Monday, November 23, 2009

Can there be peace for a ‘Palestine in Pieces’?

The American writer Kathleen Christison and her husband Bill have made long personal journeys over the past three decades in becoming outspoken critics of Israel and of US Middle East policy. In their youth they were political analysts in the CIA where, they recall, they failed to gain an adequate understanding of “Zionism’s true meaning or its inevitable impact on the Palestinians.” It was only after leaving the CIA and “the insular Washington bubble” in 1979 that they developed wider perspectives on US policy.

They started to question their earlier assumptions, and their views on the Palestine-Israel issue gradually changed. The latest manifestation of their concern for the Palestinians is their book “Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation”, published by Pluto Press of London and New York.

Kathleen is the author of two previous books. “Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on US Middle East Policy” (1999, updated 2001), and “The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story” (2002).

The latest book was launched in London a few days ago at an event at the Kensington Hotel hosted by The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) and Middle East Monitor (MEMO). Kathleen and Bill, who had traveled from their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, appeared on a panel of speakers along with TCF’s founder and chief executive officer Anas Al-Tikriti, MEMO’s director Dr. Daud Abdullah, the chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, John McHugo, and the co-founder and director of Forward Thinking, Oliver McTernan.

Since 2003 the Christisons have made eight visits to the West Bank, staying three to four weeks each time. Bill said he and Kathleen wrote their book with two aims. “One was to give the best analysis we could of what was actually happening in the Israeli occupation. The other was to tell as many individual stories of people who live in the West Bank and Gaza as we could.”

The 212-page book includes 52 full-page black and white photographs with detailed captions, and a number of maps. The photographs present a generally grim picture of checkpoints, destruction, house demolitions (a form of “slow ethnic cleansing”), the ugly eight-meter high separation Wall, military harassment, suppression of demonstrations, economic deprivation and the humiliations of Palestinian daily life.

The few shots of the Palestinian countryside show the beauty of the terraces and olive trees – but a caption states that this landscape is fated to be the site of a segment of the separation Wall, and that sewage from Israeli settlements is being dumped on Palestinian farmers’ fields.

For more read here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Dramas on British Muslim - Your Opinion Please?

The play “What Fatima Did...”, which ended its two-week premier run at the Hampstead theater in North London last Saturday, is the latest example of a British Muslim-related play to have gained favorable attention from critics and theater goers alike.

The author of the play, 21-year-old Atiha Sen Gupta, is the youngest playwright ever to have had a work staged in Hampstead theater’s main auditorium. Her play deals with the fallout of the decision of a British Muslim, on the eve of her 18th birthday, to start wearing the hijab. Up to then, Fatima had behaved like a typical British girl of her age – drinking, smoking, and partying – and had a white Irish boyfriend, George (Gethin Anthony). But after donning the hijab she turns her back on her former way of life.

Atiha Sen Gupta is not herself a Muslim, but as a young Asian Briton growing up a multicultural environment she is close to Muslim issues. She is the daughter of a Sri Lankan father, and an Indian-born mother, Rahil Gupta, who is a writer and an activist with Southall Black Sisters.
The play, directed by Kelly Wilkinson, is set in and around Fatima’s multicultural secondary school. The performances are full of vitality and humor, and the engaging characters include Fatima’s classmate Craig, played by Simon Coombs.

Fatima’s twin brother Mohammed (Arsher Ali) tries to defend her against the reactions to her decision to take the veil. Her mother, played by Shobu Kapoor, who had fought with her ex-husband for the right to wear Western dress, is angry with Fatima. George finds it near-impossible to come to terms with Fatima’s decision, and her feisty best friend Aisha (Farzana Dua Elahi) is also perplexed. But others, including her teacher, defend Fatima’s right to have made what she considers the right choice. For more read here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Don’t restrict yourself in marrying only from your clan By Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baz

An evil trend among some who claim to be from Banu Hashim (the Prophet’s family) is that they do not get married outside their clan, nor do they allow anyone else to get married into their clan. They say there is no compatibility between them and other people.

This is a great error; ignorance; oppression against women; and a legislation that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have not prescribed. Instead, Allah said:
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes; that you may know one another, Indeed the most noblest of you with Allah is the one who has the most taqwaa (piety, fear, and obedience of Allah).” (Qur’an, 49:13)

“Indeed the Believers are but brothers.” (Qur’an, 49:10)

“The Believers – men and women – are allies and protectors, one to another.” (Qur’an, 9:71)

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Indeed there is no excellence for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over on Arab, nor for a white person over a black one, nor for a black person over a white one, except through taqwa (piety). People are from Adam, and Adam was from dust.” Ahmad (5/411)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Indeed my Awliya (friends and allies) are not the tribe of so and so. Rather my friends and allies are the pious – wherever they may be.” (Al-Bukhari, 10/351 and Muslim, no. 215) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If there comes to you a person whose Religion and character are pleasing to you, then marry him (i.e. give the girl in marriage to him). If you do not do this, there will be Fitnah (trial and discord) and greet fasad (corruption) upon the earth.” (Al-Tirmidhi, no.1085)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) married Zainab Bint Jahsh of the Quraish (i.e. the Prophet’s clan) to Zaid Bin Haarithah, his freed slave. He married Fatimah Bint Qays from the Quraish clan, to Usamah, the son of Zaid. Bilal Bin Rabah, the Ethiopian, married the sister of Abdul Rahman Bin Awf of the Quraish.

The claim that marrying outside the clan or tribe is forbidden or detested is false. The religion should be the main compatibility factor. The Prophet (peace be upon him) distanced from Abu Talib and Abu Lahab (his uncles) because they were not Muslims but drew near Salman the Persian, Suhaib the Roman, and Bilal the Ethiopian because they possessed Iman (faith) and piety.

Whoever adopts this false and ignorant practice of barring Hashimi women from marrying from outside their clan or tribe will only achieve faulty results – such as corruption of the people or adversely affecting the birthrates.

O Muslims! Fear Allah with regard to yourselves and the daughters, sisters, and other women whom Allah has been placed under your charge and authority. Realize what is good and what brings happiness to the society. Remember that you will all be questioned and held to account about your actions, as Allah said: “By your Lord! We shall call them all to account for all that they used to do.” (Qur’an, 15:92) – Majmoo Fatawa (3/100-103)