In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

An open letter to Muslims in general, and #IHH #UK2Syria in particular:

12/15/2014
Tyler Westbrook

Salam O alikum

Dear Muslims in general, and #IHH #UK2Syria in particular:

Muslim, I stand in solidarity with you. I want for your children what I want for mine, a world they can grow up in without the danger of violence, war, poverty and oppression.I write to you with an open heart, and in defense of my dear friend. I am not a Muslim, but I read the Quran, have many Muslim friends, and visit Muslim Lands, like Palestine, including Gaza. 

I am a white American man, who lives in Vermont USA with my family, leading a quiet life. I am an activist, who wants to see Arab lands free of US troops and weapons. I want my nation to be at peace with all nations, and be a light to the world, not the war machine it is.

I have in my own mind, from examples given by Muslims I have met and lived with and reading the Quran, what is Islam. It is a beautiful thing of devotion to Allah, and service to your community, and to fight for the freedom of others. To me, a book of liberation, not oppression. I have lived with Muslims who have risked their life for mine, as would for them and they are my brothers and sisters.

In my travels, I had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting and becoming friends with Mein Hussain. He is a humble, highly intelligent and educated, compassionate, and a devout Muslim. He spends time helping those who ask, about the Quran, Islam, Muslims and Islamic perspective. He is a hardworking student, and is building an orphanage in his country of residence, with his own funds to help those in most need in a sustainable way, teaching them not only the Quran, but how to live sustainability using agriculture and other healthy methods for living. Actually his work is amazing.

He has taught me of the Quran, and many the deep conversation we have had, and many the projects we have worked on together. He is, my friend, and always will be. For him, and other I write to you. He traveled from his safe home, trusting his well know contacts to help, at his own expense, the People of Syria in one of the most dangerous places in the world. To help in some small way.

He could have just stayed home, propped his feet up, ate some chips and watched cartoons on TV, and said "Syria, where is that?... not my problem", but did he ignore the plight of the hungry and the wounded? No, he went to help. May Allah Bless him.

So, what did he get for this? Torture and near execution, from those he was entrusted to. He was betrayed, then nearly killed. Then when he speaks up, they try to silence him, and he lost getting his doctorate and was kicked out of his University for even going to Syria.

So, it has come to this, my efforts to expose any who harmed, or covered up harm to my friend. In the name of Islam, I ask you to help find Justice in this matter. A Muslim is to be fair and just. Silence or trying to silence the victims, is not Justice. 

Those who claimed to be Muslim, yet tortured or tried to silence the truth: Can you face Allah, and tell him what you have done? Do you not believe in the Final Day?

I respect and thank the #IHH for trying to get to Gaza, and for the much good they do, however it is time to get right with this. We need the #IHH to acknowledge this torture, and take steps to make it right, starting with not doing business with the UK2Syria members who torture and kidnap aid workers, and a public apology to Mein and the others who have suffered torture at UK2Syria member hands.

As I greeted you in Peace, I leave you in Peace, and ask you to look in your hearts, and help find Justice in this matter, for without Justice, there can be no Peace.

Tyler Westbrook
Vermont USA

  





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Why Nepotism Fails the Muslim World

12/13/14
Meinhaj Hussain, m.hussain@grandestrategy.com

I want to describe today, in'sha'Allah (God Willing) a problem I have been historically tracing and have found everywhere in the Muslim world I have travelled. I will need to get a little philosophical in the beginning but  I promise it will get down to the pragmatic. This problem results in the reason why most major Muslim organization remains inefficient and also unable to innovate. I was positively surprised when a former Ameer (leader) of a rebel group described exactly this problem as the main reason for why their organization was going nowhere (without me leading him to this answer). Let me start by taking a step back though.

A society may be classed of three kinds, one predominantly focused on one of three "realms"; the Realm of Objects, Realm of People or the Realm of Ideas. In the most primitive forms of societies, such as say, a tribe in the middle of nowhere, people's lives are dominated by the Realm of Objects - food, shelter, clothing, basic survival. As a society progresses, it and its accompanying culture increasingly become less about this, and society moves more towards the Realm of People -

my family or tribal chief or tribe is better than yours for so and so reasons... Did you hear what she did? Mein is a bad person because of so and so reasons...

Finally, some societies move on to an even higher level - the Realm of Ideas, where people's focus shift to ideas as being paramount, people are willing to uphold ideas, even if their material wellbeing is affected or they incur the displeasure of their families, clans or tribes. This is often seen as the pinnacle of human progression, one where people become an active and dynamic participant to history.

Now, when Islam came, it came to a people who lived predominantly in the realms of Objects and People. If you open a book of pre-Islamic Arab poetry, you will find it talking almost exclusively about things like:

"So-and-so was a great warrior / chief"
"He is very wealthy, she was the most beautiful woman of her age"
"The horses of so-and-so group are the finest"
Etc

Islam came to this society, which had remained static in this position for thousands of years, and turned it completely around on its head, converting it to a society focused on the Realm of Ideas. Thus, family, clan, wealth, status stopped becoming the main criteria, rather, the ideas and ideals of Islam became of the greatest importance.

Thus, the early Muslim society would face battles were people in the same family / tribe / clan would be fighting against each other, or the Caliph of an expanding empire would be wearing patched up clothes, sleeping under a tree with a brick for a pillow.

What mattered now were the great ideals of worshipping One Creator, rather than idols, our egos, money, status, etc. Freedom, equality, justice, love, brotherhood, compassion to the poor, morality and ethics in general, now became the dominant themes of the people.

Yet, over time, as this society slowly degenerated and regressed back towards the Realm of People and the Realm of Objects, and its ideas and ideals became empty chants and ritual, many cracks and fizzures appeared that inevitably accompany decay.

One of these problems I wish to talk about for now - the problem of nepotism vs. merit. Now, when the Realm of Ideas was dominant, merit played the single most important role in selection for positions in all organizations, from the Caliph to the military commander. Now however, selection became about what group you are from and who your buddies are.

Everywhere I go to in the Muslim world, i see this trickle down management problem. One of the most promising rebel groups, and directly from one of its stalwarts - that the organization could not work effectively because the leader chose his buddies for promotion, and they in turn chose their loyal buddies. So, all these lofty talks about jihad boiled down to chuming up with their buddies.

Previously I had gone to Malaysia and studied at one of the best Islamic universities in the world - IIUM. It turns out they started out on merit, then as it gained its fame, Malay racism and a desire to put Malays in important places in the hierarchy destroyed everything.

I remember going from the US to do a PhD there, and being a new student, went to meet the Head of the Dept. I saw a man who was sitting in a dirty office filled with ages old paperwork. He did not greet me nor chose to look at my face, rather kept staring at the computer as he curtly answered my questions in an obtuse manner. After having spent a year, it was clear that racism destroyed a great institution.

Fast forward Brunei and University Brunei Darussalam and everything I saw how Brunei was being run. Again the same disease. Rebel group in Syria with all the promise of victory - destroyed by nepotism and incompetence.

Historically, the royal princes in Muslim Spain and the doom that it spelled. The mismanagement by the Ottomans of Egypt such that it was converted from a developed power of the world to an impoverished backwater with a fraction of its original population and prestige. The very fact that we moved from a meritocratic leadership to hereditary sultanates...

In sum, nothing can change without us moving back to our original ideas and ideals driven Islam, that led to a dynamic and constantly practiced ethics. Until then, we will inevitably suffer from our own demons and monsters, incapable by design to rise again.

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