Saturday, November 3, 2012

She Is the Rightful Heir. The Talk I Never Gave

Many U.S based universities have asked to speak about women’s rights in Islam. I have addressed different aspects of women’s rights in Islam, but I didn’t get a chance to talk about their right to rule.
Often time, the university is interested in financial rights of women ( inheritance in particular) or family rights ( choosing her husband, divorce, and custody ). I was never asked to talk about women’s right to rule according to Islam.
I feel I have addressed secondary rights. However, I didn’t address primary rights such as the right to rule i.e. to govern a society.
As you know, Islam has  two  main sects Sunnis and Shiites[1]. Sunnis feel that Mohammed’s rightful heir is his friend “Abu Baker”, while Shiites believe that his cousin and son-in-law ( who married Mohammed's daughter Fatimah) “Ali” is his rightful heir.
I believe that Mohammed’s daughter “Fatimah” is his rightful heir. I also believe that denying her right as the governor, resulted in oppressing women in the name of Islam.
In reality Islam didn’t oppress women. However, tribal men oppressed women ( in the name of Islam) to maintain power.
Fatimah was Mohammed’s only child[2] . It is impossible that Mohammed would oppress women, while he had a female child.
Moreover, women supported Mohammed throughout his difficult mission. His first wife Kadija, and then Fatimah. Other prominent women such as his wife Aisha played a significant role in his life.
It doesn't make sense that Mohammed called for oppressing women nor treating them as second class citizens.
Mohammed stressed Fatimah’s special position. He repeatedly stated that “Fatimah is part  of me and I am part of her.”
Both versions of Islam fight over who is Mohammed’s rightful heir. Each version insists that their candidate was the closest to Mohammed. Thus, he is the rightful heir.
Moreover, scholars from both sides ( Sunnis and Shiites) present hundreds of Mohammed’s sayings to prove that he preferred this heir over the other.
However, Mohammed didn’t state that any one of the “male” heirs is part of him and he is part of them.
I truly believe that Fatimah was and still is Mohammed’s rightful heir. She was denied her right to rule, because a tribal society stood against her. The same society is standing against her “granddaughters” who live all over the Muslim world.
Ironically this tribal society is oppressing women in the name of their “grandfather” religion.
Needless to say, that hundreds of wars were launched and will be launched over this question i.e. Who is Mohammed's rightful heir, who has the right to rule? Many of these wars would have been avoided, had Fatimah ( who represents women) had been given the chance to rule.
[1] Each sect has many schools of thoughts that coincide it.
[2] Some scholars and historians believe that Mohammed had three other daughters. Shiites believe that Fatimah was his only child the rest were his wife’s daughters. Mohammed also had a son “ Qassim.” However, he died shortly after his birth. At any rate, Mohammed had only a daughter or daughters as his blood line.

Why Now: The Movie and the Violent Protests?

I received many inquiries asking me about the violent Muslim protest against the movie that insulted Prophet Mohammad.
While, it is not the first time that such a movie was circulated, it is the first time when American diplomats have been killed and embassies have been attacked over it. So, why now?

I think the “ map” clarifies everything. Yes, the Middle East map i.e. geopolitics factors.
Islamists are ruling the Arab world; they control the masses. Islamists are sending a strong message to the U.S.
The Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt. Islamists from the Renaissance Party are ruling Tunisia. Libya is controlled by Islamists who seek the implementation of Shira Law.  Saudi Arabia  is under the Wahhabi ruling.  Qatar has funded and will continue to fund the Muslim Brotherhood[1].
You can argue that the Tunisian party is moderate, or Saudi Arabia is the best ally of the U.S.
All that is true, but I am talking about the momentum. Islamists gain a lot of momentum and influence. They can move the masses as they wish. They seize every opportunity to send a message to the U.S.
What is the content of the message? Support us (financially and politically) in exchange we will protect your interest.

[1]Ahmed Azem,  Qatar's ties with the Muslim Brotherhood affect the entire region, The National, May 18,  2012

Chatting over Arabic Coffee!

I am inviting you to another cup of my homemade Arabic coffee. It is a special type of coffee that I only offer to my readers. Please sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, while I ground my medium roasted coffee beans to extra fine.
While I am making the coffee, why don’t we talk about the lasted statement issued by the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) ? You are right. ISI is Al-Qaeda linked group that is active in Iraq.
Unlike their previous statement[1] , the current statement was issued on the same day they conducted their bloody attacks on innocent Shiite pilgrims[2].
Issuing the statement on the same day reflects ISI ability to better organize themselves and communicate effectively with their members despite the security measures taken by the Iraqi government.
It seems that ISI overcame whatever difficulty that was facing earlier. Additionally, ISI took an advantage of the recent political turmoil in Iraq[3].
The statement utilizes verbal nouns in the first paragraph rather than verbs. Using verbal nouns (rather than verbs) indicates the continuity of the action regardless of time. While, verbs are associated with tenses such past, present, future, verbal nouns  reflects an action that will continue for ever.
The current statement indicates that the ISI utilized the financial and legitimate means to launch the attack, while the previous statements indicates that the ISI utilized the available means. Comparing the two sentences suggests that the ISI received some funding and more recruits.
Let me make the coffee I promised you.  I am brining my Arabic coffee pot  Ibrik. The Ibrik is a unique coffee pot, which is made of copper. It is wide from the bottom, narrow at the top, and it has a long handle.
I add 1 1/2 teaspoon per Arabic cup of water ( similar to the espresso cups only smaller) I’ll add a half teaspoon of  crushed cardamom. Cardamom will add an earthy taste to the coffee and release a sweet aroma.  I am adding one teaspoon of sugar for two cups.
I will mix the water, coffee, sugar, and cardamom using a tiny whisk, while the pot is on medium heat.  When it comes to a boil, I’ll lower the heat and wait for the forth to develop, then I pour it equally into our two cups.
Let’s sit in the back yard, drink our coffee, and enjoy the refreshing breeze. When you are done with your coffee, I’ll “read’’ the coffee stains on your cup to tell your fortune. As you know, coffee reading is a folkloric tradition in the Arab world.

[1] The previous statement was issued seven days after the attack.
[2] Unfortunately, ISI doesn't consider Shiites to be Muslims, thus they frequently launch attacks to kill them as part of their “holy war”. Shiites Muslims visit the shrines of twelve Immams known to be descendants of Prophet Mohammed. Shiites Muslims believe that the rightful heir of prophet Mohammed should be a descendent from his bloodline, while Sunni Muslims believe that his friend Abu Baker is the rightful heir. Unfortunately, Sunni extremists consider Shiites to be infidels
[3] Opponents of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are trying to muster enough support to bring him down in a vote of no confidence.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

E-Coffee, Sherlock Holmes, and a Bombing Statement.

I am inviting you to have an “electronic cup of coffee,”  and then take off on a little Sherlock Holmes adventure. You and I will examine the statement that the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Al-Qaeda linked group, issued on Dec 27th. You  are right! ISI declares its responsibility for the deadliest bombing of Baghdad on Thursday December 22nd.
Sine, I am paying for the coffee, then I get to play Holmes. You can be Watson. Are you interested? It is fun. Even though, I have not seen the movie yet. But, Let’s start anyway.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Insurgency: An E-Game to See it Coming.

I know, that sounds like a strange idea! But, would you like to take  part in an e-game that I once played with my students. We had a lot of fun. So, are you willing to give it a try? I take that as a “yes.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Story# 25 A Question from a Friend: Is It Safe for a Woman to Travel to Baghdad?

A friend of mine emailed me asking if it is safe to travel to Baghdad, she has received a wonderful opportunity to do business in Iraq. However, she has legitimate concerns about being in an unsafe environment.
I have to weigh the advantages and the disadvantages of such a trip and present them to my friend.  I did not want her to lose any business opportunity. However, I don’t want to encourage her to go on a dangerous trip.
My friend is a woman, and a woman is sought after, because she is a soft and easy target.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Story # 24 Part Two: My Days Under Saddam’s Regime: An Environment Of Oppression Where Love is Lost.

In such an oppressive environment, love was lost. It was not a virtue anymore, because it was for the weak (who would listen to his/ her feelings). While, many of my elder cousins married based on love [1], my friends and I did not.  Love, kindness, and romance were all lost values. 

Story# 23. Part One: Living under Saddam's Regime: My Own World VS the Hard Reality.

I lived most of my life under Saddam’s regime. Living under his regime made me feel like I was carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders. However, that weight would increase each year when I grew older. I cannot recall that I enjoyed my childhood or youth. I always remember myself as an adult who the regime could hold responsible for her action at anytime and behaved accordingly.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Story#22 Liberators VS Occupiers

Many Americans ask this question, “If Saddam was so bad, and we liberated you from his brutal regime, why are you killing our soldiers?” The answer to this difficult question is rooted in issues surrounding basic services. These services include fresh water, electricity, sanitation services, and trash pickup.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Story# 21 Look for the Women!

What would you look for in a kidnapping situation? This question was the theme of a discussion that I attended with a group of colleagues who work on freeing kidnapped hostages in places such Iraq or Afghanistan. I jumped into the discussion by saying “women.” Everyone looked strangely towards me with eyes full of questions. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Story# 20 A Question from a Reader: Is it Safe in Basra?

I have received a query from a reader asking me about the security situation in Basra. The reader is interested in learning more since he will be working there.
The security situation is not a trivial one. You will not hear explosions every second of the day. In fact, Basra witnessed less bomb attacks than Baghdad. It is not a battlefront.  Is it safe? No, it is not. There are gangs and militia who will kidnap for a ransom or kill for a bargain. Who are the victims? Wealthy people, officials, professionals… etc. Anyone can become a victim and for any reason.
Given that information what can you do to be as safe and prepared as possible? I can offer you the following tips:

Friday, December 31, 2010

Story# 19: A Power Struggle in Iran: Ahmadinejad VS the Shark!

The Iranian President Ahmadinejad is seeking to overthrow one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ayatollah Rafsanjani or the Shark. He earned this reputation, because he successfully defeated all those who opposed him.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Story # 18 The Female Face of the Insurgency!

An old friend of mine called saying “you were right.” I was a bit surprised, because my friend had traditional views regarding the connections between gender and security threats. He believed that security is a man’s business and a woman has nothing to offer.

I believe security is everybody's business including women and children.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Story# 17 A Discussion in Iran: Where Appealing to Justice Matters!

Recently, I was having a discussion with an informed friend regarding Iranian politics. My friend explained to me the importance of the notion of “justice.” He attended a confidential meeting in Tehran regarding the formation of the Iraqi government.

Story#16 The Story of the Elections: Iraq VS the U.S.

Following the recent November elections here in the US, I came to understand how different the US electoral system from the Iraqi one. I think the general differences are not very well understood by the public in the US. Most people in the US assume that elections in Iraq are conducted in the same as they are here, which is not the case at all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Story#15. Part .3 Learning from the First Gulf War.

The war continued and the days were passing slowly [1]. During the day, my sister and I would bake bread using an oil stove [2] that we had, clean the dishes, and wash the clothes. Nothing was washed unless it was necessary and every drop of water was saved.
Sometimes, I would read my law books, as I was a senior at the Law School.  My mother helped as much as she could, though her health condition was not helping her. My father also helped and provided moral support [3].

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Story #14 Part. Two: During the First Gulf War, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, and Kurds Were Lined Up at the Back of my House!

Although, the bombardment was far away from our house, we could still hear and feel the impact. Sometimes, it felt like the entire house was lifted and then thrown on the ground. My sister and I were the most clam people within our family, while my mother kept shaking and vomiting, my father looked pale.
The electricity was shut down almost right away. However, as I was in charge of supplies, I bought four kerosene lamps [1], batteries for the radio, flour, rice and other dry food [2].

Friday, November 5, 2010

Story#13. Part One: Feelings of Uncertainty before the First Gulf War.

I was living in Baghdad with my family during the first Gulf War 1990-1991. The neighborhood where I was living was mixed Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, and Kurds [1]. My family consisted of my father, my mother, my sister, and myself [2].

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Story# 11 The Blood Timber!

Environmental scholars agree that environmental scarcity, i.e. the decline in the availability of the environmental resources, brings ethnic divisions to a community.  However, in the Kunar and Nuristan Provinces, bordering Pakistan on the east, environmental scarcity is bringing communities together to fight the U.S. soldiers.

A security situation in Kunar and Nuristan, in which insurgency groups reign, is active and timber smuggling is fueling this growth. Former Mujahedeen and terrorist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Toiba[1], Taliban[2], and the Korengal insurgency[3] operate in Nuristan and Kunar. These insurgency groups fund their operations by smuggling timber to the neighboring country Pakistan.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Story#10: Providing Services Threatens The Insurgences

Security means different things to different people. An insurgency group, for example, would feel threatened by any individuals or organizations who provide services including medical services. Since, these services are provided without the permission and approval of the insurgents, then "the providers'' constitute a threat that can diminish the insurgents control over the community.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Story# 9: The Environmental Security of Basra.

The parliamentarian elections took place on March 7th 2010 and there is still no government that has been put in place. However, while lacking a government does not seem to bother the Iraqis, lacking reliable electricity supply disturbs them.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Story# 8 Who Are the Sadrists?

The Sadrists are a grassroots movement that existed under Saddam’s regime. Saddam’s regime oppressed them, persecuted them, and killed many of them. I believe that they existed in the mid 50s.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Story#7 Female Suicide Bomb Attackers!

Why do women kill themselves? A question raised very frequently in the U.S. How could a woman—who is usually portrayed as delicate, sensitive, and altruistic—kill herself and others? Through my work in Iraq as an Attorney, a Professor, and a Women’s Rights Activist, I met many unmarried women whether they were single, divorced, or widowed. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Story# 6 Founding Women and the Environment Organization (WATEO)

In November of 2004, the tribal leaders of the Iraqi Marshlands came to my office at the Ministry of Environment. They came without an appointment, since the communications in Iraq are not reliable. I wanted to see the tribal leaders; I felt I could not let down people who traveled more than 339 miles to see me. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Story#5 An Attorney Representing Women

I worked as an attorney representing marginalized groups- mainly women and workers. Women were seeking divorce, custody, or child support, workers were seeking compensation based on work injuries. I have to say that I learned from them. I learned that formalities matter.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Story#4 Teaching Human Rights under Saddam's Regime.

I think it is time to take you back to the days when I taught at the Baghdad University School of Law; the school I have studied art since 1987 where I earned my B.A., M.A and PhD. However, I started teaching at the Baghdad University School of Law in 2001. I taught International Law, and Constitutional Law. I offered my courses in Arabic and English.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Story# 3 Working in Sadr City

I owe my understanding to the role of environmental policies to my students at the Baghdad University School of Law. Most of my students were from Sadr City. Usually, they looked pale, their clothes were old, and they had a frustrated look in their eyes. They formed their own groups, and they had their own group identity.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Story# 2 First Things First:My Family

Surviving the attempt was one thing; staying alive was another challenge entirely. “How can I go to work without being killed? How can I continue working on these campaigns?” These were the questions that I asked myself. But, first things first-my family “How can I keep my family safe?”
My concerns regarding my family occupied my every thought. I have a son. At that time, he was eight years old. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Story# 1: Just Add Water!

How can there be a connection between safe drinking water and insurgency? Is it possible?

On 24th of August of 2004, I survived a suicide bomb attack in which four of my bodyguards were killed. Mousab Al Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq at that time, claimed full responsibility and called me “the leader of the infidels.” Perhaps he was overestimating my capacity, I thought. After all, I was not working on security issues at all! In fact, I thought I was as far away from dealing with security issues as would be possible for a government minister. At least, that was what I thought.