Baha'i News -- An Anatomy Class on Usama’s Mind
An Anatomy Class on Usama’s Mind
A True Story, narrated by a participant,
Dr. Maimul Ahsan Khan,
I was so ashamed for not being able to keep my words to Prof. Simon, who
came to see me from the Illinois State University. I read his book "Law and
Philosophy" and gave him an appointment to see me in my office at the College of Law,
University of Illinois (UIUC) at 8 P.M., May 22, 02. He found my office room closed and
all the doors of the Law Building were closed just 8 P.M. on this date. I did not know
that the Building would be closed so early that day.
A computer scientist of Arab origin was up set with me when I proposed him to leave the
dinner party just ten minutes before 8 P.M. He was my guest at the dinner party and
expressed his astonishment when I proposed him to leave the party with me a bit early. How
one can leave a party of so many distinguished professors and judges? Arab friend said. I
told him that they said that the party would be finished by 8 P.M. and I have another
important appointment with a professor-friend from another university. I could not
continue to convince him to leave the table as we were sitting with the Dean of the UIUC.
I was feeling terribly bad. Another reason why we could not leave early was that
without walking just in front of the dais we could not leave the big dining room packed
with law professors and judges. I know very well Prof. Nowak and never could imagine that
he would gave so long and interesting speech at his friends retirement dinner.
It was not a speech, but a presentation through over head projector. Prof. Nowak
explaining his ten points with all kinds of jokes why no one should miss Prof. Rotunda
after latters retirement. Prof. Rotunda, who became very famous because of his
contribution to the impeachment case of the President Clinton and the dinner party was
organized on the occasion of his retirement.
These two law professors (Nowak and Rotunda) are now regarded as a living legend on the
US constitution because of their five volumes of work on constitutional law. Every one
was enjoying Prof. Nowak jokes about Prof. Rotunda, who along with Kenneth Starr narrowly
missed the ethical and legal grounds of unseating the President Clinton. But nobody really
could understand the real purpose of all those jokes and points until Prof Nowak reveal
his last point, which was named as FIRST point.
All points were arguing that there was really no reason why some one should remember
Prof. Rotunda after his retirement. But explaining his last point Prof. Nowak himself
refuted everything what had said before in his other nine points and every one was happy
with the substance of the speech. But I thought that I missed Professor Simon.
In my view no American Professor could wait for me for forty minutes extra after all
that happened. Not only that my room and the doors of the Law Building was closed, he did
not know where I lived and how I could be reached without any tel nos. at my residence.
This was our second scheduled appointment, so Prof. Simon was wondered what really
happened with me. I did not know that he drove all the way from Bloomington with two other
professors and still were waiting for me.
Anyway I came to the Law Building and opened the main door of the building with my key
and found them inside. Seeing me Prof. Simon was laughing with his full volume. It appears
that he was relieved and I though maybe they were also late. But they informed me how they
could entered the building just before 8 P.M. He did not even gave me an opportunity to
seek an apology for being late. He hurried said: "thats o.k., my friend."
I felt so embarrassed that for a while I felt empowered by him emotionally. But I did
not understand why I had to stay at the guest house of the Illinois Wesleyan University
just to attend one talk. He argued that the "TERROR IN THE MIND OF GOD" and its
relevance to the "Mind of Usama" was a serious issue and could not be dealt
within an hour and two. I was trying to know the detailed arrangement of his talk, and
found that it would be like a workshop to be held in four different places on May 24, 02.
I really did not see any point in arguing things and decided to go with them.
By mid-night we reached to the guest house of the Illinois Wesleyan University. Prof.
Simon advised me to sleep as much as I can as I might find the next day very busy with
different groups of students knowledgeable about the "Mind of Usama" and anatomy
classes on terrorist organizations might be very demanding. I said that I finished the
book "TERROR IN THE MIND OF GOD" and knew most of the arguments in support of
the ideology of Usama. At this point he told me that I have to argue against the
viewpoints of Usama-side.
I thought that it would not be all a difficult job to refute his students
arguments in favor of the terrorist organizations and Usama. From 9 A.M to 12 P.M. I was
given an opportunity to teach the students how Muslims think about Islam and the West. I
was encountered with a number of difficult questions, but that was not too bad.
Then from 1 P.M. to 2 P.M. I was allowed to check some of the background knowledge of
the students about I.R.A., Jewish Defense Council, White Racist Movements, and Al-Qaida. I
was impressed by their home works. From 2.30 to 4.30 a informal discussion was held to
understand the different sides of the same arguments. This is the first time I understood
the seriousness of the project of Prof. Simon.
I was told that I would be able to use students to make my case stronger against Usama
and his strategy. Moreover, the case of the Usama would be presented from Islamic
perspective, while I would be free to use any logic to refute all those arguments. The
debate was scheduled to be held right at 7 P.M. The Assembly hall of this private
university is very close to their guest house where I was staying. At 6.15 P.M. I fall a
sleep. It was good that I could sleep for a while.
But it was already 7 P.M., I was still in their guest house. I thought that they might
have started the case of I.R.A. and decided to go slow. I found a student at the door of
the guest house and was informed that everybody was waiting for me. A number of Professors
were there and a good number of students were still engaged in rehearsal. Seeing all the
arrangement now for the first time I felt that it would not be easy to face the situation.
Apparently it is a very easy job in an American university to refute the arguments for
terrorists and Usama. But the anatomy of the Usama-study was done thoroughly by the
Wesleyan students. This is relatively a very small university and very costly university.
For one academic year an undergraduate student has to pay a tuition fee of 26 thousand
dollars. They call it quality education. From outside it is really unbelievable that what
facilities they have inside. I heard that many of the Wesleyan Professors received a
better salary and facilities than many famous American universities. They are not allowed
to use T.A. (Teacher Assistant) to teach the students.
More than 95% of the Wesleyan professors have Ph.D. degrees from the most reputed
American and European universities. There are a number of Wesleyan universities in the
USA. John Wesley Powell Led the expedition to map the Colorado River at an age when no
appropriate safety measure could be taken for him or his associates. Some of his
associates at the expeditions died. Wesley used his students for expedition and traveled
several hundred miles from Bloomington, Illinois, to Denver, Colorado on foot for the sake
of expeditions, which he regarded the most important way of acquiring real knowledge. At
present almost after one and a half century later today no American student needs such
physical hardship to learn, as they call, real knowledge.
Prof. Simon in his spirit is really a true Wesleyan professor. I was surprised to
observe how thorough his students were abut the mind set of different terrorist
organizations and their arguments. The so-called defenders of I.R.A., Jewish Defense
Council, and White Racist Movements at the debates were cornered rather quickly.
So I was accepted a quick victory against the "Usama people" at the debate.
But Prof. Simon himself led the case of Usama against me. He was assisted by another two
professors. At one stage I was accepting an easy victory in the debate and used "All
American" emotional arguments against Usama-side. I also thought that I was doing
well to argue that American unilateralist approach under present administration is less
harmful that the extremist strategy of the radical Muslim groups. At the face of the track
record of the American foreign policy put forward by three professors against my arguments
against Usama-strategy I expected more help from students.
A student used the argument that Modern Muslim societies are more brutal to their
adversaries than any American administration. He cited Iranian example of the persecution
of Bahai-people, who simply wanted to reform Iranian Shiism.
In a comparison between Bahai Internationalism and Muslim universalism the audience
were lost and ultimately I withdrew that logic. It was really difficult to defend a
position that only foreign or domestic elements are to blamed solely for the enduring
stagnation of the Muslim societies during last several centuries. I tried my level best
not to allow my opponents to blame squarely on colonial past for the impoverished
condition of many Muslim states.
My argument was that Muslim rulers and elites have been doing too little to solve
problems of the Muslim world; even the Arabs are not doing enough to solve the Palestinian
issues. The opposition argued that Palestinians have been facing the same holocaust in
their own land as the Jews had faced in Germany. And this time the Americans and
Israelis are to be blamed fully. I tired to use the Bosnian and Kosovo cards of American
foreign policy against my opponents. The opposition argued that those American cards were
used for the long terms goals of Washington in the European continent.
As a last resort I mentioned that it is only possible in American court to win a case
on behalf of the twenty-five thousand Bosnian raped women against the Serbian criminals.
Prof. Simon did not buy that argument because winning a Bosnian Womens case in
American court is meaningless as that did not bring any good to the Bosnian women. Using
the same logic I argued that the Al-Qaidi activities also did not bring any good to the
Muslims. But opposition strongly argued that without al-Qaida strategy the Bush
administration could militarily occupy Iraq. My point was that there was no unity among
the Iranian-Islamists, Afghan-Talibans and Iraqis under Saddam, and a stronger Taliban
regime could wage a war against Islamic Iran.
Thus whatever American government is doing in Afghanistan ultimately beneficial for the
Muslim world. They put me a Question: Do you think that we Muslims then accept President
Bush as our Caliph? I refused to answer the question and termed it irrelevant to the case.
But did not forget to mention that separating Islamic causes from Al-Qaida and other
terrorist groups President Bush served a historical necessity for the Muslim world because
modern Muslims are like a thick cloud in the way of "Islamic Wisdom and Light."
The opposition shifted their focus of ongoing India-Pakistan conflict and real
possibility of nuclear war, and squarely blamed on president Bush for this terrible
situation. Their argument was that using the Bush-strategy of military intervention
against terrorist organization in foreign land Israel killed many innocent Palestinian
people and now new Delhi wants to use same logic against Pakistan.
If tomorrow a nuclear war broke out between India and Pakistan, not the al-Qaida would
be held responsible, but President Bush would be held responsible for that. My argument
was that dividing British India the Muslim leadership in India did a great mistake and now
they are paying for it. I was challenged that my view was rather sympathetic to Hindu
Fundamentalism, while I was aggressive to Islamic fundamentalism.
According to the opposition this double standard in American foreign policy is the root
cause of many international problems. I was sarcastic to say that at least the Western
leaders and governments have some standard, double or triple, but the Muslims have no
standard and standing at all in international and regional politics.
The game of logic and arguments was so heated that after three hours of debate I lost
all of my "Warrior-students debaters," but another professor came forward to
rescue me. It was almost established that lack of democratic institutions and absence of
freedom of speech in the Muslim world is the root cause of the rise of the Muslim
extremist groups. My argument then was that the Usama-strategy should be confined in the
territories of the Muslim countries and it should be targeted only against the Muslim
rulers. I thought that I was winning the case by telling that why Muslims should not find
any other alternative to suicide-missions to heard their case around the world.
The Usama-side refuted my argument telling the stories of miseries of hundred of
millions of Muslim who even starve on daily basis while American major ally in the Middle
East, the Saudi regime have been spending hundreds of millions dollars for advertisement
to create false Saudi image in the West and USA. Moreover, they tried to establish that
Usama family and Bush family also were closely connected in their business and financial
transactions and interests.
But that thesis could be somehow neutralized arguing that it was a mere baseless
propaganda. The opposition used an argument called the "Myth of the Western Free
Press" and tried to establish that the activities of CIA around the world do more
harms even to the genuine American interests. We were about to finish almost in a tie in
our argument against and for al-Qida and Bush-strategy.
A dramatic shift of balance had occurred when the representative of the "Civil
Liberty Groups" spoke in favor of the Usama case. The lady presenting the civil
liberty groups told the audience that it was not only illegal but also immoral to use most
of the Muslim rulers against their own people and their national interests, and to try to
kill all so-called Muslim terrorists in the name of democracy and freedom. She was asked
whether she would like to see these groups function openly in the Western countries
including the USA. Her argument was very clear: let all groups with all ideologies and
religions work freely side by side until they resort violence. According to her view even
the group like al-Qaida could be absorbed in a genuinely practiced democracy and freedom
of speech in US and Saudi Arabia. In fact the audience agreed that not the Islamic or
democratic principles are the root cause of problem, main problem is the hypocritical
behaviors of all kinds of rulers Western and Muslim alike.
Dr. Maimul Ahsan Khan, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, USA E Mail :
©Copyright 2002, News From Bangladesh
Page last updated/revised 020528
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