Alif, Be, Pe of Islamists*
(for my dearest little buddy)
by Badruddin R. Gowani

[June 5, 2003]

alif for amricA, in its name we begin; who gave us a second but meaningful birth
be for but, is to be smashed, which has snatched our day's rest and night's sleep
pe for Pakistan, former International Asylum Center for screwed up Muslim fanatics
te for tabligh, to gain new converts because current mess and number is not enough
Te for TVs, which houses devilish and sinful forces, and so are to be burned at stake
se for sAlis salAsA, of secularists, Shias, and Sunnis different from us; so has to go
jIm for Jihad, against art, culture, paleontology, archaeology, science, education, . . .
che for chehlum, some or other performs daily for our justices served
He for HalAl, are all humans and animals, except the one we discriminate against
khe for KhudA, there is none, but there is one and only one and that is AllAh
dAl for dAr-ul-Harb, which we are desperately trying to turn into dAr-ul-IslAm
DAl for DA'rhi, nobody shaves when we rule, because we practice facial ahimsA
zAl for zimmis, all non-Muslims will become, once AllAh and violence gives us power
re for RamadAn, when we become mini US and impose, at least, daytime food embargo
ze for zAniya, we put behind bars or stone to death to protect her from more rapes
zhe for zharfnigAhi, we have and it reaches to the 7th century of the common era
seen for sarAb, of heaven and houris we sell to simpletons in lieu of their lives
sheen for sharia, our answer to the unemployment problem: cut off hands and feet
suAd for sUfIs, can't pray directly but needs our intervention and goodwill
zuAd for ZiyA, who held out ziyA so we can defuse whatever enlightenment there was
to'e for tAlibAn, the UoJ graduates who are out to thoroughly purify the world
zo'e for zAhir honA, which one day, inshAllAh, Osama and MullAh Omar will
ain for aurat, a temptress good for procreation, stones, chAdar, and chAr-diwAri
ghain for ghAzi, "a martyr if killed, a ghazi if he kills," an old proverb, is our motto
fe for fatwA, is our weapon, like the US weapons of "democracy" and "human rights"
qAf for KorAn, has known/unknown secrets, cosmos to computer, Bushler to Bajrangi
kAf for Kashmir, a place where we play our bloody Holi and fiery Diwali
gAf for gIt, the only one we sing is AllAh Akbar, victory is near and ours
lAm for lashkar, always on alert to eradicate all the environmental obscenities
mIm for madrasAs, our cost-saving universities which issue Doctorate of JahAlat
nUn for nashA, we permit the only one prescribed by the great "Prophet" Carl Marx
vAo for WahhAbi, every Muslim would become with our terror and royal Saudi riyals
hae for HindustAn, a land of infidels we want to turn into a great IslamistAn
ye for yaum-ul-hisAb, is conferred daily on all those who in our eyes are sinners


*Rest of the contents
Thanking Harsh Kapoor and SACW
Neelima Sharma's suggestion
Clarification on excluding the Islamists' conflict with the US and Israel
Tragic state of Muslim countries and the widespread ignorance
Notes to Alif Be Pe


Harsh Kapoor:
France based Harsh Kapoor's South Asia Citizen's Wire (SACW) is a valuable website for people interested in South Asian affairs. Everyday at your e-mail step you receive one and sometimes two e-mails with several good articles, notices, and announcements on or about countries of that region from newspapers, periodicals, and of course, people like us from all over the world. It is like dictionary and thesaurus, which we use daily but never acknowledge. Today, I thought I should thank Harsh Kapoor for the great unpaid-work he is doing for South Asians and all others interested in South Asia. People interested in subscribing should write to Harsh Kapoor on the following address:
<sacw AT sacw DOT net>


Neelima Sharma:
A South Asia based writer, peace activist, and a well-wisher Neelima Sharma, of Media Books, recommended to use the word "Islamists" for the title, instead of "Fundamentalists" which I had originally planned.


United States and Israel:
Before going any further, I should clarify that I have totally avoided the Islamists' rag tag fight against the United States and Israel. Personally, not very keen on violent methods, I do not approve of Islamic fundamentalists' indulgence in violence. However, not being from the US ruling class, I do understand their legitimate grievances: the West Asian or the Middle eastern oil should belong to the people of the region; the US armed forces have no business whatsoever in the Persian Gulf, South Asia, Middle East, Central Asia and I would add anywhere in the world; and the US support of terrorist Ariel Sharon of Israel. Their targeting of civilian people shows their impotency vis-a-vis the US, and their lack of sophistry shows up when the person(s) involved in violence shouts out loud that the act was done for "Allah" or "Islam."

Linda S. Heard, the Middle East specialist, puts it nicely:

"The causes of terrorists are often valid, it is the heartless way they promote those causes which is wrong. But however bloody their actions, this still should not invalidate the genuine injustices faced by their compatriots."

She reminds us about how the "media concentrates on the victims of terrorism, not on the victims of occupation."
("The Cage of Occupation: Liberty For All is Terrorism's Demise," May 19, 2003)
www.counterpunch.org

On the other hand, unlike those fanatic idiots who kill few, sometimes a couple of hundred, and once in a bright Sun about three thousand people, the US openly announces its intention of going to war whenever it feels like and against any regime. The world is eerily waiting as to who the next victim would be after
Afghanistan and Iraq. (For the last few days, Iran's name is in the air, or rather on the air in the US corporate media.) 

The name of the game is who commands the most destructive force and has the global media reach. The 3,000 people who died in New York on September 11, 2001, earned sympathies from around the world of course, many were delivered out of fear.

(One can compare it to a neighborhood bully whose loss everyone has to condole.
On the other hand, the victims of US imperialism are ignored as insects.)

Can the US win this unending war? In a nutshell, the following insightful and poetical paragraph from Professor Aijaz Ahmad's essay written in September 2001 says a great deal:

"America cannot win but it shall not suffer either. The Afghans shall not be subjugated but they shall suffer and perhaps even a majority of them might perish or become homeless and get consigned to a subhuman existence. That is the asymmetry of power in our time: those who rule the universe shall not be victorious against the poorest and the most wretched of this earth; those who refuse subjugation shall be made to suffer miseries that no previous period in human history inflicted on the powerless. War shall be permanent because the war cannot end without justice and justice is what the U.S. has set out to deny, permanently. The war shall be globalised because in this period of globalisation there is a singular power whose task it is to guarantee regimes of injustice throughout the world. And much of this war shall be secret, like much of the movements of finance capital because finance capital is what this war serves and therefore imitates. Bush is right: this is truly a task that has no end' - until someone rises to end it."

Aijaz Ahmad, "Responding with Terror: President Bush Proposes Perpetual War. Will Justice be the Casualty?" "Frontline" September 29-Oct 21, 2001.
www.frontlineonnet.com

On the other hand, if one were to try to convince the Islamists to desist from indulging in violence against the US, the effort would fail miserably because then they will ask for justice from the US an impossible task. What one can wish is that the Muslim fanatics would (instead of using the names of "Allah," "Islam," etc,) commit their crimes in the name of "democracy," "human rights," "freedom," "liberalization," "globalization," etc. Because the much greater and on a vast scale committed violence in the name of the later values do look much less ugly and stands a better chance of being accepted. However, they will also have to be good actors, if they decide to do so.

Neither am I going to touch upon their struggle against Israel. Although, historically, relations between the Jews and the Muslims have been overall amicable, its only since late 19th century, when the Zionist movement under the leadership of Theodore Hertzl decided to settle the persecuted Jews of eastern Europe in Palestine (then part of Turkish Empire), with the help of the British Empire, that the bitterness cropped up. 

The state of Israel came into existence in 1948 on 78% of the Palestinian land with the help of the Jewish terrorists (later prime ministers) Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir (heads of the Irgun Tsvai Leumi and the Stern Group, respectively, and were on the British government's wanted list.) The remaining twenty-two percent land, Israel annexed in 1967.

Noam Chomsky's acute observation on the miserable state of the Palestinians says it precisely well:

"The status of the Palestinians has been even lower than that of other worthless people; their value is not zero, but negative, in that their plight has had a disruptive effect in the Arab world, thus interfering with U.S. goals. They must therefore be marginalized somehow, perhaps under a form of autonomy' that leaves them to manage their own affairs under Israeli supervision."

(Noam Chomsky, "Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians," updated edition, Cambridge, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1999, p. 535.)

For some time now, the Palestinians have been promised full control over that 22% land, but in reality not only are they denied that; their villages are bombed regularly, and their leader Yasir Arafat is frequently humiliated. His position in West Bank and Gaza was that of a manger who, up until recently, was always under pressure to do more for the Master, or else be fired. Now he has been demoted to the post of a sleeping manager because the US candidate Mehmoud Abbas or Abu Mazan, as he is known, will play the Master's fiddle. Pretty soon, the sleeping manager would be forced into ICU (Intensive Care Unit), and then the plug would be pulled out. Arafat, whatever his shortcomings, is a symbol of Palestinian people and their resistance.

The problem is solvable; it is just that neither the US nor the Israel wants to end this terrible tragedy. 

Francis A. Boyle (a law professor at University of Illinois) who helped the visiting Palestinian delegation for negotiation in 1992 says:

"I can state unequivocally that if there had been good faith on the part of the governments of Israel and the United States back in 1991, there could have been negotiated a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement between Israel, on the one hand, and Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, respectively, on the other, no later than by the end of 1993."

Francis A. Boyle, "Obituary for the Oslo Accords: R.I.P. Sept. 13, 1993 - Sept. 28, 2000," "Counterpunch," July 3, 2003.
www.counterpunch.org

In 1993, there was Oslo Accords and now in 2003 George Bush is out with the "Roadmap," which Alexander Cockburn (co-editor, "Counterpunch"), one of the consistent and clear headed critic of the United States' inhumane and immoral domestic and foreign policies calls it a "hoax." I am quoting him at length to show how the peace faade works:

"Are we seriously to believe that Ariel Sharon wants to surrender a square meter of land now inhabited by Jewish settlers? We're talking about a man whose entire life has been spent trying to drive Palestinians out of what he see was divinely ordained Greater Israel.
"And are we likewise to believe Israel's lobbying groups here in the United States, primarily AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee], have suddenly had a change of heart and would now welcome a vigorous little Palestinian state? Of course they don't. If it can avoid it, AIPAC has no burning desire to go head to head with Bush on his road map, so it has turned down the volume on its rhetoric, while simultaneously urging its creatures in Congress to insist that the road map be set in the context of George Bush's June 24 speech of last year, now elevated to the dignity of a "statement of principles."

Cockburn also points out Israel's hypocrisy:    

"Amid choruses of approbation for its courage from Israel's vast lobby of politicians and opinion makers in the United States, Israel gouges a couple of extra billion out of Uncle Sam and gets on with the day-to-day business of making life hell for Palestinians. Anytime Israel wants to suspend whatever "peace" charade is in progress, it acts with more than its habitual savagery, elicits a terror bomb or two, and then says the Palestinians have not abandoned terror and can't be dealt with."

(Alexander Cockburn, "The Roadmap Hoax," June 1, 2003, on znet via zmag.)
www.zmag.org

This Palestinian reaction is then magnified many fold by the US news media, which demonizes the Palestinians; the Israelis as always are presented as what I call "the eternal victims."
The Hollywood film industry keeps on churning year after year movies on Holocaust. Sometime it would seem as if the TV programs in the US are competing with Hollywood. The Jewish Lobby is very nasty and is extremely powerful; its work besides bribing the legislators is to keep its critics busy in defending themselves from charges of "anti-Semitism," i.e., Jew hating. The charge of being an "anti-Semite" or of indulging in "anti-Semitism" is a Jewish fatwa mind you, much more dangerous than the Islamic fatwa.


So this "alif, be, pe" is absolutely concerned with the violence the Islamists' commit against women, minorities- both Muslim and non-Muslim, and their habit of looking backward to the "golden age" which there never was and (with the present mess they have created in Muslim countries and the terroristic methods they are using) there never would be.


The tragic state of Muslim countries and the widespread ignorance:
Up until 1991, I used to pity the Central American countries the most for one central reason: they were located right under the booted shadow of the Monster though now this ghastly shadow has engulfed the whole planet. The Monroe Doctrine (named after the US President James Monroe (1758-1831)(1817-25) was formulated to warn the European countries to stay away from the Western Hemisphere. It is known as the US "backyard." However, the most to suffer are the Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.

Now it is the Muslim countries whose plight is the most tragic.
Like other Third World countries, Muslim countries too are cursed with this Monster; however, they have an added curse of Saudi Arabia, whose petrodollars have wrought havoc in Muslim countries with the dreadful and inhuman variety of Islam in the form of Wahhabism. Taliban were (?) the most visible exponent of Wahhabism.

Wahhabism does not permit songs, music, or any other entertainment; has no aesthetic sense for any form of art; does not tolerate any deviation from prescribed clothing or appearance; is enemy number one of women and minorities; lacks tolerance for Sufism and shrines; and much more. Besides, the Wahhabism is getting stronger and is gaining more converts as a result of US policies the more the US bombs and/or occupy Muslim countries, the more stronger and radical it will get.

Wahhabism is named after Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1791). A religious fanatic par excellence, his teaching's main theme is "tauhid" or unity of Allah. Professor Hamid Algar points out that "tauhid" is basically made up of three parts:

1) "Tauhid al-rububiyya" confirming the fact that only Allah is the giver of life and death, and is the worlds' creator and lord.
2) "Tauhid al-asma wa l-sifat" the acceptance without any interpretation of the holy names and qualities of Allah as stated in the Koran. None of the names, even, for example, "karim" or generous, are to be used for anyone other than Allah.
3) "Tauhid al-ibada" Allah alone deserves all worship.

For Abd al-Wahhab the last one is most important. Professor Algar points out in his informative book, "Wahhabism: A Critical Essay" (Oneonta, New York: IPI, 2002), that according to Abd al-Wahhab, the principle of tauhid al-ibada preceded other revelations, even before the devotional duties such as fasting, zakat, pilgrimage, and prayer.

Even prayer of any kind which mentions Prophet's or any saint's name is not permitted.

He was able to enforce his ideas when al-Uyayna's ruler Uthman ibn Muammar accepted his interpretation of "tauhid" and provided him with protection. The relations were strengthened when he got married to Uthman ibn Muammar's aunt, al-Jauhara. He started by chopping down some "objectionable" trees and then demolishing the tomb of Zayd bin al-Khattab (second caliph Omar's brother and Prophet's companion. His became famous when he cut down an adulteress who had allegedly accepted her wrongdoing.

"'Thereafter . . . his cause flourished, his power increased, and true tauhid was everywhere disseminated, together with the enjoining of virtue and the prohibition of vice.'"

(Uthman b. Abdullah b. Bishr, "Unwan al-Majid," p. 10, in Algar, p. 18.) 

(For a sample of Taliban decrees, see Appendix 1, pp. 217-219, in Ahmed Rashid, "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia," New Haven & London: Yale Nota Bene, Yale University Press, 2,001.)

When Muammar was forced by a stronger enemy to expel Abd al-Wahhab, al-Diriyya's ruler Muhammed b. Saud gave him protection. The friendship got stronger with Abd al-Wahhab's another marriage. Abd al-Wahhab was assured of help in his jihad against all those not in line with his comprehension of tauhid; provided Saud was not stopped from imposing the traditional annual tax from al-Diriyya's residents. Abd al-Wahhab guaranteed that the next booty from the jihad would be much greater than the tax. "The stage was thus set for a campaign of killing and plunder all across Arabia." (Algar, "Wahhabism," pp. 19-20.)

And the rest is, as they say, history. Now the campaign of killing is outside Arabia. Tragically, it is these Wahhabi beliefs and the coward secular leaders who are hindering the Muslim countries from becoming truly secular and modern states. Other nations have this problem too, but they have strong secular institutions, which keep them on a somewhat saner path. 

Even the US has nuts like Bush, Ashcroft, and many others whom author Barbara Ehrenreich calls "Christian Wahhabists." Christian Bush's early avenging reaction was to launch a "crusade" a loaded word with a bitter past.

"Not to be outdone," Aijaz Ahmad remarked, "the Pentagon named its planned operation 'Infinite Justice,' a phrase not even from the Bible but from the lexicon of Christian fundamentalism. Not only Muslims but even liberal Christians were outraged, and Protestant pastors themselves pointed out that 'Infinite Justice' referred to God's own divine justice, an attribute that no human power ought to claim for itself, America's vision of its own omnipotence notwithstanding. The Pentagon sheepishly promised to reconsider the code name."

Using religious terms and invoking God and scripture is nothing new for the US ruling class. Nevertheless, it is since 1980's, when Ronald Reagan came to power, the Christian fundamentalists or as they call them the "right wingers have become prominent.

Now listen to US Attorney General John Ashcroft's religious babbling:

"Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
There's a race that I must run, there are victories to be won.
Give me power every hour to be true."

(In his home, Ashcroft sang on a piano, the day he was running for the US Senate.)

"'John,' my father had told me after the piano keys had stilled, I want you to know that even Washington can be holy ground. It's a place to hear the voice of God, and wherever you hear His voice, that ground is sanctified, or set apart. It's a place where God can call you to the highest and best.'"

(Now the whole world has come to know this truth. The Technological God is at present sanctifying the grounds in Middle East.)

"It is against my religion to impose religion on people . . . . But I also believe that I need to invite God's presence in whatever I am doing, including the world of politics."

"When making decisions, God expects us to use mature reason and sound judgment, guided by Judeo-Christian values."

"Any place where we invite the presence of God becomes holy ground."

(For more such golden nuggets, see John Ashcroft (with Gary Thomas), "On My Honor: the Beliefs that Shape My Life," Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998, pp.77, 197, & 205. The book has 13 notes; 8 are from the Bible!)

Sometime back, Katha Politt in one of her column in "The Nation" magazine pointed out how Ashcroft uses olive oil for anointment.

The only difference is that countries like US can afford this idiocy. The Muslim countries with widespread ignorance and lack of scientific progress cannot.

Recently, I received an e-mail in which miracles in Koran are discovered through counting the number of times a particular word has appeared. Below is one example:

Al-bahar Sea
32
Al-bar Land
13
If we add up the total words of both "sea" and "land" we get 45. Now if we do a
simple calculation:
32/45 X 100% = 71.11111111%
13/45 X 100% = 28.88888888%

Above is what we know today, the percentages of Water (Sea) and Land in the
world. Yet another miracle in the Quran.

The Miracles of the Quran will never end. There will never be a time where
mankind can fully take in the knowledge that is in this Holy book. It is a
miracle to all mankind, the word of God. There is no value that one can set to
the words of the Creator. It is a treasure of which guides those that want to
succeed in this life and the hereafter.

See, if we see in detail, than we should have a large number of Miracle narrated
in Quran. Quran is the only source whcih [sick] will Update peoples every time till
Roz-e-Hashur [Day of Judgment].

Then I am asked to forward it to seven people, excluding the sender and myself, and was promised to "receive a miracle tomorrow" and a request: "Don't ignore and Allah will bless you."


May be Allah did not have the roadmap to Afghanistan and Iraq; so no miracles.

Other people have used these and other methods to find similarities between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy's murders, or about the September 11, 2001, tragedy in the US.

The ordinary people are spreading ignorance through internet, whereas the so called scientists in Muslim countries, in the name of "Islamic science," wastes government money on preparing charts and graphs for the "sawab" or reward one can get when praying alone and when praying with a congregation.

This and many other bizarre ideas are given in Pervez Hoodbhoy's brilliant book, "Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Orthodoxy" (London: Zed Books, 1991.) Now this is a book, which should be made a compulsory part of the educational curriculum in Muslim countries as a step towards a Renaissance.

There is another, who applies a mathematical formula to gauge the degree of "munafiqat" or hypocrisy. The result showed that Western society has a "munafiqat" value of 22, but somehow Portugal and Spain have a value of 14. 

Hoodbhoy wonders:

"It is a bit of a mystery that no munafiqat values are given for Pakistani society, which, it is sometimes alleged, is run by crooks and munafiqs [or hypocrites]." (Pg. 143.)


Notes to Alif Be Pe
It all started with my ABCs of US, Israel, and World Peace. A writer friend suggested that I should write "Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha of the Sangh Parivar," on the Hindu fanatics. Once Hindu fanatics are mentioned, you can't help thinking about their Muslim counterparts.

On the insistence of my eight-year-old nephew, I gave detailed endnotes in the
"Ka, Kha, Ga, Gha, of the Sangh Parivar" that is, the Hindu fanatics. Here
too, I have followed the same pattern.

There is no such thing as Islamic language, and there is no such entity as the Islamic world. Arabic is the language of less than 25% Muslims, and the Muslim scripture Koran is in that language. However, the growing power political or extra judicial of the Muslim fanatics and the Saudi riyals are responsible for the growing influence of Arabic language in the non-Arabic Muslim countries. This can be at the expense of local languages. It can also affect those countries' cultural heritage. My somewhat familiarity with the Urdu language (a younger twin sister to the Hindi language), used in South Asia (Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka), a home to about 35% of Muslims, and around the world where South Asian resides, and absolute ignorance of any other language used in other Muslim countries is the reason for using the Urdu alphabets.

The notes are in alphabetical order. As in DevanAgrI script, the letters da,
dha, ta, tha appears twice in Urdu language (which is based on Persian and
Arabic script), because there are two different sounds for these letters:
Hard cerebral and soft dental. The letters with hard cerebral sound are presented as Ta, Tha, Da, Dha, where as the letters with soft dental sound appears as ta, tha, da, dha.

(This idea of capital letters to differentiate, I have borrowed from an article on Urdu language in "Dawn" newspaper. I lost my copy of the newspaper and was unsuccessful to find that particular article on the "Dawn" website. I had written a letter to Humair Ishtiaq, editor, "Dawn" Sunday Magazine, but as of today, I have not received any response; may be he is too busy or forgot to open his e-mails of that particular day.)

The alphabet vAo is used for letters v, w, oo, o, au. The alphabets se, He (with capital H), zAl, suAd, zuAd, to'e, zo'e are used for foreign words adopted in Urdu language.
For pronunciations' sake, where necessary, I have avoided capital letters for names of
people and places.

The vowels' pronunciations are:
a as in fun.
A as in star
e as in ace
i as in think.
I as in reel.
u as in full.
U as in JUne.
o as in glow

<alif> Not that there never was any Islamic (or for that matter Hindu,
Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or any other) fundamentalism, but most of the
recent growth and the extreme violence can be attributed to a number of US policies:
the support of secular tyrants (such as Iran's Shah, Turkey's military rulers, Algerian military rulers), and Gulf Sheikhs and kings - in the US doublespeak "traditional" kingdoms (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates); its unquestioning backing of Israel; and its plundering of the resources of Muslim countries especially the oil.

It is too early to predict as to what form of government Iraq would have; what
is certain is that the occupier, the US, won't allow it to be a democracy because democracy cannot allow, at least, two things, foreign occupation and plundering of resources. However,
the way things are in that country, plus the US presence, and the
growing visibility of the Shia Muslims (the majority in Iraq) and their demand
of an "Islamic democracy" is not a good omen for the secular forces in Iraq and elsewhere. If Iraq becomes a theocratic state, it would be because of the US. But for the US, it
would be a welcome thing because then they will have more justification to beat up the
"Islamic terrorists."

Another country on the Islamic path is Pakistan where the Islamic fundamentalists have the number of sympathizers on the rise. Up until the US destruction of Afghanistan (2001), the Islamic parties in Pakistan commanded less than 10% of the votes. Now they have governments in two of the four Pakistani provinces and have a greater visibility throughout the country.

On June 2, the provincial assembly in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (or NWFP, which borders Afghanistan) passed the Sharia law.

According to BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), "it is the first time the strict code, based upon the teachings of the Koran, has been in force in Pakistan in the country's history." It will be applicable to every Muslim and would have "precedence" over the NWFP's law.

It wants to curtail women's rights, and run the educational and financial systems in accordance with the Koranic teachings.

The critics "fear a re-run" of the Afghan Taliban who "drove women and girls out of jobs
and schools, back into their homes." (SACW, June 4, 2003.)

Good news for the US. Now it can bomb the sites of nuclear weapons in Pakistan.

<be> but = an idol or a statue. The Muslim fundamentalists take the Quranic injunctions and traditions of Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, on idolaters, idol worship, and images literally.

"God will surely punish the hypocrites and the idolaters, both men and women;
but to believing men and to believing women He will turn in mercy. God is ever
forgiving and merciful." (Koran 33:73. N.J. Dawood's translation, 2000.)
"God will not forgive idolatry. He will forgive whom he will all other sins.
He that serves other gods besides God has strayed far indeed." (Koran 4:116)

Aisha: "The Prophet never left anything having images or crosses in the house.
He would destroy them." 

(Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani and Laleh Bakhtiar, "Encyclopedia of Muhammad's Women Companions: And the Traditions They Related".)

In year 2000, the Taliban destroyed two giant statues of Buddha in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, after the Afghan Radio announced the "supreme leader" Mullah Mohammed Omar's order:
"All statues and non-Islamic shrines located in different parts of the IEA [Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan] should be destroyed. These statues were shrines of infidels and these infidels continue to worship and respect these icons. Allah Almighty is the only real shrine and all false shrines should be smashed."

<pe> In 1979, when the Soviet Union (now Russia) invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan
had a military tyrant Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1934-88)(1977-88). (That country had never been on a stable ground, particularly since 1971; now the remaining portion East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971 with Zia at the helm, was put on the road to self-destruction.) This was the best chance for US to further solidify its presence in the region and to break-up the Soviet Union. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a Pashtun turban on the Khyber Pass with other Pashtuns, shouted, "Allah is on your side." 

The jihadis from Muslim countries started pouring in Pakistan's North West Frontier province bordering Afghanistan. The Soviet Union vacated Afghanistan in 1989. The goal achieved, the US was out, and Afghanistan got embroiled in warfare between different factions of mujahids. Pakistan got heroine addicts in millions and what came to be known as Kalishnikov culture. In August 1988, Zia went to his Allah, accompanied by the US Ambassador, in a midair plane explosion; yet, not clear who did it.
The US trained and armed mujahids became a nuisance for many Muslim countries.

In an interview done by a French weekly, "Le Nouvel Observateur" (15-21 January 1998), Brzezinsky was quite frank and boastful of his role. Just two of the questions and their answers:

Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, having
given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban
or the collapse of the Soviet Empire? A few crazed Muslims or the liberation
of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention [in Afghanistan] by asserting that they
intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in
Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of
truth. You don't regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It
had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me
to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I
wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR
its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war
unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the
demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
(Quoted in Tariq Ali, "The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity," Verso: London and New York, 2002, pp. 207-8.)

<te> tabligh = proselytism. Like Christianity, Islam allows proselytizing. However, since 1980s, the pace has accelerated too fast. I know some people from upper class who used to wear pants and shirts, clean-shaven, and indulging in partying, joined proselytizing missions and had been to Central
Asia.

<Te> Most of the present lot of Islamists are from the Wahhabi sect or have adopted it. It's the most rigid kind and prohibits songs and music. Another factor is the Islamic ban on paintings and pictures; and yet another is that basically, the fundamentalists are uninterested in entertainment not that they are born like that, it's the success of indoctrination. 

(In this respect, they are different from the mercenaries of the US armed forces, who blindly follow the orders of bombing and killing, but then go and enjoy their life.) However, the reader is reminded that the ban on pictures and paintings is not strictly followed; it is usually reserved for the frontline recruits however, the leaders, small or big, are not shy of appearing in front of cameras or on television. Otherwise, how else the people would get Osama bin Laden's video recorded messages.

<se> sAlis salAsa = Triad or trinity. The Shi'ism is one of the two major branches of Islam; the other is Sunnism. However, Shias are less than 15% of the total Muslim population. The rest are Sunnis. (Both have many sub-branches.) Many of the Sunni fundamentalists do not want Shi'as, secularists, and the Sunnis (that is, all those Sunnis who are not hardliners), in Pakistan. They want to turn Pakistan into an Islamic state and would then want India too become one too. About 13% of the population in India is Muslim; 83% are Hindus. The Hindus zealots have their own weird ideas of sub-continental hegemony.

<jIm> JihAd = striving for personal betterment or holy war.

<che> chehlum = the end of a mourning period, i.e., the fortieth day observance of someone's death.

<He> HalAl = Legal or Kosher, that is, things permissible. Like Judaism, Islam prohibits
consumption of pork. In its founding stage, Judaism and Christianity influenced Islam. Many of the rites such as circumcision and eating pork were borrowed from Judaism. The annual festival of Eid-ul-Adha when animals are sacrificed has its origin in Abraham's story when he was asked by Yahweh to sacrifice Isaac. In Islam, AllAh demands Ishmael's life.

What is surprising is that the Muslims in the US are emulating the Jews in making more and more things HalAl, including milk.
(Many Jewish restaurant owners have rabbis, the Jewish priests, come to restaurants and offer
some prayers to declare the food kosher.)

<khe> KhudA is a Persian word for God and is very common in South Asia. Many Sikhs and Hindus also use it to mean God. In Bollywood films and songs, it is commonly used. However, since Zia's rule in Pakistan, it has been argued by some, in articles and letters written to the newspaper editors that the correct word is "Allah." There are people and characters on TV programs that now prefer "Allah Hafiz" instead of the usual "Khuda Hafiz." (Both means, "May God protect you" and is used as a good bye. (The word Allah is of Arabic origin.) I avoid both and have opted for Bush Hafiz.

<dAl> Like George Bush's division of world into two: "Either you are with us, or you are with them," that is, "terrorists," the Muslim fundamentalists divide the world into dArul IslAm (the land of Islam or believers) and dArul Harb (the land of "kaffirs" or non-believers). They would like to see the whole world become Muslim i.e., everybody follows their "Islam." 

The Muslim zealots have so much in common with the religio/capitalist crazies sitting in the White House, who would want everybody to become a dumb consumer and a working zombie. But these two extremes do not make the whole world or as author/activist Arundhati Roy puts it, the world is not just the "Mickey Mouse" and the "Mullahs."    

<DAl> DA'rhi = Beard. Ahimsa = non-violence, which South Asian leader Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi popularized it with some success against racism in South Africa and
one can say without any success against the British colonialism in the Indian sub-continent.

<zAl> zimmis = second-class citizens. In the past, during the reign of some Muslim rulers, a jaziA or poll tax was imposed on non-Muslim subjects. They were given a choice: either
become Muslims or pay the poll tax. Other emperors, such as Akbar, were tolerant and broad-minded, and did not impose the poll tax. 

During the Muslim rule in Spain, some of the rulers invited Christians, Jews, and Muslims to translate Greek writings. At that time, the rest of the Europe was passing through the "dark ages." Later on, the Europeans used the translations as a step to come out of that darkness.

(Currently in India, many of the Hindu fanatics of the ruling BJP, Bhartiya Janata Party, and its fascist elements are trying to relegate Christians and Muslims as second class citizens unless they call themselves "Hindus." Their twisted logic is that "Hindu" does not mean a follower of Hinduism, but one who is an Indian. The fanatics, whether Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, are all the same, you cannot beat them.)

<re> RamadAn is the Muslim month of fasting observed from sunrise to sunset. Muslim calendar is lunar based and so it has ten or eleven days less than the solar calendar.
In Pakistan, till the early years of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's (1928-79)(1971-79), rule, restaurants used to stay open during the daytime, except that there would be a curtain drawn. The growing power and opposition from Islamic parties changed this. Now the restaurants open only in the evening after a sound of the fast-breaking siren is heard.

In December 2000, The driver reminded me while our car was passing on the road to the airport that eating or drinking at this time is punishable. However, the driver joined me in eating the delicious South Asian sweets.

Imagine the condition of ordinary people in poor Third World Muslim countries in humidifying one hundred degrees, or more heat (depending on when Ramadan falls) without air conditioner or proper transport? Then you stop them from even drinking water because it is a "holy month." No wonder, people in those countries say hell is on Earth.

Even in India, you have to be careful if you are living in a Muslim locality. I have seen people hiding their lunch tiffins in bags while going to work, so to avoid the ever-alert eyes of the neighbors.

<ze> zAniya = adulteress. During Zia's regime, many female victims of rape (by their employers or others) were locked up because they could not produce four witnesses. Now which bastard is going to rape in front of a witness or witnesses except in case of a gang rape? In that case, all are culprits and so nobody would step forward unless one or more them becomes informer(s). There were cases where many victims gave birth to children in jail. There was also a blind victim.

<zhe> zharfnigAhi = deep insight. For the Muslim fundamentalists, the universe began in
Seventh-century when Islam was introduced by Muhammad. Many of them are unwilling to accept the changes and the changed times. However, it is to be remembered that not all the leaders are of the same mould: some truly believe that Islam is the solution to the problems plaguing the Muslim
countries; others are opportunists (including the secular leaders) who are using Islam for political and other purposes; and then there are those who lacking the political acumen use Islam,
the only thing they know. (Quite a few non-Muslim countries such as India and the US also mixes religion with politics."

<seen> sarAb = mirage. Houris are untouched heavenly nymphs promised by Allah to the true believers. The Koran describes thus:

"Therein are bashful virgins whom neither man nor jinnee will have touched before. Which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?
"Virgins as fair as corals and rubies. Which of your Lord's blessings would you deny?" (Koran 55:54&55)

<sheen> shariah = Islamic law. Most of the Muslim countries have adopted the secular laws, however, some of them do apply certain Islamic laws. Presently the country, which strictly applies many of the dreadful Islamic laws such as cutting off hands and feet, or beheading people in open squares, is Saudi Arabia our Uncle Sam's "traditional kingdom." TalibAn rule in Afghanistan was the worst one. Khomeini's Iran was another one.

<suAd> sufIs = Muslim ascetics. Many of them are not much bothered by the sharia. They also do not want any interference from Islamic clerics or anyone else in their quest for search of God. 

The most famous one, Mansur al-Hallaj, had this to say:

"I am he whom I love, and he whom I love is I, / We are two spirits dwelling in one body.
If thou seest me, thou seest Him, / And if thou seest Him, thou seest us both."

But as Professor Guillaume points out, "his most heinous offence in the eyes of the orthodox was his claim ana'l-haqq (i.e. I am the truth')." He was crucified in the year 922.
(Alfred Guillaume, "Islam," Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1986, p. 146.)

<zuAd> ziA = brilliance or light. However, a Pakistani tyrant by that name was a Prince of Darkness. ZiA-ul-Haq (i.e., light of truth or right) came to power in July 1977 after overthrowing Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto - of course, after consulting the US Ambassador. Later, ZiA hanged him in April 1979. (Two months earlier, in Iran, a next door neighbor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had become the supreme leader after the US puppet, the Shah of Iran, had to give up power).

<to'e> tAlibAn = students or religious students. UoJ = University of JahiliA or ignorance. inshAllAh = God willing. It was from here in 1994, that a bunch of students from religious schools in the Afghan refugee camps were sent by Pakistan's ISI (Inter Services Intelligence), with the nod from the US and support from Saudi Arabia, to capture Afghanistan. 

In the beginning, the war-weary Afghans first devastated by the Soviet armies and latter the internecine fight of the US supported Mujahids welcomed the Taliban. However, pretty soon they showed their true self or as they say in South Asia, zAt dikhAi. Their training and Wahhabi mindset became apparent when they started executions, chopping off hands and feet, and confining women to the four walls of the house. The Soviets were out by 1989, but the revival of US interest in Afghanistan was landlocked Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan's oil. 

Turkmenistan's poor economic condition and Russia's exploitation of its oil prompted it to look for ways to export its oil to other countries. Despite US displeasure, it went ahead and had Iran built a 119- mile-long gas pipeline. In 1994, the Argentinean oil company Bridas proposed to build a pipeline that would carry oil to India and Pakistan via Afghanistan. In 1995, the US oil company Unocal "with support from Washington" came up with a similar idea. "The battle between Bridas and Unocal," Ahmed Rashid points out, "sucked in the Taliban and the other Afghan warlords. Thus Afghanistan became the fulcrum of the first battle of the new Great Game."  

For an excellent account of the rise of the Taliban and the interests of the oil companies, see Ahmed Rashid, "Taliban." When the book first came out in 2002, not many people knew the author, but after September 2001 attacks in the US, he was seen regularly on various TV channels in the US. The book became a best seller and Rashid has donated quarter of the money to start new periodicals and dailies in Afghanistan. (The quoted material is from pp. 151-152. See chapters 11, 12, & 13.)

Bill Clinton's government remained mum over Taliban atrocities and treatment of women because Unocal had asked them to. It was only after women's groups protested that Clinton opened his mouth for a mild criticism.

<zo'e> zAhir hona = to appear or to become visible. The devout Christians await the return of Jesus; in Islam it is Mahdi (divinely guided one) who, before the world ends, will reappear for a short period to bring justice to the world. It was in the last quarter of the seventh century that Mukhtar ibn Abu Ubayd who led a non-Arab rebellion in Iraq declared that Ali's son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyah (not by Fatima) is not dead but is in an invisible state and would reappear one day.

<ain> aurat = woman, chAdar = long sheet of cloth used by some women to cover their heads and bodies, chAr-diwAri = four walls. Crushed by centuries of oppression, religion, and traditions, the women become the easiest and the first target of religious zealots. Not to forget the psychological terror of seeing women as equal at home, work place, and every where else.

<ghain> The proverb is taken from the "Urdu-English Dictionary: A New
Hindustani-English Dictionary, with Illustrations from Hindustani Literature and
Folk-Lore" by S. W. Fallon (Lazarus and Co., Banaras, India, and Trubner and
Co., London, England, 1879. Reprinted editions, 1976 & 1986, by Urdu Science
Board, Lahore, Pakistan, p. 858.) A ghAzI is a Muslim who survives
while fighting infidels. The word for a martyr is shaheed.

<fe> fatwa = religious decree or opinion. Before Khomeini's fatwA against author Salman Rushdie for his book, "The Satanic Verses," fatwAs were rare as far as ordinary people were concerned. But since then, every Tom, Dick, and Harry of the Mullah fraternity has started issuing fatwAs for any and every reason:

In Bangladesh, a mullAh or a religious cleric likes a woman but fails to get any response. A fatwA is issued, and the woman is buried underground till neck and then stoned to death. This in a country where for over a decade now, the power has been alternating between two women, Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Begum Khaleda Zia.

Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin's writing hurts MullAhs' sentiments. A fatwA is given and she is sentenced to death. She was able to escape, and is now living in Europe.

Egyptian author and feminist Nawal al Saadawi is issued a death threat for blasphemous writing.

The fundamentalists in Egypt file a petition for divorce in Cairo for a woman professor whose professor husband is an atheist. The wife has no problem with her husband's lack of belief, but the fundamentalists have. It is sheer idiocy, but till that point, one can laugh off the whole matter. Nevertheless, (under the corrupt but secular tyrant Hosni Mubarak's rule), the case is accepted for hearing. Both husband and wife departed for Europe before the crazies in the court declare their marriage null and void.

(In early 1990s, 92 years old Egyptian author Naguib Mehfuz was stabbed in the neck for blasphemous writing.)

Every now and then, members of Christian community (a tiny minority) in Pakistan are accused of insulting Koran and Mohammad, and are either killed or are put in prison "for their safety!"

Thousands of fatwAs have been issued, many people have been killed, and many more peoples' lives have been made miserable.

Ahmadi Muslims declared non-Muslims in 1984 by Pakistan still consider themselves as Muslims. However, their use of Muslim greetings or any other Muslim thing is prohibited. They are regularly harassed the zenith of their humiliation is that in application for Pakistani passports, one has to declare whether one is Ahmadi or not. Bush's secular friend Musharraf is in power but nothing has changed.

<qAf> Bushler = our very own George Dubya Bush, the Hitler of the world. Bajrangis = members of a Hindu fanatic group, the Bajrang Dal or the Army of the Monkey god Hanuman. Bajrang Dal is part of the Sangh Parivar, an umbrella organization of various Hindu militant groups, including the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's BJP or Bhartiya Janata Party.

Like many Christians, Jews, Hindus, and believers of other religions, zealots as well as devout, many Muslims believe too that their holy scripture Qur'an or Koran contains every thing in this universe.
Also see above pp. 4-5, "The Tragic State of Muslim countries and the widespread ignorance."

<kaf> Holi = Hindu festival of colors. DiwAli = Hindu festival of light associated with the return from exile of the Hindu god Ram. Kashmir is the British curse on Pakistan and India, which Lord Mountbatten had to give for the sudden end of the British imperial rule in 1947. He could have solved the problem. According to the premises of partition (Muslim majority areas would go to Pakistan and the Hindu majority areas would remain in India), on which the Partition of India (into India and Pakistan) took place, Kashmir should have been awarded to Pakistan. It was not. Pakistan sent the irregulars in 1948 but they were not totally successful. about 1/3rd of Kashmir is under Pakistani control, 2/3rd is under Indian control, and a small area is under Chinese control. The election rigging in Indian Kashmir by the Indian government in 1987 stirred up the Kashmir independence movement. Pakistan's ISI which had nothing better to do sent the mujahids (and latter the Taliban) of the Afghan war into Indian Kashmir, where every now and then the terrorists go on killing spree with or without Pakistan's support. The Indian army is equally atrocious with ordinary people.

The recent offer of peace by Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee has raised optimism in that gloomy part of the world. Let's hope some good comes out of it. 

<gaf> gIt = song, AllAh Akbar = God is great.

<lAm> lashkar = army or military.

<meem> madrasas = religious schools where only religion is taught, usually in the form of
rot learning of Koran. JahalAt means ignorance and is usually used for pre-Islamic Arabia in a sense that Islam brought enlightenment.

<nUn> nashA = intoxication. Karl Marx once wrote, "religion is the opium of the
masses." In 1986, a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) produced TV series,
"Africans: The Triple Heritage" by Professor Ali Mazrui used the word "prophet"
for Karl Marx. The Ronald Reagan's government asked the Public Television
to remove the word "prophet" or face a cutting of the funds. In the US, there
are many suited/booted white Christian fanatics.

<vAo> Wahhabi is a Muslim who follows the teachings of Abd al-Wahhab. The present lot of fundamentalists is heavily influenced by his teachings. (Also see above, "The Tragic State of Muslim Countries," pp. 5-6.)

<he> HindustAn = Land of the Hindus or India. The Arabs and Persians when first came to
India named the people by the famous river Sindhu (or Indus). They had problem
with the letter "s" and so Hindus. Now the Hindu fundamentalists want every Indian to be known as a Hindu. They say that they use the word "Hindu" in a national/cultural sense. However,
their speeches and violence have made it abundantly clear as to what they mean.
For fundamentalist Muslims, the Hindus are infidels because of a pantheon of
gods and goddesses.

<ye> yaum-ul-hisAb means the Day of Accountability or Judgment, i.e., the end of the world.

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