ON NOVEMBER 16th, 2004 the family of Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International in Iraq, received a video that reportedly confirmed her death at the hands of brutal terrorists. Hassan’s death was a tragedy, an inconceivably inhumane end to a life spent in service to others. Her tragedy was the tragedy of over 100,000 Iraqis who are also dead due to the anarchy that now rules Iraq. It was also the tragedy of the Russian school children of Beslan. Terror begets terror, it’s a vicious cycle, and in times of crisis it is easy to point fingers. We can place all the blame on the terrorists who commit the acts of violence, or we can blame the ideologues that promote the extremist policy of pre-emptive war. They are both guilty, but this debate results in little more than polemics. It is when we start viewing the world in black and white that we loose our moral compass, our capacity to exercise wisdom, and our ability to produce measured responses to vitally important and pressing issues. In America there is a tradition of self- criticism and reflection that is cor- rective. It belies the reality that most Americans are people who value justice and equality for all people. Similarly, Islamic civilization is replete with instances of tolerance, cooperation and coexistence amongst a myriad of races, ethnici- ties and religions. It is vital that the peoples most deeply affected by the tragedies unfolding before us today struggle to understand and reassert the spirit of the beliefs upon which their communities were founded. As Sheikh Hamza Yusuf stated “[the] challenge to the United States of America is to be American and [the] challenge to Muslims is to be Muslim and if we all held to those principles, there would not be any conflict” It is with a sense of optimism that we hope that voices from both the Muslim world and the newly reelected administration in Washington sincerely engage in this process.
In our Dossier, a series of essays seek to locate the sources of terrorism and reassert Islam’s unequivocal opposition to them. Prince Hassan of Jordan confronts and answers difficult questions stemming from the 9/11 attacks up until the recent tragedy at Beslan. A penetrating analysis of the context and impetus for terror is explored by Abdal Hakim Murad’s essay, “Bombings Without Moonlight.” This seminal piece invites serious reflection on the historical and political currents that give rise to cultures of extremism – and on the conditions within modernity that exacerbate it.
Our coverage of Iraq continues with an interview of Manal Omar, who manages the Iraqi chapter of Women for Women International. Her experiences shed vivid light on the realities facing the most vulnerable Iraqis. The article, “In the Shuffling Madness”, by Jibril Hambel reports on his third visit to Iraq covering both Basra and Baghdad in an essay depicting the life of Iraqis caught up in the chaos of occupation.
Sheikh Nuh Keller continues his commentary on the aphorisms of the great Sufi, Ibn Ata’Illah; and Ibrahim Rreps returns to his examination of the human mind in an in-depth article on depression.
Finally, Islamicapays its respects to a number of important Figures that recently passed away: the renowned scholar and sage Sheikh Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki; the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and the French philosopher Jacques Derrida.