Da’wah is one of the three arms that operate the Islamic strategy, together with Jihad and Hijrah.
Among the three Da’wah is the most dangerous, just because Western culture does not understand. It is the stealth devise, a means to deceive and to mislead the infidels about the essence of Islam, its operational aims and strategies, introducing the nice face of Islam as a religion of peace and compassion.
The motive of Da’wah is religious: the strengthening and expansion of Islam, and it is based on the Qur’an commandments, which can be observed as Jihād al-Da’wah, the spreading of Islam among the infidels by peaceful propagating means. It is intended to changing the infidels’ minds and behavior and to subverting their mode of thinking. It is a cultural coercive strategy aimed at toppling Western democratic liberal regimes by eliminating their freedoms and by infiltrating Western technology and society’s fabrics and destroying them from within. Where Jihad works on the body, on the material structure, Da’wah works on the mental–spiritual side as a persuasion means; where Jihad operates to terrorize and intimidate, Da’wah aimed at deceiving, confusing, and misleading; where Jihad acts to submit, Da’wah paves the way to Islamize.
According to these lines, Jamal Badawi, one of the known Muslim propagandists in the US, wrote an e-mail to Robert Spencer, on February 14 2005. The aim was to prove that all verses of the Qur’an are peaceful, and that Islam promotes peace and it is against violence and wars:
“The Qur’an prohibits compulsion in religion [2:256]. It teaches the Oneness of God, acceptance and respect of all prophets [2:285], broad human brotherhood [49:13], acceptance of plurality [5:48; 11:118], universal justice and fair dealing [4:134, 5:8]. It demands just, kind and respectful treatment of those who co-exist peacefully with Muslims [60:8-9]. Peaceful dialogue with the People of the Book and the emphasis on common grounds with them is a repeated theme in the Qur’an [3:64; 29:46, 5:5].
This list sums up most of the contemporary Islamic propaganda in plenty internet sites and various publications. It is distinctive and highly definitive that Muslim propagators purposely quote verses from the Qur’an that were written in the early days of Islam at Mecca, where Muhammad was weak and his followers were few and vulnerable. These passages make Islam appear a bit compassionate and peaceful. However, the Islamic propaganda that claims that the Meccan verses are dominant in Islamic teaching, is either ignorant of actual Islamic doctrine and tidings, or it practices a sophisticated deception of Da’wah.
Well, the question is are these verses quoted above really mean what Badawi says? It is easy to refute his claims as a pure propagation by introducing the real meaning of the verses.
As about verse 2:256, “no compulsion in religion,” La Ikrāh fīl-Dīn. Probably there is no verse more frequently cited by contemporary Muslims propagators to mislead the infidels. Let’s read verse 2:256 in entirety:
There is no compulsion in religion. Truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in Satan and believes in Allah, indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off.
This verse was given after the Badr War, in March 624. According to the most authoritative Muslim exegetes, there are the following explanations to the verse circumstances:
First, the cause of this verse was the expulsion of the Jewish tribe of Banu al-Nadir, and it has nothing to do with tolerance towards the other. The women of Ansar, Arabs who joined Islam in Medina, used to make a vow to convert their sons to Judaism if they lived. When the tribe of Banu al-Nadir was expelled from Medina, some children of the Ansar were among them, so their parents could not abandon them; hence Allah revealed: “There is no compulsion in religion…”
Second, according to Ibn Ishaq, in his Sīrat Rasûl Allāh, narrated Ibn Abbas: it was revealed with regard to a man from the tribe of Bani Salim whose two sons converted to Christianity but he was himself a Muslim. He told the Prophet: “Shall I force them to embrace Islam as they insist on Christianity”, hence Allah revealed this verse. But, continue Ibn Ishaq, it was abrogated by the verses of “fighting” the infidels, in Sûrat al-Fath, 48:16; Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:73; and Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:123.
Third, according to Ibn Kathir: Allah says: “There is no compulsion in religion”, meaning: do not force anyone to embrace Islam, because it is clear and its proofs and evidences are manifest. Whoever Allah guides and opens his heart to Islam has indeed embraced it with clear evidence. Whoever Allah misguides and blinds his heart cannot embrace Islam by force. Therefore, all people of the world should be called to Islam. If anyone of them refuses to do so, or refuses to pay the Jizyah, they should be fought till they are killed. This is the meaning of “compulsion.”
Fourth, according to Nahhas, with the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas: “scholars differed concerning 2:256. Some said it has been abrogated by Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:73, for the Prophet compelled the Arabs to embrace Islam and fought those that had no alternative but to surrender to Islam. Other scholars said that it has not been abrogated concerning the People of the Book. It is only the infidels who are compelled to embrace Islam, and upon them 9:73 applies. The Prophet said: I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah. This Hadīth is taken from the words of Allah in Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:193. Allah sent Muhammad calling people to Him, showing the way to the truth… until the evidence of Allah’s truth became manifest … He ordered him to call people by the sword…”
Fifth, according to Suyuti, verse 2:256 was not abrogated by 9:73, but this is a case of delaying or postponing the command to fight the infidels until the Muslims become strong. This view exactly supports the issue: in Mecca Muhammad was weak with few followers, and he could not resist his enemies. From here the mild pronouncements concerning fighting his rivals. However, in Medina Muhammad became strong, and he ordered the Believers to fight the infidels.
However, most important to understand the meaning of verse 2:256, is by reading the following verse 2:257, which is connected to it. This sums up the entire issue:
Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light, and as to those who disbelieve, their guardian is Satan who takes them out of the light into the darkness. They are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide forever.
Concluding the issue, one has to look at the context, to realize there is nothing compassionate and peace-loving here. No tolerance and no accepting other religions as legitimate. Verse 2:257 confirms that 2:256 prove, by definition and along its entire Scripture Islam is ethnocentric, racist and homophobic.
As about 2:285, in which Badawi says it “teaches the oneness of God, acceptance and respect of all prophets.” Well, Badawi is misleading as a propagator. The verse says:
The Apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers. They all believe in Allah and his angels and his book and his Apostles. We make no difference between any of his Apostles, and they say: we hear and obey, our Allah (emphasis is mine).
That is, there is no pluralism and respect of the other. It is a firm belief in Allah alone and in Islam as the only legitimate religion. Moreover, this is the proof how Islam is compulsive and abusive. According to Islamic Din al-Fitrah, all human being are Muslims from the beginning of history to the end of the world. All Jewish and Christian prophets are Muslims and all submit to Allah. It is totally opposite from pluralism and tolerance. This is not exactly what Badawi says when he deceives the infidels with his pure propagation. Islam is in fact ethnocentric and racist.
As about 49:13, in which Badawi says “broad human brotherhood.” Well, it is not exactly as he says. The verse declares:
O people! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous (emphasis is mine).
The verse refers to the Arabs alone. It is clear from the next verse (49:14):
The Desert-Arabs say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not believed; but say, ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered into your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not diminish any of your deeds. Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”
There is absolutely no “broad human brotherhood,” but submission to Islam alone. On the contrary, by definition and along its entire Scripture, Islam is ethnocentric, racist and homophobic.
As about 5:48 and 11:118, in which Badawi says “acceptance of plurality.” The analysis is far away from what he says: verse 5:48 declares:
And we revealed to you the Book [Qur’an], with truth, confirming the Scripture that preceded it, and superseding it. So judge [Muhammad] between them according to what Allah revealed, [meaning the superiority of the Qur’an] and do not follow their desires if they differ from the truth that has come to you. For each of you we have assigned a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He could have made you a single nation, but He tests you through what He has given you. So compete in righteousness. To Allah is your return, all of you; then He will inform you of what you had disputed (emphasis is mine).
It is also clear from the next verse (5:49):
And judge between them according to what Allah revealed, and do not follow their desires. And beware of them, lest they lure you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. But if they turn away, know that Allah intends to strike them with some of their sins. In fact, a great many people are corrupt (emphasis is mine).
To be sure, verse 5:47 says:
So let the people of the Gospel rule according to what Allah revealed in it. Those who do not rule according to what Allah revealed are the sinners.
Verse 11:118 declares:
Had your Lord willed, He could have made humanity one community, but they continue to differ (emphasis is mine).
This is not a declaration of plurality, but differentiation: those who are not Muslims continue to differ and that is why Allah has not made humanity one community. A proof comes from verses 11:117, and 11:119:
Your Lord would never destroy the towns wrongfully, while their inhabitants are righteous.
Except those on whom your Lord has mercy-for that reason He created them. The Word of your Lord is final: “I will fill Hell with jinn and humans, altogether.”
These verses do not show any pluralism. On the contrary, by definition and along its entire Scripture, Islam is ethnocentric, racist and homophobic.
As about verses 4:134, 5:8, in which Badawi says “universal justice and fair dealing.” It is important to show these have nothing to do with the subject matter.
Whoever desires the reward of this world with Allah is the reward of this world and the next. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
This verse has nothing to do with “universal justice and fair dealing.” It says: the Muslims loyal believers will receive Allah’s rewards in this world and the next. That is all. Moreover, the verses before and after clear the issue:
132. To Allah belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. God suffices as Manager.
133. If He wills, He can do away with you, O people, and bring others. Allah is Able to do that.
135. O you who believe! Stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah takes care of both. So do not follow your desires, lest you swerve. If you deviate, or turn away, then Allah is Aware of what you do.
As about 5:8. It relates only to the Muslims.
O you who believe! Be upright to Allah, witnessing with justice; and let not the hatred of a certain people [not Muslims] prevent you from acting justly [to your fellow believers]. Adhere to justice, for that is nearer to piety; and fear Allah. Allah is informed of what you do (emphasis is mine).
The verses before and after prove this issue clearly:
And Remember Allah’s blessings upon you, and His covenant which He covenanted with you; when you said, “We hear and we obey.” And remain conscious of Allah, for Allah knows what the hearts contain.
Allah has promised those who believe and work righteousness: they will have forgiveness and a great reward (emphasis is mine).
Concluding these, by definition and along its entire Scripture, Islam is ethnocentric, racist and homophobic.
As about 60:8-9, in which Badawi says Islam “demands just, kind and respectful treatment of those who co-exist peacefully with Muslims.” One can only wonder how Badawi interpret these verses. The verses are as follows:
As for those who have not fought against you for your religion, nor expelled you from your homes, Allah does not prohibit you from dealing with them kindly and equitably. Allah loves the equitable.
But Allah prohibits you from befriending those who fought against you over your religion, and expelled you from your homes, and aided in your expulsion. Whoever takes them for friends-these are the wrongdoers.
These verses prove that those who resist Islamic coercive religion and prefer not to become Muslims, their fate is to be fought. Islam is ethnocentric and warmongering.
As about 3:64; 29:46, 5:5, in which Badawi says Islam advocates for “peaceful dialogue with the People of the Book and the emphasis on common grounds with them is a repeated theme in the Qur’an.” However, Badawi reveals only a small portion of the truth. The verses are as follows:
3:64. Say, “O People of the Book, come to terms common between us and you: that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate nothing with Him, and that none of us takes others as lords besides Allah.” And if they turn away, say, “Bear witness that we have submitted.”
5:5. Today all good things are made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. So are chaste believing women, and chaste women from the people who were given the Scripture before you, provided you give them their dowries, and take them in marriage, not in adultery, nor as mistresses. But whoever rejects faith, his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers.
29:46. And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in the best manner possible, except those who do wrong among them. And say, “We believe in what was revealed to us, and in what was revealed to you; and our Allah and your Allah is One; and to Him we are submissive” (all emphases are mine).
According to these verses it is not a peaceful dialogue but a coercive one: if Jews and Christians accept Allah as their only deity, and associate nothing with him, then there is a cooperation. However, if they stick to their God then they are sinners. Even for women it is one-sided: Muslims can take Jewish and Christian women but not vice-versa. But the issue is much more complicated. Even in their prayer, in Sūrat al-Fātihah, verse 7, Muslims disassociate themselves from the Jews, who have gone astray and Christians, on whom there is the wrath of Allah.
Unfortunately, Judaism and Christianity are rejected and not acceptable to Allah, after he has sent his final messenger to the entire world. Jews are sinners and transgressors and have therefore forfeited their status as the chosen people. They are evil incarnate like devils, since they have killed all the prophets. They have turned into monkeys and pigs destined to suffer in Hellfire forever.
As for Christianity, it is a corrupted and distorted religion based on myths and legends. Jesus is a Muslim Prophet who asserts that the foundations of Christianity, like the Trinity, are false, and that Christ’s Divinity is a blasphemy. Christians are infidels and blasphemers and have invented lies about Allah by ascribing partners to Allah, which is the worst of sins. For that, they are condemned forever to Hell. Jesus will come back and destroy Christianity by breaking the Cross, and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them. Indeed. On the Day of Resurrection, Jews and Christians would take the place of Muslims in Hell.
For Badawi’s sake, here is an up-to-date version of Islamic behavior concerning the non-Muslims: fighting is prescribed upon the believers (2:216). It is Jihad in the cause of Allah (2:244 and other forty verses) against the powers of Satan (4:76), the infidels and the hypocrites (9:5; 9:73; 66:9), and the People of the Book (9:29). The order for the Muslims is to smite their necks (47:4; 8:12) and to strike terror in their hearts (3:151; 8:60), including the People of the Book (59:2), for the hereafter world (4:74). For that, the Jihadi Muslims will earn paradise (3:195: 9:72: 13:22-23; 47:4-6), and their reward will be black-eyed virgins (44:51-54; 52:17-20; 56:22-24), and the utmost tiding is that they are not dead, but alive, staying beside Allah (2:154; 3:169).
Modernizing Higher Education for Economic Growth
Malawi has fewer affordable universities than it has students who want to go to them, leaving college out of reach for many. Enrollment in tertiary education is low, but more and more Malawians hunger for it. With IDA financing from the World Bank, Malawian citizens now have more options.
The five-year, $51 million Skills Development Project is helping public universities to strengthen and increase public access to programs that cater to sectors critical to Malawi’s economic growth. These include engineering, natural resources extraction, agriculture, construction, health services, tourism, and hospitality.
Beyond the establishment of the National Council for Higher Education, project funding supports a range of activities at institutions, including improving course offerings and staff skills, renovating infrastructure, and setting up satellite facilities.
Market-relevant course offerings
To expand the range of scientific skills and mid-level technicians needed to fuel Malawi’s economy, 39 new programs have been developed by universities, with the participation of the private sector ensuring their relevance to the economy. By 2017, these programs contributed 44 percent of the new student intake to public universities.
Diploma programs at universities have also been bolstered to increase the training of mid-level career personnel needed by various trades. For example, the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic now offers 10 technician-level engineering diploma programs in subjects like mining, telecommunications, and health. By 2019, these programs are expected to have enrolled 750 diploma students.
One of the major constraints to increasing student enrollment at public universities has been space. At Chancellor College, where most of Malawi’s secondary school science teachers are trained, more and better infrastructure is expected to make it possible to boost student intake by 65 percent. This includes modernized laboratories and four new lecture halls seating 350 students each.
This will go a long way toward meeting an increase in the demand for science teachers, following the introduction of physics and chemistry as separate subjects in the secondary school curriculum.
Mzuzu University is heading to be the country’s center of excellence in tourism training. It is constructing a purpose-built tourism and hospitality facility that will produce graduates who are industry-ready.
Online and distance learning
The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and Mzuzu have introduced online and distance learning (ODL), resulting in increased enrollment at both. At LUANAR, online students make up 10 percent of the total student population. Between 2014 and 2016, Mzuzu increased its intake of online students tenfold. With more affordable fees and flexible options, the ODL system has helped to open access to higher education for many people nationwide.
“I enrolled through ODL because of its flexibility. I continue with my everyday life and yet I am studying at the same time. This is wonderful,” says 45-year-old Joe Mwenye, a father of five and a teacher in Ngabu in Chikwawa district. He is studying at LUANAR for a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Extension.
LUANAR has three ODL centers: one in the town of Mzuzu, another in Lilongwe, and another in Blantyre. Mzuzu University is opening satellite centers in Balaka, Karonga, Mulanje, and Lilongwe.
The Depth of Taboo: Social Issues in South Asia
Rarely does a geopolitical handbook also make such large and important contributions to uncomfortably critical social issues. This handbook is that rare example. The author Aryal takes our MD readers deep into some disturbing discussions – caste systems, systematic violence against women, rape, honor killings, gender stigmatizing, and societal sexism – not to just anecdotally expose people to some of the continued living horrors afflicting important regions of the world but to systematically analyze such atrocities so that their long-term political, economic, social, and diplomatic consequences are revealed.
What many around the world do not realize is how crippling these gross abuses of human decency can be for a nation and region writ large: these are not just individual crimes to be noted and then forgotten. The failure of societies, the failure of GLOBAL society, to make more effective progress and take a more rigid stand against injustice is a black mark on all countries, on all of us. This handbook in its own small way strives to be a light within that darkness and as such it is both informative and courageous. While the readers of MD will not find the content of this particular handbook for the faint of heart, the importance of acquiring this knowledge, of becoming more aware of the world that we live in as it truly is in so many places, should be considered a duty of all those fortunate enough to not be born into states where such systemic violence still exists and largely goes unchallenged.
The title of this work is no accident and no shameless marketing attempt to attract more readers. Rather, it is exposing in a single word the reason why overcoming systemic violence based on gender is so difficult. Social taboos run deep in every region, state, city, town, village. We will likely not succeed in eliminating them from the social conscience of people. But the attempt to ameliorate the power of taboo, its power to push rationality out and pull insanity in, is a noble one that all of us at the editorial staff at MD recognize as silently essential for the cause of future peace on so many different levels. The battle against taboo is the secret front end of the war against gender violence and oppression. Ultimately, the criminal justice systems of societies must improve to remedy those actions not prevented from occurring. But the real long-term comprehensive solution will be the effort to eliminate the fear of social taboos, to eliminate the stigma that drives many to commit ignorant violence in the first place.
Women and girls with autism must be empowered to overcome discrimination they face
On World Autism Awareness Day, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has joined the global call to empower women and girls with autism and involve them and their advocates in policy and decision-making to address the discrimination and other challenges they face.
“They face […] barriers to accessing education and employment on an equal footing with others, denial of their reproductive rights and the freedom to make their own choices, and a lack of involvement in policy making on matters that concern them,” said the Secretary-General in his message on the Day.
Emphasizing that “our work for gender equality and women’s empowerment must reach all the world’s women and girls,” he stressed that the international community’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must uphold the 2030 Agenda’s core promise to leave no one behind.
The Goals and the landmark framework from which they emerged were adopted by UN Member States three years ago. Together they aim to wipe out poverty and boost equality by putting the world on a more sustainable economic, social and environmental path by 2030.
“On World Autism Awareness Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms,” concluded the Mr. Guterres.
Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status. The term Autism Spectrum refers to a range of characteristics.
Autism is mainly characterized by its unique social interactions, non-standard ways of learning, keen interests in specific subjects, inclination to routines, challenges in typical communications and particular ways of processing sensory information.
The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and the lack of understanding has a tremendous impact on the individuals, their families and communities.
The World Day is marked annually on 2 April, and this year’s official UN commemoration will be on Thursday, 5 April, with a half-day programme in New York entitled Empowering Women and Girls with Autism, that will feature a keynote address from Julia Bascom, Executive Director, Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
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