December 11, 2003


The Arab News has a commentary by a Dr. Mohammad T. Al-Rasheed that asks what's wrong with Pax Americana. His conclusion:

America, like any other country in the world, has its agenda. That is normal. It is also normal to dispute and resist that agenda if it is not favorable to our needs. But today we face an existential problem that precedes such finer points of political science. The Americans have never interfered with our religion or our institutions. If Bin Laden and his Talibanesque clique are the alternative, then we face the reality of having our books and tapes burned, our daughters not going to school, our education monopolized by the aphorisms of a certain creed, even our dress and diet controlled in a way that would make the ex-Soviet Gulags look like the Ritz. We will remain blind consumers who risk going back to tents when the oil runs out. How many of us look forward to that?

Had this run two years ago, I would have been more impressed. Speaking of when the oil runs out, or even when its revenue stream becomes insufficient to support the population of Arabia, a Raid Qusti wonders, also in the Arab News, whether free spending tourists -- believe it or not, the Saudis believe tourism will be its next big growth industry -- will want to visit:

The idea of going out to eat and seeing other people eating and enjoying their meal in a public place would not apply in this part of the world.

That is simply because other people do not want you to look at them and do not want to look at you either.

As for prayer times, Muslim or not, you and your family are kicked out — in a polite way of course — ten minutes before the call for prayer, even if you are in the middle of your meal.

Other disturbing signs that reflect our intolerance and rigidity appear in our streets and our malls — faceless people on signs.

The faces of men in an advertisement are covered with paint, tape or plaster. Others, displaying women are the same. Even the faces of children are blotted out — and let’s not forget about women’s products sold in pharmacies.

And then there is sexual segregation and what almost amounts to a phobia when men and women are together. How many times has a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight been delayed because stewards and stewardesses are busy rearranging seats because a man and a woman — for cultural reasons — feel they cannot sit next to each another?

A bracing reminder, if any was needed, of what life is like in that bizarre state.

Meanwhile, Asia Times Online has an interview with Dr Mohammed al-Shiekh Mahmood Sayam, who, in 1987, issued the call for the infitada from the al-Aqsa mosque. He offers this useful reading list for the aspiring terrorist:

Sayam's political vision was heavily influenced by the Islamic movement, and he admits to "learning from Syed Qutub [the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue executed by the Egyptian government] that Islam should prevail over all the world. From Imam Banna [Hasanul Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood] I learned that jihad should be the way. From Imam Modudi [Syed Abul Ala Modudi, founder of the Jamaat-i-Islami in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh] I learned that Koranic teachings should be dominant in the system of state. From the book of Imam Nadvi [Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi, the Jamaat-i-Islami India chief who later became a writer], The Rise and Fall of Muslim and its Influence on Human History, I learnt of the role Muslims should play in the world community."

Speaking of Sayyid Qutb (at least, that's the spelling I've usally seen), Little Green Footballs points out this link to an online text of Milestones, one of Qutb's works. I haven't yet read it, and frankly, I'm not all that eager to, but at some point I might take a look...

Posted by Ideofact at December 11, 2003 10:43 PM

(Didn't you blog on Milestones a year or so ago? Or am I thinking of someone else?)

Posted by: jaed at December 15, 2003 06:09 PM

I blogged Social Justice in Islam, another work by Qutb.

Posted by: Bill at December 15, 2003 11:37 PM