Monday, March 14, 2011

Radicalism and the Rehabilitation experiment

Treat the cause, not the symptoms

This is one of the most powerful experiments that the media has failed to highlight; we have worked this successfully when Pastor Roberts called Quraan an evil book written by a false prophet. We held the Quraan conference run by ten non-Muslim clergy to go through the verses claimed to be evil resulting in surprises. Details are at
Mike Ghouse
A Yemeni judge is pioneering a religious re-education programme for Islamic militant prisoners and claims a 90% success rate, writes Brian Whitaker
An icy wind was blowing in the streets of Westminster and there were flakes of snow in the air, but the hotel was warm inside. With its wood panelling and comfy armchairs, the lobby resembled something between a gentleman's club and a country mansion: the essence of Englishness.

Enter the incongruous figure of Judge Hamoud Abdulhamid al-Hitar, dressed in a long black robe, a ceremonial dagger at his waist and a copy of the Guardian under his arm.
A judge in the high court of Yemen, he had been invited to London by the British government because the Foreign Office, the attorney general and the Metropolitan police, not to mention several Muslim organisations, all wanted to know about his unusual method of fighting terrorism - by theological dialogue.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the Yemeni authorities, under considerable pressure from the United States, rounded up several hundred suspected troublemakers and kept them in jail without trial. Many, the authorities readily admit, had not committed any crime but were known as sympathisers - if not active supporters - of Osama bin Laden.
The approach pioneered by Judge Hitar, who is also chairman of the Yemeni Human Rights Organisation, is to "re-educate" and release them, subject to guarantees of good behaviour. The success rate in re-education is about 90%, according to Judge Hitar, and more than 100 have been freed so far.
The basic idea is very simple: that Islamic militants are not fundamentally bad people but have mistaken views of Islam that can be corrected through religious argument based on the Koran and the teachings of the prophet (the Sunna). If they can be genuinely convinced of their error, they will not commit criminal acts and - perhaps more importantly - will not encourage others to do so either.
"It's similar to the work of a doctor," Judge Hitar said. "We diagnose and we treat it."
The theological dialogue committee, which Judge Hitar chairs, was set up in September 2002 to hold discussions with returnees from Afghanistan and "youths holding extreme theological ideologies contradictory to the unanimity of Islamic scholars". (Since the Yemeni justice system is based on Islamic law, judges are well qualified to deal with the religious issues.)
"We chose a group of these young people, and picked the most extreme and the best educated," Judge Hitar said. "They asked why we had come. We said it was to carry out a dialogue and our number one point of reference would be the Koran and the Sunna. "We told them: 'If YOU are right we will follow you, but if WE are right you should follow us'.
"We set out an agenda by finding out what problems they suffered from and what [religious] authorities they depended on." Two particular attitudes among the militants soon came to the fore: a belief that they could kill non-Muslims in the name of jihad, and a belief that Yemen's political system was contrary to Islam.
"They considered Yemen as a non-Islamic state," he said. "They said the government is not governing according to God's book and is pro-western. Some of them were not aware of the treaties and agreements between Yemen and other countries. Some thought it was acceptable to shed the blood of non-Muslims anywhere on earth."
The secret of the dialogue's apparent success is that it confronts such views in Islamic terms, citing the Koran and other authorities that the militants respect. It makes use, for example of the constitution of Madina, established in the prophet's time, which protected the rights of Jews and other non-Muslims.
Yemen's international relations, Judge Hitar explained, are based on agreements and governed by the United Nations - arrangements which are fully compatible with the Koran and the Sunna.
"UN signatories are in a state of peace with one another, and it is not permissible to attack citizens from other UN members. [Non-Muslim] people visiting Yemen have a visa, so it is not permissible to attack them or force them to convert to Islam."
Those who accept the re-education are asked to sign a statement condemning violence, committing themselves to obey the law and dissociating themselves from al-Qaida or any armed group. They must also agree to respect the rights of non-Muslims and promise not to attack the interests of friendly states.
But are these changes of heart genuine, or are the militants simply grabbing a "get-out-of-jail-free" card? That is a question Judge Hitar is often asked.
"These young people are not going to be convinced easily," he answered. "They don't agree just to get out of jail. One of them said 'I am prepared to stay for 20 years in jail to prove that I have changed.'"
Those released are kept under surveillance, and Judge Hitar emphasises that suspects who have been charged with actual crimes have to be brought before the courts.
"Dialogue is for everyone but release is for the innocent," he said. The principle of dialogue, he believes, is one that can be used to deal with Islamic militancy far beyond Yemen, even in Britain which he describes as "the capital of religious tolerance".
"With total confidence I think this method can be applied in the UK," he said. "There are British Muslims who have the ability [to conduct dialogues] and we are prepared to train them further. We are ready to co-operate with them and train them in Yemen or in Britain."
It was time for Judge Hitar to leave. The BBC's Arabic Service were eager to interview him, and later he would be meeting Muslims in Birmingham. Preparing to step out, once again, into the British winter, he held up a ballpoint pen and waved goodbye with it.
"The pen is stronger than the stick," he said.
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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.