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  1. Brother Sophist, I believe that the author is right in his assessment within the context of quoted contract. With all due respect, you cannot expect us to take the word of an individual who pitches for Murabaha investments for his job at face value for obvious reasons, not least conflict of interest. Unless of course you're willing to disclose the generic contractual terms of products you structure that can convince us otherwise. No one should have the illusion that all Murabaha contracts are designed the same way. The author is criticising purchase to order Murabaha instruments where delivery, agency and other conditions on default are questionable at best, and outright unlawful at many a times.
  2. Police attack on Gaza convoy: Terrorising Solidarity Campaign Against Criminalizing Communities | 03.03.2009 20:53 On 13th February anti-terror powers were used to detain Burnley supporters of the Viva Palestina aid convoy enroute from Britain to Gaza. [1] Police also cordoned off two houses of British Asians during a search, thus portraying them as a threat. An Imam and his wife were subjected to strip searches in their own home. Information on the arrests was fed to the mass media — for publication at the same time as delegations from many parts of Britain converged on London for the Gaza trip. By 15th February, six of the detainees had been released but without passports. Three from Burnley were still being held; plus the ambulance that they were driving. By 17th February all detainees were finally released – without charge. But cash and mobile phones were still not returned by the police. When police disrupted the Viva Palestina convoy enroute to Gaza, they attacked solidarity here with people resisting oppression abroad and discouraged donations. These effects were deliberate. If anyone had ever wanted to smuggle funds to Gaza to buy arms, they would hardly have chosen to travel with a group that was deliberately seeking publicity, with an embedded journalist reporting daily on its progress. Nor would they have chosen a convoy so obviously likely to be scrutinised and/or blocked by the Israeli authorities. The Viva Palestina convoy is supported by the Stop the War Coalition, the Respect Party, the Anglo-Arab Organisation, several UK trade unions and Muslim organisations. Yet again the police have used ‘anti-terror’ laws to promote a politics of fear, aimed at isolating migrant and Muslim communities, while justifying unjust powers. Yet again they have turned cash and mobile phones into objects of suspicion. The police attack put convoy supporters on the defensive for carrying cash. According to one supporter, ‘There was cash around because none of the main banks would allow us to open an account.’ [2] Indeed, police attacks and investigations frighten banks into refusing or closing accounts for charitable as well as political activities. Therefore those trying to transfer money must find alternatives, such as carrying cash, which police turn into a focus of suspicion. Kurdish and Turkish activists have been prosecuted for supposedly raising funds for terrorism, though they were not convicted by the jury. [3] As in the Viva Palestina incident, the climate of suspicion generated by the ‘war on terror’ means that banks perceive a risk of being investigated for ‘terrorist’ funds if they handle certain accounts. Under such suspicion, the Muslim charity Interpal has had banking facilities suspended several times, though no incriminating evidence was ever found. Interpal was investigated by the Charity Commission in 1996 and 2003 because of accusations of funding Hamas but was cleared on both occasions. Then in 2007 its account was closed by NatWest. In January 2008 Lloyds Bank suspended international clearing facilities by Lloyds for Interpal’s account with the Islamic Bank of Britain, citing pressure from the US authorities over the fact that Interpal has been banned in the USA because of its supposed association with Hamas. [4] The Palestine Solidarity Campaign as well as HHUGS, which helps Muslim prisoners and immigration detainees, have also had banking facilities withdrawn because bank fear being investigated for indirectly supporting ‘terrorist’ organisations. The Viva Palestina incident adds to this list of cases which illustrate how so-called ‘anti-terror’ powers are often used to harass peaceful political activities, especially those involving migrants, Muslims or refugees. They are treated as suspect communities through an implied association with terrorism. The mass media report such arrests through the official language of ‘terrorism’, thus colluding with the state. Under the Terrorism Act 2000, ‘terrorism’ is vaguely defined to encompass any activity which may threaten damage to property in pursuit of political aims. In implementing the law, ‘terrorism’ is effectively defined as resistance to oppressive regimes, especially those allied with the UK. Hamas is officially banned here as a terrorist organisation, while Israeli terrorism is treated as self-defence. In this country, solidarity activity is persecuted and even criminalised under anti-terror powers. Such powers are used to protect state terrorism by terrorising opponents. The police attack on the Gaza convoy undermined participation in democratic politics, as George Galloway has rightly said. [5] More generally, participation in international solidarity activity here is being persecuted in the name of preventing terrorism. Similar powers have also been used against Tamil, Kurdish and Baloch activists, among others. [6] Indeed, this is a main reason why the state has ‘anti-terror’ powers, which are not needed to protect the public from violence. Therefore such powers and their use should be opposed by everyone who supports democratic rights of free expression and association. Solidarity is needed for political and charitable activities which may be targeted in the future. Link NOTES [1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/7890 221.stm; http://www.vivapalestina.org/ [2] ‘Galloway seeks inquiry into convoy arrests’, The Guardian, 21 February, http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/feb/21/gal loway-viva-palestina-arrests-aid/print [3] CAMPACC, Terrorising Minority Communities with ‘Anti-Terrorism’ Powers: their Use and Abuse, Submission to the Privy Council Review of the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001, August 2003, http://www.campacc.org.uk/ATCSA_consult-final.pdf [4] Interpal references: The Times, 05.09.08; http://www.islamictimes.co.uk/content/view/578/39, http://www.interpal.info/archives/2112#more-2112 [5] According to Galloway’s statement of 19 February: ‘Anyone with any sense can see that it is in everyone's interest to encourage Britain's Muslim community to engage themselves in democratic politics…. The timing of the operation is seen locally as an attempt to smear and intimidate the Muslim community and I must say they seem to be right. The arrests were clearly deliberately timed for the eve of the departure of the convoy. Photographs of the high-profile snatch on the M65 were immediately fed to the press to maximise the newsworthiness of the smear that was being perpetrated on the convoy.’ See http://www.vivapalestina.org/ [6] Les Levidow, Opposing the UK ‘Terrorist’ List: Persistence as Resistance, February 2009, http://www.campacc.org.uk/
  3. The mention of NATO and the Afghan government by you here is presumably simple fodder to inflate your words. The United Nations security council resolution "Calls upon the International Security Assistance Force to continue to work in close consultation with the Afghan Transitional Authority and its successors and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General as well as with the Operation Enduring Freedom Coalition in the implementation of the force mandate, and to report to the Security Council on the implementation of the measures" Let the facts decide old man! In this instance the goals of the occupier and the UN coincide So it's a coincidence! Do you mind to exercise some logic inference here? If the goals of the occupier and that of the UN coincide, would you not say that their goals are exactly the same and therefore conclude that working for the UN is the same as working for the occupier? Again, let me remind you that the UN has been opposed to the Taliban long before any invasion took place. In your limp argument above, you asserted that this is because the Western powers were opposed to the Taliban. That's just plain silly and simplistic my friend. The Taliban had to prove itself between 1996 and 1998 by increasing the total territory it controlled to satisfy the international criterions for recognition, in particular, US demands. However, the goalposts were always moving even then –to energy security, deals on contract negotiations for pipelines, women education, etc. An interview with the Taliban deputy information minister Abdurrahman Hotaki published in 1998 after several victories for territory over their foes, he stated that "Even before the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif and Taloqan, we were fully qualified for recognition. The opposition gave people an excuse to deny us recognition and prevent us having the pipeline run through our country, but that excuse has now gone. In the past people used to use the fighting close to its (the pipeline's) route as an excuse, but this has also gone. At the moment we want to finalise a deal with Unocal, but we are still in contact with Bridas" (Unocal is a US company btw). Around the time of the annual UN credential committee meeting in 1998, the East-African bombings took place and the US was bombing Afghanistan. From then on, international law was discarded, Bin Laden became the dominant excuse and US interests were all that mattered in Afghanistan when it comes to the UN policy at the time. By the next annual UN credential committee meeting, the US was in the already in the process of imposing its unilateral sanctions regime against Afghanistan on 5 July 1999 by an executive order of Bill Clinton, to UN resolution counsil backed sanctions. The following year, SC resolution 1267 was being converted to SC resolution 1333 in a similar scenario orchestrated by the US imperialist machine. That "the Western powers were opposed to the Taliban" before the 2001 invasion is not something that's open to debate my friend; it's a historical FACT! Olivier Roy, former United Nations Office for Coordinating Relief in Afghanistan (UNOCA), wrote afterwards the folloeing: The US has told the Taliban that once they offer up bin Laden, or even if bin Laden leaves the country of his own accord, sanctions will be lifted. This would pave the way to UN recognition of the Kabul regime as successors to the Rabbani government-in-exile. Political commentators had indicated that recognition has been a genuine possibility following the Taliban's military successes last year, which secured them 90 per cent of the country and established them as de facto leaders. Problems of human and minority rights, the repression of women and the Taliban's open support of Central Asian Islamic militants are not mentioned by the UN as preconditions for the lifting of sanctions. It simply wants the Taliban to wash its hands of bin Laden. Washington has been demanding his extradition ever since a US court indicted him for allegedly masterminding the bombing of two American embassies in East Africa in 1998. The Taliban have so far refused to countenance Washington's demands. Should they eventually agree to them, there are several factors which indicate that the international community would consider transferring their allegiance to the Taliban leadership. Prior to the embassy bombings, the US had sent signals that, while not actively supporting the regime, it was not actually hostile to it. Taliban understood the game eventually very well. It consented to extradite Bin Laden on the basis of reasonable conditions that the US would provide evidence proving his guild or involvement and a third country where there's reasonable chance for justice to prevail. The US simply rejected every offer made by the Taliban –made possible of course, by its control of the UN and abilities to dictate wording and exact content of UNSC resolutions. To refresh your mind, following extract is from a news report around that period: "The Taliban realise they will not obtain international recognition, particularly given Washington's attitude to bin Laden, so they are turning inward and guarding their home patch," one analyst here said. … However, he has now told the US it has until November 20 to provide evidence in support of the allegations and dismissed a five million dollar bounty offered for the Afghanista-based Saudi dissident to be brought to a US supreme court. … "US support is considered tantamount if the Taliban is to become legitimised as the government of Afghanistan and hold a seat in the UN General Assembly," one western observer said. "But the Taliban will never get the recognition they want. There would have to be an extrordinary change in their outlook and if that were to happen then the Taliban, simply, would no longer exist." He was referring to hallmarks of Taliban attitudes which have been imposed on the local population under strict Islamic Shariat law. Men must wear untrimmed beards and shun western fashion, women are covered from head to toe and discriminated against in health, education and work. Thieves have their right hands surgically removed and some serious offenders are publiclly executed by gunfire. Depictions of human figures, including statues of Jesus Christ and Buddah, are illegal. Television, music, cinema, alcohol and gambling are all banned. Strict curfews are imposed. "Yes they have brought security," one analyst said. "Women are not raped in the streets and violence has dropped, but at what cost? "And ironically the Taliban owe partial success to Washington which supported them to a point in the early days when the potential to exploit oil and gas reserves were an issue." … "The Taliban have played a number of cards in the game for a UN seat. Bin Laden was one, drugs were another, while the imposition of Shariat law was never an issue as far as they are concerned," another western observer said. "It now looks like they have decided to support bin Laden and thrown in their hand for world recognition." Fine. Why then did only THREE countries recognise the Taliban? Is it because of the power of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? There is a substantial number of Muslim countries who are members of the UN and who still chose to follow the UN line here (was it US pressure on them too?). That there are a "number of Muslim countries who are members of the UN" would have had significance only if either the Taliban or the Northern Alliance was Muslim and the other not. They decided to wait, not because they "chose to follow the UN line" as you alleged above, but that of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference who suspended the Afghan seat –only fell short of granting full membership due to their fierce enemies internal to the organisation. I have been telling you all along that the issue is not as black and white as you make it sound. It is either you are colluding wit the enemy by working for the UN or, maybe, you are not. It's black and white when we're limiting our positions to those "colluding wit the enemy by working for the UN" directly or indirectly. Or are contesting here the exclusion of cleaners, contracted cooks and the likes? I'm intrigued by your response here.
  4. NGONGE, There's only one relevant paragraph dealing with the subject, to which I'll reply briefly. You say that "the UN did not recognise the Taliban from day one" yet fail to mention that it was the US that (after lengthy negotiations between the Clinton administration and the Taliban) refused to recognise the Afghan government. You also say "UN imposed sanctions on the Taliban regime years before America invaded (or the 2001 events)" and yet again you fail to mention the sponsors initiating such drafts calling for the imposition of sanctions against the Taliban (it was not China, I can guarantee you). Both of these arguments prove the opposite of what you're trying to convince us my friend. On the other hand, come occupation and we see instant recognition of a makeshift 'government' and the lifting of the sanctions you alluded to by the UN. Does that not mean that western interests and agenda always dictate the UN policy in/on Afghanistan? Or maybe what you're actually saying is that because "the UN did NOT invade Afghanistan and was attempting to solve the issue with some diplomacy" (diplomacy, by which you mean illegal murderous sanctions and the refusal to recognise their existence), proves the impartiality of the UN, are you not? It's like a criminal, after robbing you on the street of all your possessions and stealing your passport, who then expects you to see his benevolence for NOT stabbing you. Cruelty is care! You've gone off topic and into subjects you can't possibly get your head around –I don't just say that, it's completely clear from the simplistic half-truths you've provided as arguments. Though tempted by itching inclinations to comment all the self-evident fallacies in your arguments, I fear that we otherwise loose sight of the topic at hand. Just to remind you, we're discussing the United Nations in Afghanistan as indicated by the title of this thread. The position argued by myself and others here is as follows: 1) Afghanistan is occupied by Western powers and they're using NATO, the Afghan puppet government and the UN to achieve their objectives. 2) The resistance is at war with these powers/tools as much as these powers/tools are at war with the Afghan resistance. 3) The war against the resistance has many sophisticated dimensions costing billions of Dollars, such as bribery, ideological (including psyups), socio-cultural, material, political and off course physical. 4) If one works for the NATO-UN-'Afghan government', you can either be at war with the Afghan resistance directly, indirectly or not at all involved (we're not concerned here with that last one) depending on your job. 5) The UN is, at least politically, the single most important element of all the tools used in the process of winning 'hearts and minds' or as the Secretary-General himself puts it "success will depend on our ability to bring about a political surge".
  5. Originally posted by LayZie G.: Perhaps, you should take lessons from the Video Professor from the infomercials. I bet he can teach you a thing or two on how to properly plan a lesson and demonstrate it in 1 2 3 steps. Either way, I suggest you give us your input, perhaps juice it a bit and add visual aid to get your target audience interested, I'm sorry you don't like my educational style. What else? To Abu_Diaby This thread is neither about any individuals in particular nor the UN in general, things are far too nuanced than that; not to mention topically unrelated. That's why I posted this separately and gave the specific title 'United Nations and Afghanistan'. Its aim is to highlight the role of the UN as partisan organisation in the occupation of Afghanistan and the fact that UN-'Afghan government'-occupation partnership is a factual reality to be considered in the division of opposing parties, the other party being the resistance. The sooner everyone accepts this fact, the sooner we can move on to the rules and exceptions in principle.
  6. Culimadii awooday in ay isugu yimaadaan kulanka ka dhcay magaalada Muqdisho, waxaad mooddaa in ay xarkaha kala dhinac u jiideen haseyeeshee cagajuglayn inaga qarsoon kedib door dambe meel-dhexaad isugu yimaadeen. Anigu shakhsi ahaan waan soo ghoweyn wadajirkooda iyo go'aamada ay gaareen, in kastaba oo anigu marnaba iskey ugu qanceen qodobada lasoo saaray dhuuxooda, laakiin daruuriga taagan iyo codka culamadeena badankooda isku raaceen waa in aynu ka danbeynaa. Guddoomiyaha Golahaas ayaa waxaa loo doortay Shiikh Bashiir Axmed Salaad oo horay u ahaa Guddoomiyaha Musaalaxada, iyadoo madashii lagu magacaabayna laga sheegay in Golahan uu ka shaqeyn doono sidii marjic rasmi ah loogu heli lahaa su’aalo diimeedyada doodaha ka yimaadaan. Intaas kadib waxaa xafladdii gunaanadka shirka culumaa’udiinka laga aqriyay qodobo ay soo saareen Culumaa’udiinkii shirsanaa mudada todobaadka ku dhow, waxaana qodobadaas ka mid ahaa: In muddo 120 maalmood ah dalka looga saaro Ciidamada Amisom, iyadoo mudadaasna ay ka bilaabaneyso 1/03/2009, isla markaana aan la keenin ciidamo kale. In aaney Ciidamada Shisheeye mudadaas gudaheeda aysan sameynin wax dhaqdhaqaaq ah oo howlgallo ka mid yihiin. In xalka mushkiladda dalka lagu raadiyo wada hadal oo aan marnaba dagaal loo adeegsan. In 90 maalmood gudahood uu Baarlamaanka Soomaaliya shir isugu yimaado, isla markaana uu u codeeyo in dalka lagu dhaqayo Shareecada Islaamka. In Qodobo ka hor-imaanaya Shareecada Islaamka oo Axdiga Dowladda ku jira wax laga bedelo, iyadoo loo saarayo culumaa’udiin lagu kalsoon yahay oo aqoon durugsan u leh Diinta Islaamka. In aan dadka la gaaleysiin karin iyadoo aan wax cad lagu heynin. In la joojiyo dilalka dadka aan waxba galabsan. In Mujaahidiinta ay abuuraan fursad qodobadan lagu hirgeliyo. Hiiraan
  7. Brothers and sisters, Discussions can take place between two parties when there're differences of opinions and perceptions from the perspective of realities and principles ruling these, but only if there's equality in knowledge. When there's an asymmetry of information however, where one party is shockingly ignorant of the factual realities let along guiding principles which will enable us to judge, there're no other alternatives but two: 1) abandon such fruitless discussions in entirety; or 2) educate them for ignorance is a forgivable sin if lessoned. This is an educational post to exercise the latter alternative. Today we'll discuss the less important subject of the afghan occupation and the United Nations. I shall continue (Allah willing) at my best convenience on the more serious and important subject of Al-Waraa Wal-Baraa. This should hopefully end much of the unnecessary confusion. Lesson 1: Factual Realities The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was created during the Bonn Conference under an enforcement mandate based on Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, along with the puppet government Afghan Transitional Authority (ATA). According to the numerous UN Resolutions referring to the ISAF (Security Council Resolutions 1386, 1412, 1444, 1510, 1563, 1623, 1707, 1776, etc.), the authorisation of the deployment of a UN-mandated multinational force is, overlooking the fancy diplomatic wording of the details, in order to annihilate the existence of any resistance or situations permitting resistance in Afghanistan and to create the conditions where tho rules of the occupying oppressors are supreme. ISAF is a force that consists of many nations which deployed their troops upon the request of the UN under the authority of the United Nations Security Council. A large proportion of these troops are focused on the National Support Elements, United Nations Assistance Mission and Provincial Reconstruction Teams to support the military occupation and so-called 'Afghan government' with winning hearts and minds by enhancing the reconstruction and development efforts (although that may sound harmless to the uninformed mind, it's worse than bombs and bullets). In addition to the establishment of the multinational occupation force by the United Nations Security Council, Afghanistan was first attacked by the US Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and afterwards came the NATO mission (a first of its kind) to bomb and create even more havoc. All for one and one for all, in the true fashion of three musketeers (in reality what they said was "attack on one is a attack on all" as in the NATO rulebook). I'll not speculate on why the strategic command and control ever ended up with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) or why the North Atlantic Council is in charge of all political guidance as the main decision-making body of occupied Afghanistan, but there's no doubt about the OEF-ISAF-NATO-UN axis of command and relationship. The occupation forces (henceforth to mean both military non-military) covering the entire territory of Afghanistan changed command from the US-Coalition to NATO-ISAF in October 2006. NATO already had assumed strategic command, control and coordination (including Provincial Reconstruction Teams) of the ISAF back in August 2003. The partnership between ATA, the United Nations Assistance Mission and NATO-ISAF has never been nor ever meant to be a secret hidden from the world, in fact these involved parties state that such aforementioned partnership and coordination needs to be intensified even more. That's why UN resolution 1833 adopted in September 2008 explicitly welcomed the continued coordination between ISAF and the OEF coalition, and the cooperation established between ISAF and the European Union presence in Afghanistan and Calls upon ISAF to continue to work in close consultation with the Afghan Government and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General as well as with the OEF coalition in the implementation of the force mandate. If all the occupation forces are under the command of NATO, under whose command is the NATO mission? Yep, you've guessed it! NATO reports to the United Nations on the implementation of its mandate in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions. They provide quarterly progress reports on varying aspects which include the uprooting of the resistance, development and reconstruction, governance and institution building, Afghan army/police and neighbouring countries. If you wish to believe, their whole presence in Afghanistan is made possible/legitimate by the UN mandate granted to them, and by implication they have been sent and are being kept there by the UN for the duration of whichever duration it sees fit. The basis of all resolutions upon which the UN mandate has been granted as stated in UN resolutions 1510, 1267, 1368, 1373, 1707, 1746, 1776 and 1822, reaffirmed also in resolutions 1386 and 1373 is to reiterate its support for international efforts to root out terrorism in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Furthermore, in resolution 1833 of the UN Security Council we find the following passages: Stressing the central and impartial role that the United Nations continues to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan by leading the efforts of the international community, noting, in this context, the synergies in the objectives of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and of ISAF, and stressing the need for strengthened cooperation, coordination and mutual support, taking due account of their respective designated responsibilities, and Reiterating its support for the continuing endeavours by the Afghan Government, with the assistance of the international community, including ISAF and the Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) coalition, to improve the security situation and to continue to address the threat posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, and stressing in this context the need for sustained international efforts, including those of ISAF and the OEF coalition Only in the far faraway land of waffling weasels and demented donkeys do they proclaim in excitement: "The UN is not an arm to further Western goals" (NGONGE, 19/02/2009) S.O.S
  8. Anti-terror code 'would alienate most Muslims' • Draft strategy brands thousands as extremists • Ministers ponder plan to be unveiled next month Vikram Dodd The Guardian, Tuesday 17 February 2009 The government is considering plans that would lead to thousands more British Muslims being branded as extremists, the Guardian has learned. The proposals are in a counterterrorism strategy which ministers and security officials are drawing up that is due to be unveiled next month. Some say the plans would see views held by most Muslims in Britain being classed by the government as extreme. According to a draft of the strategy, Contest 2 as it is known in Whitehall, people would be considered as extremists if: • They advocate a caliphate, a pan-Islamic state encompassing many countries. • They promote Sharia law. • They believe in jihad, or armed resistance, anywhere in the world. This would include armed resistance by Palestinians against the Israeli military. • They argue that Islam bans homosexuality and that it is a sin against Allah. • They fail to condemn the killing of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Contest 2 would widen the definition of extremists to those who hold views that clash with what the government defines as shared British values. Those who advocate the wider definition say hardline Islamist interpretation of the Qur'an leads to views that are the root cause of the terrorism threat Britain faces. But opponents say the strategy would brand the vast majority of British Muslims as extremists and alienate them even further. The Guardian has also learned of a separate secret Whitehall counterterrorism report advocating widening the definition of who is considered extremist. Not all in Whitehall agree with the proposals and one official source said plans to widen the definition were "incendiary" and could alienate Muslims, whose support in the counterterrorism effort is needed. There were also fears it could aid the far right. Contest 2 is still being finalised by officials and ministers. Those considered extreme would not be targeted by the criminal law, but would be sidelined and denied public funds. Ed Husain, of the Quilliam Foundation thinktank, said the root causes of terrorism were extremist views, even if those advocating the views did not call for violence. Husain, once an extremist himself, said: "Violent extremism is produced by Islamist extremism and it's only right to get into the root causes." Inayat Bunglawala, a former spokesman for the Muslim Council of Great Britain, said such plans would affect many British Muslims. Bunglawala, who now runs Engage, which tries to get Muslims to participate in politics and civic society, said: "That would alienate the majority of the British Muslim public. It would be counterproductive and class most Muslims as extremists." In a speech in December, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said the government's counterterrorism strategy had to include challenging nonviolent extremist groups that "skirt the fringes of the law ... to promote hate-filled ideologies". The Contest strategy was put in place in 2003 as the UK beefed up its response to the threat of al-Qaida inspired terrorism. But the security service's assessment shows no drop in those they consider dangerous and the UK's terror threat level remains at severe general. The Home Office said: "We don't comment on leaked documents." The Guardian
  9. Sh Shariif Cabdi Nuur ayaa ugu baaqay umada Soomaaliyeed in ay taageeraan dowlada la soo doortay madaama uu Sh Shariif leeyahay diinta baan dadka ku dhaqayaa lana joojiyo daniga xun loona maleeyo malo wanaagsan maadaama uu kacdoonka dowr weyn ku lahaa ... Cid walbaa oo Diin ku dhaqaysa dalka waannu taageersaneen welibana weynu taageeri doonnaa, sida ii muuqatana waa shardiga ugu muhiimsan ee Fatwadani cuskanayso. Hadaba su'aalaha meeshan isweydiinta mudan ayaa ah: Qaabkeen u qiimayn karnaa doorka ficillada Sh. Shareef kaga jiraan abuurtanka danniga xun, ama burinta maleeynta fiican(illeen minfilaadna waa meel, muluqmuluqnimo muuqatana waa meel)? Maadaama Fatwadan ku dhisantahay tuhun qaabilsan sida ay mustaqbalka culimada u rajaynhayaan, maxaa qoraalka kor ku xusan sharuudaha oo muuqan waayeen (ka warama hadii mustaqbalka ka weecdo fileyntii Fatwadan aashaaratay)?
  10. Sudan rebel leader meets top Israeli defense official By Barak Ravid and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents Tags: Israel News, Sudan, Darfur The leader of one of the rebel groups in Sudan's Darfur region visited Israel to request its support in the rebels' fight against the Sudanese government. Abdel Wahid al-Nur is the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement. While in Israel, he met with Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, who heads the Defense Ministry's political-security department. However, since he was not an official state guest, he did not meet with Foreign Ministry personnel. Al-Nur came to Israel earlier this month at his own initiative, to attend the annual Herzliya Conference. He came with a group of European Jews, most of them French, who have been active on behalf of the Darfur refugees. He did not speak at any of the sessions, but did observe several. At the conference, he was introduced to Gilad, and the two arranged a meeting, which took place a few days later at the Defense Ministry. The ministry responded, "In the interests of national security, various and sundry meetings are held. We are not in the habit of giving responses after each of these meetings." The Sudan Liberation Movement was founded in 1992. It is a secular group that opposes the Islamist regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and its official stated goal is to turn Sudan into a democracy that grants equal rights to all its citizens. However, it also has a military wing that has been fighting government forces in Darfur since 2001. Al-Nur fled to France in 2007 and has not been back to Sudan since then. He has won support from international human rights organizations and is considered very close to French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. In the past, he has spoken in favor of establishing diplomatic ties between Sudan and Israel, and a year ago, he even announced that his movement was opening an office in Tel Aviv, staffed by Sudanese refugees who found asylum in Israel after fleeing the massacres committed by Bashir's forces in Darfur. However, this was his first visit here. Israel currently has more than 600 Darfur refugees, and Ehud Olmert's government decided to grant them all asylum and work permits. This decision was made in part because Bashir's government announced that any Sudanese refugee who set foot in Israel would be considered a "Mossad agent" and would therefore be sentenced to death should he or she ever return to Sudan. HAARETZ
  11. Religious head covering: hijabs, sais, scarves and sexual insecurities Libby Purves In Beit Shemesh, a strict orthodox enclave in Israel, ever more Jewish women have taken to covering up - not just hair and neck but in some cases the whole head. They call it a sai rather than a (Muslim) hijab, but one worryingly says "The truth is that the women of Israel are lessening in God's eyes because the Arabs are more modest in dress. If the Jews want to conquer the Arabs in this land they must enhance their modesty,” The Jewish Chronicle columnist speaks strongly against the practice: "They are making themselves invisible, effectively non-persons. Modesty, for them, is not participation in the world, while de-emphasising their physicality — as it is in halachah — but complete self-effacement, to the point of self-obliteration. They have no faces". Women retaliate. Some claim tradition. Other sites again say it is parallel to an eating disorder, denying the body to make it disappear. Covering up women, however, has a history as old as religion. In the European medieval period women wore their hair loose when unmarried but once married covered it in a linen wrap. Among the stricter Plymouth Brethren to this day, the 'sistern' must cover their heads. Joanna Bourke writes interestingly in the Times. And most modern women would ask why it is that they must hide from men: have men no self-control? Whereon we discover that the male hijab is gathering favour among some Muslims, followers of strict advice on websites like Muttaqun. A thoughtful piece in the Guardian refers to this. While the prevailing sluttiness and exhibitionism of much Western dress is not universally admired, the sense of mutual hiding and shame in these sites is profoundly depressing...
  12. Going under cover: the Jewish women who are taking the veil Sheera Frenkel in Beit Shemesh, Israel Several cars slow and one stops when Sarah walks down the street in her home town of Beit Shemesh, an ultra-orthodox Jewish enclave west of Jerusalem. On this morning, the streets teem with women herding their children to school in the modest garb and head-coverings befitting their religious beliefs. For years, Sarah walked among them similarly dressed, but today a dark cloth is secured across her face, hiding everything save her eyes. It resembles the head-to-toe covering that is associated with religious Muslim women in the Gulf States. “People in cars driving by often stop and stare. Some people are rude — they shout things at me because they think I am Arab,” said Sarah (not her real name). Sarah is part of a budding movement of about 100 Jewish women in this city who have begun covering their bodies. Some cover just their hair and neck; others wrap their entire face, save their eyes, with the loose cloth. They call their head-covering a sal, refusing to acknowledge the resemblance to its Muslim twin, the hijab. In Beit Shemesh, the political line is strictly right wing, with many of the religious leaders advocating expulsion of Arabs from the biblical boundaries of the land of Israel. But the two communities may have more in common than they think. Orthodox Jewish women have long concealed their hair with a scarf or wig upon marriage. Muslim women, who don a covering upon reaching puberty, traditionally sheath their necks as well as their hair. Depending on the country, the covering could be fashioned into a number of variations such as the chador, a loose cloak worn by women in Iran, or the burka, an enveloping garment that allows only for mesh netting over the eyes, worn in Afghanistan. “The full body, or full face covering that people think is only part of the Arab world actually started with Jewish women,” said a woman who asked to be identified by her first initial, M. “Muslim women are imitating Jews to try to gain God's favour with modesty. The truth is that the women of Israel are lessening in God's eyes because the Arabs are more modest in dress. If the Jews want to conquer the Arabs in this land they must enhance their modesty,” added M, who covered her face for over a year, but currently wears just a loose cloak over her garments. The first time that M saw a sal was at the Western Wall, one of the holiest Jewish sites. “I saw a woman who looked like an Arab and I was scared. I got near her, to try to determine why she was there, and saw that she was praying in Hebrew. I began to talk to her and became curious and then attended her classes,” she said. The woman M met that day was a religious instructor in Beit Shemesh, and the founder of the sal style. “We have been criticised by so many in the community who see what we are doing as the opposite of Jewish law. Many women have stopped wearing the sal because of pressure from their husbands or rabbis,” said M, who adds that her family persuaded her to stop wearing the garment. Part of Jewish religious teaching states that a woman should not draw unnecessary attention to herself — a rule that some rabbis feel the sal breaches, said Chevy Weiss, a liaison between the religious community in Beit Shemesh and its leadership. “If that is what these women need to do to feel a stronger connection to God, I have respect for them,” she said. For Sarah, wearing the sal is worth the stares and occasional harassment. “In my heart I know this is what God wants me to wear. God willing, more women will see the truth.” Dressing down — Hair covering among Jewish women can be traced to Jewish law. The 13th-century scholar Moses Maimonides is quoted in the Mishneh Torah as stating that the covering of a woman’s hair is from the teachings handed down to the biblical figure of Moses, or rather from the Old Testament.
  13. A World Where Womanhood Reigns Supreme Impact International Mary Walker The Seeds of My Own Re-evaluations When I joined the team of "Living Islam" two years ago, my perception of Islam was dominated by prejudice and ignorance, and I found its treatment of women abhorrent. To me the veil symbolised the oppression of women, making them invisible, anonymous and voiceless, and the cause of this oppression lay in the will to perpetuate the family and maintain a patriarchal framework - the very basis of an Islamic Society. I thought women were entirely submerged by divine justification of their role as wife and mother. "Living Islam" was filmed over two years in 19 different countries and on location I was a lone female in an otherwise male team. I was aware that I especially should behave appropriately. In my mind, women were to be neither seen nor heard. My first trip took me to Mali - to an untypical Muslim community in the bush. Making sure to cover every bit of naked flesh while the men wandered around in short sleeves, I wondered what rooms I was permitted to enter and who I was permitted to talk to. But I also wondered whether my new-found meekness was not in part a reaction to the overpowering atmosphere of the patriarchal society I found my self in. Was this how Muslim women felt - resignation in the face of impossible odds? The first Muslim woman I met in Mali was far removed from my preconception about the Muslim female. She was the wife of a Shaikh dedicated to converting pagan villagers to Islam. A sophisticated, well-educated woman, previously married to a diplomat, she had renounced a Western lifestyle for a life in purdah. In my eyes she had sentenced herself to life imprisonment. But here was no prisoner, no poor downtrodden slave. A sharp intelligent and influential woman stood before me, clearly the one "who wore trousers" round here. Here seclusion gave her a status of honour and allowed her to exercise control from behind closed doors without confrontation. She was the bargainer, the head of the household, and the manager of her husbands affairs and schedule. The emancipated woman in the West faces the conflict between confirmation of her femininity and the privileges that she associates with it, and repudiation of the confines of her female role and all the limitations that men want her to assume. From where I stood, this woman had transformed those limitations into privileges. On my next trip to northern Nigeria I met two more women who would alter my views even further. These were two women from the household of Shaikh Zakzaky, a fervent preacher of Jihad who urges his supporters to follow the example of Iran and replace the imperialistic western regime with an Islamic state. Zeenah Ibraheem, Zakzaky's wife and Fatima Yunus, her friend, had agreed to be interviewed about the role of women in Islam. They were in purdah and would only speak to another woman. The producer asked me to interview them. I was nervous apart from the fact that I had never interviewed anyone before. I was worried that my feminist sympathies would antagonise the women. But it was precisely these sympathies that Zeenah and Fatima themselves were questioning. Once again, the women were educated and articulate. And once again they had rejected the Western lifestyle which I considered so superior to Islam in its treatment of women. As I took my seat on a carpet in the courtyard, the invisible boundary between men and women was a welcome partition, and within this boundary womanhood reigned supreme. This was a sharp contrast with the feelings from the previous days in locations where my presence had been acceptable only as an "honorary man". We had been filming the medieval theatrics of the 'Salla' celebrations that marked the end of Ramadan. Men, men, men everywhere: 500,000 men gathered for prayer on the morning of the Salla, men pouring into the inner courtyard of the Emirof Kano's inner courtyard to pay homage - I was grateful to be allowed to witness these events but at what price? The complete annihilation of my female identity? But now. I was taking the reins because of my sex. No more the feeling of inferiority and exclusion, as a novice in things Islamic surrounded by a team of experts, as a woman in a patriarchal society. Now the men were excluded. Apart from the cameraman and sound recordist, they were encouraged to stand well back. The cameraman covered his head and the camera with a black cloth - his very own veil. I was now in a world where the men had no voice. The women talked and in their answers I saw the seeds of my own re-evalutions. They argued that the veil signified their rejection of an unacceptable system of values which debased women while Islam elevated women to a position of honour and respect. "It is not liberation where you say women should go naked. It is just oppression, because men want to see them naked." Just as to us the veil represents Muslim oppression, to them miniskirts and plunging necklines represent oppression. They said that men are cheating women in the West. They let us believe we're liberated but enslave us to the male gaze. However much I insist on the right to choose what I wear, I cannot deny that the choice is often dictated by what will make my body more attractive to men. Women cannot separate their identity from their appearance and so we remain trapped in the traditional feminine world, where the rules are written by men. By choosing to wear the veil, these women were making a conscious decision to define their role in society and their relationship with men. That relationship appeared to be based more on exchange and mutual respect (a respect that was often lacking in the personal relationships I saw in the West), than the master/servant scenario I had anticipated. The Veil to them signified visual confirmation of their religious commitment, in which men and women were united, and for Zeenah and Fatima an even stronger commitment to a political ideal. So were my notions of oppression in the form of the veil disqualified? If my definition of equality was free will then I could no longer define that oppression as a symptom of Islam. The women had all exercised their right to choose. To some extent, they were freer than me - I had less control over my destiny. I could no longer point at them and say they were oppressed and I was not. my life was influenced by male approval as theirs - but the element of choice had been taken out of mine. their situations and their arguments had, after all, served to highlight shortcomings in my view of my own liberty. Mary Walker was Production Coordinator on the BBC2 series "Living Islam".
  14. The tragedy of the Palestinian resistance has been that they've viewed the Zionist state of Israel and the so-called West (mainly US) as separate entities. A mantle of impartiality has been assigned to the US, as hideous as it may sound, by Arafat and his ilk for much of the '90s with Camp David bribes and Oslo pretentious Accords. These are now sources of weakness that Palestinians need to overcome: no one will grant them their land back (especially Jerusalem), the sooner they realise that the better their chances of success will be. Imagine the Somali resistance differentiating Ethiopia and the West, what he downfall will follow. Having said that, the Palestinians are way more advanced experienced in the techniques of resistance fighting as they learn and adapt quickly to any challenge presented at them. I've noticed that most of their short-term actions or mid-term objectives not necessarily conflicts with their lon-term goals. We could learn one or two thins from, both in positive and in negative terms.
  15. The centrality of the Prophet’s use of power in the method of the Seerah This month - Rabi al-Awwal in the Hijri calendar - sees celebrations of the birth of the Prophet (saw) all over the Muslim world. In this article, ZAFAR BANGASH, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT), discusses some key elements of the Seerah. As the Prophet (saw) was migrating from Makkah to Madinah-by no means a voluntary departure, but made because the mushrik tribal chiefs of Quraish had vowed to kill him-Allah revealed to him the following ayaat: Say: 'O my Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honour, and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honour, and grant me from Your Presence an authority and power to aid [me].' And say: 'Truth has [now] arrived and falsehood has perished: Verily falsehood [by its nature] is bound to perish.' (17:80-81). Although these ayaat are in the form of a du'a (prayer), they refer to the temporal side of the Messenger's mission and predict his ultimate triumph, with Allah's Help, over his enemies. They were revealed at a time when his situation appeared totally bleak: he had few supporters in Makkah (most of his Companions had already left for Madinah), and the last of his defenders and helpers-his uncle Abu Talib and his beloved wife Umm al-Mu'mineen Khadijah (ra)-had died three years earlier. Even as life had become extremely difficult for the Prophet (saw), Allah was showing to him signs of his ultimate victory through such events as the Isra' and the Mi'raj and the ayaat revealed during the Hijra. These ayaat refer to the issue of temporal power, not merely the spiritual or personal power that the Prophet (saw) already possessed by virtue of his being the Messenger of Allah and the bearer of Allah's last and final message. The ultimate defeat of kufr is also predicted in unambiguous terms. Allah instructs him to seek His Help through the prayer: "...and grant me from Your Presence an authority and power and aid [me]." Given the circumstances in which these ayaat were revealed-at the very moment when he was being driven out of Makkah-they demonstrate and command an optimism that the kuffar and the weak in faith must find incredible. Yet the divine scheme operates on a higher plane than that of humans. The ayaat start with the prayer that his entry be "through the Gate of Truth" before it refers to his departure, although he was fleeing Makkah at the time. The divine message emphasises optimism and positive thinking even in the darkest moments of one's life: this is a point we Muslims need to note in these days of our collective humiliation. A well-known hadith of the Prophet (saw), reported by Anas ibn Malik (ra), that is also a du'a, says: "O Allah, I seek refuge in You from worries and distress... from weakness and laziness... from cowardice and stinginess... from the burden of debt and the domination of [other] men" (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim). Again, we see that the Prophet (saw) is seeking Allah's Help in the affairs of this world for worldly matters. Weakness ('ajz) does not only mean physical weakness, although that is included; it refers (for instance) to weakness that would enable others to dominate him. Domination by human beings negates our submission and obedience to Allah, the only Power and Authority we may acknowledge and worship, this being the essence of imaan in Islam. The clearest evidence of seeking Allah's Help in acquiring power is to be found in the Messenger's beseeching Allah to save him from the domination of others. This can refer to domination at the individual and family as well as collective or state level, wherever people in authority have control, power and influence over others. Thus we see that the Prophet's mission was not confined to delivering the message; his mission also included the struggle to acquire power so that forces opposed to Allah's divine command would not have the capacity to dominate Muslims. In the secular world the acquisition of power is regarded as undesirable because it corrupts; from the Islamic point of view there is no harm in it as long as it is used to implement Allah's deen in the world; it is what Allah wants us (indeed commands us) to do. Allah reminds us in His Book: "It is He [Allah] Who has sent the Messenger with clear guidance and the deen of Truth so that it may dominate all other systems, however much the mushrikeen may detest this" (9:33 and 61:9). The Prophet (saw) acquired power in his own lifetime; this is part of his Sunnah and Seerah, in fact a vital part that must be revived and implemented today so that the Muslim Ummah can again be in the driving seat of history. In another hadith Allah's Messenger (saw) said: "Allah deals with those matters through the power of the State that He does not address [directly] in the Qur'an." Thus the state (however we define it) is an inseparable part of the divine scheme. We Muslims must comprehend this concept clearly because, under the influence of the fraudulent claims of the West, we have come to believe that there ought to be a "separation of Church and State". Almost all states, no matter how secular, derive some laws from religious precepts. But for Muslims the issue is much more fundamental: there is no "Church" in Islam; the "Church" and state are one and the same thing. Islam's laws and ethical precepts can only be implemented in their totality with the authority and power of the state. This is a fundamental part of the Sunnah and Seerah of Allah's Messenger (saw). We thus need to develop a better and much broader understanding of the Seerah; the question is how to do so. The Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet (saw) are second only to the Qur'an as sources of knowledge and guidance. There is a close relationship between our understanding of the Qur'an and of the Sunnah and Seerah. "The Prophet's character was the Qur'an," according to the well-known saying of Umm al-Mu'mineen 'Aisha (ra). This also conforms to the Qur'anic advice that there should be no contradiction between our words and our deeds. As the embodiment of the divine message, the Messenger of Allah practised what he preached. We are challenged and reminded in surah as-Saff: "O you who have made a faith-commitment to Allah, why do you say what you do not do? The worst thing in the sight of Allah is that you say what you do not do" (61:2-3). When he received wahi (revelation), the Prophet (saw) would apply it in his own life before he called upon others to do so. He was, therefore, the perfect embodiment and demonstration of the Qur'an. Other ayaat emphasise the importance and significance of applying Allah's Laws on earth. Those who fail to judge by what Allah has revealed are referred to as kafirs (5:44), dhalims (5:45) and fasiqs (5:47). Naturally the Prophet (saw) adhered to these laws fully, thus implementing the teachings of the Qur'an in their totality. Although the Qur'an is not a biography of the Prophet (saw), it is the primary source of understanding of his Seerah. Just as the Qur'an cannot be understood properly without reference to the Sunnah and the Seerah, so the Seerah cannot be fully comprehended without reference to the Qur'an; Allah says: "[O Prophet] You have the most lofty character" (68:4) and that "In the messenger of Allah you have the most beautiful pattern of conduct and the best of exemplars" (33:21). Not only has obedience to him been made compulsory (4:59), but it is also equated with obedience to Allah Himself; Allah informs us in the Qur'an: "When you obey the messenger [it is as if] you obey Allah" (4:80). Our study of the Seerah, however, must go beyond mere reference to ayaat; we must derive our understanding of the Seerah from them. A number of scholars have alluded to this, but there has been no systematic study so far. It is even more important because most of the Seerah books we have now were compiled some decades after the Prophet (saw) left this world; the early biographers followed a chronological order in narrating his life-history. During his lifetime there was no need for people to compile the Seerah in writing because the Prophet (saw) lived among them; after his death, there were many Companions (ra) who narrated aspects of his blessed life in the course of teaching the Qur'an, explaining and demonstrating how to lead a proper Islamic life by referring to the example set by the Prophet (saw). The need for a written record of the Seerah was felt by subsequent generations as the Companions (ra) of the Messenger (saw) and their companions (tabi'un, literally "followers", i.e. in their footsteps) departed from this world and the number of people with direct knowledge of the Messenger's life dwindled. In order to develop a systematic method of studying the Seerah, we must identify the sources in their order of priority. Four basic sources can be cited immediately: the Qur'an; the treaties and documents that the Prophet (saw) made or signed during his life; the hadith literature; and finally the Seerah literature. Again, early Seerah biographers must take precedence over those that came later because of their proximity to the time of the Prophet (saw). Some observers may wonder about relegating the Seerah-literature to the end of this list. Muslim scholars admit that events narrated in Seerah books were not scrutinized as carefully as the ahadith were. They recorded events as they heard them; some took more care than others, but an exact science to verify the authenticity of each narration did not develop as it did in the case of hadith-compilation. We need to emphasize that this is not to question the veracity of the Seerah-literature, only to establish a framework for its evaluation based on the Qur'an, the immutable Word of Allah. There can be no question about the authenticity and veracity of the Qur'an; Allah Himself has guaranteed its integrity for all eternity (15:9). It is the divine Word of Allah, without any alterations or deletions since the day it was first revealed. Any person who does not believe in this or has even the slightest doubt about any aspect mentioned therein falls outside the fold of Islam. This is the verdict of the Qur'an itself (2:85). Let us next consider the treaties and various documents signed by the Prophet (saw). These have been preserved and thoroughly researched by a number of scholars, most notably the late Dr Muhammad Hamidullah. Their existence in the original form confirms their authenticity; they are not based on anyone's narration from memory at a later date. While the treaties and documents refer to specific events, hadith literature has a much broader scope and application, although even this must be judged against the divine Word of Allah. Great care and diligence went into compiling the hadith, yet it is ultimately the product of human effort, and therefore cannot be accepted on any parity with the Qur'an. And finally we come to the enormous body of Seerah-literature. It must be evaluated against the ahadith, the treaties and documents signed by the Prophet and, finally, the text of the Qur'an. In all matters the verdict of the Qur'an must take precedence over all other sources; anything contradicting the Qur'an must be rejected. This applies equally to hadith; if it does not conform to what the Qur'an says, it has to be discarded. The Qur'an alone stands as the unquestioning, ultimate criterion to evaluate all truth. One aspect of the Prophet's Seerah that has not been dealt with by the compilers of the Seerah books in any systematic manner is that of the acquisition of worldly power (particularly, but not only, political power). Almost all the Seerah books, starting from the very early accounts, narrate the Prophet's life in a chronological manner. Until recently, most scholars had relied on Muhammad ibn Ishaq's (d. 151 AH) work on the Seerah as rendered by Abdul Malik ibn Hisham (d. 213 AH) in Seeratun Nabi, as their primary source. This was the earliest extant book on the Seerah. In the mid-eighties, Dr Mohammad Mustafa al-Azami discovered an earlier book on the Seerah: the Maghazi Rasoolullah of Urwa ibn Zubayr (d. 94 AH), which he published from Riyadh. It is now available with the same title in Urdu as well, courtesy of the Institute of Islamic Culture, Pakistan. Conforming to the tradition of the time, the early compilers called their works "maghazi", that is, the Prophet's campaigns. It was customary for the Arabs of the time to describe their exploits in battle as a way of projecting their prowess. Later the Seerah-writers expanded their work to include other aspects of the Messenger's life as well, but what is revealing is that while the maghazi dealt with descriptions of the Prophet's military campaigns, they did not deal with his acquisition of power. The lack of a power perspective in the traditional Seerah-literature is undoubtedly a void, but it is also a blessing in disguise. It enables us to start afresh without being influenced by existing narrations or interpretations in the Seerah-literature. We can go directly to the Qur'an, the treaties and the ahadith to develop an understanding of how the Prophet (saw) acquired power and used it. It may be asked why the power perspective should be privileged over other aspects of the Seerah in this regard. The simple answer is that almost every aspect has been dealt with, except the power perspective; as Islam is not merely a religion but a deen (a way of life, ethical code, etc.) that must govern all aspects of our lives, power is an important dimension of it. The power perspective is important for other reasons as well: human nature is based on power differentiation. In every society, there are physically strong as well as weak individuals; there are those who are rich and others who are poor; there are those who command authority in the land by virtue of possessing power, and others who are at their mercy. Thus at every level there are differences in power. What is essential for human existence is the regulation of power; the rich must not use their wealth to exploit the poor, nor to acquire unfair advantage; the strong must not usurp the rights of the weak, and so on. Islam deals with the regulation of the use of power by a balanced approach; hence its prescriptions for how life should be organised and conducted. All societies establish rules for the use of power, but it has been observed that without divine guidance human beings are prone to animal-like behaviour: the rich exploit the poor and the powerful the weak, often causing immense suffering of various types (physical, emotional, economic, etc.). All the Prophets were sent with a specific mission: to deliver the message of Allah and to actualize it in human society by demonstrating it through personal example. While all the Prophets (as) delivered the message as they were commanded to do, not all of them succeeded in establishing these rules in society, although not because there was anything deficient in the message (nastaghfirullah), or in their method of delivery. Acceptance or rejection of the message is left to people's free will; this is a choice given by Allah to humans but not to the rest of creation. This is also why, on the Day of Judgement, Allah will question only humans (and jinns) for their deeds; other creatures-whether angels, birds or animals-will not be called to account because all of them by their fitrah (nature) are muslim (submitters to Allah in totality, who cannot do anything but what Allah has commanded them to do). Humans have the choice to accept or reject the message, and so are answerable for the choices they make. According to a well-known hadith, Allah sent more than 124,000 Prophets to deliver His message to humankind at different times, although we know the stories of only a handful of them: those whose names are mentioned in the Qur'an. Even so, details about their lives are sketchy. Muslims, however, can take comfort in the fact that the life of the blessed Messenger, Muhammad (saw), is known in great detail. Almost every aspect of his life is recorded, from birth to his departure from this earthly abode. It would, however, be wrong to assume that we have learnt everything about his life and no further study is necessary. Like the Qur'an, the Seerah is a rich source of guidance to help us shape our lives. What is required of us is that we study it from a new perspective: linking early events with those that occurred later, and examining what patterns emerge in the methods chosen to make Islam dominant in society, as commanded by Allah in the Qur'an (9:33 and 61:9). There is a common misconception that the Prophet (saw) was totally powerless in Makkah. He did not have power in the conventional sense, in that he had few followers and Islam's rules did not apply in society, nor could they be implemented; yet Muslims lived as a distinct community, discernible from the rest of society. The Prophet (saw) was their leader and they obeyed his instructions, even if it meant sacrificing their lives in the process. The Muslims even had their own meeting place (Dar al-Arqam) separate from the Makkans' place of assembly (Dar an-Nadwa) that acted as a parliament, where the elite of that society debated issues and made decisions. The Prophet (saw) exercised what may be referred to as persuasive power as opposed to coercive power. He appealed to his followers' intellect and emotions, exercising charismatic power over them that emanated from revelation, which shaped his personality. The lack of coercive power can be thought of as having a "non-territorial Islamic state" in Makkah; it was transformed into a territorial state with the Muslims' hijra to Madinah. While not the primary purpose of his mission, the acquisition of territory by the Prophet (saw) was an important part of achieving the implementation of Islam in society. Without ascendance and authority over a territory, some of those laws simply cannot be implemented.