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the Message Continues i/56   -   Newsletterfor April 2006

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"United we Stand, Divided we Fall"

A Winning Solution for the Iraqi People    

by Dr. Robert D. Crane  

    The Prophet, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, cautioned us to remember his words:  "It is easy to break a single twig but difficult when it is bundled with others."  The same is true of people.  Divided they are weak and vulnerable; united they are strong and unassailable. This is why the ethnic and religious groups in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East should respect their differences and unite in a federation or confederation or similar alliance with a common purpose.  

    The Shi'a, Kurdish, and Sunni nations in the Fertile Crescent deserve independence as states, as do all nations that have a common sense of their history, common values for the present, and common hopes for the future.  This was the definition of a nation by the renowned Sufi (but most of his life a secret one) Rene Guenon, who was my guru (not knowing that he was a Muslim) sixty years ago. 

    Big size does not make for great strength, nor does small size make for weakness.  False nationalism that looks inwardly in solipsistic egotism, rather than outwardly in solidarity, i.e., introverted rather than extroverted, makes for weakness.  True nationalism, which is a sense of community based on the sacredness of the individual person under the sovereignty of God, is the beginning and cornerstone of strength.   

    The Europeans knew that the great Islamic civilization was already moribund because the focus of the intellectuals, what few still existed outside the Sufi orders, had lost this sense of solidarity in submission to Allah.  They focused on the externals in an obsession for survival, rather than with a mission as khulafa'a Allahi to bring justice to the world.  And the Sufis generally preferred to remain hidden in order to protect themselves from their fellow Muslims. 

    Given these sad facts, the European colonialists saw that it would be easy to conquer the entire Muslim world by dividing Muslims up into little states or by packing them together in artificial states so that they would fight each other rather than the occupiers.  How could the colonialists lose.  They did not.  They won.   

        The chaos in Iraq comes from seeking stability through imposition of the status quo with all of its injustices.  Belief in stability as an ultimate value or goal is always self-defeating, just as is the pursuit of material power, because by themselves both are false gods.  In the creed of the Shi'a five ultimate values or goals have been elevated to the status of essential beliefs.  The first of the five is loving awareness of Allah.  The second is justice based on truth, which derives from the first. 

    The five elements, goals, or ultimate principles can best be understood and carried into practice through a set of procedures in a holistic process.  One task of this subordinate process is to apply the principle of subsidiary not only to political power but to economic power through the decentralization of ownership in productive wealth, while respecting the property rights of already vested private ownership.   

    Subsidiary is a core principle in the moral theology of justice.  In this paradigm of thought the ultimate authority does not begin in the sovereignty of the state but in the sacredness of each human person in submission to the sovereignty of God.  God is at the top of the chain of authority, followed at the next lower level by the individual person, and then in successive lower levels by the family, community, and nation.  This inverts the standard paradigm where the state is at the apex in the chain of command and persons are at the bottom.  In solving problems one starts at the top in the pluralist universe created by God and moves down the chain only as cooperation in community is needed to achieve results, with appeal to the state with its monopoly in the power of coercion only as a last resort.  This minimizes the role and power of centralized government and maximizes the role of individual persons and communities.   

    This accords with the idea that sometimes "small is beautiful."  If smallness of political size were ipso facto bad, then we better start eliminating Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark (some now advocate this), the Netherlands, Portugal, and a bunch of countries in Central America and Africa.  Perhaps even England is too small, compared with the United States, though the English did figure out eventually how to unite the "British" isles into a United Kingdom, and then become a fifty-first state of its upstart progeny in America. 

    Based on the conviction that big is better, the materialist mindset of Western secularists, who do not regard anything as sacred, especially if it gets in the way of pursuing physical power, has been absorbed by the victims of imperialism.  It is time to reintroduce the core of all the world religions, which is awareness of the sacredness of every individual person and of everything that God has created, directly or indirectly, including nations and religions, as legitimate manifestations of Al Haqq, a wonderful Qur'anic term that means simultaneously God, truth, and human rights.  This is a central teaching in the revelation of the Qur'an, so we should not deny it by buying into the polytheism of materialists who want to create one world order by eliminating nations in order to atomize humanity under their own polytheistic pseudo-sovereignty into a meaningless glob. 

  The secret to power in Iraq is independence for the three basic nations in a confederation, and within each one autonomy of any component parts in a federation.  Many leaders in Iraq, both "religious" and "secular," have argued that the beginning of solidarity should be privatization of the oil in the Fertile Crescent in equal shares of voting stock to every citizen of this region, with ownership in perpetuity and an equal share to be issued for every baby at birth.  Decentralization of economic power produces decentralization of political power, just as centralization of ownership produces tyranny.  If every person in the Fertile Crescent had an equal share in its principal natural resource, every one would have a stake in the political confederation that made this possible. 

    This proposal did not survive vetting by the occupying power in Iraq, even though it has been thoroughly studied by professionals in America, including the Hoover Institution's Charles Wolf, who published his findings in his Wall Street Journal article of November 23rd, 2005, "Shareholders Don't Shoot Each Other."  Wolf is Senior Economic Adviser and Corporate Fellow in International Economics at one of the half dozen most prestigious think-tanks in the world.  A detailed presentation by the Center for Economic and Social Justice.   

     The missing dimension in American foreign policy is the concept of justice.  For most of the people in the world, freedom and democracy are means, not ends.  They are essential means to justice, which means that to elevate them above justice or to separate them from justice is to deny their higher purpose.  This, in turn, is to ignore the essential teaching of every one of the great world religions and to deny the validity of all divine revelation since the beginning of humankind. 

    During the height of the classical Islamic civilization, centuries of the best minds in history developed a set of universal human responsibilities and rights known as the maqasid al shari'ah or essential and universal goals of jurisprudence.  Although the formulation of these goals is flexible, they all start with the maqsud known as haqq al din or acknowledgement of God as the ultimate source of truth and authority.  The other six can be divided into three sets of two.  Each of them sets forth a primary principle of responsibility and a subsidiary set of objectives, the observance of which effectuates a corresponding human right.   

    The first set consists of haqq al nafs, which is the duty to respect the sacredness of the human person, and haqq al nasl, which is the duty to respect the nuclear family and human community at every level all the way to the community of humankind.  The second set is haqq al mal, or the duty to respect and universalize access to private property, and haqq al hurriya, which is the duty to respect and implement institutions that make possible the political freedom of self-determination.  The last set is haqq al karama, which is the duty to respect human rights, including religious freedom and gender equity, and haqq al 'ilm, which is the duty to respect knowledge, with its subsidiary set of objectives embodied in freedom of thought, speech and assembly. 

    Justice is considered to be the Will of God as best humans can understand it with the help of divine revelation (wahy) and natural law (Sunnatu Allahi)   These maqasid in combination may be considered to define the meaning of justice in classical Islamic thought and in the creed of those who follow the Shi'i path.  The Muslims of Iraq now have the opportunity to build a model of justice for the world.  As Muslims they have no alternative.      

    The motto of the Fourth Convention of the Universal Muslim Association of America (UMAA) in its fourth annual convention of Shi'a in America, to be held, in sha'a Allah, on May 26-29, 2006 at the Sheraton in Vienna, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., summarizes the priority of belief in justice as revealed in the eighth verse of Surah al Ma'ida: 

"Oh you who have attained to faith!  Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice.  Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious.  And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do." 

    Allah reminds us further always to remember: 

"The Message of your Lord is completed and perfected in truth and in justice," Surah al An'am 6:115. 

"Strive with it (divine revelation) in a Great Jihad," Surah al Furqan 25:52 (this third jihad is the only one mentioned in the Qur'an).  

"Say: 'Oh Allah! Lord of Power, You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please.  You endow with honor whom You please, and You bring low whom You please.  In Your hand is all Good.  Verily, over all things You have power"  Surah Ali Imran, 3:26

"Allah creates what He wills.  When He has decreed a plan, He but says, 'be', and it is."  Surah Ali Imran 3:47, also Surah al Nahl, 16:40, and Miryam 19:35, "Kun, fa yakun."

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