Friday, August 26, 2011

Controversies over sighting the crescent spoiling the joy of Eid

Controversies over the crescent spoil the festive occasion

I like young English speaking Imams, I don't care too much for their strand, I believe that they provide an essential service in English speaking countries.

Having said that, it is incredibly disappointing to see some of our young imams setting aside reason and the intent of our great faith in order to find justification for an extremely narrow interpretation of one Hadith and through that, set aside the most important aspects of our faith.

I am not an accredited Islamic scholar, I am a simple humble Muslim who has been honoured to serve our faith for a few years, six of which working as a personal assistant to the former Mufti of Australia. I have also been blessed to have been allowed to translate several books for the current head of ANIC NSW. In addition, I have been immensely humbled to make corrections to the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the meaning of the Holy Qur'an (which has been printed twice and endorsed by the World Islamic Call).

Other than that, I am really the average ordinary Muslim struggling to make sense of the conflict we have in Australia amongst different strands of our faith over an essentially simple matter.

The Eid (festival) is meant to be an occasion of joy and celebration in unity, the start of Ramadan is meant to be an opportunity to gain a spiritual boost; but, it would seem, not in countries where Muslims are a minority. We have strands fighting with the mainstream over the simplest of issues.

The purpose of this article is not to add to the debate, but rather to appeal for a "sensible" resolution.

I appeal to your proclaimed faith in Allah Subhanah and to your "reason" to reflect and contemplate.

Ramadan is the month of fasting, Allah Subhanah says: Whoever amongst you witnesses (shahida), the month should fast it. (2:185)

Our prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, in order to assist us, says: fast to its (the crescent's) sighting and break the fast to its sighting, but if it is obscured form you then complete the month to 30 days.

I submit to the words of Allah Subhanah and His messenger, peace and blessings upon him. I pray to Allah to make His words and those of His messenger, the guidance for every aspect of my life.

Is the sighting the goal for our important ritual of worship or is it the means to establish when the fast commences?

Does the sighting signify the birth of the new moon, or is it only one of the means to establishing that the new moon is born?

The fasting is described by Allah Subhanah as a countable or calculable period (Ayyaman Ma'dudat) lit. "days that can be counted" (2:184). He, in His infinite Wisdom also tells us with respect to the moon "We predetermined its stations" (Waqqadarnahu Manazila) and adds, very interestingly, until it returned like the (bent) old palm branch ('aada kal 'urjunil kadeem) (36:39). In another verse where Allah Subhanah mentions both the sun and the moon, He distinguishes between them by saying that the moon has been given predetermined stations and He gives us a reason for that: He determined its stations so that you may know the number of years and "calculation". (10:5) Then He, Subhanah, clarifies in the same verse that the creation of all this is the reality (Huqq) and "We elaborated in detail these signs for people with knowledge."

The moon has predetermined stations and positions and that when it returns, it returns like the old branch of a date-palm leads to the interpretation and conclusion that the moon, its positions and the crescent (old palm branch) moves in accordance with an exact calculated destiny (Taqdeer). This Taqdeer means that it has already been established, it is already set and determined, it will not deviate from its predetermined course and how can it, for it is a creature that fully submits to the Will of our Creator. It cannot and has not been given any power to change its course. Unlike the sun which seeks the permission of its Lord before rising until one day, it will rise from the West (as per the hadith) that is, it will retrograde in its motion. In contrast, the moon will follow a predetermined orbit that cannot be changed, it is an orbit set by Allah Subhanah as He refers the Taqdeer to Himself (Qaddarnahu).

Unlike human discourse, no word in the Holy Qur'an is there for the simple purpose of completing a sentence. Every single word in the Holy Qur'an is guidance for living things, every single word has meaning, wisdom and purpose.

To answer the first question, the goal is the fasting, this is one of the five core pillars or duties of every Muslim, the means to the fast are: the intention and a healthy body and a healthy mind. Without the intention, the fast is meaningless and without the sound mind and good health, one may not be able to fast. The means to fast is what enables you to fast. So the sighting is neither the direct means nor the objective, the sighting is merely a tool to use to assist us in establishing the start of the month.

As for the second question, the birth and the sightability are not the same, there are many hours in between them, for example, the new moon of the month of Shawwal is born at 1:05PM (Sydney time) on Monday 29th August but it is not sightable until 7:25PM (Libyan time corresponding to 3:25 am Sydney time) this is many hours later. This is not fortune-telling, this is not divination, this is based on an understanding of the "Taqdeer" or predetermination that Allah Subhanah has made (as per the verses I cited). It is not based on a human-being performing witchcraft or speaking to demons, it is based on an exact "science", a science that was brought to life by Muslim scientists like Al Khawarizmi and others. This is what the knowledge of "Alhisaab" or calculation cited in verse 10:5.

The birth of the moon is not particular to one location like the sightability, the new moon is born at 1:05, this birth is with respect to planet Earth around which the moon orbits. The first possible sightability is in Tripoli, Libya, we thank Allah for liberating Tripoli from the blood-thirsty dictator Qaddafi just a few days before the Eid, Alhamdulillah. It is not a coincidence that Tripoli will be the first city in the world to sight the new crescent of the festival of breaking the fast. But will we believe our brothers, who just sacrificed their lives for their faith and for their freedom when they tell us that they have sighted the new crescent?

I do understand that each region can have its own sighting, in an age where we did not have mass communication, that was the only way to do it, but today, when we can communicate instantaneously, and we claim to be one global Ummah, surely the sighting of any credible Muslim in any part of this globe that shares a part of the night with us is good enough for us! Are we one Islam, or a divided Islam? So this begs the question as to why some are sending invitations to look for the moon on the 30th with reference to their fellow Muslims in Tripoli? There is something wrong.

The sighting is not the act of worship, it is the advice from the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, who sought to give us a tool to assist us. He did not say: We will fast to its sighting. He issued advice to his followers: "You" fast to its sighting (Soomoo, not Nasoomoo). He did not specify that this sighting must be with the naked eye. He did not mention instruments because such instruments were not known in those days, he also, much more importantly, did not rule out the use of instruments. But if he was with us today, would he say that the proven part of science that God had ordained as a law for this universe is to be discounted and we can only rely on the fallible human eye? Would he? I will not insult our community with an answer to that, because you all know the answer.

I don't like to name and shame, that is not my style and it certainly is not the way of our messenger, peace and blessings upon him, who would normally set his criticism to the unknown third person as in "ma balu Qawmen" (why do some people). I know some Imams are naming, and in doing so, trying to shame other Imams and Muslim organisations. They are attacking others for acknowledging the important role of science to an educated Muslim community. This conflict betrays a war waging between a strand of our faith that is squatting in disproportionate numbers in some of our groupings and using "democracy of numbers" to implement their views over others and the mainstream Imams who are perhaps not fully cognisant of the scale of the challenge facing them at present and who have turned away from fringe groupings.

This strand thinks that it is reviving a Sunna of naked eye sighting. This boggles my humble mind, a Sunna? Where are the recorded instances of the prophet Muhammad himself, peace and blessings upon him, in person sighting the crescent or sending individuals to monitor its emergence from the horizon? When did he go or take a group to a mountain top to wait the appearance of a hair-strand-resembling crescent? He, peace and blessings upon him made sighting a simple tool, any credible Muslim can make the report during his blessed time.

I do understand why our ancient scholars were guarded with respect to calculations, that was a time long after the passing of our great prophet, peace and blessings upon him, when the science was still in its inception and the means and tools were not as accurate as those of today. They lived in a time where some people practiced forms of deception claiming to know the unknown, that is not the case today. The calculation of sightability of the new crescent is not a knowledge of the "unknown", it is not the hidden or shadowy domain of "diviners" or fortune tellers, it is a science that any person with a computer can verify. If these scholars were with us today, would they insist on that narrow interpretation?

It is strange that we are not arguing about the act of worship itself, the fasting which is obligatory on us as Muslims, but, rather, we are arguing about the day to start and the day to finish. And none of us has bothered to do the simple exercise, to check in hindsight, were the calculations for the past ten years wrong or right?

The command in the holy Qur'an is to fast the month if you are alive when the month arrives, the Hadith tells us that we know when the month comes through the sighting of the crescent. How could it be any simpler, if our prophet, the Mercy for all living things, Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, had instead narrowly interpreted the verse as a requirement to fast based on the birth of the moon, he would have been asking for an impossibility because there were no means to do so back then, no one would know, no human could see when the new moon is born, the indicant to the birth is the sighting of the crescent. That statement was a permit, it was a reprieve, it was to give us humans a means to establish the start of Ramadan, even if this was to be a few hours after the birth of the new moon. In majority Muslim countries, there is an official who tells us, someone from the Awqaf makes a decision, we don't know and certainly have no authority to challenge the basis of the announcement, was it based on calculation or sighting? It matters little, we are bound by it, it is official. But where we are a minority, we tend to intoxicate ourselves with freedom to the extent that it leads us to become divided, each crowing over his own "roost".

We tend to forget the Qur'an again, where Allah, Subhanah, makes unity an obligation, we set aside that obligation for a very narrow understanding of "one" and only "one" Hadith! To whose benefit is that?

It certainly does not endear our educated professional children to our faith, those who need to apply for a day's leave in advance, it makes us a laughing stock in front of non-Muslims, in the age that they have landed on the moon, we still cannot see eye to eye with respect to the methodology of its sighting.

We cannot blame others for this one, we are putting ourselves in this precarious position that cannot be explained. We have allowed a means to an end to become the cause of much disputation, far more disputation than it warrants and this means to an end has become the battle ground of a new generation of Imams, who, rather than working with their elders, are vying to snatch the power from their elders, to take that for themselves, all in the name of our blessed Sunna. May Allah Subhanah forgive us if we are worthy of redemption and those beyond it, may He save us from their folly.

I pray for a blessed Eid for all, despite the division and confusion.

Keysar Trad

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Islamophobia = bullying and divisiveness

Sometimes, the Herald Sun's incarnation of Dutch Islamophobe Gert Wilders can fool Liberal Party bigots to spray venom at unsuspecting Australians. This is exactly what Bolt seems to have done in his monotonous hate-piece titled: Time to End Separatism which hit the net at midnight.

I don't know whether they were given an advance read or whether they were just jumping on the bandwagon of that other man caught in a medieval time warp, the UKs David Cameron whose full scale assault on multiculturalism, for a few minutes, distracted international headlines from the just demands for regime change by the courageous people of Egypt who have braved the bullets of the regime's thugs for two straight weeks. Cameron simply echoed his equally blinkered monoculturalist German host Merkel 's three month old comments preferring migrants to just be a silent workforce who see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing.

This brought the three stooges out of the Liberal Party to show that this time, we have fools in parliament who would go further than the embarrassing yester Howard-Costello years, and take us right back to the Spanish inquisition with homogenous one ideology states and all else can be driven into the sea.

Ironically, Cory Bernardi who is not a stranger to crying wolf about anything Islamic is undermining his very own 4th century Constantinian Christian doctrines by mocking Islam because the teachings of our faith were introduced in the seventh century (though he claims sixth).

Of course credit is to be given to The Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs Nicholas Kotsiras for defending Multiculturalism.

Then again, we would not be having this debate if any of the promoters of the monocultural nightmare had bothered to read the well reasoned arguments of Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs, Kate Lundy which were presented in the Australian two months ago, they might have learned a thing or two about the benefits of multiculturalism.

Today, with mass communication, as we teeter on a new age that promises to advance society beyond the Information Revolution, we find these medieval dinosaurs calling for an insular world with clearly divided territories. Perhaps they miss those colonial days where they could just so easily demonise other countries before invading them. The attacks on Multiculturalism during the Howard Costello era created fear and then told the constituency that our bigoted fearless leader was the only one who can protect us whilst simultaneously playing war drums for invasions of two majority Muslim countries on false pretexts. Today's attacks, missing some of the earlier subtleties seem too ill-informed and ill-founded to be taken seriously, yet unfortunately, they will play into the paradigms of the most bigoted of rednecks out there and they will serve to recruit more people into the rednecks' cycle of unfounded fears. They will also hurt our reputation overseas and have a negative impact on some of our exports, especially in the field of education. Bernardi's ill considered attack on Halal food also threatens to undermine our Halal exports if he does not retract these comments very soon.

Do these people hate multiculturalism because of its promise to enlighten society, its ability to educate people, its potential to open the eyes of the general public that culture, any culture, is enriched by the injection of the collective experiences of other cultures. It seems that an open-minded society does not suit the naysayers who prefer a dog eat dog world where superiority is decided by technology and military might as was the case over the past couple of centuries.

Tony Abbott has some very real challenges on his hand. Unless he wants to be constantly embarrassed by these fools, he will really need to consider encouraging them to line up with Fred Nile instead of the Liberal Party. These bigots are telling the rest of the world that the oceans surrounding our great continent have passed through their ears and obscured their little minds to anything that is not European Christian.

It is time that both parties embraced the genuine interest of Australia and debated policies without creating chasms between Australians. Australia needs to come out of the dinosaur age.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Trad: My humble contribution to the polygamy debate

Wednesday, 7 October 2009 /

article courtesy of

The Polygamy debate last year produced results. Thanks to Crikey, the ABC, Seven’s Sunrise, 2UE and a number of online publishers, the federal attorney general introduced laws to give some rights to spurned mistresses.

I feel honoured and privileged to have been chosen to make my humble contribution to that debate. I am delighted that I have offered a service to women in Australia.

This year, the Sydney Opera House and the St. James Ethics Centre got together and decided to host the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. I was invited to resuscitate my argument from last year. Again, I saw this as an opportunity to serve the women of Australia.

I did not create the debate, it came to me, I do not like generating controversy, however, if it comes to me, I will address it forthrightly with outright conviction in the wisdom of my Creator Whose work I am honoured to do. Some unjustly view my faith in the wisdom of God as controversial.

We are still some way from finished with the debate on plural unions. Whilst we managed to get some rights for the mistress last year, we still need to take away the stigma from her and all the women who exceed the gender ratio. This ratio is not only determined by raw population numbers, one must also deduct from the male population the disproportionate number of male prisoners and any disproportionate number of males to females who pursue same gender unions.
Sometimes, it breaks my heart to be proved right as was the case with the British headlines yesterday about a successful doctor allegedly poisoning his mistress to bring about an abortion. Part of my argument to decriminalise polygamy includes the right of the second woman to bear children and the right of the child of such a relationship to live life without stigma. The second woman should not be treated as a mistress, she should be able to expect to be treated as a proper partner or spouse.

Yes, the Justinian facade that I previously mentioned has also influenced non-Greco/Roman societies with more countries frowning on the open plural relationships.

In modern society monogamy is regularly breached. Clandestine adultery is widespread. Therefore, decriminalising polygamy and removing its social social stigma will further guarantee the rights of women.

In this debate, some have theorised that in order to make such laws equal, they would like me to recognise polyandry.

The reality of decriminalising plural unions would produce a law that is non-discriminatory by nature. The secular system would be able to acknowledge both forms of polygamy. It would remain then up to the various religious traditions to decide which to bless for their own adherents. Plural secular marriages can go in whichever direction they choose, those people who do not follow my religious tradition are not obliged to live by its rules.

To dissuade from the eventuality of polyandry though, I offer the following rationalisations:
The gender ratio pool (excluding societies that practice the horrors of gender-selective ab-rtion). Without even having to point at statistics, it is elementary knowledge that a disproportionate number of women are exploited through pr-stitution and p-rnography. Allowing these women the option to enter an open rather than a secret union with an attached man will save many of them from this form of exploitation.

Relationships are not just about intimacy, they carry emotions as well as various forms of support. We see the impost of the commitment more clearly if we temporarily put the brief climactic conclusion aside. When we do so, it becomes salient that polygyny creates more responsibilities for the male and gives advantage to the woman.

The paternity is more clearly discernable.

The question of support is easily addressed in such situation. As a general rule that can be fine-tuned, the non polygamous person in the relationship will have rights similar to those that exist today whereas the polygamist is limited to a share of what he or she had brought into the union. The polygamous person in a polygynous union is the male; it is the female in a polyandrous union. This suggestion would eliminate or reduce the risk of prospecting.

The polygamy debate that comes to me from time to time is another opportunity to promote honesty, openness and frank discussion in relationships. Without it, all we do is perpetuate suspicions and the ignorance is bliss myth that everything is hunky-dory.

Article courtesy of

Why should polygamy be a crime?

Why should polygamy be a crime?


Courtesy Fairfax media (Sydney Morning Herald)
October 3, 2009 - 6:18AM

In a liberal society such as Australia, it should not be a crime to have more than one wife, argues Keysar Trad.

IN JUNE last year, Triple J's current affairs program Hack ran an item on plural relationships. The ABC's youth broadcaster interviewed me about polygyny, a form of polygamous marriage in which a man has more than one wife at the same time. A bisexual couple were also interviewed.

To my surprise, I was reported on the ABC's respected current affairs program AM the next morning. Without speaking to me again and after seeking comments from the Attorney-General's office, AM ran the line: “Undeterred Keysar Trad says he's hoping to find another wife to join his family. To do so, he says, would be to honour his first wife.”

No such comment had aired on Hack. The media then spent more than a week mocking the practice of a husband having two or more wives simultaneously. No one took issue with the bisexual relationship, which involved one man and his female partner, who also had a relationship with another woman.

At the end of an interview on 2UE, Mike Carlton declared that, as a Judeo-Christian nation, we marry one person for life. After a pause, he added that we just have lots of affairs on the side.
In Western society, the “other woman” in an affair is stigmatised. She faces significant pressure to keep the relationship secret to protect her man because modern society frowns on plural heterosexual relations. If she fell pregnant, society – including her partner – could place great pressure on her to have an abortion.

The mistress in an affair should have rights. She needs to be protected if she decides to end the relationship because the man refuses to live up to her expectations and leave his wife.
The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, must have been paying attention. A few months later, he introduced legislation granting rights to the second woman so that she could also share the assets of her married lover.

The problem of deception, however, does not go away. Why in the liberal 21st century must we live a lie in relationships? And why do we continue to maintain a facade that monogamy is a perfect institution, when studies consistently reveal that most men admit to having affairs? Monogamy is great, but it is clearly not for everybody.

Islam openly acknowledges this fact of human nature and stipulates a regulatory framework for plural relations. But modern Western society, suspicious of all things Islamic, fails to recognise the qualities of Muslim marriage and family.

Legally enforceable monogamy was introduced by Emperor Justinian in the year 534. Justinian himself kept a courtesan as a mistress. He married her after the death of his wife, Euphemia, and only after he convinced Justin, his predecessor, to change the law so that senators could marry actresses and courtesans.

Justinian is said to have criminalised plural unions under the influence of St Augustine, though Augustine clearly stated in his treatise on marriage that having several wives is not “contrary to the nature of marriage”. Yet like other church fathers, Augustine preferred celibacy, or monogamous marriage if one could not be celibate.

Over the years, I have counselled adulterers from different faith backgrounds. I never tried to punish, hurt or expose them. I tried to guide them to mend their ways. I tried to help them understand that sex outside marriage was neither in their best interests nor in the best interests of society. If they were married, I did my best to ensure that their marriage remained safe and stable. Had they been in plural unions that conformed to the Islamic regulatory framework, such relationships would not have been adulterous, but divinely sanctioned unions.

Australian law has maintained the Justinian facade that a marriage is one man and one woman, and that every other relationship must be kept secret. Under Australian law, bigamy attracts penalties of up to seven years' imprisonment. On the other hand, polygamous marriages conducted overseas are recognised under family law for the purpose of property settlements.
When a couple marry in a Christian church, it indicates they want their marriage to be governed by the rules of that church. The same applies for unions conducted under Muslim rules. For a marriage to be valid under Islam, it requires the consent of both parties, at least two witnesses and a dowry paid by the groom to the bride as a gift for her to use as she pleases.

There is no requirement for such a union to be "legally" registered with a secular body that does not recognise the clauses in a Muslim union. Plural relations of this nature that take place in Australia are treated like de facto relationships and are not registered. This keeps them outside the ambit of the nation's criminal and marriage laws. Such unions are not considered adulterous because they follow the rules of an Islamic union. They are not secret and they carry no stigma under God.

This is not to say that people are actively encouraged to enter such unions. Islam stipulates very strict equality in the treatment of wives. If a man cannot treat his wives equally, the Koran says he should have only one. Monogamy is the norm in Muslim communities. However, men who are capable of supporting more than one partner equally are advised to be open, honest and accountable in their relationships and to treat their wives fairly.

Yes, polygyny may lead to jealousy. We are all human. But in a caring and sharing world where we become euphoric when we give to those in need, sponsor orphans and provide foster care, the ultimate in giving is for a woman to give a fraction of her husband's time and affection to another woman who is willing to share with her. It is a spiritually rewarding experience that allows women to grow while the husband toils to provide for more than one partner.

In most cases, the husband ends up providing separate accommodation. The women can agree to share dwellings – it's entirely up to them. Many men in Western society complain about their mother-in-law or a “nagging” wife. If his wife and in-laws were difficult, would he seek more of the same? The willingness of a man to take on another wife is in fact a form of praise to his first wife.

While Islam sanctions polygyny, it does not condone threesomes. Islam also does not permit polyandry, a form of relationship in which a wife takes more than one husband. There are many reasons for this. Some are medical, some relate to paternity. Others pertain to the sexual proclivities of the different genders. The sex therapist Bettina Arndt, promoting her book Sex Diaries, outlined the merits of women saying "yes" more often to sex with their husbands. If Arndt's research is reflective of a greater portion of the population, a monogamous relationship leads to reduced interest in sex among women and a perpetual state of conjugal frustration among men.

If men in monogamous relations are not satiated, by its very nature polyandry creates an overwhelming burden for a woman in long-term relationships.

Who someone marries first is an accident of history. If a man who has an affair had met his mistress before his wife, he may have married her. Why maintain the facade that is the Justinian doctrine of monogamy knowing it has failed as a social experiment?

A man can have multiple girlfriends. Why not formalise that into a commitment for life? Why should “bigamy” be a crime?

Keysar Trad is president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia. He will deliver a speech on why polygamy and other Islamic values are good for Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Opera House today.

article courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald
article first published (as far as I could find):
Sydney Morning Herald
The Age
The Times of Brisbane
The WA Times

Friday, April 10, 2009

President Obama's gesture to Muslims

This article was first published on "Unleashed" at:

Life goes on for most of us who are still employed, but for those who have lost their jobs and are forced to seriously rethink their commitment to a mortgage, or how to finance their children’s education and for those who have loved ones serving overseas, there is a sobering realisation that the world needs to find a new platform for cooperation.

The experiment based on Huntington’s clash of civilisations has created a divided global village. In addition to the right wing commentary and reporting in the current world mainstream media numerous internet sites have emerged that are just as ultra conservative.

Rushing to the forefront of this backdrop, President Obama’s comments on his recent visit to Turkey that America “is not and will never be at war with Islam” have been widely welcomed throughout the Muslim world. Islamonline for example, were quick to tell us how this message “delights” US Muslims and another publication proclaims the joy of Arab leaders over these comments.

But we’ve been down this path before, as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) points out, similar words have been uttered by George Bush when he was still the president of the USA. Whilst former President Bush used the term “crusade” to describe his “war on terror”, President Obama makes his announcement shortly after announcing an increase of US troops in Afghanistan.

The WSJ headed its article “Accentuate the negative”, they question why the president has to use such terms. Our current crises have much to do with this accentuation of the negative. The most recent G20 pledge of $US1.1 trillion to the “world’s financial blood stream” needs to find more than 10% of this figure from Gulf States most of whose populations are Muslim. This may explain to some extent the ill-advised bow by president Obama to the Saudi monarch, a bow that finds no place in any Muslim tradition.

Our second crisis of our own making is that of having troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We have suffered human losses in both countries, we have lost troops and we have been involved in killing locals. All involved have suffered, some have been wounded, some have lost limbs and some have lost their lives. In the middle of a negative war in two majority Muslim countries, the intention behind accentuating the negative may well be an attempt to use a double negative in the hope that people will see that as a positive.

Yet we have all been taught that you cannot right a wrong with another wrong, in this case a double negative is a compounded negative and not a positive.

I would have preferred to hear Mr. Obama continue the line from his inauguration speech where he expressed respect for Islam. Even though in that speech, he put forward “mutual interest” ahead of “mutual respect”, at least, in that speech, he accentuated the positive and accentuating the positive is a better way forward than accentuating the negative.

Regardless, his comments in no way explain why we, the Western powers, are still in Afghanistan, nor does he give a legitimate reason why we are increasing our presence there. The last seven plus years have not produced any improvement there but rather threaten to engulf neighbouring countries in more violence.

Having said all that, I still prefer to be optimistic, I was one of the people cheering for change in the US and the momentous election of an African American into the most powerful position on earth is one of the biggest boosts for equality and equal employment opportunity for the entire world community. What remains is for us to see if the new president can make a real break from past policies and promote dialogue rather than assign troops to a military conflict. Words reassuring us that his nation is not at war with “Islam” as a religion whilst his troops are actively engaged in wars against “Muslims” do not bring any change to an existing ugly reality. We need an end to war and positive words to bring about a new era in the history of our human family.

Keysar Trad
Islamic Friendship Association of Australia Inc.