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One Man Mission


Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2017
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Written by M. Khaliq Qureshi   
The twentieth century was a period of great technological advances but also of tremendous bloodshed and suffering, particularly for Muslims, and it was hoped that the third millennium and the twenty-first century, starting on January 1, 2001, would begin with peace, prosperity and freedom for all. Unfortunately, the September 11 terrorist attacks in the first year of the new century have dashed all hopes of a peaceful beginning. The peoples of Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine have been fighting for their freedoms from occupation for a long time (Chechnya since Ivan The Terrible invaded their country around 1600; Kashmir and Palestine for over half a century) but they have received only suffering. A thousand years ago, Muslims were at the peak of their glory and power, but now they show a picture of disunity, failure, occupation, bloodshed, despair, misery, suffering, poverty, illiteracy, powerlessness and humiliation. The leadership of Israel, India and Russia is inflicting much suffering on the defenseless Muslims but no leader is ready to end their misery.  Senator Jesse Helms wrote in WSJ, "Putin's war against Chechnya has been more savage and devastating than the destruction Milosevic wrought on Kosovo." Recent news indicate that Russian troops have imposed a terror regime of their own and now young Chechens are picked up daily form villages and disappear or found brutally murdered in trenches. Alexander Litvinenko, an FSB (old KGB) agent, and Boris Brezovsky (Russian tycoon) have accused the FSB of complicity in a series of terrorist bombing that killed over 200 innocent civilians in Russia in 1999; and blamed Chechens for the bombing.  Mr. Putin has forgotten the promise made by Yeltsin and General Lebid to grant freedom to Chechens. In Kashmir, Indian forces, in addition to all sorts of atrocities, have raped thousands of Kashmiri women as a part of Indian government's strategy to humiliate Muslims. Mr. Aslam Munjee writes on page 5 of his book "The Crusades: Then And Now" - a must read for all young and old Muslim leaders - that it was King Roderic's rape of Count Julian's daughter and the Count's plea for help and about the plight of the Jews that led to the invasion of Spain by the Muslim General Tariq ibn Ziyad. Imagine, it was the rape of a single Christian girl and to end Jew's suffering that influenced Muslims to act – on righting wrongs. In Iraq, Saddam's oppression continues, but UN sanctions alone have killed over 400,000 children. In Palestine, Mr. Sharon's bloodthirsty occupation continues with death, destruction, suffering and humiliation of Palestinians. In fact the leaders of Russia, India and Israel are literally getting away with murder and it appears they have a voracious appetite for the Muslim blood, but our leadership is totally ineffective to end human oppression and occupation of Muslim lands. It is time for Muslim leadership to think why all the recent wars are focused on shedding the Muslim blood. As a Muslim leader or a Muslim elite or as a human being what is ones responsibility towards the victims? Should we bury our heads in shame and forget about the cries and tears of the mothers and families of the suffering Muslims? Have we lost all human compassion and concern? What has happened to our blood and honor? The great Urdu Poet, Mirza Ghalib, says something about the blood:

 

If it is circulating in veins,
we have no faith in it (blood)

If it does not drip from eyes,
then what sort of blood is it?
 

This situation is rather ironic because Allah talks about Muslims in Surah Al Imran (110) that   "you are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for (the good of) mankind: you command the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in God." The Muslim community should know that neither terrorism nor fundamentalism will bring back their glory days. Dr. Allama Iqbal and Jamaluddin Afghani felt that if Muslims were to recover their dignity, it was essential first to restore the UNITY of the UMMAH. I agree with Iqbal and Afghani, however, I believe if we have an absolute faith in Allah and His message in Holy Quran, and we seriously and devotedly study and follow the life and the teachings of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), we will find a sure way out of the present crisis. After receiving the call at the age of forty, to be the last Messenger of Allah, the life of the Prophet in Mecca - from 610 to the time of emigration to Medina in 622- was a life of adversity, hardships, trial and worries; but in Medina it was the life of success and prosperity. And herein lies an important lesson for the Muslims of today. Their condition is more like the Prophet's experience in Makkah; it is a time of TRIAL. But if they persevere, if they develop the Character of a true Muslim, if they UNITE and become ACTIVE, and are true to their Faith in Allah and the Prophet, then they will meet with the same success that came to Mohammad (peace be upon him). "In the furnace of trial and persecution the ore of character becomes burnished gold. Adversity and hardship bring out what lies in man; they make of him an everlasting character the light of which shall shine always and everywhere, or reduce him to nothingness and oblivion. Therefore, those who aspire after success must be prepared to tread the road of hardship and trials." When God Almighty decided to create a human being, He selected Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) to represent the perfect human being for all ages and places, with the best of character so that he will represent the shinning example for the mankind. "The greatness of a man does not consist in the working of miracles or the doing of wonders; neither does it lie in the preaching of sermons or the formulating of theories. These are but passing phenomena. The greatness of a man lies in the possession of a mighty personality. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) was such a personality, and, as such, he was unique.' History tells us that Muslims succeeded in every sphere of life when they followed Quran and Sunnah; and how they went down when they neglected God's message and advice of the Prophet. It is very important that every Muslim, particularly the younger generation of Muslims, should learn to seriously study the life of Mohammad (peace be upon him), and use that as the guide to build the character of a true Muslim. If Muslims do that, then, they will surely succeed and rise to the top. All of us should try to become better Muslims, but even in our imperfect condition, it is our duty to try to do something to serve humanity and help our brothers and sisters suffering around the world. This year I was fortunate enough to complete the journey of Hajj (pilgrimage) that gave me the chance to ask Allah to forgive me and clean me of my sins, misdeeds and errors in life; and thank Him for the opportunity to grant me the health to visit some of the Muslim holy sites (including a climb to the 5,000 foot high Cave of Thawr near Makkah.)  I am neither a scholar nor any leader but only a servant of Allah. So, first and foremost, I acknowledge and thank Allah who gave me life, health and the knowledge to understand the beauty of His Creations. I know that Allah is present everywhere and He Speaks to us in all we do and it is up to us to begin our own Conversation with Him. The Conversation in time will deepen into friendship and you will feel in your heart, as I did, that Allah is your best friend. I am deeply grateful to Allah who has given me a lot, and a chance to share and give to others what He has blessed me with. On a somewhat different level, I have learned much from other sources, including my parents, my teachers, my wife, my children, and my friends, both old and young. I am greatly inspired by the life of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). I am also inspired by the work of Dr. Iqbal and Jamaluddin Afghani. In addition, I read a little and many of my ideas come from reading other's work and I am grateful to them. If any good proceed from me, then it has come partly from all of them, and I am merely trying to pass it on. As such, I document herewith a seven-year long struggle of an imperfect Muslim and an ordinary man who is trying to do an extra-ordinary thing to unite the Muslim leadership to speak with one voice to end Muslim suffering in the world.                              

 

There comes a time or a moment in the life of every human being when he thinks very seriously about the mystery of life and the main reason why he was created, and he dreams of doing something good and worthwhile to justify ones creation. A daydream can be refreshing and inspiring provided he translates the dream castle into stone and mortar. Every thinker's journey for a noble cause starts alone, but if he has the compassion, and if his intention is sincere and selfless, then, he will have the blessing of Allah with him, and others will join him later, one by one. I dreamed and envisioned a Muslim world at peace, freed of its barriers and obstacles, where history and geography are finally reconciled. It would speak with ONE VOICE to proclaim Islam's message of Justice, peace, tolerance and moderation, of openness towards differences, and of respect of human rights. Question- what turns compassion into action? It could be a dramatic personal tragedy that ignites action or it could be an inspiration of another person's example that shows how to channel emotion and outrage into useful acts. It was the ethnic cleansing of Muslims by Serbs in Bosnia that made me think deeply why the moral leadership of the West was watching the slaughter of innocent Muslims and not taking any serious action to stop it. However, the last straw that broke my back or triggered some awareness in me – I call it a spiritual experience - to take action was the bravery of Chechen freedom fighters being shown on televisions in America on December 12, 1994. The armed forces of Russia launched their surprise attach on the tiny republic of Chechnya on December 11, 1994, and at the time Russian generals declared that they would defeat the Chechens in Grozny within the next forty-eight hours. But the world knows that in the 1994-1996 war, a few thousand Chechen Freedom Fighters - having headbands with slogans like Allaho Akbar and La ilaha illa Allah, Mohammad-ar-Rasul Allah, that were etched in my mind forever - led by their fearless leaders, Gen. Dzhokhar Dudaev, Shamil Basyev and Aslan Maskhadov, physically and morally defeated the mighty Red Army, and Russians were forced to withdraw from Chechnya in humiliation, just like Afghanistan. (Later, in August 1998, at the second International Islamic Unity Conference held in Washington, D.C., I had the honor to address, salute and thank President Aslan Maskhadov for uplifting the honor of the Muslims in the eyes of the world.) For a long time, I had watched in agony the suffering and humiliation of Muslims around the world, and eventually these events - the tragedy of Bosnia and the bravery of Chechen freedom fighters – created a storm in my heart that transformed me. This is not a cliché or an exaggeration. My life was not merely changed; I experienced a fundamental shift in its direction and purpose. And I made a commitment to myself that I would do something creative and imaginative to help in ending the suffering of Muslims in the world. In spite of the fact that Muslim world controls 73 percent of energy resources (oil and gas) and over 20 percent of world's human resources, we have no power in the world because, firstly, the current Muslims have lost the true character of early Muslims; and, secondly, they are not united and there is no leader or leaders who are courageous enough to come forward voluntarily to bring them together to speak with ONE VOICE, as envisioned by Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Jamaluddin Afghani. I thought that the most effective and immediate way to help the suffering Muslims would be to find a dynamic leader who has led his country successfully for a long time and who knows all the leaders of the other Muslim countries. So, in early 1995, I launched my ONE-MAN MISSION for MUSLIM UNITY and started looking for a qualified Muslim leader to convince him or her to take the lead and unite the Muslim world and help end  the suffering of Muslims around the world. Consequently, I had a meeting in my house with some of my local friends who endorsed the idea and the purpose of the Unity Mission. However, when I mentioned the name of President Soeharto, who was the leader of the largest Muslim country for thirty years and who had kept Indonesia (consisting of 13,667 islands) united for a long time, some friends said that he is a very corrupt man. I stated we all have both faults and good qualities and no one is perfect, as beautifully shown by Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal Emperor of India) in his poetry:

 

When we are unaware of our present condition,
we look for faults and qualities of others
When our eyes fall on our own ill deeds,
then in our eyes  no one remains bad
 

So, I started my One-Man Mission for Muslim Unity with President Soeharto of Indonesia as the first leader. I spent two months, one each in 1995 and 1996, in Jakarta to meet Soeharto's advisers and other Indonesian leaders so that they can persuade him to accept the challenge to unite the Muslim world. I wrote appeal letters to the heads of most of the Muslim countries and their Ambassadors in Washington, D.C., and to hundreds of Muslim leaders, elites, doctors and professionals in North America (USA and Canada) asking them to speak or write to the Indonesian President to unite the Muslim leadership. Later, Soeharto's advisers told me that the President understands Mr. Qureshi's passion for the problems of the Muslim Ummah and appreciates the objectives of the Unity Mission, but the President believes that it is a very difficult job to unite the leadership of the Muslim countries to speak with ONE VOICE.

 

After President Soeharto, I moved on to approach and appeal to the next qualified leader, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, to accept the leadership role and unite the Muslim world.  Two visits, one each in 1996 and 1997, were made to Kuala Lumpur to meet and convince the Malaysian leadership for the same objective of the Mission. Although Malaysia is a Muslim country and Islam is its official religion, about forty five percent of Malaysians are non-Muslims (Chinese and Indians), so, it is not appropriate for the Malaysian Prime Minister to devote time on the problems of Muslim Ummah. Therefore, Dr. Mahathir was asked to focus on the economic unity of the Muslim countries because it will help all segments of the Malaysian society. It is good to note that Dr. Mahathir on his own initiative worked with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Necmettin Erbakan, to establish the DEVELOPMENT EIGHT GROUP (consisting of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey), aimed at fostering cooperation in Trade, Finance and Technology. Dr. Mahathir is one of my most favorite Muslim leader and I have the greatest admiration for the ways he successfully handled so many diverse problems facing his nation. He has made Malaysia a model for the rest of the Muslim world to emulate. It was frustrating that I had no opportunity to meet him face to face to discuss our Ummah's problems. Anyway, I did not receive any encouragement from him either for my Mission's appeal, but I understand his position.

 

Pakistan's President, General Pervaiz Musharraf, was the next leader on my list. My approach was the same as in Indonesia and Malaysia. I expected a somewhat more encouraging response from the country of my birth. Again, I made two visits, one each in 1999 and 2000, but I was informed, both times, that the General is focused on the domestic problems and was unable to make a commitment at this time. Furthermore, in view of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the ensuing fight on terrorism, Pakistani leadership is currently facing internal troubles of extremism and terrorism; and external threats from India and Afghanistan, and at this time, they are unable to do anything else.

 

While most of my efforts were focused on the Muslim leadership in the world and North America, simultaneously, I wrote appeal letters to the top leaders of American Administration (President Clinton, Hillary Clinton, President Bush, Secretary of State, all the Senators and House of Representatives, etc.); American Jewish leadership; American Christian leadership; and the top leaders of France, Germany and England, asking all of them to end the occupation, oppression and human rights abuses in Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir, and Palestine.        

 

This book embodies a glimpse of the efforts in the form of my appeal letters and their replies (placed in the book from year 1995 in front and year 2002 at back) to the top leaders of the Muslim and non-Muslim world; and have focused on the long suffering of Muslims in Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine. During the last seven years, I have traveled thousands of miles in the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan and have attended many Conventions, Meetings and have personally talked to numerous Muslim and non-Muslim leaders. My assessment is that some efforts are being made but almost everyone is engaged in issues of self-interest and no serious and sincere efforts are being made to end the occupation, oppression and suffering of the peoples of the three countries. The United States of America is a blessed country, both in human and material terms, and Americans have proven themselves to be the most generous people on earth. Peoples of different colors, religious faiths, beliefs and cultures inhabit this land of opportunities and freedom. The American Muslim community is a part of the American mosaic, and in view of the tragedy of September 11 our community is very much concerned about the negative portrayal of Islam and Muslims in America. I feel that this perception is due to lack of knowledge and or misunderstanding. So, it is very important that all Muslims - Americans and non-Americans - must do their best to obtain and project the correct picture of Islam. The leadership of USA must use the American Muslims as a great asset that can be used as a bridge to communicate between the USA and Muslim countries of the world. The Muslim world is at crossroads and must decide what course it will take – the positive course of civilized dialogue with the Western Leadership to end the injustices in the Muslim lands, or the negative course of silence or indifference. We must clearly state that Muslims have no tolerance for terrorists such as those involved in the 9-11 tragedy. The killing of innocent people by suicide bombs is an unacceptable act, because the Holy Quran (5-32) says, " if anyone slays a human being unless it be (in punishment) for murder or for spreading corruption/mischief/chaos/disorder on earth - it shall be as though he had slain all mankind." Deliberate killing of innocent civilians by legitimate governments is also a terrorist act. There is a very tiny minority of extremists who are committing all acts of terrorism but the majority of the peoples of Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine are not terrorists but they are engaged in a struggle for their freedoms and they have every legal right to defend themselves from occupation by foreign forces who are committing massive Human Rights abuses using the cloak of 'fighting terrorism'. At present, every leader is concerned about terrorism but they are not focusing on the root causes of terrorism. The simple, the best and the most effective ways to end terrorism in the world are to end the foreign occupation in the three respective countries. And the only leader, who is in a powerful position to convince and tell the leaders of Israel, India and Russia to end their terror, is the President of the United States of America, provided he shows compassion not only for Messrs Sharon, Vajpayee and Putin but also for Palestinians, Kashmiris and Chechens. If the President of the United States of America shows no courage or will to end the massive Human Rights abuses and INJUSTICES in CHECHNYA, KASHMIR and PALESTINE, then there will never be any PEACE in the world, and in time God Almighty will separate good from evil.              

 

In conclusion, I appeal to our Muslim leadership of America, particularly Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi (Islamic Society of N. America), Dr. Agha Saeed (American Muslim Alliance), Dr. Yahya M. Basha (American Muslim Council), Mr. Omar Ahmed (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Dr. Sayyid M. Sayeed (Islamic Society of N. America), Imam W. D. Mohammed (Muslim American Society), Dr. Maher Hatout (Muslim Public Affairs Council), and Mr. Altaf Husain (Muslim Students Association) to unite, form a consensus, select two members as the Muslim leaders representing the North American Muslim Organizations,  and enter into a civilized dialogue, first with the American Administration, and later with Russian, Jewish and Indian leaderships, in order to discuss the suffering of Muslims in Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir, and Palestine. Please convince the President of USA that he is not only the President of the powerful United States but, most importantly, he is the leader of the MORAL WEST, and it is his responsibility to see that JUSTICE and FREEDOM is obtained for the peoples of Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine, because it is in the long-range interest of everyone concerned. And the way to do it is through the implementation of the United Nations Resolutions for the case of Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine. In the case of Russia, President Bush should ask his soul mate or friend Mr. Putin to fulfill the promise of freedom made to Chechens by President Yeltsin and General Lebid. Our causes are just and we can win provided our leadership acts in a smart and a very creative manner, as suggested in my appeal letters. May Allah bless our troubled Ummah and bring peace and prosperity to the Muslim lands, particularly the Holy Land, and the world. Amen.

 

 

 

1317 Shamrock Lane,
Plano, Texas 75093
U. S. A.
October 28, 2002

 
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