Chechnya

Chechnya is back in the news with the hostage-taking crisis in Moscow. Chechnya falls off the front page so fast, it’s hard to remember what exactly has been going on there all this time. Alt.Muslim featured the crisis on their front page, with a number of good links. Bill Allison of Ideofact.com [who I’ve been reading quite I bit since I found Aziz of Unmedia.com referencing him] talks about his general sympathy for the Chechen people despite his suspicions that wahhabi activists will be at the heart of the recent terrorism. I don’t really want to turn into a political blog, but I can’t resist giving my synopsis on this one:

After the first Chechen war with the grace of Allah the Chechens won and established their independence with Aslan Maskhadov as their elected president. For three years, no country in the world would recognize Chechnya, not even Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, that was one of only two countries in the world to recognize the Taliban, and a longtime foe of the Russians!

Why is that?

In 1998, Aslan Maskhadov came to Washington DC. I heard him speak. He declared that Chechnya was a nation of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’at, that they were a proud muslim people and they didn’t need anyone coming into their country to try to re-educate them about their religion. He declared that Chechnya would gladly take the help of any friend but that it had to come openly, without interfering with their way of life, their Deen. And he declared that Wahhabi interlopers would not be tolerated within the borders of Chechnya.

While the Saudis may not have recognized Chechen independence, they did give money. But it completely bypassed the Republic of Chechnya and its elected president Aslan Maskhadov, and straight into the hands of warlords like Khattab and Shamil Basayev. By 1999, Aslan Maskhadov had survived three assassination attempts.

And then, in 1999, while Chechnya was still ravaged by war, still unrebuilt, still unmended, Khattab, Basayev and their troops invaded Russia, occupying villages in Daghestan and declaring an Islamic state.
[!]
That was the start of the second Chechen war. If there is a clearer proof for the lunacy of the wahhabis, I don’t know what it is. Never mind theology even. Invading Russia? Nobody invades Russia.

Now the nephew of Arbi Barayev has done this. One of the articles Alt.Muslim links to has this to say:

However, Dzhafar Zufarov, an influential mufti in southern Russia, said that Barayev was paid to take over the theater and that the money may have come from sources in Saudi Arabia.

Increasingly, Chechen rebels have found a bulwark in Islam and a source of funding and political support in Arab nations, which helps explain the growing influence of outside Islamic groups in Chechnya.

A very interesting documentary movie looking at Chechnya between the wars from a military perspective is available from Combat Films. It’s called Immortal Fortress. I’ve seen the documentary. It is very evenhanded or even pro-Chechen, praising them for their incredible victory. They interview numerous key figures from the First War. Priceless footage includes Shamil Basayev reminiscing fondly about the virtues of communism. Now these same people at Combat Films who have seen the region firsthand and sympathized with the Chechen struggle have this to say:

Unfortunately, the question of Chechen independence and Russia’s sovereignty has been severely obscured by massive human rights abuses by both sides-turning the conflict into a highly polarized emotional battleground. During the inter-war period (1996-1999), dozens, even hundreds, of foreigners have been kidnapped in and around Chechnya. Ethnic neighbors like the Dagestanis have suffered the most at the hands of a vicious sub-culture in Chechnya bent on ransoming its victims. Americans, Poles, French, and British have also been captured, brutalized and even killed at the hands of rogue elements of Chechen society.
emphasis mine

Are these rogue elements, the attempted assassins of Maskhadov, the wahhabis, and the hostage-takers in Moscow one and the same, overlapping groups or separate elements? I guess I can’t say for sure. But I know how I feel.

More on Wahhabi proselytizing in the Caucasus.

More on the hostage crisis from an eyewitness.

President Maskhadov denounces the hostage taking.

Bali

The recent bombing in Bali is terribly unsettling, coming as it does a few months before my departure for Malaysia. As horrific as it is, though, it doesn’t change my plans, and I don’t think it will be a “first step” on the road to something more terrible, God willing. Eric Boehlert of Salon.com has an interview with “Robert Hefner, a Boston University professor, Indonesia expert and author of “Civil Islam.”” Boehlert has reported well on Islam in the past; his article on CAIR in particular was very good. The interview with Prof. Hefner is worth reading; he argues that “in terms of moral authority for these groups [radicals] to sell their arguments to a small fringe of the Muslim community, [the bombing] has been a serious setback.”

Anyone looking for English-language news out of Indonesia about Bali should have a look at Joe Friend’s weblog, so many islands, so little time, direct to you from Bandung.

Also in the news, though regrettably not (yet?) online, is an article by Alex Alexiev in the 10/28 issue of the National Review. “The End of an Alliance” lays out very clearly the role of the Saudi government in spreading wahhabi heresy worldwide, and the tremendous destructive effect that has had. Unlike others who have picked up on the Saudi connection, he doesn’t conclude that Islam is the enemy, but rather that the US has to more effectively engage and support traditional Islamic institutions to counter Saudi influence. And of course turn off the spigot of money flowing out around the world. Alexiev figures the cash flow at $4 billion a year, in the excerpt available here.

Mawlid from Malaysia

Mawlid in Malaysia

I was browsing through my site stats and noticed that somebody had found my site by googling for “Nasheed and Mawlid from Malaysia”. Now that is a visitor I don’t want to disappoint! So I’ve collected what I could find on the subject:

Alhamdulillah, recitation of praise on the Prophet (saws) is regularly practiced in Malaysia, on the traditionally observed day of his birth, 12 Rabi ul-Awwal, as it is in all muslim countries except one; and at any other happy occassion, such as the shaving of the newborn child’s head. If we have cause for happiness, is it not fitting to praise God and His Messenger for it? There are many books of songs, poetry and supplication that are widely read throughout the muslim world wherever the bid’a-shouters haven’t penetrated too deeply. Among the more famous are Mawlid Diba’i, Mawlid Barzanji, Dala’il Khayrat and Qasidah Burdah. There are of course more. It hasn’t always been easy getting copies of these works in the US, but thankfully they are becoming more and more available.

A wonderful CD of Mawlid Diba’i was produced by the Mawlid Project in Malaysia. It is available for sale here. It originally was available with a book of translation and Arabic for a higher price, but I think now only CDs are left. The production quality is very good.

A recitation of Dala’il Khayrat on cassette is available here. I had the privilege to hear the Shaykh recite, and it was by far the most powerful recitation of Qur’an I have heard. The cassettes, unfortunately, are recited in a more dry and unemotional style. So for a non-Arabic speaker like myself, it was less captivating. An English translation of the Dala’il is available from Shaykha Aisha Bewley’s website. I have not yet found Dala’il Khayrat in print, though I’ve been told it exists.

The Qasidah Al-Burda of Imam Busiri is being released as a 3-CD box set with a book. Produced by Hamza Yusuf, with calligraphy by Muhammad Zakariyya. [!] I can’t wait to get a copy, but I haven’t seen it for sale in the US yet, only in UK. Soon InshaAllah. An appreciation of the Qasidah, as well as selective translations from other qasaaid, is available at Iqra Islamic Publications, a very nice website of the ba’alawi tariqa.

Br. Muhammad Sajad Noshahi’s Homepage, Dedicated to the importance of Dala’il ul Khayrat, Qasidah Burdah & Salawat ala Rasul, has a terrific listing of audio sources. Now that I’ve found his site, I don’t think I have any more to write. It looks like he’s got it all in there. Thank you Br. Sajad!

Wahhabis not Welcome

On September 11, 2002, the [Islamic Supreme] Council unequivocally calls on all leaders of traditional Islamic communities and Muslims at-large to immediately establish “Community Watch” groups across the nation. While typically such groups are designed to prevent external threats, these community-based groups will protect our mosques, schools and centers from the threat within our ranks, the threat posed by extremist elements who attempt to hijack our peaceful religion. These watch groups will prevent extremists from using our places of worship for illegitimate and illegal purposes.

Wahhabis in Kurdish Iraq Wahhabism

Wahhabis in Kurdish Iraq

Wahhabism is so strong in the US because there’s very little shared memory of what traditional Islam should be. So we’re happy to hold hands with everybody in the interests of Muslim unity. But the article above shows how Wahhabism stands out in stark contrast to the lived Islam of the Kurdish community. Sadly, impoverished as they are, they have little way to resist the flood.

“Islam and Judaism and Christianity have flourished together in this region for more than 1,400 years,” said Mullah Mohammad Akrey, the most senior cleric in the group. “These Wahabis are not Muslims and do not represent Islam.”
“…the mullahs told me that their countrymen had accepted the Saudi mosques for a simple reason — they couldn’t afford to build their own. But Mullah Talat Mantiq bitterly pointed out that in the years before the establishment of the U.N. Oil for Food Program in 1996, when people in the region were starving, the Saudis were building mosques — but were not, however, donating food, clothing or medicine.” Money with big strings attached. Similar is what happened in Bosnia, where centuries-old masjids built by the Ottomans, damaged by the war, were demolished and rebuilt as white-walled pillboxes.