by Muhammad H. al-'Asi, Zafar Bangash
In an interview by the Turkish based WorldBulletin with, North America's two leading Muslim thinkers, Contemporary Islamic Thought Institute President Mohammed al-'Asi and Crescent magazine Editor in Chief Zafar Bangash, two thinkers talked about the understanding of the Islamic movement and the need for creating a new language without using western concepts, as well as al-'Asi's 30 volume first English commentary of the Qur'an.
Taqrib News Agency (TNA) does not miss this interview as it finds the answers quite proper and in the line with what it is trying to project on Islam and the need for a global outlet for the message of Islam.
They also shared their ideas and proposals for the globalized world, presentation of Islam in the media and the pollution created by the media.What more was discussed by the two Islamic thinkers was the present status of Muslims in the US, which they describe as "an empire is about to collapse," and in Canada that "has governed by people who are more right wing than Bush", as well as their thoughts on future.What in general is to be highlighted from their answers is the way Islam is presented in the world today and the pollution created by the media and that Islamic movement is an open system, it is not a political party.They stressed that the first duty of todays Muslims is to cleanse their minds since they have followed a lot of western terminologies that simply don’t belong to them. And on the other hand English language since it has emerged in a secular society lacks some spiritual words like "taqwa".Explaining Islam to non-Muslims first requires that the language that is been used has to be libareted from the idiom, or the stereotypes, or the connotations that are loaded in non-Qur'anic, non-Arabic, non-Islamic language that's been used.The second thing that has to be done is, there has to be a genuine effort for coining new terminology.Islam is a movement. And the understanding of Islam originates from a movement, not from people who are functioning with active brains in a high tower somewhere, ivory tower intellectuals.
WORLD BULLETIN: I would like to ask to you, first of all, the concept of Islamic Movement. What do you think about this concept? How would you define it?
ZAFAR BANGASH: If you want to go to the roots of the Islamic movement I think you really have to say that the first Islamic movement led by none other than the Prophet Mohamed (SAW) himself. Because Islamic Movement essentially is the movement of Muslims to establish the laws of Allah in the face of this Earth. So if one go even further back, you can say that all the prophets are the leaders of Islamic movements. The only difference being not all the prophets were able to get the support of the people in order to implement the laws of Allah on Earth. So we see that the most successful Islamic movement was led by none other than the Prophet Mohamed (SAW) himself. So that example gives us the definition and origins and methodology of Islamic movement.
Islamic movement is an open system, it is not a political party. I think this is important, because a lot of Muslims are confused about this concept. Secondly, Islamic movement has to strifle establish an Islamic state. There is of course an hadith of Prophet saying "A Muslim either live in an Islamic state, or strife to achieve an Islamic state. Otherwise he dies a death of ‘jahiliya’ (ignorance)." So the function of the Islamic movement to establish the Islamic movement, this is essentially the manifestation of Allah's power and Allah's laws on Earth. So that is the Islamic movement.
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: Yeah, I can add to that. You see, Islamic is a word everyone knows. Movement is a word everyone knows. They have their dictionary definition. When you put two of them together, Islamic movement, what is generally meant by this is the consolidation of the political will of the peoples who identify themselves as being Islamic to bring about their self determination. Therefore, in the world of ideas and in the world of politics, there are other movements, with other ideologies, with other paradigms. The Islamic one is an independent one that is supposed to work in all of the societies on Earth.
In the time frame we are living in, Muslims are have been for centuries victims of forces of colonialism and imperialism. We still suffer from centuries of colonialism and imperialism. The Islamic movement is the effort that is brought together, directly or indirectly, -some people may belong to the Islamic movement and not know it, to end of the day put together what we call today the responsibilities of state building. And the final definition of an Islamic state, which is the end process of the Islamic movement is determined by the peoples of that time and the forces of that time. Because for some people in today's world, they would like to see "what is the Islamic state, which comes as a result of Islamic movement? Is it belong on the political left? Is it belong on the political right? Ot it is belong somewhere in between?" I think Islamic state has a dynamic definition that you can't rigidly place it on the left even though there will be circumstances where state has to interfere so the speak in the affairs of its own society when there times of war. And in these types of circumstances the Islamic state, if we borrow the today's political terminology, is probably closer to the left than anything else. But I think in times of peace and security, when the guards are down, the Islamic state may resemble something of a state today that belongs on the political right.
So it is hazardous to try to put it either here or there, and the end of the day, it is a part of the function of the people who are responsible of the circumstances they find themselves in.
WORLD BULLETIN: You both believe that the Islamic state is the end product of any Islamic movement. So, what do you think of an agenda for today's intellectuals, for İslamic movements? What should be the agenda for the people who are participate an Islamic movement or believe they are belong to one?
ZAFAR BANGASH: I think the first thing they start, these Muslim intellectuals should clarify their own thought processes. They must cleanse their thinking. Because, we have followed a lot of western terminology that simply does not belong to us and simply does not apply to us. But we have been so much submerged by this, we have lost touch with the message of Islam in its totality. And this is why Imam al-'Asi doing this ‘tafsir’ (commentary) for instance, to revive and to reinvigorate the Islamic concepts as they ought to be apply to Islamic society. To give you an example, and of course you know, I do not want to borrow from him, it belongs to him, it is his understanding and I appreciate that and I accepted...
For instance, you pick up any translation of Quran, if you look at the meanings of the words, "mumin and kafir", a mumin is refer to as believer, and a kafir is refer to as nonbeliever or an unbeliever. I mean these are meaningless terms, they have absolutely no relevance whatsoever. What really is need to do is to understand what Allah is saying to us when he addresses us as a mumin. And you can relate that to a more specific way when you study the Qur'an you will find that in the Qur'an in all of the Meccan Surahs (sections of the Qur'an) the Muslims are never addressed as "ya ayyuha alladhina amanu". Now, we need to ask ourselves, if it means "All you who believe", was the Muslims in Mecca believers, can they believe in Allah and the Prophet? And the Qur'an is being revealed to them? So why they weren't address by Allah as "ya ayyuha alladhina amanu"? Why is it that they were only and only addressed in this sense in Medina? What changed? When they came to Medina, and the Prophet (SAV) arrived in Medina, a fundamental change occurred
We have lost touch with the message of Islam in its totality in their lives: An Islamic state emerged in Medina. Okay, that means that now the Muslims accepted the responsibility the governor of Allah to implement the laws of Allah in society. So that means that the Islamic movement at the time, since it had not implemented Islam in its totality in the society in Mecca, Allah did not addressed them as "ya ayyuha alladhina amanu", address them as "ya ayyuha al nas" You see that, when Muslims are addressed as "alladhina amanu" that means that they are not only accept the government of Allah but implement in society. So these are the concepts that we need to clarify in our minds. A lot of Muslim intellectuals are confused about political parties, democracy and all kinds of things. Of course, you know, when somebody, when a Muslim says that "we need to clarify our ideas about democracy", people goes "oh, do you believe that Islam is compatible with democracy?" These are, I think, quite, you know these are not accurate questions. And Muslims must not ought to fall in this trap. What I mean by this, that Muslims of course believe there should not be dictatorship, there should be consent of the people. But how do you derive that consent of the people ise different question. We are told that the only approach is operating various political parties. But when all these political parties come from. In the Qur'an there are refers to only to political parties: either it is 'Hizbullah' or it is 'Hizb al-Shaitan'. There is no other thing in the Qur'an.It does not say you can have a party on the right or a party on the left, or in between, whatever.
So, if Muslims are clear about their understanding of the Qur'an and the sunnah and the sirah (the life of the Prophet SAW), then they will not rely on western concepts to organize their lives. A lot of the confusion in Muslim world today exist precisely because we live in this, you know, I would not say bipolar world , but we live in schizophrenic existence. On the one hand, we want to implement Islam in our lives, on the other hand we want to use western tools to implement Islam. We can't do it. Western tools are not going to enable us to implement Islamic society. We have to be clear about this. It is only and only through a clear understanding of Islam, its concepts, its terminology, that we will be able establish Islamic state.
I just one final note to add, you know, in Qur'an the word "taqwa " is used numerous times. There is no equivalent word in English for "taqwa". Because, English is a secular language, it evolved in a secular environment, the West, particularly in Europe, that detached themselves from religion all together, and Islam is not just a religion, as most Muslims refers to it erroneously. There is no single word in Qur'an that refers to Islam as religion, it is "deen." And "deen" is a very different concept than religion. So Europe detached itself from religion, from their religious roots. They have a horrible experience with their church. So they assume automatically that every "deen" including Islam has had the same horrible experience. We did not go through the Inquisitions, they have. They had their conflict with their church, they had to go through their Reformation and so called Enlightenment. We do not need to go through that we never had that problem. So we should clarify our own concepts: Number one, abandon western concepts, and number two go back to the Qur'an and Sunnah to see what offers, so we can implement Islam in its proper, original way in our lives.
WORLD BULLETIN: Living in a Western society and talking to westerners or Muslims who live in these western societies, how easy to do that, not using western words or concepts? How easy to define your ideas and establishing your own language?
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: That is a very interesting question. Because, explaining İslam to non-Muslims requires two things: First of all, it requires that the language that is been used has to be liberated from the idiom, or the stereotypes, or the connotations that are loaded in non-Qur'anic, non-Arabic, non-Islamic language that's been used. In that case we're talking about English. So a person who is going to equip him or herself to explain Islam to people who are not Muslims have to be careful by their choice of words to convey the original Qur'anic and Islamic meanings to the target audience. That is the first thing that has to be done.
Second thing that has to be done is, there has to be a genuine effort for coining new terminology. That is one part of it. The second part of it is try to explain the Islamic words into the target language, in this case English. Brother Zafar mentioned the word "taqwa". "Taqwa" is one of these words that either we are going to have to coin a new word for in the English language, which probably become cumbersome; or we are just going to use the word itself "taqwa" but extensively explain it. We explain it, we set the stage, then we begin using it. Then we do this with other key words in terminologies that we're talking about.
Now, I want to go back to the question that about intellectualism. I think that is a very good question, because... I want to make this short and I want to make it understandable. Intellectualism is the counter part of ignorance. In today's world. Both of them always serve to same end that is we get nowhere. If we want to bring to the realm of health, look at the human body, ignorance is like malnutrition. A body that is going to disappear from existence because it does not have the nutrients that body requires. That is ignorance. On the other side, this intellectualism is like obesity. The more intellectualism a person has, the more flab that's on the body. Therefore it is very difficult to move. So the ignorance and intellectualism defeat movement. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not promoting ignorance or I'm not trying to demote the intellectual effort, in a sense, give credence to ignorance. No, no.
What I want to say is Islam is a movement. And the understanding of Islam originates from a movement, not from people who are functioning with active brains in a high tower somewhere, ivory tower intellectuals. Or some people refer to them as 'cafe revolutionaries.' We are not speaking, Islam if understood the way it was presented to the world originally, is a process of understanding, the problems that Muslims confront in their attempt, in their effort to socialize Islam. That all it is. That is why the Qur'an was not revealed one lump revelation at one time. Allah could have revealed the Qur'an in front of us now as one book at one time. Then there could have been study circles, there could have been universities, there could have been all of this intellectualism going on under the supervision of the Prophet to launch an Islamic reality. But it never happened that way.
The way it was done is a few "ayat" (verse) to come down to deal with a real human condition. And that human condition was corrected or solved or adjusted or whatever the case was, they move to another level, with another step. With a new issue, with a new problem, and they solved that. They incrementally did this for 23 years with the supervision of scripture with Allah revealing the necessary words and guidance that are required in the set of circumstances they were in. And they kept doing this, doing this until finally they have their Islamic self determination with the leadership of Allah's prophet, and the consolidation of the will of the people. So we did not have this intellectualism that right now as almost paralyzed our movement. We have the type of scholars, some of them call themselves 'alims', others call themselves 'fuqaha', so forth
Explaining Islam to non-Muslims firstly requires that the language that is been used has to be liberated from stereotypes, or the connotations that are loaded in non-Qur'anic, non-Arabic, non-Islamic language and secondly there has to be a genuine effort for coining new terminology and so on. We take the issues of today's world.
There are many issues, economic issues, political issues, military issues, financial issues, etc etc. What they want to is here, they want to say 'okay, we have an issue of poverty. How the Islam solves the issue of poverty in this world?' The issue of the poverty is created by the non-Islamic systems. You want to extract an Islamic solution for a capitalist problem? It does not work that way. The Islamic answers come to an Islamic society. So let us re-frame society and solicit these Islamic answers for this new Islamic society that we are building.
In this context we have Islamic thought at work. Not the ivory tower intellectualism that most new Muslims get affected or infected by. It is a pathogen. But it lives in our body. We have to rid of ourselves this, go down to the field, to the society, that is where Islam is, where it belongs, where it works. Does not work these prefabricated answers that we have muftis and others giving us nowadays.
WORLD BULLETIN: Let me ask you about this tefsir. What is your aim to write an English tafsir, what is the idea behind it?
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: There is a simple answer to that. That is to have the Muslim and the non-Muslim understand these original 'ayat' without all of the pollution and the noise that have disturb this understanding. Take all of that away, liberate the Qur'anic text from it, and presented to the listening and the thinking world out there, whether it is Muslim or non-Muslim. So they can understand, "what is all about?" In today's world, there are a lot of questions about Islam, İslam is "barbarism", Islam is "terrorism", Islam is all of these negative propaganda. All of this has to be settled, the only way to settle this is to present the message of Allah as was demonstrated to us by Allah's prophet. This is the simple answer to your question that what all of this is about.
If you read this, and this is meant for people who think, someone who is going to open these pages but has either an absent mind, or a dysfunctional mind, or a stereotypical mind, they are not going to get anything out of this. They have to come to this with open hearts and minds and understand what's being said. Without thinking, nothing is going to be accomplished. So please, there are many Muslims and many individuals out there who do not think, this is not for them. It is meant for those who think. If they open this, turn the pages and think thoroughly, then they begin to understand what Allah (CC) is telling us and how the Prophet himself explain this in real life, through sweat, tears and blood.
WORLD BULLETIN: I would like to ask you to same question about living in a western society and establishing your own language to deliver the message of Islam. What is your take on this?
ZAFAR BANGASH: I think the first thing that we need to take note off is that the existence of Muslims in western societies has no historical precedence. You know historically Muslims never went out to non Muslim societies to live as subservient subjects. In fact, this simply reflects our drift away from Islamic values and Islamic principles. Look at the Islamic history: When Muslims went to the other lands, it was because of two reasons: Either to fight them or engage trade with them. Of course there is a third aspect, which is to deliver the message of Islam. But never to live as subservient subjects of there. I think there is no historical precedence of this for Muslims.
Now, maybe last 50, 60, 100 years, you find large numbers of Muslims migrating to non Muslim societies to live as subjects of those societies, because their own societies, Islamic societies, Muslim societies have been so weakened, so corrupted, so polluted, virtually impossible to live a normal existence over there. And Muslims who go, of course they gone for primarily economic reasons. But I think that there is also an opportunity in this. Because I have found that, Muslims who live in Muslim majority societies, whether it is Turkey or Pakistan or Iran, they take a lot things for granted. Because they are already living in a generally Islamic society, at least there is an Islamic culture around. But we don't have it over there. And a thinking Muslim very quickly becomes conscience of this, and he begins to feel threaten for his values as well as the future of his children. I know for a fact, every parent, at least every conscience Muslim parent, is deeply concerned about the future of their children. How they address this? According to their own understanding, which unfortunately in the majority of cases are very limited, they only think that Islam means to send your son or daughter to a masjid or madrasa or an Islamic center where they can read the Qur'an without knowing the meaning of a word of it. And when their children finish reading the Qur'an, they give a big party, they are very happy they deliver Islam to their children. Other than that, they have very little conception of Islam.
Another aspect is that, today we have to recognize that English has become a universal language, it is a universal language. At the past, five or six hundred years ago it was Arabic, today it is not. So, we have to address this message not only to Muslims also to non Muslims with the only language that everybody understands. We are siting over here, ideally we should have spoken Arabic, but you speak Turkish I don't, he speaks Arabic I don't, and I speak Urdu, you don't. So, the only common language between us is English. That is why we're force to communicate with English language. And so, Muslims in the west, will find in this Tafsir and in the approach that's been taken and the explanation that has been offered, I think they will find, first of all an understanding of the Qur'anic message, and secondly a solace that there is a way out of this schizophrenic existence we're living in.
So in that sense, I find a lot of hope from the Muslims outside rather than inside. I don't want to discouraged Muslims, for instance the Muslims in Iran did a wonderful job, I think Turkey is doing a great job. But I feel very deeply sad and anguish about what is happening in Pakistan. I do not see a Islamic movement over there, it is a total mess over there. The society is corrupt to the core. There are so many problems, and yet you ask Islamic movements 'what are your answers to this?' they say, 'oh, we just have to participate elections and if the people want Islam they will vote us into Islam.' People have a simple answer for that. They look at the situation and they say: "We are suffering from poverty, there is corruption in the bureaucracy, we have hurdles every step of the way. Which party will be able to solve our problems? Is it the Islamic party or the secular party? They know the bureaucracy is secular, the whole system is secular, so why I should vote for the Islamic party? He does not know anybody in the bureaucracy to solve my problems. He does not know in the police force to get my son out, who is put in jail without any genuine reason. He does not know anybody in the judiciary to whispering the judges ears. Who can do it? Secular elite, because they are all connected. So they keep voting for the secular parties.
I keep on telling my brothers in Jamat-i Islami in Pakistan, "look, if you opt out of this system, stay aloof from it, there is so much mess over there, people will ultimately be force to come to you. They will see as it is the only answer."
Whenever there is a mess in Pakistan, the option is either the military or same group of corrupt, crook, civilian politicians. I tell them the situation of the people of Pakistan is like mice: They say, 'this black cat is terrible to us and keep eating us, now we are going to elect white cat.' A cat is cat. If you are a mouse, it will eat you. So there is no point of electing a black cat or white cat. What you need to do is to align to get rid of these cats and mice, and take over the control of the society. So, we hope that by urging Muslims to clarify their concepts about what is happening in their societies and the outside, they can begin to rectify their lives and begin to bring about to change that is necessary for us to get closer and closer to the message of Allah.
WORLD BULLETIN: I have to ask: Are we talking about some kind of revolution as we speaking of opting out from the system? How?
ZAFAR BANGASH: Okay. It could be a revolution if the system does not allow a change, a peaceful change, then sure, absolutely, why not? Look at the example of the Prophet (SAW), what did he do? He brought about a revolution, but the system in Islam is a movement. And the understanding of Islam originates from a movement, not from people who are functioning with active brains in a high tower somewhere, ivory tower intellectuals.
Mecca refused to accept the change, he opted out of it, he went somewhere else, established his base and he came back and dealt with them. So why not, what is wrong with that?
I think, this happened in Iran. I mean, look at the example of Egypt. The system in the verge of collapse in Egypt. But there is absolutely no room for Islamic activist in that system. None whatsoever. So what should we do?
I personally believe that only option for them is a revolution. You know, Muslims are often accused of being intolerant. But I think the west and its agents are the most intolerant people in the world. They do not even allow a candidate to contest presidential elections against Hosni Mubarak. How more intolerant can they be? There is no tolerance over there. So, if there is no room for Muslims to bring about change peacefully, what do they do? I don't think there any option left.
Again, let me go back to Pakistan. You know, often people say 'people in Pakistan vote for secular parties', and I tell them 'you go and find out how elections are conducted in Pakistan. Every candidate spends millions of rupees, millions in election campaign, which is totally contrary to the Constitution. In fact, if the Constitution that secular system established in Pakistan, if they implement two clauses in that Constitution, 62 and 63, not one person sitting in Parliament would be able to sit in that Parliament. And do you know what are those two clauses: Number one, the person is to be honest, he should not be corrupt: and number two, that person has to be Islamically committed. Not one member of the Parliament in Pakistan qualifies to the qualities of these two articles. The whole Parliament is full of crooks, criminals, mass murderers, every crime that you can think of these criminals are present over there. Ruling elite in Pakistan run private jails. They have their own jails in their own localities.
You know, right now there are floods in Pakistan. Millions of people have been affected. Of course there is a natural calamity. But there is a man made calamity over there. Because, they have a huge system of canals and so on, and therefore dikes in various places.
So, if there is a big landlord, if he happens to be a prime minister or minister, if his land is going to be a inundated, he say 'no, do not allow it to coming to my land, brake the dike over there to a village', so 30 thousand people are displaced. This is happening today. This is the kind of corruption and immorality that exist in that society. What is the option, what people can do in those societies? How do you replace these corrupt people? And they get in the power, they rob left, right and center! Last year, on television in Pakistan, a member of the ruling party openly said on television, he was asked "why you people take bribes?", and he said "this is our right to take bribes, we were elected for that." Openly, on television he said that! Now, you tell me how more brazen can he get? You have a president of the Pakistan who is the biggest crook in the world, the biggest thief! There are cases against him in Switzerland, in Italy, in England and so on. How did he win billions of dollars? What do you do with this people?
You know, when ordinary people have no option to deal with these problems, I think revolution is the only solution.
World Bulletin: Let me ask you two, kind of connected, questions. It is a global world and in this global world is not easy to do things that we believe right or necessary. There are to many things that are happening that not depend on people most of the time. So, what would you offer to Islamic movements or grassroots movements or people to change this? Maybe not a revolution but something for themselves.
And secondly, you publish Crescent Magazine and it was very influental, especially in North America and we are doing media work here. There are these big new agencies that deliver certain messages all over the world. How do you break this and what is the importance of it?
ZAFAR BANGASH: First of all, let us look at this aspect of globalisation. Essentially it means western domination of the world, that essentially what it is. And western exploitation of the rest of the world, nothing else. What it requires for the Islamic movement, an Islamic movement to succeed of course you need, a fundamental requirement is 'Muttaqi' (a devoted Muslim) leadership. That is absolutely essential! If you have, good, charismatic, muttaqi leadership, not only charismatic but muttaqi, that they have no class or personal interest, they have genuinely interested in solving the problems of the people, then I think they can inspire and motivate the people. And I do not want to underestimate the power of people. People have enormous power.
We see this in our age, with the people of Iran. A leader like Imam Khomeini, you do not have to necessarily agree with their 'fıqh'(Islamic law) position, but I think as an example, it is a very good example for us to have a leader who was charismatic, who was muttaqi, who had no personal interest. He did not say "I'm going to come to power and after me, my son Ahmad will be the leader." No, he told his son he will have nothing to do with the government, that is for people to decide. And so, they have in their own ways challange the western system. Of course, they are facing a lot of problems, but at least they defended themselves for 30 years successfully and at the same time made enormous progress. They face a lot of problems economically, but in other areas they had enormous progress. Their potential has been unleashed.
I know that in Turkey for instance, there is another experiment has been worked out, and I think there is nothing wrong with that. I think that's perfectly valid. (It) provided those who are stirring the ship of the state understand that they face a lot of challenges and they have to dismantle these reactionary forces one by one, so they can achieve their ultimate objective.
True, we are living in a globalized world, but I think we should be living in globalized world on the terms dictated to us by others, but our own terms. If they believe in freedom, if they believe in democracy, then we have a right to implement our values and our ideas in society. Why is America keep on dictating to us as to what kind of policy for instance to follow Turkey vis-a-vis to Israel? Or why should America dictate to Pakistan what kind of policy to follow vis-a-vis to Taliban or Afghanistan, or India? I mean, what is America got to do with Pakistan? They even dictate who is going to be the prime minister, who is going to be the army chief. What kind of freedom is that? There is no freedom.
So, it is possible to deal with the globalized world with charismatic leadership, and number two, when we are clear about the goal we pursue. Then you will find, people turn around, come and follow you. It is always being the case, people always looking for sincere leadership. If they find it, they follow it. İf they don't, they will of course will go where their interest are.
WORLD BULLETIN: How about the media?
ZAFAR BANGASH: Of course the media is a part of the global world, they control that. I think it is possible to create an ultimate media now, in today's world, with the Internet and so on and you can bypass their system. Of course it is not easy, it requires a lot of resources, but I think we are beginning to see that we can break their stranglehold they have. Through the Internet, a lot of point of view are coming out. Again, you see, the tragedy is that very often the west is able to subvert that process. In the media there is something called news and there is something called noise. If you can suppress the news, then you can make a lot of noise all around. You can't figure out what is the truth.
There is one story, 100 hundred interpretations to it. So, an average person is totally confused. They allow everybody to speak, confusing people, disinformation spread all the time. But I think over a period of time, if accurate information is giving to the people, then people begin to rely on it. And I'll give you to example of Crescent. Any time a major story breaks out in the world, we immediately getting messages
We (Muslims) are one third of humanity, or one forth but why don't we have a satellite station, why can't we have a satellite station in the world? İs there some unwritten law somewhere that says Muslims are not permitted to speak to the world audience?
from our brothers and sister around the world "what is your take on this? We want your direction, we want your explanation." So we send out immediately our analysis to say this is our take on the story. And I'd say Alhamdulillah, Allah has helped us tremendously that we are seldom wrong in our analysis of a situation. So people begin to develop a trust in us. We do not have any personal interest in the analysis we provide. That's multiplied many times over. You can do the same, other people can provide those kinds of analysis, so you provide information instantly to people.
Because, if we are quick off to mark in providing the correct analysis, then we can neutralize some of the negative disinformation that has been spread out there and people fall so easily for it. But it is not an easy challenge. But it is not just the Internet. If the imams of the masjids are free, they were able to deliver the correct message from the 'mimbar' (pulpit), just imagine, even in Istanbul I was told there are three thousand masjids, if every imam talks about a particular issue and has a clear understanding, imagine the impact of that. We have to liberate our mesajid, we have to have imams who have clear understanding. If we have a million imams like Imam al-'Asi, not even a million, a thousand would be enough to change the world very quickly!
WORLD BULLETIN: What do you think about the globalisation and the media issues? You talked about the Internet as being an alternative media, but there is also so many garbage in it. It is sometimes impossible to find something reliable on. You have to go so many places to get the truth...
ZAFAR BANGASH: Let me quickly add: If you monitor the Internet, you will fairly soon realized that there are certain reliable news sources. And you just concantrate on that. Because, as I said forget about the noise, there are too much noise around. As long as you know that there are 3 or 4 sources that you can depend on, you know they are honest, they are not trying to mislead you, then you accept their analysis. That is what we do.
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: This question about globalization.. You know, there is another way of looking at this. Because, we are led to believe by the MSN, that is main stream media, we are led to believe that the globe is such a structured manner that there is almost no hope of a radical, a substantial and a sustainable change that can happen. We are being programmed. Now, beyond this programme, there is another programme that goes on, and that is the human condition in the real world. I'm not talking about TV and Hollywood and Bollywood. In the real world out there, there are people who are just waiting for the time to change the globe, globalization as it were. Globalization is just a new phase after colonialism, imperialism, refer to Bush by 'New World Order.' It is a bunch of B.S.
The real world out there wants a change. You can tell a committed Muslim is by a simple barometer of asking "can you change the world outside?" If they tell you 'no', you know that they are disconnected. They are disconnected from Allah, they are disconnected from human condition. If out of 6.5 billion people of this world, 6 billions wants a change, then why cannot we have a change? The simple answer to that is, because those who have the solution, we do not have the freedoms that are supposed to come by expressing this change in ourselves.
Have you ever wondered that we muslims, we don't even have one satellite station in the world. We are one third of humanity, or one forth, depending on the numbers you want to take. Why don't we have a satellite station, why can't we have a satellite station in the world? İs there some unwritten law somewhere that says Muslims are not permitted to speak to the world audience? How long is going to take for us to wake up and smell the coffee? People have so much sources of information out there, an average person becomes confused. Well, it is confusing to a certain extend. But people will listen to reality more than listen to voices. Show them what works. Give them results. And this what is happening.
You can see it in front of your eyes. There is an Islamic republic, or an Islamic revolution or an Islamic model in Iran. I'm not saying this an angelic state, and they reached the heavens with their government, no. The point is here, this is a sincere human effort to demonstrate to their own people and to the world that Islam functions, Islam works. Problem with us, muslims is, it takes us a very long time to discover what is going on, where by the enemies of the muslims, they already figured out what's going on. And they are afraid of the contagion of a workable Islam. Therefore, they have like in United States, they have 30 plus satellite station in Persian beaming into Iran. 30! They don't have that for China, what other threat, Russia, North Korea, European Union, Cuba whatever. For Cuba, they have one, Radio Liberty, that's it. Why do we see that the enemies of the Islamic solution in the world know what is going on, we who were supposed to be the defendants, inheritors, promoters of Islam, we still don't understand? This is a dilemma we are living.
You want to set up an Islamic voice somewhere in the world, even in Muslim countries, they say it is against the law. What law? You cannot have an Islamic voice in the world. Legal structure of the world as such that is not permissable to have an Islamic, public, social, communicative voice anywhere in planet Earth. Even here in Turkey, you'll see whenever they smell, whenever they sense there is an independent Islamic voice that stands for genuine Islamic self determination, they are going to begin to mobilize all of their potentials to, all of their resources to stem that voice.
WORLD BULLETIN: I can sit here and listen to you all day but I know you're tired. I just want to ask you one last question about North America in general, and Canada in particular. What is happening in North America for Muslims?
ZAFAR BANGASH: I want to concentrate on Canada. In Canada, unfortunately we have a government even more right wing than the Bush government. And they are Christian fundamentalist to the core, dominated by the Zionists, infested by Zionists. So, in the government level practically it is a very bleak and oppressive situation. But I'm an optimist. And I find within the Canadian people, I find a lot of potential. Majority of them are not racist. Majority of them do understand that muslims are being targeted, treated unfairly and being oppressed. There was a survey very recently, which I think 66 percent of the Canadians are said muslims are being treated unfairly. So I think there is hope there. At least within the general public in Canada.
But of course these oppressive laws, there are cases, especially Omar Khadr case has become a test case: A child soldier, who was badly wounded in Afghanistan, and put through this terrible illegal process called military commission, has no precedent in history. And Canadian government doing nothing for him. In that case, the situation is quite bad. But, as I said, I don't give up, I don't allow myself or those I'm in touch with to become depressed, become demoralized. I always say to them it is our Islamic obligation to we must always stand up and speak for the truth and speak for justice and struggle for justice. No matter what is the cost. That is what the Prophet say, and what is we supposed to do. I know in the US there is a much more bleak situation.
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: I think everyone knows that the United States has external policies that are very aggressive and very hostile toward Muslims. The biggest demonstration of that is their occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. And they are setting their eyes other areas of the world, Yemen is about to become another targeted area. Somalia and in the regions of Africa the US established military bases, as in Cibuti. And there is Pakistan of course, the military bases are basically concantrated in the Muslim world. That speaks for itself. The other thing, the United States internally I think there is no less than 8 million muslims.
(That's another point that should be made: No one counts us, the Muslims anywhere. With all the liberalism in the world, with all the democracy in the world, there is no count of the Muslims. It says, you know, we are of limits, black sheep of the world. No one wants to count us. But, an educated guess and with experience, I think it is quiet comfortable to say the Muslims in the United States are around 8 million plus. There is an Islamic republic, or an Islamic revolution or an Islamic model in Iran. This is a sincere human effort to demonstrate to their own people and to the world that Islam functions, Islam works.
And our civil rights, our civil status has been eroding since 9/11. There have been laws, draconian procedures that have been set in motion after 9/11, admitting secret evidence in courts, the Patriot Act. Even the most recently, coming out by Senator Lieberman who is the most pro-Zionist senator in the house, he is thinking about a break-through, so to speak, and that is he wants to pass a law that would give the authority to the government of the United States to strip American Muslims of their citizenship if the government suspects them of being terrorists, or affiliated of or promoter of terrorism. Can you go beyond that, can anyone imagine anything else? What do yo want to do, crucify the muslims? Is that the next step? This is the United States, this what they are doing.
Right now, I'm outside the US, I was born in the US, served in the United States armed forces, I pay my taxes, I vote; I do everything in conscious manner just like every law abiding citizen of US does, when I go back just because they have a question mark about me... We cannot deal ideas anymore, this is America people, they can't deal with ideas. I'm just a person who carries ideas. But I'm a red flag, I go there and immigration, customs people come near, I have to go through secondary screening process. They go through everything in my luggage. What is wrong with them? And this has been going on, I mean I travel frequently. So, a dozens times a year or so, I'm subjected to this kind of harassment.
But we have seen the bankruptcy of liberalism, bankruptcy of the United States and the West. It is all going to come down. These policies are not going to work, their military aggression overseas, their social assault of the Muslims... 9/11 is declared by a pastor in Florida "burn the Qur'an day", this is a statement in and of itself, they have been so irritated by Islam. We do not have our military bases in Europe and America, they have their military bases in the Islamic hemisphere of the world. Last count, it was around 800 military bases that US has around the world. It has a budget of 700 billion dollars, that is much as the next 18 countries in the world who spend for their defenses. To do what? To shed muslim blood. Can they live with their own values?
What I'm referring to is the expiring days of the American Empire. This is what empires do when they begin to lose it. The United States is thinking with its muscles. And when nation states think with their muscles, that's when they go down. I regret to say that, because that's my country. At the end of the day, I do not carry a passport from any Muslim country, I carry an American passport. But what do you do with a country, with a system, with a government that doesn't want to listen to reason? That is where we are...I'm sorry to say that the United States is drowning in its own sins and its own aggression. It is sinking and it is sinking in an alarming rate. I mean within our lifetime, and we are relatively young, the United States is going to become third tier power in the world.
WORLD BULLETIN: So yo think the US is declining?
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: Of course, everything indicates that it is in decline. Right now, the debt of the United States is 14 trillion dollars and it's rising in an alarming rate. It can't pay its debts.
ZAFAR BANGASH: And that is the external debt, internal debt is another 30 or something.
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: All the indicators that measure a society's ascension or its decline.., If you are looking at the moral factors of society, the United States is a morally corrupt country. If you're looking at the economic indicators, it is in the red, it can't pay its debts and it's increasing. If you look at the infrastructure of the US, United States, let's say a highway system, that system now needs renovation. It cannot renovate its own interstate highway system. It is crumbling, everything is coming down, it can't fix it. A simple neighborhood example, the library hours. The libraries in United States in 1973 used to be open between 8 in the morning, give or take half an hour, to 11.30 at night. Because they had the budget. Now, because there is no money, the libraries are opening around 10 in the morning, and in the evening they are closing around 6 o'clock. What is it tell tou? You don't have to be a philosopher, or a Ph.D in economics or social sciences or anything else.
The educational system... United States is ranked 40 something among the world countries for its educational standards. The public school system is failing. It is a failing society.
When the internal political structure in the United States puts a black person in the White House, and if you know the US is a racist society, you know something is drastically wrong with that society. They have black person in the State Department, a black person in the justice, a black person in the United Nations, minorities took over the Supreme Court. Nine individuals of the bench for life, these are the Supreme judges in the US, none of them is white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, none. The first time is US history. A black person in the White House, Obama, that rhymes with Osama; who has a middle name Husain, supposed to be a Muslim, they bring him in. Why do you think they bring him in, because of his brain? No, because the US policy is so weak, they need someone like that to gain the political leverage that they lost over these years.
ZAFAR BANGASH: Let me share something from the life of Malcolm X. He was asked, because he was very critical of US policy, "Malcolm what do you think if maybe become the President of the US?" He said "are you kidding? If I'm on a slave ship, and the slave master come to me and say I want to make you the captain of the ship, do you think I'm crazy to accept that. I know that ship is sinking!"
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: That is insightful.
ZAFAR BANGASH: I think, all the indicators in US show that it is rapidly declining. Despite the fact that, it has a huge military budget, the largest military in the world, nuclear weapons and whatever, ask yourself which war that US fought and won on its own?
In Vietnam it had allies, and it still lost. In Afghanistan, it has 43 allies, in Iraq it has 43... And which one did it win? The only war that US won was in October of 1983, when it's Navy invaded Granada, a total population of 110 thousand people, no army, no police force, that is what the US conquered. Is that what you call a super power?
WORLD BULLETIN: OK. Last question then, who is rising up?
MUHAMMAD Al-'ASI: There are at least a couple of areas in the world that show signs they are moving in the fill the void. If you look at the economic structure of the world, currently China is an up and coming power, economic power in the world. Everyone will tell you that, whether you agree with China or not. They are going up right now and about the reach peak. There is few other states that moving in that direction, they are called BRIC, I'm sure you heard it, Brazil, Russia, India and China. These are the states that moving in to occupy the territory that's been occupied by the US since World War II.
If you want to look even more into the future, and go beyond the ten year bracket, I think Islamic countries are going to occupy the heights of the political and economic world in a generation or two. I think there is a consolidation of the Islamic will, no one wants to agree with it. The US sees it very well, or it wouldn't have all these forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. They see it coming, they know it. The problem is we don't know it! In our own way, we are going about trying to do what we have to do, many of us are dying, many of us becoming crippled because of all these societies -I'm not talking about individuals here, but societies- but this is the prices it is paid before we reached the summit. We are in an ascending order.
They don't want to project that, CNN and BBC does not going to tell you 'Muslims are coming.' They are not going to say that, even if they do, it is in a negative sense as 'they are coming, we have to shoot them!' That is the way they behave.
ZAFAR BANGASH: I personally see is not a single power that is going to emerge, and think in this situation Muslims will take the lead. There are member of Muslim countries that they have potential to come together. I think they could definitely be a strong position.
Courtesy: Taghrib News