2009م)

Europe’s Unseemly Haste to Embrace Tehran: New Age Islam’s Selection From World Press, 01 September 2015

Europe’s Unseemly Haste to Embrace Tehran: New Age Islam’s Selection From World Press, 01 September 2015

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
01 September 2015
Europe’s Unseemly Haste To Embrace Tehran
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
Peace Has No Chance In Climate Of Intolerance
By Asha Iyer Kumar
Malaysia's Democracy Is In Worse Shape Than We Thought
By Anneliese Mcauliffe
Child Soldiers Of Iraq, Yemen
By Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
Palestine’s Leadership Crisis
By Ramzy Baroud
Democracy And Secularism
By Ali Bulaç
Why Ankara Is Under Pressure Over Isil?
By Murat Yetkin

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Europe’s unseemly haste to embrace Tehran
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
31 August 2015
The ink hardly dried on the Iran nuclear deal before European countries were racing to seal trade deals and reopen embassies. The mullahs have gone from zero to hero in the blink of an eye. Forgotten are Tehran’s links to terrorists, attempts to overthrow Middle Eastern governments and mass gatherings organized to hurl insults and threats at the West.
Cast aside are concerns about Iran’s suppression of minorities, its dismal human rights record or its practice of stoning women. I believe Iran has made no substantial statements to the effect it is willing to change. On the contrary, its message throughout has been one of defiance. It has not been required to denounce terrorism let alone its participation in terrorist acts.
Iran’s crimes are suddenly of no consequence to Europe’s democracies; I believe they have purposefully put their blinkers on and are literally queuing with their hands out to beat down Tehran’s golden doors. All they see now are flashing neon dollar signs. The Islamic Republic, soon to be flush with an $80 billion plus bonanza, is destined to become Europe’s latest cash cow.
I was extremely disappointed and saddened at Britain’s rush to reopen its Tehran embassy that has been closed for four years subsequent to coming under mob attack in November, 2011. I have always had great respect and admiration for the UK that I consider my second home, based on my homeland’s historic ties and the principled stances taken by great leaders like Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, who kept the ‘Great’ in Britain, politically, militarily, industrially and economically.
An enemy five minutes ago…
I cannot imagine that those prime ministers, whose names remain engraved on world history to this day, grovelling before a country that five minutes ago was their enemy, just to get their clutches on a fistful of dollars.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, was the first to beat a track to Tehran since 2003. Naturally, he arrived with a trade delegation and took the opportunity to stress the “huge appetite” shown by British business to invest in Iran as well as the readiness of British banks to finance deals.
As the Iranian network Press TV has reported, Iran has recently hosted “a delegation of government ministers from Italy,” who has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to fund industrial, construction and infrastructure projects worth over 3 billion euros. This comes on the heels of a visit by Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel, with a team of manufacturers, as well as visits from Austrian, Serbian, Swiss and Azerbaijani government officials. Spain is also champing at the bit to board the gravy train.
Moreover, President Hassan Rowhani has been invited to visit Rome “in the coming weeks”. Rowhani’s red carpet travel schedule is getting fuller by the day. Following a visit to Tehran by France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius, accompanied by business leaders, he has been invited to visit the Elysees Palace in November. Russia and China, which have always been cosy with Tehran, are waiting in the wings with lucrative energy and weapons contracts at the ready.
No doubt President Barack Obama is rubbing his hands together awaiting his turn to get in on the action, delayed by pesky lawmakers who refused to take his word that his deal is the best thing that has happened since the invention of the wheel.
Iran and its Lebanese proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, have not changed. Nevertheless, America inexplicably saw it fit to remove those entities from its terror threat list even as it is fighting to preserve Syria’s Killer-in-Chief and supporting a Houthi takeover of Yemen.
At least one senior Iranian official has gleefully announced his country’s continued support for “resistance” groups, which translated means their armed minions and spies targeting Arabian Gulf States. Who can blame Iran’s Arab neighbours for being rattled when a massive cache of weapons were recently discovered in Kuwait in the hands of a Hezbollah cell poised to create mayhem and bloodshed!
Where are Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that relentlessly points fingers at Arab states for taking measures to protect their peoples? They have become so politicised that it appears they are willing to give Iran a free pass so as not to spoil the party.
I am starting to wonder whether there is more to the nuclear deal, which permits Iran to carry out self-inspections of its suspect Parchin Military Complex, than meets the eye - especially when there are other secret agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency which the nuclear watchdog is legally bound not to disclose, even to the U.S. and the other P5+1 countries. Believe that if you will!
In this case, one can only speculate about the existence of other secret arrangements between Iran and the Obama administration that has displayed unprecedented determination to ensure the deal passes muster with Congress and has gone to extreme lengths to persuade America’s longstanding Middle East allies to come on board, including invitations to the leaders of Gulf States to weekend talks at Camp David. Likewise, President Obama is trying, unsuccessfully, to bribe the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into silence with a massive “military compensation package.”
A ‘Grand Bargain’
The Shah of Iran may have sat on the Peacock Throne, but it is my bet that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei is strutting around like a peacock these days, his feathers plumped up by European sycophants and endless praise from U.S. officials. He is getting everything for nothing. Iran’s nuclear infrastructure remains intact, uranium enrichment will be ongoing. Opening up some of the country’s nuclear facilities, barring military sites, to intrusive inspections for 10 years is just a mere inconvenience paling by comparison with the glittering rewards.
I warned again and again of the potential of a ‘Grand Bargain’ being struck between the West and Iran many years ago and now it is unfolding before our eyes. I recall President Obama saying the nuclear deal could possibly lead to normalisation of relations with Iran way into the future provided it sticks to its commitments. What is happening now makes a mockery of those cautious words.
Here is another prediction. Those Western leaders prostrating themselves before the Iranian leadership will live to rue the day. Enriched and emboldened, I believe it is only a matter of time before Tehran strikes at their countries interests because its ideology and hatred for all things western are immutable.
The Arab World, in particular Iran’s closest neighbours, the Arabian Gulf states, must not only be alert to the coming danger, but should take a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book by erecting an impenetrable wall in terms of military, surveillance and intelligence capabilities, to keep Iran, its mercenaries and proxies far from our shores. If we are not careful, the West’s lust to bolster their failing economies will leave us hung out to dry.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.
english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/08/31/Europe-s-unseemly-haste-to-embrace-Tehran.html
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Peace has no chance in climate of intolerance
By Asha Iyer Kumar
eptember 1, 2015
Patience and tolerance are now considered synonymous with weakness.
The month was anything but 'august' when the US dropped the bomb on Japan in 1945. The justification of the horrific act as the only way to end the war still seems untenable, not only for the human tragedy it caused, but also for the ghastly example it set to the world thereafter. The nuke has since been a coveted asset of any nation that has the might and pluck to flaunt it, the most recent verbal assertion coming from Pakistan's NSA, Sartaj Aziz close on the heels of the failed talks between India and Pakistan. That the two countries tossed diplomacy to wind was disappointing enough, but what added pain to it was the fact that the 'N' word can be so easily used against one's adversaries to either bully or neutralise them psychologically.
It was distressing that on a human level, we as people have lost our ability for discourse, and have found recourse to sterner means, whether in words or action, to deal with our differences. We have literally taken the aphorism of 'might is right' to heart and have started to believe that vehemence lies in violence. Human nature today is so devoid of finesse and tact that we leap into extreme action to inflict harm at the slightest provocation. Patience and tolerance are now considered synonymous with weakness and an invitation to abuse, making offense legitimate and par for the course.
Every time India's late president, APJ Abdul Kalam voiced his philosophy of 'strength respects strength' to justify India's nuclear policy, I wondered if it meant just flexing muscles or if it really meant packing a punch on the enemy's face and decimate him at some point in time? Considering the man's amiable nature, he could not have meant the latter. To have power up one's sleeve and use it as a bogey to keep harm at bay sounds more reasonable than actually using it, but human tendencies have become too imprudent and fanatical to merit caution and control, attesting Herbert Spencer's 'survival of the fittest' theory in no uncertain terms.
That countries around the world are hiking their military budgets with each passing year doesn't augur well for our future. It is hard to ascertain whether the money is spent to deter aggression or to augment it in the face of perceived threats. But the fact remains - we are arming ourselves at an alarming pace, ready to launch assaults.
Even at a personal level, we have begun to believe that aggression is the only means to disarm our opponents, and are investing heavily in belligerent behaviour. Rage is becoming contagious, and endurance, unfashionable. Stand up or you will be taken for granted, we teach our children. The system will not support you, so thrash the offender with your own hands, we tell ourselves, and out of frustration resort to violent means of tackling trouble. Defenders of law go on a rampage against grievance holders, governments crush dissidence using mean methods, and aggression suddenly seems to be the new mantra for surviving the modern times. Whatever happened to the good old art of discussion over the table? Where has amity disappeared? Are there no peaceful ways to settle discords and solve issues in this world?
Given the manner in which human species is conducting itself, it doesn't seem like we are evolving to be anything better than what we were at the beginning. Our progress is proving to be self-defeating and regressive. What a paradox that we claim to strive for peace on both private and universal levels, yet make no credible move towards actualizing it!
One can only hope that the fire power we so frequently flash is only a bugbear and will not be used to eventually raze the entire forest. Alas! History belies any such wishful thinking. The nuke was used once, it could be used again. God save the human race from its self-destructive ways!
Asha Iyer Kumar is a Dubai-based writer.
khaleejtimes.com/editorials-columns/peace-has-no-chance-in-climate-of-intolerance
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Malaysia's democracy is in worse shape than we thought
By Anneliese Mcauliffe
31 Aug 2015
The human sea of yellow swarming though the streets of Kuala Lumpur on the weekend looked, at first glance, like an overwhelming show of people power directed against a government and a prime minister deeply imperilled by political and financial scandals.
But the rally, smaller in number than hoped for and lacking a representative ethnic mix, served only to show that democracy in Malaysia is more troubled than many previously thought.
A splintered opposition failed to mobilise supporters on the scale hoped for and those who did turn up - and without a doubt, there were tens of thousands of them - were predominantly from the minority ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.
That these groups have legitimate concerns is a valid reason to protest. But to the large ethnic Malay support base of the beleaguered Prime Minister Najib Razak, this was a startling show of opposition towards the status quo and the rule of the Barisan Nasional coalition. This, of course, is exactly what Najib was hoping for.
Malay culture under threat?
The paucity of Malay protesters played directly into Najib's hands, strengthening his core Malay support base with a mass visual display claiming that ethnic Malay heritage and culture are under threat.
The prime minister, who was not in Kuala Lumpur during the protest, deemed the protesters "shallow and poor in their patriotism and love for their motherland". Malaysia's ethnic groups, and thus Malaysia itself, are looking more and more divided.
The timing of the rally, which was the fourth held by the Bersih civil society group that campaigns for free and fair elections, is also no coincidence.
On Monday, Malaysia will celebrate Merdeka Day, the annual celebration marking its independence from Britain in 1957.
Public dissatisfaction has been brewing in Malaysia for the past months as the economy slows and political scandals escalate.
For those taking part in the rally, this patriotic holiday is a chance to look back at the past and focus on what kind of Malaysia people want for the future. For the government that has been the sole holder of power since independence, however, patriotism means a chance to display their Malay identity and reinforce the nationalist narrative that surrounds independence celebrations.
The street protests come amid allegations of Najib's mismanagement of the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development fund (1MDB), a faltering economy with a plunging currency, and allegations of impropriety over a 2.6 billion Malaysian ringgit ($700m) "donation" deposited into Najib's personal bank accounts. Najib denies allegations that he used public money for personal gain.
Colourful symbol
In the lead-up to the protest, the government used almost every lever available to deter protesters. They ruled the rallies illegal, saying correct permissions had not been sought, banned internet sites that mentioned the protest, and even tried to ban the yellow shirts that were to become the colourful symbol of the protest.
These heavy-handed scare tactics may have served to keep some protesters away. But the rally's failure to mobilise a crowd representative of Malaysia's ethnic groups highlighted the widening religious and ethnic polarity in Malaysian politics, as well as the weakness of opposition groups plagued by infighting and disagreements over the place of religion in multiethnic Malaysia.
In the past, Bersih rallies could count on numbers mobilised by opposition parties for a good turnout. The Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), with one million members nationwide, is no longer part of the opposition after a fallout with former opposition allies, who represent mainly ethnic Chinese and Indian interests.
Perhaps the best result in the aftermath of the Bersih 4.0 rally is to instil in the ruling UMNO leadership a sense that the prime minister is no longer electable. But the UMNO party leadership conference, the forum that could vote him out as leader, has been delayed for 18 months.
Patronage politics
The other hope is in a vote of no confidence that could be moved by opposition politicians when parliament resumes in October. However, it seems unlikely that it will garner enough support.
Malaysia has shown repeatedly that the prime minister does not need the people's support to survive. Patronage politics is deeply ingrained, and the recent sackings of senior politicians are a stark reminder of what lies in store for those whose loyalty is questioned. For now, it seems Najib is likely to survive and lead his party into the next election.
Despite the show of force, with military hardware and armoured water cannon trucks lining the protest route, there was little violence and few arrests. Previous rallies saw street scuffles, the use of water cannon and tear gas along with hundreds of arrests.
Whether intentional or not, the Malaysian police have managed this rally with a light hand, perhaps driven by a belief that the protest is essentially harmless. After cracking down hard before the rally, the authorities seemed content to sit back, show the world that they can effectively manage public discontent - and then do nothing.
Democracy in Malaysia is the poorer for it.
Anneliese Mcauliffe is a journalist who has worked across Asia and the Middle East for the past two decades for the BBC, Al Jazeera, ABC and the Associated Press. She has worked extensively in both Indonesia and Australia.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
Anneliese Mcauliffe is a journalist who has worked across Asia and the Middle East for the past two decades.
aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/08/malaysia-democracy-worse-shape-thought-150831065901768.html
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Child soldiers of Iraq, Yemen
By Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg
1 September 2015
International law forbids recruitment of children. This prohibition is found in Protocols I and II of the Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international agreements. The Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) considers “conscripting or enlisting children” a war crime, whether it took place in international or local armed conflicts.
Despite this clear ban, reliance on child soldiers has been on the rise, especially by terrorist groups and militias, reaching dangerous levels in Iraq and Yemen, where in the latter children account for one third of the fighters, according to UNICEF, Human Rights Watch and media reports.
Today, I will focus on the recruitment of children by the Houthis in Yemen and Popular Mobilization militias in Iraq.
In Iraq, Popular Mobilization militias are increasingly relying on children. And just like the terrorist group Daesh, which recruits and brainwashes children to carry out unspeakable atrocities, the Popular Mobilization militias employ similar methods. Their model is Iran’s Basij militias, which played a key role in the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) and Basij children bore the brunt of that war.
A recent report by Iran Pulse quoted an Iraqi academic as saying, children fighting with Popular Mobilization militias “are trained to fight against the Sunni opposition, western countries and Israel; and to establish Imam Mahdi’s universal government.”
They are indoctrinated by clergy at their camps to fight ferociously and to “seek vengeance” for past injustices.
Iraq’s Minister of Transportation Hadi Al-Ameri heads the Badr Organization, an especially brutal militia that was established by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and fought alongside Iranian forces against Iraq. IRGC recruited child soldiers on a massive scale in both Iran and Iraq. The Basij (Organization for Mobilization of the Oppressed) was established in 1979 and charged with training and deploying child soldiers.
Al-Ameri has been made commander of all Popular Mobilization militias. His lieutenant Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is on the United States wanted terrorists’ list.
Iraq’s Popular Mobilization militias are modeled after Iran’s Basij in organization, objectives, fighting methods, propaganda and political activism. They share religious orientation and beginnings. Just as the Basij were founded on Ayatollah Khomeini’s orders, Popular Mobilization militias were encouraged by Ayatollah Sistani. Both rely on clerics who indoctrinate children in sectarian religious dogma, including the pernicious principle of (Velayet-e faqih), dictating complete obedience to Iran’s Supreme Leader and other clergy, not civil institutions of the state.
They are also similar in their use of child images in war propaganda. They glorify “child martyrs,” as in the story of Mohammed Hossein Fahmideh, a 13-year-old boy from Qom, who ran away from home to join the army and was killed in a suicide attack against Iraqi tanks in 1980. He was considered a national hero in Iran and frequently used to mobilize young recruits.
Houthi militias in Yemen are similar to Basij and Popular Mobilization militias in goals, organization and fighting methods, with some minor differences, and like them rely increasingly on children, who now constitute about one third of their troops.
Human Rights Watch’s detailed report (Yemen: Houthis Send Children Into —Using Child Fighters Violates International Law) relied on eyewitness accounts and interviews with the children and their recruiters, trainers, and minders, concluding that Houthis have increased their use of children after their takeover of Sanaa in September 2014. Children as young as 12 were used as soldiers, guards, scouts and runners, transporting weapons and ammunitions.
HRW also concluded that children were first indoctrinated along sectarian lines, followed by military training. Militias provided food, Qat and ammunitions.
Numbers of child soldiers are staggering: In an internal document made public recently, a senior Houthi leader instructed the deputy minister of education to exempt child soldiers from final exams, demanding that all 4,840 children listed by name were passed to the following grade without exams, “due to the circumstances that forced them to defend the country.”
Qat (aka Khat) is an important weapon in Houthis’ arsenal. They have removed the social stigma about giving it to children, and instead distribute it freely and encourage them to use it. Once hooked on the stuff, the children would not run away, Houthis seem to believe.
In addition to earning child soldiers’ loyalty, Qat affects their behavior to become daring and fearless. Similar to speed or amphetamine, Qat users could experience feelings of euphoria, hyperactivity, confidence and illusions of increased strength, endurance and alertness. Qat frequently impairs inhibition (similar to alcohol), and induces thought disorder, hallucinations and psychoses in some cases. Those feelings could make the addicted child brutal and reckless.
Abuse of children in this fashion and exposing them to war and drugs demonstrate the cynicism of those sectarian militias and their Iranian handlers, in violation of all international agreements about protecting children.
.arabnews.com/columns/news/799971
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Palestine’s leadership crisis
By Ramzy Baroud
1 September 2015
The crisis of leadership throughout Palestinian history did not start with Mahmoud Abbas and will, regrettably, be unlikely to end with his departure.
Abbas’ unforeseen announcement on Aug. 27 that he, along with a few others, will resign from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee and his call for an emergency session of the Palestine National Council (PNC) is a testament to his poor management. More, it shows his utter disregard for the required threshold of responsible leadership.
Now, at the age of 80, Abbas is obviously concerned about his legacy, the fate of the PLO and his Palestinian Authority (PA), once he is gone. Whatever political maneuvering he has planned for the future (including the selection of new Executive Committee members, which will be overseen by him and by his allies) is hardly encouraging. According to the Unity deal signed between Abbas’ faction, Fatah and Hamas, the restructuring of the PLO as a pre-requisite to include both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in one unifying and relatively representative Palestinian body was a top priority.
Well, not anymore. Hamas is furious with Abbas’ call for reconvening the PNC, a two-day session scheduled to be held in Ramallah, West Bank next month. The Gaza-headquartered Movement is calling on Palestinian factions not to participate. Either way, further Palestinian disunity is assured.
Now that unity remains elusive, Hamas is seeking its own alternatives to breaking the Gaza siege by conducting what is being described as “indirect talks” with Israel, via the notorious former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The latter has reportedly met Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on more than one occasion. The discussions included a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in exchange for the permission of a safe sea passage where Palestinians in Gaza can enjoy a degree of freedom.
Needless to say, if the reports regarding Blair’s role in the indirect negotiations and Hamas’ intentions are accurate, it would indeed be a great folly. On the one hand, Blair’s pro-Israel record disqualifies him from the role of any honest mediation. On the other, resistance or truce is not a political decision to be determined by a single faction, no matter how great its sacrifices or how trustworthy its intentions.
In addition, Abbas is in no position to criticize Hamas for its talks with Blair. It is particularly disingenuous that Abbas and his party are accusing Hamas of flouting Palestinian unity and consensus, while both — Abbas and Fatah — have contributed to Palestine’s political afflictions more than any other leader or faction in the past. In fact, while Gaza subsisted and suffered terribly under a protracted Israeli siege and successive wars, Abbas operated his PA outfit in Ramallah with the full consent of the Israeli government. The so-called “security coordination,” chiefly aimed at crushing Palestinian Resistance in the West Bank, continued unabated.
This is what Israeli political commentator Raviv Drucker wrote in Haaretz in an article that reprimanded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to appreciate the value of Abbas:
“Our greatest high-tech geniuses working in the most sophisticated laboratories could not invent a more comfortable Palestinian partner. A leader with no one to the left of him in the Palestinian political arena and one who, when his enemy, Israel, bombs his people in Gaza, comes out with a statement criticizing those who kidnap Israeli soldiers.”
Abbas has shown little compassion for Gaza. Neither has he demonstrated any respect for the Palestinian people nor has he invested sincere efforts aimed at making Palestinian unity his top priority. It is rather telling that he is activating the PNC, summoning its nearly 700 members, not to discuss the intensifying Palestinian crises — from Gaza to Jerusalem to Yarmouk — but rather to concoct another cozy arrangement for him and his cronies. Yet, this crisis of leadership precedes Abbas.
The PNC’s first meeting was held in Jerusalem in 1964. Since then and for years now, despite the parliament’s many flaws, it serves an important mission. It was a platform for Palestinian political dialogue; and, over the years, it helped define Palestinian national identity and priorities. But gradually, starting with Arafat’s elections as the head of the PLO in February 1969, the PNC ceased being a parliament, and became, more or less, a political rubber stamp that validated all decisions made by Arafat’s PLO and, specifically, his Fatah faction.
This has been highlighted repeatedly throughout history with several prominent examples:
On Nov. 12, 1988 the PNC convened in Algiers to approve of a political strategy based on UN Resolutions 242 and 338, the habitual US condition for engaging the PLO. At the end of deliberation and, based on that approval, Arafat announced an independent Palestinian State, to be established in the Occupied Territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Despite this, the US still argued that the PNC statement did not qualify for an “unconditional” acceptance of Resolution 242, hence pressing Arafat for more concessions. Arafat flew to Geneva and addressed the UN General Assembly on Dec. 13, 1988, since the US refused to grant him an entry visa to speak at the UN Headquarters in New York. He labored to be even more specific.
However, the US maintained its position, compelling Arafat, on the next day, to reiterate the same previous statements, this time, explicitly renouncing “all forms of terrorism, including individual, group or state terrorism.”
But unlike Arafat’s misuse of democracy and manipulation of the PNC — which is no longer representative or, with its current factional makeup is, frankly, irrelevant — Abbas’ game is even more dangerous.
Arafat used the Council to ratify or push his own agenda, which he mistakenly deemed suitable for Palestinian interests. Abbas’ agenda, however, is entirely personal, entirely elitist and entirely corrupt. Worse, it comes at a time when Palestinian unity is not just a matter of smart strategy, but is critical in the face of the conceivable collapse of the entire Palestinian national project.
There is no doubt that the moment when Abbas exits the scene has arrived. That could either become a transition into yet another sorry legacy of an undemocratic Palestinian leadership or it could serve as an opportunity for Palestinians, fed up with the endemic corruption, political tribalism and across-the-board failure, to step forward and challenge the moral collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the charade of self-serving “democracy” of factions and individuals.
arabnews.com/columns/news/799966
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Democracy and Secularism
By Ali Bulaç
August 30, 2015
We owe the participation of man in the course of modernization as a social puppet to the modern world and its main philosophical assumptions that have deeply impacted our daily lives over the last two centuries. Modernization is an ideology that seeks to transform the society through the main assumptions of modernity but is not based on a divine-sacred precept; but in the end, it is not anything other than the secularized form of the Catholic teachings. For this reason, just like the Medieval Catholic Church against which it emerged as a response, it is also totalitarian and authoritarian.
The disagreement between the church and the king, who wanted to consolidate his power in an absolutist setting in Medieval Europe, was also relevant to the control in the public sphere. The absolutist state that gained power vis-à-vis the church over time confronted the civil society; the bourgeoisie was the harbinger of the civil society. The bourgeoisie removed the absolutist rulers and regimes in the French revolution and the industrial revolution; on the other hand, it also settled the conflicts between the classes through constitutional movements. The limitation of the administration in the public sphere has become possible by the introduction of a multiparty system, evolution and the consolidation of democracy. This way, the civil society was partially recognized as an autonomous sphere. However, constitutions have never ceased to play a role in transforming the society through normative and peremptory rules from a traditional to a modern setting.
This means that secularism restricted the authority of the church and democracy limited the absolutist rule and stipulated pluralism in the public life in the West; maybe there was no other choice. If a society has a religious institution (church) that claimed a divine and sacred authority over state administration and politics and a religious class (clerics), secularism is necessary as an apparatus of the state to protect the fundamental rights of all and to liberalize politics because without secularism, civilian politics is not possible. In such an environment, it is also not possible to protect religious freedom and different interpretations and practices within a religion. Islam did not have such problems in that period. However, from the perspective of the main theological teachings and the experience in the history of Islam and the current Muslim world, the main problem in almost all Muslim countries is the democratization of the state which appeared in an absolutist, totalitarian and autocratic character.
There has been no religious institution or a class of clerics in the history of Islam and in the contemporary Muslim world that claimed divine and sacred authority over the state. There was no such institution in the past and there is no such institution now. If secularism guarantees civilian politics, the enjoyment of religious and philosophical rights by the people in a country and recognition of their rights to raise demands over their lifestyle, you do not need to have some special knowledge to argue that Islamic teaching sets objections to this.
So the problem is not that Islam has a church-like threat or raises a theocratic demand; it is a problem of making the political and administration better in terms of democratic principles. It is possible to ensure the liberalization of politics and enjoyment of religious rights that secularism achieved in the West by making Islam more effective and functional. Democracy is a process that changes and evolves over time. Today, it is evolving from the majority into plurality in the entire world. In this case, our question is this: Why is the Muslim world so reluctant to move to a pluralist democracy?
todayszaman.com/columnist/ali-bulac/democracy-and-secularism_397843.html
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Why Ankara Is Under Pressure Over ISIL?
By Murat Yetkin
September/01/2015
Last week, former U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Eric Edelman published an article in the New York Times titled “America’s Dangerous Bargain With Turkey.”
This week, an editorial in the same newspaper skeptically described Ankara’s joining of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as “Turkey’s War of Distraction.” 
Both pieces made the same claim: President Tayyip Erdoğan has used the recent cooperation against ISIL as a cover for Turkey’s massive operations against the outlawedKurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been a key fighting force on the ground against ISIL via its sister organization in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), so Ankara’s attacks on the PKK actually weaken the fight against the notorious jihadist organization.
In another recent article, “Repeat Elections, Repeat Results?” Bülent Alirıza, the head of the Turkey program of the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), questioned whether the move against the PKK was related to Erdoğan’s dissatisfaction with the June 7 election results, ahead of the government trying its chances once again in the re-election scheduled for Nov. 1.
The interesting point is that Turkish jets (at last) joined coalition forces in actual raids against ISIL targets in Syria on Aug. 28 and 29 from Turkey’s strategic İncirlik Air Base, according to official sources. Those attacks came hours after a Pentagon statement on Aug. 28 saying that joint raids might take place “very soon.”
Meanwhile, security operations against acts of terror by the PKK are still ongoing - mainly within Turkey rather than against the PKK’s bases in northern Iraq as was the case in late July and early August. Perhaps it is worth mentioning at this point that thePKK is on the U.S. blacklist of terrorist organizations while the PYD is on neitherAmerican nor Turkish blacklists. It also worth mentioning that the rules of engagement given by Ankara to the Turkish military for the PYD are to reciprocate any fire but to not consider it an “enemy” - unlike the PKK.
Despite denials from U.S. officials that they have had any contact with the PKK, it is not hard to speculate that the PKK is telling the Americans that it cannot devote its full capacity against ISIL as it now has to fight against the security forces of Turkey, America’s ally. The Barack Obama administration now has access to İncirlik and the cooperation of Turkey (the only Muslim-majority member of NATO) against a terrorist organization calling itself the “Islamic State,” but it also gives all necessary messages to the media that Ankara is still not doing enough, which helps to assuage the PKK/PYD forces on the ground.
But the real reason to explain the amount of pressure on Ankara over its stance against ISIL - especially at a time when Turkey has actually joined the raids - must be something else, as it has continued to be applied even after the beginning of the joint raids. The reason could be the Obama administration’s rising level of distrust in the Erdoğan administration. If so, that distrust would extend to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government, now heading to a re-election in a cabinet alongside deputies (involuntarily, in accordance with the constitution) from the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which was recently denounced by Erdoğan as the “political extension of the separatist terrorist organization [PKK].”
Will the U.S.’s lack of trust continue after the Nov. 1 elections? It depends on the result. If the outcome of the snap election is similar to the June 7 vote, forcing the AK Parti into a coalition government and forcing Erdoğan to admit that his desire to concentrate all power in the presidency is unrealizable, the distrust could fade. But if Erdoğan pushes for yet another re-election after Nov. 1, or if the AK Parti is able to form a single-party government, the Erdoğan’s path may be clear for a super presidency and Washington’s distrust would continue.
All things considered, it seems that the current discord essentially boils down to the basic lack of trust between Obama and Erdoğan.
hurriyetdailynews.com/why-ankara-is-under-pressure-over-isil.aspx?pageID=449&nID=87794&NewsCatID=409

Reading Nazrul Islam after Walter Benjamin

Reading Nazrul Islam after Walter Benjamin





By Salimullah Khan
August 29, 2015
‘Early in his life, Kazi Nazrul Islam, the most notable Muslim poet of modern Bengal, edited and published a weekly Bengali journal namedDhumketu, the Comet. The name was symbolical of his whole career. He made his first appearance on the firmament of Bengali literature like a comet and at once captured the admiration of all lovers of poetry, and after a brilliant but short career as a poet made his exit, also like a comet. His poems bear the stamp of a distinct and vigorous personality and he sounded a note not heard of before in the long history of Bengali literature. He was hailed by Hindus and Muslims alike.' This is how a lachrymose sketch by Prabodh-Chandra Sen in the Vishvabharati Quarterly put it in 1958. It is rather, as we will see shortly, as much condescension as understatement.
I
Nazrul Islam, all the same, faced condemnation and stiff resistance from all quarters, Brits, Hindus and Muslims alike. Some wiseacres happened also to be admirers of Fascism, if not outright Fascists. One of these tooth and nail colonial fighters survived long enough to reminisce, to carry it kit and caboodle, till the 1980s. 'I knew Bengali literature up to 1920 very well,' well-known colonial thinker Nirad C. Chaudhuri writes in 1987, 'but had ceased to keep myself abreast of the latest writings because, on the one hand, I had developed other interests and on the other had a feeling that the Bengali literary effort was reaching the point of exhaustion.' '[Rabindranath] Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chatterji dominated the Bengali literary scene,' Chaudhuri continues, 'but to me it seemed even they had touched the limits of their creative achievement. And so far as I read anything by younger writers, they seemed to be both crude and shallow as a rule. I became deeply suspicious of their manner as well as matter.' One of these younger writers the embryonic colonial thinker developed an antipathy for was, in his own words, 'a Muslim named Kazi Nazrul Islam, who had served in the 49th Bengali Regiment in Mesopotamia in the first World War'.
'This regiment,' Chaudhuri free-associates, 'was not a success and was disbanded after the war, but Nazrul Islam had reached the rank of Havildar in it, which was equivalent to being a sergeant. This made him inclined to make use of some cheap military claptrap in his poems, which were accepted then as the expression of a new revolutionary spirit. Through all that he became something of a rage. But in spite of having a good deal of untaught skill in the use of language and metre, to me seemed very superficial, indisciplined, and frothy. As if that was not enough to prejudice me against him, I was repelled by his references to torpedoes and mines as symbols of the revolutionary spirit.'
Chaudhuri's vituperation hardly knows a bound. 'I cannot describe the contempt I felt,' admits he, 'when I saw a procession of Muslims marching under my windows at 41 Mirzapore Street, chanting one of Nazrul's poems on the victory of Mustafa Kemal in 1922. It was a long rigmarole, which certainly Kemal, if he ever came to read it, would have trampled under foot, and it had the refrain: “Hurro, ho, hurro, ho, [Kamal,] tu-ne kamal kia, Bhai!” (Hurrah, hurrah, thou hast pulled it off splendidly, O brother!)' 'This is not Bengali but Urdu—,' exclaims our little fascist, only to add, 'and this was consistent with the Bengali habit of employing English or Urdu and Hindi when in a passion.' 'In the poem the use of the word Kamal (which meant perfection or something splendid),' the reminiscing man reminds us, 'was a pun on Kemal's name.'
I am afraid I owe the reader a note here on introducing Nirad C. Chaudhuri as a sometime fascist. 'I had outgrown even the real Bengali revolutionary spirit of the early days of the nationalist movement,' admits Chaudhuri right after a contemptuous glance cast at references to 'cheap military claptrap' a la Nazrul Islam, only to add, 'and was not likely to be impressed by the exhibition of it in a weak and spurious form.'
But who are these real Bengali revolutionaries that he once admired, anyway? They were, socially speaking, 'young men of the higher class' who 'when insulted by men of lower classes often felt maddened and became murderers themselves'. Chaudhuri narrates a rural incident very briefly: 'The brother-in-law of a first cousin of mine was one day insulted by a man who may have been his tenant. He nursed his grievance and when a month or so later he heard that the same man had come to a feast in another house in the village, he went there and killed the offender with a spear as the man was eating.' 'The young Bengali terrorists,' laments Chaudhuri, 'only carried this social tradition into the political sphere, and as long as they remained revolutionaries they were also like possessed men.' It is this continuity, 'this proneness to violence,' which landed them on fascism's lap, or to 'worship for authoritarianism in government,' he thinks.
'All my life,' Chaudhuri recalls, 'I have been hearing the exclamation from them: “We want a dictator.” Thus as soon as Mussolini emerged in 1922, Bengali intellectuals showed themselves as his great admirers and as equal admirers of Fascism.' 'I heard Bengalis educated at Oxford, Cambridge and London,' testifies the old man, 'speak with enthusiasm of the march on Rome.' 'In the early Thirties,' Chaudhuri remembers, 'a great Bengali scholar, and one of my most respected friends, told me how uplifted above the commonplace he had felt when he had heard Italians on their way to Eritrea in a ship which was passing his near the Suez Canal, shouting: “Il Duce, Il Duce.” What a contrast that was, he said, to the womanizing Frenchmen on the streets of Paris.'
This admiration and enthusiasm for Mussolini and his fascists was eventually carried over to Hitler and German Fascism,' but in a more exalted form,' according to Chaudhuri. 'Even in 1929 or 1930,' he testifies, 'I published a story in Bengali in Prabashi, which was entitled 'Hilterite', and written by a Bengali who had a German doctorate. It was written in a very crudely theatrical style. The enthusiasm for Hitler grew, and at the time we did not know what Hitler's opinion of British rule in India was, because we had only the bowdlerized translation into English of Mein Kampf. But my doctor brother who returned from Germany at the end of 1931 had the German edition with him, and he told me about that. I got the passages translated by him, and published them in The Modern Review.'
The German breakthrough in the region of Sedan in 1940 stunned Chaudhuri, and says he, he was dismayed. His fellow-Bengalis, however, were not. They were, 'naturally', exulted and some of their exultation 'found rather amusing expression' in such absurdities as this. 'Many well-educated Bengalis', according to Chaudhuri, 'believed or liked to believe that Hitler was some sort of an epic Hindu hero, a great Aryan.' 'So one of them said to me,' as Chaudhuri confides in, 'Do you know, Nirad Babu, that German tanks fly the Kapidvaja?' He excels in erudition: 'Now, this flag, whose name translated means the 'Monkey Banner', was flown over his chariot by the Mahabharata hero Arjuna when fighting the battle of Kurukshetra. Those who had personal grievance against the British rule thought of Hitler almost as God. The father of one of the Chittagong revolutionaries who had been sentenced to transportation for life in the Andamans, told me: “Hitler is no ordinary mortal, he is the incarnation of Vishnu.” 'Absurd as these ideas were,' as this memoirist notes, 'they sprang from a real sense of oneness with the Germans.'










Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)
II
I indulge in these rather long extracts not for nothing; they provide good evidence of raging Fascism in Bengal. Incidentally, it is among these Fascists that Nazrul Islam meets some of his deadliest foes, not excluding Nirad C. Chaudhuri who in turn attributes it to Mohitlal Majumdar, one of his teachers. 
Fascism, note you, appears here in the name of 'tradition'. One more extract says it all: 'But I did not feel any deep concern. That was roused in me by Mohit Babu, who in spite of being one of the young writers, with his most mature work still before him, showed a violent dislike of any kind of writing which was not affiliated with the established tradition. His own individuality was only an extension of that. The tradition, itself the creation of fifty years of effort and innovation, had by 1920 reached a state of fixity which allowed only variations to be played on it, as on the main theme of a musical composition. Mohit Babu felt very strongly in literary matters, for Bengali literature was his life. Apart from that he was also a Bengali Hindu conservative of the school of Bankim Chandra Chatterji and Swami Vivekananda.'
Mohitlal Majumdar, 'the literary theorist' of the Calcutta fascist group, who happened also to be their oldest member, was looked upon as their leader. 'But in his prose writings Mohit Babu showed no humour,' says Chaudhuri. 'For that,' he adds, 'we depended principally on Sajani [Kanta] Das, although he was the youngest among us.' 'He spread the mainsail for our ship and became our mainstay for appealing to the largest element of our readers, because he had to an exceptional degree the aptitude for satire which was one of the oldest and strongest strains in the Bengali literary genius. Its humour was basically malicious.' The malicious, ill-reputed Sanibarer Chiti, first a weekly, later a monthly, became their organ. It thrived under the aegis of respectable journals like Prabashi and The Modern Review. Rabindranath Tagore often blessed them.
In 1922, the year of Nazrul Islam's first book of poems, also saw the publication of a Bengali weekly named Dhumketu with the poet as both its editor and publisher which eventually landed him in jail by year-end. In an early Dhumketu editorial Nazrul Islam came out for an uncompromising and uncompromised independence of India. He was for complete sovereignty, not for some negotiated Swaraj, or compromised self-rule, he announced. This he put forward not as a nationalist of sorts either. He found himself in sympathy with such groups as Peasants and Workers Party and other socialist congregations. In most editorials and other pieces written in the 1920s Nazrul Islam exuded a determination to bring about a complete revolution not just in political affairs, but in all spheres of the social order. His pre-eminent objective was to tear asunder all chains that circumscribe life. It is not chance but this structure of thought brought him face to face with the fascists.
III
For an endnote we might as well ask: what is Fascism, anyway? What alternative, if any, out there? These two questions were Walter Benjamin's also. In an essay dating from 1935, better known as 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' (or, alternatively, the Age of Technological Reproducibility)', Benjamin poses his most unforgettable question concerning Fascism and Communism. He contrasts the two in terms of an analysis of certain transformations which inaugurate what he calls 'the age of mechanical reproduction' of artworks. 'These transformations,' as the commentator Alexander García Düttmann takes it, 'consist in the destruction of the unity and authenticity attributed to traditional art; they affect any relation to tradition insofar as, according to Benjamin, the concept of tradition is itself essentially linked to the idea of the work of art, to the values which attach themselves to it, and which, without the idea, would never have been able to take on a stable and recognizable form.' This phenomenon is more popularly known as the 'decline of aura'.
In an explicit allusion to Marx's theory of history that, in the era of social revolution, changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure, Benjamin claims, on the contrary, that in the age of mechanical reproduction the superstructure no longer lags behind the infrastructure. If this is a fact, art (and culture at large) no longer submit to a determination that assigns them an ideological function. In other words, the work of art is no more contained in the world of ideology. This fact allows us to pose the question of Fascism anew. As Alexander García Düttmann writes, 'Fascism, for Benjamin, is a renewal of ideology; it checks the destructive process to which it owes its existence. In other words, it reintroduces a dissymmetry while presupposing, as its condition of possibility, a development which results in the abolition of dissymmetrical relation between infrastructure and superstructure.' Fascism insists on an certain concepts collected under that master signifier 'tradition', as we have seen with reference to, for instance, Mohitlal Majumdar, that literary leader of the colonial school of fascism.
Walter Benjamin opens his seminal work by way of rejecting 'a number of outmoded concepts, such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery, concepts whose uncontrolled (and at present almost uncontrollable) application would lead to a processing of data in the fascist sense.' As García Düttmann notes, in the first (of three extant) version Benjamin adds 'style, form, content', but does not mention 'mystery'. 'It would be wrong to believe,' as García Düttmann warns, 'that it is here a question of avoiding particular traditional or outmoded concepts which could no longer be used because they already and inevitably fall into a usage which escapes control. There are no good and no bad traditional concepts: it is the tradition as such that is at stake.'
Nazrul Islam's poetic oeuvre, in this precise sense, is also a rejection of 'creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery,' i.e. of moribund tradition. To wit, in one of his early poems, dating from 1925, namely 'Amar Koiphiot' (My Apology), he precisely anticipates Benjamin's critique of Fascism in the Artwork essay. Unmistakably, this anticipation leads by no less than a decade. 
I am a poet for the day, brother, and no prophet to be.
Call me a poet or no poet whatever, no difference to me!
O, your place in times to come is
For sure, say some, with poets who would be!
Where is your eternal value like that flowing from hands of Rabi?
Blame me as you like it, but I must keep singing my morning's melody!
It is consequently not simply a question of critique of ideology as such; it is rather the question of a critique of technology as ideology, or of representation as necessary misrepresentation. To illustrate, in the age of mechanical reproduction, the age in which cinematographic reproduction programs a 'new selection', only 'the star' and 'the dictator' remain in the end. The alternative is not the 'theatre' or 'parliament' respectively. They derive from the same anachronism: neither can escape the crisis of representation, traditional representation.
Fascism's answer to the crisis—to which it owes its own becoming—is aestheticization of politics, re-invoking tradition that is, in the name of nation, race, faith and what have you. Communism, synonymous with popular sovereignty, i.e. non-representational, direct democracy is politicization of aesthetics, or invocation of an inventive and innovative aesthetics that never rusts, never grows moribund. We run out of space here and conclude by recalling that Fascist threat lies not just in its pitting against destruction of tradition alone. It invokes ideology again and again, claimed often as the return of the eternal, though it in fact masks a return of the repressed. 
Benjamin analyzed photography and cinematography as the most representative and most efficacious of reproductive techniques. Nazrul Islam did indeed invoke the question of poetry as gesture, both inventive and innovative. He invoked it as a question of 'the real', in the psychoanalytic sense. If, as Benjamin finds it, politics as such is a function of the technology of mechanical reproduction (exposure and control of the body that photography and film make possible), then it is possible to imagine the politics of art as exemplary of all politics.
References
1. Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, trans., Edmund Jephcott et al., eds., Michael W. Jennings et al. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 19-55.
2. - ’The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,' Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Fontana Press, 1992), 211-244.
3. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, Thy Hand, Great Anarch! India: 1921-1952 (London: Hogarth Press, 1987), 148, 293, 567.
4. Alexander García Düttmann, 'Tradition and Destruction: Benjamin's Politics of Language,' trans., Debbie Keates, Modern Language Notes, 106:3 (April 1991), 528-554.
5. Kazi Nazrul Islam, 'Amar Koiphiot,' in Nazrul Racanabali, vol. 2, ed., Abdul Kadir (Dhaka: Central Board for the Development of Bengali, 1967), pp. 41-44.
6. - Poèmes choisis, trad., Jahangir Tareque (Dhaka: Nazrul Institute, 2000), 96-103.
7. Prabodh-Chandra Sen, 'Kazi Nazrul Islam: The Muslim Poet of Bengal,' Visvabharati Quarterly, 24 (Summer 1958), 52-68.

 
The writer is Professor at General Education Department, ULAB.
thedailystar.net/in-focus/reading-nazrul-islam-after-walter-benjamin-134326

The Strength to Say No: One Girl’s Fight against Forced Marriage

The Strength to Say No: One Girl’s Fight against Forced Marriage





By TBI Team
August 31, 2015
Rekha Kalindi, an 11 year old girl, raised her voice against forced marriage. She was tortured and even starved by her mother but she didn’t give up. Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Strength to Say No: One Girl’s Fight against Forced Marriage, that chronicles her brave actions and how she fought against everyone to continue her studies.
I hid away on the terrace as the sun went down. I wondered how long I would have to reject the marriage offers that were pouring in. I went to sleep, but my uncle woke me up to suggest coming to the room downstairs. For fear that I would fall over the side he helped me get down the stairs without a guardrail.
The next day I went straight to school without going to our house. It was out of the question to meet my mother, who I imagined must be furious with me. When I got home after school a boy accompanied by his parents was in the house. My mother introduced them to me. I understood what was being plotted and when they asked me what I thought of the young man I didn’t answer.
 ‘Are you sure she agrees?’ asked the boy’s mother.
 ‘Yes, yes!’ replied my mother. ‘She is shy and reserved, but we spoke to her yesterday. She knows what she ought to do . . .’
I hid out in a corner of the yard, my legs doubled up against my stomach.
 ‘And how old is she?’ the mother asked.
 ‘She’s coming up for ten. She is very gifted, you know. We’ve sent her to school so that she will be educated, and she’s top of the class. Her teachers are very proud of her. They say that she is much more intelligent than the other pupils.’
 ‘Ah! Very good! Nowadays children should go to school. It’s very useful . . .’
I wonder how this woman can know what is said or done in a school – especially as I suspect that her son has never set foot in one.
 ‘I don’t know how to cook, and I don’t like children,’ I say in a cold and determined tone.
 ‘Oh yes?’ replies the mother sharply. ‘But you are going to learn, I’m sure of it . . .’
 ‘I don’t think so. I eat very little, and neither my older sister nor my mother has taught me.’
 ‘She exaggerates. She lacks confidence in herself,’ my mother says, trying to reassure the other woman. ‘She has taken care of her brothers and sisters since she was quite small . . . I know
what she’s worth. She’s very gifted.’
 ‘Yes, she seems gifted, but my problem is that she’s too dark . . . You see? Compared with my son, who is lighter . . . How much is the dowry? I mean, bearing in mind this difference in
skin colour?’
I continued to listen to this discussion – or, rather, negotiation, I should say – that was all about me. I felt that Ma wanted a firm commitment on their part.
That’s enough. I couldn’t bear this masquerade any longer. I got up and headed for the young man, who must have been be five or six years older than I.
 ‘You know the story of Kishalaya?’
 ‘No. What is it?’
 ‘He’s a brahmin who frees a tiger from its cage and makes it promise not to eat him in exchange for its freedom. It’s a traditional tale of Bengal, but never mind. You know how to sing Baul?’
 ‘No.’
 ‘I am always chosen to perform the Indian national anthem and the traditional songs of Bengal. Do you know that most children’s diseases are spread by mosquito bites?’
 ‘No, I didn’t know that.’
 ‘I learned all that at school, just as I learned the importance of hygiene, reading and mathematics, and I can’t see myself abandoning all that to marry you!’
With that I turned on my heel and went back into the room where the parents were still arguing about the wedding and the dowry.
 ‘Your son is an idiot! I won’t marry him whatever my parents say!’
I knew that my parents were going to be embarrassed and get a bad reputation, but I couldn’t see any other way to get me out of this trap. The family went away. My mother gave me a furious look, and my father took the villagers back home, all the time offering profuse apologies.
As soon as I enter the gate of the school I feel a sense of liberation. I know that here I am protected by my teachers. They are the ones who taught us that in spite of our ages we can refuse
to go along with our parents’ plans. I feel like asking for advice from Atul, the teacher, but I decide against it, thinking that my parents have understood the lesson and that it’s not worth
embarrassing them any more by letting the incident reach the ears of the teachers.
I understood that my parents had the firm intention of getting me married, most likely before the next winter. Ma is too busy nursing my brother Tapan to work in the rice paddies any more. Baba no longer manages to earn enough money. The price of food is going up, and we have to drink the water that rice was boiled in. It is becoming more and more difficult to go on like this. Are my parents right? Must I ease out of the family environment and leave room for my younger brothers and sisters? I feel guilty that I was ever born.
What happens next? Does Rekha manage to make her parents understand or gives up due to the pressure? Read the story of Rekha Kalindi, an 11 year old girl from a remote village in Bengal who had seen the troubles faced by her friends due to forced marriages. She decided not to follow the same path and said “NO” when her parents wanted her to get married. She was tortured and even starved. But she didn’t give up.
thebetterindia.com/32648/book-excerpt-the-strength-to-say-no-one-girls-fight-against-forced-marriage/#sthash.hbUZ5TAa.dpuf

Islam and the Enlightenment

Islam and the Enlightenment




By İbrahim Kalın
August 29, 2015
 The growing spectacle of violence led by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), al-Qaida, Boko Haram and others usually ends up with calls for an Islamic enlightenment. A movement of enlightenment in Islam, it is argued, would lead to less violence, more tolerance, rationality and freedom. This seems to be based on the secularist-humanist assumption that religion breeds violence and secularization secures peace. But things are not as simple, and the history of modern violence presents a far more complicated picture.
Behind sensationalist headlines, the debate about the meaning of the Enlightenment has become intertwined with a debate about Islam and the future of Islamic-Western relations. In the preface to his otherwise brilliant book "The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture," Louis Dupre, "stunned by the attacks on September 11, 2001," wondered "if there was any purpose in writing about the Enlightenment at a time that so brutally seemed to announce the end of its values and ideals." Dupre does not mean to declare Islamic culture unenlightened. But he notes that "Islam never had to go through a prolonged period of critically examining the validity of its spiritual vision, as the West did during the eighteenth century."
Others have been more clairvoyant in calling for an Islamic Enlightenment and Muslim Reformation. The title of a New York Times column on Dec. 16, 2001 read: "Wanted, an Islamic enlightenment to end religious intolerance." After the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, the editors of the conservative National Review expressed regret that Islam did not go through the "chastening experience" of the European Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment and modern violence
Luckily, more reasonable voices are available and they point to the internal problems of the Enlightenment project and the varieties of historical experience by Islamic and Western societies. John M. Owen IV and J. Judd Owen say that "the Enlightenment did not end violence and self-destruction in the West (see: World War I, fascism, World War II, and the Cold War), calls for enlightenment in the Islamic world typically fail to recognize a few vital facts, not least of which is that Islamic societies have been grappling for generations with the Enlightenment, both the West's and their own."
The claim that embracing the European Enlightenment would prevent violent extremism is simply not supported by facts. In her seminal work "The Origins of Totalitarianism" published more than half a century ago, Hannah Arendt traced the origins of modern totalitarianism, represented by Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, and explained how it came out of the modern political order that the Enlightenment envisaged. From anti-Semitism and concentration camps to the use of the atomic bomb, forces of evil converged to create one of the most catastrophic periods in recent human history. European imperialism, African slavery, the two world wars, the horrors of the Holocaust, ethnic cleansings in the Balkans and Africa and the use of chemical and biological weapons have all taken place with great horror in the aftermath of the Enlightenment.
Few of these catastrophes are related to religious faith per se. Recent studies reveal a similar pattern. According to the Global Terrorism Index 2014: "Homicide claims 40 times more people globally than terrorism with 437,000 lives lost due to homicide in 2012, compared to 11,000 terrorist deaths in 2012." The report also notes that "religious ideology as the motivation for terrorism is only partly a global phenomenon. While it is predominant in Sub-Saharan Africa, MENA [Middle East and North Africa] and South Asia, in the rest of the world terrorism is more likely to be driven by political or nationalistic and separatist movements."
Studies have shown that right-wing extremists in the U.S. have killed more people than al-Qaida-related extremists since 2001.
But the disparity between media coverage of different types of terrorism is a common phenomenon. For instance, PKK terrorism, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives since the 1980s, has surged in Turkey in recent weeks. Yet the PKK's Marxist-Leninist and nationalist ideology is hardly invoked to explain its terrorist tactics. What is more insidious is the attempt of the major Western media outlets to whitewash the PKK's terrorist acts in the name of fighting ISIS in Syria.
The fact is that one does not need religious faith to justify violence. While it is true that violence is committed in the name of Islam, Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism, religion is not the sole driver of violence in the modern world. If one of the promises of the Enlightenment was more peace and less violence through rationalism and secularization, it has hardly come true.
What was the Enlightenment?
The definition of the Enlightenment had caused considerable perplexity when the question was first put forward in the 18th century. Kant defined it as "man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another." Man's immaturity has created much of the oppression and ignorance in human history. Kant characterizes the essence of the Enlightenment as the "courage to think" for oneself freely. "Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own reason! That's the motto of enlightenment."
This gives us two essential features of the Enlightenment, the use of reason and a critical attitude toward tradition and authority. Both played a key role in the rise of the modern world. Yet it did not take long for the first principle to regress into a crude rationalism and the second into a destructive anti-traditionalism. The new Enlightenment reason recognized no authority other than itself, replacing the religious centrism of the medieval ages with a modern self-centrism.
Interestingly enough, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary captures this aspect of the Enlightenment when it defines it as shaped by a "shallow and pretentious intellectualism, unreasonable contempt for tradition and authority." The authors of the dictionary had obviously no flattering view of the Enlightenment, but their critical attitude reveals the self-limiting nature of the Enlightenment's most cherished principle of critical thinking. If one is to be critical of all received traditions, religion, history or society, should not this principle apply to the Enlightenment itself?
Furthermore, Enlightenment rationalism and anti-traditionalism have become intertwined with global capitalism over the last century with far reaching consequences for our material as well as mental-moral world.
Does Islam need an Enlightenment?
While keeping an open horizon, the Muslim world needs to recover its own intellectual tradition and moral compass. Since the 19th century, Muslims have been engaged in a heated debate about the relevance of their faith and heritage in an aggressively secularizing and relativistic world. The traditional Islamic ontology that had shaped the worldview of Muslims is at loggerheads with the anti-foundational ontologies and subjectivist epistemologies of late modernity. The Muslim notion of placing everything within a larger context of transcendence has little appeal in modern, capitalist societies. Muslims themselves are torn between a glorious past, a depressing present and an uncertain future.
Contemporary Muslims should certainly study the experience of the European Enlightenment and learn from its gains and losses. But the more critical task is to uncover the notions of reason and tradition as developed by centuries of Muslim scholarship and thinking in a way that will guide the Muslim world today.
The Islamic intellectual tradition rejected subverting reason in the name of faith, on the one hand, and divinizing it in the name of emancipation on the other. Instead, reason was placed within a larger context of being and thinking, which gave meaning to man's life and the universe of which he is a part. It functioned in unison with knowledge, wisdom, prudence and virtue. As I elaborated in my "Reason and Rationality in the Quran," it produced both logical-philosophical knowledge and ethical-spiritual refinement without creating a crisis of knowledge and faith.
In regard to the tradition, its total rejection in the name of freedom and autonomy leads to a crisis of authority and legitimacy. Many Muslim scholars, scientists and philosophers have maintained a healthy dose of critical distance vis-a-vis the scholarly intellectual tradition to which they belonged. In fact, this is how they maintained the vitality of the tradition over the centuries. The fact that modern fanatics subvert and distort this tradition does not take away from its essential significance.
A critical engagement with both Islamic traditions and the Enlightenment is key to overcoming the current problems facing the Muslim world. If the Muslim world is to address its intellectual and social problems in a creative and constructive manner, it will happen only by recovering the core notions of reason, faith and freedom from within its rich tradition.
In short, the Muslim world cannot be content with the ontology of a civilization that sees the world as an end in itself. It cannot ground its notions of knowledge, faith and virtue in an epistemic system that is based on materialistic reductionism and positivism, on the one hand, and anti-realism and subjectivism on the other. It cannot embrace an instrumentalist notion of ethics that accepts utility as the only virtue.
The arduous task of keeping an open horizon while remaining anchored within the tradition falls on the shoulders of Muslim scholars and intellectuals. Their task is made harder by the fact that they have to fight against the insanities of the modern world, on the one hand, and modern religious fanatics on the other. Yet this is not an impossible goal to reach; a goal that can enlighten our minds and hearts.
dailysabah.com/columns/ibrahim-kalin/2015/08/29/islam-and-the-enlightenment