الجمعة، ديسمبر 21، 2007

Death Of The Dollar

الأحد، ديسمبر 16، 2007

Salon.com | Blackwater in Baghdad: "It was a horror movie"

Blackwater in Baghdad: "It was a horror movie"

New testimony from witnesses and victims provides the most in-depth, harrowing account to date of the U.S. security firm's deadly rampage in Iraq.

By Jennifer Daskal

Dec. 14, 2007 | For Khalaf, a 38-year-old Iraqi, Sept. 16 started like many other sunny summer workdays. He donned his police uniform -- a white shirt, navy trousers and hat -- and headed to Baghdad's busy Nissour Square. By 7 a.m. he was out in the street, directing the flow of traffic coming from the multi-laned Yarmouk access road into the square. When he spotted four large all-terrain vehicles with guns mounted on top, he did what he always did. He stopped traffic and cleared the area for what he knew, from the tell-tale sign of the two accompanying helicopters, to be a security firm's convoy.

At first, this seemed completely normal for the totally abnormal world of Baghdad in September 2007. "Convoys are common," explained Khalaf. But this convoy made an unexpected U-turn, drove the wrong way around the one-way square, stopped in the middle of it and started shooting. Fifteen minutes later, 17 Iraqi civilians were dead, dozens more wounded, and a white sedan that had been engulfed in flames contained two bodies charred beyond recognition.

"It was a horror movie," said Khalaf, describing the aftermath of the now notorious Blackwater shootings.

I interviewed Khalaf on Nov. 30, in a small conference room inside a hotel in Istanbul, Turkey. In one of the most in-depth collection of testimonials to date regarding Blackwater, Khalaf was among five witnesses and victims flown from Baghdad to meet with Susan Burke, William O'Neil and their team of lawyers and investigators. The team is suing Blackwater on behalf of the victims of the Sept. 16 shooting.

That lethal incident was a watershed moment that brought intense scrutiny to the problems caused by private contractors, which have effectively operated with impunity as they've brought violence and widespread ill will to U.S. operations in Iraq.

With experience learned from a similar lawsuit filed two years ago against U.S. contractors implicated in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Burke O'Neil is perhaps the only law firm in the nation that could so quickly gather eyewitness and victim accounts, make the right legal arguments and begin the process of holding Blackwater to account.

Sadly, this lawsuit may be the only way that the victims and their families receive remotely adequate compensation for their losses.

Khalaf recounted the events of that day to a hushed room of lawyers with laptops. He watched, he said, as the Blackwater convoy made the U-turn toward the street where he stood directing traffic. As the convoy stopped, Khalaf watched as a large man with a mustache standing atop the third car fired several shots in the air. Khalaf turned back toward the Yarmouk road to see what might have spurred the shooting and heard a woman yell, "My son! My son!" He ran three cars back to a white sedan to find a woman holding a young man slumped over and covered with blood.

The man was Ahmed, a 20-year-old medical student at the top of his class, and the woman his mother, Mohasin, a successful dermatologist and mother of three.

"I tried to help the young man, but his mother was holding him so tight," said Khalaf. "I raised my left arm high in the air to try to signal to the convoy to stop the shooting," he said, thinking that it would respond to such a gesture by a police officer. He described how he crouched by the car, his right arm reaching inside, his head out and left arm up in the air, signaling to the convoy, his gun secure in its holster. Then the mother was shot dead before his eyes.

The shooting then turned heavier, Khalaf said, his eyes red-brimmed and serious. He hid behind the police traffic booth, but shots came directly at him, hitting the adjacent traffic light and booth's door, and he fled back across Yarmouk road to safety behind a hill. Along with a few hundred others, he stayed there as the chaos unfolded, watching as the helicopters circling above the street started shooting at those below.

Fifteen minutes later, the four-car convoy continued around the square and drove away. Amid the wreckage, colorful clouds billowed into the air from the convoy's parting gift -- multicolored smoke bombs.

In remarks prepared for delivery before a congressional hearing in October, Blackwater chairman Erik Prince claimed company guards "returned fire at threatening targets," including "men with AK-47s firing on the convoy" and "approaching vehicles that appeared to be suicide car bombers." Prince's prepared testimony also asserted that one of the vehicles had been disabled by the "enemy fire" and had to be towed. And he contended that the helicopters never fired on those below. (These remarks were never actually delivered; the Department of Justice launched an investigation the day before the hearing and asked the committee not to discuss the details of the Sept. 16 incident. Prince's remarks were subsequently reported in the Washington Post.)

But the accounts of Khalaf and others contradict each of Prince's assertions. Khalaf, who was there before the shooting began, said he never saw anyone fire on or approach the convoy. He watched as all four cars drove away as the 15-minute shooting spree ended, and huddled in fear as the helicopters began firing. He thought the helicopters would start spraying those who were hiding behind the hill for safety from the street-level threat.

Khalaf's observations are backed up by official accounts, including leaked FBI findings, which concluded that at least 14 of the 17 shooting deaths were unjustified, and statements by military officials disputing Blackwater's claim that its guards had been fired upon or under any sort of attack. The Iraq government's own investigation found no evidence that the guards had been provoked or attacked, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson called the shootings "deliberate murder."

The scene as the Blackwater convoy exited the square was also described to the group of lawyers by Hooby, a 32-year-old bank employee who was there on lunch break, returning from a failed attempt to buy a gift for a friend's newborn. (An unrelated bombing in a nearby market cut the shopping trip short.) Stuck in heavy traffic on the opposite side of the square from Yarmouk road, he heard the shooting start. When he got out of his car to find out what was happening, he saw the convoy and the white car burning, and started yelling at the other cars to turn around. Two helicopters circled overhead, each with a man strapped in and a machine gun sticking out.

In a panic, Hooby turned his car around and was leaving the area when the convoy approached from behind, throwing water bottles at the roof of his car. "All of a sudden, I felt pain in my right arm and left leg, opened the car door, and rolled out," said Hooby. The car rolled forward a short way, hit a wall and stopped, said Hooby. "I thought I was dying."

He spent the next three days in the hospital and underwent major surgery on his right arm, which was fractured by a bullet. He spent the next two months at home, recuperating. The large metal rod implanted by the surgeon to help his broken bone heal properly is expected to be removed at the end of December.

Like Khalaf, Hooby said he never saw anyone on his side of the square make even a threatening gesture toward the Blackwater convoy.

Now, left to deal with the aftermath are 16 grieving families, and those, like Hooby, still trying to recover from their wounds.

Haythem, the composed, articulate and powerfully calm father and husband of Ahmed and Mohasin, who died in the white car, expected them to pick him up at the health center where he worked that afternoon. He waited and waited, and eventually went home without them. "I tried to be patient," he said. "I kept calling, but thought there must be some sort of cellphone interruption."

Finally, around 5 p.m., he phoned his brother who worked at the hospital closest to Nissour Square. His brother went to the emergency room, then to the morgue. He learned that all of the bodies there were identified -- except for two that were completely burned with body parts missing. His brother then headed to the square, where he called Haythem to tell him he had found a charred white car with a license plate number written in the sand. The numerals and letters matched the family's plate.

Haythem identified his son from what was left of his shoes. His forehead and brains were missing and his skin completely burned. He identified his wife of 20 years by a dental bridge.

With tears in his eyes, Haythem described his beloved wife and son. "If you perceive marriage as half of your life, Mohasin was my best half," he said. "We were always together. I don't know how to manage my life or care for my other two children without her."

Ahmed "was my first baby boy," he said. "Everyone loved him."

The State Department contacted Haythem and asked how much he wanted for compensation. "I said their lives are priceless," said Haythem. But the State Department representative kept insisting on a number. Haythem eventually told him that "if he could give me my loved ones, I would gladly give him $200 million."

None of the Iraqis we interviewed last month could describe their losses without breaking down in tears.

Assadi, 31, a stoic, unsmiling man, became the head of the family after his older brother Usama was killed in the shootings. His tough façade cracked as he described the moment he learned about the shootings. His brother left behind a wife and four children. Assadi is now the sole breadwinner for the entire family.

He documented what was left of his brother's car. The line of bullet holes in one side door is overshadowed by the two soccer-ball-size holes in the roof and driver's side door.

Another young man, 27-year-old Abu Hassam, suddenly became the head of his family just a week earlier, when on Sept. 9 his older brother was shot in front of the family's carpet shop -- in an incident also attributed to Blackwater. His brother's wife had delivered their first child, a daughter, just 20 days earlier. At least four other Iraqis have been reported killed in that incident on Sept. 9.

These are not isolated events. In October, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released its analysis of Blackwater's own internal reporting since 2005, which found 195 shooting incidents in the last two years, including 160 in which Blackwater employees fired the first shot. And Blackwater is not the only problem. An estimated 20,000 to 35,000 private security contractors operate in Iraq, without adequate oversight, without adequate training and without adequate legal sanctions to hold abusers accountable.

The Burke O'Neil lawsuit may be the only way that victims receive compensation for their loss. The State Department has offered family members $10,000 for those killed in the Sept. 16 shootings -- an amount most consider insultingly low and have refused. In less high-profile cases involving U.S. contractors, no one has offered anything.

Some of the Iraqis told me that they don't even care about the money. They just want to see those responsible punished. But the Iraqis' hands are tied. An order issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority in its departing days and still in force gives foreign private contractors immunity under Iraqi law.

U.S. prosecutors are now reportedly trying to build a case against those involved in the Sept. 16 shootings. If successful, it will be the first time the U.S. government has held private security contractors criminally liable for abusive behavior directed at Iraqis. In other cases, investigations don't even get off the ground, because of lack of political will, limits in the extraterritorial reach of U.S. criminal laws, and the absence of investigative units on the ground. Even in this case, the FBI did not visit the crime scene for more than two weeks after the incident, during which time State Department investigators interviewing Blackwater employees offered them limited immunity, complicating the prosecution.

Legislation now working its way through Congress would resolve some of the gaps in the law, and hold all U.S. private security contractors subject to criminal sanctions for felonies committed abroad. But such legislation is only as good as the oversight and enforcement that accompany it. A few token prosecutions of a handful of Blackwater employees will not be enough. There needs to be a wholesale reform of the way security contractors and those that oversee their work do business.

At stake is the future of other innocent lives, as well as America's reputation throughout the Middle East and across the world.

One of the men I met in Istanbul wrote me after I returned home. "Conduct our deepest love to all the Americans who support and work hard to stop killing of innocent people all over the world," he said. "Please, we want to live in peace, surrounded by friends not killers."

-- By Jennifer Daskal


الثلاثاء، ديسمبر 11، 2007

IslamoFascism or AmeriFascism?...YOU decide

George W Bush and the 14 points of fascism - Project for the OLD American Century

Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:
Click the Link

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to (sic) media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed
to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Islamofascism pursues its aims through the willful, arbitrary, and gratuitous disruption of global society, either by terrorist conspiracies or by violation of peace between states. Al Qaeda has recourse to the former weapon; Hezbollah, in assaulting northern Israel, used the latter. These are not acts of protest, but calculated strategies for political advantage through undiluted violence. Hezbollah showed fascist methods both in its kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and in initiating that action without any consideration for the Lebanese government of which it was a member. Indeed, Lebanese democracy is a greater enemy of Hezbollah than Israel.

by Stephen Schwartz

الأحد، ديسمبر 09، 2007

Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain - The crime of rhyme: the extraordinary case of Samina Malik

Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain - The crime of rhyme: the extraordinary case of Samina Malik

Last month, a new landmark was reached in Britain's war on freedom with the conviction of Samina Malik, the first woman to be convicted under the Terrorism Act. The 23-year old W. H. Smith shop-assistant was not caught with explosives; nor did she have in her possession blueprints of government buildings or a suicide belt. Samina was caught red-handed with some lines of poetry. This self-styled "lyrical terrorist" spent her spare time writing verse glorifying jihad. Couplets like "For the living martyrs are awakening, and Kuffar's world soon to be shaking", describing the Islamic revival in the face of unprecedented global oppression of Muslims, were deemed to be so inciteful and dangerous that Samina was convicted of collecting articles "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

In addition to her poems, the evidence against Samina is that she possessed a library of "extremist" literature in her bedroom, including a service manual for a rifle, a copy of the Mujahideen Poisons Handbook and Usama Bin Laden's "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places." All are items easily available on the internet by conducting a basic Google search; they are routinely accessed by researchers, students, journalists, lawyers and curious teenagers. But Samina's possession of these items was deemed to be tainted by the fact that she used screen-names such as "Bint al Shaheed" (a title she says was chosen in honour of her grandmother, who died of liver cancer in 2002) and "Stranger Awaiting Martyrdom". Despite there being no other evidence against her whatsoever, no details of any plot, no co-conspirators, no indication of what she intended to do or where, Samina has been convicted of terrorism and is awaiting sentencing.

To fully comprehend the injustice of this conviction, one need only examine the treatment of non-Muslims apprehended with far more dangerous items than bits of verse on scraps of paper. The week after Samina was convicted, one Gregory Whittam was convicted after police found two home-made bombs at his home in Manchester on 7 July, 2007, the second anniversary of the London bombings. Whittam used to spend hours browsing websites which demonstrated how to make bombs, and was deemed to have an obsession with explosives. Without even being charged under the Terrorism Act, Whittam was given a two-year community supervision order.

Earlier this year, Robert Cottage and David Jackson, two former members of the BNP, appeared in court after police discovered in their homes the largest cache of firearms and chemical explosives ever found in the West Midlands region. The two men also possessed a rocket-launcher, a nuclear biological suit, documents outlining plans to blow up mosques and Islamic centres throughout Britain, notes about a possible attempted assassination of Tony Blair (then prime minister), and notes about an impending civil war against immigrants in Britain. Cottage believed that if there wasn't "blood on the streets", the country would be "lost". He received a two-and-a-half-year sentence for his crimes. His co-defendant, David Jackson, walked free.

Contrast this with the case of Muhammad Atif Siddique, who was convicted last October of a number of terrorism offences after the police found sound and video files glorifying jihad in various parts of the world, as well as downloaded documents on military strategy on his laptop. There was little other evidence against Siddique. Even the prosecutors were forced to admit that they had not found any evidence that Siddique himself was planning to carry out any attack, and that far more extreme material can be found on legal sites run by anti-terror experts such as Evan Kohlmann, who appeared as a witness against Siddique. Siddique was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for what his lawyer, Aamer Anwar, afterwards described as "doing what millions of young people do every day - looking for answers on the internet". Anwar is now facing jail on charges of contempt for court for his comments.

This brief overview of the manner in which some terrorism cases have been dealt with this year alone reveals a serious double standard when it comes to Muslims and the issue of freedom of speech. It appears that for a Muslim to address the issues of the Muslim world in any terms which go beyond capitulation to oppression is to run the risk of falling foul of the anti-terrorism laws. Words such as jihad and shari'ah have been so demonised that part of the evidence against Samina Malik was that she possessed a bracelet with the word jihad engraved on it.

Yet for non-Muslim rap artists, glorifying violence, murder, rape and terrorism is considered acceptable and often glorified as "art". Take for example the following words from a track called "Blood for Blood" by the Wu-Tang Clan:

To all my Universal Soldier's: stay at attention while I strategize an invasion; the mission be assassination, snipers hitting Caucasians with semi-automatic shots heard around the world; my plot is to control the globe and hold the world hostage . . . see, I got a war plan more deadlier than Hitler . . . lyrical specialist, underworld terrorist . . . keep the unity thick like mud . . . I pulling out gats , launching deadly attacks...

Or for a far cruder and more recent example, look at the following by DMX in a track entitled "X is Coming":

And I'm gunnin' for your spouse

Tryin' to send that bitch

Back to her maker

And if you got a daughter older than 15

I'ma rape her, take her

On the living room floor

Right there in front of you

Then ax you seriously, 'what you wanna do?

These are only two relatively moderate examples of the indoctrination which millions of young people undergo everyday in a society which glorifies these artists as heroes and role-models. Yet when Samina Malik, with no previous criminal record, scribbles a poem about beheading, she is considered such a threat to society that she should be incarcerated for terrorism.

Muslims have to be concerned about these severe restrictions on their freedom of speech and expression. Last month, an internal Whitehall document was disclosed which stated that the number of terrorist prisoners is projected to soar to 1,600 by 2016 or 2017: 1,300 of them are expected to be classified as maximum-risk category-A prisoners. Currently there are 131 terrorist prisoners in jails in England and Wales. Judging by the fact that most of those who have been convicted of terrorism until now have been "no closer to a bomb or a firearm than a computer keyboard", as a High Court judge described Younis Tsouli before sentencing him to ten years' imprisonment, it seems that these 1,600 prisoners will consist of more Samina Maliks than Muhammad Siddique Khans. Tsouli's conviction is fascinating because the judge himself, Justice Openshaw, stated that Tsouli and his two co-defendants had only engaged in ‘cyber-jihad' and declared that "It would seem that internet websites have become an effective means of communicating such ideas." This suggests that these men were convicted not for their actions but for their ideas. Consequently, they were sentenced to a total of 24 years between them: such sentences are normally reserved for the worst crimes of murder and rape.

It is absolutely clear that this clampdown is part of a wider attempt to engineer a version of Islam that is devoid of the concepts of jihad, martyrdom, ummah and ikhwah. Last September Sheykh Riyadh ul-Haqq, one of the most respected and influential Deobandi scholars in Britain, came under severe scrutiny for his lectures. The Times reproduced no less than five entire speeches of his: "Infinite Justice"; "Jewish Fundamentalism and the Muslims"; "The Globalised Suffering of the Muslims"; "On our Responsibilities as Muslims"; and "Imitating the Disbelievers". In these lectures Sheykh Riyadh has addressed the plight of Muslims around the world, the hypocrisy and double standards of Western governments, the need for Muslims to concern themselves with tackling oppression and establishing social justice rather than their own personal problems, Muslim identity, and apartheid and occupation in Palestine. The subsequent witch-hunt against Sheykh Riyadh and the Deobandi community implies that discussing these issues is incompatible with Western ‘values'. To discuss the oppression of Muslims in Britain and abroad is to spread extremism; to speak of Allah's justice and punishment of the oppressors is to promote terrorism; even to mention the J-word is high treason.

But Muslim scholars are not the only leaders promoting holy war and martyrdom. On 28 October, 2007, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI beatified almost 500 Catholics who died during the Spanish Civil War. He stated in the course of the ceremonies that:

The contemporaneous inclusion of such a large number of martyrs to the list of the blessed shows that the supreme witness of blood is not an exception reserved only to a few individuals, but is a realistic possibility for the entire Christian people. We are in fact talking about men and women who vary in terms of age, vocation and social background but who paid with their life their faithfulness to Christ and the Church ...Their example bears witness to the fact that the baptism commits Christians to participate with courage to expand the kingdom of God going so far as sacrificing their very lives.

This statement, which glorifies martyrdom, by the spiritual leader of one sixth of the world's population went virtually unreported in the mainstream press and media, despite the fact that he spoke about an issue that even most Muslim scholars today stay away from: the concept of offensive jihad to expand the "kingdom of God" and being prepared to sacrifice one's own life in the process.

One scrap of paper used in evidence against Samina Malik contained the following words: "The desire within me increases every day to go for martyrdom, the need to go increases second by second." Given the conditions of Muslims in the world today, it is hardly surprising that many in Britain recognise this sentiment.

The Danger of Opposing His Command And Some Fiqh Issues

Imam Al-Ghazali raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif wrote*: I proceed to enlighten you, who are the most self-righteous of those who reject belief, and you, who are the most immoderate of the thoughtless unbelievers.

I am no longer obliged to remain silent, because the responsibility to speak, as well as warn you, has been imposed upon me by your persistent straying from the clear truth, and by your insistence upon fostering evil, flattering ignorance, and stirring up opposition against him who, in order to conform to the dictates of knowledge, deviates from custom and the established practice of men. In doing this he fulfils Allah's prescriptions for purifying the self and reforming the heart, thus somewhat redeeming a life, which has already been dissipated in despair of prevention and remedy, and avoids by it the company of him whom the Lawgiver - Prophet Muhammad MHMD - described when he said:
"The most severely punished of all men on the day of resurrection will be a learned man whom Allah has not blessed with His knowledge."

For, by my life, there is no reason for your abiding arrogance except the malady which has become an epidemic among the multitudes. That malady consists in not discerning this matter's importance, the gravity of the problem, and the seriousness of the crisis; in not seeing that life is waning and that what is to come is close at hand, that death is imminent but that the journey is still long, that the provisions are scanty, the dangers great, and the road blocked.
The perceptive know that only knowledge and works devoted to Allah avail.

To tread the crowded and dangerous path of the Hereafter with neither guide nor companion is difficult, tiring, and strenuous. The guides for the road are the learned men who are the heirs of the Prophet MHMD, but the times are void of them now and only the superficial are left, most of whom have been lured by iniquity and overcome by Satan.

Everyone of them was so wrapped up in his immediate fortune that he came to see good as evil and evil as good, so that the science of religion disappeared and the torch of the true faith was extinguished all over the world.

They duped the people into believing that there was no knowledge except such ordinances of government as the judges use to settle disputes when the mob dots; or the type of argument which the vainglorious displays in order to confuse and refute; or the elaborate and flowery language with which the preacher seeks to lure the common folk.

They did this, because apart from these three, they could find no other ways to snare illegal profit and gain the riches of the world. On the other hand the science of the path of the hereafter, which our forefathers trod and which includes what Allah in His Book called law, wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, light, guidance, and righteousness, has vanished from among men and been completely forgotten.

Since this is a calamity afflicting religion and a grave crisis overshadowing it, I have therefore deemed it important to engage in the writing of this book;
to revive the science of religion, to bring to light the exemplary lives of the departed imams, and to show what branches of knowledge the prophets and the virtuous fathers regarded as useful.

I have divided the work into four parts or quarters. These are:
- the Acts of Worship,
- the Usages of Life,
- the Destructive Matters in Life, and
- the Saving Matters in Life.

fn: From his Introduction to the Ihya' `Ulum al-Din

islamic art

Imam Al-Ghazali raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif wrote on the original meaning of fiqh *:
The first term to be affected was fiqh [Arabic root: fqh, to be wise, to understand], whose meaning has been tampered with not so much by alteration and change, but by limitation. ...
But in the early period of Islam the term jurisprudence (fiqh) was applied to the science of the path of the hereafter and the knowledge of the subtle defects of the soul (or: the science of the hereafter and the nature of the heart), the influences of which render works corrupt, the thorough realization of the inferiority of this life, the urgent expectation of bliss in the hereafter, and the domination of fear in the heart.
This is indicated by the words of Allah when He says:
{ ... that they may instruct themselves in their religion,
and may warn their people when they come back to them.} (Sura 9-122) Jurisprudence (fiqh) is therefore that which brings about such a warning and such a fear rather than details of (for example) ordinary divorce or divorce through li'an, or salam contracts, and hire, rental and lease (etc) which produce neither warnings nor fear.
On the contrary to devote oneself exclusively to these things hardens the heart and removes from it all fear which is exactly what we now see in those who have so devoted themselves. Allah says thus: { Hearts have they with which they understand not. } (Sura 7-179) having had in mind the meaning of faith (iman), not of legal opinions. Upon my life the word fiqh (discernment), now used for jurisprudence, and the word fahm (understanding) are nothing but two names for the same thing. At the present time, however, they are used both in their earlier and also their newer significance.
The Prophet MHMD said: “Shall I tell you who is the profoundly discerning man? ...
It is he who has not induced people to dispair of the mercy of Allah; nor made them feel safe (rather than urge them to repent) during the period of respite, which Allah – out of His patience – gives unto man; nor made them lose hope in the spirit of God; nor discarded the Qur'an in favour of something else.”

When Anas ibn Malik related the following words of the Prophet MHMD :
“I prefer sitting in the company of men who praise Allah from the sunset until sunrise to the setting free of four slaves,” he turned to Yazid al-Raqahi and Ziyad al-Numayri and said: “Our meetings of invocation dhikr were different from your present gatherings in which one of you delivers his sermons before his friends and recites traditions. We used to sit and ponder over the articles of faith, study the meaning of the Qur'an, enlighten ourselves in matters of religion and enumerate the blessings of Allah upon us.”
→ Hence the process of studying the meaning of the Qur'an and of enumerating the blessings of Allah was called enlightenment.

The second term to have been altered is the science of religion (al-`ilm) which used to be applied to the knowledge of God, His miracles, and His works among His servants and creatures. When, therefore (the Caliph) `Umar raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif died, Ibn Mas`ud raDiy-Allahu-anhu.gif exclaimed: “Verily nine-tenths is the science of religion (al-`ilm) has passed away. He thus designated this knowledge as the science, using the definite article, and then explained it as the knowledge of Allah.”

from: *Al-Ghazali; The Book Of Knowledge,
Idara Isha'at-E-Diniyat, New Delhi (India); p.77


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