Monday, November 21, 2016

Prophetic light: the Super Mercy of the Super Moon

Photo Shafiq Morton ©
THE moon is something that has always fascinated me. As I’ve been in, or on, the ocean all my life, the moon has played a major role through its influence on tides, fish behaviour, waves and – when I started designing the Wembley Calendar – Islamic lunar months.

The moon, that crescent in the sky, has been a constant reminder of the cycles of my life. In fact, there is a story that the Prophet [saw] used to look at the night sky to reassure himself that the dunya, or material world, was secure. The Qur’an had told him that Allah had made the sun and moon subservient to Him, each one running for a specified term.

I’ve learnt over the years that the moon, which has a gravitational pull on earth, is in itself a complex organism. If you watch for long enough, the skies reveal amazing things around it, some not explicable by our laws of physics – like zig-zagging UFOs travelling with astounding speed into Orion’s belt.

The Qur’anic verses that tell of meteors being shot at inquisitive jinn certainly enjoy new meaning when you see one streaking across a clear desert sky; when the Milky Way becomes so dense, and just so real, that  it almost seems to hang in the heavens like a crystal chandelier.

“We have indeed adorned the lower heaven with the beauty of the stars,” says Qur’an (37:6) in confirmation.

But back to the moon, which is the most visible light in our night skies. I’ve learnt that its orbit is elliptical, that it is sometimes closer to earth, and sometimes further, scientists using the terms perigee and apogee to describe this phenomenon. It begs the question: what ultimately decides how far the moon must, as the Qur’an says, ‘swim’?

In spite of its apparent randomness, I’ve discovered that whilst the sighting of the new crescent involves numerous variables, the structure of the lunar year throws up infinite mathematical outcomes. But it always produces the same result: a consistent lunar year in which there will be a certain number of 29 day months, and certain number of 30 day months.

The moon, I’ve discovered though, is extraordinarily reliable within its wandering orbit; but you have to wait for it to come to you – to reveal itself to you within its mansions. The sighting of the new crescent is not just a Shari’ custom, it is also a science of patient observation, a lesson of sabr – or Qur’anic forbearance.

In this is a lesson for us all. We can’t tell the moon what to do. We are not in control. We have to submit to its laws of motion and appearance. It is not a clockwork mechanism, which some – it seems – would like it to be. The only person to have ever exercised control of the moon was the Prophet [saw], who split it in response to the hostile Quraysh – the miracle observed independently in India – and recorded in the tafsir, or exegesis, of Chapter 54 of the Qur’an.

Not even Nabi Sulayman, who had dominion of other beings like the jinn, had permission to exercise authority over the moon.The moon is literally a reflective emblem of Allah’s Creation embedded in the heaven around us. As the verse in Surah Jathiyyah proclaims, "Indeed, within the heavens and the earth are signs ...” and the biggest sign is that Rasullulah, a Mercy to All of the Created Order, could miraculously manipulate the moon.

As 11 Rabi ul-Awwal approaches every year, I enjoy looking at the waxing crescent. This is a lunar date which celebrates the birth of the Praised Prophet, the Final Messenger and the Mercy of All the Created Order. The moon, almost half, always seems to be offering the potentiality of something greater to come – the full effulgence of the Prophet [saw].

The timing of Prophet’s birth date, I believe, is no creational co-incidence and it is to the full moon that we finally turn. The Qur’an describes the sun as a ‘lamp’ and in the metaphor of meaning we understand that the moon is reflected light; on another level, the full moon radiates nur, or an earthly resemblance of spiritual light.

This, we understand, is the nur of divine grace. The light is bright, mercifully not so bright enough to blind us, but enough to illuminate the landscape with a clean silvery softness, like the scented touch of the Prophet himself.

Prophetic traditions are resplendent with descriptions of the Prophet’s spiritual light resembling that of the moon. The recent super moon of 14 November, the closest the moon will be to earth until 2034, was 14 per cent bigger, 48, 000 kms closer and 30 per cent brighter. And as I struggled in a raging south-easter to photograph it, its luminosity threw all my conventional camera settings out the window.

It reminded me of the times when at sacred moments, or in sacred places, that my camera had gone mysteriously haywire, or refused to work. Granted, the super moon wasn’t such a case – its brilliance was just offering up technical challenges, but its overpowering intensity did begin to remind me of all the poetry written about the Prophet [saw].

This poetry, I believe, reflects the most passionate, the most eloquent and the most moving human expression in history. One such instance is the qiyaam, the standing greeting, of the Barzanji mawlood. Its opening words resonate in my heart. They remind me of seeing a full moon rising above the minarets of Madinah. They invoke in me an aching longing for Madinah:

The full moon has risen above us
With his [Muhammad’s] rising all other moons have been eclipsed
The like of your beauty we have never seen – the face of joy and rapture
You are the sun, you are the full moon
You are light upon light
You are the great elixir of life
You are the flaming lamp of our breasts
O, my beloved, O Muhammad
You are the bridegroom of the East and the West.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Houthi attack on Makkah exposed as ‘false flag’

The wages of  the Yemeni war: Udai Faisal dies in a San'a hospitial
of  malnutrition. Image courtesy The Independent and AP.
THE other day I was vilified for urging caution on what I believe was a manufactured diplomatic crisis, even a false flag event, surrounding the alleged Houthi scud attack against Makkah on 27 October.

I was called a rotten journalist, a ‘Saudi hater’, the ‘Voice of America’ and a ‘garden variety dumbass’ for questioning the veracity of the rocket being aimed at the Ka’bah. I was also labelled a ‘Shi’ah sympathiser’ for saying that labeling Shi’ah as kafir was contrary to our Sunni ethos.

I made the comments in the light of a press conference held by a local Islamic organisation condemning the Houthis for the so-called, and much publicised, Makkah assault. My words, spoken in a context far beyond the media statement, also urged that we should be aware of what is happening to Yemen. This upset a number of people – my remarks being taken out of context by social media trolls.

For the record: no, I did not criticise the organisation. And, no, I did not mention any individuals from it by name – but I must confess that it has disturbed me to see how many people have since thought that I was talking about them.

What was most disquieting was the suggestion that because I was a journalist, I had to buy unquestioningly into the group-think on Saudi, and did not have the right to interrogate geo-political issues – or to know my Deen. 

As a consequence, I have decided to provide proof as to exactly why I said what I did. My reply will be in two parts – the first dealing with Yemen, where I declare false flag on the Houthi attack, and the second where I suggest we should not import the sectarian conflicts of the Middle East to South Africa.

But to Yemen, a country of shimmering oases, misty mountains and prophetic descendants bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman. It straddles the southern-western edge of the Arabian Peninsula and forms the eastern flank of the Red Sea Gulf, which projects into the Arabian Sea.

Yemen’s history is ancient, rich and deep: from Neolithic times to the kingdoms of Aksum, Qahtan, Himyar and Saba to the Qur’anic tribes of the ‘Ad and the Thamud; to the Marib Dam, to the prophets Hud and Salih and to Queen Bilqis, the bride of Nabi Sulayman, master of the jinn. And finally, to Imam ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad, the author of the Ratib ul-Haddad, a litany we all recite in Cape Town.  

Prophetic traditions on Yemen

Islam came to Yemen early, in fact during the life of the Prophet [saw] and the miracle of Auwais al-Qarni becoming Muslim without seeing the Rasulullah [saw]. The Prophet [saw] mentioned Yemen favourably many times, sending the Companion Sa’d ibn Mu’adh there as its first governor. In one tradition the Prophet [saw] pointed south and said:  

“True faith is yonder (in Yemen), but sternness and mercilessness are the qualities of those who are busy with their camels, and who pay no attention to the religion where the horns of Satan will appear. Such qualities belong to the tribes of Rabi’a and Mudar.”[1]

Narrated by ‘Uqba ibn ‘Umar and Abu Mas’ud, this Hadith is an interesting cross-reference to another one which bestows blessings upon Sham and Yemen  – but not the Najd – from where the Prophet [saw] said great calamities would emerge.[2] The tribes referred to here are from the Najd, the seat of Ibn Sa’ud, which is now bombing Yemen into the dust. 

And for those who say I’m a ‘Saudi hater’ – as opposed to a lover of truth – there is a further tradition that a Companion once suggested to the Prophet [saw] that the best of men were Najdi. “You are a liar,” the Prophet [saw] had replied, “the best of men are the people of Yemen. Faith is Yemeni and I am also a Yemeni.”[3]

We do not have to elaborate further that as the contemporary Custodians of the Holy Cities, the House of Sa’ud has obliterated over 90% of our Prophetic heritage, has ensured that the Hajj and ‘Umrah have become unaffordable and that Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been able to  fester as by-products of its extremist religious policies.

However, let it be said – that despite the negative traditions on the Najd and lest I be accused of being a ‘Saudi hater’ again – of course there are good people in the Najd, like there are good people anywhere else.  It is for this reason that the highwayman Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad became a saint, that Abu Hanifah’s drunken neighbour became a faqih and that the king Ibrahim ibn Adham became a dervish.

The acid truth

The acid truth is that Yemen – a friendless country since the 2015 Saudi-allied bombardment – has developed into a disaster zone, just like Syria, where civilians have borne the brunt of a cruel and vicious conflict. The most recent Gulf war, which appears to benefiting only the arms industry, has witnessed horrifying scorched-earth outcomes.

Today more than 80% of the Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance, one in five is internally displaced, 50% have no food, 700,000 children are malnourished, cholera is rife, over 70% have limited access to water, over 1,000 schools are dysfunctional and 14 million people have no health services.[4] All conventional wisdom says we should be campaigning for peace in Yemen, and yet we are not.

To understand the current conflict in Yemen we have to first look at its modern history. Space does not allow room for all the complexities, but we can begin by saying that the Zaydi’s (a branch of the Shi’ah known as the ‘Fivers’ who arrived in Yemen in 893 CE) have always been the predominant class.

The Zaydis – who disagree with the Iranian and Iraqi Twelver Shi’ah on the number of Shi’ite imams, the ‘isma (or infallibility) of the imams, the hidden imam, temporary marriage (mut’ah) and the concept of taqiyyah (or dissemblance) – have always been regarded as ‘moderate’. They are about 40% of Yemen’s population, the rest being Sunni.

Yemen, a rugged country with hundreds of tribes, was never more than a nominal province during the era of the Islamic dynasties, its interior impossible to tame. The last dynasty to have any say was the Ottoman one, which collapsed in 1923. In 1803 CE the Wahhabi brigands of Ibn Sa’ud invaded Yemen, but were driven out by Egypt’s Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha 15 years later.

In 1918 Imam Yahya, a Zaydi ruler, took power in north Yemen, the stronghold of about 400 Zaydi tribes. In 1926 the rebirth of the Sa’udi house saw the province of ‘Asir succumbing to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen bruised by war

The British colonised Aden in the south in 1839 as part of ‘British India’ and in 1934, a Saudi war with Yemen saw the Treaty of Taif, which formerly recognised the borders of the two countries. In 1962 a coup in north Yemen had Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the British aiding the Zaydi royalists, with Egypt supporting the coup in what was now called the Yemen Arab Republic.

Egyptian President Jamal Nasser, acting as a Soviet proxy, committed 70, 000 troops to a difficult, draining and unproductive campaign which opened him up to defeat by the Israelis in 1967. In the meantime south Yemen – the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen – had been taken over by Marxists after the British departure from Aden in 1967.

In 1978 a young Zaydi strongman, Abdullah Saleh, took power in the north. And after a turbulent twelve years, he would be voted in as the president of a united north and south Yemen – a Yemen bruised by war, fractured in spirit, still divided by socio-economic and political issues, but nevertheless one country.

Like so many Arab states, Yemen entered the 21st century with a myriad of unresolved challenges damped down by oppressive and corrupt government. The Arab Spring of March 2011 only served, in my opinion, to open up a Pandora’s Box – and as the powerful Abdullah Saleh was forced into exile, his Sunni vice-president, Field Marshall Abdu Mansour al-Hadi, became president.

Political frustrations

This only ratcheted up Zaydi and Houthi insecurities, which were based on political frustrations and the expansion of Al-Qaeda. This lead to an uprising in the north and the takeover of Sana’a in 2015. However, we have to quickly add that the political situation in Yemen is a lot more nuanced than just being a simple sectarian one. Abubakr Al-Shamali, writing in the Yemen Times, makes precisely this point, adding that Zaydis and Sunnis had always got on together.[5]

Professor Thomas Juneau, Assistant Professor at Ottawa University’s School of International Affairs, adds that the Yemeni crisis has been driven more by local political grievances, and that the Houthis[6] – actually a Zaydi resistance movement started by Hussein al-Houthi in the 1990s – are certainly not Iranian puppets as some pundits so loudly proclaim.[7]

Juneau says that Yemen is a ‘minor investment’ for Tehran with the ‘prospect of interesting returns’. In other words, Tehran – whilst locked in a bitter Cold War with Saudi Arabia – does not have the ability to shape events in Yemen as it might wish. My contact in Sana’a, the film-maker Nasser al-Arabiyee, independently concurs with Juneau.

Writing in Time Magazine, Jared Malsin quotes Alireza Nader, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, as saying that Iran’s military role in Yemen is ‘negligible’ as Iran is unable to ship weapons to the Houthis in large quantities because of the US naval blockade.[8] Even a Wikileaks cable confirms no wide scale evidence of Iranian intervention, although it does refer to Iran’s ‘nefarious intentions’.[9]

Reports in The New York Times[10] citing claims by ‘unnamed’ US officials that the Revolutionary Guard was smuggling significant quantities of AK-47, rocket propelled grenades, and other arms to Houthi rebels in Yemen, have never gained traction.

The Israeli Institute for National Security Studies reports that Yemen does not represent an Iranian interest of high order, though it does offer the potential of a useful foothold. But with Iraq, Lebanon and Syria its prime investments, it reckons Iran could fall into the trap of an over-extension of commitments and an inability to fulfil them.

Iranian support 'insignificant'

Yemeni political and tribal figures have consistently dismissed Iranian support as insignificant, noting that the Houthis have plenty of weapons already from Saudi Arabia, which has been supplying Yemeni factions with arms for decades.

Alexander Boylston in the Georgia Political Review says regional tensions and separatist sentiments have been brewing in Yemen ever since its unification in 1990. The 2012 election of Hadi, a southerner, was the final straw for certain parties who felt – as we’ve already mentioned – that the Zaydis in northern Yemen were losing political ground not only to the south, but to Al-Qaeda in the Arab Province (AQAP).  

“The Houthis are not trying to establish something new but rather continue what has been the norm for Yemen since its unification,” he says.[11]

Brian Whitaker of The Guardian[12] writes that relations with Saudi Arabia have always been a central feature of Yemeni foreign policy, not just because the kingdom is the dominant state in the peninsula and Yemen’s most important neighbour, but also because the Saudis’ perception of their security needs is that they should seek to influence Yemen as much as possible in order to prevent it from becoming a threat.

Saudi interests are best served by keeping Yemen ‘on the wobble’ – though not so wobbly that regional stability is jeopardised. Before the unification of north and south Yemen in 1990, this amounted to ensuring the Cold War tactic that both parts of the country focused their attentions on each other, rather than on their non-Yemeni neighbours.

My personal assessment is that the post-Arab Spring Yemeni state came into being with too many unresolved local tensions and an inadequate understanding of the transitional process that it needed for long term stability.

But to the infamous Scud attack, allegedly aimed at Makkah by Houthi forces, who fired a Volcano 1 – or Barkan 1 – scud into Saudi Arabia from the northern Saada province on 27 October. Weighing eight tons, 12.5 metres long and with a payload of half a ton of explosives, the Volcano 1 is a bulky missile with a range of 800 kms and unknown accuracy.

According to the 67-word Saudi statement, the scud was shot down by a Patriot missile 65 kms outside Makkah, and was travelling ‘towards’ the ‘Makkah area’. Why this attack was ‘special’ after six or more other rocket attacks on Saudi military targets, is easy to comprehend given that Makkah, the Holiest City in Islam, is a religious sanctuary, a place sacred to all Muslims – and an emotive rallying point second to none. The point is: claim that the Holy City is under threat and widespread reaction will be guaranteed.


However, there are too many questions surrounding the Saudi version of events. What would the Houthis, Muslims themselves, have to gain by blowing up the Ka’bah? Indeed, Houthi spokesmen were quick to deny that Makkah was their target, saying that the King ‘Abdullah military airbase, housing the RSAF’s 4th and 20th transport squadrons, at Jeddah was.

I took out a Google map and drew some lines, demarcating the Makkah province – the ‘Makkah area’– and the possible trajectory of a missile from northern Yemen. Jeddah, I discovered to my amazement, was 66 kms east of Makkah – didn’t the Saudi release say that the missile was intercepted 65 kms from Makkah?  

And didn’t the original dispatch say: ‘the interception of a ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias at 21:00 Thursday evening from Saada province toward (the) Makkah area’ to which Jeddah belongs?

The Australian journalist, Michael Brull, did a similar experiment and came up with almost identical results[13]. Like me, he found the reference ‘Makkah area’ not satisfactory grounds to conclude that Makkah had indeed been the target. According to Brull, the facts were perfectly consistent with the Houthi claim, and that that nobody had actually bothered to investigate the scud attack.

He says: “I argue that (i) there is no evidence that a missile was actually fired at Mecca, and the Saudi media dispatch is consistent with the missile being fired at the airport in Jeddah, which is also in Mecca region (not the city). (ii) The release is worded so that it praises the ‘Kingdom’, the ‘custodian of the two holy sites…’”

Brull then goes on to reprove the statement for failing to mention the dire state of the people of Yemen, as it invokes unqualified support for the Saudi kingdom. A day after the alleged attack on Makkah I received information from a source in the coalition who said that it was a false flag event designed to whip up sentiment against the Houthi movement, and by implication, Iran.

Of course, even the idea of an assault on a holy shrine – anywhere in the world – is a despicable notion that needs to be condemned in the strongest of terms, but in this case, it seems as if the Saudis – and not the Houthis – were well wide of the mark.

[1] Sahih Bukhari, Book of the Beginning of Creation, no. 3079 and Sahih Bukhari, Book of the Virtues of the Prophet and His Companions, no. 3261.
[2] Sahih Bukhari, Book of Tribulations and the End of the World, no. 6641.
[3] In Tabarani and Ahmad, with all the narrators in the chain authentic, or thiqah. See: Majmu’al-Zawa’id, 10/44.
[5] www.yementimes. com/en/1759/opinion/3540/Yemen
[6] The Houthi rebel group, also called Ansar Allah, or ‘Partisans of God,’ is rooted in a movement called Believing Youth, which was formed in 1992 by members of the Houthi family led by Hussein al-Houthi.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Women are equal - Prophetic questions of gender apartheid

Gender apartheid at the Big Mac.
THE other day it was announced that a ‘women’s only’ telecoms mall in Saudi Arabia would be opening. But what surprised me was that it was posted on a local WhatsApp chat forum as a triumph for Islamic values, that it was a wonderful thing the sexes had been legally separated.

It was in reality a clumsy attempt at Saudi-isation – the encouragement of local employment – and the website,, reported that the mall’s 40 shops in Riyadh had opened tenant-less due to high costs.   

I could not help myself, and my response was that if this was a triumph for ‘Islamic values’, then we were supporting gender apartheid. Much to my surprise, I was countered by someone called F******, who quoted kilometres of Qur’anic verses in an effort to prove me wrong.  

I don’t remember all the references (just too many) but it did make me wonder: what would the Prophet [SAW] have said about it all?

Okay, I know that the Prophet [SAW] would not have been as sarcastic as me. Although I did think he might have raised an eyebrow on Saudi-style gender jihad. As a young man he’d been employed by Sayyidah Khadijah, a businesswoman – who impressed by his character – had proposed to him. 

And as a prophet, he’d taken the Arabian Peninsula out of the misogynistic dark ages. From female infanticide being practiced in one generation, the Prophet [SAW] had empowered women in the next to have their dowry, to inherit from an estate, to have a say who they marry, own property and to have the rights to divorce.

If we bear in mind, for instance, that women in the United Kingdom were only allowed to own property in 1870 (over 1,000 years later), and that in France women only got voting suffrage in 1945, the idea of Islam being fundamentally chauvinist becomes a non-argument.

Also, the Qur’an is totally devoid of passages – unlike other religious texts – that denigrate women. The words in the Prophet’s last sermon ‘you have certain rights over women, but they have rights over you’ convey a message of mutual respect, certainly not gender discrimination. 

But sadly, the status of Muslim women today has become the focus of Islamophobes drawing on stereotypes fostered by the chauvinism of patriarchal extremists, who have mistaken gender discrimination for custom and custom for the Sacred Law. They have polluted the mainstream with their sexist phobias.

The most obvious example is the notion that women do not enjoy religious equality and consequently, are banned from the mosque. History shows that the women of Madinah used to stand side-by-side with the men in prayer. The Prophet [SAW] only ordered them to line-up at the back after one of his wives, Safiyyah, had complained about a Bedouin winking at her.

The gist of the Hadith concerning mosque attendance is clear that women should not be prevented from going to mosques, but there is a rider that there is special benefit for prayers at home. However, the one view does not cancel the other one out.

We do know that the second Caliph, Sayyidina ‘Umar, was uncomfortable about women in mosque. But in obedience to the Prophet [SAW] he did not prevent his wife, ‘Atika bint Zayd, from going. We know that Sayyidah A’ishah also expressed misgivings, but that Ibn Hazm argued eloquently against her.

In fact, it was Sayyidina ‘Umar who created separate entrances to makes things easier for women in Madinah. And in another account Sayyidina ‘Umar’s son, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, disowned his son after he’d declared he would chase female worshippers from the mosque.

A look at the Qur’an makes it baffling to understand why anybody would want to denigrate women. In so many verses the male-female nexus is celebrated. A much misunderstood verse (4: 34), which is used by the misinformed to claim female inferiority in relationships, actually strengthens the bonds. It says:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women...because God has given the one more graces (in terms of income) than the other…”

The word so often translated as ‘protectors and maintainers’ is ‘quwwamuna’. Scholars say the meaning of the word, difficult to distil from classical Arabic into English, has the complex import of ‘standing firm’ or ‘taking care’ in the legal sense.  

The great 12th century scholar, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, writes that ‘quwwamuna’ is khass, or specific in application, referring only to the issue of maintenance, and not general conduct. In other words, ‘quwwamuna’ does not denote male dominance, but deals with an issue of a woman’s right to safety and security.

So when we move to the line, which talks about ‘beating’ a disobedient spouse (after three previous steps have been followed), there is a context of compassion as opposed to brutal patriarchalism.

The Prophet [SAW] explicitly abhorred spousal violence of any kind, and classical jurists say that the word ‘beat’ here indicates a symbolic – and not literal – last resort to signify how troubled a relationship has become.   

Firstly, the Prophet [SAW] specified the word ‘lightly’ with respect to ‘wadribunna’, and secondly, scholars have said the ‘beating’ – if ever executed –  should be performed with a feather, a piece of grass or as in the case of Imam Shafi’i, a silk scarf. Some have even stipulated that to ensure no harm, the ‘beating’ should be done with a Qur’an under each armpit.

This is not an apologetic discourse as so many hostile to Islam like to claim. The Qur’an in 2: 228 – another verse used to claim the inferiority of women – reinforces what we have said above. Discussing the topic of talaq, or divorce, the verse mentions an equality of rights gender-wise, and then talks about men enjoying a ‘station’, or ‘darajah’, over women.

However, Qur’anic exegetes explain that ‘darajah’ is an economic marker, and not one of power. Another de-contextualised verse is found in 3: 36 where the Qur’an says:

“And God knows best what she brought forth – and no-wise is the male like the female…”

Here the context of the verse, the sabab un-nuzul, betrays the real meaning as it is Allah himself commenting on Hanna giving birth to Maryam – the mother of Jesus – and the fact that women (as opposed to the son that Hanna had prayed for) could not go into Jewish temple service. Yet again, we have a specific meaning confined to a specific incident. In other words, no ruling on women can be derived from the verse.

In conclusion, it is a pity that there are those who have such aggressive attitudes towards gender parity in Islam, seeing that women do enjoy religious and legal equality. The differences of opinion between Sayyidah A’ishah, Sayyidina ‘Umar, Abu Hanifah and others, for instance, were dealt with the utmost decorum, always allowing the Muslim to rest on an opinion that would not disrespect others.

Indeed, Islamic feminism has so many layered subtleties compared to its western model that we do it a great disservice by fighting like elephants in the grass over already established issues.