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Abrogation in Islam: the Uniqueness of Duality

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Jamal Badawi, concludes his propagating claims in his e-mail to Robert Spencer, on February 14 2005, by declaring: “Those who erroneously claimed that all such definitive verses have all been ‘abrogated’ by what they called ‘the verse of the sword’ were mistaken and failed to give any definitive evidence of their claims.

There is no single verse in the Qur’an properly interpreted in its context and historical circumstances that ever allowed the Muslim to fight non-Muslims simply because they are non-Muslims…”

Well, even if Badawi ignores the 109 verses that call for violence of Jihad and slaughtering against the infidels and hundreds of verses that call for incitement and hatred against the other, he still deceives and misleads in his propagation. Contrary to his words, the mild verses that call for avoidance and against retaliation are all from the Meccan period and were all abrogated, nullified and rendered void when Muhammad became strong and victorious at Medina. Western politicians, members of the academia and the media are not only unaware and perhaps ignorant of this reality, just because they don’t learn, but at the same time disseminate, intentionally or unintentionally, the tidings of the Islamic propaganda.

When one opens the Qur’an, he sees at the top of the page in brackets the words Makki or Madani, meaning Sûrah from Meccan period or Medinan period. This differentiation is according to Islamic exegesis, since the Qur’an is organized neither chronologically nor topically but in order of the length of the Sûwar: from longest to shortest. The line of differentiation was in September 622, when Muhammad ran away from Mecca and went to Yathrib (later called Medina, or Madinat al-Nabī). This event was so significant in Muslim history that it is called Hijrah, meaning emigration, but also ‘separation,’ ‘breaking of relations.’

Most importantly, it marks the beginning of the Muslim Calendar. This is something to bear in mind concerning Islamic doctrine and teaching. Muhammad began his prophecy from year 610 in Mecca. The total majority, 90 Sûwar of the Qur’an, out of 114, are from Meccan period. Yet, Islamic exegetes preferred the Hijrah as the founding event of Islamic history. The reason is clear: at Mecca, after 12 years of preaching Muhammad had a total 80 believers and the Muslims were weak and persecuted. Only at Medina, Muhammad became the leader of a religion, a military hero who fought his enemies at the battleground and won over. The Medinan Sûwar, only 24 in number, reflect this reality, being much more belligerent and warmongering, and the Calendar emphasizes this reality: they are more important.

However, from Islamic perspective, it was essential to find out the exact chronology and the historical settings of the Qur’an Sûwar, as the order of their revelation is not known from reading the Qur’an. This problem was recognized by early Muslim scholars who devoted much attention to it. They have investigated this realm and developed it almost as a science called Asbāb al-Nuzûl, “the causes of descend,” the circumstances and reasons of revelation of the Qur’an’s Sûwar.

For the Muslims the Qur’an is miraculous (I’jāz) and has been revealed for all times and situations from the beginning of history to the end of the world. However, the many repetitions in the Qur’an, the arbitrary order, the mixture of styles and genres are indicative of human process in its creation. The Qur’an being collated piecemeal, still exacerbates the determination of the chronology of the verses and their orderly appearance. From here the principle of abrogation (al-Nāsikh wal-Mansûkh) has developed. The Arabic words ‘Nāsikh’ and ‘Mansûkh’ are derived from ‘n.s.kh.’, means ‘to abolish, to replace, to withdraw, to abrogate’. It appears four times in the Qur’an.

Arthur Jeffery explains: The Qur’an is unique among sacred scriptures in teaching a doctrine of abrogation according to which later pronouncements of the Prophet abrogate, i.e.: declare null and void, his earlier pronouncements. The importance of knowing which verses abrogate others has given rise to the Qur’anic science known as ‘Nāsikh wa-Mansûkh,’ i.e. the Abrogator and the Abrogated. So, rather than attempting to explain away the inconsistencies in passages giving regulations for the Muslim community, Qur’an scholars and jurists came to acknowledge the differences while arguing that the latest verse on any controversial subject abrogates all earlier verses that contradicted it.

According to a Hadīth: the Messenger of Allah abrogated some of his commands by others, just as the Qur’an abrogates some part of it with the other. Muhammad was accustomed to stating something to his followers with the claim that it was revealed to him from Allah, then later on he would change it and tells them that Allah had invalidated it. The Qur’an is confusing and there are revelations which might have been forgotten, changed or eliminated. There is no agreement even to which was the first Sûrah to be revealed to Muhammad (Sûrat al-A’laq, 96 or Sûrat al-Muddaththir, 74). One example of the jumbled chronology is that Sûwar 2:193 and 2:216, 2:217 were revealed just after Muhammad arrived in Medina, about six years before Sûwar 2:190–2:192 were revealed. Yet Sûrah 2:193 was inserted to follow 2:190-192.

What are the Qur’anic sources of abrogation?

When we cancel a message, or throw it into oblivion, we replace it with one better or one similar. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things? (Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:106).

When we replace a message with another, and Allah knows best what he reveals, they say: you have made it up. Yet, most of them do not know (Sûrat al-Nahl, 16:101).

Allah abrogates or confirms whatsoever he will, for he has with him the Book of the Books (Sûrat al-Ra’d, 13:39).

If we pleased we could take away what we have revealed to you. Then you will not find anyone to plead for it with us (Sûrat Bani Isrā’īl, 17:86).

There is also references in the Hadīth:

“The Prophet said, ‘If I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath'” (Sahīh Bukhāri, 7:427).

“The Prophet said, ‘It is a bad thing that some of you say, ‘I have forgotten such-and-such verse of the Qur’an.’ For indeed, I have been caused to forget it. So you must keep on reciting the Qur’an because it escapes from the hearts of men faster than a runaway camel'” (Sahīh Bukhāri, 6:550).

The assertion of the scholar Ali Dashti is explains the problems:

“It must always be borne in mind that most of the Qur’anic laws and ordinances were formulated in response to random incidents and petitions from aggrieved persons. There are inconsistencies in them and in the reasons that there are abrogating and abrogated ordinances….

Muslim exegetes agreed that Muhammad was prepared to change his mind, vows, and rules according to the circumstances. Ahmad von Denffer, a German converted to Islam exegete, summarizes the issue that the knowledge of al-‘Nāsikh wal-Mansûkh bears important perspectives: It is concerned with the correct and exact application of the laws of Allah; it is one of the important pre-conditions for interpretation (Tafsīr) of the Qur’an and the application of the Islamic law (Sharī’ah); it sheds light on the historical development of the Islamic legal code; and it helps to understand the immediate meaning of the verses concerned.

According to the narration of Ibn `Abbas, one of the most acclaimed transmitter of the Qur’an and the Hadīth:

“Sometimes the revelation used to descend on the Prophet during the night and then he forgot it during daytime, thus Allah sent down this verse’ [2:106]. Such behavior led the infidels to say that Muhammad was preaching contradictory and opposite commands. He does not receive inspiration from Allah, for he changes his mind whenever he wishes. Thus, this verse was written… Muhammad used to order something and then change it the next day whenever he found it too difficult to be implemented. Lastly, Muhammad did not want to embarrass the men around him who memorized his sayings.”

Yusuf Ali said that Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:106 means that Allah’s message from age to age is always the same, but its form may differ according to the needs and exigencies of time. There is nothing derogatory in this if we believe in progressive revelation. This does not mean that eternal principles change. As about Sûrat al-Nahl, 16:101 Yusuf Ali claims: “The doctrine of progressive revelation does not mean that Allah’s fundamental law changes. It is not fair to charge the Prophet with forgery because the message, as revealed to him, is different from that revealed before, when the core of the truth is the same, for it comes from Allah.”

Abd al-Majid Daryabadi, Pakistani exegete and Qur’an commentator, refers to Sûrat al-Baqarah, 2:106:

“There is nothing to be ashamed of in the doctrine of certain laws, temporary or local, being superseded or abrogated by certain other laws, permanent and universal, enacted by the same law-giver… Even divine laws may be subject to divine improvement…

However, today Islamic propagators, fearing the implications of abrogated verses on their propaganda and Da`wah, act to dismiss the doctrine all in all. In an Islamic internet site, one named A. Muhammed refutes the abrogation principle, by attacking the “corrupted interpretation the verses: 2:106 and 16:101.” To this day, he claims, Jews and Christians accuse Muhammad of fabricating the Qur’an, and the case is substituting one verse of the Qur’an with another. Muhammad Asad, a converted Jew, has the same attitude: “the ‘doctrine of abrogation’ has no basis in historical fact, and must be rejected.” The Ahamadiyah sect also joins this conception.  

Yet, to this group of deniers, Hibat-Allah Ibn Salamah (d. 1019), one of the Islamic scholars and abrogation founders, would have reacted by declaring: “these people have deviated from the truth, and by the virtue of their lies have turned away from Allah… All verses about forgiving the infidels are abrogated unanimously. Anyone who engages in the scientific study of the Qur’an without having mastered the doctrine of abrogation is ‘deficient’ (Naqis).

Muslim exegetes noticed that the number of verses that are considered to have been abrogated increased between the eighth and eleventh centuries (al-Zuhri: 42 abrogated verses, al-Nahhas: 138, Ibn Salama: 238, al-Farsi: 248). However, Suyuti confirmed only twenty abrogated verses which are acknowledged by all exegetes.

Andrew Rippin states that although the companions of Muhammad are reported to have discussed Naskh and even to have disagreed over the abrogation of verses, references are relatively infrequent. The number of verses that are considered to have been abrogated increased dramatically between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Whether there are more than 200 abrogation or only five, it is almost a consensus among classical and most important Muslim exegetes that it exists and had much influence on understanding the revelation of Qur’an.

The following list is taken from al-Tabari Qur’an commentary: a) 3:85 abrogates 2:62 and 5:69. b) 9:29 abrogates 2:109. c) 2:185 abrogates 2:184. d) 9:36 abrogates 2:217 and 45:14. e) 5:90 abrogates 2:219. The provision of this verse concerning alcoholic drinks and gambling has been abrogated by verse 5:90. f) 4:12 abrogates 2:240. g) 24:2 abrogates 4:15-16. The provision of this verse ordaining lashing for the unmarried and stoning to death for the married, when four witnesses testify to the crime.

Concerning types of abrogation, Ibn Salamah delineates four kinds:

a) Forty Three Sûwar that were not abrogated at all (neither Nāsikh nor Mansûkh): 1, 12, 36, 49, 55, 57, 61, 62, 66, 67, 68, 69, 71, 72, 77, 78, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107,109, 108, 110, 112, 113, 114.

b) Six Sûwar that maintained the authority of the abrogator, but their original wording was not abrogated (with Nāsikh but no Mansûkh): 48, 59, 63, 64, 65, 87

c) Forty Sûwar in which their wording had been abrogated, but maintained their authority for applications (with Mansûkh but no Nāsikh): 6, 7 10, 11, 13, 15 16 17, 18, 20, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 51, 53, 54, 60, 68, 70, 74, 75, 76, 77, 86, 80, 88, 109.

d) Twenty five Sûwar that have had both their authority for applications and their wording abrogated (with both Nāsikh and Mansûkh): 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 14, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 33, 34, 40, 42, 51, 52, 56, 58, 73, 103, and 108.

Suyuti, makes the following typology: 25 Sûwar in which there are verses both abrogating and abrogated: 2,3,4,5,8,9,14,18,19,21,22,24,25,26,33,34,40,42,51,52,56,

58,73,108. That is, out of 114 Sûwar of the Qur’an, 71 Sûwar, comprising 62% have had verses changed or deleted.

The most important verse and the greatest abrogator (Nāsikh) of the Qur’an verses is Sûrat al-Barā’ah, 9:5, called “the verse of the sword.” It has cancelled and replaced in Toto 124 mild verses:

2:62; 2:83; 2:109; 2:139; 2:190; 2:191; 2:192; 2:217; 2:256; 3:20; 3:28; 4:15; 4: 16; 4: 63; 4:80; 4:81; 4:84; 4:90; 4:91; 5:2; 5:13; 5:99; 5:102; 6:66; 6:70; 6:91; 6:104; 6:106; 6:107; 6:108; 6:112; 6:135; 6:137; 6:158; 7:183; 7:199; 8:61; 8:73; 10:20; 10:41; 10:46; 10:99; 10:102; 10:108; 10:109; 11:12; 11:121; 11:122; 13:40; 15:3; 15:85; 15:89; 15:94; 16:82; 16:106; 16:125; 16:127; 17:54; 19:39; 19:75; 19: 84; 20:130; 20:136; 22:68; 23:54; 23:96; 24:54; 27:92; 28:55; 29:46; 29:50; 30:60; 32:30; 33:48; 34:25; 35:23; 36:76; 37:174; 37:175; 37:178; 37:179; 38:70; 38:88; 39:3; 39:15; 39:39; 39:40; 40:12; 41:34; 42:6; 42:6; 42:15; 42:48; 43:14; 43:83; 43:98; 44:59; 45:14; 46:35; 47:4; 50:29; 50:39; 50:45; 52: 48; 53:29; 53:39; 54:6; 58:8; 58:9; 58:11; 60:8; 60:9; 68:44; 68:48; 70:42; 73:10; 74:11; 76:8; 76:24; 86:17; 88:22; 88:23; 88:24; 93:22; 95:8; 109:6.

According to Ibn Kathir in his commentary to 9:5, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq used this and other verses as a proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakāt. These verses allowed fighting all the peoples unless and until they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations.

“It is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said, I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. This honorable Ayah was called the Ayat al-Sayf [the verse of the Sword], about which al-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, ‘It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolater, every treaty, and every term. Ibn `Abbas commented: ‘No idolater had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Barā’ah was revealed.

This is the reason why the issue of abrogation has become a serious matter in contemporary political debate conducted by the Muslim propagators, concerning jihadi terrorism and the homicide bombings phenomenon. They clearly sense that their propaganda war towards the free world as if Islam is peaceful and compassionate is shaky and slippery, and for that they deny any traces of the abrogation doctrine. Conquering the world, Dār al-Islām against Dār al-Harb, and the perpetuated war against the infidels, all these are not only slogans, but religious duty to be accomplished according to the power Muslims can master.

Therefore, since abrogation was legitimate and had been practiced in the Qur’an and Hadīth, there is no need to argue with the false fraudulent Islamic propaganda concerning Jihad being spiritual and Islam being peace-loving. Jihad means terrorism, aggressiveness and violence implemented against all infidels. The contemporary horrendous policy toward all the minorities in the Middle East reflects this reality. The crimes against humanity such as genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass-slaughtering perpetrated against Muslims and non-Muslims is pervasive.

Surah 9 is most important concerning the issues of abrogation and the policy of Jihad against all infidels. It is the only Sûrah without the Bismillāh (“in the name of Allah, most benevolent, ever-merciful”) opening, probably for its military Jihadi and violent character. For that, some Muslim exegetes call it “the Ultimatum,” al-Barā’ah. It was revealed after the conquest of Mecca in January 630. al-Suyuti listed Sûrah 9 second to the last, while Bukhari claimed that “The last Sûrah that was revealed to Muhammad by Allah was Sûrat al-Barā’ah [9].” Consequently, since this Sûrah contains the largest amount of violent passages, it abrogates all the relevant Qur’an passages from earlier periods.

Bukhari, in the chapter headed “‘The statement of Allah” related to Sûrat al-Barā’ah, 9:5, claims:

“Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Mohammad is Allah’s apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give obligatory charity. If they perform all that, then they save their lives and property from me, and then their reckoning will be done by Allah.”

“Paradise is under the blades of the swords… Our Prophet told us about the message of our Lord ‘… whoever amongst us is killed, will go to Paradise.’ ‘Umar asked the prophet, ‘Is it not true that pure men who are killed will go to Paradise and their enemies will go to Hell-fire? The Prophet said, ‘Yes’.”

Muhsin Khan, the translator of Sahīh Bukhāri, into English, claims that Allah revealed Sûrat al- Barā’ah in order to discard all obligations, and commanded the Muslims to fight against all the pagans as well as against the People of the Scriptures, if they do not embrace Islam, till they pay the Jizyah with willing submission and feel subdued [9:29]. The Muslims were not permitted to abandon the fighting against them and to reconcile with them and to suspend hostilities against them while they are strong and have the ability to fight against them.

For Ibn Kathir it is clear: as Jihad involves death and the killing of men: “Allah draws our attention to the fact that unbelief, polytheism of the infidels and their avoidance of Allah’s path (Fitnah) are far worse than killing.” Here is the permission to kill all infidels and the license of free violence and terrorism for the Muslims through all generations. Jihad is the right way, and it is permissible for the believers just because the others are infidels.

Ibn Hazm deals in detail in the Qur’an wherein there appears to be conflict and/or contradiction. Through every Sûrah, he points out verses which have been canceled and the verses which replace it. He notes that there are 114 versus that call for tolerance and patience which have been canceled and replaced by Sûrat al-Taubah, 9:5. Islam is unanimous about fighting the infidels and forcing them to Islam, or submitting them to Islamic governance, or being killed.

The contemporary Islamic al-Azhar influential scholar, Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti, says in his well-known research:

“The verse (9:5) does not leave any room in the mind to conjecture about what is called defensive war. This verse asserts that holy war which is demanded in Islamic law is not a defensive war, because it could legitimately be an offensive war. That is the apex and most honorable of all Holy wars. Its goal is the exaltation of the word of Allah, the construction of Islamic society and establishment of Allah’s kingdom on Earth regardless the means. It is legal to carry on an offensive Holy War.”

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Multicultural Mecca

Jennifer Richmond

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Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. Stephen Covey

I remember him sitting after work in his olive-green Air Force flight suit at a high-top stool at our kitchen counter in Beavercreek, Ohio. My dadlooked down at me as I sobbed, trying to find ways to console me. You know, he said, Burma has tigers.

After coming home to tell us that he was taking the Air Force Attaché position in Rangoon, I thought my comfortable little world was crumbling. But hold up, tigers? Perhaps Burma wouldn’t be that bad after all.

As it turns out, it was the watershed event in my life.

In a country ruled by a military junta, what we were allowed to do and see was highly curated. At the time, I thought the constant presence of military guards meant we were special. VIPs. In a country that strictly limited tourism in the 1980s, we were special, but in hindsight, I know they were there, in part, to dictate our experience.

And even so, what we saw and experienced, was mind-blowing. But it wasn’t just the men who walked on coals or hung suspended with hooks in their flesh at the Hindu festivals – although those memories will forever be seared in my brain – literally and figuratively, it was the people. The day-to-day lives.

We had a Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu that intermingled in our house daily. The education I received in their presence was richer than any in the hallowed halls of academia.

In Burma (now called Myanmar), you quickly learn the squat. Even when stools and chairs were available most people would choose to squat. Gathered for an informal meal, you squat. Waiting for a bus, you squat. Taking a break to have a little conversation, you squat. I never really mastered the squat. Onebalmy day as our Hindu friendsquatted in the doorway trying to catch the elusive cool breeze, I went and playfully sat on his back. Given my awkwardness with the squat, I thought this arrangement preferable; I was just being a goofy kid.

That was the day I learned that in the East, and especially in Hinduism, body parts have a hierarchy. I cried all through the stern lecture on how I thoroughly disgraced my friend. Although I don’t remember the exact words, it pretty much came down to this – in what universe did you think it was ok to put your dirty bum anywhere near my heavenly head?

Ummm… I’m pretty sure that same fanny was dangerously close to my dad’snogginwhen he’d carry me on his shoulders. The idea of possible desecration was truly foreign.

These and many other similar lessons were my first real introduction to culture. It involved more tears (yes, I’m a big crier), but through all of these experiences, I became fascinated. Similar to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I quickly realized I wasn’t in Kansas (or Ohio) any more.

I returned to the United States with a new love of culture and diversity. And, a new respect for America, which I had previously taken for granted.

In comparison to many other countries we are a Multicultural Mecca. From my perspective, this is what makes us exceptional.

Unlike other countries that are struggling with immigration and diversity, we have a unique advantage. We are, after all, a “settler nation”. As Peter Zeihan explained in a recent conversation, almost every other country in the world was a government created by a specific ethnicity. The United States, as a settler state, didn’t have a dominant clan. This is unique. Our identity is not rooted in a singular ethnicity.

However, between WWI and WWII our state became more centralized. It had to be. These wars shaped a national identity. National institutions proliferated and mediating institutions – family, religious organizations and labor unions – created cohesion, and homogeneity, despite our diverse histories. Solidarity became a national virtue.

The statism that existed during this time, while it provided more cohesion, dampened diversity and individuality. All of this began to unwind mid-century and really started to pick up steam in the 1970s, as the pendulum swung the opposite direction. In many ways the Cold War, and the fight against the communist collective, helped to progress the mantra of individualism.

Individualism also shaped our economy.There were waves of deregulation, labor unions declined, and big state corporations gave way to more flexible, smaller private companies.The mid-century labor unions and large state corporations lead to the growth of the middle class. Once these disappeared, income inequality emerged more predominately, even as basic social equalities and civil rights were energized.

Meanwhile, mediating institutions responsible for, in large part, social cohesion – family, community and religious organizations – were also on the decline as individualism gathered momentum. The internet age was introduced in this new environment, and ironically, with social connections and a national identity already in decay, it divided us into smaller more homogenous groups – what we today call echo chambers.

This increasing polarization has a grave impact on policy-making. As Yuval Levin notes,

administrative centralization often accompanies cultural and economic individualism. As the national government grows more centralized, and takes over the work preformed by mediating institutions – from families and communities to local governments and charities – individuals become increasingly atomized; and as individuals grow apart from one another, the need for centralized government provision seems to grow.

As all of this is happening, our immigration rates have been on the rise. Although illegal immigration has been in decline recently, despite the uptick in the past few months, we witnessed a new wave of immigration started in the 1970s, that mirrored pre-war immigration levels.

However, without the same national solidarity that defined mid-century America, these immigrants weren’t enveloped into a national identity. Individualism diminishedthe national identity of solidarity. Further, low-skilled immigrant labor has fallen into the growing income gap in a divide that has already affected American workers as income inequality becomes more pronounced.

While our current employment rate is strong, what is masked in these impressive numbers is the number of American men and women who are dropping out of the labor force at a surprising rate, most acutely among those without a college education.

If you’ve ever traveled to the beaches on the East Coast in the summer, you may have noted retail employees have a strange accent. Last year, I bought an ice-cream cone from a Russian student in Cape May, NJ. And,I’m currently working with Vietnamese students who want to come to the United States for hospitality internships. Foreign students are coming in on J-1 visas to provide relief to retailers and the hospitality industry that is often painfully understaffed, especially during peak times.

If you talk to anyone in the agriculture business, you know they are hurting. As I traveled around Texas and Colorado looking for a meat packing plant to export beef to China, the options were limited. Outside of the big players, many smaller packers have shut their doors. For the ones still in operation, the primary language is Spanish.

Add to all of this, our demographics are in decline.Americans aren’t having more babies, and the only reason that we aren’t suffering the same fate as the “graying” population in Japan, and even Russia and China, is immigration.

Economic growth needs a workforce. Both high and low skilled labor is in demand, but I’m only going to touch on low-skilled labor as this is what is fueling the current immigration debate in America.

Despite the need for immigration, there are several problems that our embattled Congress has yet to address.

First, it has been shown nationally that unauthorized immigration has had a small net positive impact on our economy, but this doesn’t always play out at the state and local levels.

As income inequality is already an existing phenomenon in the United States, with the disparity seen most clearly between those with an education and those without, low-skilled immigration causes concern.While the United States is in need of low-skilled labor, our current economic situation has bifurcated, with the lower echelons in more need of some sort of state or federal support just to hover at the poverty level.

Second, while we’re trying to figure out solutions to growing inequality and immigration, we also need to keep in mind that our economyis, yet again, rapidly changing. With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a lot of jobs may soon become obsolete especially in low-skilled sectors such as retail. While we are not quite there yet, the trend is inevitable and will exacerbate income inequality as low-skilled labor is slowly pushed out of the market. This could have two related outcomes –the current demand for low-skilled labor diminishes, while those in these sectors are in increasing need for a social safety net.

Sadly, in this era of extreme polarization, hate and racism has taken the place of sane debate and policy-making. As David Brooks recently lamented in a New York Times piece, our administration is not populated with conservatives, but “anti-liberal trolls”.Similarly, the #resistance movement has become so entrenched as to make compromise or dialogue impossible. Just resist. It’s no longer about the people, it’s about winning at all costs.Too often, the pawns are innocent children – children inhumanely separated from their parents on the border, and children in the inner cities, on the brink of homelessness.

The Left is right to be concerned that part of the anti-immigration trend is a push-back from white America, as white America is soon to become a minority. A recent National Geographic issue on race illustrates, in less that two years, white children under 18 will no longer be the majority.

While it is right to resist racisttrends, we must not do so at the expense of understanding complex economic issues. The news cycle is constantly in search of the next topic we can use to beat each other over the heads. Meanwhile, as the mid-terms loom, our politicians are consumed with the next policy issue they can use to ensure re-election, at the expense of making a real difference.

The United States has the ability to harness its immigrant history and multiculturalism to a great global advantage, more so than perhaps any other country. However, in our individualistic society, we remain tigers locked in cages of our own construction, separated from competing realities that promote understanding and compromise.

While we need to address immediate emergency issues on the border, the discussion doesn’t stop there. We must agree on a flexible immigration policy that is constantly reviewed against our changing economic dynamics.A more robust guest-worker visa is perhaps a start – the number of visas evaluated each year depending on the economic climate, with adequate enforcement.Better education for both new immigrants and citizens in poverty-stricken areas that allows economic mobility and a growing middle-class. A new national identity that embraces diversity, but finds novel ways to generate social connection and cohesion amidst the reality of individualism.

Without these discussions, we fail to Make America Great (Again). While I think we should lock politicians in cages to fight it out until sanity and rationality is regained, it is incumbent on us ordinary citizens to join together in (diverse) community to model these necessary discussions in every day life. To #resist the insanity, and break the cages that have imprisoned our country and our lives.

To read more follow us at www.truthinbetween.com or on Medium at www.medium.com/truth-in-between, and on Twitter @truth_inbetween.

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The Unreal, the Real and the Vaccine Scare

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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In a few weeks time, school will resume in many countries, and quite a few parents now worry about the dangers of vaccination.  Are they real or false?  What are the facts?

First, a word on what we can believe to be real.  Some might remember Ripley’s Believe It or Not?  We are all fascinated by the odd, the unusual, even more so when science with its mundane explanations takes away the mysteries of life.  So it is that reasonable people begin to believe in the incredible.  We want to.

Take the case of chemtrails — a theory that trails left by jet airplanes high in the sky are chemical  sprays.  Why would anyone do that?  The reasons vary.  They want to change the climate, control our minds, lower life expectancy, reduce fertility or cause sterilization for population control, spread aluminum that causes Alzheimer’s but Monsanto profits from a GMO seed designed to grow with it, and so on.

The physics experts tell us it is relatively simple:  Jet engines exhaust water vapor which condenses in the cold of higher altitudes.  Called contrails (a contraction of condensation and trail), an acute observer will note they correspond to the number of engines on the airplane.  Numerous scientists, scientific bodies, the Environmental Protection Agency and independent journalists have investigated and debunked chemtrails without eradicating the idea.

The results of a nationally representative 1000-person poll published last October finds that only 32 percent believe chemtrails are ‘false’.  A good 25% percent are ‘unsure’ and 15 percent, think they are ‘somewhat false’.  The rest consider them somewhat true’ (19 percent) or ‘true’ (9 percent).  Note that just a one-third minority categorically rejects a complete hoax despite the efforts of scientists and government agencies.  Perhaps a natural skepticism of officialdom doesn’t help.  Of course, the blame rests squarely on some internet sites and social media (with its echo chambers) where chemtrail discussion, instead of debunking the idea, favors it and propagates conspiracy theory.

But there is another belief worse than chemtrails germinated by fake science.  It has led to actual harm.  For one reason or another, people known as anti-vaxxers (Trump among them) are refusing vaccinations for their children; thus an alarming global increase in measles — an illness that can cause hearing loss and, in rare cases, even death.

Developing countries have their own unique problems with vaccination.  Pakistan trying to eliminate polio has experienced deadly violence against vaccinators because Taliban leaders have proclaimed it a means of sterilizing Muslims.

But there are problems in developed countries also:  A survey in Australia showed one in three parents having concerns with vaccination.  In response, some health facilities are refusing to treat unvaccinated children.  Australia is not alone; the U.S. too has a vaccine dilemma and Europe is not exempt.

As preparation for the school year often requires vaccination shots, here is a brief review of what we know about vaccines, the origins of the anti-vaxxer movement and the available facts.

The prophet of anti-vaxers is Andrew Wakefield, whose origins are in the U.K.  He is a doctor, who was barred from practicing medicine there following his fake study connecting autism to the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.  Several later studies have proven Wakefield dead wrong.

A refusal to vaccinate has been a key driver of recent measles cases in the US.  A disease once considered eliminated here has now returned, and in 2014, 667 cases were recorded, though numbers have declined since then.  Often the cause is a holiday trip contact and transmission to someone who has not been vaccinated; appalling to think about when the two-dose vaccination regimen renders 97 percent immunity.

For anti-vaxxers, there are two other troubling reasons:  Some believe the injection of attenuated, that is weakened, viruses can cause harm.  Then also there is anxiety about thimerosal in some vaccines as it carries traces of mercury.  But thimerosal has not been used in child vaccines for nearly two decades.  And while the MMR vaccine uses a combination of attenuated viruses, it has been in use without causing harm since 1971.  It has prevented an estimated 52 million cases of measles and over 5000 fatalities.

Belief and miracles have been a natural companion for humans.  About 2000 years ago, there was a miraculous virgin birth.  Now, some scholars contend it was all a translation error misinterpreting the word for ‘maiden’ as ‘virgin’.  Others argue that ‘maiden’ in the culture of the time automatically implied virginity because unmarried young women were expected to be chaste.  Who is correct?  Heaven knows!

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New Social Compact

Analysis of Alon Confino’s “A World Without Jews: Interpreting The Holocaust”

Nargiz Hajiyeva

Published

on

Following the period of moderate engagement with the Holocaust between 1945 and 1975, Holocaust perception from the mid-1970s to the present has been characterized by two simultaneous trends. The first trend is prominent in miscellaneous fields such as history, philosophy, the arts, and the literature has involved a strenuous attempt to acknowledge as well as realize the Holocaust and to cope with the difficulty of representing it. The second tendency might appear to stand in opposition to the intense discussion of the limits of Holocaust representation, is manifest in the massive cultural production of the Holocaust in history books, novels, comics, plays, films and other artistic vehicles.  In general, taking into consideration of Nazi policy towards Jewish, there are three overriding notions:

The Holocaust, according to Saul Friedlander, was determined by the centrality of ideological-cultural factors as the prime movers of Nazi policies in tandem with the Jewish issue, depending mainly on circumstances, institutional dynamics, and essentially… on the evolution of the war… The anti-Jewish drive became ever more extreme along with the radicalization of the regime’s goals and then with the extension of the war… The context of the war has been viewed as the breeding ground for the extermination and annihilation of Jews. Germans in occupied Eastern Europe… were living in a context in which the expulsion, even the extermination, of entire peoples was publicly discussed, a readiness to indulge in brutality and fanaticism was ubiquitously demanded, and the actions of individuals were legitimized by history and politics.

The war in general but especially the war on the Eastern Front, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, was fought as a racial ideological struggle for life or death, whose prime enemies were the Bolsheviks and Jews. The barbarization of war on the Eastern Front, a cumulative result of the scale of the fighting, geographical conditions, and ideological indoctrination, led to killing and extermination. The notion of the radicalization of racial ideology has been important for capturing the contingency that ran through the making of the Holocaust. The radicalization is no longer understood as a realization of long-term plans or as inherent in the system, but rather as the outcome of plans for the deportation of the Jews that were always being revised and extended. Holocaust is squarely placed within the context of the regime’s overall racial ideology. The ‘current scholarly consensus, writes Herbert, is that those who organized and carried out the extermination were committed ideologies who wanted to build a better world through genocide. Was there a master plan on the part of Adolf Hitler to launch the Holocaust? Intentionalists argue there was such a plan, while functionalists argue there was not.

Did the initiative for the Holocaust come from above with orders from Adolf Hitler or from below within the ranks of the German bureaucracy? Although neither side disputes the reality of the Holocaust, nor is there a serious dispute over the premise that Hitler (as Führer) was personally responsible for encouraging the anti-Semitism that allowed the Holocaust to take place, intentionalists argue the initiative came from above, while functionalists contend it came from lower ranks within the bureaucracy. Christopher Browning coined the term ‘moderate functionalism’, in which the centrality of Hitler’s belief and the role was recognized, but without an original grand design to kill the Jews. Philippe Burrin’s notion of ‘conditional intentionalism’ recognized the centrality of evolving circumstance during the war but continued to emphasize Hitler’s intention to exterminate the Jews.

“Heimat” idea as a Nazi formula

The Nazis took the Heimat idea, radicalizing and using it for their ideological purposes. It can be argued that here is another example of the hegemony of race. It was perceived as essential to Germanness. The main point rather is that the Nazis identified their sentiment of nationhood, localness, and political legitimacy with the Heimat idea: the revolutionary idea of race was thus built on tradition, and the racialized Heimat idea fitted within the boundaries of the Heimat genre that existed before and after the Third Reich, as the Nazis articulated their Heimat in familiar, traditional rhetoric and images. It is not so much race that made sense of Heimat in the Third Reich, as the Heimat idea that gave meaning to racial sentiments, making them amenable, legitimate, and familiar. There are two main directions towards the Holocaust perception: local and central approach.

The local history of the Holocaust in the hamlets of Eastern Europe is possible once we rethink the interpretative framework of racial ideology, the radicalization of Nazi policy, and the context of war. The former one rearranges these categories in significant ways: it shifts the focus from the war conditions of the Wehrmacht soldiers to the communal relationships between Jews and eastern Europeans; from Nazi racial ideology to In Bartov’s words, ‘the obvious though long-underestimated fact that the Holocaust cannot be understood without tracing its imagery, fantasies, passions, and phobias, as well as practices and legislation, to medieval Europe and centuries of Christian anti-Jewish theology, incitement, and demagogy, from the radicalization of Nazi policies to the dynamic of social, political, economic, and cultural relationship on the local level.

According to the central approach, Germans, in the years following 1933, constructed a moral community based on anti-Semitic fantasies that made the persecution and extermination of the Jews possible by making them conceivable. At this historiographical juncture, we view the Holocaust as a problem of culture: the making of and believing in a moral community of fantasies. Third Reich was revolutionary but not as revolutionary as was argued by contemporaries and current historiography: it was a revolution based on continuities. It was a world made by a fusion of German and Nazi identities in a way that linked Germans in the Third Reich to pre-1933 traditions and forms of belief, and where the extermination of 1941 to 1945 was part of the symbolic universe of Germany between 1933 and 1941.

To sum up, ideology, in particular, racial ideology was a crucial point for Hitler’s Germany. In the case of radicalization of racial ideology, the main step was led to extermination and annihilation of Jews community within the context of war and the Nazi policy in order to reconstruct European society without Jews. Of course, the Holocaust is still a contemporary history. Survivors are still alive and their nightmare will never be over as long as they live. The attempt to exterminate the Jews is and will remain a moral signifier of Judeo-Christian civilization. In this way, we try to consider views of the Holocaust as a European occurrence, as part of a larger Nazi attempt to reorder European civilization, as linked to other Nazi persecutions and genocides, to colonial imagination and dreams of empire. Moreover, ‘cultural history, memories, methods, in particular ideologies in its contemporary sense’ has been a highly important component of Holocaust research from its earliest beginnings.

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