In his masterpiece, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali offers the following advice to Muslims: shun those ‘ulama’ that stand as supplicants at the ruler’s door. Instead, seek guidance of those that are visited by the rulers. Imam Ghazali was writing at a time when the rulers were Muslims.
This month marks the 33rd anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The US- and Zionist-backed puppet Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah of Iran) was driven from power by a tidal wave of mass uprising led by the charismatic and muttaqi leader, Imam Khomeini (may Allah (swt) comfort him) in February 1979.
State of the Union addresses by US presidents are occasions for chest thumping and blowing the American trumpet. Barack Obama tried to do just that on January 24 but he did it against the backdrop of a crippled economy and his own approval ratings hovering at 45.9%. That the approval rating of the Republican controlled Congress is even lower — at 13.3% — will offer him little consolation.
Thirty-three years ago this month the world was witness to the fall of a Shah and the rise of an Imam. The Shah was Persian by culture, American by loyalty. The Imam was Persian by culture, Islamic by persuasion. The Muslims of the world along with the imperialist victims of the world rejoiced at this turn of events. Ever since that time Uncle Sam and his nephew Cohen have been playing their cards against the Imam and the Revolution.
For a civilization and value system that places such great emphasis on “freedom”, there are still plenty of ways that dissidents can be targeted in the modern West. Freedom has been described as a “hurray word” — a word “with little substantive meaning… an empty signifier in a hegemonic language game, to which we all have to defer”, in the words of Mark Haugaard, political scientist and editor of the Journal of Power.
Can US leaders — in the executive as well as congressional branches — be considered rational? Almost daily, they threaten to bomb Iran, not to mention the imposed raft of sanctions aimed at undermining the Islamic Republic. The latest round of sanctions was slipped through the inappropriately named National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA). US President Barack Obama signed the NDAA on the last day of 2011 when most people were engrossed in New Year festivities to take much notice.
The shrill US-Israeli war rhetoric against Iran goes hand in glove with covert operations, such as the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, Stuxnet Virus to disrupt Iran’s uranium enrichment and also reportedly replacing street signs and bricks in buildings with ones equipped with radiation detectors. There are threats and actions to further isolate Iran by boycotting its oil to increase the economic and political pressure on the Islamic Republic.
As the first month of 2012 ebbed away, a question dominating many conversations was whether war was still likely to break out in the Persian Gulf anytime soon. While tensions have been heating up as “war talk” between regional players adds greater anxiety, it remains unclear whether the regime of President Barack Obama is willing to risk more American lives in pursuit of an Israeli agenda.
The crisis in Syria has entered a stalemate with neither side able to deliver a decisive knockout blow. This may serve the regime better than its opponents although it is not for lack of trying by the opposition, especially aided by their foreign sponsors and backers. The major hurdle facing the regime’s opponents — and there are divergent groups — is that they are disunited.
As human rights campaigners around the world commemorated the 10th anniversary of the opening of the US detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, marking a decade of human rights abuses known as the “war on terror”, one would have expected that Western governments would be contemplating scaling back their aggressive rhetoric and draconian laws which have become a feature of the 21st century.
Occupy Wall Street, the national protests that were sparked in New York City’s Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2001, headlined the anger of the 99% whose futures have been derailed by the financial elites of the country and their political executors. While uneasily tolerating the mushrooming protests for a month, all the while investing in elaborate security systems to protect their wealth and holdings from mass anger, Wall Street called in the national authority to pull the plug.
A charismatic politician charming crowds throughout Pakistan. A rising crescendo of political speeches and rallies setting the nation afire, an impalpable sense of excitement building in the populace, casting the halo of destiny itself on the celebrity politician. A sense of promise, a social contract written anew; Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1973? No, rather it is Imran Khan in 2012, launching a flamboyant path to become the next prime minister of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s story is like an unending tragedy in which there are no heroes, only villains. Each tries to outdo the other in how much evil he can perpetrate. It would be worthwhile to identify the villains, both institutional and individual. At the institutional level there are the feudal lords that control vast land holdings that were granted to their ancestors by the British colonialists.
This article was contributed by Muhammad Ali Alula al-Hashimi, a scholar of international political economy specializing in African and Muslim countries. He is associate fellow at the Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance in London (UK), and founder and executive director of Harar Global Foundation in Washington, DC, a charitable and research organization. He is also a member of the First Hijrah Foundation, based also in Washington, DC.