Criticism of Crescent’s approach to the Taliban and al-Qa’idah

Developing Just Leadership

Idris Samawi Hamid

Sha'ban 05, 1424 2003-10-01

World

by Idris Samawi Hamid (World, Crescent International Vol. 32, No. 13 2003-10, Sha'ban, 1424)

I have followed Crescent since I was a child and have even had the occasion to meet and talk with Zafar Bangash a couple of times. Today the Islamic Movement is facing its worse crisis in over a generation. Yet I am very disappointed with the way Crescent has dealt with 2 issues: the Taliban and al-Qa`idah. The lack of ideological and Islamic clarity on these two threatens to seriously devalue Crescent in future.

In a recent article by Waseem Shehzad (‘Two years after 9/11, truth emerging about US’s opportunistic response to it’, Crescent International, September 2003) the author claims that "women live in fear of rape by warlords, something unheard of even during the worst days of the Taliban."

This as you know is completely untrue. During the best days of the Taliban Shi`i women were treated as slaves to be hunted, bought, purchased, and used for sexual gratification while their husbands, fathers, and brothers were killed. Does Brother Waseem Shehzad not consider these sisters as Muslims as well? Crescent has claimed that the Taliban "is an Islamic movement but a misguided one". These kinds of wordgames do not become Crescent at all. A reactionary movement like the Taliban is not Islamic in anything but name, any more than Wahhabism. Imperialists and their allies like Pakistan have used these reactionary movements to completely discredit Islam and the ideal of an Islamic State, yet you call the Taliban an "Islamic Movement".

Just as you so rightly demand ideological clarity of the ulama of Iraq with respect to the occupation of Iraq, it also demands that we stop playing word games and condemn the Taliban and al-Qa`idah for what they are: dangerous reactionary distractions to both the Islamic Movement and its ideals, usurping the legitamacy of jihad and turning it into an instrument of which the Prophet (saw) would be utterly horrified. Remember that the Prophet would not speak to Khalid for a time when he killed a submitting opponent in the heat of battle, when one might except some leniency or understanding even by modern standards.

Waseem Shehzad or the editor should apologize or clarify his statements. The blood and honor of numerous Muslim women and others was insulted by his comment. The evil of the Taliban far exceeded its emphasis on beards and burqahs.

In general, Crescent does not seem to have appreciated the damage that the Taliban and al-Qa`idah have done to the Islamic Movement. Indeed, these two have put the legitimacy of the entire Islamic Movement on the line, and have set the goals of the Islamic Movement back nearly forty years. I challenge the editors to bravely and boldly deal with this issue. There is a huge distinction between an Islamic movement (along the progressive lines of Milestones and Social Justice in Islam, and the thought of Mawdudi and Khumayni) and the reactionary thuggery of people like the Taliban and al-Qa`idah. Without such ideological and Islamic clarity, I fear the Islamic movement will move itself in to the irrelevance and marginality of the khawarij. Remember Imam Ali’s description of the khawarij as maariqiin: "they fly aimlessly from the diin of Allah as an arrow shot aimlessly from a bow".

The Prophet (S) told Imam Ali (A): "You will fight the Qaasitiin, Naakithiin, and the Maariqiin."

Just as Crescent has been clear on the Qaasitiin (Oppressors) and Naakithiin (Reactionary-wealthy Muslim elites) of our time, I challenge Crescent to be clear on the Maariqiin (Simple-minded murderers and thugs in the name of Islam, for whom everyone else is a kaafir whose blood, women, and property can be trampled at will) of our time.

The need for emphasizing the distinction between movement and reactionarism has never been greater. I hope that Crescent will meet that challenge. The alternative is bumbling and irrelevance.

May Allah help the Muslims and give them clarity in this dark time. And may Allah help those who follow His Guidance.

Professor Idris Samawi Hamid
Department of Philosophy
Colorado State University

The editor’s response

All of us involved with Crescent International learnt long ago that it is impossible to please all people all the time; indeed, it is impossible to please most people even most of the time.

We accept an element of Professor Hamid’s criticism. Waseem Shehzad’s comment was indeed open to being misconstrued; but only if Crescent’s long-established position on the Taliban is ignored. He was referring of course to the levels of security established for most Afghans within the areas the Taliban ruled, which is in stark contrast to the situation that now prevails, two years after the US invaded to bring Afghanistan ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. He was also referring to the Afghan situation only is passing, in an article on another subject. It may have been better for him to have pointed out that this security stood in stark contrast to the Taliban’s behaviour towards Afghanistan’s Shi’is in particular, and also to others who did not share their particular understanding of Islam, who were undoubtedly subjected to the most appalling treatment; but he perhaps felt, as our editorial staff did, that the limited context of his comment was clear

However, we cannot accept your characterization of our attitude towards the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. We have always been highly critical of both, for their sectarianism, their limited and conservative understandings of Islam and of society, and their often crude and counter-productive methodologies; see, for example, Iqbal Siddiqui’s article on the 9/11 attacks and al-Qai’da’s possible involvement in them in the October 16-30, 2001, issue, and the analyses of the Taliban by Zafar Bangash and Perwez Shafi in the December 16-31, 2001, and January 1-15, 2002, issues. (All are available on www. muslimedia.com.)

We deliberately take as broad and inclusive an understanding of the Islamic movement as possible, accepting all Muslims who are committed to Islam and work for it, however they understand Islam and however misguided their methodologies may be. There is a huge difference between the hypocrisy of Muslim governments and regimes that claim allegiance to Islam only to garner support or divert criticism, and movements – political intellectual or religious – that are genuinely in their commitment, albeit misguided in their understanding and expression of that commitment.

This inclusive approach makes it possible for us to deal openly with virtually all Muslims as brothers and sisters, even when we have to be extremely harsh in criticising them on certain points, in particular their sectarianism. It also makes all our disagreements and criticisms, however condemnatory they may need to be, parts of constructive debate within the movement, rather than fights with perceived outsiders. This is essential for maintaining the unity of the Ummah as a whole at a time when we have plenty of enemies doing their best divide and weaken us in any way possible.

Of course, we are only human, we have made many error and have no doubt caused offence and done harm in our efforts to do the right thing. We can only hope and pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala accepts our humble efforts in the spirit that they are intended. Ameen.

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