Opening comments by Meer Sahib: Below is an article written by an Islamic scholar in London, Canada on the Afghan Statue controversy. It is well researched, takes a balanced view of world affairs and tells the truth without fear or favour.
To our regret, we have seen a couple of our Muslim brothers responding to the issue with knee-jerk reaction. They have quickly jumped on to the band wagon of Muslim-bashing, lending support to kuffar's design to project Muslims as terrorists and extremists, while ignoring far more heinous crimes of non-Muslims around the world. Their commentaries on Afghanistan betrays lack of serious research and knowledge of the complex situation that confronts Afghanistan and other Muslim countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and so on.
One such Muslim writer saw a parallel between Taliban's acts and those of Pol Pot and Hitler. To mention the latter two heinous criminals and Taliban in the same breath, is atrocious, to say the least.
The entire world is indebted to Afghanistan for breaking the back of communist Russia, paving way for tearing down the iron curtain, and bringing salvation and hope to countless masses, as well as removing the main threat to Western interests. They achieved this after the superpowers, especially the US, had spent billions of dollars and applied the full might of their armed forces in Indochina and other parts of the world and in the course, slaughtering many innocent people, and at the end suffering humiliating defeat at the hands of the ragtag army of North Vietnam.
Another feat of Afghans, for which the world is indebted, is their achievement in wiping out the opium trade completely (as reported by the UN agencies). Compare this to the billions of dollars and shipment of massive weapons to South America by the US and decades of efforts to eradicate drug production and trafficking. Despite these massive efforts, and murdering of many innocent indigenous Indians, they have not been able to scratch even the surface of the problem!
The Afghan population - based on my personal interview with a sister and her son who recently came from Kabul and some other refugees living here - are deeply grateful to Taliban for bringing to a close, the seemingly endless internal wars and ushering upon them finally, the peace they craved for. This is another great achievement, despite many enemies, including India and Russia trying to stoke the fire of internecine warfare within Afghanistan.
Afghans suffered huge human casualties and their country was devastated. The cruel world, instead of helping them, is trying to wipe them out by sanctions and psychological warfare, by portraying them as barbaric.
What our brothers must realize is the fact that the enemies of Islam have discovered, after numerous crusades, inquisitions and centuries of hate literature, that they could not and cannot destroy Islam. However, they have discovered a mantra which has helped them to slaughter Muslims without as much reaction as raising of an eye brow from even people of conscience. The mantra is: to brand Muslims as terrorists, extremists, fundamentalists and what have you and then, slaughtering them will be welcome as "good-riddance" by the world. This mantra was initially used by Israel with full success. Then it was borrowed by tyrannical rulers in the Arab countries - by branding Muslims as terrorists, the military courts were able to summarily sentence Muslims to death, even thoughthe "weapons of sabotage" provided as proof of their guilt were fax machines, copiers and type writers! Then India, Serbia and Russia usedthe same ruse and were able to commit atrocities of unimaginable proportions without negative reaction from the world (except in the case of Serbia, belated and erratic reaction by the West).
Some of our brothers have fallen into this trap. When I tried to reason with them, they said "we are always defending Islam, but we want the Muslims to suffer the consequences of their actions". Consequences of what actions? Defending their life, honour and land? We hope our Muslim brothers will think before they leap into the shallow end of the pool head first ,and worst, become traitors, unwittingly, to the Muslim ummah.
Just mention Afghanistan and Columbia and see the reaction. Afghanistan will find itself immediately condemned to the guilty corner; but no one would say anything against Columbia! Those who have knowledge will tell you shocking stories of Colombian army's collaboration with drug warlords, death squads, mass murders, human right abuses and crimes that will churn your stomach (most of this, with the green light from the US). You rarely hear about this in the media. Have you wondered why Muslims are singled out for minor infractions, but heinous crimes of non-Muslims are ignored?
Here is the article by Dr. Munir Elkassem, London ON, Canada, written for the London Free Press:
As expected, the ‘civilized’ world is up in arms against the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan in their attempt to destroy two statues of the Buddha carved into a mountain in Bamiyan Province. This seems like the pot calling the kettle black. It is flagrant hypocrisy on the part of countries like the US, Russia, India, Britain, and France, among many others, to condemn Afghanistan for a fault of their own.
Afghanistan has been suffering and bleeding after 22 years of devastating war. Instead of lending a helping hand, the US got enraged by Afghanistan's sheltering of Osama Bin Laden. After failing to extract Bin Laden out of Afghanistan, the US did what it does best: imposed sanctions on this shattered nation.
Syed Rahmatullah Hashemi, the Taliban’s roving ambassador, expressed the sentiments of the Afghan government, “When the world destroys the future of our children with economic sanctions, they have no right to worry about our past.” Hashemi, another Taliban spokesperson, said that the decision to destroy the statues had been made out of anger and frustration.
International agencies were spending hefty amounts of money to repair the Buddhist statues, while nothing was being done to address the plight of Afghan children who were ravaged by malnutrition. Hashemi added that the statues were tolerated for 1500 years. Now, they had turned into a hated symbol of Western preference for rock over Afghan lives.
It is hypocritical of a country like Russia, for example, to voice its condemnation of the Taliban over the destruction of the Buddha statues. It was reported that since the Russian invasion of 1979, “thousands of Hellenistic, Persian and Indian artefacts from Afghanistan's many-layered past have been smuggled out to the voracious and amoral Western art market.”
If the West claims to be the guardian of cultural heritage, how come no one moved a pen to condemn the destruction of the historical Babri Mosque in India? The world cannot quickly erase from its memory what happened in 1992. In tearing down the Babri Mosque, Indian mobs threatened to ‘cleanse’ India of all Islamic shrines, palaces and artefacts. Two hundred million Indian Muslims were attached to the Babri Mosque while there is not a single Buddhist living in Afghanistan. Minorities continue to be threatened in India, whereas not a single non-Muslim was deliberately killed in Afghanistan. The Associated Press reported that in Kabul there is one old Jewish rabbi who stayed to protect a synagogue in the centre of the city. The Taliban did not prevent him from practicing his religion.
Where were the guardians of cultural heritage when mosques, libraries, historic buildings, and museums were destroyed in Bosnia, Kosovo and Palestine? The real culprits who displayed ‘medieval barbarianism’ and committed a ‘great crime against humanity’ were not the Taliban but those who killed the Imams and the civilians while destroying the historic monuments.
The world has to wake up to the fact that the Taliban cannot be branded as the destroyer of religious art. During the 13 centuries of Muslim rule in Afghanistan, layers of cultural heritage were preserved. One has to remember that the Taliban are not destroying any place of worship or anything belonging to a place of worship. In contrast, the most widespread destruction of religious art in modern times occurred under Chairman Mao during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Let us examine the record of the ‘culturally advanced nations. When France occupied Algeria, it tried to destroy its Islamic way of life by turning Algeria into a major producer of wine. Can anyone defend this as preservation of culture? Cultural heritage is not only statues and monuments, but also traditions that run deep in people’s lives.
Over 3000 Buddhist temples were destroyed by the US and the Pol Pot regime during the Indochina war bombings in Cambodia alone. Cambodians themselves (who are Buddhists) have sawed off heads and busts of numerous temple statues and sold them to Western smugglers. This wanton destruction is clearly evident to visitors of such world famous Buddhist cultural centres as Ankor Wat.
The culturally advanced US sent 24 American long range missiles streaking over Pakistani air space and destroyed the beautiful ‘people’s mosque’ in Afghanistan while attempting to murder Osama Bin Laden. Many of worshippers were killed in the process. This mosque, though not towering like the Buddha statues or the Pharaoh’s pyramids in Egypt, was not built by slave labour. Our veneration of cultural landmarks should not make us forget the human lives that were sacrificed during the building of such monuments.
I have in my files a picture of an ancient Koran with beautiful calligraphy being desecrated by the Soviets in their campaign against Chechnya. Ripped into two pieces, it is lying in the mud with tank treads over it. Does this show any respect for culture?
In 1945, the British and US air forces bombed Dresden even though it was declared an open city. 100 000 German civilians, including large numbers of children, were killed. Dozens of exquisite churches, museums and works of art were destroyed.
How could the world community care more about the destruction of two statues than about 100 000 thousand refugees who have been starving and freezing to death near Herat, a few hundred miles away?
The point of my article is not to justify the destruction of statues in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, I seem to agree with the Grand Mufti of Pakistan who said, “there could be disagreement among the scholars regarding the priorities and the methods. Some might question whether the action (destroying the statues) would alienate the Buddhist nations in Southeast Asia at a critical time for Afghanistan.”
The Koran tells us, “We have not set you as a keeper over them, nor are you responsible for them… Abuse not those whom they worship besides God, lest they out of spite abuse God in their ignorance.” Muslims are supposed to carry the message of God to humanity. They are not supposed to force people to accept Islam or to destroy other people’s scared symbols and places of worship. However, as mentioned earlier, what the Taliban did in Afghanistan was not triggered by contempt towards another religion, but rather, by the hypocrisy of some members of the world community. Justicedemands that condemnation should not only be directed at the weak, but also at the strong.