Following the announcement by the influential Shi’ite cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr that he would “leave politics”, clashes broke out in Baghdad on Monday. The clashes between Iraqi forces and the protestors left 15 people dead and hundreds injured. Apparently, the fighting trading gun fires, broke out between the supporters of al-Sadr and his Iran-backed opponents. The clashes took place in Baghdad’s Green Zone which houses the parliament, government offices, and international embassies. The authorities have already imposed a state-wide curfew. The unrest comes along months of political unrest over failed attempts to create a government in Iraq.
As Iraq battles to recover from decades of war, internal turmoil, and entrenched corruption, the middle eastern country is devolving into yet another cycle of violence. This was the worst incident of violence in Iraq in years. This violence has led to increasing worries about the possibility of civil war in Iraq.
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Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr?
The 48-year-old Iraqi political leader Muqtada al-Sadr was born in 1974 to a very devout family of Shia clerics. His father Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr was the grand ayatollah of Shias. In 1990, after the first gulf war when the US-led allied forces liberated, Kuwait Saddam Hussain lost. However, Hussain survived and continued to stay in power. A big Shiite rebellion followed in Iraq in 1999. It was al-Sadr’s father Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr who led this Shiite rebellion against the regime of Saddam Hussain. Although it was never proved, al-Sadr’s father was widely blamed for it. Nonetheless, Muqtada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein government.
After his father’s assasination in 1999, he had a legacy to carry forward and so he aspired to become a religious cleric.
However, before he could do that, he raised the “Mahdi Army”, a private militia that became one of the most powerful Shiite militias at one point. In 2008 he also led the “Battle of Basra: against the Iraqi forces. However, he lost that battle and went to Iran to become an ayatollah. After returning from Iran his popularity increased even more.
Muqtada Al-Sadr’s past and the US
Seeking political reform, Al-Sadr’s supporters had stormed the Green Zone and broke into the nation’s Parliament building in a similar fashion in 2016. The US has always claimed to be concerned about Iranian hegemony in the country since Iran’s influence may sour the Shia-Sunni relations. This can lead to the alienation of the Sunni minority in Iraq. Although al-Sadr appears to be the US’s only choice for the position of power in Iraq at the moment, he was formerly the US’ top adversary following the overthrow of Saddam. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez was quoted by The Guardian in 2004 as saying, “The aim of US soldiers is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr.” Following the US invasion in 2003, the Sadrist and the allied militia (Mahdi army) began a resistance against the invading forces. The militias under al-Sadr go by the name “peace companies” now.
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Muqtada al-Sadr styles himself as an Iraqi Nationalist Leader
Muqtada al-Sadr is known to speak about the rights of minorities. He believes that all Iraqis are one and there should be no discrimination based on sects or religions. He has spoken for the rights of not just Sunni Muslims but also Yazidis, Kurds, and Christians. In 2021 he even ordered the creation of a special committee to verify information and complaints regarding cases of illegally dispossessing Christians of their properties in various regions of the Muslim country.
After his supporters took over the parliament in July, al-Sadr issued a post on Twitter . He informed them that their message and demands had reached the concerned people. He urged them to “return safely to your homes.” Then, with the assistance of security personnel, the protesters started to leave the Parliament building.
“I apologize to the Iraqi people, the only ones affected by the events,” al-Sadr said in a televised speech.
He has even said he will go “on a fast” if peace is not restored.
In comparison to his political rivals, he has a significant position in Iraq thanks to his ability to mobilize and even control a great number of his supporters. “Sadr has demonstrated that he can mobilize and demobilize with a word,” said Iraqi analyst Fanar Haddad. “He can click his fingers and threaten the entire edifice. Then, he can click his fingers and save the entire edifice.”
The Contemporary Iraqi Context
Iraq is one of the five largest oil reserves in the world. That makes it an important country in world politics. Now it has been in political uncertainty for about a year. What political analysts saw as a successful political experiment in the elections of October last year in Iraq has revealed some of the worst outcomes of democratic systems. This happens when elections don’t end up with a conclusive majority winner. The Iraqi parliament has been unable to come together to form a government.
“This [the violence] was certainly the possible beginning or spark of a Shia-Shia civil war,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraqi political analyst at the Century Foundation.
“The violence may have subsided for now, but retributions are to be expected. This violence is indicative of the bitter divisions and deadlock in Iraqi politics. It may be ratcheted down for now, but without a proper solution it will appear again in the future,” he added.
Muslim Women’s Empowerment and Inheritance Rights
Despite Islam giving Muslim women the right to inheritance, it is rare to see Muslims follow this Islamic law. The recently released National Family Health Survey 2019-20 (NFHS-5) fact sheet for Jammu and Kashmir states that only 57.3% of women in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir own a house and/or land, alone or jointly (PDF of the survey). J and K is a Muslim-majority region. According to 2011 census, 68.3% of the region’s population is Muslim.
Even though we can read these figures as “at least more than half women own property”, however, given that all women are coparceners in one or the other way, it raises vexing questions.
Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. Despite this fact, the number of women owning property is almost half of that of men.
The data on women’s inheritance in Pakistan and other Muslim-majority South Asian countries is much worse. There are very few women who own property in South Asian countries.
Inheritance Rights, a Taboo?
Women asking for their coparcenary rights is considered taboo here. Further, women also seem to have internalized that asking for inheritance rights will break their relationship with other members of the family, especially brothers. As a result, they sign relinquishment deeds without giving a second thought about it.
Women’s Empowerment through Inheritance
People mostly see the inheritance of property as a matter of money and wealth. However, it goes beyond that, at least for women. Economically speaking, ownership of any kind of property by women is a very important determinant in the quest for women’s empowerment.
In a realist world where everyone is responsible for their own survival, women should not expect their male relatives to care for them. Unless women do not attach economical value to their lives, they will have no power. This is especially true for unemployed women who do not have financial independence. Since inheritance of property is a given- however small value it may have, they do not have to get an education or work to get it. The only thing they need to do is not to sign the relinquishment deed.
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Militating Against Women’s Empowerment
Relinquishment of coparcenary rights militates against women’s empowerment. It is high time that women ask for the inheritance rights that the constitution as well as the religion gives them. The right to inheritance also seems one of its kind means to women’s empowerment where people peddling religiosity may not find a reason to oppose it. Women should know that signing a relinquishment deed may lose them a lifetime opportunity for leading an independent and respectful life in this patriarchal world.
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The Debate on Equality of Rights
It is generally accepted that Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. However, the interpretation of the Quran regarding this law is debatable. According to Mohmmad Iqbal, “the share of the daughter is determined not by any inferiority inherent in her, but in view of her economic opportunities, and the place she occupies in the social structure of which she is a part and parcel.” Iqbal goes on to justify the case of inheritance law in Islam arguing that the daughter “is held to be the full owner of the property given to her by both the father and the husband at the time of her marriage.” Further, “she absolutely owns her dower-money which may be prompt or deferred according to her own choice, and in lieu of which she can hold possession of the whole of her husband’s property till payment, the responsibility of maintaining her throughout her life is wholly thrown on the husband.”
Therefore, for Iqbal, if we “judge the working of the rule of inheritance from this point of view, you (we) will find that there is no material difference between the economic position of sons and daughters.”
However, Iqbal made this point in 1930. Since then, there has been a significant change in the economic positions of men and women. If the motive behind inheritance laws, as mentioned by Iqbal, is applied to modern-day conditions, sons and daughters may well get an equal share in inheritance.
Towards Muslim Women’s Empowerment
Inheritance rights bestowed by Islam on Muslim women show Islam’s inherent quest for women’s empowerment.
Even though the West blames Muslims for repressing women’s rights, Islam has its in-built laws for women’s empowerment. These laws, unlike West’s feminist rhetoric, go beyond symbolic empowerment like sartorial choice, and hence materially empower women.
However, it is a shame that Muslims do not follow Islamic laws like inheritance law in letter and spirit. If all Muslims obeyed these laws, the world would become a better place for Muslim women.
“The Worst is Yet to Come”— Recession 2023 & the Looming Uncertainty
Recession 2023 is just around the corner.
The global economic crises are now inducing the certainty of a looming recession. Economists and financial organizations warned of upcoming uncertainty; however, regrettably, the world failed to decode the uprising of the economic catastrophe.
Today’s economies around the globe are confronting an urgent economic crisis and is on the brink of a recession. And, the experts fear the worst is yet to come!
Shear Impact on Leading Economies – US, UK, China, and India
“Global growth is slowing sharply, with further slowing likely as more countries fall into recession. My deep concern is that these trends will persist, with long-lasting consequences devastating for people in emerging markets and developing economies,”World Bank Group President David Malpass.
For the first time since 2009, the US declared negative GDP growth two quarters in a row, which officially qualifies as a recession.
The British Pound is at its historic low of $1.038 against US dollars due to rare emergency interventions. Cities and states in China are still in lockdown because of a rise in Covid-19 cases. On the other hand, Indian Rupee is at its 75-year low of Rupees 82.11 against the US dollar, soaring the hike in repo rates to 5.90%.
Srilanka already declared insolvency earlier this year. Russia and Ukraine war had already set the stage for World War III. And the recent resilience of china on Taiwan has tarnished the world economic environment.
All these together indicate the harsh truth: Recession 2023 will worsens the conditions of all major economies and push the globe into undefined circumstances like:
- Central banks hiking the interest rates
- Hike in energy and food prices
- Depreciation of major currencies against the dollar
Central Banks Hiking the Interest Rates
To counteract rising inflation and the impact of a strong currency on the economies, central banks are hurriedly raising interest rates. This happens as the US Federal Reserve keeps up its aggressive interest rate hikes.
On the other hand Reserve Bank of India is also struggling with persistently high inflation, which is made worse by geopolitical unrest, droughts, and supply-chain disruptions.
Hike in Energy and Food Prices
Russia is the world’s third-largest oil-producing country. It provides 7-8 million barrels of crude oil per day, or 14% of global production, to international markets.
The US and UK’s restrictions and many other nations’ decisions to stop purchasing Russian petroleum have exacerbated the crisis.
Russia and Ukraine are the biggest sunflower oil producers globally and the second most frequently used cooking oil. However, sunflower oil cannot yet be exported from Russia due to the tightening of import restrictions.
Plus, due to the increasing demand for sunflower oil in the market, other edible oils are now more expensive, raising the cost of food and other products across borders.
Depreciation of Major Currencies Against the US Dollar
Compared to the US dollar, the Japanese yen has dropped to its lowest level since August 1998. The Indian rupee is hitting its lowest in history, and for the first time in 20 years, the euro is now lower than the USD.
The decline of major currencies indicates the current state of the global economy. Moreover, it provides a crystal-clear forecast of how disastrous the recession 2023 would be if significant steps are not taken to control the situation.
The Decelerating Global Economy: IMF Forecast for Recession 2023
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is warning that over a third of the economy is headed for a recession this year or next. Its world outlook shows growth withering from 6.0% in 2021, 3.2% in 2022, and an estimate of just 2.7% in 2023.
Recession 2023 will be different from all the recessions the world has faced to date. Different factors are driving economic crashes in different countries, for example:
The ongoing turmoil in the national and global market is further sparking the threat of World War III.
Rising Certainty of World War III
Russia has already invaded Ukraine, and in opposition to Ukraine’s protection, the US cleared this support with Ukraine by immediately sending weapons to Ukraine. Such US behavior infuriated Russia, leading to increased attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US and European countries that further expansion of support to Ukraine might lead the situation to a ‘Global catastrophe.’
On the other hand, China assaulted Taiwan due to the recent visit of the US finance minister. The current clash of China and Indian troops erupt seriously, leading to grim conflict on north-east Indian borders.
Additionally, civil wars in countries like Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Mali are raising the certainty of World War III.
Needless to say, World War III will destroy the world economy, resulting in more financial turmoil, starvation, a hike in oil prices, and the depreciation of currencies.
Recession 2023: The Worst is yet to come
Slowing down economies, high repo rates, depreciation of currencies, bankrupted countries, and looming wars between nuclear countries are further solidifying the onset of a cold economic winter.
The circumstance indicates what is coming. The indication of recession, the yell of “the worst is yet to come.“
However, to wrench the global situation on track, policymakers should continue to give needy powerful tailored assistance to respective governments while also putting in place reliable medium-term fiscal strategies.
Hindutva Activists Call for Economic Boycott of Muslims
Days before the Hindu festival Diwali, Twitter is full of anti-Muslim hatred. One of the trending hashtags on Twitter is “Halal Free Diwali”. It seems like a well-orchestrated campaign against businesses owned by Muslims or catering to Muslims. Through this social media campaign, Hindutva activists and supporters are calling for the boycott of Halal-certified products. Some of them allege that Muslims are creating a parallel economy that is used for Jihad. Some people have even gone a step ahead and called it “economic Jihad”.
Economic Boycott of Muslims is not New
The economic boycott of Muslims on this Diwali is not something new. It has been a constant for several festivals now.
Earlier this year, Temples in Karnataka prohibited Muslims from doing trade during festivals. This happened in the same locality where the Hijab row had erupted.
Hindutva activists alleged that Muslims had dominated the trade. They said that Muslims were doing “injustice” by dominating the businesses and keeping Hindus out. The Hindutva supporters also argued that while Muslims are involved in some unpleasant incidents but also want to reap the benefits of trade during Hindu festivals.
The boycott calls escalated later. Some Hindutva organizations also called for a boycott of Muslim cab and tour operators.
Boycott of Companies Owned by Muslims
Last year, some Hindutva miscreants launched a campaign of misinformation and fake propaganda against iD Fresh Foods, a company owned by a Muslim businessman. Common masses were misled through WhatsApp forwards that the products of the company contain animal extracts. It was a concerted attack to hurt the company’s reputation. Further, some people also alleged that the company only employed Muslims.
Even though these allegations were refuted by the company, nothing could undo the harm that the company suffered. Further, the government did nothing to punish the culprits who defamed the company.
Muslims in India are a minority. They have a very low literacy rate. They do not have access to resources. As a result, most Muslims are involved in trading rather than the government sector.
When a particular community boycotts Muslim shopkeepers, the Muslims have no choice but to shut down their shops. The only way out for these shopkeepers is to operate in Muslim-majority areas. However, since most Muslims are involved in the trading sector, how many traders can the Muslim community sustain?
Distortion of History
Hindutva activists and supporters allege that Muslims have always dominated Hindus. They accuse Muslims of perpetrating injustice on them in the past. Hence, they claim it is payback time.
It is a typical strategy that precedes genocide. The “other” are demonized. Their history is distorted. They are accused of being dirty. Further, they are also accused of things like dominating the economy or stealing jobs.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Muslims in India are disempowered. They are underrepresented in all the public sectors job. The representation of Muslims in the formal sector of the economy is also low.
The condition of Muslims in India and their power can be gauged from the fact that they make up almost 15% of India’s population, but Muslim representatives constitute only 5% of the Indian parliament’s total strength.
It is the political power that determines the power of a particular community. Muslims do not even have political power proportionate to their population. The truth is that Indian Muslims are marginalized and excluded.
India’s Economic Policy and Economic Boycott of Muslims
Ever since coming to power in 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched many schemes to make India’s economy grow faster. Further, Modi wants India to become a manufacturing hub.
While these schemes and plans are ambitious, Modi’s supporters are calling for the economic disempowerment of 15% of India’s population.
Muslim Countries and the Indian Economy
A significant proportion of India’s population works in Gulf countries. They send remittances back home, contributing to India’s foreign exchange. Further, Indian businesses have a ubiquitous presence in Gulf countries. They do a lot of business there.
Muslim-majority countries contribute to India’s economy without discrimination. In fact, Gulf countries give preference to Indians rather than Pakistani Muslims when it comes to business and employment.
However, back home, Indians are marginalizing Muslims. Hindutva supporters are calling out Muslims because of their religion.
It is rather ironic that Hindutva supporters think it is fine for them to find employment and use profits from business proceedings in Gulf countries but at the same time accuse Indian Muslims of economic and employment Jihad back home.
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