by Iqbal Siddiqui (Perspectives, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 8, Shawwal, 1429)
In a few months’ time, Crescent International will insha’Allah complete 37 years of publication. During that time, it has inevitably seen many changes. It began as a local community paper in Toronto in the 1970s, before being transformed into a newsmagazine of the global Islamic movement after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the influence of Dr Kalim Siddiqui. During the 1980s and early 1990s, it was edited and developed by Zafar Bangash, and worked closely with the Muslim Institute, London, and the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain. In 1998, two years after Dr Kalim’s death, and with his UK institutions on the verge of collapse, a number of his associates founded the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT). Zafar Bangash became director of the new body and Crescent became a part of its network, under the editorship of this writer.
The main change over the last decade has been Crescent’s transformation in 2003 from its original twice-monthly newspaper format to a monthly magazine. At the same time, there has been a shift in emphasis from news coverage to broader current affairs analysis, for which a magazine format is more appropriate. This has been partly a response to the growth of new media sources of information, particularly on-line, which have made it far easier for Muslims to get news of current affairs in the Muslim world. Throughout, however, the quality of analysis and insight has been the key factor in our continued success, alhumdilillah, thanks both to the senior figures who have defined our editorial positions, such as Zafar Bangash and Imam Muhammad al-Asi, and to our contributors in various parts of the Muslim world, such as Abd ar-Rahman Koya, Perwez Shafi, M. A. Shaikh, Nasr Salem, Khalil Fadl and Fahad Ansari, among many others.
Looking back over these ten years, a great deal has changed in the world as well. But, unsurprisingly perhaps, a great deal more has stayed the same. In truth, every major development in the world since September 2001 was predictable enough based on the US’s previous record (see, for example, the editorial published by Crescent hours after the 9/11 attacks). The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were hardly unexpected; Iraq had been under US pressure throughout the 1990s, and the Taliban had been ostracised after refusing to cooperate with USoil pipeline plans in the region. Iran was the international villain then, as it is now, because of its Islamic state, its commitment to maintaining its independence, and its support for anti-western resistance movements around the world. And in Palestine, then as now, the Israelis were trying to impose a “peace” on their own terms, while local Islamic movements, particularly Hamas, were leading the resistance to them.
For the Islamic movement too, as much remains the same as has changed. The key development in the last decade has been the rise of salafi-jihadi movements, largely because of the profile given them by the west after 9/11, and their perceived role in anti-US resistance in Iraq and elsewhere. Meanwhile Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas have been the real leading edge of the Islamic movement, supported by Muslim masses, but deliberately disparaged by some in the movement on petty sectarian or nationalistic grounds. And political Islamic movements such as the Ikhwan (and similar groups) in much of the Arab world, the Jama‘at-e Islami in Pakistan and PAS in Malaysia, remain trapped in cycles of limited political success and severe repression.
In the last decade, Crescent International has covered all these developments and more, and its analysis has largely stood the test of time. Now Crescent is undergoing another internal change which again, we hope, will enable it to develop its role and insha’Allah enable it to improve its service to the Ummah and the Islamic movement. Resource constraints make it impossible for us to maintain an office in the UK as well as in Toronto, so the editorial office is being transferred back to Toronto, where it will operate in future as part of the office of the ICIT under Zafar Bangash.
This issue is also the last one edited by this writer. It has been a privilege to edit Crescent International for the last decade; I look forward to continuing to contribute to it and the ICIT in other ways in future, insha’Allah.
[Iqbal Siddiqui will continue to contribute to Crescent International regularly, as well as publishing his own blog, A Sceptical Islamist: http://scepticalislamist.typepad.com. Readers can subscribe to the blog feed to receive email notifications whenever it is updated.]