Yamin Zakaria

Yamin Zakaria

Tax is almost as old as civilisation itself. The conquering emperors of the past would raise taxes to finance wars and conquests. Many historical rebellions, civil wars, and uprisings were driven by resentment against taxation. In recent history, income tax was introduced by William Pitt the Younger, to fight the Napoleonic wars. Today, tax is associated with providing public service and national ‘defence’, a euphemistic term for war.

There is a constant debate between the right and left of politics about the level of taxation and its expenditure. The former advocates lower taxes, because they argue that tax saps incentives of those who create wealth, and the latter says taxing is about providing a public service and protecting the poor in society, so they advocate higher taxes.

The recent deaths of three British Soldiers has led to the same questions in the British media - why are they still in Afghanistan and what did they die for? Never mind the countless, non-Taliban Afghan men, women and children that are consumed daily by the American drones; they are nameless and faceless peasants, and the media is busy with more important things. The number three has a special resonance now, not the holy trinity, but earlier the Boston bombers killed three and it mobilised the American armed forces on a massive scale, as compared to the killing field of Sandy Hook that consumed almost ten times that figure. As always, when foreigners kill, it deserves special attention!

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I can imagine the Afghans in Kabul saying ‘Get a small taste of your drones’ , as they look at the images of the Boston bombings on television. In their minds, the marathon maybe the equivalent of the Afghan wedding celebrations that gets bombed, the perpetrators were targeting American terrorists hiding among civilians thus inflicted collateral damage. If you want to know how others feel, put yourself in their shoes is the proverb. It is amusing to see the frenzied Americans pouncing on anyone who remotely looks like an Arab or a Muslim as a suspect. A Saudi national was already identified by the media mob, who in reality turned to be one of the victims; the lessons of Oslo and Oklahoma have already become distant memories.

You hear the media scream “innocent civilians”! The crusader brigades led by the likes of Mr Erik Rush at Fox News have already pronounced the contradictory edict: “Muslims are evil, kill them all”. Isn’t the act of killing everyone, which would include women and children, the epitome of evil? If Mr Erik Rush was intelligent enough to prod, he would see that many fellow conservatives around Fox News privately view him with a level of disdain, due to his mixed racial heritage; but coolies are useful as colonial British found out in India. His tweeter feeds are full of expletives, a male version of Pam Geller, spewing out hate and zero content; this reflects the crass nature of the American conservatives wrapped up in ignorance.

With the death of Margaret Thatcher, the old question comes to mind: why has no other female followed in her footsteps in the UK? Why she didn’t inspire other females? Did womankind turn on her or has the country run out of talented females? I think that is unlikely. When Margaret Thatcher won the election, I recall the chauvinistic jibes; like the Alf Garnet character, some argued that she is really a man in disguise in that her character, psyche and personality is essentially male, but her hormones went towards the other direction and gave her female organs and appearance.

It must have been awful for her husband to hear this type of comment. Spitting Image, the satire on TV, conveyed the impression that he was largely confined to Thatcher’s harem. Perhaps if he had done something interesting, like adultery or file for divorce, then the press would have given him greater media coverage. And the few times he appeared on the media, he had a fixed morbid expression; it made me wonder, was this due to his marriage or his nature. Regardless, he is due some credit; there was activity in the bedroom, and the couple produced healthy children. The Imam in me says MashaAllah, and the ethnic part of me says “shabbash”, loosely translated as “well done”.

In order to comprehend the politics and the complexity of the various forces that shapes the current Afghan nation, it is necessary to examine the historical milestones along with the economic infrastructure, and the composition of the major influential tribes distinguished by linguistic and religious affiliations: Pashtun, Uzbek, Hazara, Tajik, Aimaq, Turkoman, Baloch and other smaller tribes. I intend to produce a series of articles that will seek to analyse these factors. The primary objective is to give an overview, so that those who are not familiar with the region get acquainted with the basic facts rapidly, and one can refer to other scholarly materials for further in-depth analysis.

I am less interested in ancient history, as the evidence is scant for such material, and less relevant to the current situation. Nor do I think it is necessary to cover the events chronologically, which can be dull, and readers will be more interested to get familiar with the current events via which the history is introduced.

Unless the Taliban are drawn into the political process, they will continue to pose a challenge to the Karzai government, and this is likely to escalate after US forces leave the country in 2014; they may even succeed in seizing power reigniting another civil war. The major players are Pakistan and the US with India being the third minor party; Pakistan has influence via the Taliban, India has a relationship with the Northern Alliance (formed by the non-Pashtun tribes to counter the dominant Pashtun based Taliban), and the US has its interest along with its military might.

From the arguments that rage over the Islamic veil and the bikini, a battle between the conservatives and liberal secular forces, you would think it can be summed up as: nudity is liberation and covering up is oppression from the secular faction . A Tunisian woman took the bait, and from the birth place of the Arab-Spring she displayed her breasts, with "My body is mine, not somebody's honour" written across it, clearly aimed at the conservative faction of society. This is supposed to contribute towards the advancement for women’s rights, because the argument goes, it shows that she has control over her body, nobody (men in particular) is forcing her to cover up. One would assume the protest in a different form would take place, if the women were forced to walk around topless in Tunisia in the first place.

On that note, women who chose to wear the Hijab (head scarf) under the previous regime were treated awfully, and in countries like Turkey the HIjab was banned in public life. The same argument of women having control over their bodies and having the ability to exercise their choice is applicable here, but it did not lead to the feminists screaming; hence, why the selectivity? Ironically, it seems the feminists are pandering to the male urges through the back door, as they are only intervening when women want to strip!

On this day, the 600 year old Ottoman Caliphate was formally abolished. The date should resonate in the Islamic world, invoking a sad loss, representing a significant turning point in Islamic history, but it does not, around the Islamic world it’s a normal day like any other. But why is that? Given that Muslims in general are still committed to Islam, it is unlikely that they have lost interest in their history, essential part of a nation’s identity. The only other explanation that comes to mind is that the event was not significant, the destruction on the 3rd of March was merely symbolic; the palace was closed, the Caliph with his family members were expelled quietly, as if some employees in a private firm were made redundant. Hence, the nation continued with the new secular government of Mustafa Kemal, it was business as usual. If the event represented a change of system that would have caused shocks in society, which implies, the Ottoman State as a fully functional Caliphate was already dead and buried, what remained was merely a historic relic.

"Secularism prohibits the imposition of any religion, except the religion of secularism"

According to the UK laws, adultery is illegal, but not a criminal offence; almost all the western secular societies uphold this view. Adultery only has relevance within the institution of marriage, which is rooted in religious texts. A fundamental tenet of a secular society is that religion is reduced to a personal choice; it is the prerogative of the individual to uphold or to abandon it. Therefore, they can formally marry in a Church, or cohabit, or participate in an open relationship where adultery has no meaning.

Throughout history, Ayesha’s age at the time of her marriage was not raised as a contentious point, by the critics of Islam. This implies they viewed the marriage as conforming to the norms of society; the age old tradition in most societies is girls marry early, usually just post-puberty. Apart from the cultural precedents of the time, such practices were also common among the Biblical Prophets. According to the Bible, Prophet Abraham (SAW) was 86-years-old when he married Hagar, who was young enough to give him a child, the age gap must have been considerable. King David was given a beautiful young virgin in his old-age to keep him ‘warm’ (1 Kings, chapter 1, verses 1–4, New International Version). There is general consensus among Christian scholars that Mary, the mother of Jesus was pregnant at the age of 12, and was married to Joseph between the ages of 7 and 9, Joseph was considerably older, by some accounts put him at 90! Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was around age of 54 when he married Ayesha, she was of a similar age to Mary as per report in the books of Hadiths.

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