How BBC views Gaza through a Zionist looking glass

Man sits next to queue of gas canisters

According to the BBC, Palestinians in Gaza are accustomed to a state of constant siege.

Watching, reading or listening to a BBC report on Israel’s occupation of Palestine is like stepping through the Zionist looking-glass and witnessing not the reality of the situation, but Israel’s totally distorted version of it.

In this inverted world, presented to us by a broadcaster with a huge global reach, we were recently told that the besieged people of Gaza have become accustomed to the relentless violence and deprivation of Israel’s occupation and siege, while the residents of southern Israel continue to feel anxiety and dread when crude rockets are fired into their neighborhood.

These extraordinary claims are made in two juxtaposed articles published on one page recently on BBC Online (“Gaza-Israel clashes: The view from each side,” 13 March 2012).

They perfectly encapsulate the BBC’s general attitude towards reporting on the occupation — reporting which, with sad regularity, lacks truth, honesty and integrity.

Published just after Israel had bombed Gaza continuously for four days, killing 27 Palestinians including children as young as seven, the headline for the article about Gaza reads, “Gazans ‘inured’ to conflict.”

This incredible opinion — that the people of Gaza have become used to the mass killings visited on them by Israeli airstrikes, to the destruction of their homes by F16s, to the suffering caused by near-total blockade, to the restrictions on their freedom and movement, to the daily terror of drones flying overhead — is that of the BBC’s correspondent in Gaza, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

No evidence

An experienced journalist, Wingfield-Hayes provides no evidence for his article from official sources such as the United Nations or Palestine Trauma Centre, which produce factual reports on the high levels of mental health problems amongst the population. Nor does he interview any Palestinians in Gaza on whether they have become habituated to the Israeli bombs which fall on their homes and incinerate members of their families in order to back up his headline-making claim.

Instead, the basis for his assertion is that, while Israeli warplanes fly overhead as he sits in a building in Gaza City, “down below on the streets the cars kept passing, the shops stayed open, pedestrians kept walking home with their groceries.”

And so, because people continue trying to survive amidst the destruction, the BBC presents them as being “inured” to the violence and injustice that is rained down on them on a daily basis. This public broadcaster, paid for by the UK taxpayer, denies the Palestinians even the luxury of sharing the same human feelings of terror, frustration and longing for freedom that everyone else on the planet is allowed to possess. Described as being “inured” to a situation no sentient human being could become used to, they are, essentially, deemed less than human.

Making the siege invisible

Wingfield-Hayes also renders invisible Israel’s five-year siege, with not even a brief description of the desperate situation currently facing Palestinians in Gaza, as supplies of fuel and cooking gas near exhaustion, electricity is available only six hours in every 24, hospitals cancel operations, schools and universities close, and families resort to candles for light and ancient clay ovens, lit with straw and wood, to cook food.

Is this because reporting honestly on the siege and its effects might elicit sympathy, even understanding, for the Palestinians and clash with the image Israel wants the media to project of a terrorist population threatening its security?

Was a desire to present Israel’s singular view of international law also the reason behind the article’s original claim that the occupation of Gaza had ended in 2005? A written complaint from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign directing the BBC’s Middle East editor to UN resolutions on the matter resulted in a paragraph being added to say that Israel still maintains control over Gaza’s borders and airspace.

Astonishing and inept

Nevertheless, Wingfield-Hayes’ extraordinary questioning of an unfortunate Palestinian in Gaza remains in the modified article. “What do you mean when you say you are struggling against the occupation?” he demands of a man who does not have the freedom to move beyond an area of land measuring 25 miles by 4 miles, whose every aspect of life, including whether he will be allowed enough food to keep his family alive, is controlled by Israel. “After all Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005,” Wingfield-Hayes insists.

This is quite astonishing and, taking into account Wingfield-Hayes’ failure to mention the siege which dominates this man’s life, journalistically inept.

The subconscious message this article is sending out, by denying the desperate reality in Gaza in favor of groundless, unsupported theories put forward by the journalist, is that Palestinians in Gaza are ok, there’s nothing to worry about, you can look away.

This is in stark contrast to the article which runs parallel to it, headlined “Israel’s Iron Dome hopes.” In this piece, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly tells us how “normal life” in southern Israel is “severely disrupted” during periods of rocket fire. He provides us with emotive descriptions of the “anxiety” of the Israelis as they go through “grimly familiar rituals” on hearing “the mournful howling” of sirens and describes a young man running in fear for shelter. We learn about “that familiar sense of dread” experienced by the residents of southern Israel and their hopes that the Iron Dome missile shield will become an “instrument of deliverance” from Gaza’s rockets.

These are clearly not people, Connolly is saying, who are inured to conflict. So why, according to the BBC, do they still feel dread and anxiety and not the Palestinians? Are the Palestinians simply hardier, or are the F16s, Apache helicopters, armored tanks and drones deployed against them just not as frightening as the homemade rockets which terrify the Israelis?

Leaving Wonderland

Connolly’s article focuses on the image of the Israeli state defending itself from the besieged, refugee population of Gaza. As with Wingfield-Hayes’ contribution to “the view from each side,” there is absolutely no mention of the fact that Israel illegally occupies Gaza, has held it under tight siege for six years, committed a massacre of 1,400 people there during three weeks in 2008-09, shoots from remote-controlled watchtowers at Palestinian children collecting rubble and from gunboats at fishermen trying to catch fish to feed their impoverished families, and no mention at all that Israel violates international law every single day of the year in relation to Gaza and the Palestinians.

Connolly talks about the levels of “military balance” between the Israelis (funded to the tune of $3 billion a year in military aid by the US) and the Palestinians (a people with no state and no army). Wingfield-Hayes implies, when he interviews a man whose house has been reduced to rubble by an airstrike, that the Palestinians have brought their collective punishment upon themselves by standing up to Israel and refusing to accept their occupation.

As a BBC journalist who has been asked to step through the Zionist looking-glass, he does not of course tell his audience that, under the Geneva convention, collective punishment is illegal or that international law allows an occupied people to resist their occupation.

To do this would mean leaving Wonderland and stepping back through the looking-glass and into reality. This is something that the BBC, with its twisted, fact-free reporting of the occupation loaded in favor of Israel, seems incapable of doing. After all, this is the same organization which has declared that “Palestine doesn’t exist” while simultaneously warning that to claim it isn’t free is a contentious issue. And with the BBC’s reach extending into every corner of the globe, this inability — or unwillingness — is something that should concern us all.

Amena Saleem is active with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK and keeps a close eye on the media’s coverage of Palestine as part of her brief. She has twice driven on convoys to Gaza for PSC. More information on PSC is available atwww.palestinecampaign.org.

(electronicintifada.net /11.04.2012)

Spijtbetuiging voor het minaretten verbod in Zwitserland

Iedereen kent de situatie wel over het minaretten verbod in Zwitserland. Deze campagne is destijds gestart door de politicus Daniel Streich, lid van de Zwitserse Volkspartij (SVP). Hij was de eerste die een boost gaf aan het proces, dat het verbod van minaretten op moskeeën in Zwitserland bewerkstelligde. Echter, de heer Streich schokt echter meer door een compleet andere wending in zijn filosofie.
Bekering
Daniel Streich haalt de verbazing van Politiek Zwitserland op zijn schouders door het feit dat hij hiervan spijt betuigd en zich zelfs bekeert tot de Islam. Dit wekt de verbazing omdat Streich er alles aan deed om de Islam fobie te verspreiden, tot in de verste hoeken van Zwitserland.

Streich verklaard, dat hij de Islam bestudeerde, zodat hij sterk op het strijdtoneel kon treden, in zijn gevecht tegen de Islam. Het bracht hem uiteindelijk echter dichter bij de Islam waardoor het zijn hart won. Inmiddels heeft hij grote spijt van zijn daden, die er toe hebben geleid dat het verbod van minaretten op moskeeën de juridische status heeft gekregen. Om met zichzelf en God in het reine te komen wil hij nu echter een extra moskee bouwen in Zwitserland, die de mooiste van Europa moet worden. In tegenstelling tot zijn eerdere campagne, wil hij nu werken aan religieuze verdraagzaamheid en een vreedzame samenwerking.

Bijval vanuit Islamitische hoek
Abdul Majeed Aldai, de voorzitter van OPI, een organisatie die werkt voor het welzijn van moslims, zegt dat de Europeanen meer willen weten over de islam. Sommigen van hen doen dit om meer te willen weten over de relatie tussen islam en terrorisme; Zo ook was het met Streich. Tijdens zijn verdieping, bestudeerde hij de Heilige Koran en kreeg steeds meer inzicht in de islam.
Hij wilde hard zijn tegen de islam, maar het uiteindelijke resultaat was anders zegt Aldai verder.

Landelijke stemming
De kwestie van het verbod op minaretten kreeg door een landelijke stemming, de juridische status. Het was namelijk een meerderheid( 57,5%), die voor het verbod was. 42,5% was tegen. In eerste oogopslag, is dit een groot aantal dat voor het wetsvoorstel koos. Als je echter in ogenschouw neemt dat maar 6% van de bevolking in Zwitserland Moslim is, zou er ook kunnen worden geconcludeerd dat er een hoop Zwitsers zijn die voor deze kleine groep zijn opgekomen. Er zijn namelijk genoeg mensen die gedacht zullen hebben, dit heeft niks met mij te maken dus ik blijf(spreekwoordelijk) lekker thuis.

Populair Politicus
Streich was een belangrijk lid van de Zwitserse Volkspartij (SVP). Hij speelde altijd een prominente rol in het maken van het partij beleid. Zijn beweging tegen de minaretten was er vooral op gericht om politieke aandacht en interesse te winnen. Hij zet nu echter een punt achter zijn politieke werkzaamheden voor het SVP. Verder geeft hij aan dat hij een christelijke opvoeding genoot en vaak de kerk bezocht, maar dat hij daarin de waarheid niet kon vinden die hij nu wel heeft gevonden.

Streich een gevaar?
Door zijn militaire verleden, zeggen de Zwitserse militaire autoriteiten, dat zij bang zijn dat Streich, die ooit een militaire instructeur was, leger geheimen zou kunnen onthullen aan de moslims. Het lid van de Raad, van de Nationale SVP, zegt dat Streich als voormalig militaire instructeur een gevaar vormt. Zo lijkt de strijd begonnen om de ooit populaire militair en later politicus, monddood te maken. Streich kreeg bijval vanuit Nederland door bijvoorbeeld de politicus Geert Wilders, die graag het verbod in Nederland ook zou willen doorvoeren. Maar of Wilders ook trots is op deze keuze valt te betwijfelen..

(Facebook / 11.04.2012)

#Airflotilla2 | Mission “Welcome to Palestine”: The detailed program

 

Below are details of Palestinian organizations that invite us on the week dedicated to the mission “Welcome to Palestine.”

Source and original article in French :  Mission « Bienvenue en Palestine » : le programme détaillé Mars 21, 2011

– Sunday, April 15:

  • Arrival and welcome in Bethlehem, the place of the Nativity

– From Monday:

  • Building the school for all volunteers who can contribute and participate in the renovation of the kindergarten “Little Prince” in Bethlehem.
  • The electricians are especially welcome, and anyone who can take care of painting.
  • As we will be more than a thousand participants from many countries and that not everyone can participate in the launch of construction of the International School in Beit Jala and renovation of the kindergarten, it is also hoped that Mission participants:
  •  Help to repair damaged wells in the area of Bethlehem (camping on site for 3 to 4 days to thirty volunteers)
  • The cultural center in Al-Rowwad the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem would also like the participation of hundreds of volunteers to build a museum on the history of Palestinian refugees.
  •  The Committee of Beit Ommar offers for its part to fifty volunteers to plant trees in the village.
  • Ancillary activities and optional a la carte for volunteers of all countries, including those who never came to Palestine:

– Monday, April 16:

  • Visit of the Jordan Valley organized by Mubarak Awad Abu Swai & Zawahra

– Tuesday, April 17:

  • Visit to Hebron organized by Mousa Abu Maria

– Wednesday, April 18:

  • Day in Bethlehem, organized by Abdelfattah Abu Srour and Jacques Neno including a seminar in Bethlehem University on “How to end the occupation? “And a festive evening for all.

– Thursday, April 19:

  • Visit to Jerusalem, organized by Lubna Masarwa & Najwa Alsilwadi

– Friday, April 20:

  • Tour of Ramallah organized by Iyad Bornat & Nariman Tamimi

It is still possible to register to participate in this international mission, by writing to: contact (at) bienvenuepalestine.com 

(airflotilla2.wordpress.com / 11.04.2012)

Palestinian hunger striker in critical condition

Palestinian prisoner Bilal Nabil Diab has been on hunger strike for 42 days.
A Palestinian prisoner on the 42nd day of a hunger strike is in critical condition after beginning to refuse liquids.
Tel Aviv-based Physicians for Human Rights-Israel demanded on Tuesday that Bilal Nabil Diab be transferred to a civilian hospital since his condition is “very worrisome,” especially since Sunday when he refused to take liquids, AFP reported.

Diab, a 27-year-old from an area near Jenin in the northern West Bank, who was arrested in August 2011 under Israel’s so-called “administrative detention,” has been refusing to eat to protest his detention in an Israeli prison.

He has told a PHR doctor that he will resume taking liquids if he is transferred to a civilian hospital.

The human rights group has called on Israel to arrange the transfer immediately and to allow independent physicians to regularly examine other detained hunger strikers with family members present and prison doctors not observing the procedures.

Thaer Halahla, a detained Palestinian from al-Khalil (Hebron), has also been on hunger strike since March 1, but is still accepting fluids.

Khader Adnan and Hana Shalabi, Palestinian prisoners who were on hunger strike for 66 and 44 days respectively, inspired the wave of protests among Palestinian administrative detainees.

Adnan ended his hunger strike on February 21 after making a deal with Israel to be freed on April 17.

Shalabi agreed to end her hunger strike on March 29 in return for expulsion to the Gaza Strip for three years.

More than 300 Palestinians are currently being held in administrative detention, which allows the Israeli authorities to imprison anyone for up to six months without any formal charges or trial. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods of time.

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and prisoner advocacy groups, there are currently over 6,000 Palestinian prisoners, including legislators, in Israeli prisons, many of whom were rounded up without charge or trial. Independent sources put the number of inmates at 11,000.

(www.presstv.ir / 11.04.2012)

Barefaced Hasbara: Tufts “Friends of Israel” exploit name of Palestinian writer to brownwash the Nakba

Submitted by Linah Alsaafin on Tue, 04/10/2012 – 19:01

The following is a guest post by Budour Hasan, a Palestinian anarchist and a fourth year law student originally from Nazareth.

In their ongoing bid to portray Israel as a peace-loving, multicultural, and progressive state and in an attempt to camouflage its war crimes, human rights abuses and atrocities, pro-Israel lobbies and student groups in United States campuses use several hasbara (propaganda) tactics, such as blackwashing – recruiting black and minority students to stifle critics of Israeli apartheid – and pinkwashing.

A similar tactic that has been repeatedly used by the Israeli government is “brownwashing” or as Palestinian blogger Abir Kopty called it, “Arabwashing”.

A host of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, audaciously and unashamedly boast about Israel’s treatment of Palestinian citizens, claiming “Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full civil rights.” Never mind the racist Citizenship and Entry Law that was recently upheld by Israel’s “liberal” High Court of Justice, nor the equally racist Law of Return, the Present Absentees Law, the mass expropriation of Palestinian land, the glaring economic and social inequality that plagues Palestinian citizens of Israel, the persecution of Palestinian political dissidents and the Prawer plan that threatens to uproot nearly 300,00 Palestinian Bedouins in the Negev (Naqab) who are “unrecognised” on their own land and denied access to water and electricity. For it appears that family life, equality, freedom of expression, property and human dignity don’t qualify as “rights” according to Israel and its supporters.

Tufts “Friends of Israel” and the Hillel Cultural Arts and Education Committee, organizers of “Israeli Independence Week”, took “brownwashing” to a whole new level – or more precisely, hit a new low.

In the event’s Facebook page, (which has now been changed) Tufts “Friends of Israel” falsely claimed that among the speakers in the week-long celebration of Israel’s “independence” would be Palestinian author and journalist Sayed Kashua, known for his satirical sitcom “Arab Labor.” I was utterly shocked when I read yesterday that a prominent Palestinian writer and critic of Israeli racism was supposedly due to give a lecture at an event that celebrates the ethnic cleansing and catastrophe of the Palestinian people.

Therefore I, along with other Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists, started a petition calling on Mr Kashua to cancel his lecture.

Following the publishing of the petition, I got in contact with Mr Kashua in an interview with journalist Zuheir Bahloul in this morning’s show on Radio Ashams, a Nazareth based radio station. Mr Kashua declared he had no idea that he was scheduled to speak at Israeli “independence” week.

Kashua was invited by the Tufts University rather than pro-Israel student groups, and the event, which has been scheduled for some time, is a reading of his book and has nothing to do with Israeli “independence” week in any way, shape or form.

And after Tufts “Friends of Israel” deleted Kashua’s name from the speakers’ list on their Facebook page, it became clear that that they have deceitfully used his good name, reputation and event to brownwash the Nakba.

Moreover, Kashua pledged that if he finds out that the event has anything to do with celebrating Israeli “independence”, he will immediately cancel it, as he refuses to be an accessory to re-branding Palestinian ethnic cleansing as a celebration.

I am truly sorry that Mr. Kashua has been subjected to this type of shameful deceit by the Tufts “Friends of Israel” and that he had to face criticism over such misleading allegations. Because of this, we demand that Tufts “Friends of Israel” both publicly clarify their actions and apologize for them.

(electronicintifada.net / 11.04.2012)

Turkish, G8 foreign ministers to hold Syria call

ANKARA (Reuters) — Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will hold a video conference call with counterparts from the Group of Eight of major nations on Wednesday evening, a ministry official said.
Davutoglu returned to Turkey early on Wednesday, cutting short an official trip to China.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on Syria that would protect the Syrian people, saying Damascus had failed to honor an undertaking to withdraw troops from urban areas under an international peace plan, and had increased the violence.

(www.maannews.net / 11.04.2012)

Member Groups Join the Global BDS Day of Action!

End the Occupation

Click to view
Above: Boston member groups pass out US Campaign flyers on cutting military aid to Israel on Palestinian Land Day.

US Campaign member groups and others around the U.S.took action last month for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Global Day of Action, held annually on March 30th, Palestinian Land Day, illustrating the growing demand across the country for an end to U.S. institutional complicity with the Israeli occupation, and for freedom, justice, and equality in Israel/Palestine.

Students at Antioch University
Above: Students at Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville set up a mock wall and checkpoint with the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. Click for photos. 

Participating cities with member groups and others includedPhoenix, AZFort Worth, TX;New York City, Syracuse, andthe Hudson Valley in NY;Boston, MALos Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, CA; Edwardsville, IL; andPhiladelphia, PA! Country-wide events included student solidarity fasts for Hana Shalabi and a CodePink “Stolen Beauty” letter-writing action to Macy’s.

Here is a sampling of U.S. Land Day actions!…

 At the national conference of M.E.Ch.A. (Movímíento Estudíantíl Chícan@ de Aztlán) in Arizona, the largest association of Latin@ youth in the U.S., chapter leaders voted by a landslide decision to endorse the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The announcement came on the coinciding observances of César Chávez Day and Palestinian Land Day, commemorating ongoing civil rights and anti-colonial struggles for Latin@s and Palestinians. “Concrete connections” were drawn between the role of Israeli arms company Elbit Systems in the construction of the wall between Mexico and the US and the illegal Israeli Apartheid wall. Elbit is a primary target of the U.S.-wide “We Divest” Campaign as well as many campaigns abroad.

 The Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights organized a “Stand Out”on the need to cut military aid to Israel: “Fund Community Needs, Not Israel’s Misdeeds.” Activists distributed over 500 copies of the flyer produced by the US Campaign, “How would you spend $30 billionover ten years?”  Among those participating were students from the #Occupy Movement.

Click to view
Above: Click to view a great new student video on mobilizing for the “We Divest” Campaign.

 Two fantastic videos were released as part of the “We Divest” Campaign, calling on financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli Occupation. The “We Divest” Student Leadership Teamorganized by the American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) [accepting applications] launched aterrific video highlighting the campaign and student activists in the U.S. and in Palestine. Meanwhile, Adalah-NY, Hunter College SJP, NYU SJP, and the Global Justice group at #Occupy Wall Street teamed up to create “TIAA-CREF’s Checkpoint Reality Check.”

Click to view
Above: Member groups in Los Angeles call on their city to end city bus contracts with Veolia. Click for more photos.

  More than 60 people joined a spirited march and rally organized by Dump Veolia-LA. Members of JVP, Friends of Sabeel, and activists from immigration justice, labor and #Occupy movements joined to demand that the City of Los Angeles stop doing business with Veolia — a French multinational water, transport, and waste management companyheavily involved in the Israeli occupation — and not renew Veolia’s contracts for public buses. Veolia is a target company in the “We Divest” Campaign, and the “Dump Veolia” Campaign was endorsed by the US Campaign coalition at the National Organizers Conference last September.

The Global Day of Action came on the heels of the largest ever Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual series of events to raise awareness of Israeli apartheid and build the BDS movement. The U.S. was one of23 countries participating on Land Day. These exciting, creative actions illustrate the growing support and energy for BDS around the U.S. as a means to end US institutional support for the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies.

(Mail / 11.04.2012)

About DIPC

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award For World Peace

 

 

The generous guidance of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai reflects the deep faith of Leadership to spread Peace around the world. Thus the Dubai International Peace Convention primarily aims to provide education among the people that can promote peace, understanding and harmony in the light of The Quran and teachings of Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him

Peace on a personal and a Global Scale is the need of every individual and creation that exists around us and the same is sought for human success and progress.

Bringing everyone on the same level of understanding about peace can inculcate pure thoughts that reflect in any individual’s personality – this convention thus aims towards enlightening the people of the world with the knowledge endowed to us by the one God who defined, created, and elaborated what peace really is and its means to achieve.

Unlike any other conference that would target a particular segment – this convention invites people from all walks of life and from different beliefs and opens the doors of opportunity to benefit from the Divine Creator’s message of guidance meant for making this world a better place to live together in Peace.

Aims

  • Honoring all those who contributed in the maintenance of world peace
  • Development of peace and stability in the world
  • Encourage initiative and excellence in global peacekeeping
  • Promote dialogue between religions

 

In Association With Al Manar Center

 

Under the patronage of H.H. Shiekha Hind Bint Juma Al Maktoum

Al Manar Centre is an organization aiming at imparting Islamic education to all those who knowledge of the Holy Book. The centre operates under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of HH Seikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and also under the supervision of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, Government of Dubai. The Centre has been operational since the year 2006.The center regularly conducts programs in form of lectures, workshops in Arabic, English, Malayalam and various other languages

(www.peaceconvention.com / 11.04.2012)

At least 25 killed as fighting against Qaeda enters its third day in southern Yemen

Residents have said that two air strikes by Yemeni forces targeted the southern entrances of Louder as well. (AFP)

Residents have said that two air strikes by Yemeni forces targeted the southern entrances of Louder as well.

At least 25 militants were killed early on Wednesday in a third day of fighting with Yemeni troops in the south of the country, residents and local officials said.

Officials said the clashes took place at Jebel Yasuf, some 10 km (6 miles) from the town of Lawdar, where dozens of people were killed on Monday when fighters from an al-Qaeda-linked group attacked a military camp there.

At least a further eight people were killed in continued fighting in the vicinity on Tuesday.

The fighting, which has killed at least 124 people since the Islamists raided an army barracks on Monday, raged on the outskirts of Lawdar, the Abyan province town that the extremists have been trying to retake. Qaeda-linked Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) overran Lawdar in May last year.

Qaeda also briefly seized Loder in August 2010 before being driven out by the army.

Residents said that two air strikes by Yemeni forces targeted the southern entrances of the city as well.

A tribal source had said the militants wanted to recapture it because of its position between Shabwa, Bayda and Lahij provinces where Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is also active.

Monday’s attack had followed a series of air strikes that killed 24 suspected Qaeda militants in their southern and eastern strongholds.

The United States considers the Yemen-based AQAP to be the most deadly and active branch of the global terror network.

(english.alarabiya.net / 11.04.2012)

The Relation Between the Sunnah and the Seerah: Understanding the Prophet’s Biography from Authentic Sources

By Sheikh Salman al-Oadah

Knowledge of the biography of our Prophet, peace be upon him, is of paramount importance. We need to derive this knowledge from the most authentic sources.

Foremost of these sources is the Quran. It provides us with a considerable amount of guidance from the Prophet, peace be upon him, including his conduct during war and peace, at home and while traveling, and even in his domestic life. Books have been written on the subject of the biographical data that can be gleaned from the Quran.

There is another exquisite source of biographical information that people often do not think about when researching the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, this source is the various compilations of Hadith that make up our knowledge of the Sunnah. These books contain an enormous wealth of authenticated historical reports that not only give us detailed information about the Prophet’s life, but also glimpses into the society of his time. Much of this detail is absent from the biographical works written about the Prophet.

From the time of Ibn Kathîr and his historical work al-Bidâyah wa al-Nihâyah, a few scholars have undertaken to compile together the biographical information found in the Sunnah. Ibn al-Qayyim’s Zâd al-Ma’âd is an excellent example. Even earlier, there were Hadith collections that focused on different aspects of the Prophet’s life, such as al-Bayhaqî’s Dalâ’il al-Nubuwwah and Abû Na’îm’s book by the same name. Now, a number of contemporary scholars have attempted to compile biographical works on the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him, drawing their references from from the authentic Sunnah. My own humble attempt at this approach is my book entitled al-Ghurabâ al-Awwalûn (The First Strangers).

I do not intend here to list the body of work that has been produced in this field. My only intention is to emphasize the fact that if a researcher devotes all of his attentions to the old biographical source works, he will not be able to confirm all of the historical events that he would like to. However, the answers to his questions may very easily be found in the Sunnah.

Take for instance, the events that took place when the tribe of Quraysh imposed a boycott on the Muslims and posted their oppressive resolution inside the Ka’bah. These events have been clearly described in the Sunnah.

We have where the Prophet, peace be upon him, said when he wanted to advance upon Mecca:

We will arrive tomorrow – with the will of Allah – in the lands of the tribe of Kinânah where they pledged each other to unbelief.

[Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

This Hadith tells us that tribe of Kinânah made an alliance with Quraysh that they would cooperate in the boycott of the clans of Banû Hâshim and Banû al-Muttalib, neither marrying with them nor doing any business with them until they surrendered the Prophet, peace be upon him. There is another similar narration in Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim. However, this event is almost never found related with a chain of transmission in the books of biography. Therefore, it can only be authenticated by referring to the books of the Sunnah.

The nature of biographical inquiry compels the researcher to look into various aspects of the society in which the person under investigation lives. The Prophet’s biography in not a mere record of the events that the Prophet, peace be upon him, experienced throughout his life. It is far more than that. It is a reliable record of Muslim society as a whole, showing all aspects of Muslim private, social, and political life.

This depiction of the first Muslim society provides the scholar and the jurist with another way of approaching the problems that face them, like apparent contradictions between two texts. This is especially true when it comes to issues affecting the general public, like those pertaining to water and purification, the times of prayer, the manner of performing the call to prayer, and dealing with people of other faiths. Often the only way to decisively answer such questions is to refer to the biography of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the history of that first Muslim society.

For example, among the contentious questions in Islamic Law is whether a new convert must take a bath upon entering Islam, even if he was not previously in a state of major ritual impurity. We know for a fact that the people who were with the Prophet, peace be upon him, were all converts to Islam and that these converts numbered in the tens of thousands. We must assume that there were far more than that, since there were over 100,000 Muslims that accompanied the Prophet during his farewell pilgrimage. Is it conceivable that all of these people were ordered to bathe upon accepting Islam without any report of it reaching us except in the single instance of Qays ibn Asim? It is a fact that the Prophet, peace be upon him, ordered Qays to take a bath after he entered into Islam. However, this isolated case is by no means proof that every convert to Islam is obligated to do so.

Another good example is the peculiar claim that the body of a polytheist is impure and physical contact with him should be avoided. There have been people who have gone so far as to contend that a Muslim must perform ablutions after coming in contact with a pagan. However, how can we even entertain such a claim knowing that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions used to live among the pagans of Mecca, and that the Prophet may have been a guest at their homes and ate and drank from their dishes?

It is for reasons such as these that the great jurist Malik ibn Anas considered the practice of the people of Medina to be valid evidence for matters of Islamic Law. He considered it a practical manifestation of the Sunnah that was passed down collectively from the practice of the Companions.

These two examples are merely indicative of the value the biography of the Prophet, peace be upon him, for the study of Islamic Law. From this biography, we get a detailed image of a proper Islamic way of life. We get a carefully studied understanding of how to apply Islam within our society, in politics, and in our dealings with others both in peace and in war.

This is why it is so essential that we submit the biographical literature to various types of scrutiny – not just that of authentication – so we can better understand the society, politics, and international affairs of the Muslims so we can better guide all aspects of our lives in the light of Islam.

(www.faithinallah.org / 10.04.2012)