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Sources of ISIS Support

Sources of ISIS Support

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Where are ISIS supporters Tweeting from?


The Brookings Institute published a study on where the pockets of ISIS support are around the world. They analysed the sources of supportive Tweets and found that the majority emanate from Muslim countries.

It’s no surprise to me that ISIS sympathisers are within our Arab communities. Their major support comes from the land of the birth of Islam, Saudi Arabia, as well as from war-torn Syria and Iraq. It’s somewhat surprising to see the United States ranking fourth in this infographic and I would like to know why this is and who those sympathisers are in actual fact.

The same goes for sympathisers from the UK and the rest of Europe. It is intriguing, and baffling, if those supporters turn out to be Muslims. Intriguing because I presume they and their parents escaped their Muslim countries and sought refuge in the Western world which embraced them. How they now turn to support ISIS is quite perplexing.

In any case, the fact remains that with this kind of support, ISIS is not going to go away any time soon.

To eradicate that support will take seismic change of our very culture and mindset. These are no easy tasks of course, but make no mistake; ISIS is an existential threat to our way of life as well as world peace. They are also a threat to our very Islam. I believe that if we want Islam to actually survive, a cultural shift must be allowed to happen. Immediate plans and actions must be put in place to cease the policies of hate and sectarian strife. Wars must stop in this area and a concerted effort at developing our education, healthcare and infrastructure must sincerely be made. So must the inculcation of democracy, democratic values and the respect for human rights. These must take precedence and all be made part of our culture.

Yes, of course this is a seismic change which will take generations to accomplish, and the journey must start immediately. The alternative of maintaining the status quo will see the end of our culture and our religion. Our future generations will simply be discounted and forgotten by history.




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Prayer, no matter how well intentioned, isn’t enough to defeat terrorists. Every one of us has a responsibility to confront them intellectually and morally at least. Governments with influence on countries which incubate and empowers terrorists and terrorism must act responsibly and take action beyond immediate economic considerations to force them to flush out sources of terrorism and terrorists and deal with them appropriately.

In addition to that, it is really up to us individually and collectively to compel our governments to take real action in this regard. We can’t stand idle or continue to react to terrorist events by simply asking for prayers. That will not do. Because we too will become direct victims of terrorism one day if we fail to confront them.

To defeat them, we need to deal with their thwarted ideology and erase their influence on the educational systems throughout the Muslim world. We need to deal with their exclusionary thoughts. Governments can help. The Emirates recently appointed a minister for tolerance whose first mission must be to eradicate this ideology and seek better rapprochement with all within society and stop the discrimination against anyone using any denominator. The value of humanity must trump all other considerations. Muslim governments are in dire need of this and must do the same by creating and giving that portfolio full authority to deal with this scourge.

In Bahrain we do have a huge problem with discrimination, regardless of the empty platitudes of us being one family and we’re all brothers etc. Witness this for instance: visitors to the Bahrain International Book Fair were surprised, once again, of finding books that publicly expiate Shi’a Muslims.

My translation: “The (Bahrain International) Book Fair this year registers progress in publishing books of Shi’a expiation”

Others aren’t surprised at all – which is an indication of the deep rooted problem which must be resolved:

My translation: The last time I went to the Book Fair I found all the books are expensive, except for those which expiate Shi’as, which are distributed for free.”


And of course you will find a plethora of exclusionary Tweets about the Shi’a, some using choice words to strip them of their humanity simply because the writer does not agree with their outlook or interpretation of the religion. Most of those Tweets actually come from young people, boys and girls. What does that bode for the future and one must ask how did they get poisoned to this level of hatred?

Well, the result of that indoctrination are the terrorist acts all over the world, sparing no one. The only way to deal with this is to recognise its seriousness and putting a concerted effort – globally – to combat its sources wherever they may be. Maybe only then the world will know a semblance of peace.

My heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in Lahore and elsewhere in the world due to terrorism and intolerance.


ISIS and Islam are inseparable

ISIS and Islam are inseparable

Islamic terror is gripping the world with Muslims now being confronted – rightly – to do something about their own grown extremism. The world would no longer tolerate placebos and political correctness and simple condemnation. They want action. The world has also lost patience with Islamist apologists who maintain their myopic position that ISIS and Islam are separate and with that they absolve themselves from any other necessary action. “We have nothing to do with them. They’re not Muslim.” But they are! Everything they do is based on the Quran, Hadith or Islamic Tradition. In a literal rather than a figurative sense too.

Islam must take responsibility for the various violent and terrorist groups it spawned in its name throughout history.

My contention – just like the Dalai Lama – is that prayer is no longer enough. Muslims need to reform Islam and its core to expunge it from violence and prejudice. I know that this stance will not be popular but it is a discussion that is long past due, and I invite you to contribute to this topic in the hope that it will create a nucleus of change for the better of humanity, and ironically, the very survival of Islam in a modern and fast moving world.

Here’s the start of the discussion on my Facebook wall:

Well, ISIS has everything to do with Islam. Only when you reform Islam will violent groups effects will be mitigated. Until then, people who continue to be in denial and go on about how “IS has nothing to do with the religion of peace” are actually doing more of a disservice than even IS. So face reality and demand reform, separate religion from state and then you will have some semblance of normalcy in your lives. Until then, ISIS and groups like it will continue to be Islam.

Please click on the date in the following quoted text to arrive at the original post on my Facebook wall. Thank you.

Well, ISIS has everything to do with Islam. Only when you reform Islam will violent groups effects will be mitigated….

Posted by Mahmood Al-Yousif on Thursday, November 19, 2015


The Quran: The issue of the content and the container?

The Quran: The issue of the content and the container?

Once again, a riot breaks out by Muslims outraged at the tearing and disrespecting the Holy Quran. Not for the first time, and I daresay not the last either. I’m used to these outrageous riots in both Pakistan and Afghanistan especially, for some unknown reason. These riots don’t tend to happen in the Gulf or most of the other Arab countries. The most intense riots and demonstrations – other than those in Pakistan or Afghanistan – appear to occur in Muslim communities in western countries. Paradoxically, countries Muslims chose to escape to from the persecution and maltreatment they received at the hands of Muslim leaders and co-religionists and to partake of the economic and living opportunities those countries provide.

torn quran
At least 17 people were injured at an overcrowded German refugee shelter after one resident tore pages out of a Koran. Around 20 refugees chased the Afghan man who damaged the Muslim Holy Book and threw the discarded pages into the toilet. He was eventually saved by the shelter’s guards which prompted the mob – according to local media mainly Syrian men – to turn their anger on the camp’s security team. [ DailyMail ]

So, I wasn’t particularly shocked when I heard of riots having taken place earlier this week in a German refugee camp when a Syrian refugee found a torn copy of the Quran in a toilet. What did surprise me; however, was that the suspected perpetrator was an Afghan!

To complete this sad saga, the Syrians of course took it upon themselves “to protect the honour of Islam and its Holy Book” by instigating a riot when it appeared that the police were protecting the suspect, as the police should, but that’s another story. Human rights are completely foreign to the Arab populace, so it will take some time for the refugees to appreciate why the German police had to protect the suspected culprit. In time, I hope, they will realise why. But that’s again another story. The story here is why we automatically resort to violence to prove a point. It’s almost a required part of negotiation and a facet of our self-expression.

Given that the Quran of course is a Holy and revered book and should be respected, as should the Bible and the Torah, why should vandalising any of these Holy texts create such a violent response?

Why is a piece of paper, or a book for that matter, be held in so much reverence; while, what’s printed in it is completely ignored, misinterpreted and misrepresented, as evidenced by the very act of rioting and overheated emotions? Are the teachings of the Quran less valuable than the paper they’re printed on? It is quite apparent that the faithful put much more value on form than function.

One needs to ask, what does it matter if someone disrespects and vandalises the Quran in any way? Will it reduce or invalidate its teachings and the values it espouses in the eyes of the whole world, let alone Muslims? Would that respect or its messages for that matter change at all if someone tore the Quran up, perforated it with a shotgun, burnt it or destroyed it in any other way?

I remember my late grandmother, rest her soul in peace, who was illiterate – well, she could read the Quran and only the Quran, but couldn’t read a newspaper if you put a gun to her head. I know, weird. However, before any newspaper gets thrown out or otherwise repurposed, she used to go through them and cuts out any paragraph or passage that has verses of the Quran and saves those pieces of paper. Then and only then could the newspaper be re-used in whatever other purpose, or simply be thrown out. When asked why she did that, she would simply respond that we have to respect the words of Allah. Bless her. When I pressed her and pointed out that regardless of what is printed on that paper, its re-use will never change the value of Allah’s Holy words. She just brushed me off with a “yalla, don’t you talk rubbish at me now off you go and leave me alone” that admonition normally was appended with “ya aswad elwijh” which literally meant “oh you of a black face” which was the ultimate insult by her. Such a simple time! 😉

I believe that it all boils down to the fact the Muslims regard the Quran as the direct words of Allah. As such, it is held in very high reverence, and vandalising it, or improperly disposing of it is regarded as an affront to Allah Himself. I believe that this interpretation needs to be revised. Especially as the Quran is now available on various electronic media, probably sharing space with completely offensive content that arguably be much more of an issue than the act of vandalism and physical disrespect. It is time to shift the objective to valuing the Quran’s content, rather than just its physical form.

I believe that true value of the Quran is in its ideas, lessons, stories, and inspiration it brings forth. And no amount of vandalism, be that tearing, burning or abusing the pages of a book will ever detract from the essence of its contents.

My friends, regardless of what is done to the physical book, let’s not succumb to emotions, let’s instead value the Quran’s contents and live by them. Let us distinguish between the content and the container. The content of the Quran, after all, is much more important than the container.


All Atheists are Muslim!

All Atheists are Muslim!


I know, that title alone grabs the attention doesn’t it? So imagine my surprise when browsing through what’s going on in New York to find something to decide on the day’s program when I came upon it in the FringeNYC show listings. I decided that with a title like that, it’s a must-see. As the show was less than 24 hours away, we couldn’t buy tickets online so we decided to just go to the venue and hope that a few tickets would be available at the theatre. The Cherry Lane Theatre is a quaint little theatre tucked into a picturesque lane in New York’s Greenwich Village. The area teams with theaters and excellent restaurants in which a person can spend many happy a day imbibing culture and various inebriating drinks should one chooses. Arriving at the theatre in plenty of time, we stood in line to get tickets, and even though we were early, there was already another person in front of us. But, as luck would have it, they had only four tickets left when the box office opened! We got the last three tickets which left a few in the queue with disappointment for not making it. That was the last showing in NY too. Lucky 🙂

Zahra_Flyer_NYfringe_HLThe writer and performer, Zahra Noorbakhsh whose parents emigrated from Iran to the US in the 70s, yet just as almost all émigrés, continue to hold on to their origin’s culture in many ways. Them being Muslim, they come with some extra baggage which might not fit very well in their new chosen home, resulting in a number of challenges and heart-wrenching decisions which must be made, or foisted on them to make, in their daily lives and more importantly with their children who have grown up with a tenuous link to their parents’ origin which probably does not extend beyond a romantic notion of them “originally” and “culturally” belonging to that far away land. The children being born and/or raised in the US or Western culture and having been immersed into that culture are no more Eastern than George Bush Jr, who might also enjoy a plate of Chillo Sultani once in a while.

This cultural push/pull cannot be more amplified than when those children choose to have relationships their compatriots view as normal; while to them, it’s an extremely big production, owing not to their parent’s stance on such relationships. This is the dilemma that Zahra found herself in when she chose to have a relationship with a “whitey white Atheist American” and live together. Trying to explain this relationship to her parents, her father mainly, and get their blessing is a journey of hilarity and heart-ache. Add to that the “complication” that she didn’t think of marriage nor wanted it but just wanted them to live together, as people do in the West, and you get a glimpse of the frustration that her parents have been through in trying to come to terms with this reality, and to find even a tenuous way in which they can make this relationship somewhat Islamically sanctified in order to satisfy their own cultural upbringing.

With the amount of immigrations which have taken place from Muslim countries into the West, Zahra’s parents apprehensions are not unique and some people deal with it by internalizing their own anger and frustrations, others get to terms with their reality and let go, while others find these differences so overwhelming that they resort to either quickly marrying off their daughters to relatives from the old country and “nipping the problem in the bud”, or at worst, on discovery of their daughters contradictory behavior to their religion or cultural norms, they kill them – in the name of honor. How they view the murder of another human being, their very own daughter, sister or relative, honorable, is a mind-boggling conclusion.

There is no way that Zahra can address all of these cultural issues in 90 minutes of course; however, putting her own experiences in such a frame allows people to connect with issues most émigrés go through in turbulent silence and allows “foreigners” to be empathetic to their situation through the understanding gained through shows such as “All Atheists are Muslim”.

Here’s a taster:


So how did that assertion that “all Atheists are Muslim” come about then? Well, a non-Muslim man cannot marry a Muslim woman. End of story. Full stop. So how would one go about that? The man must convert to Islam. In Zahra’s case there is an added complication which is that Duncan, her boyfriend, is an Atheist. Her father couldn’t accept that. That is, he doesn’t accept the concept of Atheism in the first place, but found an expedient way around that in stating that Islam is the submission to God, everything else is subsidiary, and as everything is the creation of Allah, if one believes in His creations then they believe in Him. That is, if one believes in gravity, then essentially that is tantamount to “submission” to the will of Allah and thus recognition of Him and His religion; therefore, one who believes in this is necessarily a Muslim! End of that “Atheist” crap! Hence, the ready solution offered by Zahra’s father to enter both of them into a “Seegha” (milcha) or nuptial agreement recognizable by Islam!

Thank you Zahra for being brave enough to give the world a glimpse of what you have gone through, and I hope that through your efforts these thorny issues will be discussed at large to gain good mutual cultural understanding.


Al-Iman school graduates Class of 2010, congrats!

Al-Iman school graduates Class of 2010, congrats!

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Congratulations to the ninth graduating class of Al-Iman School, an Islamic school whose declared philosophy includes educational and behavioral training through educational and cultural composition of the adoption of the Islamic approach in interpreting the origin of the universe and life.

Congratulations to the 40 young persons and wish them luck should they wish to pursue their education further.

I would be interested to know; however, what their chosen paths are. Please educate me if you know. I’m interested to see what graduates of the school that has been honoured by the presence of the Minister of Education no less at their graduation ceremony choose as a path? Or would they feel that as they have satisfied the equity with a BSc, as they have most probably already memorised the Holy Quran, then they might just go direct into the job market? What skills do they have, I wonder, which are different from the countless others waiting for jobs outside the Civil Service Bureau or selling water at major intersections?

I’m just curious and confused about this school (and yes, the various “Hawzahs” too) and who they report to as far as quality of education is concerned. Do they fall under the QAAET too? Or are these institutions are simply glorified “Madrasas” running under their own laws?


Next wave of reality TV: Muslim Top Model

Well, model in the sense of a devout and pious young gentleman tested in Islamic and worldly knowledge; things like actually washing the dead to prepare them for burial, counseling pregnant women out of wedlock and helping orphans.

This reality show happens in Malaysia to great acclaim and a huge following. Their Facebook page has about 45,000 followers and press reports suggest and even greater following among young Malaysian women, all hoping for one of the contestants for a husband.

What do they win? Well, other than the assigned cleric’s blessing, the winner gets an all expenses paid trip to perform the Hajj in Mecca, a car, a laptop, a small cash grant and a scholarship in a main mosque in Madina in Saudi Arabia.

Is this creativity at its best or simply pandering to the lowest common denominator and using modern entertainment programming and spin it so that the maximum advertising/subscription revenue possible is milked?

Regardless, I applaud the Malaysian TV channel whose brainchild this is. They obviously recognised a niche and went with it and found success.

I’m quite sure that this new wave of entertainment is going to grace our own meagre Middle Eastern TV offerings very soon, but as usual, I’m afraid that they’re going to make pretty hash job of it. I hope that should it be replicated here or elsewhere; however, it will be done to propagate tolerance and understanding rather than increase the sectarian rift and strife in our part of the world. I somehow think that knowing the kind of religious stations we have here, it will be the latter that will be emphasised.


Mumbo Jumbo “Science”

This cracked me up in yesterday’s Al-Waqt:

أحياناً تنفع الأعشاب في علاج السرطان، خاصة في بعض الحالات، وقد جربت هذه الأنواع من العلاجات في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية إضافة الدول الأوروبية ودول الشرق الأوسط وقد سمع الكثير منا قصصاً عن أناس قد جربوا هذا النوع من العلاج وشفي عندهم السرطان، الكيفية غير معروفة ولكن الشفاء قد تم. فقد كانت إحدى مريضات المستشفى التخصصي في الرياض مصابة بالسرطان وسافر بها أهلها إلى الحرم المكي وشربت من ماء زمزم واغتسلت به على أمل أن يشفيها بإذن الله، وحدثت المعجزة حيث عند رجوعها إلى طبيبها وبعد إجراء الفحوصات تبين أن السرطان قد اختفى. قد يكون هذا بالنسبة إلى بعض الناس ضرباً من الخيال ولكن هذا الأمر تكرر مع مرضى عدة. لذلك لا ضير من إشراك العلاج الأعشاب وماء زمزم، إضافة إلى العلاج المتفق عليه مع طبيب السرطان ولابد من مشاركة الطبيب بذلك حتى يتابع هو الحالة المرضية وكيف يمكن أن يساهم هذا النوع من العلاج في الحد من انتشار المرض أو شفائه، سواء في مراحله الأولى أو المتقدمة.

Google translation:
Sometimes benefit the herbs in the treatment of cancer, especially in some cases, have experimented with these types of treatments in the United States of America as well the European countries and the Middle East, many of us have heard stories about people who have experienced this kind of treatment, and they have cured cancer, how are unknown, but healing has been completed. It was one of the patients specialist hospital in Riyadh had cancer and her family traveled to the Grand Mosque in Mecca and drank Zamzam water and washed, by the hope that heal, God willing, and where the miracle happened when she comes back to her doctor and after tests found that the cancer had disappeared. This may be for some people a form of imagination, but this is repeated with many patients. So no harm in engaging treatment of herbs and Zamzam water, in addition to the treatment agreed with the cancer doctor should be involved in order to follow your doctor is the condition and how it can contribute to this type of treatment in reducing the spread of disease or recovery, whether in early or advanced .

Sorry, I couldn’t bother properly translating this tripe.

Did you notice that the whole thing is built on “sources” peppered with plenty of “maybes” that you might as well change the “Zamzam” water with “Whiskey” or even “Margadoosh” and the end result won’t be much different.

And for this to actually be printed in a national paper, taking more than half a page as well, demonstrates what a backward society this is, at least as far as science and technology are concerned.

Judging by the scientific output level that the Arab and Muslim world combined enjoys, and the number of “scientists” we are privileged to the presence of and of course the plethora of university graduate equivalents, we’re a-okay!


Shame on you Pakistan!

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How dare you have a person in your midst now that you can legally call “former president?” Have you absolutely no shame? What happened to your Holy Muslim Values which insist that you should acquiesce to God’s chosen leader on earth? Did you not hear that oft repeated Aya “Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you? Whasswrongwijooo? Have you descended into Kufr now? AstaGHFirullah!

Former President Musharraf felt the heat and skedaddled
Former President Musharraf felt the heat and skedaddled
How can you let an independent judiciary be? How can you even threaten those who are charged with authority among you with impeachment? And you are just Pakistani? You certainly now rise to the level of those Indians who also now live under a democracy. All we need now is for you to emulate those neighbours that you fought and separated from all those years ago and increase the level of middle-class families, raise your education levels and generally live a better life!

What is this world coming to? All thank to Allah SWT that we, true Arabs still live by the Quran, especially the respect and deference we afford to His representatives on Earth, the kings, shaikhs and malalwah for we value and yearn for Heaven and shall not stray off this ancient path of kowtowing to Allah’s words regardless of how they get retooledinterpreted.

For Godness’ sake, who is going to come to the rescue of Former President Musharraf now that he was dropped like a hot potato by those infernal Americans once they saw that the people of Pakistan simply didn’t want him? Us Arabs of course! The pad is ready for him in any of our open countries for the rest of his life to live the life of luxury, living honourably amongst us to value the words of God and abide by them.

Long live our rulers, the true and only ones charged with authority among us. Allah’s chosen. May they live comfortably for ever!


Blinkered Horizons

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The contrast of the romantic drippings of the apparently hugely popular dubbed Turkish soap Gümüs and the criminal bombings in that country yesterday as well as those in Iraq and India which left over 100 dead and many more injured, cannot be brought more into focus than the exclusive and vociferous condemnation of the television serial by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia – its highest religious authority:

Stars of Turkish soap irritate Saudi religious authorities
Stars of Turkish soap irritate Saudi religious authorities

“It is not permitted to look at these serials or watch them. They contain so much evil; they destroy people’s ethics and are against our values,” said the mufti during the closing ceremony of a forum, which took place in Riyadh on Friday. He added that these “malicious” Turkish soap operas corrupt individuals and spread vice in society.

Yet we heard not even a shy beep of objection by the same respected gentleman against the cowardly and criminal bombing acts perpetrated by his own co-religionists against other human beings. To him and his ilk, it seems that a little romance is much more devastating than bombs which rip people to shreds.

“Any TV station that airs them is against God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). These are serials of immorality. They are prepared by people who are specialists in crime and error, people who invite men and women to the devil.” – ed: my emphasis

Someone should remind the gentleman to reset his priorities, don’t you think? While he would probably not hesitate an instant to call those perpetrators of terror across the world as “martyrs” in the full knowledge of their heinous crimes simply because they call themselves Muslims and belong to his clique, he wantonly discards a whole television station and its millions of viewers from God’s mercy.

I wonder if someone reminded the gentleman of the fact that the owners of said offending station are actually his employers, would he change his mind and be the first to plaster himself in front of his own silver screen in anticipation of more syrupy words of love from the effervescent Mohanned imparted to the luscious Noor?