Lost your bearing?!

This morning, on the way to work my bike suddenly lost power along the MRR2 and when I stopped I couldn't push it forwards or backwards - it had seized! Well, i though it was a transmission belt problem at first but it turned out to be a clutch cover bearing failure! luckily my mechanic does road side repairs and even when i called i'm at 8 plus he answered but having to call into his workshop first to take his tools he only arrived at 10.30am. I straight away called the office informing them of my situation and that i might be slightly late...Luckily also the bike stalled near an Esso petrol station which was one of those full service petrol station. I knew that Ah Chong (my mechanic) would be late so I called my brother to pick me up from the petrol station and I will come back later when the bike is being fixed. While waiting for my brother I managed to appreciate the services provided by Esso. First thing i noticed was their petrol station had a nice toilet which was IN the petrol station shop as opposed to hidden behind the petrol station. Very impressive. Then they have this cafe like corner in the shop. Very nice. They serve hot food like hot dogs grilled chicken and stuff - complete with take away but they also serve pre packed nasi lemak of all varieties, mee goreng and mee hoon. They also serve hot drinks from on of them hot drinks dispensers. Cool. All served in a nice little eating area with nice tables and chairs. They did this breakfast set which included 2 of the packed breakfast items plus a coffee or tea for only 2.90. So I had that while waiting for my brother to come take me home. The nasi lemak was okay but the mee goreng was erm... different. too bad they had run out of mee hoon!

When my brother came he was worried that my bike was left by the roadside but I told him that the rear wheel was jammed. While he was on the phone i tried pushing the bike backwards and forth a few times and suddenly the wheel broke free. Result! So i then pushed the bike into one of the parking spots at Esso and we left the petrol station feeling less worried. About 30 mins after getting home Ah Chong called asking where I was. he was already there! I told him to just start doing what he needs to do first - "don't wait for me". 10 mis later he called me again saying that the problem was the bearing, not the belt so he needed to go back to his workshop to replace the bearing. luckily the bearing was on a detachable section of the drivetrain. He just took the part to his workshop and replaces the bearing there, and later come back to Esso just to refit the part. At that point I was just about to leave home and by the time we reached Esso and parked, Ah Chong arrived in his white Sym VTS. It reminded me of a police bike. He showed me the damaged part and I saw the missing balls in the bearing and also the grinded metal bits on the ground which i presume was the missing balls. The refit took about 10 mins, too bad i forgot to take photos of it but here is the damaged part. good thing this was not an expensive part or even worse - if the part was hard to find! So in th end I made it to the office at 11 something, almost 12. If it weren't for the IPC needed to be submitted today I wouldn't have bothered coming. At that time I had lost the mood to work already...

The part that caused all the grief. the missing balls have turned into metal filings, ground to pulp..

Anyhow! All in all that was a terrible start to my day but at the same time the whole experience made me appreciate good petrol stations together with their services and also reinforced my perception that Ah Chong really knows his stuff... Well, every cloud has it's silver lining I guess. It's up to us to decide if we want to only see the bad or only the good in things or try to balance remembering the bad,- in order not to repeat it and remembering the good to make us appreciate it. Right now my clouds are grey and it is raining... what whether to go home through!... take care guys!

Road side assistance

We have an old Volvo 240 sedan that dad bought before we came back to Malaysia in 1990. Interestingly, we still have the car eventhough my dad no longer uses it. His commutes are frequent and distances long - all requiring a more reliable car. So, for the last couple of years the old Volvo has been used by the children as a learner car in my case and later as a spare car for the odd grocery run etc...Recently, my 3rd brother has been using it as his main mode of transportation and has been maintaining it.

I find this type of tow truck so much better than the one with the hook thingy

Recently however, the car had lost all electrical power thus the car has been unable to recharge it's own battery. In short - it won't start. Thank god for AAM as my dad had put all his cars under his AAM membership. According to him, membership is about RM100 and u get free roadside assistance and towing. So, if your car breaks down just once, it has basically paid for the AAM membership. Pretty neat huh. So, last Saturday we got the Volvo trowed to a specialist workshop in Cheras - all fee of charge! Well, it's actually all paid for...

Well, I only have one reliable Japanese car so I don't think I'll be getting AAM membership anytime soon. I wish they had AAM for bikes... that I might consider signing up for! =) 

Some Responsibilities of the Husband and Rights of the Wife in Islam

Hmmmmm.... these past few weeks were school holidays in Malaysia. And when there are school holidays, there are weddings..... lots of weddings! So since quite a few of my friends have been recently married and are about to get married, here is a really good article on the responsibilities of husbands to their wives. May it be a reminder for us all insyaAllah..... 

Some Responsibilities of the Husband and Rights of the Wife in Islam

Dr. G. F. Haddad

Q: I have frequently read what, according to Islamic teachings, a husband may or may not do in a dispute with his wife if he attributes it to disagreement with or misbehavior of his wife. I almost never read anything about the opposite situation: if the wife has a disagreement with her husband or *he* misbehaves. Things are nearly always told from the man's point of view! What are the wife's rights in the case of bad behavior of her husband?


Praise belongs to Allah the Lord of all the worlds. Blessings and Peace on the Messenger of Allah, and on his Family and all his Companions.

Allah ordered the believers to "consort with women in kindness" (4:19) and He said: "And of His signs are this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect" (30:21).

A Wife's Basic Rights Regarding Her Husband's Behavior

NOTE: This is distinct from her other rights regarding living expenditures, housing, clothing, and education of children. And from Allah comes all success.

1. The first and worthiest condition of marriage to be fulfilled by the husband is to "keep the promise or promises he made to the wife at the time he married her." This is an order of the Prophet [salla Allahu `alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, abbr. (s)] according to the hadith: "ahaqqu al-shuruti an tufu bihi ma astahlaltum bihi min al-furuj"

2. He cannot order her to do anything that is against religion. The Prophet (s) said: "No obedience is due to creatures in disobedience of the Creator" (la ta`atan li makhluqin fi ma`siyat al-khaliq).

3. He must exercise patience and be prepared to listen to her advice in every situation. The Prophet (s) listened to the advice of his wives in matters ranging from the smallest to the greatest.

4. If she invites him to wake up and perform the late night prayer, it is praiseworthy for him to do so and vice-versa. The Prophet (s) prayed for such people: "May Allah grant mercy to a man who gets up at night and prays, and wakes up his wife, and if she refuses, he sprinkles water in her face; may Allah grant mercy to a woman who gets up at night and prays, and wakes up her husband, and if he refuses, she sprinkles water in his face."

5. He must respect her and pay attention to her needs so that she will respect him and pay attention to his.

6. He must control his passions and act in a moderate manner especially in the context of sexual intercourse. Remember that Allah has placed between you and her "friendship and mercy" (mawadda wa rahma), not the gratification of your every lust; and that the Prophet (s) advised young men to marry "because it casts down the gaze and walls up the genitals," not in order to stimulate sexual passions. The husband should habitually seek refuge in Allah before approaching his wife and say: "O Allah, ward off the satan from us and ward him off from what you have bestowed upon us in the way of children" (allahumma jannibna al-shaytana wa jannibhu ma razaqtana). Allah has called each spouse a garment for the other (2:187), and the purpose of garments is decency. The Prophet (s) further said that he who marries for the sake of decency and modesty (`afaf), Allah has enjoined upon Himself to help him.

7. He must never ever divulge the secrets of the household and those of the married couple.

8. He must strive with sincerity to acquire her trust, and seek her welfare in all the actions that pertain to her.

9. He must treat her generously at all times. The Prophet (s) said that the best gift or charity (sadaqa) is that spent on one's wife.

10. If she works outside the house, it is praiseworthy for the husband to hire house help to relieve her from too heavy a burden. The wife's duties do not require her to feed her child, nor even to nurse it, nor to clean nor cook. It is the husband's duty to provide a nursemaid, food for older children, and servants to clean and cook. However, if the wife does those things out of mercy and love, it is a gift to the husband on her part.

11. He must avoid excessive jealousy and remember that Allah is also jealous that he himself not commit. The Prophet (s) said: "Do not be excessively jealous of your wife lest evil be hurled at her on your account" (la tukthir al-gheerata `ala ahlika fa turama bi al-su'i min ajlik) and he said: "Allah is jealous and the believer is jealous; and Allah's jealousy is that the believer should not go to that which Allah has forbidden for him" (inna Allaha yagharu wa al- mu'minu yagharu wa gheerat Allahi in ya'tiya al-mu'minu ma harrama `alayhi).

12. He must protect her honor and not place her in situations where it is compromised or belittled. The Prophet (s) said that Allah will not ever let him enter Paradise who cares little who shares his wife's privacy. This includes the husband's brother, uncle, and nephew, let alone non-related friends, neighbors, and complete strangers.

13. He must exercise patience and forgiveness in the case of disagreement or dispute, and not rush to divorce. The declaration of divorce is a grave matter indeed, and the Prophet (s) said: "Of permitted matters the most loathesome before Allah is divorce" (abgh`ad al-halal `ind Allah al-talaq). In another hadith he said that divorce is so grave that because of it Allah's throne is made to shake. He said: "The best intercession [i.e. intervention of a third party] is that which brings back together the husband and the wife." Womanizing -- divorce for the purpose of marrying another woman out of sexual attraction incurs Allah's curse according to the hadith: "Allah's curse is on the womanizing, divorcing man" (la`ana Allahu kulla dhawwaaqin mutallaaq). Finally, even in the midst of and after divorce, Allah has prescribed kindness upon the man: "(After pronouncing divorce) she must be retained in honor or released in kindness" (2:228).

For the above-mentioned reason (i.e. to prevent the quickness of divorce), in his time, Ibn Taymiyya gave the ijtihad (juridical opinion) by saying that three talaqs in one sitting constituted only one. He did this to interdict the prevalent custom of suddenly giving three talaqs, which in his time was on everyone's lips, (i.e. had become so commonplace as to be a habit). However the other four schools of fiqh had the opposite opinion in this matter.

14. He must not dwell on what he dislikes in his wife, but on what he likes.

15. The husband is not to stay away from his wife or keep his wife in a state of suspense, whether at home or abroad, for a protracted period of time except with her consent. Allah said: "Turn not away (from your wife) altogether, so as to leave her hanging. If you come to a friendly understanding and practice self-restraint, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Merciful" (4:129). Protracted separation (6 months or more in the Shafi`i school) without prior or subsequent arrangement with the wife, whether the husband is away willingly or unwillingly (for example due to war, imprisonment, or illness) is sufficient grounds for her to obtain divorce from the judge.

16. The Prophet (s) said: "Do not beat your wife." He also said: "Do not strike your wife in the face." The expiation for striking one's slave in the face is to set him or her free on the spot, but what expiation is there for striking one's wife? The Prophet (s) condemned the man who beats his wife in the day and then approaches her at night. And to beat her to the extent of inflicting serious injury is enough grounds for her to obtain divorce from the judge.

17. Caring for one's wife's sexual fulfillment is an obligation of religion. The Prophet (s) warned against rushing to gratify one's pleasure and forgetting that of one's wife. He also disliked that the husband should quickly withdraw from his wife afterwards, as it is a strain upon the wife. If she asks for intercourse, he should not refuse.


These are only some of the basic duties of the husband in Islam. The state of marriage is part of one's adherence to the Sunna and an exalted state of life indeed. In the words of the Prophet (s), it permits one to meet Allah "pure and cleansed" (tahiran mutahharan). One's behavior towards one's wife is the measure of the perfection of one's belief as the Prophet (s) said: "The most complete of the believers in his belief is he who perfects his manners, and the best of you in manners are those who act best towards their wives." Marriage must be approached with utmost seriousness, entered with the purest intent, and cultivated religiously as it does not come cheaply and it carries immense reward. The Prophet (s) called it "his way" (al-nikahu sunnati) and "half of religion" and he also said: "Two rak`at (prayer-cycles) of the married person are better than seventy rak`at of the unmarried." He also warned that among the greatest of responsibilities that had been placed upon men is that pertaining to the treatment of their wives.

And may Allah's blessings and peace be upon Muhammad,
his Family and all his Companions,
and praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.

Where have you been?

I've been here. running around here and there. Hardly much time for myself - the time I really treasure. These few weeks have been crazy with weddings! I'm sorry I didn't have enough time to cover all the weddings I attended here. My social life is at a kinda low level right now and that effects my will to write about stuff aka update my blog.

So, Yesterday was a really tiring day. Tennis competition in the morning, which I represented PRSB in the Majlis Institut Latihan dan Penyelidikan Bangi (MILPB) tennis competition. It is a team event with only doubles. I was happy that most of the time my serve was kinda good so I got alot of quick points. I think I have weak mental stamina and competitive sports is just not me but I can play fairly okay, but I have long resigned to the fact that although I've been playing tennis since I was 13 I will never be a great player. =S

Anyways, our team finished 2nd and I lost the final match due to my partner suffering a cramp of his calf (muscle)... Well, we were losing anyways and it was flippin 1.30pm under the blazing Malaysian midday sun so I wasn't complaining when we had to resign! I haven't been playing much tennis recent anyways. The prize for 2nd place was bath towels and sports socks! hehehe.. well, because our team was small we got 2 sets of both! it's still sitting in the car... At the end of the day I only had one photo to show from the event and that was of the tan line I got from the few hours of playing under the sun...

 I know! Ewww... right? hehehe I always get sock tan lines when I play tennis

K. After the tournament which we pushed to be finished by noon ish - hence the heatstroke inducing playing conditions I had a quick lunch at the "twin arches" (Mc Donalds) and head off to Seremban to attend Emma and Azrie's wedding reception.

On the way there were 2 accidents! Gila lah! it's only a 50km drive to Seremban from Bangi but it took like an hour plus! Sabar Afif, sabar.... I hope no one noticed me singing in the car! hehehe =P

Ok... I hung out, showered and rested at a hotel room provided by the couple for those helping out for the wedding and we headed out to the venue which was the "Spanish Villa".

Emma was one of the few people that arrived in Leeds about the same time that I did. At that time there were not many new Malaysian students sent to Leeds as the country was just recovering from the Asian Financial crisis and overseas scholarships had only just been resumed. I was quite lucky i guess. Had I been one or two years older I would've been stuck in Malaysia for Uni... Alhamdulillah...

So there were a couple of us new students in Leeds at that time. Lini and Emma, Me and Eaddie, and there were the 3 medic girls, Yat, Alia and Wada... Only Lini and Emma stayed near the University, like myself so we helped each other alot when we were there.

During my final year Emma and Lini went back to Malaysia to do a sandwich year with Malaysian Audit firms. This was when Azrie came to Leeds. Azrie is Singaporean. I remember the fact that he used to join our Malaysian events as there weren't many Singaporean Malays that get scholarships to study abroad. He also lived at St. Mark's residences which was on the way to my house in Woodhouse so I always used to bump into him. Things between the two started in 2004, the year I graduated and the year Emma came back to Leeds to continue her degree after the sandwich year. I guess things took off from there. Alhamdulillah, they're now married. =)

The Spanish Villa
The Reception was at this condominium/villas called "Spanish villa". The place is pretty cool with the clubhouse architecture in very nice spanish style. The reception was by the pool area which honestly abit impractical due to the stage being blocked out of view due to the inability to put the tables where the pool was, but the atmosphere was beautiful, just like the couple.

Food was good and the company - friends from University excellent. I wished more of then would've been able to come though. It seems that weddings are the only time I see all these people. I am a social recluse...

Anyways, here are some cam whoring shots at the wedding... more on my FB insyaAllah... but later lah kot...

Random shots from the wedding

Look at what came in the mail today...

Well, this came in the mail yesterday. Its a book I ordered last Tuesday from http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/. Its really good as delivery is free to ANYWHERE in the world! way cheaper than Amazon.com...

This book is really good. It has step by step guides on how to do the geometric patterns on some of the most beautiful buildings in the islamic world. The patterns are grouped by levels of difficulty. All good stuff... All u need is a compas, pencil/pen and ruler. And...and...they have included a cd woth the book. The cd contains desktop wallpapers, animated construction sequences of patterns in the book, sample patterns, basic templates and an image gallery. Lotsa extra goodies... Hehehe..I'm a happy bunny! I'm gonna incorporate some of the designs in my future khat projects.

 Some of the designs in the book that I will try out soon insyaAllah

So, all in all I would like to say that the book repository rocks! Very quick, free delivery. This alone saves a lot of money. So, let's all buy more books! What r u waiting for?

Sent via BlackBerry from Maxis


I've not written much from my own thoughts and words for a while and I must admit, I've been rather uninspired lately. All of my original posts have a story behind it that has prompted me to think and talk about a certain topic. Most of the time I probably won't state where the inspiration came from - that's something best kept to myself. So, today I want to talk about something that is actually not specific to Islam or the muslim faith. I am believer that islam is not just for muslims and some muslims show un-Islamic traits while some non-muslims show good traits that muslims should also have. So what we have is an example of the universality of Islam. Also one of the reasons why I believe that Allah is not just for muslims - but that's another story which I probably will never write about in public....

So what is this Zalim I wanna talk about. Well, like many other Malay words relating to Islam, Zalim is a term that has been loaned from the Arabic language. In my travels in Morocco last year, I witnessed the power of the word when used in arabic speaking lands. I tell you guys, it's like Kryptonite. "Nauzubillah...Nooo... no brother, I am not zalim..."... keeps you from being ripped off when traveling in arab lands. Well, I can only vouch for it's effectiveness when used in the markets of Marrakech... hehehe
Ok, back to the word Zalim. Though when certain Arabic words have been adopted by the Malays, the meaning of it may have been slightly narrowed or altered. Thank god for the internet, the Kamus Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 4th edition defines Zalim as:

tidak berperikemanusiaan, tidak adil, bengis, kejam: raja adil raja disembah, raja ~ raja disanggah; menzalimi, menzalimkan ark berbuat sewenang-wenang (kpd), menganiaya, menindas:suaminya benar-benar ~nya; terzalim dizalimi: umat Islam yg teraniayadan ~; kezaliman perihal (keadaan) zalim, perbuatanyg tidak adil, kebengisan: kekejaman dan ~ itu sebenarnya tidak ada jika tidakmanusia sendiri mengadakannya; penzaliman perbuatan menzalimi

or if translated to English:

Inhumane, unjust, tyrannical, cruel. - coincidently this is what Zalim means in Urdu too...

Though in Islam, the as defined by Islamic port (http://www.islamicport.com/islamic_terms/z.html), Zalim means:

- Zalim is the wrong-doer, he who exceeds the limits of right, the unjust.

In Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) Zalim is a concept which is the opposite of the concept of 'Adil (roughly translated as Just)
According  to an article i found  this concept has 4 meanings: which stem from the meaning of the word which :

1) The word literally means "Darkness".
2) Darkness due to the lack of guidance (faith) of God
3) Not placing something to where it belongs
4) Misleading oneself and others that have seen the truth of the Holy Quran, Islam and the prophethood of Muhammad s.a.w.

So now that we've gone through the formalities of the official definitions of Zalim lets here my personal take on the matter. Please be remembered that these are my thoughts only and should not be taken as gospel right guys. Cool.

So, I once watched this movie - I can't remember which one but it was a Hollywood movie. one of the lines in the movie was something like

"There is only one sin that is stealing. When you steal someone's property you deny them their right to the profit from that property/item. When you kill a man you steal the right of a woman to her husband, a child to his father a child to his parents." and so on....( i can't remember the rest)

Though I do not believe that there is only one sin but i think he is describing Zalim very nicely. This is zalim as defined by it's third meaning. Not putting something to where it belongs. It has alot to do with the concept of 'Adil. My father always stresses the difference between 'Adil and Justice. He would state an example where a bag of gold is to be distributed amongst 2 people. One person is a poor person and the other is a wealthy person. Western Justice would give each a same amount of gold. Islamic justice would not. The needs of the persons involved will also be taken into account as the rich guy would probably not need as much gold as the poor guy. So Islamic concept of justice will ensure a balance society with checks on curbing greed and wealth disparity. It is apparent in the compulsory Zakat or giving to the poor. Ok, now we're getting into Islamic finance/economy which I will not get into here. ok, moving on.... 

Even in doing good one can be zalim also. Gosh, I don't have the book with me right now, but the book I've been reading told a story of one of the Prophet's companions. He used to fast for days and sometimes not break the fast and pray until misses his sleep. One of the other companions advised him. It goes something like this: "To you your body has rights, your family has rights over you, your parents have rights over you and God has rights over you." some thing like that lah.... So basically this "story" tells us to think of the consequences of your actions on others that have a right over you. Your parents, your own body, yourself, your family, children all have to be considered when you do something. So, muslims should not be selfish and should be considerate to others, even when you think you are doing the right thing. Moderation is the key. Thinking about the consequences of your actions is another thing. Thinking of how your actions may impact others is also very important. Even when you think u have a right over something or someone, ignoring the feelings and rights of the other party when making your decision/action might also be Zalim.

Wah... this is getting too long already. I don't intend on lecturing but Imagine how nice this world would be if everyone is not Zalim (a.k.a 'Adil) and takes into consideration the feelings and rights of others in their actions. Notice also how different the meaning of Zalim in non-islamic terms as compared to the Islamic concept of Zalim. May God keep us from being Zalim and from Zalim acts....Ameen. 

Understanding Islamic finance

 Islamic golden dinar - is actually a term borrowed from the Romans who called their gold currency Dinari.

Greetings all. I'm back in KL. This post was supposed to be on my family get away in Tambun, Ipoh. But I came across this article while looking for some material for one of my future blog posts. Islamic finance has always fascinated me as I do believe it's not just a was of 'financing' but also a complete ethical way of dealing with wealth. But not many of us understand the basics of Islamic finance and only view it as a means to "legalise" interest. Though i do agree that some of these products do look like they are trying to compete with conventional financing products but i think until the whole country's financial system is overhauled and is not interest based, then only then can Islamic financial instruments be totally true to the Islamic spirit. Anyways, I do not intend to lecture but here's a really good article on the very basics of Islamic finance written by a non-muslim who is based in Singapore. Quite an easy to understand article if i do say so myself. I hope you guys gain something from this article. Enjoy....  

Islamic finance may be viewed as a form of ethical investing, or ethical lending, except that no loans are possible unless they are interest-free.

Its practitioners and clients need not be Muslim, but they must accept the ethical restrictions underscored by Islamic values.

Islamic jurists arrive at these ethical restrictions by applying rules prescribed in the Quran and stories in the Sunnah and the Hadis, the records of the life and sayings of the Prophet.
Among the ethical restrictions is the prohibition on alcohol and gambling and the consumption of pork.
Hence, Islamic unit trusts would never knowingly invest in companies involved in gambling, alcoholic beverages, or porcine food products.
Occasional disagreements between Islamic jurists arise as there are separate sects or schools of thought in Islam.
Islamic financial jurisprudence reflects this variety of opinion, but most Islamic jurists would agree that Islamic finance prohibits, or makes haram, instruments which violate the following precepts:
  • Against riba, which is best translated today as the charging of any interest, meaning money earned on the lending out of money.

    Money in Islam is not regarded as an asset from which it is ethically permissible to earn a direct return. Money tends to be viewed purely as a medium of exchange.

    In order for a syariah-compliant financier to earn a return on his money, it is necessary to obtain an equity, or ownership, interest in a non-monetary asset.

    Hence, there is no real 'lending' in Islam since all 'lenders' obtain ownership interests in the assets that they finance, or earn purely fee-based remuneration.

    Conventional loans therefore tend to be re-cast as sale-and-purchase or lease-then-buy transactions.

  • Against gharar, or excessive, speculative uncertainty, as in casino-gambling games or in a sale of goods situation where the seller offers his goods for sale without a proper description to the buyer, hence making it impossible to ascertain precisely what the buyer is paying for.

    In such a situation the sale and purchase contract would be void in Islam.

  • Against zalim or zulm, meaning oppression or excessive unfairness between the parties to the contract.

    This concept may be viewed as an Islamic equivalent to the English common law concept of equity.
Takaful as a case study

One example of how the Islamic precepts mentioned above apply to the redesign of a conventional instrument is takaful, or Islamic insurance.
In modern-day conventional insurance, the insurance vendor sells policies and invests the proceeds for the profit of its shareholders, who are not necessarily policyholders.
There is therefore a clear disjunction between policyholders and shareholders.
Payouts to policyholders may vary depending on financial performance, but a minimum positive return is always contractually guaranteed.
In takaful, meaning 'joint guarantee', policyholders are joint investors with the insurance vendor, who acts as a mudarib - an entrepreneurial agent for the policyholders.
The policyholders share in the investment pool's profits as well as its losses.
A positive return on policies is not legally guaranteed, as any fixed profit guarantee would be akin to receiving interest and offend the prohibition against riba.
Further, basic term life policies, which provide a payout only upon death, and would otherwise expire without any return to the policyholder, would be unlikely in a takaful scheme.
This is because the Islamic prohibition on zalim would make it unconscionable to allow the mudarib to keep all the returns from the investment, and the prohibition on gharar would require all investment gains and losses to eventually be apportioned in order to avoid excessive uncertainty with respect to a return on the policyholder's investment.
Similarly, endowment policies which promise a contractually-guaranteed payout, and hence offends the riba prohibition, are also very unlikely in a takaful scheme.
To avoid gharar, a takaful mudarib would be unlikely to invest his policyholders' funds in futures, which are assets that may have a future but certainly not a current existence.

Risk and development

In Singapore, Islamic finance products tend to be marketed, risk-managed and priced as analogous competitors to conventional instruments.
For instance, takaful is marketed as 'Islamic insurance', sukuk is 'Islamic bonds', and AITAB or Al-Ijarah Thumma al Bai is 'Islamic hire purchase'.
Islamic financiers are viewed through the lenses of the conventional banking system and Islamic financial institutions are effectively expected to adhere to the same standards of financial prudence as their conventional counterparts.
Islamic financiers do not enjoy lower risk from the avoidance of speculative instruments and the absence of positive return guarantees.
This is because such moves are offset by prohibitions on hedging, greater market concentration, the need to commercially (even if not legally) guarantee a return, and the risk, unique to Islamic finance, of a collapse of customer confidence in the Syariah-compliant nature of the institution's products.
Risk equivalence means that Islamic financiers can usually price their products to compete with their conventional counterparts, if they can control costs.
To assist in cost control and encourage development, regulators usually prescribe changes to conventional tax systems to 'level the field' for Islamic financiers.
The Islamic Financial Services Board is working towards harmonising international standards for the design of Islamic finance products.

Learning more

A basic familiarity with the banking and financial services industry is a must for an investment or career in Islamic finance.
This can be followed up by a specialist education in the field. Occasional training events are organised by the private sector.
Across the Causeway, Malaysia boasts two prestigious university-level institutions, the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance and the International Islamic University Malaysia, as well as an industry-supported training body, the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia.
Farther afield, universities from Pakistan to the UK have begun to offer courses in this area.
The prospects are bright, the workers are few, and it is an ethically responsible industry.
So what are you waiting for?

Paul Ng is a former legal practitioner with experience in Islamic finance. He teaches law and economics at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
This article was first published in The Business Times on 14 July 2008.

Israel delays Gaza embargo decision

Hmmmm.... some interesting news...More soap opera but hopefully some good will come out of this "episode"....

Blair and Netanyahu are said to have spent several weeks discussing ways to ease the blockade [AFP]

Israel's security cabinet has adjourned making a decision on whether to ease the three year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Ministers had been expected to approve expanding a list of about 80 goods which are currently allowed into Gaza via overland crossings in a meeting on Wednesday.

However, the security cabinet adjourned the meeting until Thursday without coming to any decision, a senior government official said.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, in Jerusalem, said: "We understand that the security cabinet is discussing various mechanisms in which it could increase the aid into Gaza, at least the quality and quantity of the foods and construction material being delivered.

"Not everyone is on board with that though. One of the main security figures in Israel Yuval Diskin [the head of the Israeli security agency], yesterday said that he opposes the lifting of the blockade.

"But in essence, what the Israeli cabinet is considering is a shift in policy."

The proposal to ease the blockade was first announced earlier this week by Tony Blair, the envoy from the so-called international peace Quartet, comprised of the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia.

It would allow the UN to ship much-needed construction materials into Gaza for its own use.

Help Palestinians

"It will allow us to keep weapons and weapon materials out of Gaza, but on the other hand to help the Palestinian population there," Blair told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"The policy in Gaza should be to isolate the extremists but to help the people."

Any new policy will reportedly only apply to the land border crossings between Israel and Gaza. The Israeli navy will maintain its blockade of Gaza.

The UN has called for Israel to go further and completely end the blockade.

"The flotilla crisis is the latest symptom of a failed policy," Robert Serry, the UN Middle East envoy, said in a briefing at the Security Council on Tuesday. "The closure and blockade of Gaza needs to come to an end."

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday that the blockade is illegal, and called on the Israeli government to lift it.

Separately, the Israeli government has agreed to allow the UN to deliver thousands of tonnes of aid seized from a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month.

Flotilla cargo

The UN will supervise delivery of the cargo, which includes construction supplies

Until Tuesday, Hamas had refused to accept the aid, citing Israel's limitations on how much of it would be allowed into Gaza.

But the UN said it will deliver the entire cargo, which includes food, medicine and clothing.

"[We have] obtained the consent of the cargo owners of the three Turkish-registered vessels to take possession of, and responsibility for, the entire cargo, and to ensure its timely distribution in Gaza for humanitarian purposes," Serry said.

Israel took control of the cargo after its deadly May 31 navy raid on the flotilla.

Nine Turkish activists were killed in the attack.

Meanwhile, the committee established by the Israeli government to investigate the flotilla attack is expected to hold its first meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting will probably focus on formalities: deciding where the committee will work, and setting a budget and a schedule for testimonies and meetings.

Jacob Turkel, the committee chair, who is a retired supreme court judge, did not announce a time or location for the meeting.

Also on Wednesday, George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy, returned to the region for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

He is also preparing for a meeting later this month between Barack Obama, the US president, and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain

A very good piece of his accounts being taken hostage on the Marvi Marmara. Enjoy...

Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain

By Jamal Elshayyal

Al Jazeera producer Jamal Elshayyal recalls the Israeli assault on the Gaza aid convoy.

Firstly I must apologise for taking so long to update my blog. The events of the past few days have been hectic to say the least, and I am still trying to come to grips with many of the things that have happened.

It was this time last week that I was on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara, and first spotted Israeli warships at a distance, as they approached the humanitarian flotilla. Little did I know how deadly and bloody the events that soon unfolded would be.

What I will write in this entry is fact, every letter of it, none of it is opinion, none of it is analysis, I will leave that to you, the reader.

After spotting the warships at a distance, (at roughly 11pm) the organisers called for passengers to wear their life vests and remain indoors as they monitored the situation. The naval warships together with helicopters remained at a distance for several hours.

At 2am local time the organisers informed me that they had re-routed the ship, as far away from Israel as possible, as deep into international waters as they could. They did not want a confrontation with the Israeli military, at least not by night.

Just after 4am local time, the Israeli military attacked the ship, in international waters. It was an unprovoked attack. Tear gas was used, sound grenades were launched, and rubber coated steel bullets were fired from almost every direction.

Dozens of speed boats carrying about 15-20 masked Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth surrounded the Mavi Marmara which was carrying 600 or so unarmed civilians. Two helicopters at a time hovered above the vessel. Commandos on board the choppers joined the firing, using live ammunition, before any of the soldiers had descended onto the ship.

Two unarmed civilians were killed just metres away from me. Dozens of unarmed civilians were injured right before my eyes.

One Israeli soldier, armed with a large automatic gun and a side pistol, was overpowered by several passengers. They disarmed him. They did not use his weapons or fire them; instead they threw his weapons over board and into the sea.

After what seemed at the time as roughly 30 minutes, passengers on board the ship raised a white flag. The Israeli army continued to fire live ammunition. The ships organisers made a loud speaker announcement saying they have surrendered the ship. The Israeli army continued to fire live ammunition.

I was the last person to leave the top deck.

Below, inside the sleeping quarters, all the passengers had gathered. There was shock, anger, fear, hurt, chaos.

Doctors ran in all directions trying to treat the wounded, blood was on the floor, tears ran down people's faces, cries of pain and mourning could be heard everywhere. Death was in the air.

Three critically injured civilians were being treated on the ground in the reception area of the ship. Their clothes soaked in blood. Passengers stood by watching in shock, some read out verses of the Qur'an to calm them, doctors worked desperately to save them.

Several announcements were made on the load speakers in Hebrew, Arabic and English - "This is a message to the Israeli army, we have surrendered. We are unarmed. We have critically injured people. Please come and take them. We will not attack."

There was no response.

One of the passengers, a member of the Israeli Parliament, wrote a sign in Hebrew, reading the exact same thing; she held it together with a white flag and approached the windows where the Israeli soldiers were standing outside. They pointed their laser guided guns to her head, ordering her to go away.

A British citizen tried the same sign - this time holding a British Flag and taking the sign to a different set of windows and different set of soldiers. They responded in the same manner.

Three hours later, all three of the injured were pronounced dead. The Israeli soldiers who refused to allow them treatment succeeded where their colleagues had earlier failed when they targeted these three men with bullets.

At around 8am the Israeli army entered the sleeping quarters. They handcuffed the passengers. I was thrown onto the ground, my hands tied behind my back, I couldn't move an inch.

I was taken to the top deck where the other passengers were, forced to sit on my knees under the burning sun.

One passenger had his hands tied so tight his wrists were all sorts of colours. When he requested that the cuffs be loosened, an Israeli soldier tightened them even more. He let out a scream that sent chills down my body.

I requested to go to the bathroom, I was prevented. Instead the Israeli soldier told me to urinate where I was and in my own clothes. Three or four hours later I was allowed to go.

I was then marched, together with the other passengers, back to the sleeping quarters. The place was ransacked, its image like that of the aftermath of an earthquake.

I remained on the ship, seated, without any food or drink, barring three sips of water, for more than 24 hours. Throughout this time, Israeli soldiers had their guns pointed at us. Their hands on the trigger. For more than 24 hours.

I was then taken off the ship at Ashdod where I was asked to sign a deportation orde. It claimed that I had entered Israel illegally and agreed to be deported. I told the officer that I, in fact, had not entered Israel but that the Israeli army had kidnapped me from international waters and brought me to Israel against my will; therefore I could not sign this document.

My passport was taken from me. I was told that I would go to jail.

Only then were my hands freed, I spent more than 24 hours with my hands cuffed behind my back, with nothing to eat, and barely anything to drink.

Upon arrival at the prison I was put in a cell with three other passengers. The cell was roughly 12ft by 9ft. I spent more than 24 hours in jail. I was not allowed to make a single phone call.

The British consulate did not come and see me. I did not see a lawyer.

There was no hot water for a shower. The only meal was frozen bread and some potatoes. The only reason I believe I was released was because the Turkish prisoners refused to leave until and unless the other nationalities (those whose consulates had not come and released them) were set free.

I was taken to Ben Gurion airport. When I asked for my passport, the Israeli official presented me with a piece of paper and said "congratulations this is your new passport". I replied "you must be joking, you have my passport". The Israeli official's response: "sue me".

There I was asked again to sign a deportation order. Again I refused.

I was put on a plane headed to Istanbul.

Masked Israeli soldiers and commandos took me from international waters. Uniformed Israeli officials locked me behind bars.

The British government did not lift a finger to help me, till this day I have not seen or heard from a British official. The Israeli government stole my passport. The Israeli government stole my lap top, two cameras, 3 phones, $1500 and all my possessions.

My government, the British government has not even acknowledged my existence.

I was kidnapped by Israel. I was forsaken by my country.

Abu Bakr

I'm really bad with reading book. I'm a slow reader and I think that's why. I bought this book at the previous KL International Book Fair but never really got the chance to start reading any of the books till recently. I am reading the book called "Men around the Messenger". It's about the companions of Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam. Salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam, means "peace and blessing of Allah be upon him" to be recited each time the Prophet is mentioned, is written as `(s)'. If written or absent, salawat (praises) upon the Prophet is a sign of Muslims' love for the Prophet.

Anyways, having read the pieces on the first 4 "rightly guided caliphs" I want to share the chapters on the two closest and most beloved of all companions, Abu Bakr and Umar Al-Khattab. Obviously not in one post but in two separate posts. Please note that the setting for these stories is the 6th and 7th century AD so do not be disturbed by the seemingly brutal setting but the reality is, those times were very brutal times especially in times of war. Even war in these days are very brutal - take the recent Israeli flotilla raid and Israel's "Operation cast iron" on Gaza... war is brutal. 

Ok, I'm just gonna make it long but here's the chapter I've promised. May he be an example to us, whether you are muslim or not. Enjoy!  
Abu Bakr was the first from among men to believe, "one of the two" in the Cave, the first Caliph of the Muslims, and the man whom Muhammad, salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam,(s) loved more than any other man.

The Prophet (s) said, "Everyone hesitated before accepting Islam except Abu Bakr."

The morning after the mi`raj (the Ascension) when the Prophet (s) narrated his experience, some of them came to Abu Bakr and said, "Have you listened to your friend? He is claiming that he visited Jerusalem and the Sublime Throne in the heavens last night and talked with Allah Almighty. Would you believe it?"

Immediately Abu Bakr replied, "If he said so, then it is absolute truth."

They insisted, "Do you really believe that he visited all these places and came back within a small fraction of the night?"

"Yes, of course," he said, "I believe even farther than that, I believe in hell and paradise."

This incident earned him the title "al-Siddiq", the most truthful.

He was a man easily overcome with weeping and he prayed to his Lord with a voice so soft that his beloved Prophet (s) asked him to raise his voice a little. He was frail and of slightly build and yet his actions outweighed the actions of any man except the Prophet (s).

`A'ishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and the wife of the Prophet (s) said, "While Allah's Messenger was resting his head on my laps on a moonlit night, I asked, `O Messenger of Allah, has anyone done as many good deeds as there are stars in the sky?' He replied, `Yes, `Umar [ibn al-Khattab] has.' I asked how Abu Bakr's good deeds compared with his and he replied, `All `Umar's good deeds are like one of Abu Bakr's good deeds."'

On another occasion, the Prophet (s) was reported to have said, "Abu Bakr was not deemed your superior on account of much praying and sadaqah (charity), but on account of something that was fixed in his heart."

The great saint and master Jalaluddin Rumi says, commenting upon this Hadith: "The Prophet (s) says that Abu Bakr's superiority over others was not by reason of much praying and much fasting, but because Allah's special favour was with him, namely, the love of Allah. On the Day of Judgement when men's prayers are brought, they will be put in the Balance, and likewise their fasting and charity, but when love is brought, it will not be contained in the Balance. So the root of the matter is love."

So this is the root of the matter. This is what we desire. This is the purpose of Islam and we must look to Abu Bakr for this. This love is dynamic and is expressed in the actions of the slave who possesses it.

When Abu Bakr was mentioned in `Umar's presence, he wept and said, "I wish all my good deeds could compare with what he did on a certain day and a certain night. The night was the one on which he went with Allah's Messenger to the cave, when they reached it, he said, `I swear by Allah that you will not enter it before I have first done so, for if there is anything in it, I shall be the one attacked by it and not you.' Then he entered the cave and swept it clean; then he tore up his lower garment and closed the holes he found on the cave walls with it. But as two holes were still left, he thrust his feet into them and told the Messenger of Allah to enter. When the Prophet had done so, he laid his head on Abu Bakr's lap and dozed off. Abu Bakr's foot in one of the holes was stung, but he did not move for fear Allah's Messenger might awake. However, his tears, falling on the Prophet's face, woke up the Prophet and he asked what was the matter. Abu Bakr replied, 'O you for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom, I have been stung.' The Messenger of Allah then spat on the spot and the pain left him, but the effect of the poison later returned and was said to be the cause of his death.

"The day was," `Umar continued, "soon after the death of the Messenger of Allah, when the Arabs turned back from Islam and refused to pay the zakat. He said, `If they were to refuse me the nose-rope of a camel, I would fight them over it.' I said, ' Successor of the Messenger of Allah, be affable and gentle to the people.' but he replied, `Have you who were a powerful man before Islam become weak in Islam? The revelation has ceased and the religion has been made perfect. Is it to diminish while I am alive?"'

Abu Bakr was utterly lost to himself in the love of the Messenger of Allah (s). The Prophet (s) stands as the door through which man has access to direct experience of Allah. He is the man's link to Divine Reality. We see, in the beginning, Abu Bakr was completely absorbed in the love of Muhammad (s). His every movement was permeated with this love. In the cave his actions were for the love of Allah's Messenger (s). He became afraid for him, and the Messenger of Allah (s) said, "What do you say to a company of two, the third of which Allah?" So Abu Bakr was absorbed in the love of Muhammad (s), while Muhammad (s) was absorbed in the presence of his Lord. Then the Prophet (s) took his companion by the hand and led him to the awareness of the eternal presence of the Living Lord.

When the Messenger of Allah (s) died, `Umar said, "By Allah, the Messenger of Allah is not dead." Then Abu Bakr came and uncovered the face of the Messenger of Allah, kissed him and said, "Let my mother and father be sacrificed for you. You are good in life and good in death. By Allah in whose hands my life is, Allah will never make you taste death twice." Then Abu Bakr went out and said, "If anyone has been worshipping Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead. But those who worship Allah, know that He is the Living and will never die." Then he recited:

Muhammad is no more than a Messenger, all the (other) apostles before him passed away: if he dies or is slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah will swiftly reward those who are grateful to Him.

Al `Imran, 3:144

The address of Abu Bakr touched the hearts of the people. `Umar cooled down. Ibn `Abbas says, "It seemed that the verse of the holy Qur'an was just revealed, although we had read it several times in the past."

What is the source of this strength that transformed this quiet man into one stronger than the most powerful Muslim? It is not until a man is made completely and utterly helpless before Allah that he may act in the Way of Allah. This helplessness made him to see that Allah was his only Helper and Rescuer; and from this helplessness came all his strength.

Then he was exalted and stood in the place of the Prophet (s) and led the entire Muslim community for two years until his death. He said to the people at the beginning of his caliphate, "By Allah, I never coveted the command, nor desired it even for a day or night, nor ever asked Allah for it openly or in secret, nor do I take any pleasure in having it." This is related by al-Zuhri.

There is a story related about Abu Bakr when he was the Caliph. He used to lead the afternoon prayer regularly and one day he noticed that an old blind woman who used to join the gathering had not been present for sometime. After the prayer he inquired after her and discovered that she was ill and now too old to join the prayer. Abu Bakr went to the woman's home and asked her if he could assist her in any way. He was told that it was now too difficult for her to leave her house to attend to her daily needs. So Abu Bakr agreed to come and empty her chamber pot every day at that time, and return with the clean container. This happened for a long time and was related by `Umar when he discovered where Abu Bakr disappeared to after the afternoon prayer every day. When `Umar asked the old woman about her helper, he found that she did not know who he was, and claimed he had come regularly for a long time.

Abu Bakr was the most distinguished figure among the Companions. He was mild and gentle but stern when necessary. He took the office of the caliphate at the most crucial and critical moment of Islamic history: Islam was in its infant stage, threatened by rebellions and rise of false prophets and apostasy movements. He crushed all the evil powers because of his unshakable faith. No amount of difficulties could make him deviate from the Sunnah of his Master. A great statesman, he brought unity among the Muslims and crushed all the rebellions. He occupies a unique place in the history of Islam and would remain forever in the minds of Muslims until the Last Day.

He spent all of his belongings for the sake of Allah and His Prophet (s). On his deathbed he called his daughter `A'ishah and said, "The camel that draws water for me and that Nubian slave are public property. On my death return these to `Umar, my successor. The garment that I am putting on now was purchased out of the allowance fixed for me; let this be my shroud."

After a fortnight's illness, al-Siddiq passed away at the age of 61 on Tuesday, the 22"d of Jamad al-Akhir, 13 AH. (23rd August, 634 AD.)

He lived and worked for the sake of Islam to his last breath but sought no reward. May Allah be pleased with him.

Israel's Gaza PR offensive

While a flotilla of boats battles to get through the siege on the Gaza Strip, Gazans can eat out in fancy restaurants and have no need of aid.
That is what Israel has been telling journalists, at least. Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros picks apart the media campaign on the Freedom Flotilla.

Turkey has become the true champion of Palestine

Hehehe... more Turkey related news here. I'm just very fascinated by the recent balance of power in the middle east and how it is all panning out...

Turkey has become the true champion of Palestine

Emile Hokayem, political editor

When analysts and historians look back at the unravelling of the Israeli-Turkish relationship, it won't be difficult to map its downwards trajectory. Yesterday's killing of at least ten activists aboard the flotilla heading to the Gaza strip, which included many Turkish citizens, will have a special place in that story, standing as the moment when Israel sacrificed its strategic ties with the rising power of the Middle East.

Whether the killings were a result of overreaction, incompetence or worse on the part of the Israeli commandos who stormed the boats, it is certain that the episode will have a durable impact on how the Israeli and Turkish establishments and societies view one another. The strategic relationship between the two countries survived diplomatic tensions of recent years largely because the defence and national security communities on both sides were able to come together, albeit with more difficulty in recent years, around tangible security benefits.

The Turkish military is a prime client of Israeli technology and hardware. Israel's defence industry has upgraded Turkish planes and tanks, sold missiles and communications technology. Israel had plans to provide the Turkish military with satellite access and air defence systems. Israel, in other words, has been key to Turkey's defence modernisation. In return, Israel received space where its air force, navy and army could train, and a relationship with Nato's second largest military. Defence co-operation extended to training and joint exercises between Israel and Turkey, many of which were held secretly.

For a while, it seemed that these two non-Arab powers, both operating in a region dominated by Arabs, were linked by a shared understanding of their neighbourhood. Turkey's then two problematic Arab neighbours Syria and Iraq, and Iran, were also Israel's top concerns. Turkey's westward, democratic orientation fitted well with Israel's purported values. Israeli analysts even speculated that rapprochement with Turkey would put Syria, Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq within reach of the Israeli air force if there were a need for a military strike. An alliance with Turkey would balance Israel's own strategic vulnerability.

This fantasy has now vanished. The changing strategic landscape in the Middle East, Turkey's new regional outlook and, importantly, Israel's mind-boggling mishandling of Turkey have changed the game. While Turkey will remain Iran's historical and political rival, it does not share Israel's existential, and probably overinflated, fear of Iran. Turkey's engagement with Iran has also profoundly irritated Israel. The Jewish state's obsession with Iran means that it has become strategically paralysed, incapable of entering a game of triangulation that Turkey has played so well. Likewise, Turkey has skilfully managed the aftermath of the Iraq war, emerging as one of the few players to have benefited from an invasion it originally opposed. After neutralising the Kurdish question and building ties with most Iraqi factions, it is now focused on developing the economic relationship and ensuring a balanced government in Baghdad. In comparison, Israel was fixated on the threat Saddam Hussein presented. But when he was removed it projected its fears and political attention onto Iran.

Ankara even transformed what was once a contentious relationship with Damascus into one of mutual benefit. Of course, Turkey first had to compel Syria with the threat of force to undergo a radical transformation, dropping its support for the Kurdish separatist movement and its territorial claim over the province of Hatay. Once this was done, however, Turkish policy moved quickly to turn Syria into a junior partner. For its part, Israel is incapable of thinking beyond the comfort of military dominance vis-à-vis a weaker Syria.

That divergence in strategic perspectives is not the only problem. After the Israeli raid on the flotilla, the IDF is clearly responsible for the killing of Turkish citizens and it has certainly lost the Turkish military as its prime advocate in Ankara. Turkish commanders may not want to lose their Israeli connection, but they have other, more important fights with the government. Picking up Israel's cause will be very unpopular.

The Turks are now busy burying their dead who have already joined the long list of Palestinian martyrs in Arab and Turkish minds. That symbolic link with Palestine will not be broken soon, constituting valuable political mileage for Turkish politicians wanting to break ties with Israel.

Israel's disregard of the democratic nature of Turkish politics has also played a role. Israelis have blamed the attachment of the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Palestinian cause on everything from political opportunism to pan-Islamist tendencies. This shows how little attuned to Muslim popular opinion Israel has become. His stance simply reflects a growing consensus in his country and in the region that Israel, even when met with the most accommodating peace proposals, is only interested in military dominance.

The loss of the Turkish partnership is not Israel's only headache. Yesterday's deadly incident has turned Turkey into the foremost champion of the Palestinian cause. Turkey's leaders have more credibility on the Arab street than the Palestinians' own feeble leaders. Turkey is also far less toxic on the international scene than Iran. Any cover Arab leaders wanted to provide for the resumption of talks between the Israelis and Palestinians will not be able to survive a Turkish campaign to drag Israel to the UN Security Council.

In the coming days Turkey will no doubt lead the diplomatic charge to condemn Israel at the United Nations, of which it is a non-permanent member, and with its European partners, who cannot dismiss a large, powerful state at their door. Turkey is in a position to rally the kind of support among middle powers and the non-aligned movement that no Arab state can muster.

Ankara's handling of the crisis will be critical if conflict is to be avoided in the region. Controlling passions and preventing an escalation are things only the Turkish government can achieve.

No one should test Turkey’s patience

Amid the recent Gaza aid raid, one man truly shone and he was my hero for yesterday and I presume for many years ahead. Here's his speech to Turkey's Parliament on Turkey's stand on the matter...

No one should test Turkey’s patience, PM Erdoğan warns

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who cut his trip to Chile short after Israel's attack on a Turkish-led humanitarian aid flotilla on Monday, said in an address to his party's parliamentary group on Tuesday that Israel should not test Turkey's diplomatic patience and that Turkey would do everything in its diplomatic power to give the deserved response.

He said Turkey would act together with the international community to give the deserved response to Israel using all possibilities offered by international law and diplomacy.
“This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of condemnation,” he said, demanding that Israel immediately halt its “inhumane” blockade of Gaza. The flotilla was the ninth attempt by sea to breach the three-year blockade Israel and Egypt imposed after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. Israel allowed five seaborne aid shipments to get through but snapped the blockade shut after its 2009 war in Gaza.
PM Erdoğan sharply criticized Israel's ‘bloody massacre’ that killed nine people on a Gaza-bound aid ship and warned that nobody should test Turkey's patience. The harsh words came after Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel, scrapped three joint military exercises and called the UN Security Council to an emergency meeting
“They have once again showed to the world that they know how good they are at killing people,” Erdoğan said. “Israel can in no way legitimize this murder; it cannot wash its hands of this blood.” He said the incident was no longer a problem between two countries but a problem of the entire world.
Erdoğan sharply criticized Israel for the “bloody massacre” that killed at least nine people on a Gaza-bound aid vessel and warned Tuesday that no one should test Turkey’s diplomatic patience. He said it was unacceptable to equate unarmed civilians with terrorists and warned Israel that Turkey was not a country they would like to be enemies with. “Turkey will not let this go,” he said, adding, “Turkey’s hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable.”
“Unfortunately, what happened yesterday was a dark stain on the history of humanity. Staging an armed attack on aid ships, killing innocent people and treating civilians as if they were terrorists are nothing but a degradation of humanity and vile recklessness. Even warfare has its rules. Even in warfare, no one can attack children, women, the elderly, civilians, religious officials and aid workers. Even despots, bandits and pirates have a certain sense of sensitivity. They abide by some moral principles,” he said.
“But Israel has almost challenged the whole world by raiding ships carrying volunteers from 32 different nations. This insolent, irresponsible, reckless and unfair attack by the Israeli government, which trampled on every kind of human value, must be punished by all means,” he said.

Prime Minister Erdoğan sharply criticized Israel for the “bloody massacre” that killed at least nine people aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship and warned on Tuesday that nobody should test Turkey’s diplomatic patience.

Attack staged against UN values

Erdoğan said: “The ships declared their cargo and their intention to the whole world before setting sail for Gaza. Sixty journalists from Turkey and other countries were also on board the ships to witness the campaign. It is evident that this attack on 600 people and six ships carrying aid to poor Palestinian people who were left destitute was one staged against the basic philosophy of the United Nations. The ships were laden with aid supplies and they were strictly controlled under international shipping rules. They were carrying volunteers. But they were subjected to such an armed attack,” he said.
“Following the terrorist attack on the naval base and the illegal attack on aid ships by Israeli forces, I cut short my visit to Chile and returned to Turkey. Our government has been following the developments closely from the very beginning. Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç held an extraordinary meeting with relevant ministers and other officials. Our foreign minister and national defense minister held telephone conversations with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to convey Turkey’s reaction and uneasiness,” he said.
Erdoğan said: “Turkey has been using all means of international law and diplomacy and will continue to do so in the days ahead. To this end, we recalled our ambassador in Tel Aviv. Three joint military exercises scheduled with Israel were cancelled. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu went to New York and called the UN Security Council to hold an extraordinary meeting. As a result, the UN Security Council issued a statement condemning Israel and called for the immediate release of civilians and injured passengers. Matches to be played between Turkish and Israeli soccer teams were cancelled. The NATO Council will convene later today and the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] will meet on Monday.”
“We rejected Israel’s offer to send us the injured passengers. We have the will and power to bring our own injured people back. Two military ambulances left to bring back the injured passengers. Civilian planes of the Ministry of Health are about to arrive there,” he said.
Erdoğan also said that “Israel must inform the world public opinion correctly. It should not refrain from international cooperation. Israel should acknowledge the importance of the situation and correct its mistake.”
The prime minister said Turkey would continue to support the Palestinian people. “We will not turn our back on Palestine, the Palestinians and Gaza,” he said. “No one should test Turkey’s patience,” he added. “Turkey’s hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable.” Erdoğan said Israel had turned into a nation that creates instability in its region and called on the international community to intervene. “There is an administrative mentality here that has adopted violence as its policy and that deems displaying acts of cruelty as legitimate. The illegal acts of the Israeli administration can no longer be covered up or ignored. It is time for the international community to say ‘enough already’.”

Some ambassadors also listened to PM Erdoğan’s speech at the parliamentary group meeting yesterday.
Erdoğan also said Turkey has always stood against anti-Semitism and offered protection to the Jewish people when they were victims of violence and persecution. He said it was now the Israelis’ turn to do the same. He said the Israeli government, in lying, using deception, engaging in bloodshed and massacring the innocent, was damaging the people of Israel most. He also thanked the Turkish-Jewish community for its stance regarding Israel’s attacks. Erdoğan urged Israelis to question the actions of their government. “It is damaging your country’s image by conducting banditry and piracy,” he said. “It is damaging the interests of Israel and your peace and safety. It is the Israeli people who must stop the Israeli government in the first place,” he added.
Erdoğan said Israel cannot face the international community without expressing “regret.” “Israel cannot ensure its security by drawing the hatred of the entire world,” the prime minister declared.
Erdoğan said an aggressive country conducting state terrorism with no remorse could no longer face the international community. He said Israel attacking a civilian ship in international waters was a crime, but killing innocent people was state terrorism. “We are sick of your lies. Be honest,” he said, calling on Israel and demanding the return of the six seized ships.

Parliament speaker on Israel

Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin also made a statement on Israel’s attack on Tuesday. He said Turkey wanted peace in its region and in the world. Speaking to the press during his reception of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) President Joao Soares in Ankara, Şahin said Turkey did not want to be in conflict with any other country. “Nonetheless, it is a reality that we are going through a serious problem with Israel,” Şahin admitted. “What took place was a human tragedy. An attack on people carrying aid supplies can in no way be accepted. International organizations and countries of the world must react so that similar acts are not repeated in the future,” Şahin said.
In response to a question on future Turkish-Israeli relations, Şahin said that “we want peace in our region and the world.”
Military brass, PM hold second summit Erdoğan called an emergency summit with Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and those ministers who are members of the National Security Council (MGK) on Tuesday at noon to discuss Israel. The prime minister, Başbuğ and the MGK ministers were scheduled to meet again at 8 p.m. Tuesday to further discuss action against Israel. No details of the first meeting were officially announced, but Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, speaking to journalists in the afternoon, said, “Do not expect us to go to war.”
01 June 2010, Tuesday