Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Assassination of Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto: A Terrible Day for Pakistan and for Islam

By Ibrahim Abdil-Mu'id Ramey
MAS Freedom Civil and Human Rights Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MASNET) Dec. 27, 2007 - I am struggling to find words to express my grief and outrage after hearing the news of the murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto earlier today in Pakistan.

Regardless of one's political sentiments, or support for any of the factions struggling for political supremacy in that nation, the killing of Mrs. Bhutto is a tragic blow to democratic rule in Pakistan.

And, make no mistake about it, while the identities of the culprits are not known at this time, one thing is a virtual certainty: they are Muslims.

Sadly, the phenomenon of Muslims killing other Muslims is not shocking news for a world drenched in sensational, mass violence; and the people of Pakistan are certainly no strangers to political intrigue or fratricide. But with Pakistan - the world's second most populous majority-Muslim nation - at the crossroads of political change, and with the promise of that change being electoral, and nonviolent - the consequences of this killing are both profound and immense.

Benazir Bhutto, to be sure, had both staunch supporters and vehement enemies, among them being Muslims who categorically rejected the idea of a woman possibly, once again, becoming the leader of their nation.

There were also numerous Pakistanis, of all ideological persuasions, who viewed Bhutto's previous terms of leadership with deep disfavor.

But the idea of political assassination as a legitimate expression of dissent is un-categorically haram.

For those of us who claim al-Islam as our way of life and call ourselves Muslim, murder is unlawful, and an abomination in the eyes of our Creator.

Now is not the time to deconstruct and interrogate the legacy of Benazir Bhutto's past terms as a Prime Minister of Pakistan. Nor should we speculate on who is responsible for her murder, or for the deaths of scores of her supporters in the suicide bombing and shooting that claimed her life.

We must recognize that the violent authoritarian and repressive government of Pakistan has created a climate of hostility and hatred that made the murder of Mrs. Bhutto not only likely, but perhaps inevitable.

The unconditional U.S. political support for the Musharraf dictatorship, coupled with massive American economic and military support, added fuel to the fire of extremism that ultimately claimed her life.

And now, as we offer our condolences to the family of Benazir Bhutto and the people of Pakistan, we must pray for an end to the cancer of violence that has affected our Ummah, as we diligently work for the restoration of peace and democratic values that are vital to our collective survival.

Benazir Bhutto Killed in Attack
Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Who Is To Blame for Our Messed Up and Violent World?

By Ibrahim M. Abdil-Mu'id Ramey

For some time now, I've taken the position that we, as Muslims, must take collective responsibility for the actions of those who profess Islam. In my humble opinion, this is what our beloved Qur'an instructs us to do when we are told to be "witnesses for justice, even when we are witnesses against ourselves".

But some misguided people believe that this internal self-examination is tantamount to admitting that either (1) all Muslims are unjust, or (2) that Muslims are apologists for injustice, or (3) that Islam, itself, is the locus of evil in the modern world.

None of these things are true.

In response to one a recent blog critic otherwise known as 'Pundita', who slammed my essay on the "Teddy Bear" incident in Sudan, accusing me of not knowing "whay year we'in today" - I have written the following response.

For the record, I do, indeed, know what year it is, and what you mischaracterize as the "self-pity" of the title of my essay was actually meant to convey that Muslims should not "bear" the identification of involvement with injustice, which certainly characterized the actions of the Sudanese government in this issue.

Muslims do, indeed, need to collectively uphold human rights and democracy; as do the Chinese government, the ZANU-PF party of Robert Mugabe, Hindu fundamentalists, North Korean Stalinists, Burmese militarists, Russian nationalists, Christian fundamentalists (and their Israeli allies who have institutionalized the occupation and theft of Palestinian land), and many, many others.

This indictment doesn't even begin to examine the ongoing structural and environmental violence of an out-of-control system of consumption that drives the global poor into more poverty and desperation (Ghandi, I believe, taught us that poverty is the most extreme form of violence).

The world is full of injustice. Blood is on many, many hands.

Muslims are certainly guilty of our share of it, and we are certainly collectively responsible for overturning injustice and establishing a universal respect for human rights and individual dignity.

But not all of the unjust villains are Muslims, and I would suggest that you, yourself, look at what year it is, and how many other parties in our violent and divided world are complicit in the abominations and oppressions that you singularly heap on Muslims and "Islamists".