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Monday, December 10, 2007

Neo-Andalusia?

The Tehran Times has an illuminating article:
There is a general reawakening taking place in the Islamic world.

A number of groups are associated with this reawakening and one of them is the Neo-Andalucian movement, which is a progressive pan-Islamic movement.

They use the appellation Neo-Andalucian because Muslim Andalucia was a center of learning and, at least for a time, a very tolerant place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in peace and harmony for the most part.

Islam teaches Muslims to seek out knowledge and to be tolerant toward non-Muslims who are not at war with Islam.

Also, the fall of Andalucia in 1492 marked the beginning of the 500-year decline of the Islamic world.

The Neo-Andalucians want to start an Islamic revival to end this 500-year decline, hence the identification with Andalucia.

The Neo-Andalucians are seeking to start a new Islamic Renaissance, unite the Islamic world, and uplift the oppressed Muslim masses.

There are many interpretations of Islam, but there is only one Islam since there is only one Holy Quran, one qibla (direction of prayer), one hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and one Friday prayers ceremony.

These factors unite the Muslims, despite their differences.

...To uphold the banner of Islam and defend the faith, to start the new Islamic Renaissance, unite the Islamic world, and uplift the oppressed Muslim masses, we must strengthen our faith, dedicate ourselves to the cause of Islam, and struggle hard for the cause of Allah.
One doesn't have to read very far between the lines to see what the intent of this article is. The current regime in Iran has always tried to position itself as the leader of the Islamic world, with its Shi'ite leaders publicly playing up the similarities with Sunni Islam while privately bitterly fighting it. Iran's purpose is to create a pan-Islamic caliphate, controlling the entire Middle East, dominating Europe and acting as the Islamic superpower opposing the US.

One of the interesting parts of this article that betrays its real agenda is its description of the ideal state: "a very tolerant place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in peace and harmony for the most part." Does such a place exist today?
Ahmad Jum’a, a 25-year-old student, has been to the kingdom six times for the ‘Umra, the minor pilgrimage. A member of the Nazareth-based Salam Association for Hajj and ‘Umra, he is also qualified to guide groups from Israel during their pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia.

Jum’a was born in Sullam, an Arab village in northern Israel. He is an Arab Muslim and has Israeli citizenship....

Once he has fulfilled his religious obligations of the pilgrimage, Jum’a spends the rest of his time mingling with the crowds and talking to Muslim pilgrims about life in Israel.

Explaining that he is a Muslim Arab with Israeli citizenship often leaves his audience gobsmacked.

“The Arab media always shows negative things about Israel and as a Muslim Arab living inside Israel I want to show a positive side of the country. I tell them there are good things in Israel and that we live side by side with the Jews. There are problems sometimes but the relations with our Jewish neighbors are generally good.”

The Muslims in Israel have freedom and passports, he tells them. They have a good economic situation and good jobs; they get along with their Jewish neighbors and they benefit from Israel’s services.

On a separate occasion he was talking with a Syrian pilgrim who, it transpired, had been a commander in the Syrian army in the 1967 War (Six Day War). Upon hearing that Jum’a was from Israel, the officer attacked him verbally and expressed support for Hizbullah.

Jum’a, a student of Middle Eastern studies, retaliated with a detailed review of Syria’s history, poor economic situation, its lack of freedom and the persecution of dissidents.

The Syrian officer was stunned by Jum’a’s knowledge, and astonished when he learned this was being taught in Israeli universities by Jewish lecturers.

“When I’ve completed the ritual, I talk politics,” Jum’a says. “I feel that I’m an envoy and wherever I go I need to explain the good things and bad things about Israel.”

Jum’a is not alone in this conviction.

Sheikh ‘Ali Bakr, 47, an imam from northern Israel who works for the Israeli Interior Ministry, has been to Saudi Arabia 24 times on pilgrimages. Bakr does not feel a contradiction in holding Israeli citizenship and attending the Hajj.

“On the contrary, I feel we’re a bridge between Israel and the Arab countries. We can bring people closer together,” he says. “Some think that Israeli Arabs are neglected and underprivileged, so we tell them that’s not the case, that we live here as equal citizens and that we fit well into the Jewish social fabric.”
If you accept the Iranian description of an ideal state for Muslims, Israel sounds like the place! (And certainly most Western nations.)

Obviously, the intent of "neo-Andalusia" isn't a place where all peoples live together with equal rights; it is an Islamic-dominated 'umma - that likely would extend to the real Andalusia - where non-Muslims are tolerated as second-class citizens and dissent is brutally crushed.