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4 Rabi' al-Awwal, 1438 A.H.- December 4 2016 Issue # 49, Newsletter #1683

Hadith of the Week

Approach to un-Islamic "Muslim" rulers is disruptive.

"The messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said: One who goes to the door of the sultan gets involved in fitna and the nearer one gets to the sultan, the further he gets away from Allah." [Musnad of imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, hadith # 8823, narrated by Abu Huraira, r.a]

Comment by Kaukab Siddique: In Islam, the legitimate ruler is the khalifa chosen freely by the Muslims through shoora. There are no sultans in Islam and trying to curry favor with them is extremely harmful. Fitna implies confusion, misdirection, and disruption accompanied by lack of faith.

Remember that this warning is about Muslim rulers. Cooperation with non-Muslim rulers is haram. See sura Hud of the Quran.


Jamaat al-Muslimeen Activity in Catonsville, Maryland.
Sermon on Fate.

On December 2, 2016 a 7 page Jamaat document was given to 100 Muslims after juma' at Masjid Fatima. Most people here are Urdu speaking and even the sermon is given in Urdu. [A brief khutba is also given in Arabic.]

The Jamaat document given to 100 Pakistani Americans had these items:

  1. Immigrant response to Trump victory [Imam Badi.]

  2. Obama regime was deceptively anti-Islam. Trump will be openly anti-Islam. [Br. Kaukab]

  3. Mosul: Week 5. Aleppo deluge of bombs: betrayal by Turkey.

  4. Maulana Wahiduddin's falsehood: by Syed Nadwi.

  5. Mass rally in Indonesia against blasphemy.

The khutba was very educational though in Urdu, urging the people to realize that the Laws of Allah are FATE but that does not mean we should stop striving and then blame fate.

Political Prisoners :

 Breaking News

Mosul, Iraq , Week 7.
Shia Armada and Kurdish hordes Facing Defeat at Mosul.

For a whole week the massive Shia armada and the huge Kurdish juggernaut backed by America has not been able to advance. The US backed regime has not even been able to do propaganda.

On the other other side, Islamic State has relesed several videos showing the dead bodies of Baghdad troops and Kurdish Peshmarga. One video shows Iraqi Shia militia's camp burning near Tal Afar.

The US air force has not been able to function well owing to bad weather, says Baghdad.

The air forces has knocked out Mosul's water supply which could make the population miserable . However only 7000 people have left the city.Support for ISIS is strong.

 Upcoming Events

12 Rabi' al Awwwal is the birthday of the Prophet, pbuh.

We do not celebrate his birthday. We have two Eids instead.

We should follow his Sunnah and let women know of his beloved wife Aisha, r.a.

She was the greatest woman and freed more slaves than anyone else.

Let us be truthful to Islam and not be swayed by contemporary fads.

 Word Around The Net

Word Around the Net

The government in Gambia has changed with the election victory of the opposition. The current president gracefully accepted defeat. An example of good will.

The al-Shaban Islamic movement captured three towns during the last one month. The internal situation in Ethiopia forced Ethiopian troops occupying Somaia to withdraw.



Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.
We urge Muslims to boycott all businesses which support Israel.
[Jamaat al-Muslimeen]


Canada's Islam hater in India

Stirring up hate against Muslims, Pakistan and Sikhs on National Scale finally got an answer from students. Remember the context is India and the man is a known hater with a Muslim name.



Beware of Labeling and Attacks on one of the Greatest Scholars of Islam who Taught strict Adherence to the Qur'an and authentic Hadith
by Kaukab Siddique, PhD

The re-emergence of Islam as a transformational power began as a challenge to British hegemony in India, Hindu-Sikh militancy in what is now Pakistan, and decadent prevalence of tribal-Turkish rule and Shi'ite sectarianism in Arabia and Iraq.

Iqbal taught Muslims to focus on Muhammad, pbuh, as the leader of the ummah. Pakistan exists today owing to his globalistic intellect.

He attacked western power, capitalism, sufiism and obscurantism.

Shah Waliullah, 1703-1762, took on the task of unravelling the diversion created by religious scholasticism. Syed Ahmed [Shaheed ] 1786-1831, Shah Ismail Dehlavi, 1779-1831 and their companions met head on Sikh-Hindu fanaticism in northwestern india [now Pakistan] . Jihad became a relevant concept again.

Westernizing education and the details of British exceptionalism were attacked by Maulana Maudoodi. Syed Qutb undertook that task in Egypt and the Arab world.

The greatest reformer of them all was Imam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab 1703-1792. He pointed out that the teachings of Shiism and aspects of sufiism amount to kufr. We should try to live according to the Qur'an and authentic hadith and not seek intercession from the dead. The struggle is today and the guidance is in the living texts of Allah's final revelation, the Qur'an and Allah's final messenger and prophet, Muhammad, pbuh.

The indirect influence on all these scholars specially in the analysis of Islamic texts came from Ibn Taymiyyah, 1263-1328..

In response to this process of Islamic renaissance, the British, the Shi'ites and Sufis, the Zionists and now all the western powers combined have popularized a negative term "wahhabi." To conceal the re-emergence of authentic Islam, the attempt has been made to create the impression that those who strictly follow the Qur'an and the authentic hadith are a new sect called "wahhabism." The Zionists have tried to make "wahhabi": a term of abuse almost like the "N" word for Black people.

A favorite tactic of the abusers is to link the current rulers of Arabia, the Saudis, with "wahhabis." It is a bogus tactic like blaming Mohomed Ali Jinnah for the chaos in Pakistan, or Imam Khomeini for the sectarianism of Iran, or George Washington for the imperialism of America.

In fact the teachings of Imam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab were an attempt to link Muslims with the original Islam of Muhammad, pbuh, as seen in the Qur'an and in the authentic hadith of Muhammad, pbuh, and in the ijma [consensus], of his Companions, the sahabah who are extolled in the Qur'an 9:100.

What was Imam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab trying to do which has enraged the groups attacking him? He wanted Muslims to KNOW the real Islam in its own texts. Here is what he taught, in his own words:

"You [may Allah have mercy on you], have to know that we are obliged to learn four issues:

  1. Knowledge: It means true cognition of Allah, His Prophet and the DEEN of Islam though their evidences.

  2. Acting according to this knowledge.

  3. To propagate it.

  4. Patience in enduring the injurious difficulties of knowledge and its exigencies.

The evidence for these points is the statement of Exalted Allah:

'In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. By the declining day. Surely mankind is in a state of loss, except those believe and do good works and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance,' [103:1-3]

About this Quranic text, al-Shafai, Allah's mercy be on him, commented: 'If Allah had revealed only this sura as irrefutable demonstration to His creation, it would be adequate enough to convince them.'

Al-Bukhari, may Allah's mercy be on him, said with the same emphasis, 'Knowledge must precede both statement and action.'

The evidence for for this is the statement of Exalted Allah:

"So KNOW ye that there is no God save Allah and ask forgiveness for thy sin.' [47:19]

In this verse, Allah started with the word KNOW before statement and action."
[us-thalatha usool fit-Tawheed, by Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab.]

SPOTLIGHTS from Br. Badi

 Imam Badi Ali

How to Attain Beneficial Knowledge.

-Imam Badi Ali leads a large Muslim community in Greensboro,NC



Large Prayer Gathering in Dir
India is Provoking War
Muslims are under Attack Globally..

by Qaiser Sharif.

Dec. 2; Ameer, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan, Senator Sirajul Haq, has said that India's provocations and shelling on the border and the LoC could plunge the entire region into a war and warned that this war would not be confined to any limited area. He was addressing a big Friday congregation in Dir.

The JI chief said that the Muslims were being massacred like fodder in Kashmir, Palestine, Burma and many other areas but the UN and the world community were silent spectators. He said that peace could not be established in the region in the presence of the Kashmir issue. He deplored that the rulers in Islamabad had failed to draw the attention of the world community to India's provocations and taking it into confidence on this score as they were busy in self protection.

Sirajul Haq said that India's troops in occupied Kashmir were busy in human rights violations against Kashmiris and the common citizens were not allowed to offer Friday prayers in many places . He said it was the responsibility of the international community to take notice of this situation.

The JI chief also exhorted the Muslim rulers to shun the slavery of the west and discharge their responsibilities for solving the Ummah's problems.

War News

 War News


Aleppo Defense facing Heavy bombing & ground assault.
Idlib massacre in FRussian bombing.
Severe clashes near Homs, Hama, Deir ez Zor.

November 28-December 4. Shi'ite forces led by Hizbullah entered Aleppo and after bitter fighting captured parts of eastern Aleppo from its FSA defenders. [December 4] Looks like FSA is breaking and al-Nusra is taking over its supplies to be able to continue the fight.
Defense of Aleppo is still brisk by al-Nusra [only 300 fighters] who shot down a low flying Assad jet fighter on December 3 killing both its pilots.

Idlib received its heaviest Russian bombing on December 4 resulting in 58 civilians killed including 20 children and 15 women.

The suburbs around Damascus are also being steadily bombed by Assad's helicopters dropping barrel bombs.

Islamic State's advance on Homs and FSA on Hama has also been stopped by steady Russian bombing. Shiite militias are locked in battle around Homs with Islamic State fighters.

As civilian populations are deprived of basic necessities of life, Assad and the Russians offer them peaceful withdrawal to Islmic Idlib so that Assad can declare victory.

Turkish advance on el-Bab and US-backed Kurdish advance on al-Raqqa have been repulsed. It appears that both USA and Russia are raiding Raqqa bu its targets are dispersed and camouflaged.

IS vs Assad fighting continues around Deir ez Zor.


 News within the US

News Within the U.S.

The Big Business of Women Crying Rape in America!

by Sis. Aisha [Jamaat al-Muslimeen]

New York City - Crying rape is the act of making a false rape claim against someone. It is no different than crying wolf when there is no wolf present. I reported on this case a little while ago.

On October 19th, NBA Star Point guard Derrick Rose and his three friends (Ryan Allen and Randall Hampton) were all cleared in an unusual rape case where the "victim", IG (Instagram) model Monica Los Rios, filed a $21.5 million dollar civil suit exactly two years to the day before the statute of limitations were about to expire for her. She never went to police at all.

In spite of newly discovered sext messages, discovered by Rose's defense team, stating the contrary, she claimed that he and his friends drugged her at his place right before she was about to leave for her home and gang raped her at her home. Rose's defense team also discovered that Los Rios had a mountain of debt and had asked Rose for money right after the alleged gang rape.

Earlier, this summer, a deposition had taken place between the accuser and the accused. Derrick Rose made some foolish statements, which did not seem to help his cause. For instance, when asked by the "victim's" attorney why he and his friends showed up at her place at 1 am, Derrick Rose's response was because they were men, which meant that in those wee hours of the morning (creeping hours) people are usually expecting sex. Of course, society's belief is that men are supposed to want and fiend for sex even when they don't want it!

There are many young ladies on college campuses, all over America, who have been raped because of these beliefs. They may have been simply returning a text book to a male classmate after holding an all-nighter or study session with friends until early morning hours. However, this male classmate has other intentions and is willing to risk serving serious jail time by making an unfair assumption about this female acquaintance.

In this case involving Monica Los Rios, many people were suspicious because she never went to the hospital to seek any medical treatment to be sure there was no pregnancy or any std's. Unfortunately, in my experience, many actual rape victims will at least seek medical treatment whether they pursue the attacker(s) or not. However, I do know there are some who do not want to seek any treatment and just want to try and move on.

But, in Ms. Los Rios' case, she claimed to have been drugged and raped and had awaken to find herself violated. But, when questioned multiple times on the witness stand she changed her story numerous times and fumbled her way through her testimony. The reason is that she did not expect Derrick Rose to fight her charge. She believed that he would pay her off to avoid any further trouble from her.

Many athletes do pay their extortionists to keep adulterous affairs, gay relationships or unwanted pregnancies quiet and out of the press. However, if and when these athletes do not fulfill these demands, these whores can get rather nasty and vicious. Many believe this to be the case surrounding comedian Bill Cosby, who never delivered on his promises to make the women he slept with stars.

What is so despicable is that there is the average guy, the non-celebrity, doing a 5 year sentence for a rape he never committed and once the truth is discovered, his false accuser is never brought to justice.

Brian Banks had a promising college football career end while in high school after classmate Wanetta Gibson decided to falsely accuse him of raping her in a school stairwell. She decided to admit her false rape accusation after receiving $1.5 million from the Long Beach, CA school district and after Banks spent 5 years in prison and another 5 years on probation! It must be noted that he pleaded guilty and did the 5 year bid rather than face 41 years imprisonment should he have lost his case. Inadequate attorneys usually pressure clients into taking such horrific plea deals.

Number one rule: Never admit to something you NEVER did!

There is a stigma associated with being accused of sexual assault. Although, Brian Banks was exonerated, in May 2012, it was still difficult for him to get into the NFL. However, he did have tryouts with two teams but, never made the rosters. Now, he works for the NFL in New York City.

There is a saying: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." There are many women who have proven this quote true.

Karrine Steffans, a hip hop video vixen, is the most famous woman scorned. In 2007, she wrote a tell-all book, Confessions of a Video Vixen, exposing her sexual relationships with various married men in the entertainment industry only after they had refused to assist her financially when she fell on hard times. They used her and now they were through with her and she did not take that well.

After Monica Los Rios' relationship with Derrick Rose ended she also fell on hard times having lost several jobs and went into serious debt. She even filed for bankruptcy. This happens to these women who are often supplied with money and gifts for as long as the sexual encounters last. As one source told Robert Littal, founder of, the false accuser went after Rose because he had the most money out of all of the athletes she had sexual encounters with but, he also treated her "crappy."

However, a false rape charge ruins lives and Derrick Rose is fighting back. He is now suing his false accuser, Monica Los Rios, for $70,000 in court costs. However, I believe that the prosecutor should make an example out of her for lying about having been gang raped.

I am glad that Derrick Rose, who Monica Los Rios thought was an easy mark, is fighting back. However he still perpetuates the cheating dumb jock stereotype. The newest girl he is dating is, IG model. What exactly does an IG model do? It is a group of young girls who put suggestive, half-naked or naked poses of themselves on Instagram. They get a lot of "dates" this way. This latest girlfriend is Alaina Anderson, who loves taking 50+ selfies a day and posting them to Instagram.

The entertainment world is incredibly superficial and the kuffar victimize each other in it routinely.




The Simla Agreement: Help or Hindrance


Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

December 2, 2016

The mass uprising of the people of Kashmir against Indian military occupation has evoked two reactions from the Government of India. One is extreme repression and the second is the threat of war. On September 24, 2016, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India made a formal statement with full authority: "Pakistan's 'awam' (people), I want to say to you, India is ready to fight you." He added, "We will isolate you. I will work for that."

The world powers, including the U.S. has exerted no influence in restraining this belligerent rhetoric. There is also not the slightest sign yet of even a beginning being made towards a meaningful peace process, eliminating the danger of war between these two nuclear countries. The present situation has made it abundantly clear that the status quo in Kashmir is both unjust and untenable. It has thus thrown into sharp relief the urgent need for India and Pakistan to settle the 69-year old Kashmir dispute on a just and lasting basis.

The question arises: what should be the point of departure for determining a just and lasting basis? The answer obviously is (a) the Charter of the United Nations which, in its very first article, speaks of "respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples" and (b) the international agreements between the parties to the dispute.

India and Pakistan have concluded multiple agreements which fall in this context. The first is embodied in the resolutions adopted by the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) on 13 August 1948 and second on 5 January 1949. These resolutions constitute an agreement because, unlike most resolutions of the Security Council, their provisions were first negotiated with the parties and, in written statements, explicitly accepted by them.

The first resolution is written out in detail and is self-explanatory. Since it binds both India and Pakistan to respect the verdict of the people of Kashmir to be obtained through a free vote under the impartial supervision of the United Nations. India seeks to propagate the impression that it has been superseded by the Simla Agreement. That the implication is false can be readily seen from a comparison of the two texts. But even if it were true, it would run counter to a standing principle of international relations which is set out in Article 103 of the Charter of the United Nations (accepted by every Member of the United Nations, including India). The Article says:

"In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail."

What, then, is the relevance of the Simla Agreement as far as instituting a peace process between India and Pakistan, fully recognizing Kashmiri's inherent right of self-determination, is concerned?

The pertinent facts about the Simla Agreement are:

  1. It was concluded in the aftermath of the India-Pakistan war of 1971 over what is now Bangladesh. Pakistan had suffered a decisive military defeat and 93,000 Pakistani prisoners-of-war were in Indian captivity. The factor of duress in thus obvious.

  2. Despite this circumstance, the Agreement nowhere precludes a settlement of the Kashmir dispute along the lines laid down by the United Nations with the consent of both India and Pakistan. Nor does it require that the United Nations be by-passed in the effort towards a settlement. On the contrary, it expressly says that the relations between the two countries shall be governed by the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations. One of the basic principles of the Charter (Article 33) is to seek a solution of any dispute by negotiation, enquiry, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements or other peaceful means. The linked principle (Article 34) is that the Security Council may investigate any dispute and (Article 36) at any stage recommend appropriate procedures or methods of adjustment. The Simla Agreement thus reinforces the obligations of both parties to achieve a settlement in accordance with the resolutions endorsed by the Security Council and, if their bilateral efforts fail, to turn to the United Nations for assistance. Nothing would be more contrary to the Charter -- and, therefore, to the Simla Agreement itself -- than to bar recourse to the United Nations.

  3. The Simla Agreement makes mention of "a final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir" as one of the objectives of the two parties.

  4. It provides that, pending the final settlement of any of the problems between the two countries, neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation. This obviously is not a license for leaving problem unresolved. If anything, it implies a commitment to making efforts towards a final settlement.

  5. The Simla Agreement says that "in Jammu and Kashmir, the line of control resulting from the cease-fire of 17 December 1971 shall be respected by both sides without prejudice to the recognized position of either side". To " respect" the line means not to cross it militarily; it dose not convert the line to a legally accepted international frontier. This is clear from the words that the "respect" will be "without prejudice to the recognized position of either side".

  6. The position consistently maintained by Pakistan that the status of Kashmir shall be decided by an impartial plebiscite has been recognized by the United Nations and, as it is identical with the position which India itself originally assumed at the world body, it is reflected in more than dozen substantive resolutions of the Security Council. A position safeguarded by the phrase "without prejudice to" can hardly be deemed to have been abandoned.

  7. In its preamble, the agreement states the resolve of the two governments to establish durable peace in the subcontinent. Durable peace results from setting the outstanding disputes, not from denying its existence.

It is thus a misconception that the Simla Agreement has in any way superseded the resolutions of the United Nations accepted by both parties. Nor can it be supposed to have narrowed the gulf between them and, to that extent, simplified the task of evolving a settlement. Even if it has done so, its impact on the Kashmir situation would have been open to question. Nothing in international law confers on two parties the authority to make decisions or conclude agreements which adversely affect the rights of a third. The third party here is the people of Kashmir.

Why is the Simla Agreement put in the forefront rather than the resolutions of the United Nations? There can be several explanations. One is deference to India because of its superior might. If this motivates the current diplomatic stance of the world powers, including the United States, it is, to say the least, undignified and contrary to the enduring principles of U.S. policy towards all situations which involve inalienable human rights. Another reason can be the impression that the Simla Agreement, being of more recent origin than the resolutions of the United Nations, might be more effective in activating the process. This is wrong in view of the fact that, for 44 years, the Agreement has signally failed to shake India out of its obdurate refusal to negotiate a settlement of the Kashmir problem. The current Indian position is that India is prepared to talk but there is nothing to talk about except how to crush the popular resistance in Kashmir and perpetuate the status quo.

If non-implementation were to render an agreement defunct, then the Simla Agreement is in no better state than the earlier, far more concrete and comprehensive resolution painstakingly worked out by the United Nations and concluded under its auspices in 1948-49. If passage of time were allowed to extinguish solemn international agreements, then the Simla Agreement has already suffered the same fate as the resolutions of the United Nations. If agreements are to be revived, then why one and not the other?

It may also be that the Simla Agreement is being invoked because of lack of knowledge about its actual terms and the circumstances in which it was signed. India is taking full advantage of this factor to spread the misinformation that the Simla Agreement sanctions the perpetuation of the status quo in Kashmir and absolves her from the responsibility of striving for a settlement of the dispute. By citing the Simla Agreement at this stage, or encouraging others to do so, India obviously seeks to prevent those basic issues of the dispute being addressed that were fully taken into account by the United Nations. The Simla Agreement is pressed into service as a formula for evasion.

A sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people's rights involved in it. The Simla Agreement does neither. Indeed, it was not intended to do so; at best, it is reticent on the issues that need to be grappled with. A peace process mounted on its fragile platform is bound to collapse. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove

to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

Dr. Fai is the Secretary General of World Kashmir Awareness


 ViewPoint and Analysis

Pakistan: What is destroying this country from within?

[From our Pakistan monitor. A number of politically savvy people in Pakistan support New trend and provide inside views which often cannot be expressed in Pakistan itself. Here we have compiled and consolidated this insider information Ed.]

Pakistani masses are united and solidly behind some basic perceptions of what Pakisztan should be. They agree that Pakistan cannot exist without Islam which means justice, equality and national honor.

There are tense of thousands of mosques, medressas and books dedicated to Islam. The Schools of Though differ vehemently on details but in the basics they are solidly together. The slightes hint that the Quran has been desecrated or the Prophet, pbuh, has been insulted can make ordinary Pakistanis become frantic even in humble little villages.

The question then arises why is Pakistan so chaotic and so deeply steeped in financial corruption and why are women so often victimized. Here are some answers:

  1. The rulers are not answerable to the people. So the people become frustrated and use bribery and flattery to get what they want.

  2. The rulers are insensitive to the aspirations of the people because the rulers have gradually been infiltrated by little groups which are secretly and sometimes openly hostile to the beliefs of the great majority. Some of these are:

    1. Shias, most of whom are upper and middle class, about 5 to 10 %, have been emboldened by the Shia state power in iran. They oppose the beliefs of the majority at every ;point. There have been no shia rallies against American drone attacks or military ventures into sunni communities which demand Sharia law.

      Shias insist on taking out processions depicting their beliefs in Mohurram which blatantly ignore the beliefs of the majority. The government protects and encourages these public expressions of hostility.

    2. Qadianis ["Ahmeddis"] who abhor the basic Muslim belief of the finality of prophethood. Agha Khanis also fall into this category but they are very careful not to express their contempt for Muslims openly.

    3. Secularists who live in Pakistan but have relatives in Europe and America [steadily growing in numbers]. This is like a transmission line for flooding Pakistan with western ways of thinking. They have serious contempt for the masses, including for the Urdu language and other non-English languages.

      These groups often intersect and increasingly live in the most affluent areas of the major cities which further cuts them off from the majority of people.

Why are Pakistani women victimized? There is an increasing sense in Pakistan that women are being targeted by western propaganda about "freedom." Pakistani men are in a defensive mode and do not know how to deal with ideas of equality for women. Rape is punishable with death, based on Sharia, in Saudi Arabia and Iran but not in Pakistan. [Our informants do not understand the editor of New Trend that hadith teaches the death sentence for rapists.]

Islamic teachings about the consent of the woman in marriage are being ignored. Cousin marriages are prevalent although the Prophet, pbuh, did not teach cousin marriage. Here again the Shia influence can be seen from the highly praised marriage of Ali, fr.a., and Fatima, r.a. Women are recognized in laws of inheritance but various methods are used to bypass these sharia laws, such as by cousin marriages.

[InshaAllah we will continue as and when we collect more information.]



Castro's Legacy:
Health & Education:
The envy of Many.

[Courtesy The Guardian UK. Via Br. Shaikh Hyder in Canada.]

To his critics, the late Fidel Castro was a totalitarian despot, an opponent of free speech and a man determined to preserve his hard-won revolution whatever the cost.

But to his defenders and admirers, he was a leader whose enlightened and practical approach to social care provided Cuba with enviable health and education systems.

Figures from the UN children's agency, Unicef, show that Cuba's youth literacy rate stands at 100%, as does its adult literacy rate. In Mexico, youth literacy is around 98.5%, while adult literacy is at 93.5%. In the Dominican Republic, meanwhile, youth literacy is at 98.1% for females aged 15-24, 96.1% for males of the same age, and adult literacy is at 90%.

Many of the educational gains were made in the early years of the revolution, not least during the 1961 literacy campaign that saw hundreds of thousands of Cubans, including schoolchildren, mobilising to educate their compatriots.

The statistics, however, tend to mask today's commonplace shortages of housing, food and transport and the high costs of such basic items as books, soap and clothes.

Fidel Castro: leader proves as divisive in death as he was in life

Havana mourns as brother and successor president Raúl announces death of Cuba's revolutionary icon - but leader's enemies celebrate

Read more

Perhaps even more vaunted are claims about the standard of Cuba's healthcare. The island's reputation for medical excellence - a boon long enjoyed by allied governments and countries struck by natural disaster and medical emergencies - was most recently boosted by the deployment of Cuban medical staff to parts of west Africa during the Ebola crisis.

In October 2014, 15,000 medical workers volunteered to participate in the relief effort. More than 450 specially trained Cuban doctors and nurses arrived in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to combat the disease, making them the largest single national medical force.

One doctor told Reuters at the time that he and his colleagues felt they had a responsibility to help: "We know what can happen. We know we're going to a hostile environment. But it is our duty. That's how we've been educated."

Fidel Castro's dark legacy: abuses, draconian rule and 'ruthless suppression'

Castro hounded critics, scorned elections and ran a police state - facts which impressive statistics about literacy and life expectancy cannot erase

Read more

The country's high ratio of doctors to patients and its proactive, community-centred approach to healthcare has long been the envy of many western countries - not least the UK, which sent 100 GPs and a delegation from the Department of Health in 2000 to discover how it managed to deliver care on a far smaller budget. Despite serious shortages of food and drugs, the country has consistently managed to keep its population of 11 million people healthy into old age.

Life expectancy in Cuba is 81 years for women and 77 for men. In the UK, it is 83 years and 79 respectively. And while the former spends $2,475 per capita on healthcare, the latter spends $3,337. Cuba dedicates 11.1% of its GDP to health; the UK 9.1%.

Some, however, argue that the success of Cuba's social care owes as much to politics and pragmatism as to equality and governmental magnanimity.

As a senior western diplomat told the Guardian in 2007: "Health and education are the revolution's pillars of legitimacy so the government has to make them work. If they don't, it loses all its moral authority."

2016-12-04 Sun 19:28:54 ct