Peace and Justice for All: DVC’s Political Science Professor Dr. Amer Araim Speaks on Afghanistan and Islam

Dr. Amer Araim, DVC adjunct professor. Photo by Keith Parsons.

Dr. Amer Araim, DVC adjunct professor. Photo by Keith Parsons.

Amer Araim, Guest Writer

I moved to the Bay Area before the 9/11 terrorist attacks were perpetrated, and was shocked and deeply saddened by those events.

In addition to seeing the symbols of our country being attacked, my religion Islam was wrongly interpreted to justify such crimes. Since then, I have been engaged in interfaith activities and academic work to promote nonviolence, to help explain to people that these terrorist attacks are contrary to all religions and faiths, and to strengthen our community’s common goals to promote peace and justice for all.

I believe that the then-government of Afghanistan was wrong in providing shelter to the leaders of Al-Qaeda. However, it was discovered later that the leader of that organization was hiding in Pakistan. After his death, it was hoped that the terrorists’ activities would be diminished. Twenty years of war was costly to the United States, Afghanistan and many other countries.

The recent developments in Afghanistan represent challenges to the United Nations, the United States and the international community, as well as to all political parties and groupings in that country. First of all, there must be a solemn commitment that terrorists should not have a safe haven in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world. Democracy is the best system of government, which includes freedoms of speech, press and religion, the right to assemble and to petition the government, free and fair elections preferably under the supervision of the United Nations, the right to establish political parties, and a sound judicial system to ensure that the democratic system is working properly.

There are reports from Afghanistan that the education of women there is threatened, and religious thought was cited for that purpose.

I wish to state that nothing in the Islamic religion justifies preventing women from education or being treated as a less important sector of the society. In Islam, whether in the Quran or the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, there are many examples of emphasizing that the society is composed of males and females, and that there are no basis for ignoring their rights. Prophet Muhammad said that “Paradise is under the feet of mothers,” which means that pleasing mothers is the way to please God.

The Prophet Muhammad told his companions: “Take half of your religion from the redhead lady (in reference to his wife, Aisha.)”  She was a scholar, who memorized many verses of the Quran and the Prophet’s speeches.

During the life of the Prophet and after his death, Muslims used to ask Aisha questions about family and community matters in accordance with Islamic rules. Therefore, I strongly don’t agree with any interpretation of religion which leads to downgrading women or preventing them from seeking education or jobs.

I hope that the new leadership in Afghanistan will stop any discrimination against women, with special reference to education and jobs.

Furthermore, the government of Afghanistan should cooperate with the United Nations to establish a truly democratic system of government, including the right to vote for all sectors of the society.

Dr. Amer Araim is an adjunct professor of political science at Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill. He is also a former United Nations Iraqi diplomat.