Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Battle for Saudi Arabia & Malaysia and the Club of… Doom

The title of this post refers to two books I have read within the last week or so. Both books deal with the issue of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ that increasingly troubles the thinking and globally aware people of the world. I make the distinction of ‘thinking and aware people’ as unfortunately much of the worlds population is tragically so confined by their oppressive governments through various degrees or combinations of poverty, limited access to education and censorship that what is happening outside their immediate vicinity is of little or no interest to them. Unfortunately these people will only know their fate when it is too late for them to do anything about the onslaught of violence. As sad as the state of the aforementioned group is, there is another large group of individuals that is of greater concern; those that know what is going on and choose either out of fear, smugness, or worse, complicity, to close a blind eye to the victimisation and brutality being committed on others by various religious factions in the name of their god and his prophets.

Amongst my own friends and relatives, discussion of religious issues can bring an instant and disappointing retort of, ‘don’t tell me anymore, I am comfortable where I am’. Two illustrative quotes; “don’t spoil my religious belief with the facts” and “don’t rob me of my god”. So you may think I should be more diplomatic and politically correct particularly amongst my own family and perhaps follow the advice of one family member that I “should respect the beliefs of others”. This is an old appeasers argument put forward by those trying to protect perceived sovereignty over their own areas of existence that inadvertently often commit ‘sins’ of omission in under its umbrella. On a small scale, as within families and friends, I guess other than being personally disappointing it is no big deal. Unfortunately on a world scale this ‘don’t disturb me I am comfortable’ attitude leads to disasters such as Darfur and Iraq. I highlight the two books reviewed below in the hope that it will stimulate/awaken a need in some to take a more proactive and responsible approach towards the wellbeing of the world community as a whole.

The first book “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” by As’ad Abukhalil (Seven Stories Press) is an exposé on Saudi Arabia’s “bizarre government and fanatic ideology”. A particularly troubling aspect of the Saudi aggression is, as As’ad puts it, the fact that “the United States leads a decades-long foreign policy that supports Saudi Arabia and protects it from criticism and embarrassment.” He goes on; “Oil and other self-serving interests steered previous U.S. administrations away from their hollow slogans about democracy and human rights, including that of Jimmy Carter, the self-described human rights president, who never directly acknowledged the Saudi governments corruption, cruelty and abuse.”

Particularly interesting sections of this easy to read book cover, the unholy alliance between the corrupt and perhaps immoral Saudi royal family and the dangerous and fanatic Wahhabi sect of supposedly ‘pure Islam’. Another highlight explains the relatively recent oil wealth driven ‘globalization of Wahhabi Da’wah’. Da’wah is the “Islamic call, or the effort to win converts and adherents.” As’ad also states in this section “Islam was [is] bound to clash with territorial nationalism because its scope is not limited to one piece of land.” The Saudi religious/cultural arrogance is perhaps fuelled by the fact that as he states “Arabs have often interpreted the verse in the Qur’an (and you have the best peoples evolved for humankind) to imply their ethnic superiority over other peoples”, [also] perhaps because “the Prophet was an Arab and the Qur’an was revealed, according to Muslims, by God in the Arab tongue.”

There is much to be learnt from this book that covers a broader range of issues than I can mention here. From my perspective it is a must read for all those that value their and their children’s future’s if only on the basis of “know thy enemy”. Why enemy… because they are the most dangerous nation on earth regardless of what the god bothering, war-mongering George may consider as being his personal axis of evil.

The second book “Malaysia and the Club of Doom” by Syed Akbar Ali (Self Published) is an interesting look from a Malaysian perspective at Islam and its effects on the overall health of the nations in which it is practiced. This is an important view as Malaysia is often seen as a great example of how and Islamic inspired population can successfully adopt a democratic government and succeed in the modern ‘economically globalised’ world.

The chapter headings give an introduction to the books direction, 1 Failed States, 2 Pakistan – A Failed State, 3 Can Malaysia Become a Failed State, 4 Muslim Violence is So Predicable, 5 Denial – The Fuel of Falsehood, 6 Throwing Up New Hatreds Against Non Muslims, 7 The Hatred of Dogs and House Lizards 8 Failure Written in Stone, 9 Some Advice to the Leaders and Politicians, 10 The Ummah [Islamic Community] is Lawless 11 Falsely Accusing the Qur’an: A Clash of Fools 12 Doom, Doom and More Doom

The author Syed starts out by asking the question - What are Failed Nations? He then goes on to explain how Islamic countries can rightly be called failed states. Some of the criteria he uses are: ”technologically less advanced”, “generally characterised as poor”, “economies dependent on export of primary products”. He also says that a failed state shows the following symptoms: 1 Restrictions on free flow of information, 2 Subjugation of women, 3 Inability to accept responsibility, for individual or collective failure, 4 Basic unit of social organisation is the extended family or clan, 5 Domination by a restrictive religion, 6 Low valuation of Education, 7 Low prestige assigned to work.

In the same chapter he explains that as well as the criteria and symptoms above: ‘Often an Islamic Country may also suffer violence either from within its own borders against its own people or violence imposed from outside.’ “Another distinct feature of Islamic Countries is that the people are always walking around in fear of suffering embarrassment from breaching some religious rule or other. They always seem to suffer a guilty conscience. Generally Muslims are an unhappy lot. And on top of it all the ‘Islamic Country’ suffers the fit [in the sense of a trance] that it is somehow still blessed by God and that its inhabitants, especially its religious leaders, will go to heaven.” (Also sounds a bit Catholic to me!)

Syed is particularly astute in his condemnation of the adverse effects of the “Arabization process” and on the culture of the Arabs themselves. He’ states: ”Today the vast majority of Arab countries – which most definitely form the remnant of the ‘Islamic Civilisation’ – are Failed States. The Arab Human Development Report 2004 produced by the United Nations Development summarises all Arab states as: lacking freedom and good governance, suffering acute corruption, marginalizing segments of their population like women and minorities and also that Arab governments suffer a crisis of legitimacy. This means their governments do not represent the will of the people.” “The Arab countries are failures… all the 22 members of the Arab League today are basket cases.”

Syed uses a number of statistics to justify his conclusions, here are a couple: “Oil rich Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Kuwait and Qatar collectively produce goods and services (mostly oil) worth $430 billion; Netherlands alone has a higher annual GDP while Buddhist Thailand produces goods and services worth $429 billion.” “Fifty-seven Muslim majority countries have an average of ten universities each for a total of less than 600 universities for 1.4 billion people; [whereas] India has 8,407 universities [and] the US has 5,758 universities.” “Over the past 105 years, 1.4 billion Muslims have produced eight Nobel Prize Laureates while a mere 1.4 million Jews have produced 167.” His conclusion is that Muslims suffer because they refuse to keep pace with the times. He also goes on to say that it is not Islam that is the problem it is the fact that many so called religious leaders do not understand the true tenants of Islam, rather they follow the Hadith and Fiqh which he also seems to see as merely the words of men as against the Qur’an which is the word of god.

In later chapters he looks at everything from, poor hygiene factors, an ill-founded dislike of lizards and dogs, illegitimate use of fatwas, an ‘inherited’ Arab aversion to hard work, the predictable violence of Muslims due to their feelings of hopelessness and denial, the intrusive over zealous moral squads and their intrusion into the private lives of others, legalised short tem sex only marriages, to the turmoil created by growing radicalism in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Syed is branded in Malaysia as a liberal however he says he is a “hardcore conservative fundamentalist Muslim” and that it is others, the so-called ‘religious’ interpreters that are being liberal in not sticking to the teachings of the Qur’an. What he is saying is best summed up by this quote; “The Qur’an is almost entirely different from what is preached by religious scholars. We can see many examples throughout this book. Too often what they teach is not found in the Qur’an at all. That is why I [he] keep[s] saying that religion and Islam are not the same. Islam is a ‘deen’ or way of life based on science and reason whereas religion has so many illogical shades and flavours.” It is a pity he has not addressed some of the more distasteful areas of the Qur’an and suggested how they can be overcome much as the Christians through the reformation have overcome the immoral and violent versus in the bible. Maybe in his next book.

I recommend both these books to anyone concerned regarding the adverse effects that ‘Wahhabi style dogma’ I having on the rest of the ‘civilised’ world. Malicious Stone Age thinking religious fanatics a raising their voices in France, England, Asia and many other places that they have migrated to for a better life, in an attempt to reduce us all to their level of hopelessness and moral poverty. I guess it is a global case of misery enjoys company.

‘No its not my business’, ‘I am comfortable and will leave to the diplomats or military’… that won’t work… take the initiative get involved, even if it is through joining the discussion… SAY NO TO RELIGIOUS TYRANNY. Oh and beware of the Christian religious right in the US (and other places) as well, they are just as dangerous as this bunch of freaks.

By the way how quickly can the downward trend occur?

Until the 1980s Malays in Malaysia identified themselves first as Malays, second as Muslims and third as Malaysians. Recent polls have disclosed a fundamental shift: 73% identify themselves first as Muslims, 14% as Malaysians and 13% as Malays. (*)

The Battle for Saudi Arabia by As’ad Abukhalil (Seven Stories Press)
Malaysia and the Club of Doom by Syed Akbar Ali (Self Published)

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