Tag Archives: Islam

Son of Hamas

imageTo some he was known as the ‘Green Prince’, the son and heir to a father much beloved by a suffering people. His father was one of the seven men who founded the entity we know today as Hamas – leaders of the Palestinian people in Gaza, classified in the West as one of the world’s most deadly terror organisations. He was raised from childhood living and breathing the mind and soul of Hamas and was expected to be among its next generation of leaders who would continue the struggle against Israeli oppression. He is now living in exile in California under a death sentence from his own people, publicly disowned by the father he worshipped whom he betrayed by secretly working for Israeli Intelligence for a decade before turning his back on violence and hatred for good. He now spends his time speaking out for peace and reconciliation. How is it possible anyone in the boiling pit of Middle Eastern hatred centuries old could do this?

People who know me or anyone who has read this blog will know that I am an avid Middle East watcher and have been most of my life. It would be fair to say I am openly pro-Israel but never label me a Non-critic also. As I write, war rages in Gaza. In the lead up to and during I have consumed far more information, news and opinions on the situation than the average Joe. That’s not a boast, it’s fact. I am a news junkie – news and opinions from all angles, not just mine, and I’ve read the thoughts of those closer to me whose opinions matter more because they are in my social media circles. Until now I’ve not really posted up my own thoughts in any great depth and not because I haven’t wanted to. I felt a very firm nudge in my spirit not to…until now. The reason was because of a book that came back to mind I started reading I’d heard about but never read called ‘The Son of Hamas’ by Mosab Hassan Yousef.

A shameful admission for an Arts graduate is that I hate reading (books, that is). Can read all day stuff online or in newspapers so for any book to get my attention is going some. I’m late coming to this book. It came out in 2010 and been reprinted with a postscript since. It came across my desk at work some time ago and I can’t remember in what context. Don’t think I read more than the back cover. As the situation in Israel/Gaza looked set to blow big I felt prompted to get the book and from the first paragraph I was hooked.

I have never read a book that has done my head in so much.

The book is an autobiography by Mosab co-written with American freelance journalist, Ron Brackin. On its release it made the top of several international Best Seller lists. Mosab tells his story in an un-emotive yet instantly engaging way. Case in hand, I was reading it on my iPad on the Tube on the way to work one day and noticed the young, smart Muslim guy next to me start leave off what he was doing on his smart phone and I could sense him reading my iPad over my shoulder several times. I didn’t let on I knew this but later caught a glimpse of his phone screen where he had Googled and found the book and author and was taking a read through. I wonder if he ever bought it. It will not be the read he may have been expecting from the part of the story I was up to at that point that’s for sure.

imageThe autobiography charts Mosab’s childhood in the West Bank and what life was/is like for Palestinians. The perpetual struggle against Israel and Israel’s iron fist intelligence activities to stay ahead of terrorism. The account of his abduction and torture by Israel when only 18 is brutal and not a one-off occurrence for him, his father, brothers or many of his people. Yet, without giving anything away you will not read on the back cover, Mosab eventually agrees to work covertly for the Shin Bet, Israel’s notoriously ruthless intelligence arm. Was this through a sheer and understandable desire for self-preservation or had the Israelis brainwashed him to such a degree? You’ll have to read it to come to your own conclusion.

When I say that this book did my head in, I meant it. There were many times where what I was reading seemed so hard to comprehend or believe that I was many times tempted to abandon it. It also got to a point just before the end that I almost came to the conclusion that I did not trust the author anymore. I certainly could not comprehend how this man could apparently make a 180 turn from hating Israel to willingly working for it to protect Israelis at the expense of his own people. I Googled around to find out more about him, asked former colleagues who worked in publishing what they knew of him, asked Facebookers and Tweeters based in Israel what they knew of him. Even asked my friend on the staff of the Israeli Embassy in London what she knew. I got positive responses but not yet come across anyone who met him. Despite this and up to almost the end of the book I still had my doubts.

One person who I trust implicitly that I consulted as I tried to find out more on Mosab is a former colleague and current friend who has written a number of books on the lives of ordinary people out there on all sides of the divides. She managed to visit the West Bank for the first time this year. I emailed her on my angst at what I was reading and was it possible for this man to make such a volte face? Had she met him at all? Interviewed him? She hadn’t but had reliable friends who reported on his sincerity. In almost a scold at my lack of willingness to believe the impossible, she told me she has met other Palestinians who have made similar life-changing decisions in their regard toward Israel but who now live covert lives for fear of death if they speak out.

I pressed on with the book to the end. Just as well I did but also just as well I read the book now and not when it was first published. The postscript written in 2011 answered many of my questions on the author’s sincerity I still would have been left with after the first edition.

As the current situation in Gaza has intensified, I have had one eye on my TV screen and one on this book. I’ve read the blatherings and bleatings of the emotionally stimulated but uneducated and ignorant in both traditional and social media. I’ve seen the gathering pace of the global movement to ostracize and demonize Israel. Because I have watched this area for so long I can honestly say this is not a surprise to me nor should be to any Christian who has read to the end of that other Book. It is especially some of these people who need to read Son of Hamas.

Leaving aside all my doubts over Mosab, this book opened my eyes wider to my understanding and empathy with the plight of the Palestinians. Mosab took me deeper into the understanding of their mentality and culture. Moreover I got to understand the very many different ideologies that war with each other for control of the minds and souls of the Palestinians. Ask yourself this question: if what is going on in Gaza is war between Israel and the Palestinians, why is it that the far more numerous Palestinians on the West Bank are not up in arms too? What is the difference between those who lead the Palestinians of Gaza (Hamas) and those who lead the Palestinians of the West Bank (Fatah)? This is one of the many huge revelations Mosab reveals along with many, many others which will surprise and shock.

imageIn this book, the Son of Hamas or the Green Prince as was his code name while working for the Shin Bet, a man raised from childhood to eventually aspire to Jihad (Holy War against non-Muslims) reveals the mind and psychology of extreme Islam. If for no other reason than to gain an understanding of the global threat we all face by the Jihadis of ISIS and how they think and what their end goal is then you need to read this book. Hamas is aligned in thought, practice, hope and aspiration to ISIS, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and all the other extremists that threaten ANY culture that has not bowed the knee to radical Islam. I blogged on the coming creation of a pan-national Islamic Caliphate over a year before any of us heard of ISIS.

But even all the above is not the lasting core message Mosab wrote this book to leave the reader with. What was it that enabled a man of war to lay down his weapons and make it his mission in life to minister peace and reconciliation? What drastically life-changing experience did it take to bring him to forgive his enemies? What extreme antidote did it take to neutralise the deep poison of hatred birthed between two related peoples centuries ago? It is that tale that is the lasting legacy of this son of Hamas.

Son of Hamas is available in print at Amazon and is downloadable for e-readers.

Building the Last Empire

caliphateWhat’s going on in northern Africa? Why did it concern France so much that they very quickly deployed combative military in the deserts of Mali?  How is what’s going on in Mali and Nigeria connected to events on the borders of India? The answer lies in one word: Caliphate (cal-ee-fet)

A caliphate is an Arabic word meaning empire. It is governed by a caliph (cal-eef) – a ruler.  The ruler is both a political and religious figure.  Historically, caliphate was a name given to successive Islamic empires that spread out from Arabia where Islam was born, through the Middle East and into central and south-eastern Asia and west into the European Balkans, though northern Africa and into Spain and Portugal. Conceptually, caliphate is the trans-border unification of the entire Muslim world (or Ummah) into one empire under Shariah Law to which the radical elements of modern-day Islam aspires.  It was partly the resistance of the Frankish Empire in France that halted the advance of Islam into mainland Europe.

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Not since the 1920’s has Islam been concerned with re-igniting the aspiration to restore the global caliphate and today to the vast majority of Muslims it is synonymous with the glories of Islam past.  Yet a future restoration of a global Caliphate that will appear in what the Quran teaches will be the End Times remains central in Islamic thought and teaching:

Prophethood will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain, then Allah will raise it up wherever he wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood remaining with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, He will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a reign of violently oppressive rule and it will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, there will be a reign of tyrannical rule and it will remain for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, Allah will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Then, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood.

— As-Silsilah As-Sahihah, vol. 1, no. 5

I believe that we are seeing going on in countries ranging from north and west Africa to the western borders of India is the prelude to the building of the Islamic End Times Caliphate. None of the events going on across the Muslim world come as any surprise to me. Both the main branches of Islam – the Sunni and the Shia – are actively engaged in its creation and our news reports are increasingly filled with the tensions and outright violent hostility between secularists and Islamists in predominantly Muslim nations. Even in Tunisia, the birthplace of the ‘Arab Spring‘ only in recent weeks was the leader of the secularist opposition to the Islamist Government murdered. Similar struggles are taking place at this time of writing in Libya, Egypt and Syria.

islamThe Quran teaches Muslims to convert the world to Islam by either persuasion or if that fails then by force.  Both of these ideologies are at work today in a resurgent, confident radical Islam.  One manifestation of the persuasive approach is Wahhabism –  through teaching in Mosques, schools and Universities even here in the UK. Radical groups such as Al-Quaeda and Boko Haram have chosen the forceful way.  Common in the belief and practices of radical Muslims who strive to restore the Caliphate under Sharia Law is Jihad. Jihad means ‘to struggle’.  In Islam it’s interpreted in two ways: the greater Jihad  is a spiritual struggle against the sinful self and the lesser Jihad against the enemies of Islam – the Infidel or faithless ones (anyone non-Muslim). Movements such as Al-Quaeda focus on the forceful way.

The two branches of Islam are divided as to who will rule the caliphate and this in part explains much about what we hear of Muslim-on-Muslim strife such as the ongoing suicide bombings in Iraq despite the fact there are no Western military there in any great number now. The two houses of Islam have been in an undeclared war over control of the hearts and minds of the Ummah (Muslim world) for centuries as I have written about before (here). The Sunnis believe that once this caliphate is created, it’s Caliph, or spiritual/political leader will be elected by the Ummah.  The Shia believe that this End Times role can only be fulfilled by a direct descendant from Mohammed. They believe this person will emerge from among Shia Islam based primarily in Iran and Iraq.    It would take a whole separate post for me to blog on what I have learned about President Ahmadinajab of Iran and his firm belief that he has a personal role to play in ushering in the End Times. It is something I will post on soon.

mosque_interior_083_jpgThere are a couple of thorns in the side of the Islamist dream of restoring the Caliphate around the Mediterranean at least. One is Spain and Portugal. Both became part of the Islam’s caliphate at its zenith. In Islamic thinking, once a territory has been claimed for Islam, it remains forever an Islamic territory and therefore part of the global Caliphate. We should expect to see the rise of fundamentalist Islam in these nations. The Spanish in particular have already been served notice that their infidelity to Islam will not be tolerated in the Madrid bombings of 2004.

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As I write, Egypt and Syria are in turmoil. I also predict the destabilisation of Jordan soon. In Syria what started as a civil uprising against n unpopular autocrat has been hijacked by practitioners of Jihad who want to add  fundamentalist Islamic Syria to the rising Caliphate.  When they succeed, as I believe they will, they will start to turn their focus on Israel.  Egypt, too, is still going through the throws of revolution but the secularists, Christians and Islamists who were once brothers in arms against President Mubarak are now at each others’ throats in the struggle for power. More worrying for me is the man the Egyptians elected to rule them; Mohamed Morsi.  Only in January this year did Western media pick up on his view of Israel. The Israelis and others such as I who watch the Middle East closely, knew of these comments long before.  The New York Times reported as follows:

His scurrilous comments from nearly three years ago about Zionists and Jews, which just came to light, have raised serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed. As reported by David Kirkpatrick in The Times, Mr. Morsi is shown in a video from 2010 delivering a speech in which he urges Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview months later, he described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Mohammed Morsi

That neatly brings me to the other thorn in the side of the rising Caliphate…Israel. The creation of any Islamic End Time Caliphate will inevitably be faced by the existence of the Jewish (Infidel) state breaking the chain through the hoped for unified caliphate across the Muslim believing nations that rim the Mediterranean Sea and into Asia. The entire world is heading for an almighty collision when Islamic fundamental ideology and the Jewish state meet each other head on.   Anyone who knows me well enough, knows my interest in and many travels to Israel.  I am a friend of Israel, though not an uncritical one. This friendship does not in any way cause me to be anti-Islamic but it does cause me to watch closely at what is going on concerning that region. I am also a Christian and in the extreme views of the radical Islamists, I fall into the category of the Infidel along with the Jews that must be subjugated or wiped out.  It was among my travels to Israel that I first heard the saying: “First we kill the Saturday people, then the Sunday people”. It is a belief held among many radical Islamists that basically means – first we will kill the people who worship on a Saturday (the Jews) and then those who worship on a Sunday (Christians).  Muslims worship on a Friday.  This short video explains it better than I can from people experiencing this already.

The desire to build the End Times Caliphate among radical Islam is not confined to the nations that were once part of the original empires of Islam but to the whole world. That includes countries such as the UK  where Wahhabism is highly active and where Jihad has also reared its ugly head as on 7/7 in London.  I was just at Euston Station just after the 4th bomb detonated that day.  Though it is barely reported in the national news, Christians are perishing across the world at the hands of Islamic extremists. In Egypt and Nigeria, churches are being bombed with worshipers in them. I am party to these stories and much, much more because I work in Christian media.  Just today, a friend of mine posted up on Facebook an alarming message he’s got wind of posted by Islamist radicals concerning the safety of Christians in Tanzania.  The guy works for a charity that is working to be a voice for Christians being violently persecuted across the world.  I have known this guy some 16 years and can personally vouch for his sanity and lack of any hysterical tendencies.  I’ve not known him to post such a message before but here’s what he said:

aaThis is very sinister and worrying
TANZANIA: “THE COMING EASTER WILL BE ONE OF DISASTER” WARNS “ISLAMIST” EXTREMIST GROUPS. Geita (Agenzia Fides) – “We thank our young men, trained in Somalia, for killing an infidel. Many more will die. We will burn homes and churches. We have not finished: at Easter, be prepared for disaster”; Signed “Muslim Renewal”. Fides was told about a terrifying SMS in Tanzania, received by local bishops and priests , in which Islamist extremists claim responsibility for the murder of the Catholic priest Fr. Evarist Mushi, aged 55 , killed in front of the Catholic cathedral early on Sunday 17 February. 

The Catholic Church in Tanzania is concerned and anxious. Reaction has come also from national leaders: Tanzania’s Prime Minister called an immediate meeting with leading members of the Christian and Muslim communities, but the outcome was not positive. Certain Muslim leaders called for the release from prison of the suspected assassins of a local Protestant pastor, Mathew Kachira, killed on 10 February. Local Catholic Church sources told Fides that clearly, behind these attacks and murders lies Islamist extremism spreading across the country. 

Fides sources also say that some responsibility falls on Tanzania’s president, Mr Jakaya Kikwete, because during the electoral campaign he promised the Muslim population he would change the Constitution and introduce measures in keeping with Islamic Sharia Law. Today the majority of Tanzanians oppose the plan, but Islamist extremist groups, in reaction, have started a campaign of terror. 

The local Catholic Bishop of Geita, Bishop Damiani Denis Dallu, told Fides: “All we desire is peace and unity and love to reign among the citizens of Tanzania, irrespective of religious beliefs”. This is also the desire of other Christian leaders, heads of traditional religions and moderate Muslim leaders. The latter, however, the Bishop told Fides “are afraid because they too are targeted by Islamic extremists”

PLEASE LETS PRAY FOR GOD GUIDANCE AND PROTECTION FOR THE BELIVERS, THE CHURCH IN TANZANIA.

[This post is not intended in any way to be anti-Islamic. It s my personal take and interpretation of the world events I see unfolding around me. My views are personal and do not reflect those of my employers.]
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The legacy of Anders Breivik lives on

I was browsing around YouTube today looking at video coverage of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.   I was particularly looking for footage of the Irish team parading into the stadium.  Don’t ask me why. I’m sad like that.    Anyway, I found a clip and believe it or not it was of all the teams that began with the letter ‘I’ marching in. How weird is that?

There they all were…Iceland….India….Indonesia…Iran…Iraq…Ireland…………..Italy.  Huh?   Am I missing something?  This video clip certainly was.  There is one more country listed under ‘I’ that I remember myself seeing in the parade: Israel.   I played the video back to check.  Sure enough, between Ireland and Italy whoever posted the video up had cut out the Israeli team.  Why?   So I started to investigate.

Over the footage I could hear what sounded like a Nordic language TV commentary being spoken.  I went onto the YouTube channel of the person who had posted up the video and discovered he was a Norwegian of Indonesian origin.  Whether an immigrant to Norway or born and bred there was unclear.  But is was clear from his profile that he lives in Norway.  Well, that would explain why he would have a clip of only the countries beginning with ‘I’.  Interestingly he has no clip of the Norwegian team.  It is also clear that he is a Muslim.  Not surprising seeing as Indonesia is the world’s most populous Islamic nation.

I felt a sense of rage on my discovery of this video and immediately went to post him a few choice thoughts of my own…only I need a Gmail account first and I hate Gmail. The next best thing I can do is write this blog and somehow post him the link. Why my outrage?  Well anyone following this blog will know that I have an interest in Israel and the Jewish people.  But is was not so much because of yet more evidence I found that would indicate obsessive hatred of Israel seems to be a cornerstone of Islam as a faith…but because I discovered this happening in Norway, the land of Anders Behring Breivik.  He who slaughtered nearly a hundred of his fellow countrymen in July 2011 – barely a year ago – due to his racial, cultural and religious hatred.   Yet here we have in the wake of that tragic event evidence of deep-seated hatred toward others no different from that Breivik manifested in my oppinion.

How widespread the views of this one person are held within his community can only be guessed at and every country has its extremists and radicals.  My hope and belief is that it is not that prevalent in a country as tolerant and free as Norway.  But it needs to be kept a watch on otherwise all it will do is give rise to more Breiviks from whichever extremity.

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Why are Muslims blowing each other up in Iraq?

The war in Iraq is over. The Western troops have left. Saddam Hussein is dead. So why are we hearing ever frequently on our news reports that another bomb has gone off in Baghdad or another Iraqi city? Why are we hearing about ‘Sunnis’ and ‘Shi’as so often? Who are they and what’s their beef with each other?

I’m no expert on Islam – just a pleb that would turn to Google first to find out about anything, although I do have an understanding of bits of Islam so I guess this post is going to be very simplistic and nothing an expert on such matters would pay any attention to. But at least I have done some digging around before posting this.

It seems to boil down to a centuries old family scrap over inheritance and control over millions of minds. It’s a bit like when Alexander the Great snuffed it surprisingly early leaving no heir to his empire and so his generals beat each other up (and more) for control over his dominions.

When the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, died in the 7th Century, he left no (male) heir to his estimated following of 100,000 Muslims – a trans-border community of followers called a ‘Caliphate’. On his passing, those left in leadership needed to find someone who could fill his place as the ‘Caliph’ in charge of the religious kingdom. Here’s where the fledgling Muslim world divided and has been divided ever since. A larger part of the community backed a close companion of Mohammed called Abu Bakr to be Caliph while the lesser group chose Mohammed’s son-in-law and Cousin, Ali. Both groups claimed authority from Mohammed that their candidate should be the chosen successor and if you want to read up more about that then visit the BBC guide to Religion here. The Muslims who backed Abu Bakr became known as ‘Sunni’s (meaning ‘one who follows the Sunnah’ – the teachings and beliefs of the Prophet). Those who followed Ali were known as the Shiat Ali (followers of Ali) or ‘Shi’as. The Sunnis did not believe in a bloodline path to succession but in a more political governance based on who was best able to lead. The Shi’as chose loyalty to the bloodline.

In the end the Sunnis got their way and Abu Bakr became Caliph. On his death, the tables were turned and Ali finally got his way….only to be assassinated. The Caliphate then fell back into Sunni hands and the seeds enmity between the two branches of Islam were sown and took root. The real break between the two branches of Islam took place 48 years after Mohammed died when the son of Ali, Hussein (Mohammed’s grandson by his daughter) started to oppose the ‘tyranny and corruption’ of the ruling Sunni Caliph and he and most of his family were then massacred. Hussein was elevated to the position of ‘martyr’. Ali was assassinated in the city of Najaf and Hussein in Karbala – both in Iraq and both cities holy to Shi’as and so the Shi’a branch of Islam found its centre in Iraq and then spread eastward into Iran. When you hear of bombs going off in Iraq other than in Baghdad they may very likely be in Najaf or Karbala and most likely blamed on Sunni/Shi’a inter-communal tension.

 The Hussayn Mosque, Karbala, Iraq

As you can imagine, it’s all a lot more complicated than this and two good articles to read if you want to delve deeper are on BBC Religions site mentioned before and this article in Time World. This is a good one too.

The map below shows how the Islamic world centred around the Middle East divides between Sunni and Shi’a followers. Note the concentration of the Shi’a populations in Iran and Iraq. Note Sunni Saudi Arabia, which houses the holy shrines of Medina and Mecca, and the vast majority of other Muslim lands that follow that branch. Saudi has up to now been the spiritual mouthpiece for the Islamic world – a Sunni one. As we have seen in recent months, Iran, the main homeland of the global Shi’a population is flexing its muscles both inside and outside the Islamic world. The power vacuum left in Iraq after the departure of the West has given rise to a new frontline in the undeclared war between Sunni and Shi’a Islam. Note also the high percentage of Shi’as in Bahrain and Yemen where we have also seen reports of Muslim against Muslim strife. Note also the 40% Shi’a population in Lebanon. Lebanon sits right on the northern borders of Israel and if you have read my previous blog on why I think an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran in these days is a distinct possibility, then you will see how Iranian direct influence in Lebanon brings Israel and Iran nose to nose in a growing climate of antagonism than the global map would otherwise suggest.

Related: ‘Never again Masada’