February 15, 2004

Spiritual Kung Fu

It has been said that politics is personal. Well it is definitely true that when something happens to you directly it moves it from the realm of thought in to the realm of experience. The recent events surrounding the investigation of the “Islam and the Law: The Question of Sexism” conference at the University of Texas Law School are an excellent showcase of the two methods of addressing issues of conflict facing the world that I experienced first hand.

First off some basic rules. Conflict arises out of imbalance and lack of harmony. Imbalance comes from injustice. Injustice comes from fear. Fear comes from ignorance. Ignorance comes from apathy and/or self-righteousness.

God “made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other).” We have a divine mandate to overcome our apathy and self-righteousness and exercise our God-given gift of reason and intelligence to get to know one another on a global scale.

There is conflict in the world and in the times we live in it is a global phenomenon. In the past it didn’t matter in our daily lives what was happening on the other side of the planet. Today with the ever accelerating pace of technology and globalization what happens on the other side of the planet not only concerns us, it affects us directly.

There is conflict between the Muslim world and America, but it is not a clash of civilizations as those who want to live in a black and white world childishly wish that it was. 9/11 can’t simply be dismissed as the work of religious extremists who used mass murder to accomplish their political goals and used religion to justify it. 9/11 happened because we are not in harmony with the Muslim world and it is not in harmony with us. 9/11 is the effect that resulted from the cause of injustice in our dealing with those members of our global family. Whether it’s the heart of the conflict-the Israeli Palestinian issue (where we play favorites), or it is other issues, we have not been honest with ourselves regarding our role and responsibility in creating our own problems.

What country helped overthrow the Iraqi government and helped the Baath party take over which eventually led to Saddam Hussein becoming the leader of Iraq ? US. What country funded Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran while he was simultaneously murdering his own people? US. Why is it that we have helped to create every monster that we have later come to demonize? We helped create Saddam. We helped create Osama Bin Laden. The CIA called him the greatest jihadi. We helped create Al-Qaeda. We gave money to the most extreme, hard-core, fundamentalist fighters in Afghanistan and then we seem surprised with the result after we bailed out when the Soviets left. We supported the ISI in Pakistan who in turn supported the Taliban and helped them come to and stay in power. We launched the Iranian revolution by propping up the Shah after installing him against the will of the Iranian people.

Martial arts are based upon the idea that you only use your physical force when necessary and even then to use it only to the degree and extent that is necessary to make more fighting pointless. One must know his own capabilities and how best to employ them and one must also knows his opponent’s abilities and respect and appreciate them. A rule of fighting in martial arts is that you can use your opponent’s efforts against him by redirecting them rather than trying to confront them directly. In this battle of spiritual kung fu we are continuing to use brute force against those we are in conflict against. This just creates more conflict and actually gives those actually fighting us all the ammunition that they will ever need. It is self-fulfilling prophecy where the rest of the world points to the show of force of the greatest military might the world has ever seen funded by a defense budget greater than all that of the rest of the world combined.

Islam and the Muslim world are not the enemy. Ignorance and fundamentalism are the enemy. They won’t go away when we fight them with brute force. They have to be fought with the pen. They have to be fought with the tongue. They have to be fought with knowledge. We can combat them with understanding, dialogue, communication, and respect. However we can’t fight them by attacking and oppressing Muslims.

Using army intelligence agents to spy on attendees at a conference on Islam has the opposite intended result that those perpetrating it desire to achieve. The intention is to “defeat” the enemy by finding the “bad” Muslims and removing them from participation in the conflict. All this does though is make “good” Muslims scared and angry and give all the support that is needed for the belief that America hates Islam and that our military campaigns in the Muslim world are really an attack against Islam. Additionally, it chills an open and constructive dialogue within Islam and between Islam and the US, which just results in more ignorance.

The more effective method is to have more conferences and to have Islamic law courses taught at the law school. We should invite the two army lawyers who were used to spy on the conference instead to attend Islamic law classes at the University of Texas law school. This seems like more work than spying and it is - it takes more effort. It requires our country to look at itself honestly and seriously and see what it is doing right and what it is doing wrong. If this country wants to win the real battle in the world, which is for hearts and minds (the most powerful weapons ever devised), it better understand what is in those hearts and minds.

The Qur’an teaches that, “The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.” There are evil deeds that are coming from some who live in the Muslim world. If we want to put an end to this evil, we have to do it with good, not more evil. Hey come to think of it, if we pull this off we will have not only the security and stability that we desire, but we will have a new friend in the world. In today’s world, who doesn’t need more friends?

Articles dealing with the conference:



Army agent questions law students Agent wanted list of Islamic law conference attendees Daily Texan February 12, 2003

UT Islam conference prompts Army investigation February 12, 2003

Criminal Dissent in Alternet.org February 12, 2004

Official Statement from the Press Conference February 13, 2004

Unintelligent Intelligence Freedom and Justice Foundation February 13, 2003

Students protest Army investigation of Islam conference Fort Worth Star Telegram February 13, 2003

Presence of Army agents stirs furor Roster sought of attendees at UT meeting on Islam February 13, 2004

Army's look at Muslim conference irks some Austin American Statesman February 14, 2003

Army inquiries alarm students Civil rights activists fear encroachment of free speech rights in the Daily Texan February 16, 2004

A sampling of editorial opnion around Texas Fort Worth Star Telegram February 16, 2003

Army goes too far in quest for participants of UT conference Austin American Statesman February 17, 2004

Army intelligence - Visit to UT-Austin campus showed poor judgment Houston Chronicle Feb. 17, 2004

National Lawyers Guild Condemns Effort by U.S. Army to Gather Information on Students Feb. 17, 2004

To have a conspiracy, you need competency Austin American Statesman XL Section City Life February 19, 2004

Subpoenas alert universities The Daily Bruin February 20, 2004

Criminal dissent - Are recent tactics in Iowa part of a larger Bush Administration effort to punish dissent? Working for a Change February 20, 2004

Naked City (Austin Stories) Austin Chronicle February 20, 2004

Farrah's Bluster About Religious Intolerance Media Monitors Network February 24, 2004

Army review: Agents erred in UT conference investigation Fort Worth Star-Telegram March 15, 2004

Posted by Yahya at February 15, 2004 11:58 AM
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