Ya Ayyuha’sh-Shabaab

There is an apparently coherent narrative that posits a mythic ‘salafi’ Islam at war in defence of the Muslims against ‘Zionist Jews’ and ‘Crusader Christians’ in a triangular religious configuration. Since it is self-evident that there is slaughter of the Muslims in many lands on earth and their denigration in many other lands, what heroic and decent young person would not want to go and fight to defend the poor and oppressed?

But it is a misunderstanding of the other two sides of the triangle and thus, more fatefully and fatally, a misunderstanding of Islam itself.

Zionists, for example, certainly do not believe in God and have no interest in Judaism, except inasmuch as it fits their political programme, and Europeans and Americans are children of the ‘Enlightenment’ rather than of the Church, even though Americans are ostensibly more religious than atheist Europeans.

More seriously, agnostic/atheist forces of the ‘Enlightenment’, such as Zionism and an American state that looks to Rome for inspiration rather than Bethlehem, have themselves been seconded to the much simpler imperatives of banking and usury.

While NATO troops combat recidivist Taliban, endless NGOs and corporations are working away feverishly to transform Afghanistan into the placid democratic consumer shopping experience the rest of us have as our quotidian reality. That is a pattern that has been repeated all over the world including England, Ireland and Scotland – who knows of bits of history called the Clearances? Democracy is allowed to the defeated. Free men are not to be allowed it. But the defeated may also go shopping on the credit card (and pay the consequences), sleep with multiple partners and have same-sex marriage partners (and pay the consequences).

So how can a fighting force win a battle against other forces it clearly hasn’t understood in an age it hasn’t got the first clue about?  How does it even know if it is fighting the right enemy in the right battle? We are a people who are more likely to appreciate an honest enemy than a hypocritical friend, and the heroes of Islam include a great number of people who were formerly its worst enemies.

Islam is not defined by its enmities.

The deen of Islam brought a new and vital relationship to wealth that was not afraid of the world as were the Christians, nor seduced by it as were the Jews. Thus Muslims were freed to become fantastically wealthy if they wished – a wish that was purified by the leader’s collection of the obligatory zakat – and to give it all away if they wished. As such, Muslims ought never to be deceived by insane notions such as writing numbers on bits of paper and pretending that those numbers represent money. Ce n’est pas l’argent ought to be written on each note, except that few would understand the reference. The Muslims saw wealth as another outlet for worship of the Divine. Not to be confused with the guilty philanthropy of usurers and corporate capitalists.

It brought a new and vital relationship between man and woman that was not based on denial of sex as with Christianity, which had no model of marriage, nor on the transformation of woman into the man’s mother as with Judaism (as demonstrated amply by Freud). As such, it will have no truck with the commodification of women whether as the sex objects of the advertisements or as child-bearing housewives of the dialectical opposite. As such, it will not tolerate role-playing and obsession with dress.

It brought a new form of upbringing for the young not based on cultivation of purely speculative mental faculties as with philosophically, theologically and scientifically driven Christianity, nor on the memorisation of volumes of arcane data as with Judaism. Rather it brought cultivation of the noble qualities of character. And that is only doable by people who have themselves struggled with themselves under the guidance of the best to eliminate their own worst qualities and to emulate the best of men in the best qualities.

It brought a clear unitary knowledge of the Divine not based on the Judaic elevation of an anthropomorphic god above the heavens nor on the equally anthropomorphic Christian figure on Earth. It brought the possibility of direct experiential knowledge of the Divine rather than the secondhand knowledges of the intellect or tradition.

It brought a law that is not the rigid legalism of rabbi-priests and their voluminous memorisation of data as with the Jews nor a worked out Roman code of the intellect as with the Christians. Nor indeed is it the Enlightenment’s worship of the ‘scientific’ intellect and its murderous constitutions. The basis of this law is the lawful understanding individual seeking to serve his or her Lord in a society of such people seeking to govern themselves. Only the mentally disturbed think that is all about a few corporal or capital punishments. Its neglected core is limitation of the powers of finance by the prohibition of usury in the marketplace and the duty of the leader to ensure sound currency.

It brought a form of warfare raised to an act of worship, an encounter with the Divine and with the Decree of Destiny by both the Muslim and his foe. A warfare which never lost sight of the possibility of the enemy becoming a friend. Thus, the most hostile of men could experience the most astounding of transformations. And that is historical record not myth.

Needless to say, such an Islam is as much a stranger in many of the so-called lands of Islam as it is in the so-called West or even more so. But fragrant good fortune to the strangers.

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Abdassamad Clarke is from Ulster and was formally educated at Edinburgh University in Mathematics and Physics, and in Cairo in Arabic and tajwid and other Islamic sciences. He accepted Islam at the hands of Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi in 1973. In the 80s he was secretary to the imam of the Dublin Mosque, and in the early 90s imam khatib of the Norwich Mosque, where he is currently an imam and teacher. He has translated the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (jointly with Muhammad Abdarrahman), which was published by Turath Publishing at the end of July 2004 and a number of other works from Arabic: al-Qawl al-mu'tamad fi mashru'iyyat adh-dhikr bi'l-ism al-mufrad by Shaykh al-Alawi on the standing in Shari’ah of using the divine name in dhikr, which was published by Diwan Press as first part of The Two Invocations and since republished by Madinah Press, The History of the Khalifahs (the chapters on the Khulafa ar-Rashidun from as-Suyuti’s Tarikh al-Khulafa), the Complete Forty Hadith (translation of Imam an-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith along with the Imam’s explanation of their fiqh and linquistic usages) and Kitab al-Jami’ by Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (published as A Madinan View), Rijal – narrators of the Muwatta of Imam Muhammad, all published by Ta-Ha Publishers of London, Kitab al-athar by Imam Abu Hanifah and transmitted by Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ash-Shaybani (Turath Publishing 2006), The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom (a translation of Jami' al-'ulum wa'l-hikam by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, published by Turath Publishing 2007). In addition he has edited Aisha Bewley's translation of Ibn Hajar's abridgement of at-Targhib wa't-Tarhib, Ibn Taymiyyah's al-Kalim at-Tayyib both published by the UK Islamic Academy, Dr Asadullah Yate's translation of al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, published by Ta-Ha Publishing and a number of other works. He is currently engaged with Suád Østergaard on a translation of the Qur’an into Danish, the first volume of which translated in collaboration with Jakob Werdelin, comprising Surat al-Fatihah, Surat al-Baqarah and Surah Ali ‘Imran, was recently published as Den gavmilde Qur’an: en fremlægning of de tre første suraer by Havens Forlag of Copenhagen. Translations yet to be published include Traditions of the Sunnah (Athar as-sunan) by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Ali an-Nimawi (jointly with Mawlana In'amuddin), to be published by Turath Publishing Ltd. Among his unpublished translations are the Sciences of Tafsir comprising portions of Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi’s Qur’anic commentary at-Tashil li ‘ulum at-tanzil, in particular his introductory sections on the essential elements of the sciences necessary for tafsir. He is author of a number of children’s books, The Year of the Elephant, The Great Victory and The Last Battle all of which are on the sirah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as well as The Story of Stories about the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him, in which he drew a great deal on the commentary of Ibn Juzayy, may Allah be merciful to him. He has also a poem God is Dead published in the Minaret journal of Stockholm, Sweden, and an as-yet unpublished collection of short stories called Tales Are Like That, and a novel called The Wings of the Butterfly. Abdassamad is a teacher of both adults and children in Qur’an recitation (tajwid) and meanings, Arabic language and the deen in general, most recently having organised and taken part in a conference under the auspices of Islamic Events of London on the History of the Islamic Khalifate, and having given discourses in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Jena, Weimar, Copenhagen and the Midlands. 18 April, 2007 0:03

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