As tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in Aleppo on an increasingly shrinking patch of land besieged by violence all around and bombardment from the air, the situation is descending into a bloodbath. Civilian blood merges with the soil of the blessed land of Syria courtesy of Bashar’s vengeance. Harrowing footage is showing bodies strewn across rubble as reports filter into the press that Bashar loyalists are going door to door and massacring civilians including women and children. One activist on the ground has stated that “more than 180 people have been field executed in the areas that the regime has recently [taken] control of by the Assad gangs and the militias supporting them, ” with rest awaiting their execution or death by airstrikes. Civilians are suffering with innocent men being killed, women becoming homeless, and their children dying due to freezing temperatures.
The deformation of Islam has not always had its roots in what are today clearly identifiable subversive “reform Muslims” and organisations. Traditional Ulama (Islamic scholars) have been politically exploited to provide the means by which neocons can push their agenda to deconstruct Islam. These “moderate” scholars would provide the legitimising face behind which lurked an insidious agenda to deform Islam into what Cheryl Bernard’s RAND corporation publication would call a “democratised Islam”; a postmodernist faith devoid of substance or meaning.
The push for the creation of a “British Islam” during the late 2000s was rooted in an underlying aim to create an “institutionally approved, ‘mainstream’, and ‘moderate’ expression of Islam”, which, through state-funded Muslim organisations (like Radical Middle Way and National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group), would “engineer if not exact power” in the Muslim community. Of course, scholars that had initially given backing to such organisations have now distanced themselves from the counter-extremism policies which these initial projects engendered.
The effort to abuse Sufi Islam into courting a political agenda has seen a resurgence domestically and internationally. These trends and movements are, tellingly, monitored and advocated by Israel due to the somewhat misplaced assumption that it provides for a pliant Islam which is amenable to Western military escapades in Muslim lands.
Recent reports and events demonstrate an evolution of this tired trickery.
Mark Sykes, 1917
“I want to see a permanent Anglo-French entente allied to the Jews, Arabs, and Armenians which will render pan-Islamism innocuous…” – Mark Sykes, 1917
The Middle East is experiencing convulsions as the vicious cycle of violence continues and the boundaries which were once drawn upon ignorance and arrogance remain in a state of uncertainty. The continued Western violence in the Muslim world and the destructive responses of individuals in Europe too are also not disconnected from history and historic politics. Indeed, the upheavals in the Middle East are not an isolated phenomena, as is often made out to be.
The source of this great distress for Muslims has been in no part due to the intrigues and “great games” which have played out over the past century.
Guest Post: By Uthman Ahmad
There are few issues which are more contentious and divisive to Muslims than the role of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world. This nation has polarised opinion amongst religious scholars, Islamic thinkers, political activists, pilgrims and even non-Muslims. In an Arab world dominated by ruling dynasties, the Saudi regime is perfectly consistent with its neighbours, but no other regime can simultaneously evoke such feelings of loyalty and detest from across the Muslims world.
The ‘Land of Tawheed’ is a phrase affectionately used to describe Saudi Arabia as a bastion of monotheism. It is after all the birth place of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Salutations be upon him) and his place of final rest. And within this peninsula is the Sacred House of God, the Ka’bah in Mecca, and the Prophet’s Sacred Mosque in Medina. Every year millions of Muslims make pilgrimage to the holy sanctuary to renew their faith while chanting the ‘talbiyyah’ which is a profound statement of the Oness of God. The scenes of countless Muslims making ‘tawaaf’ around the ka’bah are perhaps the most iconic symbols of Muslim unity and spirituality known across the globe, but consider this: Over the years the Makkan skyline has increasingly become dominated by exclusive hotels and shopping malls generating obscene sums of wealth for Saudi princes . They tower over the ka’bah physically and metaphorically as poorer pilgrims are driven further and further away to the outskirts of Makkah. The House of God, once accessible to all, seems increasingly accessible only to those who can afford it. Also coupled with the fact that the pilgrimage is the second largest source of income for Saudi Arabia after oil, it does bring into sharper focus the opinion of some scholars that profiteering at the expense of pilgrims is prohibited. Even the pre-Islam pagans of Makkah prided themselves on the altruistic service of pilgrims without charge.