Most of us Muslims would have thought the fine art of Muslim-bashing started post 9/11. How far wrong can we be! The fine art started way back in 1142 AC. The outright slaughter started after 9/11!.
It was way back in 1142 Ac when the Abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable, visited Toledo and met Robert of Ketton and asked him to lead a team project to produce the first version of the "Holy Quran" in Latin. Not exactly 'Holy' because both Peter and Robert viewed Prophet Muhammad as a charlatan and their unholy alliance was to find 'holes' and 'chinks' in the armour of the 'impregnable Muslim world. The infidel Turks were controlling half of the known civilised world in the 12th and the 13th centuries.The main preoccupation of European Christiandom then was to slay as many Muslims as they can and reclaim back their lands.
Thus began the science of 'orientalism',...... ten centuries before Levin, Bernard Lewis and Edward Said et al. A science born out of the need to subjugate Muslims initially under the crusaders and later Judeo Christian interest and subsequently now,secularism.
Post World War 1,there was no more time for'fine art' and 'orientalism'.It was gross aggression and 'dinner' time. The wolves were having a field day!All the 'Stans' go to Russia.The Nedj desert were carved out into small nation states under the British.North Africa became French and Italian.Moghul India became a jewel within the Imperial Crown and spicy South East Asia, just about anyone who want to have them.
Post World War 2 when it become no longer fashionable to have colonies,neocolonism become the 'in thing'.A necessary evil in the face of Karl Marx's Russia and Chairman Mao Tze Tung's China.
The Qur'an and Islam took a back seat.Karl Marx's idealism and spread threatened Western hegemony.The Cold War. The Domino theory in Asia lead to the Korean War...then the Vietnam War.Needless deaths.
But ideology and man made idealism and principles are just hollow in the inside. With the onslought of time and harsh economic realities helped by Gorbachev's stupidity in the face of a plausible, super salesman Ronald Reagan and his'Reagonomics',even Communism fell. The Great Russian Bear now become the Great Russian Beggar. China still is communist in principle but capitalistic in practice.With an added twist: despotic with an abundance of non questioning ,cheap and hungry labour.An ideal world- factories and sweat shops!
Bush, Blair,Sarkozy, Belesconi and Meckel et al in cohort now had to contend with Islam. No nation state per se but just powerful ideas!Bludgeoning ideas with a claim to'divinity'! Dangerous ideas and awakenings!Threatening the status quo, and of continuous flow of global slavery, cheap labour, and cheap oil!
Bush's 9/11. Is this a perfect demolition job coinciding with one mad man's[ Osama's and/or Bush's ] perception of Islam? Is this just a pure drama put up by CIA and MOSSAD? Or is this real?....In the context of recent development ,we will never really know now!........[ see link: 9/11: A Perfect Demolition Job.. ]
What we know now is that the Crusade goes on: Afghanistan, Iraq,...Palestine...maybe new theaters of war in Pakistan and Iran. No STUPID this is not a Crusade, they said..it is NATO and some smattering of Japanese and the rest....Why is there no Muslim nation state if this is not a crusade? One just wonder...Oh no! A probable 6th war theater in the Sudan-Chad region, a bastion of the last world vast, cheap oil reserve for Western hegemony.Reasons can be created when one controls the world press and the Security Council votes and veto: crime against humanity,pariah government, inhumane dictatorship,Al Queda, and at worse,if there is a dearth of good reason, create one, either stage another 9/11 or plant some 'dirty' plutonium bomb somewhere...
What has Surah Al Tawbah to do with all these wrong perceptions and what was and is happening in the real world ? Too much , I am afraid. On both side of the divide it provide the intellectual ammunition and reason for hate-mongering:
"Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (5)"
"Fight them! Allah will chastise them at your hands, and He will lay them low and give you victory over them, and He will heal the breasts of folk who are believers. (14)"
The early orientalists called this surah, "The Chapter of the Sword".Evangelical Christians even now called it this way and memorised the 'ayats' by heart whenever they go around ,chest thumping, and raising the temperature. Osama et al also did the same. Both side of the divide disregard the fact that this ayat came 15 months prior to The Prophet's demise, sometime post Hudaibiyah Treaty with the the Mekkan Arabs who prevented the Prophet and his large entourage from entering Mekkah to perform the Hajj.They agreed to a 4 month moratorium on all warfare.As history had it, the treaty was broken by the Mekkans, who never was interested to honour it in the 1st place except to disrupt and disperse the large Muslim gathering who came with peace in mind to do the hajj. This gave the Medinan Muslims reason for further action.
Put yourself in the shoes of the Prophet at that point in time: Down south in Mekkah you have pagan Arabs, most of them your 'former' relatives and cousins and uncles and even brothers and sisters, out to nip you in the bud again and again despite being hammered in several skirmishes earlier on.Up north you have the Great Eastern Roman Empire [ the Byzantines ],headquartered in Constantinople, empowered with their '3 in 1' and '1 in 3' brand of Paulian Christianity, massing their troops at the Syrian and Egyptian borders.To the north-east, you have the impressive war machine, the Persians, looming over you.And right smack within your people you have the 'hypocrites'. And as if these were not enough , you are surrounded by the Christians and Jews , especially the Jews who would love to see that you get blown out of this world! With this background, Surah Al Tawbah came in as a necessary morale booster to the sagging spirit of the Muslims: 'That despite all the odds,I, the Lord of the Universe, am behind you. Just persevere!'
Allah's advisory regarding friends and relatives amongst the Arabs of Mekkah and the Muslims of Medinah was very definitive, given both the dichotomy of belief but tragic intimate-blood relations between them:
"O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers. (23) Say: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth ye have acquired, and merchandise for which ye fear that there will be no sale, and dwellings ye desire are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah bringeth His command to pass. Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (24)"
To Robert of Keaton et al, then and up to time immemorial, this 'ayat' and many others in Surah AlTawbah represent a 'militant' phase of Islam. Docile in the beginning but increasing militantcy as it gathered in strenght.
Allah's advisory with respect to the Medinan Jews and the Byzantium and Arab Christians was on the basis of principle. Their "Allah" was a 'Paulian' invention,[ and still is ], diametrically divergent from the 'original' Jesus, son of Mary and this arising from the highly confused 'monks and rabbis' who had other agendas to fullfilled . Jesus,son of Mary, was ,like any other messengers before him: men who got 'begotten, begets, eat,[even excrete..and have families like the rest of their flocks.], and die.There is no divinity with respect to Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, until Paul had that bright idea trying to rope in Emperor Augustine The Great into Christianity:
"And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! (30) They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no god save Him. Be He glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! (31)"
On the 'hypocrites' God no longer mince word and had anything more mild to say, as was the case in previous ayats[ prior to Uhud and Badar ] from earlier surah. The 'hypocrites' were deadly thorns in the flesh , then, and I dare say even now to doomsday!:
"O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end. (73) They swear by Allah that they said nothing (wrong), yet they did say the word of disbelief, and did disbelieve after their Surrender (to Allah). And they purposed that which they could not attain, and they sought revenge only that Allah by His messenger should enrich them of His bounty. If they repent it will be better for them; and if they turn away, Allah will afflict them with a painful doom in the world and the Hereafter, and they have no protecting friend nor helper in the earth. (74)"
"Ask forgiveness for them (O Muhammad), or ask not forgiveness for them; though thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times Allah will not forgive them. That is because they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk. (80) Those who were left behind rejoiced at sitting still behind the messenger of Allah, and were averse to striving with their wealth and their lives in Allah's way. And they said: Go not forth in the heat! Say: The fire of hell is more intense of heat, if they but understood. (81)"
....A grim divine reminder of the the hundred and one reasons given by the 'hypocrites' of Medinah for not joining the Prophet in the campaign at Tabuk, near the Syrian border, when Prophet Muhammad decided to meet the Romans head on, after getting intelligence report that the Byzantine army were massing troops to move on to Medinah.It was a very hot summer's day. The Romans chickened out and the battle of Tabuk did not occur but the reminder not to 'pray' for the souls of 'hypocrites' will remain etched in the Qur'an forever.
"And never (O Muhammad) pray for one of them who dieth, nor stand by his grave. Lo! they disbelieved in Allah and His messenger, and they died while they were evil-doers. (84) Let not their wealth nor their children astonish thee! Allah purposeth only to punish them thereby in the world, and that their souls shall pass away while they are disbelievers. (85)"
My God! Mashaallah! Beware!.......that my friends is the status of the 'hypocrites' in Allah's view. The lowest of the low! The scum.....
But as I put it earlier, Surah Al Tawbah was not a call to arms to the Muslims, even though they were surrounded by 'hawks' and 'vultures' ready to pounce on them when they least expect , in their moment of weakness. It was rather a reassurance, as exemplified by the last ayat of the surah:
"There hath come unto you a messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, merciful. (128) Now, if they turn away (O Muhammad) say: Allah sufficeth me. There is no God save Him. In Him have I put my trust, and He is Lord of the Tremendous Throne. (129)"
If Obama et al are still suspicious about the Muslims and still have nightmares of Francis Fukuyama's "Clash of Civilisations", just ponder on the ramification and meaning of Surah Al Fatihah , which really summarises the whole Qur'an itself:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful (1)
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, (2) The Beneficent, the Merciful. (3)Owner of the Day of Judgment, (4) Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help. (5) Show us the straight path, (6) The path of those whom Thou hast favoured. Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. (7)"
'Prophet Muhammad went to war only to eradicate oppression and injustice. Once basic rights and freedom are guaranteed and protected, war become an abominable crime'...so wrote Shaykh Muahmmad Ghazali Al Ghazaly , the late Chairman of International Institute of Islamic Thought[ IIIT ], based in Cairo.
Muslims , the whole wide-world over, are just interested in one thing and one thing only,....That we submit in peace to Him, Allah,
"Say: He is Allah, the One! (1) Allah, the eternally Besought of all! (2) He begetteth not nor was begotten. (3) And there is none comparable unto Him. (112:4)"
We Muslims do not care whether you are 'godless' , or believe in '3 in 1' or '1 in 3' or would wish to remain agnostic or whether you guys would consider a romp in the park naked, or single sex marriages, as something permissible and acceptable in your value system. That is your funeral and not our affair:
"Say: O disbelievers! (1) I worship not that which ye worship; (2) Nor worship ye that which I worship. (3) And I shall not worship that which ye worship. (4) Nor will ye worship that which I worship. (5) Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion." (109:6)
Any world leader now who thinks he can organise and win wars against 1.5 billion Muslims must have his head examined.You are not fighting nation states, my friend! You are up against 'an idea' that has been long overdue......
[Thank you Mr President!.....that is the big picture from one Muslim's perspective]