Category Archive: Opinions & Editorials
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Muslims across the world are going through a very difficult phase due to the wrong and un-Islamic actions of a few terrorist groups. These days it has become all the more important for every Muslim to spread the true teachings of Islam so as to present the true face of our religion to the world.
In such a situation, a brutal incident that took place in the war-torn Afghanistan came to the fore. According to media reports, a group of thugs held a woman and accused her of desecrating a copy of the Qur’an. They brutally tortured her and set her on fire. Most likely she must have had succumbed to the injuries caused due to the torture long before she was set ablaze. It has been reported that the deceased woman was known for being mentally ill. Sadly, none of the self-appointed custodians of faith who committed the act had reportedly seen the woman desecrating the copy of Qur’an.
It all started when a group of women shouted and accused the lady of burning the holy book. Some men outside heard the accusation and within minutes the woman was lying lifeless. Vigilantes, who apparently did not have a proper understanding of the true teachings of Islam, killed her in the most brutal manner.
Exactly two years ago, in my article published in the Arab News “Do Muslims really understand Islam?,” I had raised this question. Apparently, many Muslims don’t understand the true spirit of Islam.
In the current global situation, it would be difficult to convince non-Muslims after each and every incident that the crime might have been committed in the name of Islam by Muslims but such brutalities have nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam. Of course, how could they believe us? The Internet is replete with videos of horrific acts committed by so-called Muslims against Muslims and non-Muslims.
The question is: Who really burned the copy of the Qur’an and who really desecrated it?
The Qur’an was revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through angel Gabriel. It was revealed gradually over a period of more than two decades. The first word that was revealed is read. In the Arab and Muslim world, Qur’an is a book that you will find in every room of every Muslim’s house, classrooms, hotel rooms, automobiles, shops and mosques. As a matter of fact, many non-Muslims across the world also keep a copy of this book to learn about Islam and many non-Muslims have genuine respect for Islam and Muslims. During the past few years, some incidents of Qur’an’s desecration had been reported in the media. In the wake of such incidents, we witnessed riots leading to some deaths in many Muslim countries. We tend to forget one important fact that Muslims are taught that Qur’an is protected by Allah and not by humans.
Islam does not encourage Muslims to carry copies of the Qur’an to places where it might be desecrated due to negligence or misunderstandings. But sadly just by looking at the damages done to mosques, schools and houses in the Arab and Muslim world during the so-called Arab Spring or sectarian violence elsewhere, it could be inferred that hundreds of copies of the Qur’an must have been burned by Muslims themselves.
Beating and killing a woman without any evidence has nothing to do with respecting the Qur’an. Respecting the book is to understand the true meanings of its contents. The holy book should not only be read thoroughly like a parrot but we should try to absorb the meanings of its verses. We have seen war planes flown by Muslims, armored tanks driven by Muslims, powerful explosives carried by Muslims that damaged mosques, schools, houses and other buildings that are full of copies of the Qur’an in Syria, Libya, Yemen and other Muslim countries. And in the wake of violence in these countries, damage has been done to thousands of copies of the Qur’an. So who really burned and desecrated the Qur’an? If Muslims really read and understand the Qur’an, the Muslim world will be free from sectarian violence, sectarian wars, political chaos, corruption, poverty and killings in the name of Islam. We should bear in mind that the world judges what we do in the name of Islam and not what we say about Islam.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Who really desecrated the Qur’an? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
A few months ago, I got an invitation to attend an event at the NASA Mission Control Center at Johnson’s Space Center in Houston, Texas, to be held by the end of this month.
I will write in detail about his event in my next column. When I first received the invite, some thoughts crossed my mind. I thought about India and asked myself why India not only amazes me but it always comes up with surprises for people around the world? You must be wondering what does my visit to NASA have to do with India?
There are many things in India that continue to fascinate people around the globe. I am not talking about the beautiful Taj Mahal, the spicy Indian cuisine, its political and electoral system or its rich and diverse culture. The Indian civilization is one of the oldest in the world and it is currently one of the most rapidly modernizing countries. It became a republic in 1950 after gaining independence from the British in 1947. In a very short span, this country progressed miraculously. This is what always amazes me about India. Let us talk about India and America’s NASA. Or in other words, let us talk about the one aspect of India that many people are not aware of.
On July 20, 1969, America landed two men on the moon. Many people around the world watched the historic event live on their television sets but a great number of Indians missed the event because many didn’t have television sets at that time. This, however, did not deter the Indians from establishing the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Aug. 15, 1969.
Interestingly, that happened only 25 days after the United States made history by landing two men on the moon — and the Indian space exploration success stories continued.
Years of hard work and small steps on this path have placed India at the forefront of the list of countries aiming to explore and conquer the outer space.
In 2008, ISRO launched Chandrayan-1 moon vehicles — India’s first lunar probe. Amazing, isn’t it?
This feat apparently did not satiate Indian experts’ hunger to strive for the best. So, last year the ISRO sent a spacecraft to Mars and with that, India joined the elite club of the most advanced countries of the world.
It is true that a few other countries were able to send spacecraft to Mars but India’s achievement was different. They were successful in doing so in their first attempt. Europe was also able to do it in the first go but it was a consortium of many countries. What astonished the world was the low cost of the Indian project. It cost India less than $80 million — one-tenth of what other space agencies paid for their projects. Some space agencies allocated and spent $750 million. It is said that in the launching of their spacecraft, the Indian scientists used and employed a slingshot method for Mangalyaan’s interplanetary journey. This is considered an unusual method.
With India’s achievements to send a spacecraft to Mars at such a low cost, may be India’s space agency will become the future transporter facilitating human travel from Earth to Mars.
At this stage, what India achieved can be taken as an example for what other countries can and should achieve for the good of our planet.
These kinds of achievements could prove to be a source of inspiration for researches and more discoveries for new things in the outer space.
India’s achievement should serve as a lesson for other countries to help them utilize their financial resources wisely on scientific projects. Let us go back to NASA. In 1960 US President John Kennedy said that America would send a man on the moon in a decade. Now, I am not familiar with the politics of India. However, many saw India dispatching a spacecraft for Mars just few weeks after the election of Narendra Modi as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. The Indian scientists’ achievement at the Indian Space Research Organization could not have come at a better time for the new premier.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Why India Always Amazes Me? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim, Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Amid the ongoing Iran’s nuclear issue debate, Saudi Arabia has taken a prominent position. Out of the blue, everybody has started discussions about the possibility of Saudi Arabia moving ahead to acquire nuclear weapons. Was it really out of the blue?
Billion-dollar question is: Will Saudi Arabia strive to acquire nuclear weapons?
And if so, then how long would it take the Saudis to plan and build nuclear reactors, enrich uranium and produce nuclear bomb(s)?
Generally, this cumbersome process takes years for completion. So, why should the Saudis spend so much time in acquiring nuclear capability at a time when Israel is already an undeclared nuclear power and Iran inching closer to realize its nuclear dream with every passing day. Truth be told, at this stage it is difficult to say whether or not Iran possesses a nuclear weapon. There are mixed reports on this issue; some stating Tehran has already acquired nukes and some claim that it is far from accomplishing such a feat.
Along with the entire world, Saudi Arabia has been witnessing the lengthy negotiations between the western powers and Iran with no clear signs of any positive outcome.
Saudis, however, are very annoyed especially after the clear thaw in US-Iran relations. In short, if the West accepts seeing Iran becoming a nuclear power, then the Saudis will follow.
As per reports circulating in the media, Saudi Arabia could upgrade its status from being a country with conventional weapons to a nuclear power within a relatively short span. And I am not sure how can the Saudis do it in a very short time but I guess it can be done. Saudi Arabia is not likely to wait for 10 years to acquire nuclear weapons.
The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 might result in an agreement but no matter what the outcome may be, Iran will pursue it ambition to become a nuclear power at a time when there is no threat to it from any of its neighboring countries. And the latest approach by the American administration toward Iran is not making it any easier for the Saudis. The Saudis said over and over again that the Iranian nuclear facilities are located very close to the Saudi eastern shores. Iran is still a country that is not technologically advanced enough to handle or control any radioactive leaks from its nuclear facilities in case of a mishap.
It is true that Iran has many trained nuclear physicists but it is just not enough to handle a huge nuclear infrastructure. The Iranian Bushehr nuclear facility is located near active earthquake zone. It is true that Iran has a huge population and needs more electrical power so this is why Iran has to concentrate on building peaceful nuclear electricity generators but it should not continue in its quest for a nuclear bomb. Let us get real, who is Iran’s primary enemy in the area that makes it crucial for Iran to have a nuclear weapon? Tehran is not at war with any of the countries in the region. As a matter of fact, Iran is hostile to its neighbors.
Nuclear facilities are a threat to the neighboring countries no matter how peaceful the projects may be.
It would be pertinent to mention the threat issued by Norwegian scientists in view of the decaying Russian nuclear submarines and described them as “Chernobyl in slow motion.”
The Russian nuclear threat to Northern Europe is a reality even though Russian submarines didn’t even fire a nuclear missile.
The bottom line is that it is nice to see a Middle East without such a threat but if Iran reaches a deal allowing it to go ahead with its nuclear program, then the Saudis have the right to acquire their own nuclear deterrent capabilities. And last but not the least, the danger of nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities don’t differentiate between friend and foe. But when push comes to shove, the Saudis have the right to go to any extent to push back or deter any intruders. And now to close the discussion, various top political and military leaders visited the Kingdom in recent weeks.
Many political and security analysts were alerted by the visit of South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye.
South Korea is a country known for its peaceful nuclear technologies. And another visit that gained a lot of interest is the visit by Pakistani top political and military officials. Pakistan is the most important strategic Saudi ally. And it is no secret that Pakistan is already a member of the elite nuclear club.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Pushing ME Into Nukes Race reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Sometimes I wonder about the phenomenon of fake educational certificates like diplomas and degrees and its impact on the society. What if it’s a doctorate degree (Ph.D.)?
The answer is: Nothing. The person with such a fake degree will be awarded with the title of doctor and he/she will hang the certificate in a glass frame in his/her office or living room and brag about it. The problem arises when such an individual fills in a decision-making position at some educational institution or at the Ministry of Education. It is something to worry about, as it affects the society. If employed with the government sector, such individuals contribute to the slowing down of the country’s development. And this is what we are currently witnessing in the Kingdom. A large number of people with fake educational certificates are working at key positions in both the public and the private sectors. Ironically, it is not secret to anyone and such people are known for their wrongdoing.
What is more distressing is the fact that even the so-called institutions, which award these fake certificates or degrees are also doing brisk business without hiding the true nature of their operations. People responsible for authenticating certificates and degrees are fully aware of the whereabouts of such institutions.
One of them is located in London and its openly “cooperates” with some elements in the education sector to review the so-called research papers to add some authenticity and of course it is not free of charge.
In one raid conducted by the Saudi authorities seized hundreds of fake master’s and doctorate degrees, which were ready for sale. But the worrisome part of the report was the authorities late learned that the man in-charge of the scheme had already sold about 16,000 fake educational documents for price as high as SR50,000 for each doctorate degree.
Now, who are these fake certificate holders, where they are and what are the positions they are holding. It is important to know who the holders of the fake degrees are because this is the worst that can happen to the education system.
During the past two decades, holders of these fake degrees were and still are one of the main reasons for the slow growth of the education system. At the end of the day, it is not only our students who pay the price but the whole society. And students that are taught by a fake degree holder or employees who work under fake degree holders know how does thing go under such people. They see it in his behavior, his presentations or simply by knowing the university from which he “received” his/her degree. Also, fake certificate holders are known to be easily lost in any intelligent conversations. You can sense their lack of faith in themselves because they lack the genuine self-confidence.
Just few weeks ago, Saudi Arabia had two education ministries. One for education from kindergarten to high school called the Ministry of Education and the other was called the Ministry of Higher Education in-charge of any university or institution after high school. However, following a royal decree these two ministries have been merged to be overseen by a single management.
This is a good decision for the future of the Saudi job market. But, the first step for the new and dynamic Minister of Education Azzam Al-Dakhil is to hire the right people for the right job and rid the ministry and the universities of the fake degrees holders and help other government departments and the private sector to identify fake degree holders. They are not only hurting their students or employees under them, they are hurting and slowing down the development of the country. Fake degree is not a joke; it is a disaster.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Fake Degree is a Serious Matter reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Many years before the start of the so-called Arab Spring, many international agencies had warned that Yemen could become the first country in the world to simply run out of water due to its fast-depleting water resources. It would be pertinent to mention that it is the country, which has one of the world’s oldest known dams, the Marib Dam.
A verse in the Holy Qur’an says, “We made from water every living thing.” This is proof enough to stress the importance of water. When it comes to shortages; Yemen is not only running out of water, it is also dangerously running out of time. Isn’t it ironic that I am drawing such a gloomy picture, though based on facts, of a country that is nicknamed, Happy?
Yemen is one of the oldest countries of the world and for thousands of years it remained one of the most prosperous ones. Even in the recent past, the situation was not as depressing as it appears now. During the 1960s, the port city of Aden was projected as the link between the East and the West due to its unique strategic location. It is an open door to the world. One does not need to pass through Bab El-Mandab, Strait of Hormuz or the Suez Canal.
The port of Aden could have been much larger than Dubai and Jeddah ports combined. It had the potential to emerge as one of the largest free-zone areas in the world.
In other words, this port could have become a global mall. In the northern parts of Yemen, there are untapped tourist attraction and these areas are highly suitable for agriculture. In addition to this, one cannot ignore the hardworking and skilled Yemeni manpower.
Skilled workers from Yemen had helped build the civic infrastructure of various Gulf countries
The Yemenis helped develop many countries but unfortunately they forgot to build their own country, which is today lying in ruins amid political upheaval.
Yemen, north or south, saw more internal disputes and bloody wars that no place in the world has ever experienced. Simply put, Yemen turned from Happy to Sad Yemen. And I mean very, very sad. Now, Yemen is one of the poorest countries of the world. It lacks good roads, schools, hospitals and many things that the Yemenis should have constructed and they rightfully deserve. And most important Yemen lacks the presence of civil services required for the smooth functioning of civic life.
Ironically, Yemen had over the past decades received huge funds in financial aid, not only from the rich Gulf states but also from many countries around the world. But those funds were not used for the development of the country. It is a known fact that the leaders of Yemen are billionaires at a time when the Yemenis are starving. And now, Yemen is not only in chaos, it is being torn apart by its own people and outside forces.
Now, the international community and various Yemeni groups are trying to bring peace to the country. Yemenis agreed to sit around the table to discuss the future of their country. Once again differences emerged over the place for holding peace talks. It was, however, announced that those talks would be held in Riyadh.
No matter what the world does for Yemen or no matter how much aid Yemen receives, it is only the Yemenis who can help Yemen regain its old name and be happy again. Yemen has been suffering for many decades. Instability and internal wars between the same people have wreaked havoc on the Yemeni society and no one knows the number of casualties among the Yemenis. Now, the Yemenis and especially women and children are suffering greatly. It is only the Yemenis who can solve their differences. It is very dangerous when you run out of time. Time doesn’t wait for anybody.
Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Running Out of Time reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.