Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Quit greed, and be despised

"Az bugzar wa padshahi kun;
Gardan-i-be tam'a buland shawad." Sa'di, GULISTAN

"Quit greed and as a monarch reign
For proud his station who for nothing hopes."

If you can brush off the contempt of your father and mother, the ridicule of your brothers and sisters, the condescension of your friends and relatives, then - quit greed!

But if you are greedy and corrupt, your parents will love you, your brothers shall be proud of you, your friends will grovel at your feet.

Be careful, then, of taking Sa'adi's noble advice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

western education and brainwash

I'm afraid my admiration for the western education system has multiplied several fold of late. It is a very efficient system - it can make you forget your cultural roots and origins faster than the famed Soviet-era psychiatrists who removed your memory!

It has taken me more than 40 years to realise the simple fact - not even a theory, but a fact - that the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was a military ruler. Ditto the Khalifa-i-Rashidun. Omawiyah was the author of the Muslim navy (the English word "admiral" comes from the Arabic "amir-al-bahr", Commander of the Sea). And every sultan and emir and khalifa since then has been a military ruler. Initially, of course there was no standing army - the citizen body itself was the army - just as there was no bureaucracy. Later, of course both army and bureaucracy developed together. Whoever had military power had civil power as well, and never the other way around.

In fact, al-Ghazali went so far as to defend despotism completely. He said that it was a religious duty never to overthrow a ruler "no matter how mad or bad". Ditto al-Mawardi. Take General Ershad: he was bad, I guess, with his harem of women and his corruption. But al-Ghazali would have forbidden us to overthrow him: "better twenty years of injustice than one hour of chaos". Therefore, what has been happening since the General was toppled would be construed by him as a product of sin - for treason and sin were synonymous for al-Ghazali. - all the rapes, the murders, the acid attacks, etc.

And all this time I have had to DEFEND military rule against my westernised friends and acquaintances who say it is barbaric - are they saying that Muslims, from the beginning, were barbaric? They must be! Are they saying that our entire civilization was barbaric - they must be? That leaves West Europeans as the CIVILISED race - and at this point I am reminded of what Gandhi said when he was asked," And what do you think of western civilization?" He replied: "That would be a good idea".

Western military might (= western civilization) and the spread of western ideas has gone hand in hand. Ibne-Khaldun, the Arab historian, observed 600 years ago that a race, once conquered, loses all self-respect, and tries to imitate its masters (the Mozarabs, Spanish Christians, back then).

This is what has happened to us - the rewards and penalties that emanate from the West have made us intellectual serfs.

It is fascinating how the education system selects even which WESTERN ideas we are to acquire. How many times have I heard some old idiot repeat what Churchill, the imperialist ("I will not preside over the dismantling of the British Empire") had said about democracy, or what John Locke (the slave-trader and philosopher) said about "civil society" and "tolerance" and man's "inalienable rights"; or what Jefferson (who sired numerous slave children through his slave-women) said about "the people".

I am yet to hear one educated person here repeat what Plato said about democracy ("the madness of the majority") or what Thucydides had to say about the viciousness of Athenian democracy ("the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must"); or what Socrates said about democracy: "If I had engaged in politics long ago, I would have been dead long ago".

If western education is so successful as to get us to parrot SELECTIVELY what their OWN civilization has produced, then think how successful it has been to get us to exclude aspects of OUR own civilization!

Nowadays we have the doctrine of "universal values" championed by the UN, Amnesty International and Amartya Sen (to name a few). That means there are no particular cultures. And universal values is what an anthropologist must deny: Stanley J. Tambiah, the Harvard anthropologist, true to his profession, denies the existence of universal values. Honest man - very rare!

So you have organisations like the UNESCO pushing "universal values" - and what happens to our culture?

There was another guy pushing universal values - his name was Karl Marx. EVERY society, he argued, follows universal principles of evolution. To counter Marx, Max Weber came up with the idea of "verstehende" - trying to understand each society on its own merits. I have met very few anthropologists or sociologists who are faithful to their discipline, like doctors breaking the Hippocratic oath. They usually work for donors like the UN or Action Aid to try and change our society.

And they are very successful - after all it took me 40 years to realise that our civilization is based on military rule and despotism.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the clever will not be in paradise

I came across the following masterpiece the other day:

Aksar ahl al jannat ablah, ai pisar,
Bahr in guft sultan ul bashar
Ziraki chun bad kibr-angez tust
Ablahe shu ta bamanad din durust."


"For this cause,O son, the Prince of men declared
The majority of those in Paradise are the foolish.
Cleverness is as a wind raising storms of pride,
Be foolish, so that your heart may be at peace."

Immediately, I thought of the clever people of Bangladesh - the so-called educated men and women, our 'thinking' elite.

Take the economists who backed Sheikh Mujib: they thought they knew everything, that they had wisdom enough to determine the future of 70 million people. In the event, as we all know, thousands died through violence and starvation, not to mention the hundreds of thousands that perished in the civil war. People like Rehman Sobhan, Mozaffer Ahmed, Mosharraf Hossain...were 'clever', and they are still 'clever', backing 'democracy' and 'civil society', terms too big for me to understand.

Now, we have 'clever' fools, who pride themselves on thinking like white people, our former masters...Mahfuz Anam, Zafar Sobhan, son of Rehman, Rowshan Jahan, wife of Mozaffer Ahmed, Abul Barkat, the partisan economist, Ali Zakr, an Indian patriot, Rownaq Jahan, wife of Rehman Sobhan, importer of ideas from American universities, my cousin in the United States who thinks I am unintelligent for not believing in democracy....So many clever people.

These people are all 'zirak', Persian for 'clever'. I don't know if they'll go to paradise or not, but I know they have made life hell for their compatriots - those who are not 'zirak'.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Amnesty International - sometimes - opposes the death penalty

Amnesty International urged Bangladesh not to execute five former army officers who have been sentenced to death for the killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

"However, bringing people to justice must not itself violate the human rights of the accused,” it said in a statement issued here and urged President Zillur Rahman to commute the death sentences “as a matter of urgency”.

It also asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mujib’s elder daughter, to request the president to commute the sentences.

Bangladesh Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the appeals of the five jailed convicts, upholding a previous High Court order awarding death sentences to twelve former army officers.

“Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner,” the statement said.


So why didn't Amnesty urge the government not to hang the jihadis? Why doesn't Amnesty International urge the government not to torture jihadis?

Where jihadis are concerned, anything goes - murder, hanging, torture....

What a hypocrite!

Of course, the government flatly refused Amnesty's request: after all, a family vendetta is a family vendetta.