The first five pages of Chapter SevenThe Eighties (HTML text)
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Engagement in the Private Sector
When I finished the King Talal Dam project in late 1978, I began my work in the private sector, opening an engineering office in Jabal al-Hussein. This office was dedicated to engineering planning and supervision. It is not easy for any engineer who used to work in the public sector to suddenly switch to the private sector, and the move should be gradual. This is exactly what has happened to me, for I was working in supervision and planning in my previous job, and when I began working in the private sector, the move was gradual and easy. In fact, the private sector’s horizons are quite different from those in the public sector, in which I worked for 17 years. T
he private sector opens new horizons, and provides the opportunity to establish important social relations with a wider spectrum of people, and to substantially increase one’s income, two or three folds of that in the public sector. Consequently, during my work in the private sector, 1978–1989, my income was double or triple what it had been in the public sector. Thanks to Allah, during this period, I purchased a flat in Tila‘ al-‘Ali district, which was part of a residential project that I supervised for about three years in agreement with its sponsor, a cooperative society.
During this period, I also supervised the construction of other residential projects, some factories, including pharmaceutical plants in Na‘ur, schools, such as Dar al-Arqam Islamic schools, and a number of mosques that I supervised free of charge with Brother A.B. Most of my customers were amongst my friends or acquaintances, mostly from KSA and other Gulf States. Work in the private sector totally consumed me as I used to work for about 18 hours daily. The office that I established was always open for social contacts with different sectors of the society, including trade unions. The day was allocated for supervision of projects and the purchase of building materials, and the night for structural designs.
Being fond of seeing and knowing the world, I traveled with my family in a number of visits to Rhodes Island, Spain, Cyprus and Turkey. Rhodes, an island close to Turkey, was originally part of the Ottoman Empire, but it was forcefully annexed by the colonial powers to Greece. History tells us that it was the residence of the crusading battalion the knights of Saint John, which came to this island from Palestine after the defeat of the crusaders there. Subsequently, after the conquest of the Rhodes Island in the 16th century by the Ottoman Sultan Sulaiman al-Qanuni, those knights migrated to Malta. Some intellectuals, amongst them Muhammad Hassanein Heikal, record their conviction that these knights are currently organized in militias, and that some of them fight in Iraq under American control and supervision.
Rhodes Island, which is composed of two parts, an ancient part and a modern one, was visited in 1979. While there, we focused on acquainting ourselves with the ancient part, and prayed the Jum‘ah prayer in a mosque in group of not more than six people. Besides this mosque, we visited an ancient school and some of the Ottoman archaeological remains, including fountains and a cemetery. Rhodes is extremely beautiful, surrounded by water from all sides. It is also politically famous because it was the setting for two significant events.
First, was the parachuting on to the island during the second world war of a sizable number of German paratroopers who annihilated a British force stationed there, and annexed the Island to Germany. Secondly, it was the place in which the famous Rhodes armistice treaty of 1949 was concluded between the Zionists unilaterally with each of the Arab delegates. It was said that during these negotiations some of the Arab states had recklessly agreed to an Israeli demand to what appeared on the map to be a slight change in the armistice line, but was, in fact, a blunder that lead to the incorporation of some Palestinian villages in the Israeli territories.
My long-standing dream of seeing and knowing the archeological remains of the Arabs and Muslims in Spain was finally fulfilled during a visit that I paid to the country. Just before I left, I heard of a Zionist conference held in occupied Palestine, at which Zionist intellectuals focused on the study of two issues, namely the manner through which Salahuddine al-Ayyubi had emerged, and, secondly, how the Muslims were expelled from Spain. With such scrutiny, they wanted to block the appearance of future Salahuddines, and to draw lessons and experiences from the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain.
This visit was essentially to Madrid (corruption of the Arabic word Mujrit, which literally means a stream of water, and the town was so called because of the abundance of rivers and water). In the neighborhood of Madrid, we visited a suburb called El Escorial, which houses a huge library of Arabic and Islamic sources. While touring a museum in this area, my son ‘Umar excitingly drew my attention to a photo of a battle between the Spaniards and Arab Muslims, where an Arab group, fully dressed in Arab clothes, appear amongst the Spaniards. Sadly I responded to my son, “No wonder, we are currently living at a time when some Arabs support the Zionist enemy and conclude treaties with it.” This is the kind of shocking history that we must sometimes experience and confront.
Like Granada (Gharnatah) and Cordoba (Qurtubah), Seville (Ishbiliyah), a city situated at the Guadalquivir River (Grand Valley River), is one of the major Spanish cities that had been an important European center for Arabic and Islamic sciences and thought. The Arab and Muslim impact is crystal clear in its buildings and bridges. One of its famous rulers, al-Mu‘tamad bin ‘Abad, was filthy rich and extravagant, and known to be a distinguished poet, author of the famous poem on “submission.” To confront the danger of the Spaniards, he was compelled to seek the support of his rival Yusuf Bin Tashafin, the then leader of the Murabitun movement.
In response to a warning by some of his advisers on the danger of this move to his rule, he sarcastically said; “It is better that I pasture camels rather than pigs.” However, Yusuf Bin Tashafin was a pious man who united all these kingdoms—known as al-Tawa’if kingdoms, and in 1086 CE/479 AH he confronted the Spaniards in the decisive battle of al-Zallaqah, achieving a resounding victory. This followed a previous victory that he achieved in the preceding year—1085 CE—that lead to the downfall of the town of Toledo (Tulaytilah).
I visited Toledo, a town north of Seville, which is strategically located on top of a hill and at the river Tago. Many strategists had claimed that its downfall at the hands of the crusaders marked the beginning of the collapse of Arab/Muslim rule in Spain. While touring this city and inspecting its remains, I had, in fact, felt similar to being in the heart of the old city in Jerusalem. I visited a number of churches in Toledo and Seville, which had originally all been mosques, but, surprisingly, I found no mosque in the town. A more beautiful town is Granada where Arab remains are clearly visible. It is said that all Spanish towns were at one time inhabited by Arabs from the East, e.g., Valencia, Toledo, Granada and Cordoba. However, I did not visit the latter town during this tour. Granada seemed to have been inhabited by Arabs from Damascus, a likelihood that is supported by many commonalities between the two towns: white houses, gardens within the houses, narrow streets and white window curtains. With the downfall of Granada in 1492, the Arab Muslims lost their last stronghold in Spain, and there are signboards that show the surrender of the town’s key by Abu ‘Abdullah al-Saghir to the two Spanish royals, Isabella and Ferdinand, who captured the town after a year long siege.
In response to al-Saghir’s bitter sobbing for the loss of his rule, his mother had reportedly sternly reprimanded him with the following famous words: “Thou dost weep like a woman for what thou couldst not defend as a man.” Al-Saghir was reportedly allowed to stay in the town for one year only, after which he was compelled to leave. On his way out towards North Africa, looking back at the town, al-Saghir had reportedly breathed a big sigh of regret at the place where he could no longer see the town, nicknamed Puerto del Suspiro del Moro (The Pass of the Moor’s Sigh). The most famous landmark of Granada is the efficiently designed and beautifully constructed Alhambra Palace. The slogans written on it are: “Wa la Ghalib illa Allah,” or (There is no conqueror but Allah) and “Al-Hamdu lillah ‘Ala Ni‘mat al-Islam” (Thank to Allah for the blessing of Islam).
The popular utterance of the Tunisians “Allah Ghalib” (Allah is victorious) may be based on the former slogan. What distinguishes Granada is its magnificent palaces that attract 15 million tourists to Spain annually from all over the world. Adjacent to these palaces are beautiful and coherently organized gardens, known as Palacio de Generalife (Arabic: Jannat al-‘Arif—Architect’s Garden), which get their waters from distant mountains that are covered with snow. The Arabs transferred the melted waters of these mountains to this garden through especially designed canals, which demonstrates that our forefathers were not only genius in warfare but also in the sciences.
As I mentioned earlier, theEuropeans used to come to Andalus to learn Arabic, and subsequently transfer these sciences to their countries. Hence, many of these sciences were translated by distinguished scholars, notably Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi, whose statue stands right in the heart of one of the Spanish cities.
My other trip was to Cyprus in 1982. The island is divided into two parts, the bulk is incorporated in Greece and the other—the northern part—in Turkey. By 1974, the Turkish forces reportedly controlled the northern part, but the then Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the founder of the Turkish Islamic Party, was said to have been sad for his inability to control the city of Larnaca that housed a mosque and a shrine of the Prophet’s Companion Um al-Haram who was “martyred” in Cyprus and was buried there. However, we spent several days in the Greek part, which had earlier been conquered by the Umayyad Caliph Muawiyah Bin Abi Sufyan. It depends largely on tourism, and we had the opportunity to visit two of its towns: Limassol and Paphos in the west. The translator told us that Arabs, including some Jordanians, have a good number of palaces in the latter town.
During our visit to Turkey, we became acquainted with Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. It is an important city that lies along the two sides of the Bosphorus Straits, and has two parts—a European and an Asian part—connected together by a suspension bridge. It is famous for its mosques, particularly a large mosque known as the Blue Mosque, which was constructed in a beautiful architectural manner with pillars and composed of a number of domes that support each other. Another mosque is Aya Sofia, which was converted by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk into a museum. Amongst the famous remains is the headquarter Palace of the Ottoman Caliphate, which is used as a museum under the name of Topkapi Palace. It houses the belongings of the Ottoman Sultans, starting with Muhammad al-Fatih down to the last one.
A visitor to this museum notes a surprisingly great difference between the dress code and the sword of Muhammed al-Fatih and those of the last Sultans. While the former are very simple and modest, the latter are lavish, being decorated with Sapphire and gold. This reveals that simplicity and asceticism were instrumental in the early strength of Islam, while its later weakness was linked with extravagance. I also noticed this phenomenon in Spain, where the Spaniards had been able to swiftly defeat Muslim rulers when they were consumed with laxity and luxury. Topkapi Palace is a tourist attraction, as it houses some of the Muslim remains such as the swords of Umar bin al-Khattab, ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan and some of the Prophet Muhammad’s relatives. We also visited Dolmabahçe Palace, built in the 19th century by Sultan Abdul-Majid I, and in which Atatürk resided.
Itreflects some interesting architectural features and great luxury. Atatürk pursued westernization, and thus he took a number of measures to de-Islamize Turkey: prohibited the turban and imposed the wearing of the hat, stopped the Athan (call for the prayer) and cancelled the use of the Arab alphabet. Currently, Turkey is led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who tries his utmost to please Europe by pursuing a lenient policy towards the army and secularist thought, but without achieving his goal of joining the European Union. The Turks depend upon themselves, have very advanced industry and are united to confront any external aggression.
The Activities of the MB Movement in Jordan
MB activities in Jordan have progressively increased since 1967. Their scholars intensively propagated Islam among the youth—both boys and girls—and among businessmen, and the movement became deeply rooted in Jordanian society. The strength of the internal front, the success of the Iranian revolution and the beginning of its counterpart in Afghanistan were all factors that stimulated this drive. In fact, Hassan al-Banna’s call, which was launched in 1928 after the collapse of the Muslim Caliphate, fundamentally aimed at the revitalization of Islam. As emphasized by Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah in one of my meetings with him in Beirut, Hassan al-Banna was the first to call for an Islamic state in modern times. Subsequently, Sayyid Qutb crystallized this trend by emphasizing the necessity of building Muslim society to be the bedrock for the establishment of Islamic rule and the Islamist state…