Children in Care More Likely To Die Earlier Than Those Left With Their Birth Parents

Their hands in our pockets! What an appalling waste of taxpayers money! These lamentable life expectancy outcomes are proof positive that the #UK child protection, safeguarding, foster care & adoption system is so unfit for purpose it simply commodifies children for corporate profit. The system is intrinsically a greater risk of harm than any natural birth parent. A higher standard of proof should apply requiring the state to show how it will benefit children by forcibly removing from reluctant parents accused of ‘future emotional harm’.

Researching Reform

Children who experience the UK’s care system are twice as likely to die earlier than children who remain with their parents, a study has revealed.

The research was led by professor Amanda Sacker at University College London’s (UCL) institute of epidemiology and healthcare and tracked more than 350,000 people between 1971 and 2013, using government data.

The study, entitled, “The health and well-being of adults who had been in care up to 40 years earlier: are there differences by type of care?” was published in September 2018, but has since been followed by other long-term studies which also paint a stark picture of outcomes for children who enter Britain’s care system.

A report published in 2019 by Christian Munthe, a bioethics professor at Gothenburg University, found that foster care systems in the UK, other parts of Europe and the US adversely affected children’s development, and did not appear to offer…

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UKSC really needs to remedy the glaring gap between theory and practice when birth parents and local authority fundamentally disagree in exercising PR:
“101. The distinction drawn here between parental views that are inconsistent with the child’s welfare and highly problematic cases where there is genuine scope for a difference of view remains a valuable one. It is a reminder that, while the views of parents must always be taken into account, the weight that is given to them depends not upon the vehemence with which they are expressed but upon their substance.”


This is a Court of Appeal case which follows up from the Hayden J decision in the cestui que vie case (remember, all of us are legally dead because we’re all lost at sea) about vaccination.

As a super-quick bullet point, we had a MacDonald J decision that if a parent disagreed with the child being vaccinated then the LA should NOT use their powers under a Care Order to agree to it and should instead come to Court, and then this later decision from Hayden J that the LA SHOULD use their powers and should NOT come to Court.  (Legally up until this Court of Appeal hearing that meant legally that the LA SHOULD use their powers but any High Court Judge could overrule that)

Re H (A Child : Parental Responsibility : Vaccination) 2020

Whilst this decision was about the MMR vaccine (which in the minds of…

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#SocialDistancing #Covid19 #History #BlackPlague: “It was a Memorable Day” – يوم مشهود #Plague #Gatherings & #Critics!

“It was a Memorable Day” – Plague Gatherings and their Critics | Younus Mirza | 18 May 2020

The Grand Umayyad mosque in Damascus played an instrumental role in the various responses to droughts and plagues. It is here that the great hadith collection of al-Bukhārī was read and various prayers and supplications were organized.  


In a previous Islamic Law Blog post, Justin Stearns argues that we need to explore the diversity of Muslim responses to pandemics rather than citing individual prophetic reports or statements by famous scholars. Rather than looking at simple antecedents to our current COVID-19 crisis, it would be better to look at the range of responses to plagues within human history and examine how various communities responded in different ways based on their knowledge and contexts.

In this post, I will analyze how the medieval population of Damascus responded to the medieval Black Death in a similar way as they did to droughts and thus put plagues in the category of “natural disasters.”[1] Because “natural disasters” came from God or were part of his divine decree, worship was directed solely to Him in lifting the disease from the land. The “natural disasters” were not seen as having originated from other groups, such as minorities, so we do not see largescale scapegoating. Rather, the religious authority organized a gathering similar to the rain prayer (ṣalāt al-istisqāʾ) which was designed to unite the community around the common crisis and affirm God’s ability to end it. However, critics argued that the gatherings were a religious innovation (bidʿa) as no analogy (qiyās) could be drawn to prescribed ritual prayers. Moreover, they contended that disease and deaths in fact increased after these gatherings demonstrating their ineffectiveness and potential harm.

The Flagellants were a movement which arose in certain parts of northern Europe in response to the Black Death.  They would publically flog themselves as an act of expiation. 

The Rain Prayer (Ṣalāt al-Istisqāʾ)  

The rain prayer (ṣalāt al-istisqāʾ) is a prayer ascribed to the Prophet Muhammad who is believed to have performed the prayer himself amid an intense drought. The Prophet responded to members of his community who asked that he pray for rain by assembling the faithful, giving a short sermon, and then leading them in two units (rak‘as) of prayer.[2]Reports state that immediately after the prayer clouds appeared and it began to rain. The rain prayer appears to be a response to pagan traditions where Arabs would call upon stars or idols for rain.[3] Early Islamic texts, such as al-Muwaṭṭaʾ of Mālik b. Anas (d. 179/796) further establish that the prayer was meant to affirm God’s omnipotence and supremacy. One tradition states that when the Prophet Muhammad would pray for rain he would say “God! Send rain to Your faithful servants and Your creatures. Spread your mercy and renew the life of this dying land of Yours!”[4] The prayer was performed by early caliphs, such as ʿUmar, and has been continuously performed by Muslims communities throughout history and up until the present day.

Early Islamic legal texts, such as al-Muwaṭṭa’ of Mālik b. Anas (d. 179/795), discuss the rain prayer and ascribe it to the practice of the prophet Muhammad. 

Response to the Black Death as a Form of Rain Prayer (Ṣalāt al-Istisqāʾ)

In a previous blog post elsewhere, I discussed how the Black Death united the population of medieval Damascus and led to a massive gathering.[5] The famous Qur’ānic exegete and historian Ibn Kathīr[6] (d. 774/1373) chronicles that on Friday, 5 June, 1348 (7 Rabīʿ al-Awwal 749), after the congregational Friday prayer (jumʿa) the judges and a group of people attended a public recitation of the famous ḥadīth collection of al-Bukhārī (d. 256/870) and prayed that God would lift the plague from the land. As the plague got worse, it was announced on Monday, 21 July 1348 (23 Rabīʿ al-Thānī 749) that the inhabitants should fast three days and that they should come out on Friday and implore God to raise the plague from them.[7] For the following three days, most of the people fasted and some slept in mosques, spending the night praying as they did in the month of Ramadan. On Friday, the inhabitants emerged encompassing the entire population of Damascus – the Jews, Christians, Samaritans, elderly, children, poor, rulers, notables, and judges. All came after the early Morning Prayer and made their way to the “Mosque of the Foot” south of the city. At the mosque, the city’s inhabitants called on God until daybreak or midday. Ibn Kathīr ends his observation exclaiming that “it was a memorable day” (yawm mashhūd).

The famous traveler Ibn Baṭṭūṭa was also an eyewitness to the event and records it in his famous Travels devoting a special section to the day. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa additionally emphasizes the equality of the gathering stating that on Thursday night “the rulers, notables, judges and all different (social) classes gathered in the (Umayyad) mosque until it became crowded and they stayed the whole night. Among them were people praying, remembering (God), and calling out (to him).”[8] After the Morning Prayer, they all left together on foot and in their hands were Qur’āns (al-maṣāḥif). Among them were the “Jews with their Torahs and the Christians with their Gospels.”  Everyone was crying, imploring and seeking intercession with God’s Books and Prophets.[9]

What is fascinating is that this event follows an almost identical structure to previous rain prayers in Damascus. Ibn Kathīr records a similar event which occurred thirty years earlier where he was also an eyewitness. However, this time, the problem was not a plague but rather an intense drought. On April 2nd, 1419 (10 Ṣafar 719), it was called out to fast in preparation for the rain prayer (istisqāʾ).[10] It was further decreed to read the ḥadīth collection of al-Bukhārī and “the people prepared, supplicating at the end of each prayer and after the lectures (khuṭab), and implored God for rain (al-istisqāʾ).”[11] On the following Saturday 7 April (15 Ṣafar), the entire inhabitants of the land (kharaja ahl-balad bi-rummatihim) went out to the Mosque of the Foot. Among these people was the representative of the Sultan and the rulers who were walking (not riding as they would have normally done) and they were crying and imploring God. The people gathered at the Mosque and it was a “remarkable site” (mashhad ʿaẓīm). As part of the rain prayer, there was a sermon which was performed by the Shāfi‘ī judge Ṣadr al-Dīn Sulaymān al-Jaʿfarī (d. 725/1325) and the people audibly said “amen” after his supplications. When people woke up the following morning, rain came “by the will of God, his mercy and kindness, not from the power and strength (of people).”[12] The people became ecstatic (fariḥa al-nās faraḥan shadīdan) and the rain encompassed the entire land. Ibn Kathīr closes the episode by saying “To God is praise and benevolence, He is one, (and) there are no partners to Him.”[13]    

This account follows the same structure of the response to the plague – the great ḥadīth  collection of al-Bukhārī was read, fasting preceded the event, and people processed to and prayed at the Mosque of the Foot.[14] Ibn Kathīr highlights how the rulers joined the event, walking (not riding), and crying and imploring God. Everyone, including the ruling elite, humbled themselves before God and they directed their worship only to him. Moreover, the “entire population” was present demonstrating the communal nature of the event. It is not clear here whether non-Muslims attended but Ibn Kathīr’s language is inclusive such that they could have been present.[15] Ibn Kathīr’s final comments are essential as he puts the result of rain on the mercy and kindness of God, not the “power of people.”  He ends by saying “that there is one God and there is no partners to him.” The statement epitomizes the meaning of the rain prayer in that the prayer affirmed the absolute oneness of God.[16]

Ibn Kathīr’s (d. 774/1373) famous history “the Beginning and the End” (al-Bidāya wa’l-Nihāya) presents eyewitness accounts of how the inhabitants of Damascus responded to droughts and plagues.

Implications of the Plague Gatherings as a form of Rain Prayer

The fact that the inhabitants of Damascus responded to the plague in a similar way to a drought has important implications regarding religious authority and the unfortunate practice of scapegoating. First, the inhabitants reacted with a united front which was based on a shared crisis and strong religious authority. As Michael Dols argues, “The ulamaʾ in medieval society were able to formulate normative attitudes and to guide popular reactions toward the Black Death.”[17] At least in Damascus, we don’t see the development of fringe, extremist or apocalyptic movements which rejected the established religious authority and began to develop their own responses to the plague. For instance, in parts of Europe, we see the rise of the Flagellants, who engaged in extreme purifying rituals such as publically flogging themselves. The movement was never sanctioned by the Church but did have some grassroots and popular support.[18] Rather the Damascus religious authority was able to create a new practice which was based on the precedent of the rain prayer. The rain prayer was an already established ritual in Damascus and had roots in the Prophetic legacy, the example of the early Muslim community and the various Islamic schools of law. To order the community to engage in a gathering similar to the rain prayer was not too much of a mental shift and therefore gained wide support and appeal among the population.

Moreover, the fact that the community saw the plague as a form of drought has significant implications in regards to scapegoating which was one of the tragic legacies of the Black Death and natural disasters in general.[19] In certain parts of Europe, Jews were blamed for the plague and burned alive as a way to expiate the community.[20] However, medieval inhabitants of Damascus understood the plague affecting the entire community in a similar way to how a drought impacts everyone. Prophetic practice further focused the community on praying to God to end the calamity rather than blaming one segment of the community for its occurrence.  The rain prayer was meant to unite the community against the common natural disaster and ask God for its cessation. As Ibn Kathīr and Ibn Baṭṭūṭa both observe, religious minorities were visibly present at the gathering and were praying with the rest of the population. They further do not record any retaliation against them in Damascus.

Plague Gathering Critics

News of the Damascus plague gathering would travel throughout the Mamlūk Empire and it would eventually be replicated in other parts, most notably in Cairo in 822/1419 and 833/1430.  However, despite their wide-spread popularity, the gatherings did have their critics. In his plague treatise (Badhl al-māʿūn fī faḍl al-ṭāʿūn),[21] the famous ḥadīth scholar Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1449)[22] argued that the plague gathering in Damascus was a religious innovation (bidʿa) which did not have precedence in Islamic history.[23] Speaking in the next century and citing secondary sources, Ibn Ḥajar contends that the 749/1348 gathering actually increased the disease when it was in fact less before.[24] He then moves to explain that a plague (re)appeared in his hometown in 23 January 1430 (27 Rabīʿ al-Thānī 833) and at the time only 40 people had died of the disease. After it was called out to fast three days, people went out on Friday, 29 January (4 Jamāda al-Uwlā) to the desert which was a similar practice to the rain prayer (istisqāʾ). People gathered, prayed for an hour and then returned to the city. However, by the end of the months,  the deaths numbered a thousand a day and continued to increase after that.[25]

After the gathering, there were various fatwās regarding its practice. Some of the scholars supported it based on previous precedent, especially the fact that the Mamlūk Sultan Malik al-Muʾayyad (d. 824/1421) participated in a previous plague gathering and found it beneficial.[26] A group of scholars further attended the gathering with him and did not object to it. However, others ruled that not participating in such gatherings was preferable in order to avoid the dissention (fitna) it could cause )within the community( both if the prayers were answered and if they were not. If the prayers were answered, there was a danger in people becoming pretentious. If their prayers were not answered, then the people would have a negative impression of the scholars and righteous and of supplication in general.[27]

Ibn Ḥajar then interjects his own opinion saying that if these gatherings were permissible, then there would be some precedent from the early community (salaf), the jurists around the world, their followers and previous generations.[28]However, no report has reached his generation, no tradition from his contemporaries exists and there is no written legal precedent (farʿ masṭūr) from any of the jurists. For Ibn Ḥajar, the words of supplication and the characteristics of the supplicant have particularities and inner reasoning – every prayer is unique and has a specific form which is suitable to it. What is relied on is that ritual prayers should be strictly followed and there is no room for analogy (qiyās).

To illustrate his point, Ibn Ḥajar gives the example of the eclipse prayer (kusūf) where the sermon and admonishment (takhwīf) has a different form than that of drought.[29] Moreover, the prayers that are transmitted on natural disasters and calamities (nāzila) such as famine and disease are different than that on the eclipse prayer (kusūf) and the rain prayer (al-istisqāʾ).  Whoever conflates the various prayers “has innovated in a religious matter which is not part of it and it should be rejected.” Here Ibn Ḥajar paraphrases a popular prophetic report on religious innovation and the importance of preserving the forms of ritual prayers.[30] Ibn Ḥajar then gives another example of keeping the different prayers distinct by citing the eponym of his legal school al-Shāfiʿī (d. 204/820) who believed that there was no group supplication (qunūt) in the rain prayer (in contrast to other prayers such as the dawn/fajr prayer). Ibn Ḥajar ends the section believing that al-Shāfiʿī himself would support his position (and God knows best). For Ibn Ḥajar, each prayer – whether it be the eclipse or rain prayer – had a distinct form which should only be performed for its prescribed reason.

Ibn Ḥajar explains that the plague gatherings were in fact one of the reasons why he decided to write this plague treatise where he gathered various ḥadīths (related to plagues) and commentaries on them.[31] He decided not to go out in the 833/1430 gathering and did not attend the earlier gathering with al-Malik al-Muʾayyad (in 822/1419), even though he was particularly close to him.[32] What he anticipated would happen – an increase in deaths – occurred in both circumstances, and there is no strength and power except with God, the most high and great.[33]

Ibn Ḥajar ends his argument stating that he has not heard about any time, especially in the era of the Companions and Successors, when people gathered in response to the plague in the same way they did for the rain prayer (istisqāʾ) except in the year 749/1348 (in Damascus).[34] In Ibn Ḥajar’s view, they gathered, prayed, and returned back to the city but the affair became more difficult and they did not attain what they intended. What occurred almost 85 years later in Cairo (in 833/1430) had the identical result (kiffa bi-kiffa).[35]


In summary, the scholarship has noted the occurrence of plague gatherings but has not sufficiently discussed their similarities to rain prayers and the subsequent debate that ensued. The fact that medieval Muslims of Damascus understood the plague as similar to the drought has important consequences in how they reacted to its occurrence. Just as the rain prayer brings rain which lifts the drought from the land, the inhabitants hoped that their gathering would in a similar way lift the plague from their city. Moreover, the population did not see the plague as originating from a particular group of people and therefore did not scapegoat anyone.[36] The plague was like a drought where everyone was affected and needed to pray to God for its cessation. The Damascene religious authority was therefore able to effectively create a ritual that united the population and did not lead to fringe movements or scapegoating.

Nonetheless, the plague gatherings did have their critics especially when the gatherings started to be replicated in other parts of the Empire such as Cairo. The famous ḥadīth scholar Ibn Ḥajar argued that the gatherings did not have any precedent in Islamic history and that there was no room for analogy in ritual prayer and supplications. Each prayer had a distinct form and reason and it was wrong to apply one to another. Moreover, in his observation, the plague gatherings did not prevent deaths but rather they increased after their occurrence demonstrating their ineffectiveness and harm. The debate thus demonstrates how social responses to the pandemics built off precedents and established traditions which had popular support. Yet, critics were frequently present asking whether the responses conformed to proper religious practice and questioning whether they attained the desired result.


[1] The secondary sources do reference this connection between the various plague gatherings and the rain prayer but more work needs to be done to understand the implications of this analogy. See Michael Dols, The Black Death in the Middle East (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1977), 248; Justin Stearns, “New Directions in the Study of Religious Responses to the Black Death,” History Compass 7, no. 5 (2009): 5; Justin Stearns, Infectious Ideas: Contagion in Premodern Islamic and Christian Thought in the Western Mediterranean (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 164.  Also, Stearns notes that these plague gatherings were unique to the “Mashriq, specifically Cairo and Damascus.” Stearns, Infectious Ideas, 161.

[2] T. Fahd and P. N. Boratav, “Istisḳāʾ,” in Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition, eds. P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Boston: Brill 2020).

[3] Mālik ibn Anas, Al-Muwaṭṭaʾ: the Recension of Yaḥyā b. Yaḥyā al-Laythī (d. 234/848), eds. and trans. Mohammad Fadel and Connell Monette (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Published by the Program in Islamic Law, Harvard Law School, 2019), 188.

[4] Mālik ibn Anas, Al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, 187.

[5] Dols references this event but does no connect it with ṣalāt al-istisqā’. Dols, The Black Death in the Middle East, 251.

[6] For more on the life and works of Ibn Kathīr see Younus Y. Mirza, “Ibn Kathīr, ʿImād al-Dīn,” in Encyclopedia of Islam, eds. Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson (Leiden: Boston: Brill 2016).

[7] Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa’l-nihāya, ed. Ḥasan Ismā‘īl Marwa (Damascus: Dār Ibn Kathīr, 2009), 16:41.

[8] Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, Riḥlat Ibn Baṭṭūṭah al-musammāh Tuḥfat al-nuẓẓār fī gharā’ib al-amṣār wa’l-‘ajā’ib al-asfār, ed. ʻAbd al-Hādī Tāzī (Rabat: Wizārat al-Thaqāfah, 2004), 1:325. For a strong translation of this episode see Ibn Baṭṭūtah, The Travels of Ibn Battutah, ed. Tim Mackintosh-Smith (London: Picador, 2002), 39.

[9] The famous Mamlūk Egyptian historian al-Maqrīzī also notes this procession and gathering but it does not seem that he was an eyewitness to the event. However, the fact that he notes the gathering in his history demonstrates that the news of the event had become widespread and was influencing other gatherings. See al-Maqrīzī, Al-Sulūk li-ma‘rifat duwal al-mulūk, ed. Muḥammad ʻAbd al-Qādir ʻAṭā (Beirut: Dār al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, 1997), 4:85.

[10] Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa’l-nihāya, 16:141.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] For the acts of processions and fasting as a response to natural disasters in Europe see Jussi Hanska, Strategies of Sanity and Survival: Religious Responses to Natural Disasters in the Middle Ages (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2002). For a specific discussion regarding Valencia see Abigail Agresta “From Purification to Protection: Plague Response in Late Medieval Valencia,” Speculum 95, no. 2 (2020): 371–95.

[15] However, despite the enormity of the drought, it did not seem to have reached the same level as the Black Death since Ibn Kathīr does not note any deaths and his language does not signal the same level of desperation.

[16] However, there are some key differences in that the plague gathering was performed on Friday while the rain prayer was done on Saturday. Also, the rain prayer had a sermon where the plague gathering did not.

[17] Michael W. Dols, “The Comparative Communal Responses to the Black Death in Muslim and Christian Societies,” Medieval and Renaissance Studies 5, no. 1 (1974): 286.

[18] As Jussi Hanska explains, “The important thing is that despite the participation by some members of the clergy, the flagellant processions seem to have been essentially a lay movement.” Hanska, Strategies of Sanity, 61.

[19] As Hanska explains, “The need to find guilty persons manifested itself, for example, in psychotic witch-hunts for scapegoats in connection with epidemics and other major disasters. Since it was not a question of man-made disasters where it is easy to point the finger at someone, and since there was no scientifically relevant information about the causes of natural disasters, it is no wonder that the role of scapegoats was given to outsiders. Those who were not members of the community and bound by its rules were always looked upon with suspicion, and in exceptional circumstances they were always potential victims.” Hanska, Strategies of Sanity, 176.

[20] Samuel K. Cohn, “The Black Death and the Burning of Jews,” Past & Present 196, no. 1 (2007): 3-36.  For more on medieval Christian and Muslim views of Jews and contagion see Stearns, Infectious Ideas.

[21] Ibn Ḥajar al-ʻAsqalānī, Badhl al-māʿūn fī faḍl al-ṭāʿūn, ed. Aḥmad ʿIṣām ʿAbd al-Qādir Kātib (Riyadh: Dār al-ʿĀṣima, 1991).

[22] For more on his life see F. Rosenthal, “Ibn Ḥadjar al- ʿAsḳalānī,” in Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition, eds. P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Boston: Brill 2020).

[23] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 328.

[24] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 329. However, Ibn Baṭṭūṭa contended that the deaths decreased after the plague gatherings, especially in relation to Cairo. Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, The Travels, 1:325. The famous Egyptian historian al-Maqrīzī also notes that the deaths decreased. Al-Maqrīzī, Al-Sulūk li-ma‘rifat, 4:85.

[25] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 329. Al-Maqrīzī chronicles this plague gathering in 833/1430 and also notes that the death’s increased after the event; Al-Maqrīzī, Al-Sulūk li-ma‘rifat, 7:204.

[26] Dols speaks about this massive gathering and translates some chronicles on the event. Dols, Black Death, 238.

[27] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 329.

[28] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 330.

[29] Ibid.

[30] J. Robson, “Bidʿa,” in Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition, eds. P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs (Leiden: Boston: Brill 2020).

[31] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 330. Ibn Ḥajar notes that he started compiling the book in the year 819/1416-17.

[32] Joel Blecher explains that, “Ibn Ḥajar cultivated a particularly close relationship to al-Muʾayyad, attaining a level of trust and influence he was never able to replicate with al-Muʾayyad’s successors….” Joel Blecher, “Ḥadīth Commentary in the Presence of Students, Patrons, and Rivals: Ibn Ḥajar and Sahīh al-Bukhārī in Mamluk Cairo,” Oriens 41, no. 3-4 (2013): 269.

[33] Ibn Ḥajar then goes on a tangent in that he prefers the prayer of Adam and Eve “Oh Lord, we have wronged ourselves…” (8:23) over the one “Oh Lord remove this punishment from us verily we are believers” (44:12) since the former was accepted by God while the latter was made by a group of disbelievers and eventually rejected.  During the plague outbreaks, there was a dream that people should make the prayer found in 44:12 but Ibn Ḥajar found this prayer to be inappropriate and not substantiated by precedent.      

[34] Ibn Ḥajar, Badhl al-māʿūn, 331.

[35] Dols states that Ibn Ḥajar eventually agreed to the legality of the plague gatherings with the other scholars of Egypt but I do not see this within the text. Dols, The Black Death and the Middle East, 120. Dols also adds that the plague gatherings became popular in Egypt in the 14th and 15thcenturies.

[36] As Dols states, “The Muslim writers on the plague did not dwell on the guilt of their co-religionists even if they did admit the plague was a divine warning against sin. Prayer was supplication and not expiation.” Dols, The Black Death and the Middle East, 285. Nonetheless, Stearn cautions that Dols’ observations were made from a limited number of sources and that Christians and Muslims often shared similar views of the plague. For instance, Stearns ends his article asking “To what degree did representatives of these traditions borrow from each other’s theological considerations of plague, much as they did with medical knowledge? More extensive comparative work may well give us answers to these and other questions, and will work against any all too facile reductionism when discussing religious responses to the plague.” Stearn, “New Directions,” 7. See also his Infectious Ideas where he states in the Introduction, “Instead of reducing Muslim and Christian understandings of contagion to a clear opposition between two approaches characterized by religious or civilizational labels, I attempt to delineate the parameters that directed these two groups of intellectuals toward qualitatively distinct constructions of contagion.” Stearns, Infectious Ideas, 11.

Nameless, faceless, abandoned for 13-years: Letter from Guantánamo, April 2020

“In this writer’s humble opinion, it’s the way to save us, our humanity, to implement justice and equality, to grow, motivate and cement our human solidarity, and to move forward on the urgency to commit ourselves to work hard, like our lives depend on it, to save our home, our planet, our future.

In closing, our public outcry is 13-years overdue to demand the release of an innocent young Afghan man, husband, father and son, Asadullah Haroon, from Guantánamo immediately!”

#FREEAsadullahHaroon! #AllLivesMatter!


If anyone has the spine, heart and conscience to “like” this post, then please be courteous taking a few minutes of your precious time to actually read it and move it forward by “sharing”. We, the invisible Human Rights Defenders, and Asadullah Haroon, the invisible Guantánamo prisoner and indefensible unconscionable collateral damage of the Bush “War on Terror”, thank you.

We clearly cannot count on our leaders to demand justice, as they are unquestioningly spineless capitalists only ever looking out for their vested interests and elitist backsides. So we’re forced to demand them to action justice.

Asadullah Haroon is also an inconsequential “nobody” to his own government in Afghanistan. His freedom after 13-years of torture and injustice, much less his life, is trivial, if at all on their radar of to-dos, in the pursuit of international interests for the Afghan leadership, as another US puppet regime.


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#Accountability >2.4m Iraqi deaths! #Nuremberg #Aggression #UNSCRn1441 #ICC: Why #Bush & #Blair, #US & #UK Must Be Prosecuted for #WarCrimes Against #Iraq!

Why U.S. Must Be Prosecuted for Its War Crimes Against Iraq |

The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did. We therefore now have internationally a lawless world (or “World Order”) in which “Might makes right,” and in which there is really no effective international law, at all. This is merely gangster “law,” ruling on an international level. It is what Hitler and his Axis of fascist imperialists had imposed upon the world until the Allies — U.S. under FDR, UK under Churchill, and U.S.S.R. under Stalin — defeated it, and established the United Nations.

Furthermore, America’s leaders deceived the American public into perpetrating this invasion and occupation, of a foreign country (Iraq) that had never threatened the United States; and, so, this invasion and subsequent military occupation constitutes the very epitome of “aggressive war” — unwarranted and illegal international aggression. (Hitler, similarly to George W. Bush, would never have been able to obtain the support of his people to invade if he had not lied, or “deceived,” them, into invading and militarily occupying foreign countries that had never threatened Germany, such as Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. This — Hitler’s lie-based aggressions — was the core of what the Nazis were hung for, and yet America now does it.)

As Peter Dyer wrote in 2006, about “Iraq & the Nuremberg Precedent”:

Invoking the precedent set by the United States and its allies at the Nuremberg trial in 1946, there can be no doubt that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a war of aggression. There was no imminent threat to U.S. security nor to the security of the world. The invasion violated the U.N. Charter as well as U.N. Security Council Resolution #1441.

The Nuremberg precedent calls for no less than the arrest and prosecution of those individuals responsible for the invasion of Iraq, beginning with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleez[z]a Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

Take, for example, Condoleezza Rice, who famously warned “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” (That warning was one of the most effective lies in order to deceive the American public into invading Iraq, because President Bush had had no real evidence, at all, that there still remained any WMD in Iraq after the U.N. had destroyed them all, and left Iraq in 1998 — and he knew this; he was informed of this; he knew that he had no real evidence, at all: he offered none; it was all mere lies.)

So, the Nuremberg precedent definitely does apply against George W, Bush and his partners-in-crime, just as it did against Hitler and his henchmen and allies.

The seriousness of this international war crime is not as severe as those of the Nazis were, but nonetheless is comparable to it.

On 15 March 2018, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies headlined at Alternet “The Staggering Death Toll in Iraq” and wrote that “our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion,” and linked to solid evidence, backing up their estimate.

On 6 February 2020, BusinessInsider bannered “US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone”, and linked to the academic analysis that supported this estimate. The U.S. regime’s invasive war, which the Bush gang perpetrated against Iraq, was also a crime against the American people (though Iraqis suffered far more from it than we did).

On 29 September 2015, I headlined “GALLUP: ‘Iraqis Are the Saddest & One of the Angriest Populations in the World’,” and linked to Gallup’s survey of 1,000 individuals in each of 148 countries around the world, which found that Iraq had the highest “Negative Experience Score.” That score includes “sadness,” “physical pain,” “anger,” and other types of misery — and Iraq, after America’s invasion, has scored the highest in the entire world, on it, and in the following years has likewise scored at or near the highest on “Negative Experience Score.”

For example: in the latest, the 2019, Gallup “Global Emotions Report”, Iraq scores fourth from the top on “Negative Experience Score,” after (in order from the worst) Chad, Niger, and Sierra Leone. (Gallup has been doing these surveys ever since 2005, but the first one that was published under that title was the 2015 report, which summarized the 2014 surveys’ findings.) Of course, prior to America’s invasion, there had been America’s 1990 war against Iraq and the U.S. regime’s leadership and imposition of U.N. sanctions (which likewise were based largely on U.S.-regime-backed lies, though not totally on lies like the 2003 invasion was), which caused massive misery in that country; and, therefore, not all of the misery in Iraq which showed up in the 2015 Global Emotions Report was due to only the 2003 invasion and subsequent military occupation of that country. But almost all of it was, and is.

And all of it was based on America’s rulers lying to the public in order to win the public’s acceptance of their evil plans and invasions against a country that had never posed any threat whatsoever to Americans — people residing in America. Furthermore, it is also perhaps relevant that the 2012 “World Happiness Report” shows Iraq at the very bottom of the list of countries (on page 55 of that report) regarding “Average Net Affect by Country,” meaning that Iraqis were the most zombified of all 156 nationalities surveyed. Other traumatized countries were immediately above Iraq on that list. On “Average Negative Affect,” only “Palestinian Territories” scored higher than Iraq (page 52). After America’s invasion based entirely on lies, Iraq is a wrecked country, which still remains under the U.S. regime’s boot, as the following will document:

Bush’s successors, Obama and Trump, failed to press for Bush’s trial on these vast crimes, even though the American people had ourselves become enormously victimized by them, though far less so than Iraqis were. Instead, Bush’s successors have become accessories after the fact, by this failure to press for prosecution of him and his henchmen regarding this grave matter. In fact, the “Defense One” site bannered on 26 September 2018, “US Official: We May Cut Support for Iraq If New Government Seats Pro-Iran Politicians”, and opened with “The Trump administration may decrease U.S. military support or other assistance to Iraq if its new government puts Iranian-aligned politicians in any ‘significant positions of responsibility,’ a senior administration official told reporters late last week.”

The way that the U.S. regime has brought ‘democracy’ to Iraq is by threatening to withdraw its protection of the stooge-rulers that it had helped to place into power there, unless those stooges do the U.S. dictators’ bidding, against Iraq’s neighbor Iran. This specific American dictator, Trump, is demanding that majority-Shiite Iraq be run by stooges who favor, instead, America’s fundamentalist-Sunni allies, such as the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia and who hate and loathe Shiites and Iran. The U.S. dictatorship insists that Iraq, which the U.S. conquered, serve America’s anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian policy-objectives. “The U.S. threat, to withhold aid if Iran-aligned politicians occupy any ministerial position, is an escalation of Washington’s demands on Baghdad.” The article went on to quote a “senior administration official” as asserting that, “if Iran exerts a tremendous amount of influence, or a significant amount of influence over the Iraqi government, it’s going to be difficult for us to continue to invest.” Get the euphemisms there!

This article said that “the Trump administration has made constraining Iran’s influence in the region a cornerstone of their foreign policy.” So, this hostility toward Iran must be reflected in Iraq’s policies, too. It’s not enough that Trump wants to destroy Iran like Bush has destroyed Iraq; Trump demands that Iraq participate in that crime, against Iraq’s own neighbor.

This article said that, “There have also been protests against ‘U.S. meddling’ in the formation of a new Iraqi government, singling out Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk for working to prevent parties close to Iran from obtaining power.” McGurk is the rabidly neconservative former high G.W. Bush Administration official, and higher Obama Administration official, who remained as Trump’s top official on his policy to force Iraq to cooperate with America’s efforts to conquer Iran. Trump’s evil is Obama’s evil, and is Bush’s evil. It is bipartisan evil, no matter which Party is in power. Though Trump doesn’t like either the Bushes or Obamas, all of them are in the same evil policy-boat. America’s Deep State remains the same, no matter whom it places into the position of nominal power. The regime remains the same, regardless.

On April 29th, the whistleblowing former UK Ambassador Craig Murray wrote:

Nobody knows how many people died as a result of the UK/US Coalition of Death led destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and, by proxy, Syria and Yemen. Nobody even knows how many people western forces themselves killed directly. That is a huge number, but still under 10% of the total. To add to that you have to add those who died in subsequent conflict engendered by the forced dismantling of the state the West disapproved of. Some were killed by western proxies, some by anti-western forces, and some just by those reverting to ancient tribal hostility and battle for resources into which the country had been regressed by bombing.

You then have to add all those who died directly as a result of the destruction of national infrastructure. Iraq lost in the destruction 60% of its potable drinking water, 75% of its medical facilities and 80% of its electricity. This caused millions of deaths, as did displacement. We are only of course talking about deaths, not maiming.

UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair should hang with the U.S. gang, but who is calling for this? How much longer will the necessary prosecutions wait? Till after these international war-criminals have all gone honored to their graves?

Although the International Criminal Court considered and dismissed possible criminal charges against Tony Blair’s UK Government regarding the invasion and military occupation of Iraq, the actual crime, of invading and militarily occupying a country which had posed no threat to the national security of the invader, was ignored, and the conclusion was that “the situation did not appear to meet the required threshold of the Statute” (which was only “Willful killing or inhuman treatment of civilians” and which ignored the real crime, which was “aggressive war” or “the crime of aggression” — the crime for which Nazis had been hanged at Nuremberg).

Furthermore, no charges whatsoever against the U.S. Government (the world’s most frequent and most heinous violator of international law) were considered. In other words: the International Criminal Court is subordinate to, instead of applicable to, the U.S. regime. Just like Adolf Hitler had repeatedly made clear that, to him, all nations except Germany were dispensable and only Germany wasn’t, Barack Obama repeatedly said that “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation”, which likewise means that every other nation is “dispensable.” The criminal International Criminal Court accepts this, and yet expects to be respected.

The U.S. regime did “regime change” to Iraq in 2003, and to Ukraine in 2014, and tried to do it to Syria since 2009, and to Yemen since 2015, and to Venezuela since 2012, and to Iran since 2017 — just to mention some of the examples. And, though the Nuremberg precedent certainly applies, it’s not enforced. In principle, then, Hitler has posthumously won WW II.

Hitler must be smiling, now. FDR must be rolling in his grave.

The only way to address this problem, if there won’t be prosecutions against the ‘duly elected’ (Deep-State-approved and enabled) national leaders and appointees, would be governmental seizure and nationalization of the assets that are outright owned or else controlled by America’s Deep State. Ultimately, the Government-officials who are s‘elected’ and appointed to run the American Government have been and are representing not the American people but instead represent the billionaires who fund those officials’ and former officials’ careers. In a democracy, those individuals — the financial enablers of those politicians’ s‘electoral’ success — would be dispossessed of all their assets, and then prosecuted for the crimes that were perpetrated by the public officials whom they had participated in (significantly funded and propagandized for) placing into power. (For example, both Parties’ Presidential nominees are unqualified to serve in any public office in a democracy.)

Democracy cannot function with a systematically lied-to public. Nor can it function if the responsible governmental officials are effectively immune from prosecution for their ‘legal’ crimes, or if the financial string-pullers behind the scenes can safely pull those strings. In America right now, both of those conditions pertain, and, as a result, democracy is impossible. There are only two ways to address this problem, and one of them would start by prosecuting George W. Bush.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.



#Fasting #Ramadhan: The #Month of the #Quran!

The Month of the Quran | ASLAM ABDULLAH  | ISLAMICITY  | 8 MAY 2020 

The Holy Quran in golden box with Ramadan Lantern
(photo: iStock by Getty Images).

Before it came to be known as the month of Fasting, the companions of the Prophet knew Ramadan as a month of the Quran, the last and ever lasting divine guidance to humanity.

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion (between right and wrong). So, whoever of you sights the month, he/she must observe fasts that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and he does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must glorify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” (2:184).

See the source image

The revelation began in the month of Ramadan. The night in which the Quran began to be revealed is referred in the Quran as the blessed night: We sent it (the Quran) down on a blessed night, (44:2)

or the night of Decree, Verily, we have sent it (this Quran) down in the Night of Al-Qadr. (97:1). 

See the source image

It was the strength, clarity, simplicity, and universality of the message that the night was described as an extraordinary night.

With its 6332 ayas (sentences) spread in 114 suras (chapters) divided in seven stages and 30 parts, the Quran was finalized and compiled in the life time of the Prophet who alone among human beings knew what it was. Only the Prophet could testify, verify and approve what the Quran consisted of as no other human being in his time shared that experience. He put his seal of approval on the finality of the divine message and gave his instructions on its arrangement. The Prophet ensured that every verse revealed to him was recorded and written at the time of its revelation.

In one of the several ahadiths (statements attributed to the Prophet) mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, one of the companions, Bara’a narrates that when the verse “not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives, Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home) to each Allah has promised good, but has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home by a huge reward.” (4:95) was revealed, the Prophet immediately called one of the scribes of the Quran to bring in the ink, pen, and the tablet so that it could be written down.

It is also mentioned in Masnad Ahmed, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan Nasai, Jami Tirmdhi, Ibn Habban, and Mustadrak Hakim that Usman bin Affan, the third Caliph, narrated that whenever a verse was revealed, the Prophet used to call scribes immediately and gave them specific instructions to write it in the sura (chapter) where is was meant to be.

Zaid bin Thabit is reported as mentioned in Sahiah Bukhari, that in the life time of the Prophet there were at least four from Ansar of Medina, Abi binKaab, Maadh ibn Jabal, Zaid, and Abu Zaid who had the entire Quran written with them. It is also reported that in Medina Abdullah bin Saeed bin al-As, who was a calligrapher was specially instructed to teach the art of writing the Quran to the citizens of Medina.

Besides other materials, the paper was also used to write the Quran. The scriptures refers to the word paper twice: But even if we had sent down unto thee [O Prophet] a writing on paper, and they had touched it with their own hands – those who are bent on denying the truth would indeed have said, “This is clearly nothing but a deception!” (6:7),

“For, no true understanding of God have they when they say, “Never has God revealed anything unto man.” Say: “Who has bestowed from on high the divine writ which Moses brought unto men as a light and a guidance, [and] which you treat as [mere] leaves of paper, making a show of them the while you conceal [so] much – although you have been taught [by it] what neither you nor your forefathers had ever known?” Say: “God [has revealed that divine writ]!” – and then leave them to play at their vain talk. (6:92)

See the source image

The Quran also uses the word Riq, “In a Scroll unfolded; (52:3), a kind of paper made from the skins of animals.

In the books of Ahadith, we come across the names of at least 45 more companions who knew how to read and write the Quran. They are (in alphabetical order):

      1. Aban
      2. Abdur Rehman
      3. Abdu Rehman bin Hur bin Umr bin Zaid
      4. Abdulla Saeed bin al As
      5. Abdullah bin Arqam Zahri
      6. Abdullah bin Rawah
      7. Abdullah bin Saad bin Ab Sarh
      8. Abdullah bin Zaid
      9. Abdullah in Abdullah bin Abi Salool
      10. Abu Abas
      11. Abu Bakr
      12. Abu Yunis Maula Ayesha
      13. Ala bin Hadhrami
      14. Ali ibn Talib
      15. Aseed bin hadheer
      16. Aus bin Khauli
      17. Ayesha bint Abi bakr
      18. Fatima bin Muhammad
      19. Hafsa bint Umar
      20. Handhala bin Rabi
      21. Hundhala al-Asadi
      22. Jaheem binal Salt
      23. Khalid bin Saeed bin al-As
      24. Khalid bin Walid
      25. Muaqaib bin Fatima
      26. Muawiya bin Abi Safiyan
      27. Mughaira bin Shaaba
      28. Muhammad bin Salma
      29. Munzr bin Umr
      30. Nafe bin Tareeb bin Umr bin Naufal
      31. Najiatu Tafawi
      32. Rafe bin Malik
      33. Sad bin al Rabee
      34. Sad bin al-As
      35. Sad bin Ibadah
      36. Shahar bin Saad
      37. Sharjeel bin Hasna
      38. Ubi ibn Kaab
      39. Umar bin al-Khattab
      40. Umme Habiba bint Abi Safiyan
      41. Umr bin Al-As
      42. Umr bin Rafe
      43. Usman bin Affan
      44. Zaid bin Thabit
      45. Zubair bin Awwam

The Prophet was so particular about preserving the Quran in writing that even at the time of his migration from Makkah to Medina, he had a scriber with with him with ink and pen.

The Quran describes itself as a book (kitab), a word that appears 230 times in various contexts.

Even though there are narrations in many books that suggest that the Quran in the form that we have it today was compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr at the insistence of Second Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab and later finalized at the time of third Caliph, Usman bin Affan, the verdict of the Quran about its finalization, preservation, authenticity and compilation is overriding.

“We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (15:9)

“And (moreover) We have guarded them from every evil spirit accursed.” (15:17).

Or “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (5:3).

It is obvious that the efforts of the Caliphs were to make copies of the Quran from the original for wider distribution in the Muslim world. It is evident from the writings of Ibn Hazm in his book Kitab ul Fisl that over 100,000 copies of the Quran were present in the entire world at the time of Umar bin Al-Khattab.

The Quran describes itself as a book that proves the commonality of the divine messages previously revealed to earlier prophets that were not preserved in the original form by their followers. It also asserts that the divine message has essentially been the same revolving around three main principles;

1) monotheism in the sense that the source of all divine messages is Allah, the initiator and the creator of the universe,

2) the guidance from a higher and neutral source is needed by human beings to lead a simple and disciplined life. It is only through following the divine guidance human beings can discipline their lives the same way as every thing else in the universe runs in a perfect order.

3) the life is in constant evolution and the death would not end the life but move in a difference stage of existence where individuals and groups would be held accountable for every thing that they do and say in their limited life in this world.

The greatest miracle of the Quran is the consistency of this message evident in all its suras (chapters) and ayas (sentences). The linguistic beauty and style are apparent to only those who understand the language but the clarity and consistency of the message is for everyone regardless of their linguistic skills and they relevant for all times. In other words every sura of the Quran is connected with its overall message with variations in emphasis and every aya is related with a particular aspect of the message within the context of the total guidance.

Thus the month of Ramadan offers the believers a unique opportunity to refresh their understanding of the guidance and live it for an entire month so that the life in coming months could be disciplined around that. Thus, the first task for every believer is to get connected with the divine guidance in a disciplined, consistent, and regular basis.

The fasting enables a person to live the principle of self control and self discipline, which is essential to realize the strength and relevance of the divine message.

Seemingly, a large number of Muslims do not know the Arabic language and hence find it hard to understand when the Quran is recited to them. Moreover, we have the traditions informing us that the reading of the Quran gives us the reward of reading one letter to the equivalent to the 30 letter reward. The mercy and the divine measurement for good deeds are limitless and this narration should be read in that context.

Besides earning reward for reading the Quran without understanding, we can also make efforts in the month of Ramadan to read it with understanding. This may even double or triple the reward. It is no harm to read the Quran with translation. Non-Arabic speaking believers can recite the Quran in Arabic and listen to its pronunciation during the taraweeh prayers, besides reading the translation in their own languages to understand the essence of the divine message. This understanding will enable us to get closer to the guidance of Allah.

Often it is argued that it is difficult to understand the Quran in any other language. The Quran, on the other hand repeats the following verse four times:

“And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? (54:17)

Besides, the Quran also says: “And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” (30:22)

The reading of the Quran with meaning would give us an opportunity to understand the divine message as is and inspire us to appreciate its relevance for us in our times. Thus in addition to reading the Quran, we can also make efforts to live it.

We spend much of our efforts in correcting our pronunciation of the Quran. This is good and the proper sound of every letter and word must be perfected authentically. However, the main purpose of perfecting the pronunciation must never be ignored: i.e. to understand so that we could live the Quran, the way our Prophet lived it.

During the month of Ramadan we arrange lavish functions for the breaking of fast, a good practice to bring people together. However, if in these functions, we make it a habit to focus on understanding one of the passages of the Quran, probably we can make better use of these gatherings. It would not take us more than 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on the message of the Quran in these functions, but it would help us understand the divine guidance, the main reason for decreeing fasting in this month.

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the Criterion (between right and wrong). So, whoever of you sights the month, he/she must observe fasts that month and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. He wants that you must complete the same number of days and that you must glorify Allah for having to guided you so that you may be grateful to Him. (2:184).



Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the weekly Muslim Observer.

Visit IslamiCity’s Quran Search


SPECIAL REPORT: Release Palestinian child prisoners, UN officials tell Israel

“While Israel has released hundreds of its own prisoners to control the spread of the COVID-19 disease in its overpopulated prisons, the same policy did not apply to Palestinian detainees. There are over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons, in addition to nearly 500 prisoners who are held without charge or trial.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in Israel, legal proceedings are on hold, almost all prison visits are cancelled, and children are denied in-person access to their families and their lawyers. This creates additional hardship, psychological suffering, and prevents the child from receiving the legal advice to which they are entitled. ” the joint statement also read.

“For children awaiting trial, these pressures could put them under increased pressure to incriminate themselves, pleading guilty to be released faster.”

Kia Ora Gaza

UN officials call on Israel to release Palestinian child prisoners due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Infographic: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff, 12 May 2020

Several United Nations officials called on Israel Monday to release Palestinian child prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The call was made by the coordinator of UN’s humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians on the ground, Jamie McGoldrick, the head of the UN Human Rights Office in the West Bank, James Heenan, and UNICEF special representative, Genevieve Boutin.

“The rights of children to protection, safety, and wellbeing must be upheld at all times. In normal times, the arrest or detention of a child should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” the statement read.

“During a pandemic, States should pay increased attention to children’s protection needs and children’s rights, and the best interests…

View original post 572 more words

A new book by Dr Tim Winter! ‘Travelling Home: Essays on Islam in Europe’

“‘A forceful study of Islamophobia in Europe, considering survival strategies for Muslims on the basis of Qur’an, Hadith, and the Islamic theological, legal and spiritual legacy.

Physical copies delayed by the virus shutting down distribution systems. It is likely they will be available mid-June.

‘How should we react to the new Islamophobic movements now spreading in the West? Everywhere the far right is on the march, with nationalist and populist parties thriving on the back of popular anxieties about Islam and the Muslim presence. Hijab and minaret bans, mosque shootings, hostility to migrants and increasingly scornful media stereotypes seem to endanger the prospects for friendly coexistence and the calm uplifting of Muslim populations.

In this series of essays Abdal Hakim Murad dissects the rise of Islamophobia on the basis of Muslim theological tradition. Although the proper response to the current impasse is clearly indicated in Qur’an and Hadith, some have lost the principle of trust in divine wisdom and are responding with hatred, fearfulness or despair. Murad shows that a compassion-based approach, rooted in an authentic theology of divine power, could transform the current quagmire into a bright landscape of great promise for Muslims and their neighbours.’


“Dust off your dictionary and dive in! Travelling Home is a wild, invigorating and delightfully erudite ride through the political, social, psychological, theological and semantic landscape of European Islam as it is now. Pitched at a Muslim readership, this collection of essays forms in aggregate a brilliant and incisive analysis of the position of Muslims in a Europe ‘surging rapidly in a nationalist direction’ with their indigenous Muslim populations ‘viewed by increasing numbers as a Dark Other fit only to be securitised and stigmatised, and perhaps, in the dreams of some, banished from Europe’s walled garden.’

More importantly, the book proposes a new, constructive approach. The author, who has been on the frontlines of Muslim affairs in Europe for the better part of thirty years, makes a forceful and nuanced argument for a return to a ‘traditional Islam’ which employs, ‘the cumulative wisdom of the Muslim centuries in all its amplitude’ in an attempt ‘to devise an uncompromising theory of Islamic belonging in the European homeland of the late modern melée’.

In the process he takes aim at, well, just about everyone, and he takes no prisoners. European Islamophobes in ‘an already confused Europe’, Islamists, Muslim extremists redefined as tanfiris – those who make Islam repellent, ‘the continued prominence of race-temple Islam in [ethnocentric] community leadership’ and Muslim leaders ‘whose highest ambition is to have their photograph taken beside an MP’ are all taken out in this scathing and witty take down of the real barriers to positive change. In practice, he posits, Muslims need to replace a ‘reactive identity-religion with its desire for status and revenge driven by ego’ and an externalised Islam, with a revival of the awareness of the ‘presence, power and compassion of God’ in the profound and quintessential tradition of Islamic spirituality.

Travelling Home is an essential and exhilarating read.”

— MICHAEL SUGICH, author of Hearts Turn and Signs on the Horizons.

“Probably the most important book ever published by a European Muslim scholar. Traditionally enlightened, mercifully uncompromising with the truth, intellectually and spiritually challenging, these eleven essays show the way forward in a dark and dangerous age. A must-read for ‘those who use reason,’ Muslim or other.”

— YAHYA MICHOT, emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies at Hartford Theological Seminary, author of Ibn Taymiyya: Muslims under Non-Muslim Rule.

“Travelling Home is a unique book which combines spiritual testimony with sharp insights on the current condition of Islam and Muslims in the West. It is written from the heart and is a magnificent example of the tremendous resources of the Islamic tradition to respond to the challenges of extremism, terrorism populism and islamophobia. The author provides a unique perspective to guide the new Muslim generations by showing that moral strength and search for beauty are more powerful than retaliation and anger if one is to be and remain in the Path of God. It is also a must-read for all the Europeans who struggle to make sense of the reality and legitimacy of Muslims in their midst.”

— JOCELYNE CESARI, Professor of Religion and Politics at the University of Birmingham, author of What is Political Islam and Muslims in the West after 9/11.”

Buy it here

Blogging Theology

Tim (Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad) is the only Muslim I know personally who talks sense about Islam and being Muslim in the West. But he is the lone exception rather than the rule. Most Muslims I know do a great job of alienating English people.

travellinghome-686x1024Screenshot 2020-05-13 at 18.27.45

‘A forceful study of Islamophobia in Europe, considering survival strategies for Muslims on the basis of Qur’an, Hadith, and the Islamic theological, legal and spiritual legacy.

Physical copies delayed by the virus shutting down distribution systems. It is likely they will be available mid-June.

‘How should we react to the new Islamophobic movements now spreading in the West? Everywhere the far right is on the march, with nationalist and populist parties thriving on the back of popular anxieties about Islam and the Muslim presence. Hijab and minaret bans, mosque shootings, hostility to migrants and increasingly scornful media stereotypes seem to endanger the prospects for friendly…

View original post 624 more words

Social Workers Challenging Child Protection Practice in the UK – Voice of the Child Podcast

“In the podcast, Andy Bilson, an Emeritus professor of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire and a former Chair of the Council of Europe and UNICEF’s Child Rights Observatory, talks about his new project, “The Parent, Family and Allies Network”, which promotes inclusive, humane and effective child protection practices.

Professor Bilson, who is currently working on child welfare-focused research at the Department of Public Health and Primary care at Cambridge University, talks about the experiences of families in the child protection sector, concerns around the nationwide variations for the “risk of harm” threshold used to remove children and place them into care, and gives us a preview of not-yet published research he has produced on children removed at birth.”

Researching Reform

For our fourteenth podcast, the Voice of the Child talks with Professor Andy Bilson about Britain’s child protection practices, why a toxic “rescue mentality” has led to the oppression of vulnerable children and families, and how a new network co-founded by Professor Bilson plans to place parents and children at the heart of social work.

In the podcast, Andy Bilson, an Emeritus professor of Social Work at the University of Central Lancashire and a former Chair of the Council of Europe and UNICEF’s Child Rights Observatory, talks about his new project, “The Parent, Family and Allies Network”, which promotes inclusive, humane and effective child protection practices. 

Professor Bilson, who is currently working on child welfare-focused research at the Department of Public Health and Primary care at Cambridge University, talks about the experiences of families in the child protection sector, concerns around the nationwide variations for the “risk of…

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#RuleOfLaw #Impunity: What You Need to Know about the #ICC #Investigation of #WarCrimes in Occupied #Palestine!

What You Need to Know about the ICC Investigation of War Crimes in Occupied Palestine | Ramzy Baroud & Romana Rubeo | THE PALESTINE CHRONICLE |

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda settled the doubts on the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed in occupied Palestine. (Photo: File)

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has, once and for all, settled the doubts on the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed in occupied Palestine.

On April 30, Bensouda released a 60-page document diligently laying down the legal bases for that decision, concluding that “the Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants, and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Bensouda’s legal explanation was itself a preemptive decision, dating back to December 2019, as the ICC Prosecutor must have anticipated an Israeli-orchestrated pushback against the investigation of war crimes committed in the Occupied Territories.

After years of haggling, the ICC had resolved in December 2019 that, “there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine, pursuant to article 53(1) of the Statute.”

Article 53(1) merely describes the procedural steps that often lead, or do not lead, to an investigation by the Court.

That Article is satisfied when the amount of evidence provided to the Court is so convincing that it leaves the ICC with no other option but to move forward with an investigation.

Indeed, Bensouda had already declared late last year that she was,

“satisfied that (i) war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip… (ii) potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible; and (iii) there are no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice.”

Naturally, Israel and its main Western ally, the United States, fumed. Israel has never been held accountable by the international community for war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine. The ICC’s decision, especially if the investigation moves forward, would be an historic precedent.

But, what are Israel and the US to do when neither are state parties in the ICC, thus having no actual influence on the internal proceedings of the court? A solution had to be devised.

In an historic irony, Germany, which had to answer to numerous war crimes committed by the Nazi regime during World War II, stepped in to serve as the main defender of Israel at the ICC and to shield accused Israeli war criminals from legal and moral accountability.

On February 14, Germany filed a petition with the ICC requesting an “amicus curiae”, meaning “friend of the court”, status. By achieving that special status, Germany was able to submit objections, arguing against the ICC’s earlier decision on behalf of Israel.

Germany, among others, then argued that the ICC had no legal authority to discuss Israeli war crimes in the occupied territories. These efforts, however, eventually amounted to nil.

The ball is now in the court of the ICC pre-trial chamber.

The pre-trial chamber consists of judges that authorize the opening of investigations. Customarily once the Prosecutor decides to consider an investigation, she has to inform the Pre-Trial Chamber of her decision.

According to the Rome Statute, Article 56(b), “… the Pre-Trial Chamber may, upon request of the Prosecutor, take such measures as may be necessary to ensure the efficiency and integrity of the proceedings and, in particular, to protect the rights of the defence.”

The fact that the Palestinian case has been advanced to such a point can and should be considered a victory for the Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation. However, if the ICC investigation moves forward according to the original mandate requested by Bensouda, there will remain major legal and moral lapses that frustrate those who are advocating justice on behalf of Palestine.

For example, the legal representatives of the ‘Palestinian Victims Residents of the Gaza Strip’ expressed their concern on behalf of the victims regarding “the ostensibly narrow scope of the investigation into the crimes suffered by the Palestinian victims of this situation.”

The ‘narrow scope of the investigation’ has thus far excluded such serious crimes as crimes against humanity. According to the Gaza legal team, the killing of hundreds and wounding of thousands of unarmed protesters participating in the ‘Great March of Return’ is a crime against humanity that must also be investigated.

The ICC’s jurisdiction, of course, goes beyond Bensouda’s decision to investigate ‘war crimes’ only.

Article 5 of the Rome Statute – the founding document of the ICC – extends the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate the following “serious crimes”:

(a) The crime of genocide

(b) Crimes against humanity

(c) War crimes

(d) The crime of aggression

It should come as no surprise that Israel is qualified to be investigated on all four points and that the nature of Israeli crimes against Palestinians often tend to, constitute a mixture of two or more of these points simultaneously.

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (2008-2014), Prof. Richard Falk, wrote in 2009, soon after a deadly Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, that,

“Israel initiated the Gaza campaign without adequate legal foundation or just cause, and was responsible for causing the overwhelming proportion of devastation and the entirety of civilian suffering. Israeli reliance on a military approach to defeat or punish Gaza was intrinsically ‘criminal’, and as such demonstrative of both violations of the law of war and the commission of crimes against humanity.”

Falk extended his legal argument beyond war crimes and crimes against humanity into a third category. “There is another element that strengthens the allegation of aggression. The population of Gaza had been subjected to a punitive blockade for 18 months when Israel launched its attacks.”

What about the crime of apartheid? Does it fit anywhere within the ICC’s previous definitions and jurisdiction?

The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of November 1973 defines apartheid as,

“a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the  purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security.”

The Convention came into force in July 1976, when twenty countries ratified it. Mostly western powers, including the United States and Israel, opposed it.

Particularly important about the definition of apartheid, as stated by the Convention, is that the crime of apartheid was liberated from the limited South African context and made applicable to racially discriminatory policies in any state.

In June 1977, Addition Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions designated apartheid as, “a grave breach of the Protocol and a war crime.”

It follows that there are legal bases to argue that the crime of apartheid can be considered both a crime against humanity and a war crime.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights (2000-2006), Prof. John Dugard, said this soon after Palestine joined the ICC in 2015,

“For seven years, I visited the Palestinian territory twice a year. I also conducted a fact-finding mission after the Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008, 2009. So, I am familiar with the situation, and I am familiar with the apartheid situation. I was a human rights lawyer in apartheid South Africa. And I, like virtually every South African who visits the occupied territory, has a terrible sense of déjà vu. We’ve seen it all before, except that it is infinitely worse. And what has happened in the West Bank is that the creation of a settlement enterprise has resulted in a situation that closely resembles that of apartheid, in which the settlers are the equivalent of white South Africans. They enjoy superior rights over Palestinians, and they do oppress Palestinians. So, one does have a system of apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territory. And I might mention that apartheid is also a crime within the competence of the International Criminal Court.”

Considering the number of UN resolutions that Israel has violated throughout the years – the perpetual occupation of Palestine, the siege on Gaza, and the elaborate system of apartheid imposed on Palestinians through a large conglomerate of racist laws (culminating in the so-called Nation-State Law of July 2018) – finding Israel guilty of war crimes, among others “serious crimes”, should be a straightforward matter.

But the ICC is not entirely a legal platform. It is also a political institution that is subject to the interests and whims of its members. Germany’s intervention, on behalf of Israel, to dissuade the ICC from investigating Tel Aviv’s war crimes is a case in point.

Time will tell how far the ICC is willing to go with its unprecedented and historic attempt aimed at, finally, investigating the numerous crimes that have been committed in Palestine unhindered, with no recourse and no accountability.

For the Palestinian people, the long-denied justice cannot arrive soon enough.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is 

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature, and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

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