Universities in Free Syria

Despite the conditions of war including external threats of invasion by regime forces, arbitrary air strikes towards a defenceless territory and the confusion of inner struggles, there are several higher education institutions in the liberated territories north west of Syria. These are buttressed by plentiful schools of smaller size educating Syrian children towards their secondary degree so that they can one day enrol in higher education. To provide an overview: the territories controlled by the Syrian opposition wholly cover the Idlib Governorate in addition to a great part of the north and western districts of Aleppo (Jabal Saman, Azaz, Afrin and Jarablus) and some square miles of territory from western Latakia and northern Hama; in sum an area of circa 10 000 sq km. In parallel to the versatile military-factional landscape, there are two major rivalling governments in these territories; the Syrian Interim Government and the Syrian Salvation Government. The first was formed on 18th March 2013 on behalf of the Syrian National Coalition which aims for a pluralistic, secular democratic state in Syria. It is headquartered in Turkey and asserts most of its influence in the territories of northern Aleppo which were taken in coordination with Turkey during the last two years. The latter was established on 2nd November 2017 emerging from the Syrian General Conference which opts for an Islamic state in Syria whose legislature is based upon Shariah law.

There are 15 higher education institutions in the liberated territories of Syria; ten of them private and five public. Yet they have further differences in affiliation and background, ranging from the Ebla Private University authorised by the Syrian Arab Republic to universities divided between the Interim and Salvation Governments. In addition to universities, there are also separate institutions like the Afaq Academy for Political Sciences in Azaz.

From April 2017 on, the newly established independent Higher Education Council in Idlib had started to bring the private universities under its umbrella of authorisation. Thenceforward, seven private universities have joined the Higher Education Council (now part of the Salvation Government) in addition to the public Idlib and An-Nahda universities. Notwithstanding, they still resume their individual connections and character. For instance, Oxford Private University is a branch of the mother institution in Aden, although in Syria it is subordinated to the Higher Education Council.

In the following I will provide some information on these universities including the faculties they comprise, tuition fees, foundation and affiliation. Thereby I will also touch on general organisational developments, characteristics and conditions of education in Syria.

TABLE OF CONTENT
I. Table of Universities
II. Presentation of the universities

a- Public universities
b- Private universities

III. Challenges and Criticism
IV. Related posts
V. Sources

I. Table of Universities

Below is a table of the universities in free Syria, along their location and foundation date.

Free Aleppo University, Bashqatin (Aleppo) 1957 / 2015  public, IG
Idlib University, Idlib City 2009 / 2015 public, SG
International Sham University, Azaz (Aleppo) 2016 public
Harran University (Branch) Al-Bab (Aleppo) 2018 public, TR
An-Nahda University Dana (Idlib) 2018 public, SG
Emergency Medicine Faculty Dana (Idlib) 2015  private, SG
Oxford Private University Sarmada (Idlib), Atarib (Aleppo)  2015 private, SG
Mari Private University Saraqib (Idlib) 2015 private, SG
Rome Private University Sarmada (Idlib) 2016 private, SG
Az-Zahra Charitable University Antep-Jarablus (Aleppo) 2014  private, SG
Al-Hayat University ? ? private, SG
International Rescue University Maarrat An-Numan (Idlib)  2017 private, SG
Ebla Private University Saraqib (Idlib)  2008 private,SAR
Başakşehir Academy Al-Bab (Aleppo)  2017 private

SG= Salvation Government; IG= Interim Government; SAR= Syrian Arab Republic; TR= Turkey

UnisMap

 

II. Presentation of the universities

a- Public universities

They are characterised by low tuition fees and non-profit character, although some private universities also claim this value.

Free University of Aleppo

It was established in late 2015 by ex-cadres of the Aleppo University which was originally founded in 1957 but left under regime control following the uprising. Claiming to uphold the traditions of the university, it is the result of a cooperative project between the National Free Congress (at-tajammuʿ al-watani al-hurr), an extensive organ of the National Alliance, and the Council of Syrian Academics. It is considered a part of the Interim Government.

The university comprises the five faculties for Data Engineering, Computer Engineering, Economics, Pedagogy and Islamic Sciences. There have been further specialised institutions scattered around the liberated territories whereby some were closed after the regime’s seizure of rural Damascus for instance. In total, the university operates 17 faculties and facilities for more than 400 students.

The Higher Education Council of the Salvation Government released a decree in 2017 wherein they declared the Free Aleppo University to be under the authority of the council while the intra-universitary elections would be done independently. Yet the university management opposed the decree, leading to the temporary closure of the university. After the incidence, the university was compelled to relocate its headquarter in Dana (rural northern Idlib) to Bashqatin in rural west Aleppo. Meanwhile the office of the Interim Government’s Higher Education Ministry in Maarrat An-Numan had also been closed down. Fortunately yet a settlement was reached after a meeting between the the university and the Higher Education Council initiated by the local council of Maarrat An-Numan, whereby the two universities of Aleppo and Idlib established a common board to coordinate student matriculation.

Idlib University

Founded in 2015 by the Army of Conquest after the city’s seizure in May upon the previous basis already established in 2005/2009 (?). Initially a branch of Aleppo University, the university was separated from the mother structure two years later additionally gaining the campus in Maarrat An-Numan. The Free Aleppo University was left with the campuses in Atarib, Ayn Jārah and Bashqātīn. Along the lines of this separation, the university went into the administration of the Salvation Government; previously it was affiliated with the Interim Government.

The university has 173 academic staff and 213 administrative workers who serve the 10.000 students, among them 172 postgraduates. As of January 2019, 1800 people have graduated from Idlib University which encompasses 14 faculties and 6 further facilities. Admission is unrestricted except for the faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Data Engineering. Just as Aleppo University, tuition fees do not exceed $200 due it being a public university

International Sham University

It was founded near the town of Azaz in rural Aleppo via a cooperation between the Turkish nongovernmental organisation IHH and the Syrian Commission for Higher Education, a congregation of 60 academicians formed in May 2015 which is also responsible for the university’s administration. Officially it is not subjugated to the Interim Government although they maintain close contact. Established in March 2016, the university started the year with circa 350 students. Although 750 people had enrolled at the university, a great part of them were not able to attend due to road closures. The teaching cadre thereby encompasses eight doctors.

The university operates four faculties: Engineering, Shariah and Law, Political Sciences and Faculty for Administration and Economy. The Engineering Faculty is further divided into the four areas Data Engineering, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Engineering Physics. In late 2017 the university opened an Education and Shariah Department for women.

To apply, prospective students must have completed secondary school.  Tuition fees are 50$ for every term, totalling 150$ in a year as the studies are divided into three terms to accelerate the graduation of qualified personal urgently needed for the region. Meanwhile the university provides a monthly support of 100 TL along free housing and daily meal. Married students are granted an additional 50 TL.

Harran University (Al-Bab Branch)

It came to existence when the Turkish Harran University of Urfa founded a branch in Al-Bab in 2018; two years after the region was taken over during the Euphrate’s Shield Operation. Cooperating with local councils, it has planed to cover six fields: architecture, electrics and machines and agricultural sciences for the Faculty of Engineering and maths, physics and chemistry for the Science-Literature Faculty. The instruction language is Arabic but also includes English and Turkish for higher degrees. Students must pass the Turkish Higher Education Exams (YÖS) to study in the university, which is possible in the many high schools operating throughout rural northern Aleppo.

An-Nahda University

A freshly established public university which started operation in the academic year of 2018-2019. Located in rural Idlib (Dana) it is the only public university accredited by the Salvation Government in addition to the University of Idlib. The university operates within the buildings left from Aleppo University after its forced transfer to rural Aleppo.

b- Private universities

They may be classified into three parts: those authorised by the Salvation Government (7) of whom the Al-Hayat and Rome universities are not included here as I could not find much information concerning them; the Ebla University authorised by the regime; and thirdly the remaining two independent private universities Başakşehir Academy recognised by the Jordanian Yarmouk University and the International Rescue University which lacks the Salvation Government’s authorisation.

Az-Zahra Charitable University

Founded towards the end of 2014 it provides higher education for Syrian secondary graduates residing in Turkey. Located in the southern Turkish city of Antep, it recognises secondary degrees from the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as the Interim Government and others. Presently the university accommodates approximately 100 students. In due course it has opened a branch in Jarablus. It provides annual scholarships for certain groups like Huffaz, children of martyrs and prisoners, students excelling in their degree or those commended by teachers for their virtue.

At the beginning the university adopted the curriculum of Aleppo University with some modification, comprising the fields Islamic Studies, Pedagogy, Economy and Administration and Data Engineering. Today it has extended its scope to include the departments for Languages (mainly English), Media, a separate department for Arabic and the addition of Political Sciences to the Department of Economy and Administration.

Oxford Private University

Following its announcement in the southern Turkish city of Antep in late 2015, the university was established in the Turkish-Syrian border town of Sitt Atikah in the Harim District of Idlib Governorate. This choice largely came for security reasons, as it is far from the regime’s operational zone. An extension of the Yemeni Oxford University for Science and Technology (2014), it is officially authorised by the Yemeni Education Ministry according its personal statement. The mother university centred in Aden has other detachments in Turkey and Saudi-Arabia. Being recognised by the Union of Arabic Universities and UNESCO, the university enjoys great esteem – some consider it the first internationally recognised university in free Syria.

In contrast, some news outlets defy these claims citing the statement of the deputy Higher Education Minister of the Interim Government who disputed the university’s recognition by the mother institution in Yemen. In due course the Interim Government had declined the request for authorisation, additionally explaining that the university had not fulfilled three years of existence; the minimum duration conditioned by the Interim Government for authorisation. Yet the director of Oxford University, Muhyiddin Bannānah (a doctoral graduate of Geotechnology  from Moscow in 1975) who had previously served as the Education Minister in the Interim Government defied the claim. At any rate, Oxford University is presently a part of the Salvation Government’s Higher Education Council.

The university whose Syrian headquarters lie in Idlib City and Atarib (rural Aleppo) requires yearly tuition fees of $950 for conventional and $500 for open plan education.  It may accommodate 500 to 1000 students though as of 2017 there were 300.

Mari Private University

Private university established in the southern Turkish city of Mersin in 2015 that operates a branch in Saraqib (Idlib) since 2016. It is lead by Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi and Saudi-Arabian academics. It is considered a branch of the Sudanese National Ribat University in Khartoum. The university has contacts and treaties with universities across Saudi-Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Libya in addition to being authorised by UNESCO and the Turkish Foreign and Higher Education Ministry. It has a particular relationship with the Nation University of Science and Technology in Istanbul, which is an affiliate of the Yemeni Oxford University.

The university has two specialisations, first the scientific part comprising the Faculty of Pharmaceutics composed of Medical Pharmacy and Pharmacy in addition to the faculties of Engineering, Computer Science and Economics and Business Administration. The second part includes humanities as the three faculties of Islamic Sciences, Languages and Media.  The scope of the Language faculty includes French language and literature.

The tuition fees are ranging from annual $1500 to $4500 dollars in addition to the $200 registration fee, though there is some reduction for the Saraqib branch. In the first educational year, fees were reduced by half; making $1800 for Dentistry and $500 for the remaining faculties. The university provides some scholarships for students who were compelled to interrupt their studies due to financial hardship or humanitarian conditions.

Emergency Medicine Faculty (Academy of Health Sciences)

Founded in the town of Dana in rural Idlib in a cooperation between the Syrian Expatriate Medical Association and the Foundation Sheikh Thani Ibn Abdullah for Humanitarian Services (RAF) the faculty started education towards the end of 2015 with 60 students. The studies stretch for two years and are composed of three phases, first the students are taught theory, then they begin practice within the building of the academy and finally they gather practical experience in hospitals and assistance groups. To maintain education quality, there are exams on theory as well as practice every month and study term. A student talking to “Souriyetna Press” commends the education standard of the academy, prising it over his experiences in a medical facility in pre-uprising Hama.

The faculty also cooperates with Syrian Civil Defence and local councils. Among its further activities are short public courses for the community, courses on birth and curing wounds and urgency simulations to clear the path for ambulances and evacuate damaged buildings.

Apparently it merged into the Academy of Health Sciences which is headquartered in Atimmah (rural Idlib) and operating since 2011.

Ottoman University

A private university founded in 2016 in Istanbul and considered a branch of the University of Malaysia. Along the opening of a branch the southern Turkish city of Antep it also opened a branch in rural north Homs in 2017. Today it is authorised by the Higher Education Council of the SG. The establishment came after an agreement with the Scholars of Homs Council which had been operating a Shariah Faculty in the region. The council is composed of 171 members lead by Sheikh Abdulaziz Bukur. The university’s diplomas are recognised in Malaysia and Yemen, though not in Turkey. They have also contracted an agreement with the University of East London in July 2017. In line with the break from the Turkish education apparatus, there is no need to absolve the YÖS exams.

The university used to operate faculties and facilities in Talbiseh, Rastan and Houla direct on behalf by the Free University of Aleppo. After the regime’s seizure of northern Homs, the university apparently relocated its buildings to Idlib Governorate. In April 2018, it exempted those displaced from Eastern Ghouta from the tuition fees for its Shariah Faculty in Kafr Takharim. Similar exemptions were given by other institutions like the University of Idlib.

International Rescue University

The university was founded in 2017 in the city of Maarrat An-Numan, later extending to include a branch in Ariha. It encompasses 27 faculties and facilities including its different branches and departments. It had started with three faculties (General Health, Information Science, Economy and Administration) and 16 facilities. The university was authorised both by the Interim and the Salvation Government. Tuition fees are ranging from $400 to $900 dollars. Students are accepted through a comparison procedure after providing a secondary certificate from 2011 or later.

In February 2019 the university released a statement notifying its students of the university’s closure. Reportedly this came after the decision of the Salvation Government’s Higher Education Council to shut it down. As of now the outcome is not clear.

Başakşehir Academy

Established in 2017 in the town of Al-Bab northern Aleppo, it is recognised by the Jordanian  Yarmouk University, yet high tuition fees ($1050 to $1800 per year) are a requisite to study. The academy is destined for Arabic Language and Islamic Sciences in addition to Journalism, thus it includes Islamic Shariah, Usul Ad-Din, Islamic Economics, History and Civilisation, Islamic Pedagogy, Dawah and Islamic Media, Arabic Language and Literature.

Ebla University

Private university in the town of Ebla, Idlib Governorate, near the antique archaeological site of the same name, founded in 2004. Being authorised by the Syrian Arab Republic, it is the sole such university in the liberated territories of Syria. Despite this fact, the institution is given the right to participate in the Higher Education Council and vote as well as candidate in the election of its director. Founded in 2008, the university has 4180 students presently along 1200 graduates in the past. It operates the five faculties of Engineering, Pharmacy, Administrative Sciences, Political Sciences and Humanities and Language.

III. Challenges and Criticism

Beside the scarcity of resources and financial means, the greatest challenge encountering the university operators is the matter of recognition. Due to the dire conditions of education, universities struggle to achieve the recognition of diplomas they hand over to their students. Solving this problem would open these fresh graduates the doors to continue their studies abroad. In this regard there are talks with neighbouring countries like Turkey and Jordan.  At first place the diplomas obtained provide for a job within Syria, whereby the recognition of the Interim and Salvation Governments play a role. The explanations over the works, the mission and the educational methods along with practical references of their application are crucial hereby.

The financial aspect is not to be ignored however. Universities in the liberated territories, particularly the private ones, require high tuition fees which are not suitable for all Syrians, millions of whom were displaced from their homes and compelled to leave their properties. Aiming to regulate this for good, the Higher Education Ministries of both governments administer the tuition fees, making this a condition for their authorisation of the institutions which is granted for six months and open for renewal. Along the financial burden over students, universities furthermore pose a matter of insecurity and risk for students as they cannot ensure the continuity of the institution they pay for – not to reopen the issue of international recognition. In case of the university’s sudden closure, students are left alone for a start. Then, there is also mutual disparagement between the universities which results out of the rivalry to attract the most number of students. In all these conflicts, the money intake of educational institutions is increasingly criticised as the main culprit, to the degree that private universities for instance are dismissed as joint companies devoid of any ideals spoiling the money of the poor. Consequently, this leads to their sinking reputation. The universities, however, legitimate the fees for the need of new instalments and provision. It is worth mentioning that some armed groups provide for the education of their fighters, then mostly choosing public universities. They have no privileges over other students.

An aspect furthermore not to ignore is the shortfall of educational personnel as most have left the region due to the war. Nonetheless there are Syrian professors who have remained in their homeland and these constitute the majority. Next to them are professors, also of different Arab origin, residing in Turkey who teach here, whereby these have at times difficulties reaching their work place due to border closings and inadequate infrastructure. Universities abroad in Turkey and Jordan assisting Syrian refugees are also a great opportunity, also not covered in detail here.

On the part of students it is necessary to mention that the dispersion of faculty buildings around the liberated territories also poses difficulties for them in terms of transformation and housing. Some students moreover complain about the scarcity of books and other resources for their research.

IV. Related Posts

V. Sources

 

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Arabic as a lingua franca for the Muslim world

Muslims form one nation, and it is a divine decree that we must unite under one leader in one unified political entity. Today Muslims have spread across continents and isles. There are not only mountains and rivers separating various Muslim communities, but vast oceans and large seas. Whereas the realm of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stood contained in the Arabian Peninsula where everybody conversed in Arabic and exchanged information within established cultural boundaries, there is not much of a familiar network in our modern era that would serve to connect all the diverse Muslim peoples dispersed around the globe. Fortunately, these are not new conditions we are encountering. Already during the Rashidun Caliphate Muslims were spread across continents. With the conquest of Andalusia and later Rumelia the believers were in all parts of the Old World at presence.  We may look into how Muslims dealt with this issue in the past to acquire some insights.

For the first six centuries Arabic filled the role of a lingua franca among Muslims as the righteous caliphs and the ruling elite of the Umayyads and Abbasids were Arabs. They usually also employed Arabs in the military and administration due to them being the greatest constituent of the Muslim nation at that time. Later converts adopted themselves to this structure. But with the fading power of the capital Muslim cultures of the periphery increasingly attracted more attention in their neighbouring regions. After the first provinces commenced seceding from the Abbasid Caliphate, Arabic began to cede its place to other tongues. In large part, Persian was used in administration and literature, Turkish in the military. Arabic speaking lands mostly preserved their language and even spread it via trade at the coasts of East Africa and in the archipelagos beyond the Indian ocean. In due course, nearly every Muslim region entered the dominion sphere of a larger language spoken by mightier people, be it the sphere of Arabic in Africa and South East Asia or Persian-Turkish across Minor, Central and South Asia in addition to Eastern Europe.

A different trajectory can be confirmed however for the field of science and religion where Arabic reasonably preserved its position very firmly due to it forming the basis of religious knowledge and its sources. And it is here that we can observe the benefits of a lingua franca when we compare the two different developments along the scientific line on the one hand and the political on the other. Scholars throughout the Islamic world stayed connected through the link of their common scientific language. They discussed various topics and referred to each other in spite of the great distance that separated them. From Baghdad to Bukhara, from Córdoba to Cairo, the hearts and minds of scholars were open to each other. Not always did they share the same view, but they were certainly able to read and understand what the other thought – the most essential ingredient of coexistence and unity. Meanwhile, we see the opposite among political circles after the fall of Baghdad. Still of course, there was correspondence between Egypt and Turkish Minor Asia in the 13th century, for instance, but often such contacts were only possible through mediation, and remaining restrained to the higher levels of the political hierarchy they continuously faded with the increasing distance.

The linguistic drift between Muslim peoples has in our era of ethnic state nations even soaked into the field of Islamic sciences. We observe today that more and more works are being published in local Muslim languages like Turkish, Persian or Urdu. Although this resonates the need of religious education for the general, non-Arabophone Muslim masses, this development possibly also harbours the influences of nationalism whereby states contend for reputation – the field of religious sciences not being excluded from their petty rivalry. If not, this development is at least for certain the reflection of our division across ethnic lines.

Our imperviousness in the face of this lurking menace has no excuse. Linguistic discord has already once manifested its precariousness in the past. It occupies a great rank among the causes for the disbandment of the Ottoman Sultanate, the greatest Muslim state of the modern period which incorporated a great variety ethnic groups. Without a common language and a unified education system, it is not possible to hold together such a diversity of cultures. Especially in this age of globalisation, the Muslim ummah must unite to bear up against the great powers which are not merely economic giants, but also cultural vanguards permeating every corner of the world. We are bound to dissolve and give way to their cultural impulses if we do not unitedly solidify our cultural and religious entity.

* * *

How should this work? Our cultural diversity is no doubt the creation of Allah. He has deliberately made us peoples and tribes – so that we may know one another.* Every compartment of the Islamic nation is unique, and they may conserve this remarkable value as long as a contradiction to the laws of Allah is precluded. Yet in order to coexist as one unified nation in one state, under the leadership of one caliph, we nonetheless need an extensive network that connects all the diversity. Thus, we must first and foremost establish a lingua franca to facilitate the mutual cognisance of the believers and their consecutive unity. How can different peoples come to know each other properly, if they are not able to communicate?

The primary candidate therefor is Arabic. As the language of Allah in the Koran, it has precedence over others. For the believing nation it is always mandatory to study the religious scriptures. On individual level every Muslim comes in touch with this tongue, at least by learning the script and memorising some verses to read the Divine Word and the prayers. On scientific level scholars extract therefrom the rules that guide our life and proceeding further they encounter the worldly sciences whose studying is encouraged for the sake of the benefit they contain for the Muslim nation. Hence, setting out from the Arabic base of Koran and Sunnah, scholars are further driven into the sphere of various non-Arabic sciences where this language ideally accompanies them permanently like an alimenting rear-bridge to the divine sources and the wisdom and moral guidelines they treasure.

Concisely, our first ever lingua franca must be returned to the role it had played during the Golden Era. Perhaps it has been the root of our golden era. How could have others benefited from Avicenna or Al-Khwarizmi for instance, if these had written in Persian instead of Arabic? And how could those have gained access to the great scientific treasures of Baghdad and the House of Wisdom, if they had not been able to study Arabic in Khwarazm and Khorasan? This divine destiny! Arabic and its fixed position as the language of the Koran uniting all believers are benevolent gifts by the Almighty. The more people employ the same language in science, the more accessible content is produced for the whole intelligentsia to read and discuss. To proliferate knowledge and make it available to everybody, Arabic must be taught to everybody. Native languages may be kept on local scale for conversation and literature, in public administration and as the instruction language in education; but at least on higher scientific levels Muslims must use the same language. Otherwise knowledge will stay dispersed and many people will be devoid of the larger content.

To pursue this aim, I propose the teaching of Arabic as a second language in all schools throughout the Muslim world, starting from the primaries. This would resemble the status of English in northern and western Europe where many non-Anglophone nations like the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany etc. have made English part of the mandatory core curriculum, sometimes starting from grade one. Besides the general educational benefits of acquiring a second language, these decisions reasonably reflect the importance attached to English as a world language with great use in both business and science. Yet if we look to the Muslim world, we see the great division between French and English in addition the many other languages and their speakers who are all devoid of any linguistic link that could connect them.  Introducing Arabic as a second language will certainly, with the permission of Allah, fill the void in this crucial matter and unite the believers at one tongue. If we are one body, we should posses one tongue. How can all the various limbs otherwise talk to each other and narrate their sights and plights? When that time comes, where a billion speak the same language, then we can really speak of unity. Otherwise our minds are separated by the barrier of language.


* يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Al-Hujurat, 49:13)

Submit to the Law of Allah | Statement in support of the initiative “The Law of Allah judges between us”

sharia_mubadarat-wa-harrid-almuminin08-01-19.jpg

All praise is to Allah, Lord of the universes. And may the peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah and his family and companions altogether.

The Levantine field is going through one of its gravest phases today. Verily it has entered its greatest phase overall; for states race to recognise the tyrant Assad, international agreements constrain this revolution, and the disputes have grown. […]

Amidst such obscurity a blessed initiative has been proposed by the “And incite the believers” operation room that calls all sides to submit themselves to the law of Allah the Exalted by resolving their conflicts according to the Sharia, which is the way obligatory for the mujahidin particularly; after all we are fighting to implement the Shariah of Allah.

Here we remind ourselves and our brothers from both sides of a clearly evident, great verse. Allah the Exalted says therein:

And when they are called to [the words of] Allah and His Messenger to judge between them, at once a party of them turns aside [in refusal].
But if the right is theirs, they come to him in prompt obedience.
Is there disease in their hearts? Or have they doubted? Or do they fear that Allah will be unjust to them, or His Messenger? Rather, it is they who are the wrongdoers.   The only statement of the [true] believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, “We hear and we obey.” And those are the successful.  And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger and fears Allah and is conscious of Him – it is those who are the attainers. [Koran, 24:48-52]

And verily these are great words from the Lord of the universes which tremble the mountains. We call the mujahidin to ponder over these verses.

For it is an evident verse that compels Muslims to accept any call to be judged by the law of Allah. Henceforth we are subscribing to the statement and declare our absolute support to this initiative. We call both sides to counsel with the “And incite the believers” operation room to set off from thereon towards that which pleases Allah the Exalted and his Messenger, peace be upon him; that which preserves blood.

They shall contemplate over this harsh warning narrated in the following hadith: “If the people of the heaven and the people of the earth came together over the blood of a believer, Allah would strike them down into the fire.” (Sahih, by Tirmidhi)

Finally, we remind our brothers that the matter is not exclusively about military regulation. Even if one side ended the battle unilaterally, what about the animosities that will remain? And what about the blood that will be spilled? And what about the mujahidin who will abandon jihad? And what about the disobedience to Allah the Exalted at leaving the judgement by his law in conflicts?

And Allah is the Success-giver and the Guider to the right path.

Abdullah Al-Muhaysini, Muslih Al-Ulyani

[Translated by @Muhaysinieng Telegram channel]

Mentioned Statement by “And incite the believers”

Entitled “The Law of Allah judges between us”.

 

 

Islam in the Border Regions of the Muslim World

Border regions are those regions of the Muslim World, where Muslims come in contact with overwhelmingly non-Muslim peoples.

TABLE OF CONTENT

I. West Africa
II. Central and East Africa
III. Asia
IV. Europe
V. Sources

I.  West Africa

Nigeria

North is Muslim, major cities being Kano and Sokoto.

NigeriaIslam

  • 80-100%

Sokoto

Kebi

Zamfara

Katsina

Kano

Jigawa

Gonbe

  • 60-79%

Kwara

Kaduna

Bauchi

Yobe

Borno

Adamawa

  • 40-59%

Niger

Oyo

Burkina Faso

Muslims: 58.6% (Pew Research, 2010)

upper-volta-ethnic-groups-map

Orientating ourselves at this ethnolinguistic map, we can assert that the following groups are predominantly Muslim: Fulani, Gourma, Busansi, Gurunsi, Sam and Mossi (65%). The remaining groups; Senufu, Bobo and Lobi are following animist tradition.

Sierra Leon

Total population: 12 million
Muslims: 78%

Sierra Leone has five provinces.

Northern Province: 87% Muslim.
Maritime Province: ?
Western Province: ?
Eastern Province: ?
Southern Province: ?

Eastern neighbourhoods of the capital Freetown are predominantly Muslim.

Senegal

Population: 15 million
Muslims: 92%

Senegal is a majority Muslim country, the largest ethnic group being the Wolof. There have been separatist movements lead by the Diola in the southern Casamance region, which for the most came to a halt after a peace agreement in 2004. [Britannica]

casamance.jpg
Casamance (red) in Senegal

Guinea

Population: 13 million
Muslims: 85%

Guinea Bissau[2]

Muslims by regional percentage:

  1. Gabú: 86.50
  2. Bafatá: 77.10%
  3. Oio: 42.10%
  4. Quinara: 45.80%
  5. Tombali: 43%
  6. Cacheu: 14.80%
  7. Bolama: 14.90%
  8. Biombo: 6.30%
  9. Bissau: ?

 

II. Central and East Africa

Chad

chad_ethnic_1969

Central African Republic

15% (2004); 403.000 (2014); 441.491 8.5% (2017)[3]

Mostly north and north eastern regions bordering Chad and Sudan. Three provinces of “Dar El-Kuti”.

 

Ethiopia

Islam-Ethiopia-Map

Ogaden

Afar

Amhara Region

South Wollo Zone (70.89%)[4]

Eritrea

Eritrea

Afar, Rashaida … predominantly Muslim.

 

III. Asia

India

IndiaMuslims

Jammu-Kashmir: 86.31 (2011)
Assam: 34.22 (2011)
Uttar Pradesh: 19.26

Russia

Crimea 15% Muslims

RussiaMuslimPopulation

a- Caucasus

Ingushetia                                96%
Chechnya                                95%
Dagestan                                 82%
Kabardino-Balkaria                 49%
Karachayu Cherkessia 34%
Adygia                                    11% / 12.6% (2012, Sreda Arena Atlas)
North Ossetia                          4%
Krasnodar                               1.3%

b- “Kazakh Steppes” and beyond

Bashkortistan  38.6% Muslim
Tatarstan 31%
Orenburg  12% / 13.8%
Yamalo Nenetski 13%
Astrakhan 11%
Rostov 1.1%
Kalmykia 4.8%

Georgia

Adjara region, capital Batumi. 30% Muslim in total. Khulo District majority Muslim.

I. South East Asia

Phillipines

Mindanao Autonomous Region (Moro) is a majority Muslim region in the south.

Thailand (Pattani)

Pattani 88%
Narathiwat 82% [6]
Yala 72%
Satun 67,8%

IV.      Europe

Bosnia

bih

Montenegro

montenegroreligion2003

Kosovo

Kosovo-2011-Islam

Albania

Albania_majority_religion_2011_census

 

V. Sources


[1] https://www.webcitation.org/5y6X4VifJ?url=http://cns.bf/IMG/pdf/Depliant_Resultats_Definitifs_du_RGPH_2006.pdf

[2] http://guinebissau.opendataforafrica.org/GWSECD2015/guinea-bissau-socio-economic-data-2015

[3] http://countrymeters.info/en/Central_African_Republic/#population_2017

[4] http://www.csa.gov.et/index.php?option=com_rubberdoc&view=doc&id=266&format=raw&Itemid=521

[5] https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/12/ethnic-georgian-muslims-christian-dominated-nation-171204110108701.html

[6] https://www.tourismthailand.org/About-Thailand/Destination/Narathiwat

State nationalism – expelling Islam to the Clipboard

After the cancer of nationalism penetrated the body of the Muslim Ummah towards the end of the 19th century, it grafted along the path a number of wicked ideologies. One most salient of them is state-nationalism, which can be described by its quintessence of prioritising the nation state and everything that revolves around it. The mentality of this ideology can be tracked among the masses of Muslim countries as well as their elites who continue spreading this erroneous notion in their speeches.

Before characterising the consequent intricacies, the immediate contradiction of this worldview to the religion should be pointed out. The believers are united by their creed, not by governance. Even in the prospering era of Islamic history where various Islamic states existed, Muslims were not characterised as subjects (or citizens) of this and that state. How strange is it then for a Muslim to identify himself by a secular state?

This may seem now as an empty assumption which everyone in question would blatantly refuse to espouse by reiterating that all Muslims were brothers and that they would not make any difference based on nationality. Such reply is endearing for most, few however can discern the superficiality behind it. For, Islam is a whole and not restrained to simple teachings of personal interaction. It does not stop at commanding good behaviour to Muslims. One’s whole identity should be based upon the religion at primary ground. Islam and the Muslims as a whole should always constitute the highest interest for every Muslim. State is merely a tool to serve the two objectives.

Yet there are people who do the opposite and exploit Islam and Muslims to cement the state. And Muslims who walk on their path are deceived into believing they would serve Islam as state-nationalists mention it over and over to be their final objective – a fin (end) that is never reached. How can this be proved? It is simple; in Islam there is no discrepancy between the path and its aim, they form a harmony. Yet state-nationalists expose themselves by compromising from the religion for the sake of a higher end. We have said Islam is a whole, so you cannot divide it into a greater Islam which shall be the end and a smaller Islam which can be compromised. So what is that higher end of state-nationalists? It is the state. How simple and absurd it may sound, it is the state; as a mere entity along its might, power, fame, security and everything else.

To be continued in-sha-Allah…

Kashmir — Spring of the Conflict

In the northern tip of the Indian Subcontinent, between the mountains of Himalaya, Hindukush and Tian Shan lies the famous Kashmir region. Known for its admired natural beauty of greenery, waterfalls, rivers and fertile valleys, the region has long been fought over; leaving the glamour of the “Paradise on Earth” (Jannat Nazeer) overshadowed with the dust of war.

History: Cause and Course of the Conflict

Decades after the conflict commenced in 1947, the region is now divided between India (45%), Pakistan (35%) and China (20%).

As with many border conflicts, the struggle over Kashmir originates from the intangible mess left by the imperial colonialists. After centuries of occupation, the British Crown has decided to leave its long espoused jewel in 1947. To cover their responsibility, they open up councils for the task of setting the borderline between the Hindus and Muslims after the idea of partition has prevailed among the voices. Yet the consequent Radcliffe Line does not determine the status of Kashmir, as the sovereigns (maharaja) of princely states are allowed to chose for themselves where to join.  The fifth largest princely state per population, Kashmir, is ruled by a Sikh who desires to stay independent from the two emerging powers, yet after tribal men from Pakistan’s Northern Frontier rush to the region, he is compelled to seek help at his old fellow Hindu brethren, acceding his lands to the Republic of India.

Pakistan does not allow its Muslim majority neighbour to slip away into the hands of Hindus, so they assault the proceeding Indian soldiers who have come to establish control over it. The resulting First First Indo-Pakistani War ends on the first day of 1949, leaving Kashmir horizontally divided between India and Pakistan. Whereas Pakistan has secured the northern regions of Gilgit and Baltistan in addition to Azad Kashmir of the Valley, India has hold the remaining greater part of the Valley beside Ladakh. With the desire of absorbing it into Indian mainland, they call their part of administration Jammu-Kashmir.

Some years later, a new faction enters the scene. In a desire to secure its imperial borders against possible foreign incitements, the People’s Republic of China channels its troops to Aksai Chin, the northern most region of Kashmir, whose Uyghur name is translated to “Farthest Point of China”. This move aimed to cement the control on the highway between East Turkistan and Tibet, as insurgent actions were emerging in the latter region. Upon this mobilisation, India responds by launching a counterattack on the proceeding Chinese forces. The rival country that had hosted the Dalai Lama against the discomfort of the PRC is quickly outnumbered however and overrun by enemy forces. In the following decades to the Sino-Indian War of 1962, India tries to thaw the ice between itself and the manful enemy and this part of the conflict enters a phase of passivity, although China has nonetheless continued to side with Pakistan in its consistent claims.

In 1965, Pakistan makes an attempt to seize the parts of Kashmir that were left under Indian occupation following the confrontation in 1947. This leads to a full-scale war whose theatre extends beyond the north eastern region of the subcontinent, including an attack on Lahore by Indian forces that coerces Pakistan to an armistice.

When the eastern part of Pakistan, today’s Bangladesh, desires a secession from Islamabad, the heat of war for a third time catalyses an encounter between the two countries, whose outcome is popularly known for the creation of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The Indian attack on the Pakistani forces in their eastern domain results in the imprisonment of some 90 000 thousand soldiers, a number of war prisons which has not been witnessed since the Second World War.

Yet the conflict does not cease in spite of these record winning wars, whereby we did not mention that 1965 had been witness to the greatest tank battle of military history following the carnage in Kursk. The Simla Agreement (1971) that has intended a lasting solution for the border conflict is flawed in that it leaves out the mountainous zone of the Siachen Glaciers (>3620m), which paves the way for a decades lasting border conflict following a race in 1984 to occupy the bitter peaks in the no man’s land. At this moment the mountains also experience a rivalry of honour, as different mountaineering companies turn exploring this region; now it matters whether they roam around Pakistan or India.

The wish of incorporating the remaining parts of the Kashmir Valley into the Islamic Republic has never faded since five long decades and in spite of the unsuccessful great efforts. By now Muslim guerilla movements have emerged in Indian occupied Jammu-Kashmir. Employing its non-official allies as a masquerade, Pakistan plans a surprise attack in the Winter of 1999, infiltrating Jammu-Kashmir with its light infantry troops through the mountains in bitter cold.  The Indian border forces goes for a quick defence, although they were not used to clashes outside summer. Pakistan’s vanguards, who were first thought as local guerillas, aresoon disclosed, and the Indian Air Force is summoned to the place. The manful foe has for another time disrupted the tactical attempt of Rawalpindi – and this was to be the last major attempt.

Present: Violence and Perspectives on Peace

Since the start of the conflict some seven decades ago, there has been a number of attempts to settle for peace. Especially the last encounter increased international anxiety about the matter, as the two clashing powers now both happened to be nuclear forces.

Nonetheless, there seems to be no vision of peace for the region in the short term. The fact that the majority in Indian occupied Jammu-Kashmir are Muslims make it inadmissible to leave them to foreign rule. The Islamic insurgency that commenced in in 1989 following the retreat of the Soviets from Afghanistan still continues. It further gained momentum in the recent years, notably when a young commander was martyred in 2016. The same year was also witness to the bloodiest attack on the Indian army. High rates of youth unemployment which are usually wont to raise popular dissent are further ignited by the harsh security measures of the Indian occupation forces. The “Armed Forces Special Powers Acts” which was released in 1990 and included Jammu-Kashmir along some other provinces of India gave near impunity to the police forces and opened the way for series of human rights violations.

Notwithstanding, there were also some peace negotiations between Pakistan and India, notably the  Agra Summit in 2001, which had succeeded the Lahore Summit of 1999. In 2003 a ceasefire was announced in combination with a bilateral amnesty for prisoners. This was to be the precursor of logistic cooperation in the field of anti-terrorism as Pakistan had banned three Islamic military organisations that year.

The inclination of the Pakistani politicians towards peace was not well received in the public. The cause of Kashmir is still annually commemorated in Pakistan on 5th February.  Some military circles also object to this willingness of the government for peace. In this context, the Kargil War of 1999 is a suitable example to disclose the divide between politics and military in Pakistan, as the military operation was started without the Prime Minister’s notice.

The withdrawal of support for the insurgency conduced the Islamic insurgents to operate in independent of Pakistan. Not only strategically, but also in the sphere of slogans and vision. This development increased local support for the cause and sparked a rejuvenation of morals and motivation. The feeling of following an independent agenda empowered the minds and further disentangled them from those accusations of working for a Pakistani annexation.

Modern Levant Map

Levant-Region+ by YahyaCan
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South East Turkey

The land masses south of the Taurus mountains, east of the Nur mountains which is adjoined with the Taurus, and west of the Euphrates river geographically constitute Turkey’s part of the Levant.

This corresponds to the following Turkish provinces:

  • Hatay (Antioch)
  • Kilis
  • Antep
  • Marash

Syria

Aleppo

Homs

Hama

Idlib

Latakia

Tartus

Damascus

Suwayda

Dera

Quneitarah

Raqqa

Deir ez-Zor

Hasaka

 

Lebanon

Shimal

Al-Biqaa

Jabal Lubnan

Beirut

Nabatiyyah

Sayda

 

Jordan

Irbid

Al-Mafraq

Zarqa

Balqa

Amman

Al-Karak

Tafilah

Maan

 

Palestine-Israel

Hazafon

West Bank

Hamerkaz

Tel-Aviv

Jerusalem

Hadarom

Gaza