Tuesday, September 26, 2006

COMMENT: The Brethren & The PM’s Favourite Muslim

No doubt many will have watched the Four Corners program exposing the internal workings of The Exclusive Brethren sect. This sect receives favourable treatment from the Howard government in a number of areas including workplace relations. Further, some 30 Brethren schools are funded by the Howard government.

Some 12 months ago, then education minister and self-proclaimed “never-voted-Liberal-in-my-life” faction member Dr Brendan Nelson called upon Islamic schools to adopt values or “clear off”.

It is now clear what Dr Nelson meant by Australian values. He wasn’t just referring to the example of an Englishman who breached immigration laws. He also included ensuring that children from your sect are barred from watching TV, attending university, using computers and e-mail, using mobile phones and eating lunch with children from other denominations.

If Muslims follow this sort of isolationist theology, they will be rewarded. And the proof is the open support the Federal Government is giving to the fringe Lebanese al-Ahbash sect and its representative Mustapha Kara-Ali.

The al-Ahbash sect hold views about non-Ahbash people similar to views held by the Brethren. I have experienced this myself, with prominent al-Ahbash leaders castigating me for involvement in the Liberal Party, for cooperating with Buddhist groups and for being involved in interfaith dialogue.

I can now reveal that prominent leaders of the al-Ahbash sect sought my assistance to lobby politicians to close down an Egyptian Coptic newspaper. They included a broadcaster on the al-Ahbash radio station who has interviewed at least 2 Federal Ministers.

I can also reveal that the al-Ahbash sect engage in similar forms of excommunication and division of families. I know of at least 3 cases where siblings joining the sect have been ordered to cut themselves off from other siblings and family members.

The attitudes of al-Ahbash sect leaders toward non-Muslims are most troubling. One woman I spoke to tonight told me she was advised by an al-Ahbash leader to remove Christian relatives from her house as they were “kuffar” (plural of “kafir” or “infidel”) and therefore should not be granted hospitality. Other persons have also approached me with similar stories.

Once again, I call upon Mustapha Kara-Ali to publicly declare the extent of his involvement in the al-Ahbash sect. I also ask Minister Robb whether he approves of the isolationist theology of the sect and whether he believes its teachings will further the process of integration he claims to support.

Words © 2006 Irfan Yusuf

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weekbyweek said...

Again excellent commentary. You might also be interested in this: http://weekbyweek7.blogspot.com/2006/06/greens-vs-exclusive-brethren-this-will.html

Law Student said...

Irfan...i think Al Ahbash satisfies the concept of a 'Cult' more than it does a 'Sect'.

Anonymous said...

I am not a muslim, i am catholic and my experience of the Habashi is not one of rejection or exclusivity. Something is going wrong here in your account.

As for involvement in the Hariri assassination...name me some group which is NOT named as involved?

The assassination was super hi-tech so that says it was no ordinary operation. Perhaps the killers wanted to send a message to the Saudis..what better way than assassinating Hariri who was the illegitimate son of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, as you well know.

I think you just don't like the Habashis because they are not reactionary muzzies like most Sunnis.

mike davis

Anonymous said...

hey mike,

is your other name bilal hamad?

Law Student said...

"i'm a catholic"


Anonymous said...

no, I don't have another name. I actually am who I say I am.

For law student...what actually does 'pffffft' mean in this context?

mike davis.

Irfan said...


i'd be interested to hear how you reached your conclusion, including what exposure you have had to the al-Ahbash cult.

Also, you can create a log-in at the blogger website (www.blogger.com) which will enable people to know who you are.

Anonymous said...

my exposure, as you put it, to the Habashi has been a personal one. I have also read information on them which does not correspond to yours.

I appreciate that you are engaged in polemics, which is ok. As a non muslim who lived for 10 years in various muslim countries I am interested in the whole world of Islam going through these tumultuous times. The world of Islam strikes me as having been asleep for yonks and now is waking up with plenty of energy to deal with pressing matters/problems/clarifications/ ideas etc. I find all this very interesting.

I am not hostile to Islam, although I have my views on it. Especially, I am not hostile to muslims as I have had several very good personal relations with muslims, both in Australia and abroad. This is how I got to be positive in my attitude to the Habashi.

Islam is full of small groups exercising their minds by trying to integrate Islam with the events/ideas/challenges/opportunities of the modern world. A sign of life, if you ask me. The muslims will get much benefit over the next 50 years from all this ferment.

'Cult' is a misnomer in describing the
Habashi.A cult, by proper definition, seeks to hold aloof from the world around it. Wahhabism in Sydney fits THAT description, not the Habashi.

mike davis

Anonymous said...

I found this single paragraph (below) while surfing the issue. I think that it encapsulates perfectly the answer to the question 'What did Benedict want to achieve by his speech'.

I recommend a slow and serious reading of this well written paragraph.

"In Regensburg, the pope exalted the greatness of the Greek philosophy of Aristotle and Plato. He demonstrated that this is an integral part of biblical and Christian faith in the God who is “Logos.” And he also did this deliberately. When Paleologos held his dialogue with his Persian counterpart, Islamic culture had just emerged from its happiest period, when Greek philosophy had been grafted onto the trunk of Qur’anic faith. In asking Islam today to rekindle the light of Aristotelian reason, Benedict XVI is not asking for the impossible. Islam has had its Averroes, the great Arab commentator on Aristotle who was treasured by such a giant of Catholic theology as was Thomas Aquinas. A return, today, to the synthesis between faith and reason is the only way for Islamic interpretation of the Qur’an to free itself from its fundamentalist paralysis and from obsession with “jihad.” And it is the only ground for authentic dialogue between the Muslim world and the Christianity of the West".

Surely there would be a great and useful basis for discussion between Catholic and Muslim scholars as they contrast and compare the two analyses of Aristotle as done by the catholic Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and the muslim Averroes (1126-1198). Averroes is the Latin name for Abul Walid Mohammad Ibn Achmed.

If rational thought is the aim, you don't make any mistake studying Aristotle. Let us study Aristotle together.

THAT is what Benedict was saying.

Mike Davis.

Anonymous said...

And so the muslims threatened to kill him