Saudi writer warns against donating funds to "followers of Al-Qaeda"
BBC Monitoring Middle East
June 27, 2013
Saudi clerics attend the opening of the World Assembly of Muslim youth in Riyadh October 29, 2002.
Commentary by Abd-al-Aziz Muhammad Qasim: "Oh, Clerics: Once Bitten Twice Shy."
What is the message that any observer will receive when he reads that Bashar al-Asad has complained about a number of clerics to the United Nations and the Security Council, according to what a number of news websites have been circulating?
Surely, a fatwa - as a weapon in the hands of these clerics - the strength of their stances and their word, frighten the likes of this killer. During times of tribulation, the conscience of the people always inclines to what clerics say, and our Islamic history is full of crucial moments, which have only been settled by the stances adopted by clerics, and the fatwas they gave to all of the members of the Ummah [worldwide community of Muslims].
Of course, this criminal has repeated the same boring song linking those clerics and preachers - who have confirmed their following with stances of extreme nobility and support for the Syrian revolution - with extremists and terrorists, adding that they support Al-Qaeda. This is an apathetic insinuation to the terrorism of the West, which has not been convinced, and has seen this criminal peel the corpses of his people off the ground, while bringing down buildings upon them with his rockets, and suffocating them with chemical [weapons].
In the context of the clear role of the clerics, an important and strong statement by approximately 70 Islamic organizations and societies - which represent most of the Islamic world including the finest clerics of the Ummah - was issued last week. In it, by consensus, they called for jihad through self-sacrifice, money, and weapons to aid the Syrian people, and to save them from the crimes of a sectarian regime, considering what Iran and Hezbollah are doing in Syria as equivalent to a war declared against Islam and Muslims in general.
The truth is that this movement of the clerics came very late, even though generally speaking, it was better than not coming at all. It had made ripples in Syrian territory, as Colonel Riyadh al-As`ad, commander of the Free Syrian Army, observed regarding the fatwa: “The resolution of these clerics is great and an honour. We have been waiting for it, for a long time, and we are grateful for it.” Afterwards, he mentioned the FSA`s need for financial support and weapons.
In my opinion, this stance of the scholars is what should be expected of them. Its tardiness was due to organizational circumstances most of which were political. This was because there was clamour in the media field, which followed their meeting, its timing during this period, and its coincidence with the speech of Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi. The Egyptian president, in turn, announced his country`s adoption of a clear stance towards what is happening in Syria. He criticized the regime of Bashar al-Asad, while announcing the closing of the Syrian embassy in Cairo, and Egypt`s complete support of the opposition.
What is unfortunate is that a great writer, such as Professor Fahmi Huwaydi, should come along and stab the consensus of these clerics of the Ummah, and criticize it by saying that it only took place because it was arranged by America. In fact, he said, in an article he wrote last week in the Al-Sabil newspaper: “It is most probable that this is a mere, unhappy coincidence, that the holding of the Cairo summit and the increase in operations - along with the anti-Syrian Government tone - should coincide with the announcement of the US decision to provide the Syrian opposition with weapons, after such a long period of time of refusing to help them and monitoring their actions. This has opened the door to the belief that there is a relationship between Washington`s decision and the demonstration by the clerics held in Egypt.”
We would have accepted these words from Professor Fahmi Huwaydi - while debating his ideas and having a good opinion of him - had it not been for his revealed history with the regime of ayatollah`s in Iran. Most of his political writings on Iran you will find manifestly biased to the Safavids there. This is to the extent that he took a stance against his teacher Al-Qardawi when the latter announced his position regarding the Shi`is, warning against their expansion, and their proselytizing in the Islamic world. This includes the fact Al-Qardawi is now upset with them after decades of advocating approximation [between the two sects].
Returning to the statement of the clerics in Cairo, here we should point to the fact that many of the clerics who have visited the liberated Syrian regions and met with Syrian clerics on the front line, heard that they did not need youth or men, as much as they had a dire need for money and weapons. This is why that we have to pay attention to this sensitive issue, because I believe that the consensus through which the clerics during their meeting in Cairo called [for jihad] through self-sacrifice and money needs to be reviewed and edited.
Let us not allow our emotions to take control of us in this issue, and let us be honest. It is necessary for our youth, preachers, and clerics to benefit from the experience of Afghanistan and Iraq - the experience of which remains before us - so that the best of the youth of this Ummah, who have been offered to aid Syria, will not be taken advantage of. [It was during Iraq when] young people were either sold to the US Army, or the Safavid regime, after being detained on the borders.
There is another issue, which is the presence of some Al-Qaeda groups on the territory of the Levant that may receive an innocent young man. It is there where this young man`s mind becomes polluted with Al-Qaeda extremist ideology, and where he is completely transformed so that he begins to hold the Muslim leaders and communities as infidels. What is important is that we commit ourselves to not allowing our youth to go at this time, during which the Syrian brothers point out they do not need men. Furthermore, the best person to guide an enthusiastic young man today is a cleric, as well as an inspired preacher. Additionally, [words that can be used to guide this young man include] the statement of Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, as well as the statement of Shaykh Awad al-Qarni and Shaykh Sa`ad al-Barik, and a group of preachers, who we are grateful to in this topic. I also call on readers to review the clear statement by my scholars in this respect.
There is also the issue of the money that we donate. It must be sent to the groups that we trust, which are not followers of Al-Qaeda, so that it does not come back to us in the form of spears thrown at us, or bullets shot at us. This call is not to forsake the cause, but rather to ask the preachers who make donations to be careful concerning this issue, which also goes for merchants and businessmen, who make donations as an act of religion. All of us stand by our brothers in Syria, and we are emotionally involved just as much as anyone else is. Having said that, the wise man is the one who learns from the lesson, and we saw in the trial of Iraq how some of our money came back to us in the form of explosives used in our cities.
There is no doubt that the position of the clerics is honourable, but we have to warn them of the need to look into the far future and as the saying goes: Once Bitten Twice Shy.
Source: Al-Watan website, Abha, in Arabic 0202 gmt 24 Jun 13
© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Saudi writer discusses “political utilization of jihad”
BBC Monitoring Middle East
June 26, 2013
Commentary by Abd-al-Aziz al-Sammari: “Political Utilization of Jihad”
Jihad has been made limited to the domain of fighting, despite the fact that it has a broader and more comprehensive meaning than war in the Islamic fundamentals. This limitation had a negative impact as jihad became linked to terrorism, and this happened following the exploitation of religious jihad in sowing sedition and civil fighting within the Muslim communities. Nevertheless, the term still enjoys sanctity by virtue of the Islamic conquests in the early days of Islam. Owing to these very conquests, people often respond to the call of jihad. The last of these calls urged Muslims to perform jihad in Syria, which subsequently affected the Western political stances on the ongoing war in Syria.
In the present era, the confusion surrounding the term jihad lies in the use of this term for championing a Muslim party against another. In order to sanction the call of jihad against a Muslim party, the other party holds it as infidel. It is noteworthy that jihad, as a term, was never used in the wars that took place among Muslims in the early centuries of the Islamic history. The suitable description then was sedition, or the championing of the oppressed against the oppressor. The Kharijites [rebels; a group of early Muslims who rebelled against Caliph Ali Bin-Abu-Talib] attempted to involve religious verdict in these internecine wars by holding some companions as infidels, and quoting some Koranic verses as evidence on this verdict of takfir [holding other Muslims as infidels]. However, Imam Ali, [the fourth caliph], may God be pleased with him, rejected the verdict by the Kharijites, or the Qurra [those among the Kharijites who had memorized the Koran and were experts in Koranic debates], with his famous quote: “Do not argue with them citing the Koran, as it carries various meanings.”
Following the political utilization of jihad in Afghanistan, we saw the emergence of clerics specialized in issuing calls for jihad in every direction. They gained popularity because of their extreme stances against the opponent. They even started competing with one another in launching the wars of jihad on the internet, despite the fact that some of them live in mansions and luxury, and are far from the environment, ideology, and fundamentals of jihad in the Islamic history. The dilemma we are facing is that these clerics have acquired the profession of issuing sharia verdicts for fighting and bloodshed, in accordance with their political orientations. This makes it extremely dangerous, as these verdicts can be used as a lethal weapon within the secure communities, in light of the current political conflicts in the countries of the Muslim world.
What is happening in Syria is not a war between infidels and Muslims; it is rather a popular revolution against the tyrant who has reigned for decades. Thus, the call should have been to support the oppressed and the needy among the displaced people, and to provide aid to the revolutionaries in their civil war against the political oppression. Furthermore, the term jihad should not be used out of context because the ongoing political war is not religious. It is rather a civil and humanitarian war against a dictator who seized power solely. It is more of a civil rights revolution than a civil war.
The dilemma that some clerics are always caught in is that the call to jihad, at the present time, requires that the opposing party be held as infidel, because, to these clerics, recognizing the tyrant as a Muslim justifies his oppression, tyranny, and violation of rights. And this is why we have never heard a call to jihad against the Islamic Taleban when they tried to seize power in Afghanistan, or when they violated the rights of the civilians while seizing power. For this reason, the choice of jihad is a weapon in the hands of some religious scholars, who usually select the appropriate political time to hold a ruler or his opposition as infidels, and then [call for] fighting and eliminating them brutally.
Some Arab leaders were too late in understanding this game, most notably Saddam Husayn, who demonstrated his religiousness in the media, and even added the phrase “God is Great” to the Iraqi flag, in a bid to protect himself from the people`s rebellion against his rule. However, he could not get what he desired, and his outward return to faith in his last days could not rescue him from being hanged, based on a civil sentence.
Source: Al-Jazirah website, Riyadh, in Arabic 24 Jun 13
© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Russian Daily Views `Friends of Syria` Meeting, Conflict`s Internationalization
Nezavisimaya Gazeta Online
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Report by Darya Tsilyurik: ““`Friends of Syria` Arming Opposition To Spite Moscow; War Between Shiites and Sunnis Is World War III in Miniature”
At the “Friends of Syria” meeting in Doha on Saturday (22 June), Western and Middle Eastern states agreed urgently to provide arms to the Syrian insurgents now suffering defeats. The meeting`s participants motivated this decision by the need to prevent a “holy war” between Sunnis and Shiites. However, several countries stated they would not provide lethal aid to the insurgents since this is on the contrary, fraught with the danger of further fuelling the internecine conflict which has not only gripped the entire region but also gone beyond its borders.
At the end of the four-hour meeting, the foreign ministers of 11 states did not specify what kind of weapons would be sent to the Syrian opposition. The press managed to find out that Saudi Arabia and Qatar intend to supply portable antiaircraft missile systems and armor-piercing weapons. A French diplomatic source told The Guardian that in accordance with their “role-sharing,” the Western countries are prepared to be responsible for non-lethal aid (communications means, gas masks, night vision goggles, bullet-proof vests), instructors, and intelligence data, while the Persian Gulf monarchies will help the insurgents with weapons.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said why Washington`s position on arming the Syrian insurgents changed recently. “Everything is different now,” he remarked, having in mind what in the White House`s opinion is the proven fact of Damascus`s use of chemical weapons and the widespread participation of the Lebanese Hizballah movement and Iranian subunits in the conflict. He said that this “internationalization” of the conflict is fraught with the danger of the development of a Sunni-Shiite war and leaves America no choice.
Actually, the “Friends of Syria” are meeting for the fourth time in a year, and it is less than a month since their previous meeting in Amman, but at the same time the situation on the ground has changed greatly, and not in the oppositiona(euro)(TM)s favor. So the Doha agreement can be seen as a “collective response” to the desperate pleas from Salim Idris, head of the opposition`s Supreme Military Council, to provide antitank and antiaircraft weapons. It is not for nothing that the final statement speaks of the need to “change the balance of forces in the field.”
Kerry also commented on the Russian position on Syria, which he believes to be inconsistent. He believes that Moscow, “for the sake of appearances,” is speaking of the need for a political solution, but in actual fact has been continuously arming Bashar al-Asad`s regime. It is hard not to turn this rebuke back on the “Friends of Syria” themselves, since the opposition has long been receiving weapons from the Persian Gulf countries, while French and American instructors are training Syrian militants on the territory of Turkey and Jordan. it is clear that the calculation is to bring supplies to a stable level, ensuring a continuous and coordinated influx of weapons. In that way they will compensate for the “lag” behind Moscow.
The decision of the “Friends of Syria” was not unanimous. A number of countries, headed by Germany, opposed arms deliveries on the grounds that weapons will aggravate the humanitarian crisis and the internecine conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. Hizballah`s activation has caused a clash between representatives of the two poles which for a long time have been struggling for regional influence -- Iran on the one hand and the Persian Gulf monarchies on the other. Bahrain is accusing Tehran of inciting the Shiite majority in that country to engage in protests against the ruling Sunni minority. Saudi Arabia says the same thing of its own Shiite minority. Caught between a rock and a hard place is HAMAS, in which a split has taken place: While one of its factions is still funded by Iran, the Arab monarchies have promised multimillions in aid for the restoration of Gaza to others, including the Palestinian movement`s head, Khalid Mish`al. As Riad Qahwaji from the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai puts it, “for the Gulf countries, the war in Syria is a war against Iran.” In the light of calls from both Sunni and Shiite leaders to travel to Syria to the “holy war,” the crisis is gradually encompassing the entire region. In the opinion of observers, the ground for a “holy war” was prepared by the Arab spring, which did not actually satisfy the population`s demands and did not resolve economic and social problems. The most graphic example is Egypt, where unprecedented demonstrations are being prepared to mark the anniversary of Muhammad Mursi`s presidency. As a result the clerics` calls for jihad in Syria are being heard increasingly loudly there, and Egyptians are going to Syria to fight. The anti-Syrian rhetoric of Saudi Arabia, where the social base has as a whole ripened for an Arab spring in view of the disillusioned and unemployed youth, can also be explained from these positions. Radicals are also traveling from Iraq, where intercommunity contradictions are mounting increasingly, and even from remote countries like Tunisia, Russia, Sweden, and China. In some sense the war between the Sunnis and the Shiites has already been turned into World War III in miniature.
(Description of Source: Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta Online in Russian -- Website of the daily Moscow newspaper featuring varied independent political viewpoints and criticism of the government; owned and edited by businessman Remchukov; URL: http://www.ng.ru/)
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