You can kill a man, but not an idea

“Our lives are short, some more so than others… But good ideas outlive those who conceived them and the truth lives forever.”
~ Paul Salahuddin Armstrong

You can kill a man, but not an idea

1984 Wasn’t Meant To Be An Instruction Manual

1984 wasn't meant to be an instruction manual

A Free and Open World, Depends on a Free and Open Internet

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Defend the Internet from the greedy banksters, crooked politicians, charlatan pastor-mullahs and other freaks who desire to destroy it!

“Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: The greatest jihad is to speak the word of truth to a tyrant.”
~ Mishkat, Book of Rulership and Judgment, ch. 1, sec. 2

Google is calling for a massive internet uprising in the wake of censorship bills that will ruin internet freedom forever! They have dedicated the page to raising awareness concerning this madness; it is very important that we continue to keep our Human Family’s link to one another open, to flourish freely.

“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”
~ Google

Should the proposed changes go ahead, the internet will quite simply cease to be, as whatever would be left would no longer be the internet! Not only would this impact on our liberties, but it would harm our economies through reduced networking opportunities, damage the cause for representative government and destroy our Human Family’s hopes of a brighter, more peaceful world tomorrow, less restricted by national borders and the unnecessary conflict between nations.

On behalf of the future, we ask those of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We the People of the Internet have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one; therefore we address those who would tyrannise us with no greater authority than that with which Liberty always speaks. We declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.

Governments and corporations have no moral right to rule us, nor do they have the means to stop us!

Together we can and will move forward to bring into being a brighter tomorrow, but in order to do that, we all need to work together and defend the right to freely communicate without interference from greedy banksters, crooked politicians and charlatan pastor-mullahs who would stand in the way of our collective vision.

Sheikh Salahuddin Abu Sophia

Final Speech of the Great Dictator by Sir Charles Chaplin

Below is the text of The Final Speech of the Great Dictator, delivered by the character, the Jewish Barber, in Chaplin’s 1940 film, The Great Dictator. The Jewish Barber was played by Sir Charles Chaplin.

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible – Jew, Gentile, black men, white…

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.

We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.

Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children; victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.”

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate!

Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.

Let us all unite.

Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people!

Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!

Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Shylock – I am a Jew

“To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”

- Shylock

From The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Let Freedom Reign!

Peter Appleton’s speech from the movie The Majestic

Peter Appleton’s (Jim Carrey) speech from the great movie The Majestic (2001).

First it was the Communists, now it’s the Muslims and according to Peter King, you are guilty for simply being Muslim or having Muslim friends!

Join our cause on Facebook if you agree with us, that this just ain’t right!

Free Libya!

The Association of British Muslims calls upon the Libyan people and people of all nations to rise up in every peaceful way to end the ruthless regime of Libyan Dictator Colonel Gaddafi, who must be brought to justice for his crimes against the Libyan people.

Through his bloody clampdown on peaceful political activists, Gaddafi declared war against his own people. The Libyan people are not standing alone in their battle for freedom and their struggle for a representative government of Libya, by the people of Libya. Leaders, regardless whether they are dictators, democrats or demagogues, need to be aware that people – whether in the Middle East or elsewhere – are not slaves of anyone and its high time that those who wish to be seen as leaders, recognise that they are the servants of their people – not their masters!

The Association of British Muslims calls upon all governments to assist the Libyan people in their desire to rid themselves of Colonel Gaddafi’s ruthless regime and to help the Libyan people bring him to justice. Any government granting him asylum, will be seen as an accomplice in the aiding and abetting of an international criminal.

The Libyan people, along with the Bahrainis, Tunisians and Egyptians, have the same rights as any other human being, to peacefully express discontent and call for reform in their own country. Attacks on innocent people cannot be swept under the carpet by anyone – the Human Family is one, that is made up of different tribes, races, religions, spiritual and political philosophies and we are embracing one another and working towards our common humanity.

Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Co-Director
Mohammed Abbasi, Co-Director
Dan Littauer, Human Rights and Press Director

The Association of British Muslims

Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919

1919 CHAPTER 92

An Act to continue and extend the provisions of the Aliens Restriction Act, 1914.

[23rd December 1919,]

Be it enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows :

Continuance and Extension of Emergency Powers

1 Continuance of emergency powers

(1) The powers which under subsection (1) of section one of the Aliens Restriction Act, 1914 (which Act, as amended by this Act, is hereinafter in this Act referred to as the principal Act), are exerciseable with respect to aliens at any time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen, shall, for a period of one year after the passing of this Act, be exerciseable, not only in those circumstances, but at any time; and accordingly that subsection shall, for such period as aforesaid, have effect as though the words “at any time when a state of war exists ” between His Majesty and any foreign power, or when it ” appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or ” great emergency has arisen ” were omitted.

(2) Any order made under the principal Act during the currency of this section shall be laid before each House of Parliament forthwith, and, if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat after any such order is laid before it praying that the order may be annulled, His Majesty in Council may annul the order, and it shall thenceforth be void, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder :

Provided that this provision shall not apply in the case of an order the operation of which is limited to a time when a state of war exists between His Majesty and any foreign power, or when it appears that an occasion of imminent national danger or great emergency has arisen.

2 Extension of powers

(1) Subsection (l) of section one of the principal Act shall be amended by the addition at the end thereof of the following paragraph:—

(l) for determining what nationality is to be ascribed to aliens in doubtful circumstances, and for disregarding, in the case of any person against whom a deportation or expulsion order has been made, any subsequent change of nationality.

(2) For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of any Treaty of Peace concluded or to be concluded between His Majesty and any Power with which His Majesty was at war in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, His Majesty may by Order in Council under the principal Act make regulations requiring information to be given as to the property, liabilities, and interests of former enemy aliens; and for preventing (without notice or authority) the transfer of or other dealings with the property of such aliens. Further Restrictions of Aliens

3 Incitement to sedition, &c

(1) If any alien attempts or does any act calculated or likely to cause sedition or disaffection amongst any of His Majesty’s Forces or the forces of His Majesty’s allies, or amongst the civilian population, he shall be liable on conviction on indictment to penal servitude for a term not exceeding ten years, or on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

(2) If any alien promotes or attempts to promote industrial unrest in any industry in which he has not been bona fide engaged for at least two years immediately preceding in the United Kingdom, he shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.

4 Pilotage certificates

No alien shall hold a pilotage certificate for any pilotage district in the United Kingdom ; except that the provisions of section twenty-four of the Pilotage Act, 1913, shall continue to apply to the renewal and issue of certificates entitling a master or mate of French nationality to navigate his ship into the ports of Newhaven or Grimsby.

5 Employment of aliens in ships of the mercantile marine

(1) No alien shall act as master, chief officer, or chief engineer of a British merchant ship registered in the United Kingdom, or as skipper or second hand of a fishing boat registered in the United Kingdom, except in the case of a ship or boat employed habitually in voyages between ports outside the United Kingdom :

Provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any alien who has acted as a master, chief officer, or chief engineer of a British ship, or as skipper or second hand of a British fishing boat, at any time during the war, and is certified by the Admiralty to have performed good and faithful service in that capacity.

(2) No alien shall be employed in any capacity on board a British ship registered in-the United Kingdom at a rate of pay less than the standard rate of pay for the time being current on British ships for his rating :

Provided that, where the Board of Trade are satisfied that aliens of any particular race (other than former enemy aliens) are habitually employed afloat in any capacity, or in any climate, for which they are specially fitted, nothing in this section shall prejudice the right of aliens of such race to be employed upon British ships at rates of pay which are not below those for the time being fixed as standard rates for British subjects of that race.

(3) No alien shall be employed in any capacity on board a British ship registered in the United Kingdom unless he has produced to the officer before whom he is engaged satisfactory proof of his nationality.

(4) Any person who engages an alien for employment on a British ship in contravention of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.

6 Appointment of aliens to the Civil Service

After the passing of this Act no alien shall be appointed to any office or place in the Civil Service of the State.

7 Restriction of change of name by aliens

(1) An alien shall not for any purpose assume or use or purport to assume or use or continue after the commencement of this Act the assumption or use of any name other than that by which he was ordinarily known on the fourth day of August nineteen hundred and fourteen.

(2) Where any alien carries on or purports or continues to carry on, or is a member of a partnership or firm which carries on, or which purports or continues to carry on any trade or business in any name other than that under which the trade or business was carried on on the fourth of August nineteen hundred and fourteen, he shall, for the purpose of this section, be deemed to he using or purporting or continuing to use a name other than that by which he was ordinarily known on the said date.

(3) A Secretary of State may, if it appears desirable on special grounds in any particular case,-grant an exemption from the provisions of this section, but shall not do so unless he is satisfied that the name proposed to be assumed, used, or continued is in the circumstances of the case a suitable name.

(4) Nothing in this section shall—

(a) affect the assumption or use or continued assumption or use of any name in pursuance of a royal licence ; or

(b) affect the continuance of the use by any person of a name which he has assumed before the commencement of this Act if he has been granted an exemption under the Defence of the Realm regulations or the Aliens Restriction Order in force on the first day of January nineteen hundred and nineteen ; or

(c) prevent the assumption or use by a married woman of her husband’s name.

(5) A fee of ten guineas shall be paid by any alien on obtaining an exemption under this section ; but the Secretary of State may remit the whole or any part of such fee in special cases.

(6) A list of the persons to whom the Secretary of State has granted an exemption under this section shall be published in the Gazette as soon as may be after the granting of the exemption.

(7) Any person to whom any such exemption is granted shall, unless the Secretary of State shall expressly dispense with such publication, within one calendar month thereafter publish at his own expense, in some paper circulating in the district in which he resides, an advertisement stating the fact that the exemption has been granted.

8 Provisions as to aliens on juries

No alien shall sit upon a jury in any judicial or other proceedings if challenged by any party to such proceedings. Special Provisions as to former Enemy Aliens

9 Deportation of former enemy aliens

(1) Every former enemy alien who is now in the United Kingdom and to whom this section applies shall be deported forthwith unless the Secretary of State on the recommendation of the advisory committee, to be constituted under this section, shall grant him a licence to remain.

(2) The Secretary of State may, if he is satisfied on the recommendation of the said advisory committee that there is no reason to the contrary, grant such licence, subject to such terms and conditions (if any) as he shall think fit.

(3) This section shall apply to any former enemy alien now in the United Kingdom (not being a former enemy alien exempted from internment or repatriation on the recommendation of any advisory committee appointed after the 1st day of January nineteen hundred and eighteen and before the passing of this Act) as to whom there shall be delivered to the Secretary of State, within two months after the passing of this Act, a statement in writing signed by any credible person to the effect that the continued residence in the United Kingdom of that alien is, for reasons relating to the alien, undesirable in the public interest, and giving particulars of the allegations upon which such reasons are based.

(4) The Secretary of State shall refer all such statements to the advisory committee to be constituted under this section, and the committee shall thereupon require each alien affected to make to the committee within one month, in a form prescribed by the committee, an application to be allowed to remain in the’ United Kingdom, stating the general grounds on which the application is based, and the answer of the alien to the allegations made in relation to him, and the committee shall examine into such allegations and in the result may—

(a) recommend that the alien be immediately deported ; or

(b) if satisfied that the allegations are groundless or insufficient, and that the alien affected holds an exemption recommended by any advisory committee appointed in the year nineteen hundred and fifteen, recommend that such exemption be not disturbed ; or

(c) in any case in which it seems to them right and proper so to do, recommend that the alien be granted a licence to remain, subject to such terms and conditions (if any) as may appear to them to be fitting in the circumstances.

(5) In granting a licence under this section, the Secretary of State may include in the licence the wife of the applicant and any child or children of his, and such inclusion shall, notwithstanding anything in this section, have the same effect as the grant of a licence.

(6) A list of the persons to whom such licence is granted shall, as soon as may be, after the granting of the licence, be published in the Gazette.

(7) Any licence so granted may be at any time revoked by the Secretary of State.

(8) If such licence is not granted, or if, having been granted, it is revoked, the Secretary of Stale shall make an order (in this Act referred to as a deportation order) requiring the alien to leave the United Kingdom and thereafter to remain out of the United Kingdom so long as the order remains in force. The Secretary of State may, by a deportation order, require the alien to return to the country of which he is a subject or citizen.

(9) The provisions of this section shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any other provisions of the principal Act or this Act or any Order in Council made thereunder.

(10) The Secretary of State shall appoint an advisory committee for the purpose of this section, consisting of a chairman and such other persons including members of both Houses of Parliament, as the Secretary of State may think fit.

(11) This section shall not apply to any subject of the Ottoman Empire who holds a certificate issued by a police authority, or by or under the direction of the Secretary of State, granting exemption from any provisions of Part II. of the Aliens Restriction Order in force on the first day of January nineteen hundred and nineteen, applicable to alien enemies.

10 Admission of former enemy aliens

(1) No former enemy alien shall, for a period of three-years after the passing of this Act, be permitted to land in the United Kingdom either from the sea or from the air, or, if he should land without permission, to remain in the United Kingdom, without the permission of the Secretary of State, to be granted only on special grounds, and such permission shall, save as hereinafter provided, be limited in duration to a period of three-months, and may, upon special grounds, be renewed from time to time for a like period.

(2) A list of the persons to whom permissions are so granted during each month shall be published in the London Gazette as soon as praticable after the end of each such month.

(3) The requirement of this section that permission to remain in the United Kingdom shall be limited to a period of three months shall not apply to a former enemy alien who-was resident in the United Kingdom at the date of the passing of this Act, and after a temporary absence abroad returns to the United Kingdom.

(4) Where any former enemy alien, formerly resident in the United Kingdom, and having a British-born wife or a British-born child under the age of sixteen still resident in the United Kingdom, applies, within three months from the passing of this Act, to the Secretary of State for permission to land in the United Kingdom, the Secretary of State shall refer the application to the advisory committee constituted under the last foregoing section of this Act, and, if that committee recommends that he be permitted to land, he shall be so permitted, and the requirement of this section that permission to remain in the United Kingdom shall be limited to a period of three months shall not apply.

11 Temporary restriction on acquisition by former enemy aliens of certain kinds of property

(1) During a period of three years from the passing of this Act it shall not be lawful for a former enemy alien, either in his own name or in the name of a trustee or trustees, to acquire property of any of the following descriptions ; that is to say :—

(a) any land, or any interest in any land, in the United Kingdom ; or

(b) any interest in a key industry, or any share or interest in a share in a company registered in the United Kingdom which carries on any such industry; or

(c) any share or interest in a share in a company owning a British ship registered in the United Kingdom.

(2) If any such property as aforesaid is acquired in contravention of this section, the Board of Trade may, on an application made to them for the purpose, by order vest the property in the Public Trustee. Any such order may contain provisions applying for the purposes of the order, with such modifications as the Board think necessary, any of the provisions of section four of the Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act, 1916, or any enactment referred to in that section.

(3) For the purpose of this section—

The expression ” key industry ” means any industry included in a list declared by the Board of Trade to be a list of key industries for the purposes of this section ;

The expression ” share ” includes any stock forming part of the capital of a company and securities of any description issued by a company ;

The expression ” interest in land ” does not include a tenancy for a period not exceeding three years at a rackrent.

(4) Any list of key industries prepared by the Board of Trade under this section shall, be published as soon as it is made in the London Gazette, and may be varied or amended by the Board from time to time.

12 Employment of former enemy aliens in British ships

No former enemy alien shall be employed or shall act as master, officer, or member of the crew of a British ship registered in the United Kingdom. General

13 Offences and penalties

(1) If any person acts in contravention of or fails to comply with the provisions of this Act or any order or rules made or conditions imposed thereunder, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(2) If any person aids or abets any person in any contravention of this Act or knowingly harbours any person whom he knows or has reasonable ground for believing to have acted in contravention of this Act, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

(3) Where a person lands in the United Kingdom in contravention of this Act, the master of the ship or the pilot or commander of the aircraft from which he lands shall, unless he proves to the contrary, be deemed to have aided and abetted the offence.

(4) A person who is guilty of an offence against this Act shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding six months, or, on a second or subsequent conviction, twelve months, or, in either case, to both such fine and imprisonment.

14 Saving for diplomatic persons, &c

(1) Nothing in this Act contained shall be construed as imposing any restriction or disability on any duly accredited head of a foreign diplomatic mission or any member of his official staff or household.

(2) The Secretary of State may exempt from any of the special provisions of this Act as to former enemy aliens any consul or vice-consul to whom His Majesty is pleased to grant an exequatur and the wife and child of any such consul or vice-consul.

15 Definitions

The expression “former enemy alien” means an alien who is a subject or citizen of the German Empire or any component state thereof, or of Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, or Turkey, or who, having at any time been such subject or citizen, has not changed his allegiance as a result of the recognition of new states or territorial re-arrangements, or been naturalised in any other foreign state or in any British Possession in accordance with the laws thereof and when actually resident therein, and does not retain according to the law of his state of origin the nationality of that state :

Provided that the special provisions of this Act as to former enemy aliens, except the provisions of subsection (2) of section two of this Act, shall not apply to any woman who was at the time of her marriage a British subject.

16 Short title and repeal

(1) This Act may be cited as the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act, 1919, and the principal Act and this Act may be cited together as the Aliens Restriction Acts, 1914 and 1919.

(2) The Aliens Act, 1905, is hereby repealed as from such date or dates as may be specified by Order in Council made under the principal Act, and any such order may fix different dates for the repeal of different provisions of the said Act, but an order under the principal Act may incorporate (with or without modifications) any of the provisions of the said Act :

Provided that any order or appointment made or action taken under the said Act shall, notwithstanding any such repeal as aforesaid, continue in force as though it had been made or taken under an Order in Council under the principal Act, subject, however, to any provisions of any such order.

Note: The Act is genuine British legislation from 1919, in reference to foreigners (aliens), although it’s long since been surpassed by new laws.

Deferred Dreams, Self-Destruction, and Suicide Bombings

By Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

There was a story in the New York Times a few days ago about how the “revolution” in Tunisia was sparked in December by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old, befuddled roadside green grocer. Like so many young Arabs, he was born poor and only dreamed of providing for his siblings and his mother. He had been to college, where he studied law, but had found no employment possibilities. So, given the basic dignity often found in people in places like Tunisia, he chose to humble himself and find a halal means to generate some income. But he kept running into problems with the police and government inspectors until the fateful day in December when they confiscated his cart and his produce, saying he didn’t have a proper permit, and leaving him with an unpaid loan with which he’d bought the goods. At the station, upon attempting to reclaim his cart, he was slapped and humiliated publicly. His already deferred dreams had clearly dried up. Bouazizi left an apologetic note for his mother and set himself on fire in front of the local government building.

Four weeks later, the protests sparked by his death brought down the government of President Zine el Abdidine Ben Ali, who’d ruled Tunis with an iron hand for 23 years.

I have had the good fortune of visiting Tunisia many times. During my last visit, which was in the early nineties, I was harassed by the Mukhabarat (secret police), and the family that I was staying with was also questioned. That left a bad taste for me, and I decided not to return to the country and have not been back since.

Mukhabarat notwithstanding, my experience of the Tunisians is that they are wonderful people. They are known among Arabs for being kind and gentle. They are slow to lose their temper and quick to lend a hand to a stranger. I remember seeing young men selling beautiful bundles of jasmine flowers that had such a powerful scent that you could smell a seller coming your way long before he reached you.

Tunisia is a stunningly beautiful country with a great history and a bright and talented people, but corruption, cruelty, and the ineptitude of leaders unable to gauge the frustration of their people has led to the current crisis. Like so many Muslim countries, its government has been run largely by a family operation with a tribal mentality that was milking a population dry.

When the government was brought down this month, President Ben Ali fled with his wife, Leila, to Jeddah of all places; terrible floods in the port city inauspiciously welcomed him. It seems that Jeddah is the choice retirement haven of ex-African Muslim tyrants, including the former dictator Idi Amin of Uganda. Sometimes, birds of prey flock together in unlikely places. No doubt, Ben Ali has millions, if not billions, of dollars in his Swiss accounts, but even Europe, despite its dire need of cash, didn’t want him. Options diminish quickly for these men once they’re out of political power, but where odiousness closes doors in some places, great wealth obviously opens them in others.

The irony is that such tyrants usually rise to power because the people want to get rid of tyranny from a previous source. Years ago, I was in the house of the great Tunisian scholar, Shaykh Shadhili Nayfar, who was from a proud Andalusian family that had fled to Tunis with the collapse of Muslim Spain. Shaykh Shadhili had been the dean at al-Zaytuna University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. He studied rare manuscripts and had a great library in his home that researchers could use. Since he was a former Member of Parliament in Tunisia, I asked him about the country’s history. He told me that during the anti-colonial movement to rid the country of the French, the scholars of al-Zaytuna University were very powerful indeed, but the single most unifying force was around the politician, Habib Bourguiba, and the scholars of al-Zaytuna debated long and hard whether or not to back Bourguiba, as he was an avowed secularist and had no commitment to the religion.

Shaykh Shadhili said that the scholars opted to support Bourguiba because they thought he would help the Tunisians oust the French, and they could deal with him thereafter. However, little did these scholars realize that Bourguiba would be worse than the French and would, in fact, turn against them before they could do anything about him. This seems to be the great lesson of revolutions and coups: With rare exceptions, they bring in new governments that are as bad or worse than the ones they ousted. The man who just fled from Tunisia to Jeddah had taken the government from a decrepit and delirious Bourguiba promising the Tunisians that the age of tyranny was over. Hah.

An intriguing aspect of the current Tunisian situation is the absence of ideology. This is a genuine uprising of people who are sick and tired of the corruption and cruelty of a state apparatus. Monarchs of old practiced the tradition of benevolence. They were not always benevolent but were raised with the understanding that they were there to serve the people. These pathetic Arab rulers who overthrew those monarchs practice the worst types of cronyism and nepotism, placing their sons on their “thrones,” and they thrive in an environment that is driven by family and tribal allegiance. The cracks have been showing for a while. And now, in Tunisia, it has all come tumbling down.

The lessons of history are worth heeding. Tunis, once called Carthage, had a mythical queen, Dido. According to legend, she killed herself on a funeral pyre due to her despair at being scorned by Aeneas, who abandoned her to Rome. The historical Hannibal led a Tunisian army to Rome to rid Tunis of Roman persecution, but he failed, and Rome’s vengeance led to the salting of the soil in Tunis and the destruction of Carthage that lies in ruins today near the capital. The Muslim world now has its share of misguided, petty Hannibals who think that by attacking Rome, they will restore the glory of “Carthage.” Yet, their attacks only provide the necessary excuses for the Empire to salt the soil of Iraq and Afghanistan.

*****                                    *****                                    *****

While the Tunisian Dido didn’t accomplish anything through her suicide by fire, our poor green grocer, Mohamed Bouazizi, has ignited the Arab world in flames, achieving in death what he could not in life – sense of purpose and meaning – indubitably more than all the suicide bombers around the globe combined. His was an act of a desperate man who chose not to kill others but instead to light himself on fire in protest. This was the sacrificial tactic that Buddhist monks used during the Vietnam War, and their actions had a massive impact on the psyches of Westerners. When a situation becomes so desperate that people choose to leave the world rather than to stay in it and struggle, the message to the surviving ones is clear: it is time for a change. Well that change is happening in Egypt and other places in the Muslim world. Let’s hope for the best and pray for these poor, suffering people who deserve far better than their leaders have given them.

Suicide is rare in the Muslim world, but it’s increasing. God makes life generally bearable for people, so they will choose even highly difficult situations over the option of checking out. Hamlet’s famous soliloquy, which begins with “To be or not to be,” reminds us that in taking our own lives, we may be fleeing to troubles far greater than the ones prompting us to flee.

An odd aspect of the reaction to Bouazizi’s suicidal act is that some Muslims will surely condemn it, since suicide is clearly prohibited in Islam, but these same Muslims will justify the actions of suicide bombers, now euphemistically called “martyrdom operations” (amiliyyat istishhadiyyah) on Arabic newscasts. The justifiers point out that suicide bombing is an act of defense, and their only real weapon at that.

But the similarities and differences of a suicide and suicide bombing are worth contemplating. In Bouazizi’s mind, suicide was his only weapon of defense against an unjust Tunisian government that would neither listen to him nor even let him earn a livelihood selling vegetables without having to bribe some low-level official to get the piece of paper that would enable him to do so. A suicide bomber, as the social science studies show, is also in a similar state of despair, and straps bombs to himself so he can kill himself and other people about whom he knows nothing. The assumption the suicide bomber makes seems to be, “My life and my people’s lives are miserable, and no one is doing anything about it, so it might fix things if I sacrifice my life and take a bunch of other people’s lives too.” Hence, some people just being on an Israeli street corner become a target, irrespective of whether they support or oppose Israeli aggression against Palestinians. What makes such suicide bombing more honorable than Bouazizi’s suicide?

Suicide is suicide, it seems to me, but it becomes truly heinous when one decides to take others with him using indiscriminate methods of mass destruction. I cannot sit in judgment of the Palestinians who have resorted to such measures nor the Chechnyian women who lost husbands and children and in acts of savage revenge killed themselves and others. I am not in their shoes, and I cannot fathom the depth of their despair. However, I do not condone the act of suicide bombing or any form of suicide, as I consider both to be of the same ilk, and in fact the former is worse in my estimation due to the extended harm to others. And I do judge the notion that suicide bombers are somehow not really committing suicide (because they are taking the lives of others) yet our Tunisian green grocer deserves to go to hell because he is committing suicide. He is not seen as a martyr, but the suicide bombers are viewed as noble martyrs because along with their own lives they took some possibly innocent bystanders; hence, in this view, suicide bombers deserve a martyr’s honor and paradise. I must admit, I just don’t get it; I think those who promote this notion need to study Mizan al-amal and the other great texts of ethical theory in our tradition.

Like copycat suicide bombers who now proliferate all over the Muslim world, we are seeing copycat self-immolators in places like Egypt, Algeria, and even Mauritania. Dr. T. J. Winter said, “Suicide bombing is an extreme way of shooting oneself in the foot.” The Muslim world deserves better strategies for dealing with very real social issues as well as better leadership, clearly.

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Though suicide is haram, the simple protest of this Tunisian street vendor did more to change the status quo and put real fear in the hearts of the tyrants than all of the suicide bombers. We must devise better and more civilized ways of dealing with our differences, as we live in an age of nuclear power, machine guns, aerial bombings, and global news cycles that expose us to the pain and suffering of peoples in far off places.

Many people in the West have no idea how much the Arab on the street suffers from humiliation under unjust rulers and their petty minions. I have a friend who is a beautiful young Arab man from the desert. Unlike some of his compatriots who come to the West and have promiscuous relationships, he chose to honorably marry an American woman while he was studying here. Now, upon returning to his homeland, he is struggling to get a visa for her, as his country does not allow its citizens to marry outside their land without first obtaining permission from the ministry of interior. He now simply waits for the whim of some petty bureaucrat to issue his wife a visa so that she can join her husband and meet his family.

Like our green grocer, people can only take so much.

The great American novelist, writer, and poet, Langston Hughes, wrote:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore…
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over…
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Our green grocer went to university with dreams; but his dreams did not materialize, and so in desperation he turned to selling vegetables to earn an honorable livelihood. Yet he was not allowed even to fulfill that pitiful deferred dream. They should have just let the man sell his vegetables, but they didn’t, and the fire was lit. Already those flames have spread to Egypt, and we watch with fear and trepidation for the well-being of our Egyptian brothers and sisters, hoping and praying for their future and that of Egypt, the heart of the Arab world, which now is engulfed in the bonfire of revolution.

Post Script:
Sorry for the delay in posting a blog. If you knew why, you would sympathize. I really appreciate the prayers and well wishes so many of you expressed. Thank you and God bless you. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Jeddah also who are suffering from devastating rainfalls that have left many homeless.


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