New Age Islam Edit Bureau
26 May 2018
Ramadan Energizes the Believers
By Ibrahim Muhammad Badawood
Bitterness, Confusion among Saudi
By Abdullah Bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
The World according To Iran’s Supreme
Leader Is a Cartoon
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Bernard Lewis and the Clash of
By Fahad Nazer
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
People welcome the holy month of Ramadan in
different ways. Some of them reschedule their timing while others turn their
days upside down. Instead of sleeping in the evening they sleep in the early
morning and start work the next day while fasting.
Fasts this year will last up to 16 hours
and we are in the summer when the temperature rises to 50 degrees Celsius in
some Saudi cities. All of this will impact the work atmosphere. Despite these
odd circumstances, work in offices and at industrial sites will continue as
usual as people are capable of adapting to Ramadan.
A recent study reported that Ramadan
increased productivity in the Middle East and North Africa as more than 80
percent of respondents said the holy month strengthened them morally and in
terms of their determination. About 44.5 percent of those involved in the study
indicated that fasting in Ramadan did not affect the effectiveness of workers
while 55 percent said that major decisions or important meetings were not
delayed during the holy month.
Some people believe that certain difficult
conditions in Ramadan disrupt businesses, postpone achievements, suspend
decisions and delay dealings. About 74.7 percent of respondents said that
business movement is slow in Ramadan with 46.4 percent of them expressing the
same opinion strongly.
This prevalent belief is mainly due to the
reduced working hours during Ramadan as people are busy shopping and
worshipping. On the other hand, some workers consider Ramadan to be a golden
opportunity to make money, something that is repeated only once a year.
We have to face up to the challenges of
Ramadan to make it a month of achievement rather than a month of laziness and
relaxation. Ramadan is a great opportunity for each of us to explore our hidden
capabilities, which can be used for work, worship and other productive
activities. Without the fasting month, we would not realize that we have these
capabilities and potential.
We must rejoice on the arrival of Ramadan
and make the capability and potential that we have developed permanent
throughout the year. May Allah bless all of us in this holy month.
By Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi
25 May 2018
I am a Saudi citizen and I say: Saudi
Arabia first. This is what every Saudi, whether a leader or a citizen, says.
Saudi Arabia comes first because it’s the nation and is the collective
identity; the history and the geography; the memory and the sense of belonging,
the present and the future.
This is what citizens say about their
countries, such as Americans like US President Donald Trump says America First.
The same applies to Russians, Turks, Iranians and others.
Saudi Arabia, UAE Leading Arab Front
In this context, it is noteworthy that
patriotism is strengthened through victories, achievements and successes.
People become hostile to countries if their leaders guide them as cattle and if
they ideologically control their ideas, be they leftists, nationalists or
Islamist ideas. In such instances, people become enemies of their states.
This is what the herd of traitors and
conspirators — who work for Iran, Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and
other Islamist groups — do.
The Arab alliance led by the Saudi kingdom
and the UAE, of which Egypt and Bahrain are part of, is leading the Arab front
today to secure Arab states and interests.
This alliance is the real saviour against
all the new colonizers — which include Iran in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,
Turkey in Syria and other areas and the Muslim Brotherhood in the region and
the world. This alliance led by Prince Mohammed bin Salman managed to help the
US safeguard its interests under the Trump administration.
The rationale of history must dominate, the
exigencies of reality must be addressed and an exact balance of power must be
achieved. This can be realized through deep insight, knowledge, planning and a
Confusion in Enemy Ranks
Enemies are upset and confused and the
world is recalibrating its power equations so that each knows its place and
capabilities and reflects on its policies and alliances through the power of
politics, diplomacy, boycott and sanctions, as well as with the power of armies
and weapons. This can be seen by observing changes in relations of European
countries with the US and among Middle East countries.
The US has declared Lebanese Hezbollah a
terrorist group and has put both its military and political wings in this
category, as they are both terrorists no matter how much they exploit the
Jerusalem issue and raise its slogans or seek to use Palestine as a bargaining
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain are on
the same path and have the same orientation and they know how the region is
being harmed. They know the region’s peoples well and are most capable of
influencing them. Saudi Arabia and the UAE saved Bahrain once and also saved
Egypt twice. This alliance of victory and salvation has proven itself as a
daunting entity in all international and regional equations on all fronts.
Iran is begging for a European saviour that
may provide it with guarantees but no one has responded yet. Big European
companies are fleeing Iran at a fast pace and everyone who has dealt with Iran,
whether banks or companies, are looking for a safe way out of any ties they
have with Iran, its parties, militias and ideology. Everyone now accepts the
facts about Iran’s crimes such as its sponsoring of terrorism, drug dealing and
money laundering in the region and the world.
Exploiting Palestinian Cause
The world now knows about Turkey’s
relations with the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nusra Front and about its ties
with ISIS. What was happening in South Turkey in the past few years, and which
resembled hosting Afghan-Arabs in Pakistan during the 1980's, is now being
highlighted by think tanks and media outlets. The Qatari role in all of this
and its complete support for terrorism and its groups are under scrutiny. An
example is the interview which Al-Arabiya television channel aired last week.
So what are the foes stirring up an uproar
against? What are they holding onto? How are they distorting this salvation
alliance? The answer is easy. They have done so through the Palestinian cause
which they have, from Iran, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, managed
to exploit to serve their interests and fulfill their ambitions.
It’s easy for an observer to know that
there’s no difference between Lebanese Hezbollah Party, which is Iran’s agent,
and Hamas, which is also Iran’s agent, when it comes to the aims and goals.
Just like the slogan of “resistance” did not cleanse Hezbollah, the slogan of
Palestine, Jerusalem and “the cause” will not cleanse Hamas, as the traitor is
a traitor and an agent is an agent. Facts and data are what provide evidence
and are what have the final word.
Free men have fulfilled what they promised.
The salvation alliance has fulfilled its promises in Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen,
Iraq and Lebanon. This is what Trump is also doing as he seeks to fulfill the
promises he made to his voters. This can be seen in every decision and policy
he had promised to adopt. The ball is now in the court of enemies who are now
looking for ways and seeking the help of international powers for protection.
In politics, there is nothing better than
patience when you besiege your enemy and boycott him and inflict continuous
losses on him, thus leading him to use his bargaining chips. There’s nothing
better than letting your enemy feel confused as to which path to take and which
direction to go as you break his will and strength and get rid of his evil.
I do not have exact numbers but it’s very
easy to know that the Arab salvation alliance is heading towards ascendance on
the political, developmental, cultural and military fronts. Meanwhile, enemies
are suffering evident losses. All this allows us to analyze and foresee the
Hezbollah’s Terrorist Tag
Saudi citizens are now happier and their
loyalty to their country is increasing while Iranian citizens are protesting
and revolting against the regime.
Given these two opposite paths, the future
must be clear for observers, whether in the region or outside it. These
observers include countries, organizations, media outlets and research centers.
They must take this into consideration if not for the sake of professionalism
at work then to avoid scandals when the conflict ends and it’s revealed who the
losers and winners are.
This salvation alliance which consists of
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in alliance with the US began with imposing
strict sanctions against Hezbollah and its leaders and its branding as a
terrorist organization. Other movements, organizations and militias will suffer
the same fate.
The US has begun the building of an
international alliance against Iran, as part of Trump’s strategy against the
regime. Meanwhile, Iraq’s elections have begun to head in the direction of
rejecting Iran’s agents and embracing national symbols and movements. More is
yet to come.
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
The simplicity of the argument expressed by
Iran’s Supreme Leader expresses his vision of the conflict in the region quite
well. Responding to the American sanctions, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei likened the
Iranians and the Americans to the famous cartoon Tom and Jerry.
The Americans are Tom, the big foolish cat
who spends his time in vain chasing the mouse Jerry but failing at catching
him. It’s a correct depiction. This is actually what happening now, and what’s
been happening between America and Iran for 40 years. The JCPOA agreement is
only one of the games Iran used to escape from the sanctions which Washington
imposed on it during the first few years of Obama’s presidency. By signing the
agreement without stopping Iran, the mouse escaped from the trap once again.
The chase and Iran's escape
The Supreme Leader views the destruction
happening as a game and believes his country’s role is to escape and play tricks.
He thinks that this time he will survive Donald Trump’s chase just like he
survived every time, although Trump has set a plan that seems well-devised to
besiege the Iranian mouse.
This chase has been going on for a long
time with Iran which succeeded in evading its responsibilities in terms of
harming its people and the region and the massive destruction it has inflicted
upon us all. The question is, will it be able to escape again this time?
Conflict is a complicated game and it’s not
as simple as a chase as the Supreme Leader put it. Iran invokes religion,
culture and history in its battles and plays on the region’s axes and
conflicts. It convinces the Iraqis that they are Shiites who are targeted on
the sectarian level, the Sunnis that they are targeted in an infidel Christian
world, the Arabs that they are threatened by Israel and the East that it’s
being looted by the West.
It hires organizations like Hamas, allies
with its enemies like al-Qaeda, establishes arms of militias and organizations,
like the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Yemeni Houthi militia.
It uses opposition groups in their
countries regardless of their sect and ethnicity, allies with Russia and
blackmails superpowers including China and Europe by threatening it’s capable
of swaying terror groups in their countries. Iran is not a small mouse but a
large regional state that harnessed all its energy for evil and did not build
anything fruitful, not even for its citizens, and did not allow the people in
the region to peacefully fulfill their dreams.
Is It Game Over For Iran?
I think Iran exhausted all its games and
has no way to escape except by confronting what’s decisive. It played for a
long time and the last of its victims was Obama. It deluded him that it learnt
its lesson and promised him of what he wanted to hear so it got all it wanted
from him and more, and then betrayed him.
During Iran’s confrontations throughout the
years, I have not seen such realization and understanding of the regime like I
see today, as not only the Americans realize its truth but also most Arabs and
Muslims who were deceived by it for four decades and stood with it after it got
them to defend its causes against the West and Israel. The majority now sees it
for what it is: Iran is an evil giant in every cause and area. It’s true that
it managed to deceive most people most of the time, but I hope its time is up.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech
last week is the best of what’s been said as it stripped the Supreme Leader’s
regime. The 12 conditions he announced are difficult dictations in exchange of
lifting the sanctions. If the Iranian regime implements them, it will not be
the regime we know, and if it does not, it will fall apart.
May 25, 2018
Bernard Lewis, arguably the pre-eminent
Western historian of the Middle East and the Islamic world, passed away on Saturday
at the age of 101. Lewis taught at some of the West’s most prestigious colleges
and universities, including Princeton, where he was a professor almost until
the end of his life. His students and admirers have long lavished him with
praise, both for his breadth and depth of knowledge of the history of the
region and for his analysis of the modern challenges confronting it —
especially militant, religious organizations and terrorist groups. Over his
life, Lewis wrote more than 30 books, numerous articles and essays and coined
the controversial phrase “clash of civilizations,” which was popularized by
another noted scholar, Samuel Huntington.
His long life and career and the fact he
was a prolific writer have also meant that his writing and speaking engagements
addressed a wide range of difficult subjects. The titles of some of his
best-known works are instructive. They include “The Crisis of Islam: Holy War
and Unholy Terror,” “What Went Wrong: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in
the Middle East,” and a lengthy essay for The Atlantic magazine titled, “The
Roots of Muslim Rage.” It is this theme of an inevitable clash between the
Islamic world and the West, due to the global “domination” of the latter and
“decline” of the former, that made him both influential and controversial.
Unlike many of his scholarly peers, Lewis
successfully crossed over into the realm of being a public intellectual. His
work and writing became more accessible and arguably more influential after the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US. Lewis welcomed and perhaps relished the
opportunity to speak to political leaders both in the US and elsewhere. He rose
to prominence during the presidency of George W. Bush and his critics would
eventually maintain that he provided the intellectual underpinning for the
controversial invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Although he would dispute the magnitude of
his influence, he publicly supported the invasion as a means of addressing some
of the “root” causes of the problems of the Middle East, especially what he saw
as problems related to governance and the rise of extremist and militant
religious groups. The solution, he maintained, was to bring democratic
institutions and principles to the heart of the Arab and Muslim worlds by
force. Just as importantly, Lewis was a strong supporter of Israel and became
close to a number of Israeli leaders over the years. It is this combination —
broad scholarly writing on issues of politics, religion and culture, and
engagement with policymakers — that would bring him both praise and criticism.
Having studied political science in college
and graduate school — coming close to attaining a Ph.D. in the field — I have
read a fair number of Professor Lewis’ works over the years. One would be hard
pressed to find an academic department of Middle Eastern or Islamic studies
anywhere in the US that does not assign a heavy dose of his writing. Lewis was
fluent in the languages of the region, including Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and
Farsi, and he also visited and lived in many Middle Eastern countries.
As the above titles suggest he, like other
scholars, would focus much of his scholarship on the political, social and
economic challenges — others have called them “deficits” and “defects” — that
have confronted the region. Although widely praised for his readily accessible
prose, Lewis also had a tendency to be blunt and dismissive of his critics,
especially those who viewed with suspicion the “true intentions” of some
Western scholars like himself, who they pejoratively labelled “Orientalists.”
The most well-known of these critics was
Edward Said, a respected scholar in his own right and author of the highly
critical book, “Orientalism.” Said accused Lewis and others of writing about
the Islamic and Arab worlds in bad faith. He maintained that, far from being
objective scholars who periodically prescribed policy recommendations out of
concern for the wellbeing of the peoples of these regions, Orientalists were
condescending and showed little appreciation for the contributions of such peoples.
Needless to say, Said’s writing was controversial as well.
Ultimately, the public spat between Lewis
and Said, which some have argued detracted from both of their statures, centred
on an important question: Who is best qualified to write and speak authoritatively
and objectively about the Islamic world and the Middle East? Lewis, and others,
strongly objected to the notion that only people from these “worlds” — Muslims,
Arabs, Turks, Iranians, etc. — truly understood them and wrote about their
challenges for the benefit of the people. “If Westerners cannot legitimately
study the history of Africa or the Middle East, then only fish can study marine
biology,” Lewis once said.
Those who took issue with the notion that
Lewis was inherently biased against Arabs and Muslims often referenced this
quote from the aforementioned article in the Atlantic: “Islam has brought
comfort and peace of mind to countless millions of men and women. It has given
dignity and meaning to drab and impoverished lives. It has taught people of
different races to live in brotherhood and people of different creeds to live
side by side in reasonable tolerance. It inspired a great civilization in which
others besides Muslims lived creative and useful lives and which, by its
achievement, enriched the whole world.”
As someone who hails from both the Arab and
Muslim worlds but who received his higher education in the West, I have greatly
benefited from reading the different perspectives of scholars who are from
these regions and those who are not. Both offer unique insights. That is indeed
the approach adopted by most, if not all, serious academic institutions in the
US. After all, “Democracy in America,” written by Frenchman Alexis de
Tocqueville, is still considered a classic by American political scientists and
is assigned by virtually all university programs teaching US politics.
Lewis’ contributions and writings cannot be
dismissed and have much to offer. However, Lewis, like any human being, misread
some developments and made mistakes, and admitted doing so. He himself realized
that he was a polarizing figure. “For some, I’m the towering genius. For
others, I’m the devil incarnate,” he once said in an interview. One should not
have difficulty avoiding those two extremes.