~Eratkan Ukhuwah Gerakkan Islah~


~ Friday, November 11, 2005

Muslim Brotherhood Second in Egypt's Polls

By Inas Abdul Aziz, IOL Correspondent

CAIRO, November 11, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Over 80 percent of seats in the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary polls will have to wait till the run-off round, to be held Tuesday, November 15, with semi-official results showing the largest opposition block of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) coming second to the ruling National Democratic Party.

Only 31 seats, out of 164, were settled in the first round that was held Wednesday, November 9, of which the NDP - headed by incumbent President Hosni Mubarak and in firm control of the Arab country since its formation by the late President Anwar Sadat in 1979 - secured 27, amid complaints of foul play from the opposition.

The legally banned but largely tolerated - due to de facto strong presence - Muslim Brotherhood (MB) came in second to the NDP, securing the 4 remaining seats and expecting more gains in the decisive run-off battle next week.

According to electoral commission reports, the group's candidates have won seats in the districts of Sayeda Zeinab, and Helwan in Cairo, a third seat in Batanoun Constituency in Menoufiya Delta governorate, in addition to a fourth seat in Beni Sueif governorate in Upper Egypt.

The official results are to be announced during a press conference later Friday, November 11, at the Ministry of Justice. Head of the electoral commission, Minister of Justice, will announce the results himself.


Run-offs made the second remarkable phenomenon in the first phase, with 133 seats witnessing fierce decisive battles.

31 Muslim Brotherhood candidates are going for run-offs, out of a total of 51 candidates for the group, with 15 of their mates failing to qualify for a win or a run-off.

The total absence of traditional opposition parties in Egypt made the MB the sole player posing a real challenge to the NDP.

To add salt to injury, two leading opposition figures lost their seats in the polls to NDP candidates.

Ayman Nour, leader of the liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party and Mubarak's main rival in September presidential elections, lost his seat in his own Cairo stronghold of Bab Al-Sheriya to Yehia Wahdan, a former state security officer and an NDP candidate.

Nour cried foul and vowed to legally contest the result, which he dubbed "a disgrace" in the "black history of fraud" of the NDP.

And in another blow to the Egyptian opposition, Wafd stalwart Munir Fakhri Abdel Nour lost his seat in the Wayli constituency to NDP candidate Sherein Fouad.

Traditional opposition powers have only 7 candidates that cruised to the grind of run-off, against the other 228 NDP and independent candidates, in addition to the 31 MB, making a total of 266, vying for 133 seats.

Despite Fraud

Commenting on the almost final results of the first round, MB deputy guide Mohamed Habib has rejected allegations of the group's failure (to pose a real threat to the dominant NDP).

"Despite the rigging, the results show that the competition is only between the Muslim Brotherhood and the NDP, with the group's candidates in the lead."

Egyptian voters in eight of Egypt's governorates cast ballot Wednesday in the first round of an almost month-long three-phase parliamentary polls.

This first round of elections involved a total of 1,635 candidates vying for 164 of the People's Assembly's 444 seats that are up for grabs.

Cairo, Giza, Menoufiya, Beni Sueif, Menya, Assiut, New Valley and Mersa Matrouh are the governorates that witnessed the voting.

Opposition parties and monitoring groups have reported electoral violations and intimidation of voters, with reports about a meeting Saturday, November 12, grouping all opposition powers to consider boycotting the two remaining phases of the country's legislative elections.

The second phase of polls is to take place November 20 (run-off 6 days later), with the third and final one taking place December 1 (run-off to be December 7) and the new parliament is to convene December 20.

Maa ashobani min hasanatin faminallah...wamaa ashobani min sayyiatin famin nafsi (segala yg baik tu dari Allah dan yg buruk tu dari diriku)

posted by scouser at 5:07 PM


~ Thursday, November 10, 2005

Islam's Journey Into Southeast Asia By Farrukh I. Younus

Defined as the region of land between India to the west, China to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the east, Southeast Asia today comprises 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand (Siam), and Vietnam.

Allah Almighty speaks of traveling to different lands in the Qur'an. Today we find the essential foundations of faith in all Muslim countries, yet we have regional interpretations, from the apparently traditional interpretation found in rural Thailand to the dynamic face of Islam in Singapore. Thus while we can trace the route of Islam when it spread into certain countries, we can also see how the synthesis of pre-Islamic regional culture and the teachings of Islam created different communities, all of which share the same common foundations.

From the early days of Islam we know of two routes eastwards: the land route and the sea route to China which, for example, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Saad ibn Abi Waqqas sailed.

Accounts of how Islam spread to this region vary according to different translations. Credit should be given to Professor Masud ul-Hassan, whose large text History of Islam, Vol. II, I used as a primary source.

Vietnam: 11th Century

The Kingdom of Chams flourished in Vietnam until the 17th century. Between 1607 and 1676 the King of Champa accepted Islam. The area where the king and his settlers lived is known as Kompong Cham and they settled along the Mekong River in Vietnam in a group of 13 villages. Throughout this period the children would be sent to Kelanten (Malaysia) to study the Qur'an and Islamic studies, and would return to teach others in their village.

During the 17th century the Champa provinces were gradually conquered by the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese king Minh Mong persecuted the Champa, as a result of which the Champa Muslim king Po Chen gathered his people. Those on the mainland migrated to Cambodia, and those in the coastal provinces migrated to Trengannu (Malaysia).

However, not all of the Muslims migrated; some chose to stay in the central provinces of Vietnam such as Nha Trang, Phan Rang, Phan Ri, and Phan Thit. Because of their isolation from other Muslim communities, their Islam was strongly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, and their descendants over time lost the Islam which originally came to Vietnam.

Speaking of the early trade routes, Hourani observed that the people of Vietnam were exposed to Muslim traders in the 7th century:

After the passage through the Malacca Strait, known to the Arabs by its Malay name of Salaht ("Strait"), a call was made at Tiuman Island. Next cutting across to Indo-China, they stopped at ports in Sanf, the Champa kingdom in the eastern coastal, then at an island off the coast, known as Sanf Fulaw (corrupted in our texts to "Sandar Fulat"). From there vessels might coast round the Gulf of Tongking to Hanoi, known as Luqin, before they made for their final destination, Canton, which was called Khanfu.

Maspero opined that some Champa had already accepted Islam towards the end of the Sung dynasty from the 10th to the 11th century. Recent excavations have uncovered two gravestones of Champa Muslims with Kufic inscriptions dating back to 1030, which suggest that there existed a Muslim Champa community in the 10th century.

Malacca: 1400-1511

The first Muslim state to be established on the Malayan mainland was the state of Malacca. By the end of the 14th century, Parmeswara, a prince of the Hindu state of Mujaphait in Indonesia, migrated to Malaya and captured the island of Tumasik, turning it into a pirate base from where to attack ships. Ejected from Tumasik by the Siamese who controlled the area, Parmeswara settled in Malacca, which grew from a small fishing village to a major port. As Siam was hostile to Parmeswara, he sought the protection of the Chinese and established cordial relations with the neighboring states of Sumatra. Parmeswara married a Muslim princess of the state of Samudra Pasai in Sumatra and accepted Islam, adopting the name Muhammad Iskandar Shah. Islam thus came to Malaya in the 15th century, and Iskandar Shah died in 1424.

Iskander Shah was succeeded by his son Sri Maharaja, who ruled for 20 years. When he died, he left two sons: Raja Kassim and Dewa Shah. With the help of Malayan chiefs, Dewa Shah took authority but was overthrown by his brother Raja who, upon taking office, took the name Muzaffar Shah. Under his authority Islam became the state religion.

Threatened by the growing commercial strength of Malacca, Siam attacked it by land and sea. When this failed, Siam made peace with Malacca by recognizing its independence. Muzaffar Shah ruled for 15 years and died in 1459. His son Manzur Shah took over, and it was under his authority that Malacca expanded, conquering the neighboring states of Pahang, Perak and Kelentan. In the south, Johore and the islands adjoining the peninsula were brought under Malaccan control. Campaigns were then taken against Sumatra and the states of Batak, Kokan, Siak, Kampar, Indiragiri, and Jambi.

Manzur Shah took steps to promote Islam, and Malacca became the center from which Islam spread into Southeast Asia. He ruled for 18 years and died in 1477, by which time Malacca had become the strongest state in Southeast Asia.

Manzur Shah was succeeded by his son Alauddin Riyat Shah. He adorned Malacca with various public buildings and further expanded the dominion of Islam, spreading to Java, Sundar, the Molucass, Brunei, and the outlaying islands of Sumatra. He ruled for 11 years and died in 1488.

Alauddin was followed up by his son Mahmud Shah. He lacked the vision of his father and grandfather, so authority was managed by the chief minister. The Portuguese arrived in Malacca in 1509 under the auspices of trade, but merchants from Goa, India, warned the Malaccans of the Portuguese’ intention. They left unsuccessful. In 1510 Mahmud Shah had his chief minister killed, which act led to a state of chaos. The Portuguese exploited this opportunity, invaded, and captured Malacca in 1511.

Aceh: 1514-1599

After the occupation of Malacca, the next Muslim state to rise was Aceh in the western part of Sumatra, in 1514, with a union between the principalities of Lamri and Aceh Darl-ul-Kamal, under the authority of Ali Mughayat Shah.

In 1524 Ali captured Pasai from the Portuguese, and the state of Aceh then included most of the territories formerly under the state of Sumatra Pasai. When Malacca on the mainland was captured by the Portuguese in 1517, it became inaccessible to Muslim merchants and business shifted to Aceh, turning it into an extremely prosperous region. Aceh thus became a rival power to the Portuguese in Southeast Asia.

Ali is noted as one of the greatest rulers of the 16th century. Not only was his rule mild and just, but he maintained a strong army and navy. He encouraged the teaching of Islam, and it was under his rule that the religion spread from the coastal areas into the mainland. His rule lasted for 34 years and he died in 1548.

Ali was succeeded by his son Alauddin Shah, under whose rule Aceh expanded to include Aru and Johore on the mainland. Alauddin established good relations with the Ottoman Turks and received their help to obtain large guns. Heavily armed, he took to recapturing Malacca from the Portuguese but failed. He ruled for 23 years and died in 1571.

When Ali died, he was succeeded by his son Ali Hayat Shah, whose rule lacked vision. Ali Hayat died in 1579 and was succeeded by three equally poor rulers, one after another, until 1588. Order was returned to the area with the rule of Alauddin Rayat Shah, who reorganized the administration and ruled with justice.

Demak: 15th-16th Century

Java is the central island of Indonesia. Islam first spread to Sumatra in the 13th century, and later in the 14th century it spread from Sumatra to Java. The Gujurat style tomb of Malik Ibraham, a da'i who died in 1419, can be found there. Another tomb that can be found there is that of Princess Champa, who died in 1448. She was the wife of the ruler of Majaphit, a Hindu state that was the dominant power of Java. As a Muslim woman she was unable to marry a non-Muslim man, so it seems that the ruler of Mujaphait accepted Islam, although his successors were Hindus.

Chinese accounts show that during the early years of the 15th century, the population of Java comprised Muslims, Chinese, and Hindus. The Muslims lived in the coastal towns. Most of the Chinese were Muslims, but the majority of people were still Hindus.

The first Muslim state in Java was the state of Demak, established around 1500 by a warrior called Radhan Paria. Radhan conquered Cheribon and some neighboring islands, and then went on to south Sumatra, capturing Palembang and Jabi. In 1511 Radhan headed a campaign against the Portuguese in Malacca but failed. Instead he directed his efforts to the Indian state of Mujaphait and in 1527 overthrew its last ruler. Radhan died shortly thereafter, having turned Demak into the most dominant power in Java.

Radhan was succeeded by Trengganu, under whose authority the state of Demak gained further importance. He overpowered the states of Mataram and Sanda Kalappa, and under his authority Islam spread to the mainland of Java. While Radhan had previously conquered Mujaphait, he did not completely remove Hindu rule; thus a new, smaller state arose, and at the battle of Panarukan, Trengganu died.

After his death a state of confusion spread in Demak, causing the state to divide into two principalities, one with the capital Demak, the other with the capital Padong. As a result the state lost its importance. In 1578 the ruler of Padong conquered Demak. Yet despite the union, Demak was unable to reclaim its previous glory. In 1586, the Sultan of Demak was overthrown by his commander in chief, who founded a new Muslim state, Mataram.

Southeast Asian Islands: 15th-17th Centuries

Brunei City

The Moluccas: In the Moluccas, now referred to as the Spice Islands, Islam spread during the late 15th century. The first Muslim ruler was Zain-ul-Abdin, who ruled from 1486 to 1500. The Portuguese settled on the island in the 16th century and tried to convert people to Christianity. The people, however, chose Islam. Zain-ul-Abdin is said to have built a seven-story mosque in Ambon.

Celebes: Islam spread to Celebes in the early 17th century. The Prince of Tallo accepted Islam in 1605, after which he expanded his territory to the states of Bone, Coppeng, and Wajo, where the people accepted Islam. It was the Muslims of Celebes who played an important role in the battle against the Dutch in the Moluccas. When the Portuguese conquered Ambon, the Muslims fled to Makasar. The Muslims of Celebes fought against the Dutch East India Company for many years, resulting in the treaty of Bongeaid in 1667 through which the Dutch gained authority and Makasar lost its importance.

East Borneo: Islam spread from Celebes through the preaching of two Muslim da'is—Datori Bandang and Tuan Tunggang Parangan—who arrived at Kutei and converted the king, the princes, and the people to Islam. The king married a Muslim princess from Java and established a series of mosques and schools to teach Islam.

In the early 16th century, Bandjarmasin was the main kingdom of South Borneo. A dispute arose between two princes, Samudra and Tumengung, both of whom aspired to the throne. During the conflict Samudra sought the assistance of the Muslim state of Demak in Java. Demak promised assistance on the condition that Samudra would accept Islam. Samudra agreed. Demak assisted him to take rule, and he accepted Islam, after which his people also converted.

Brunei: Islam spread through northwest Borneo in the 15th century. The first Muslim ruler of Brunei was Awang Alakber Tabar, who took the name Muhammad when he accepted Islam. He married a Muslim princess from Johor. Throughout the 15th century, Brunei was overshadowed by the powerful state of Malacca. When the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511, many Malaccan Muslims migrated to Brunei, raising Brunei's importance.

When Magellan sailed to Brunei in 1521, his Italian captain, Pigafella, wrote an account of the voyage. According to this report, the Sultan of Brunei was a man named Bulkiah who lived in a fortified residence surrounded by a brick wall on which fifty canons were mounted. Through its effective administration, the rule of Brunei was extended to the greater part of Borneo and even to the Sulu islands.

During the 16th century, the Spanish spread their influence to the Philippines and then pushed southwards, which caused Brunei to lose control over its lands. When the Dutch occupied south Borneo, Brunei was confined by the Spanish and the Dutch and became the small area to the northwest of Borneo. The Dutch trade monopoly strangled trade with Brunei, and by the 17th century Brunei was known for its piracy.

Sulu Islands: Islam spread to these islands through two da'is: Sharif Karim Al-Makhdum and Abu Bakr. The prince of Bawansa, Rafa Bainda, was the first ruler of the islands to accept Islam. Abu Bakr married one of his daughters and succeeded his father-in-law to the throne of Bawsana.

The Philippines: Islam came to these islands by way of Sharif Kabungsuwam. He came from Johor and settled in Mindanao, where many people accepted Islam. When the Spanish came to the Philippines, they resisted the spread of Islam to Manila. War broke out between the Muslims (Moros) and the Spanish, which lasted over a hundred years; the Muslims were unable to gain political authority but were nonetheless strong enough not to be expelled from the islands.


Ul-Hassan, Masud. History of Islam, Vol. II. Islamic Publications, 1998.

Hourani, George. Arab Seafaring. Princeton University Press, 1979.

Maspero, Rene Gaston Georges. The Champa Kingdom: The History of an Extinct Vietnamese Culture, 1928. Cited by Pierre Yves Manguin, "The Introduction of Islam into Champa," JMBRAS, Vol. LVIII, Part 1, 1985.

The Spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. Map. The Applied History Research Group, University of Calgar

Maa ashobani min hasanatin faminallah...wamaa ashobani min sayyiatin famin nafsi (segala yg baik tu dari Allah dan yg buruk tu dari diriku)

posted by scouser at 10:37 PM


~ Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Waiting in the Wings Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

By Azizuddin El-Kaissouni & Dina Abdel-Mageed

The optimism is also in evidence when Habib discusses November's upcoming parliamentary elections. He believes the situation will be better this time around, for a host of domestic and international reasons, despite the fact that the 2000 parliamentary elections saw 5,000 Brotherhood members arrested before and during the voting. Regardless, the Brotherhood seeks to play a more influential role in the forthcoming elections by upping the number of its candidates standing for the People's Assembly. But despite such ambitious planning, Habib is no less disillusioned by Egyptian politics.

"The government looks down on the Egyptian people. The ruling elite consider themselves above the law," Habib said. He quoted a minister as addressing the public, saying: "The law exists to be implemented upon you," [emphasis added]. He spoke of how the ruling elite controlled everything, designing and issuing as needed to further their own interests.

As one step towards reforming the status quo, Habib calls for amending the laws that govern the formation of political parties in Egypt. Until recently, the law dictated that establishing a political party required the approval of the Parties Committee, which consisted of government ministers and MPs, all of whom were members of the President Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party. However, recent amendments to the parties' law have made altered the composition of the Committee somewhat, adding three "independent public figures" and three former judges to the panel.

Generally speaking, what Egypt needs, according to Habib, is for solid foundations to be laid, foundations for the building of a democratic, institutionalized state, a state built on a true separation of powers.

And yet, many people express concerns about the prospect of Islamists ascending to power through democratic means, and then turning against the very democracy that brought them to power, tearing down those same democratic foundations they had spoken so glowingly of. Habib’s is peeved. "Have they tried the Muslim Brotherhood? What are the guarantees that any other party has given?"

Critics of the Brotherhood often point to the fact that the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide is not popularly elected as evidence of an inherently anti-democratic nature. Habib dismisses the claim. "We wish the Supreme Guide could be popularly elected. We wish." But political conditions, Habib says, make that a practical impossibility. He points out that attempts to convene even the elected General Shura [Consultation] Council was met by a harsh government crackdown, with jail sentences being handed down to participants by a military tribunal. As such, the Brotherhood found themselves forced to choose a path Habib describes as "the lesser evil."

After much back and forth on Egyptian domestic politics, and an ill-timed interruption by a phone call from an insistent reporter who prodded the Deputy into an apoplectic tirade on corruption in provincial councils, the discussion tangibly shifted to the Brotherhood's religious platform, the subject of much speculation but little actual investigation in the Western press.

For example: Shari'a law. The term is sufficient to generate near hysteria in the media. Habib's response is careful and measured, explaining that Shari'a is much broader than the concept of hudud, or religiously prescribed penalties, that has so aroused the fears of many. "We have to distinguish between Shari'a as a general concept and the actual implementation of hudud. It is a part, yes, and an important part, but it is not the sum total of Shari'a. Shari'a is broader, more comprehensive." Shari'ah law's aims, as described by Habib, are utopian, to say the least: the establishment of a society founded on freedom, justice, brotherhood, and equality before the law, a society where "the nation is the source of authority, people freely choose their rulers and representatives, and hold them accountable, and can impeach or remove them." Hitting closer to home, Habib expounds on a Shari`ah that allows for the freedom to establish political parties, and a free press; where there is no emergency law, but rather, the separation of powers.

Habib reiterates the Brotherhood's perspective on the application of hudud punishments, that people cannot be judged according to the stringent requirements of Shari'ah until such time as society is deemed to be sufficiently, well, utopian. "We must first create a spiritual society. The citizen must be granted his full rights, psychological, mental, moral, material, to live as a human, with his rights and honor and humanity respected." A society where people's needs, in terms of health, employment, education, etc, are provided for, and where corruption has been adequately reduced. It as at that point, when such a society exists, Habib states, that a transgression by a citizen must then be met with the deterrent punishments of Shari'ah.

And until that day, a theoretical state governed by the Brotherhood would function under the existing (secular) laws and penal codes?

"Certainly! Or life would be ruined!"

But what of those other famous stumbling blocks for Islamists, women's and minority rights, under such a state?

Habib restates the official brotherhood line, being that women have the right to work, to vote, to stand for parliamentary elections, to be government ministers… but not to fill the state's top executive post, though Habib deftly glosses over this. "Knowledge, ability, and efficiency are not male monopolies. We have women [in the Brotherhood] who are more knowledgeable and more capable than most men. We must not deprive society of such generative abilities and innovative powers, which can help our country progress."

Indeed, the Brotherhood is fielding a number of female candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections in November. But when asked a direct question of the percentage of females within the Brotherhood’s leadership cadres, Habib refused to be drawn on specifics, choosing instead to describe it as a "good" number. "We cannot overlook the situation under the Egyptian regime and its repressive security policies, and we don't want to expose our women, our daughters and sisters, particularly as the regime does not discriminate, and does not have the ethical standards to allow it to distinguish between men and women. For example, State Security Intelligence (SSI) can call a woman in for questioning... and as you can see, detentions, torture in SSI headquarters..." Habib trails off in mid-sentence. "We're not in a healthy environment," he states, recovering. "The [political] climate, unfortunately, is sick and corrupt, and we are protective of our daughters and our women."

As for Egypt's Christian minority: "Society gives our brothers, the Copts, their full rights, and deals with them not as a minority, but as regular citizens, with all the rights of citizenship. They have our same rights and our same obligations. We don't look at them as a political faction or bloc, but as citizens, and therefore we can work with them in all areas." Copts, according to Habib, would face no "glass ceiling;" they can work their way up or be appointed to the highest positions, "As long as they are qualified, and as long as these positions are appropriate."

On a more controversial note, what of evangelists and Christians who wish to proselytize in a state ruled by the Brotherhood? Habib visibly hardens here-the only time during the whole interview. He is, to put it mildly, indignant at the very notion, and the rejection is unequivocal. "I'm sorry. Our creeds have to be respected." The foremost responsibility of a Muslim ruler, he points out, is the protection of the Shari'ah, and the state's institutions are obliged to work towards that end throughout society.

On the subject of Egypt's international relations under the Brotherhood's government, Habib posits that the Brotherhood would deal with other states as equals. He speaks of the Islamic duty to cooperate in goodness, to "produce conventions and charters between states to implement justice, peace, and stability, and to achieve prosperity between nations." The jab at the US administration is not far coming. "But this is not what the US administration wants. It wants a global hegemony, and control over everything. It wants supremacy in every field over all nations." Habib contemptuously refers to this mindset as Darwinian, survival of the fittest. "And as such, we want to be strong. We want our country to be powerful, to be self-sufficient, so as not to have to reach out [for aid] to others, so that it can deal with the rest of the world on an equal footing."

There are no surprises in terms of relations with Israel. "It is an occupying power controlling Arab and Muslim land, and Islam has ruled that the people of any nation subjected to attack and occupation, its sons and daughters, must defend it." The issue, Habib emphasizes, is that Israel is an occupying power that engages in massacres, assassinations, settlement building, not to mention the construction of the separation wall.

An Islamic Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Habib, would be a civilian state with an Islamic frame of reference, meaning that legislation passed must be in accordance with Islam. He notes that, legally, this is theoretically the current state of affairs, owing to article two of the Constitution, which identifies Islam as the source of all legislation. Realistically, however, "the regime does not wish to obey the constitution, or respect the law, or even implement judicial rulings."

In such a state, government would be freely and fairly elected by popular vote. Parties would be voted into office on the basis of a specific platform and program, which they would be obliged to implement during their term in office. Failure to do so would allow the people to remove said government from office. "We believe in democracy, and we affirm the principle of peaceful transition of power" as a central tenet for any such state, Habib states.

But what of political parties, especially those that espouse, for example, secular platforms? In such a state, with a true separation of powers and an independent judiciary, Habib maintains that any party can be founded on popular consent, and that, should the authorities have reservations about the party, deeming its program or practices to be a violation of the constitution or antithetical to the "values of the nation or the core traditions of society," then the issue must be referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court, which would decide on the matter. "We as an administrative authority would have nothing to do with this matter."

And what of the future of the Muslim Brotherhood, if it is ultimately granted the right to form a political party? That, according to Habib, is the subject of an ongoing debate within the Brotherhood. One view holds that the Brotherhood should then transform completely into a political party that incorporates all the activities currently performed by the Society. The other side argues in favor of preserving the structure of the group, and merely creating an affiliated political party. Both suggestions, however, are currently moot, due to "the atmosphere of political repression" prevalent in Egypt.

posted by scouser at 8:26 PM


~ Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Waiting in the Wings - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (part 1)
By Azizuddin El-Kaissouni & Dina Abdel-Mageed

As part of Muslim Affairs' commitment to monitoring change throughout the Muslim world, we've covered rising popular discontent in Egypt, and the regime's stumbling, reluctant steps towards democratization. In our efforts to profile some of the most prominent players in the Egyptian opposition, we conducted two interviews with the Muslim Brotherhood's Deputy Supreme Guide Muhammad Habib; the first took place before September's presidential elections; the second, in October, as the Brotherhood prepared for November's parliamentary elections

The unassuming office that serves as the headquarters for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood makes no secret of its tenants' political affiliations. "Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun" (The Muslim Brotherhood), proclaims a sticker prominently displayed on the door. Inside, you would be forgiven for thinking you'd accidentally walked into a law firm or other place of business, as smartly dressed individuals march about the place, carrying files or briefcases. Not bad for an "officially banned but tolerated" organization.

Within a few minutes of entry, we're escorted into Muhammad Habib's office. Habib, bespectacled and sporting a trimmed white beard, is the Deputy Supreme Guide of the Society of the Muslim Brothers, or the Muslim Brotherhood, as it is often referred to; Egypt's oldest Islamist organization and the inspiration for most modern Islamist movements.

While originally founded in 1928 as a religious reform movement and philanthropic society, the Ikhwan rapidly acquired an overtly political character. That commitment to politics has remained with the Brotherhood, even through almost two decades of Nasser's rule that saw the bulk of the Brotherhood imprisoned and subjected to horrific tortures. The Brotherhood has adapted, renouncing militancy in favor of a renewed focus on grass-roots activism, social work, and political campaigning. By all accounts, the transformation has paid off, allowing the Brotherhood to survive intact and functioning, though admittedly within a narrow margin of freedom, where many of its more radical offshoots were violently extirpated by the government. Today, the Ikhwan is held by many observers to be the largest and most powerful opposition movement in Egyptian politics, despite the fact that the group is technically banned.

As the group's nominal second-in-command, Habib is often sought out by the press to speak on behalf of the Brotherhood, and has featured prominently in the media for the past few months, due to the Brotherhood's growing assertiveness and their increasing presence on the streets. With the Brotherhood expected to sweep an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats in the November elections, Habib is in much demand by the press, both domestic and international.

The soft-spoken and grandfatherly Habib is at ease behind his cluttered desk, and listens attentively to our questions. An assistant records the discussion and takes notes. The Brotherhood has not survived for so long without some degree of media savvy.

The conversation ranges through a multitude of issues. The regime's ostensible efforts at political reform feature prominently. Jaded, Habib speaks dryly, and not without a significant dose of irony. "The regime is careful to maintain the status quo," he asserts. "It has no sincere desire to take steps towards reform."

He speaks bitterly of the constitutional amendment proposed by the President that would allow for multi-candidate presidential elections, describing it as "bound by impossible conditions that left it devoid of substance," an opinion shared by a significant segment of Egyptian civil society. He continues, referring to the then-upcoming referendum on the amendment-described by Habib, incidentally, as unconstitutional-allowing multi-candidate presidential elections, "When you have 10,000 judges, and around 54,000 polling stations, how can judicial supervision take place? This suggests an implicit intent to rig results." The amendment was subsequently ratified by popular referendum, and laid the basis for Egypt's first multiparty presidential election, held September last. The result, unsurprisingly, was a landslide win for the 24-year incumbent President Mubarak.

"The cornerstone of reform is the positiveness of the people and their willingness to put pressure on the government, and to participate in the political process." For decades, he continued, people have been hopeless, passive, and indifferent, which allowed the government to maintain the status quo. According to Habib, the Brotherhood's main aim, before and during the presidential election, had been to urge people to participate in the electoral process, to prevent the government from rigging the results.

In fact, the Brotherhood allowed its members to vote for whomever they chose, with the somewhat vague restriction of warning them that voting for a tyrant was religiously prohibited. That they did not outright boycott the elections they had so vociferously condemned left analysts openly speculating about a possible deal between the Brotherhood and the government, a suggestion the Brotherhood denies.

"How could we ask people to boycott the election?" Habib demands. "They were on a boycott already!" a reference to the dismally low voter turnout that marred the election. For him, public participation would draw the government's attention to the fact that the people could make a difference, which would in turn pressure it to move towards reform.

"It was an unfair game. It was like a match between Real Madrid and Kafr Abu Tesht [Egyptian slang referring to an imaginary, extremely benighted town]," Habib said. Not all the candidates had equal opportunities, he argues. "The election results were predetermined. Certainly, they were faked," he added.

According to Habib, vote rigging was tacitly encouraged through a number of means. These included the introduction of legislative measures that facilitated fraud, and not allowing the judges to fully monitor the electoral process. These were coupled with wide-spread public apathy. With these three factors acting in concert, results could be easily skewed. Therefore, "the Muslim Brotherhood was working in those three directions," and called for full judicial supervision of the elections, supporting the judges' position through conferences and rallies.

Asked about the Brotherhood's ambivalent attitude towards the various presidential candidates, Habib said "I know that not rallying behind a certain candidate caused some perplexity among our voters, but we made our stance clear: we chose to give people the opportunity to decide for themselves." It would take some time, he explained, before people realized what it was like to have a political vision and be able to participate in the political process.

Habib makes the point that the people who didn't vote were fully aware of the implications of what they were doing, and did so accordingly. For him, the low turn out—23% of eligible voters, according to the most optimistic governmental sources—was "a clear indication of a widening gulf between the government and the people."

Habib maintains that to pressure the government, a stronger public opinion and voice would be needed. "The government is under pressure, but still more pressure needs to be applied. People who have been totally inactive for decades cannot be mobilized in two or three months."

What about US efforts to democratize the Middle East? Were the regime's moves towards greater political freedoms suggestive of a victory for US policy in the region? The response Habib makes is typical of most Arab and Muslim politicians.

"The American administration invaded Afghanistan, occupied Iraq, violated human rights in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. They supported and continue to support the Zionist entity... and then after that they discuss establishing democracy, good governance, and human rights. The American administration has thus left us no choice to assume well of it." He adds, "The US has its agenda, it has its interests; it is not a charitable institution."

Habib is equally dismissive of suggestions that the Brotherhood's recent reinvigoration was prompted by fears of their being overshadowed by the relatively smaller but more outspoken Kefaya movement. Instead, Habib maintains that the sudden dynamism of the Brotherhood was dictated by the current state of affairs, viz., increasing international pressures on the government, political stagnation coupled with resentment of the regime reaching a boiling point, and staunchly denies that it had anything to do with the rising profile of the less-popular but more ubiquitous (in Western media, at any rate) Kefaya. The rapid succession of street protests and demonstration was an attempt, Habib says, "to mobilize the Egyptian street, in a peaceful and civilized way, to pressure the regime to concede to the calls for reform."

Here, Habib chooses to drop a completely non-sequitur hint at the institutionalism that pervades the Brotherhood—uncommon in a country that has historically been dominated by personality cults and individuals. "We are, coincidentally, conducting a comprehensive review of this period. We are evaluating and analyzing its different factors, in an effort by us to draw out the details of the coming period."

But still, doesn't the recent upsurge of protests by Egyptian opposition groups in general and the Brotherhood in specific, coupled with steadily-growing domestic pressures on the regime, dovetail all too well with stated US policy in the region? Habib's initial response is somewhat vague. "We want reform on a national agenda, and we want a population that can choose its leaders of its own free will, and also has the ability to hold accountable and remove those leaders." But then he bluntly adds "The people who wait for America to come and free them do not deserve to live free."

Reflecting on the regime's dealings with the opposition, Habib is of the opinion that the government's policy towards the opposition can be summed up as: creating divisions between the various political groups; and fragmenting the groups from within, all the while relying on the public's apathy towards politics.

With the Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, the government uses a containment policy, arresting and incarcerating Brotherhood members (at the time of the interview, 11 members were under arrest and 9 were in detention). Generally, the more the Brotherhood attempted to generate a broad-based, popular appeal, the more the government would suppress them. Such suppression takes various forms, from freezing NGOs in which Brotherhood members are heavily involved, to rigging university student unions' elections to prevent Brotherhood activists from acquiring leadership positions on campuses.

But did the wave of arrests that targeted the Brotherhood during the past few months, which saw thousands of Brotherhood activists detained, curtail their ability to act, to mobilize? Habib smiles softly, before responding. "The Brotherhood operates in an institutionalized fashion, and does not depend on individuals. Secondly, the Society is not several tens or hundreds of individuals, for us to be affected by the arrest of 3,000 of our members." The Brotherhood's activities continue unabated, he asserts, and their efficiency was in no sense impacted.

It is perhaps such bitter experiences with the regime that account for the cynical tone that creeps into Habib's voice when he is asked if perhaps a sudden change in government policy, such as a cancellation of the notorious emergency laws, would be enough to elicit some form of Brotherhood endorsement for Mubarak's regime. "I do not expect that a regime that has become addicted to forgery and the monopolization of power will voluntarily grant general freedoms and cancel emergency laws. Confidence in this regime approaches, or is, zero." Somewhat more brightly, he adds "But our hopes lie with the Almighty and with this blessed people."

posted by scouser at 9:57 PM


~ Monday, November 07, 2005

Rasulullah pupuk kasih sayang, tidak rotan anak

Oleh Azlina Roszy Mohd Ghaffar

Seorang pembaca yang juga bapa bertanya mengenai penggunaan rotan dalam
anak iaitu pada usia berapakah beliau boleh berbuat demikian?

Apabila membicarakan soal merotan anak, kita tidak harus melupakan
hak mereka dalam Islam.

Dalam Islam, kanak-kanak mempunyai lima hak asasi yang dipanggil
(dharuriyatu khamsin). Ia mesti dipelihara seperti hak asasi semua manusia.

Hak itu ialah pemeliharaan hak beragama (hifdzud dien), jiwa (nafs), akal
(aql), harta (mal) dan pemeliharaan keturunan atau nasab (nasl) serta
kehormatan ('ird).

Keluarga Islam mempunyai tugas berat dalam membangunkan, memelihara
dan mempertahankan hak anak sebagai generasi masa depan.

Jika lalai dan leka, kita akan mengalami kenyataan pahit 'generasi yang
Ia bermakna bukan hilang bilangan atau kuantiti, tetapi generasi Muslim yang
hilang identiti dan keimanan.

Generasi ini bakal menjadi kerbau yang dicucuk hidung oleh kuasa yang
memusuhi Islam.

Mungkin secara lahiriah mereka kelihatan cerdas, bersih, tegap dan kuat,
tetapi jiwa mereka kosong iman dan Izzah Islam.

Berbalik kepada isu merotan, Rasulullah saw bersabda yang bermaksud:
"Suruhlah anak-anak kamu bersembahyang pada usia tujuh tahun dan pukul
mereka sekiranya tidak bersembahyang pada usia 10 tahun dan pisahkan antara
mereka di tempat tidur."

Ulama berpendapat daripada hadis itu, Islam menyuruh ibu bapa mengajar
anak membiasakan diri dengan ibadat sama ada sembahyang, berpuasa dan
bersedekah sejak kecil.

Hikmahnya supaya anak dapat mengenali hukum hakam dalam beribadat sejak
kecil, menanamkan rasa kecintaan kepada Allah, mensyukuri segala nikmat
Allah, menyucikan jiwa anak, kesihatan fizikal, akhlak dan perbuatan serta

Saidina Ali juga berpesan supaya kita mendidik anak mengikut tahap
kecerdikannya. Pesannya: "Pada tujuh tahun yang pertama, bermain dengan
anak kamu, didik anak kamu pada tujuh tahun berikutnya serta berkawan
dengannya pada tujuh tahun selepas itu."

Pesannya bermaksud kita harus bermesra, bermain dan bergurau dengan anak
ketika kecil hingga berusia tujuh tahun.

Apabila anak tiba usia ke sekolah iaitu tujuh hingga 14 tahun, didik dan
disiplinkan mereka, serta ajar tatacara beribadah dengan betul, di samping
menghormati hak orang lain dan menunaikan suruhan guru.

Selepas anak memasuki umur remaja 14 hingga 21 tahun, kita perlu menjadi
kawan kepadanya supaya dia dapat merujuk masalah dan mengadu kepada ibu bapa
jika menghadapi masalah.

Jika ibu bapa tidak menjadi sahabat kepada remaja, dikhuatiri kawannya
yang liar atau tidak berdisiplin menjadi penasihat kepadanya.

Pada waktu itu, agak terlambat untuk berbaik dengan anak atau menasihatinya.

Berbalik kepada hadis di atas, jika perlu merotan anak, ibu bapa boleh
berbuat demikian selepas anak berumur 10 tahun.

Mengapa pada umur 10 tahun?

Pakar psikologi berpendapat anak yang berumur prabaligh (sekitar
10 hingga 12 tahun) boleh memahami kesan hukuman yang dikenakan dan sebab
perbuatan itu tidak dibenarkan atau boleh dilakukan.

Anak yang kecil tidak faham jika dia didenda atas kesalahannya.

Justeru, jika anak kecil didenda, dia mungkin mengulangi perbuatannya itu
tanpa pengetahuan ibu bapanya.

Dia tidak melakukan perbuatan itu jika ibu bapa ada atau jika dia
mendapat ganjaran dengan tidak melakukan perbuatan itu.

Contohnya, kalau dia tidak memukul adik, ibu akan memberinya coklat
tetapi jika ibu tiada atau tidak memberinya coklat, dia akan memukul
adiknya semula.

Ada pelbagai hukuman boleh dikenakan sebagai denda kepada anak.
Antaranya menarik balik keistimewaan tertentu seperti tidak boleh
menonton televisyen jika mereka tidak siap kerja sekolah.

Hukuman yang menyebabkan kesakitan fizikal seperti rotan sepatutnya
dilakukan sebagai jalan terakhir selepas segala usaha dijalankan.

Hukuman yang menyebabkan kesakitan akan meninggalkan kesan mendalam kepada
perkembangan emosi anak.

Jangan menghukum anak dengan hukuman yang memalukan mereka seperti
memarahinya di hadapan kawan (terutama remaja). Ini menyebabkan anak kecewa
dan berasa rendah diri.

Jika anak harus dirotan, ibu bapa sewajarnya memberitahu apakah
kesalahannya yang menyebabkan dia dirotan.

Amaran awal harus diberi iaitu jika peraturan tertentu dilanggar, anak boleh

Berikan peluang kepada anak terlebih dulu seperti amaran kedua
sekiranya anak masih melanggar peraturan itu. Jika peraturan itu
masih tidak dipatuhi buat kali kedua atau ketiga, baru anak boleh dirotan.

Paling penting ialah perbetulkan niat kita sebelum melakukan
apa-apa dan minta ampun serta petunjuk daripada Allah.

Jangan merotan anak untuk menyakiti mereka tetapi rotan mereka
dengan tujuan mendidik. Jangan pukul mereka di muka. Cukup dengan
merotan mereka pada punggung yang kesan kesakitan kurang dirasakan.

Memadailah dengan satu hayunan rotan saja untuk menyedarkan anak dan
katakan bahawa tujuan ibu bapa merotan kerana menyayangi mereka.

Jangan rotan anak di hadapan anak yang lain kerana ini akan memalukannya.

Bagaimanapun, tidak adil untuk kita menghukum anak jika ibu bapa tidak
berusaha untuk mendidik mereka dan tidak menerangkan setiap perkara
yang harus menjadi panduan serta tidak mendisiplinkan mereka dari kecil.

Menasihati anak perlu dilakukan secara berterusan, di samping memantau
perkembangan pelajaran, kesihatan dan pergaulan sosial.

Pada pendapat saya, jika ibu bapa sudah menjalankan usaha menyemai
nilai mulia dalam diri anak sejak kecil dan memberikan mereka kasih
sayang dalam bentuk sentuhan dan belaian, ketegasan serta disiplin,
pemurah dengan buah tangan, meluangkan masa bermain dengan anak,
insya-Allah anak tidak memerlukan rotan untuk disiplin.

Saya belum terjumpa hadis yang menyebut Rasulullah merotan anak
dan cucu Baginda atau menyuruh sahabat merotan anak yang degil,
melainkan hadis yang banyak menyuruh manusia mendidik anak dengan kasih

Ini bermaksud rotan hanya sebagai jalan terakhir dan wajib
bertegas dengan anak bersangkutan dengan hal ibadat.

Jadilah bapa yang bijak untuk menimbangkan antara antara hak bapa
merotan anak dengan hak anak atas keselamatan jiwa, akal dan kehormatannya.

Maa ashobani min hasanatin faminallah...wamaa ashobani min sayyiatin famin nafsi (segala yg baik tu dari Allah dan yg buruk tu dari diriku)

posted by scouser at 6:50 PM