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1st Conference: A synopsis of Sheikh Safar Hawâlîs contribution

Why Now?

A synopsis of Sheikh Safar Hawâlîs contribution to the London conference.

Let us begin by suggesting an alternative title to this speech: "Right Wing Extremists in Israel and America Have Come to the Same Conclusion".

The Israeli occupation of Jerusalem has ignited an explosion of Christian evangelism in America. It has revived their hopes that Jesus (peace be upon him) will return to rule the world for a thousand years. They see Israels occupation as the prelude to the Battle of Armageddon that must take place before Jesus (peace be upon him) can return. This movement in America increases in strength whenever Israel increases in power or embarks upon a new war. This movement refuses to entertain any peaceful solutions and always stirs up pessimism about the possibility of any possible peace accords.

This movement was at the height of its strength during the Reagan years, especially when he professed his belief in the Battle of Armageddon. This is also when the movements leaders came to the height of their fame; people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggart.

The recent outbreak of the Palestinian uprising stirred up their hopes again. But what has happened?

First, let us take a look at the Israeli Right. As the Palestinian uprising drags on, dissatisfaction and frustration have begun to spread throughout Israeli society, even within the ranks of the military and among the settlers and immigrants. There is a lot of anxiety about Israels future.

Sharons program to squash the Palestinian uprising in 100 days has proven to be a massive failure. More than 800 days have gone by and the situation has turned into a war of attrition that threatens to divide Israeli society.

Now let us take a look at the American Right-Wing. Their foreign policy centers on protecting Israel and maintaining that states control over the territories. However, the American Right is divided into two factions.

First, there is the secular, political right-wing. They want t protect Israels future though the direct use of force and by maintaining American hegemony over the region. They wish to do this presently under the pretext of effecting a regime change in Iraq, and in the long term under the umbrella of their "War on Terrorism".

Then there is the extreme religious right-wing. They want to start the Battle of Armageddon. They have no need for any rational or political justifications for their actions. They accept no logical arguments to begin with. They are not interested in any moderate solutions. Everything they do is based on their personal interpretation of the Book of Revelations and their outrageous analysis of events that comes from such a perspective, much of which centers around their designs to bring about the Battle of Armageddon.

The consequences of September 11 and the preparations for war with Iraq have brought about a division between the religious right and the Bush Administration as well as between them and the American people as a whole. It has even isolated them from the rest of the American Right. There are many reasons why this has led to their political isolation and a decline in their influence.

For one thing, there is the shameful behavior that has been exhibited by their leaders and their poor reputation. This was the case from before September 11.

Then there is their sharp departure from popular opinion. Jerry Falwells comments about September 11 are a case in point, when he managed to enrage both the government and the general public.

A third reason is the Bush administrations overtures to the Muslims, like his visit to the Islamic Center in Washington and the praise of Islam offered both by himself and by other members of his administration. Then there are the films produced by the State Department highlighting the lives of Muslim Americans.

A fourth reason is the strength enjoyed by the liberals during the Clinton years. They never see eye to eye with the religious right on any issue. The wide gulf in opinion between these two groups can be seen in the statement issued by the World Conference of Religion and Peace that was held on October 23, 2002.

Then there is the fact that American public has become more knowledgeable about Islam during the last decade. They have a greater understanding and appreciation of the religion than they had previously enjoyed.

There is also an increased awareness of the Palestinian cause. A significant percentage of the American public is convinced that the Palestinian problem must be solved. Many see that this as the correct way to solve the problem of terrorism.

Most of the churches in America have responded with reason and declared their opposition to the war. This can be seen in the statement issued by the World Council of Churches on September 20, 2002 and the statement issued by the Conference of Catholic Bishops on the September 16, 2002.

The result of all of this has been the isolation of the religious right from both the government and the populace. Consequently, the leaders of this movement have become anxious about their future. This has resulted in a textbook case of psychological projection where we have the very people who stake their faith in the Battle of Armageddon and strive to bring it about calling the Prophet of Peace a violent man and a terrorist.

I would like to conclude with the words of Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah:

It was a well known experience to the Muslim soldiers in Syria that when they besieged an enemy fortress, the siege would always be prolonged and very difficult until the enemy started cursing the Prophet (peace be upon him). When the Muslims got word of this, it was a glad tiding to them of a near victory. They knew that they would soon take the fortress and that Allah would have His vengeance on the enemy. The Muslims have experienced this many times. [Ibn Taymiyya, al-Jawâb Al-Sahîh Liman Badal Dîn Al-Masîh - vol. 6 p. 296].

As Allah says: "Truly, he who insults you will be truly cut off from future hope." [Sûrah al-Kawthar: 3]

When Chosroes of Persia tore up the letter the Prophet (peace be upon him) had sent him, Allah tore Persia apart. In contrast, Heracles treated his letter with respect, and his nation endured for ages.
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