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Syria's Water Management = Voodoo Style Politics
December 2010
ALL4SYRIA Website reported on December 5, 2010 that the Syrian president called for a day of prayer for rain fall:
الرئيس الأسد يدعو لصلاة الاستسقاء

بدعوة من الرئيس بشار الأسد تقيم وزارة الأوقاف صلاة الاستسقاء يوم الجمعة المقبل الموافق للعاشر من الشهر الجاري.
وأهابت الوزارة بأئمة وخطباء المساجد، إقامة الصلاة عقب صلاة الجمعة في جميع المحافظات السورية.

President Assad calls for salat al-ististqaa (rain prayer)
The Ministry of Religious Endowments, at the request of President Bashar Asad, will perform the istisqaa prayer on Friday December 10th. 2010.
The Ministry asked imams and preachers in all Syrian mosques to perform this prayer following next Friday's prayer.

Salat al-istisqaa is performed during times of drought to ask Allah for rain. The ritual is as old as Islam itself. Rain dances have been practiced in many parts of the ancient world.
It must be emphasized that this article is not critical of prayer by the individual. Individual's freedom and right to pray for whatever cause is sacrosanctRather, the article is critical of an officially organized religious ritual by a government keen to project itself as modern and secular as that of Syria.
Salat al-Istisqaa, planned for Friday December 10, 2010 is nothing but a theatrical performance in collective lunacy reminiscent of ancient tribal rites in Africa, America, and Australia.
A mentality gripped by the ignorance exhibited by salat al-istisqaa is equivalent to the church's insistence in the Middle Ages on teaching that the earth was flat, the center of the universe with the sun and planets rotating around it. Belief in salat al-istisqaa is not different from ancient beliefs that comets were fireballs thrown around by a displeased God; lightening was an evidence of God's unhappiness with humankind; bad weather was Satan's work; or, ringing church bells would pacify bad weather. Believing in salat al-istisqaa is not different from believing that insanity was caused a by the devil.
Unforgivable was the church's torturing and burning to death in 1600 of Bruno for defending the theory that the sun, not the earth, is at the centre of the universe. Deplorable was Pope Urban VIII’s persecution of Galileo in 1633 for advocating that the earth revolved around the sun. 
But, the science of the church in the seventeenth century was the common wisdom of that age. For Syria to engage in a salat al-istisqaa in the twenty-first century is pathetic. How would Syria's schools teach scientific subjects in the shadow of salat al-istisqaa? Will Syria’s children learn that rain is an act of Allah, not a purely natural phenomenon of evaporation and condensation? 
Belief in predestination, superstition, angels, and djinn anesthetizes the brain. Such beliefs are debilitating—they allow disasters to be repeated over and over again. They lock people in a cruel poverty trap. To deliberately nurture such a mentality is slavery of the worst kind.
Why would Syria engage in promoting such an agenda? The answer is that Arab monarchies and republics alike propagate Islam’s divine injunctions in order to prolong their hold on power. Popular enthusiasm for Islam has been conveniently turned in the hands of Arab rulers into controlling instruments over the masses. Arab rulers deliberately nurture Islam’s hold on the people. In so doing Arab rulers build a psychological defense against political dissent.
Blind obedience to Muslim authority is the hallmark of Islam’s political theory. The Quran, the Sunna, and interpretations by famous early Islamic scholars demand  blind obedience to Muslim hierarchical authorities. The belief in predestination makes Muslims accept tyrannical rulers as if they were ordained by God’s will.
To be a good Muslim, one must abide strictly by the word and spirit of the Quran and the Sunna as a way of life. In the harsh environment of the Arabian Desert, disobedience and strife could waste scarce water and staples. The Prophet Muhammad, a product of desert living, enshrined obedience to authority into the Islamic Creed. In 4:59, the Quran orders: “Obey God and obey God’s messenger and obey those of authority among you.” This verse is repeated 20 times in similar wording in the Quran.

Answering how a Muslim should react to a ruler who does not follow the true guidance, the Prophet is reported to have said, according to Sahih Muslim, “He who obeys me obeys God; he who disobeys me, disobeys God. He who obeys the ruler, obeys me; he who disobeys the ruler, disobeys me” (The Six Books, Sahih Muslim, traditions 4746 to 4763, pp. 1007-1008 and traditions 4782 to 4793, pp. 1009-1010). Such wording or its equivalent occurs two dozen times in Sahih Muslim. As to emphasize the point, Abi Dawood and Ibn Maja quoted the Prophet as imploring Muslims to hear and obey their ruler, even if he were an Ethiopian slave (Ibid., Sunan Abi Dawood, tradition 4607, p. 1561; and Sunan Ibn Maja, tradition 42, p. 2479). Al-Bukhari quotes similar sayings (Ibid., Sahih Al-Bukhari, traditions 7137 and 7142, p. 595).

Many famous Islamic jurists opined that in the name of societal peace, years of unjust ruler are better that a day of societal strife. For example, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111) taught that any ruler was better than chaos, no matter what the origin of his power (Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age 1789-1939, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 14). Badr al-Din Bin Jama’a (1241-1333) promoted the view that the ruler is the shadow of God on the Earth; that he can either be chosen or can impose himself by his own power, and in either case, he must be obeyed; that if he is deposed by another, the other must equally be obeyed; and that “we are with whoever conquers” (Ibid, p. 15). Taki al-Din Bin Taymiyya (1263-1328) believed that the essence of government was the power of coercion and that the ruler could demand obedience from his subjects, for even an unjust ruler was better than strife and dissolution of society (Ibid, p. 19).

While Arab monarchs generally claim a divine right to rule (some royals add tribal rights or belonging to Muhammad’s progeny), the so-called “secular” presidents are just as keen to project an image of Islamic piety as their royal counterparts. The state constitutions of Arab monarchies and republics enshrine Islam as the religion of the state (in Syria, Islam is the religion of the president) and make seventh century Islamic Shari’a laws either as the main source of legislation or a main source.
Undoubtedly, the abundance of rain that fell on parts of Syria shortly after the call to salat al-istisqaa was announced, a few days before the scheduled prayer’s date will be exploited by tricksters and the ignorant to proclaim that the loving Allah has quickly responded with generosity.