by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 5, Ramadan, 1436)
Almost all people claim to follow some principles but when it comes to their personal interests, principles are often quickly abandoned.
Most people like to present an image of moral uprightness claiming they live according to higher principles that transcend personal interests. People follow religion for the same reason. Thus, a Hindu would argue just as passionately about the validity of his belief system and its teachings as would the followers of any other faith — be it Christianity, Judaism or Islam, for instance.
Muslims can rightly claim they hold the complete message since the Qur’an was revealed to the last and final messenger of Allah, Muhammad (pbuh). The Qur’an remains intact in its original form as revealed to the noble Messenger (pbuh) more than 1,400 years ago. This is so because Allah (swt) Himself has vouched for its protection from alterations, additions, or subtractions. “Behold, it is We Ourselves who have bestowed from on high, step by step, this conscience-building vehicle; and, behold, it is We who shall truly guard it [from all corruption],” according the noble Qur’an (15:09). The authenticity of the Qur’anic text in widespread use today can be verified by comparing it to the earliest manuscripts of the same text, which are still extant (produced at the time of the third khalifah, ‘Uthman (ra), they exist in the museums of Tashkent and Cairo). Not a word has been changed. No other faith community can come close. However, without detaining ourselves with the religious side of the argument, there are many other issues we need to consider.
Winston Churchill once candidly admitted that Britain has no permanent friends, only permanent interests. The former British prime minister made this statement in a moment of candor but this has guided not only British, but all Western policymakers throughout the ages. This is not to suggest that they do not couch their conduct in moralistic tones. Military aggression against targeted societies is presented as delivering democracy to subject peoples, or now under the even more ludicrous pretext, the “responsibility to protect” (R2P).
There is no defined criterion for determining why some people deserve “protection” but others do not. The Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar or Palestinians suffering decades of Zionist occupation and oppression would greatly appreciate being protected but there is no thought spared for their plight by the predatory powers. Their concern, whatever that may mean, is reserved for people only in countries whose governments they do not like. It is not concern for people per se; the entire policy is aimed at undermining governments considered unfriendly or undesirable.
Equally critical is the question, who gave the Western imperialists the right to intervene? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen have all been devastated using these spurious pretexts. People in each of these societies are far worse off than they were before the Western do-gooders came with their bombs, missiles, planes, and brutal tactics including rape, torture, and murder.
Let us begin with individual conduct, especially that of Muslims, since we are primarily concerned with the behavior of this group of people. This is not to suggest that we do not care for the well-being of others but our primary focus has to be Muslims because they are the ones who will determine the future of the Ummah and indeed humanity at large. Most Muslims strive to achieve taqwa. This is an important concept in Islam but one that is widely misinterpreted. The trajectory of Muslim history has much to do with this state of affairs.
Taqwa is erroneously interpreted simply as piety. While this meaning is included in it, the word must be understood both from its root, waqa or wiqayah, and the larger context in which it is used. What this means is that a person with taqwa (muttaqi) has come under the protective canopy of Allah (swt). In its proper sense, it means the awareness of Allah’s (swt) immediate power presence in the affairs of man that makes him conscious of avoiding actions that would expose him to Allah’s (swt) corrective interference in his individual and social life.
Most Muslims assume that taqwa means fulfilling one’s rituals — salah, fasting, zakah, Hajj, etc. Others may also add such aspects as growing a long beard and wearing a certain type of dress. While the rituals of Islam are important in order to fulfill one’s obligations to Allah (swt), on their own they do not constitute taqwa. Without socializing taqwa at the mass level, all other aspects would remain rituals. In the noble Qur’an, Allah (swt) has clarified this point for us in great detail in the following ayah, (2:177; translation from Imam al-‘Asi’s tafsir: The Ascendant Qur’an, Realigning Man to the Divine Power Culture, Volume 3, ICIT, 2009; pp.103–04).
To the discerning reader, it would be immediately clear that the ayah starts with rejecting mere rituals.“Virtue does not consist in turning your faces toward the east or the west,” declares Allah (swt) in His majestic Book. So how does one become virtuous? This is linked to caring for the dispossessed of humanity by spending of one’s wealth on poor relatives, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer (stranger in a land), beggars, helping to free people from bondage or prison, etc. The fundamentals of salah and zakah are mentioned but only after fulfilling a long list of social obligations that have to do with helping the needy and poor. When taqwa is socialized, it leads to tranquility and peace in society.
The opposite is equally true. Some Muslims may espouse Islamic values and principles but when their personal interests are involved, they show little hesitation in abandoning them. This is true for individuals as well as groups and rulers. There is an army of Muslim mercenaries in the West masquerading as champions of Islam but their behavior is far removed from the deen. They even claim to speak for Muslims. While individual conduct or misconduct is detrimental to the overall good of Muslims, it is at the larger level that this hypocrisy has caused havoc in Muslim societies.
This is most clearly evident in the conduct of rulers in the Muslim world. Leading this pack of munafiqs (dual-loyalists) is the regime in the Arabian Peninsula erroneously calling the country it occupies “Saudi” Arabia. This is shirk yet they and their court clergy have the gall to denounce other Muslims with whom they disagree as “kafirs.” The Najdi Bedouins who have illegally occupied the Arabian Peninsula claim, by virtue of controlling the two holy masjids in Makkah and Madinah, they are the champions of Muslims. By definition, a Muslim is someone who acquiesces to the command and counsel of Allah (swt); he/she cannot be subservient to imperialists, Zionists or any other worldly powers. Yet this is not what we find with the Najdi Bedouins and their hangers-on. According to a hadith of the noble Messenger (pbuh), a Muslim is one from whose hands other Muslims are safe (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Iman). Their policy of supporting the takfiri terrorists in Syria and Iraq as well as bombing the people of Yemen, where thousands of innocent Muslims have been killed in such attacks, clearly puts them at odds with the definition of a Muslim. Even under contemporary international law, what the Najdi Bedouins are doing in Yemen constitutes war crimes.
They have indulged in outright lies to justify their war crimes accusing the Yemenis of “threatening” them and posing a danger to the two holy masjids in Makkah and Madinah. The people of Yemen have done no such thing. Instead, they, or more precisely the Ansarullah who are part of the Houthi militias, are struggling to eliminate corruption in their own society. They want legality and legitimate representation in their country for all groups so that they will have a fair stake in its future. The Najdi Bedouins want to impose their puppet, ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi on the people of Yemen through brute force.
Those who claim to be following the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah must be judged accordingly. This is what the Najdi Bedouins claim based on their constitution that was “granted” by then King Fahd in 1992. Islam does not permit kingship or a country calling itself a kingdom. The so-called kingdom falls far short of adhering to Islamic principles. Here is why.
The Kingdom emerged as a result of British colonial intrigue. As part of their march across the Muslim East (aka the Middle East) the British colonialists had a number of local puppets on their payroll. Two of the most prominent figures were Sharif Hussain of Makkah, appointed as Wali (governor) of Makkah by the Ottomans, and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Saud, a brigand and thief from Najd who used to attack and plunder caravans, including those of Muslims going for pilgrimage. Both were recruited and paid for by the British to undermine Ottoman rule. Both were quite happy to be subservient to the non-Muslim British colonialists against fellow Muslims (the Turks). The result was the defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman Sultanate and emergence of weak and subservient nation states in the region.
Of the two, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz proved more cunning and ruthless and was able, with the help of other Bedouin tribes, to grab the whole of the Arabian Peninsula. In 1932 he proclaimed the establishment of the Kingdom of “Saudi” Arabia incorporating Najd and al-Hijaz, with himself as “king.” Sharif Hussain was betrayed by the British who had promised to make him king of all the Arabs. as a sop to his injured pride, they carved out for him Jordan out of the Vilayat of Palestine (that was until 1918 part of Greater Syria and therefore, under Ottoman control) and one of his sons, ‘Abdullah was placed on the throne. His other son, Faysal, was made king of Syria but was soon driven out of there; later he was made the king of Iraq. The British-created monarchy in Iraq was overthrown in 1958, ushering in Ba‘thist rule five years later through another coup that ended only after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
While using the cover of Islam and their control of the Haramayn (the two holy masjids of Makkah and Madinah) the Najdi Bedouins have throughout their tortuous history betrayed Muslims. They have always remained subservient to the power of tyrannical kufr, first the British colonialists and then American imperialists. Now they have also openly proclaimed their subservience to the Zionists against other committed Muslims, especially those in Islamic Iran, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine and in their latest bout of vandalism, in dirt-poor Yemen. There is nothing Islamic or noble in the Najdi Bedouins’ conduct. Their personal interests have always taken precedence over Islamic principles, not that they were ever committed to them — not withstanding their loud claims to the contrary.
Prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Najdi Bedouins were able to hoodwink innocent Muslims into believing that they are the standard-bearers of Islam and support Muslims everywhere. In the absence of any genuine expressions of Islam, most Muslims fell for this propaganda. With the success of the Islamic Revolution, the Najdi Bedouins put forward a fall-back position: they are champions of “Sunni” Muslims.
Their conduct, however, has exposed them as complete frauds. The Najdi Bedouins have not only sheltered the fugitive dictator of Tunisia, General Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali but also financed the overthrow of the “Sunni” Ikhwan-backed government in Egypt. The July 2013 coup resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Egyptian civilians: men, women and children gunned down mercilessly by the brutes in uniform. The Najdi Bedouins — the so-called “champions of Sunni Muslims” — far from condemning this massacre, instead dished out $5 billion to the Egyptian thugs. Later, another $20 billion was pledged to them.
The Najdi Bedouins have also connived with the Zionists and the Egyptian military to destroy all the tunnels into Gaza through which the Palestinian people smuggled desperately needed goods. The Palestinians are all “Sunnis,” yet the Najdi Bedouins see no contradiction in their own conduct. Again, alleged personal interest — survival in this case — has trumped Islamic principles.
Equally revealing is the conduct of Turkey under Recept Tayip Erdogan. He came to power in 2002 arousing high hopes among Muslims worldwide; his soaring rhetoric mesmerized them everywhere. This was further enhanced by his walking out of a meeting at Davos when he had an argument with then Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in January 2009. This followed the Zionist slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. Muslims felt that in addition to the leadership of Islamic Iran and of Hizbullah, they had found another courageous and principled Islamic leader in Erdogan. Unfortunately, these have all turned out to be empty gestures and theatrics on the part of the Turkish leader.
Turkish-Israeli relations especially in trade and intelligence sharing have continued apace. Turkey participated in the destruction of Libya and the cold-blooded murder of Muammar Qaddafi in 2012. Libya lies in shambles today. Far from learning from this, Turkey is now actively involved in supporting the takfiri terrorists in Syria. Erdogan has aligned himself with the medieval tribalists of Arabia and Qatar.
It is ironic that the Wahhabis do not consider the Turks and any other non-Arabs as true Muslims. In fact, this was one of the arguments used by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab when he first erupted from Dar‘iyah in 1744 and caused so much havoc in the region. That first eruption was contained and ultimately destroyed by Muhammad ‘Ali, the Egypt-based representative of the Ottoman sultan. The second time around, the Najdi Bedouins, now working under British tutelage, were able to help facilitate the destruction of Ottoman rule.
There is nothing Islamic about Erdogan’s conduct. The monsters he and his regime are supporting are the Muslims’ worst nightmare. The takfiris are a blot on the name of Muslims. Is Erdogan not aware of their barbaric conduct and what precisely does it have to do with Islam or its principles? So how can Erdogan go about proclaiming to be the champion of Muslims? Erdogan’s conduct, like that of his Arabian allies, is based on naked self-interest. It is as simple as that.
Pity the Muslim Ummah that has such people as rulers. They have no scruples, morals, or principles. It should come as no surprise to see the vast majority of Muslims suffering so much.