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Dr. Hamid’s Colorado Trip

Thursday, March 25, 2010
posted by Dr. Tawfik Hamid

During his recent trip to Colorado that lasted 11 days in Denver (March 1-March12 2010) Dr. Hamid spoke at over 30 venues including newspaper and radio interviews, Fox News, the Republican caucus of the State Legislature, Harvard and Yale Club, multiple churches and synagogues ranging from liberal to conservative, the Regional Transportation District, at four colleges including CU Boulder, and at a full Jewish community gathering co-sponsored by the AJC, JNF and the Jewish Federation.  In addition was joined on one panel by the leader of the local Muslim Council, and participated in another venue in an interfaith dialogue on Muslim reform with pastors and rabbis and some Muslims from throughout Denver.

As described by many, the tour was very successful and helped the local community in Denver to better understand the phenomenon of Islamic Radicalism and its possible solutions.

Peter Boyles radio show:
http://www.khow.com/cc-common/podcast/single_podcast.html?podcast=fullshow_boyles.xml
Colorado Daily:
http://www.coloradodaily.com/latest-stories/ci_14501460#axzz0hJqnojkw
Caplis/Silverman Radio show:
http://radiotime.com/program/p_51139/Caplis_and_Silverman.aspx
Glendale Cherry Creek Chronicle
http://www.glendalecherrycreek.com/t,news_template/m,news_detail?id=191

and many others………………………..

Comments Off

Al Qaeda is threatening to retaliate in response to French President Nicholas Sarzozy’s declaration in June that the burqa is unwelcome in his country and against French values. According to CNN, the terrorist organization has listed threats on extremist Islamic websites. I have been asked to comment on this topic and will summarize my thoughts with the following points:

1. President Sarkozy’s comment that the burqa “is not a religious sign; it is a sign of subjugation, of the submission of women,” is absolutely correct when a Muslim woman wears it against her free will. Forcing women and girls to wear the Islamic dress is relatively common in many Muslim societies, which is clearly subjugation.

2. On the other hand, when Muslim women freely choose to wear the burqa, it could be a sign of religiousness and piousness free of subjugation.

3. According to mainstream Islamic teaching and interpretations, the burqa is a sign of superiority over others. It was meant to distinguish between ‘free’ and moral Muslim women, who were allowed to wear it, from ‘slave’ women who were considered ‘cheap’ or less precious than the former, and therefore not allowed to wear it (see Tafseer Ibn Katheir for Quran 33:59).

4. Salafi Islamists believe that women who do not wear the Hijab (or “Mutagarijat”) will be in hell. This has facilitated in some Muslim societies a sense of hatred toward cultures that do not force women to cover themselves.. In the last few decades this phenomenon has also resulted in the Islamisation of many societies and exacerbated the problem of radical Islam in many parts of the world. For example, areas in Iraq where most Muslim women wear Islamic dress, such as Al-Anbar, have had individuals instigate much more violence in comparison to people from other areas where women are less covered, such as Kurdistan. Furthermore, statistically speaking incidents of Islamist-based terrorism in countries that prohibit Islamic dress, such as Tunisia, are much lower than in countries that allow or promote it (such as Algeria, Egypt, and Pakistan). This is probably because banning the Hijab slows the spread of Islamism in the society.

5. I support President Sarkozy’s proposal yet I would ban the burqa for security reasons rather than for religious ones. In fact, the ban could be on any face covering, as criminals can conceal their faces to avoid recognition while committing crimes. A security-based ban on face covering would be equally effective in preventing Burqa in the streets of France and less confrontational with radical Islamic groups.

6. Making concessions now to allow the burqa to be worn would not only be counterproductive, but also threaten the sovereignty and security of free nations. This is because radical Muslims will begin think that they can continue to use threatening means in order to influence other policies. Decreasing the prevalence of the burqa and hijab can greatly weaken the Islamism phenomenon in the long run.

However, it should be noted that laws banning such coverings are the least effective and the most confrontational approach. Supporting certain ideological and covert psychological approaches can be much more effective and ensure that countries trying to decrease the prevalence of the hijab and burqa face a minimal security risk. On this note, the hijab phenomenon could actually be used against the Islamists.

This article of clothing is a vital tool radicals have used to control women and Islamize societies. Sending a strong message to Al-Qaeda that France may respond to terrorism on its soil by banning the hijab in public places (not just in schools!) in addition to the ban on the burqa could deter many radicals from attacking France. This is because when these terrorists realize that their attacks can completely backfire and result in a complete ban on the hijab, thereby undermining their ultimate dream of Islamizing the country, they will think twice before launching an attack.

In my opinion, there are self-explanatory answers to all of the following questions:
 

Question #1: What would liberals say to women who are stoned to death for adultery, to gays facing capital punishment, and to Muslims beheaded for converting from Islam to another faith, all according to Islamic law? Will liberals say that they must show “tolerance” and accept this barbarism as a matter of respect for religious values or stand against inhumane laws?

Question #2: Where can we find sharia books that clearly stand against the above violence? Instead of trying to convince the world that sharia law is peaceful and that it is all a matter of different interpretations, it would be much better if the Liberals asked the leading Islamic scholars to unambiguously declare that stoning women, killing gays, and beheading apostates are unacceptable. 

Question #3: Why do the liberal thinkers try to find justifications for terrorism such as poverty, lack of education, and the historical “feeling of injustice” among Muslims at the hands of the West? The Jews were exposed to some of the worst forms of suffering and torture in human history at the hands of the Nazis yet they have not performed terrorist acts against German civilians. 

Question #4: Muslims in the West enjoy rights as equal citizens. However, Jews in the Muslim world are called pigs and monkeys by leading Islamic scholars, Christians are not allowed easy access to build churches, and the Baha’i community is discriminated against in many parts of the Muslim world. Who should really feel angry?  

Question #5: Why are socioeconomic conditions and political circumstances often used to justify acts of terrorism committed by Muslims? Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus live under the same circumstances and do not instigate such a level of violence. What is the reason for this selectivity?

Question #6: Why do liberals demonstrate against Israel for killing Palestinian civilians, which is unintentional and happens because Palestinian terrorists hide among the victims, yet do not use their passion to demonstrate against Hamas, who has intentionally killed ‘Palestinian’ civilians? Note: Hamas assassinated three children of their opponent Dahlan who was the head of Intelligence of the Palestinian authority. 

Question #7: The Arab-Israeli conflict is often viewed as a historical source of modern day terrorism, yet how could this possibly explain why Muslims have killed and mutilated the dead bodies of fellow Muslims in areas such as Iraq and Algeria?

Question #8: If non-Muslims were to begin promoting the idea that “Muslims are pigs and monkeys,” would the liberals stand against this or would they remain silent as they usually do when Muslims call Jews by these names? 

Question #9: If a Muslim decided to follow in the “footsteps” of the Prophet Muhammad by marrying and having sex with a 9 year-old girl, would liberal thinkers stand against this or allow it to happen out of respect for religious freedom? Note: This story is mentioned in Al-Buchary, the most authentic hadith book in the Sunni world, but it is not in the Quran and the age of marriage is different in Sheia books. 

Question #10: How would liberals respond if radical Muslims declared war on them and used the standard sharia rule to offer the three choices of conversion to Islam, paying a humiliating tax called the jizya, or be killed? Would liberals respect these religious values by accepting one of these options OR stand against such barbarism in order to protect human civilization?

e-Reformation: the Hope of Islam?

Monday, July 6, 2009
posted by Dr. Tawfik Hamid

The recent use of ‘twitter’ and the Internet by reformers in Iran to challenge the Mulla’s regimen have raised an important point which is — Can the internet play a major role in reforming Islam? For centenaries reformation within Islam has been impeded by several factors. This is clearly evident by the fact that many of the current leading Islamic scholars preach of today’s values such as stoning of adulteries, violent Jihad, slavery, beating women, anti-Semitism, and many other inhumane teachings. Deep analysis of the factors that impeded reformation within Islam illustrates that the Internet can play a major role in making it a reality.

Previous failure of reformation efforts in Islam to bring the understanding of its text to modernity has been the result of numerous factors. These include killing those who dare to challenge some of its fundamental traditional values after considering those who challenge them as apostates. This has made many reformers unable to express their views and opinions for fear of losing their life. Failure to express these views has caused more stagnation of thoughts within the Muslim world.
Furthermore, critical thinking within the religion was suppressed in the Muslim world since criticizing the religious teaching is considered a taboo that makes the person feel that he will become and “Infidel” for doing so. Stopping Ijtihad (new interpretations) within the religion as what happened in the Sunni world further complicated this problem. Lack of exposure to other views and opinions either due to suppression by the religious authority or because of lack of proper communication channels with others, also contributed to stagnation in the thinking process in many Islamic societies. Reformers who think differently used to feel weak and lonely as communication with other reformers was much limited in the past. Control of women by strict religious rules was another factor that limited the progress of many of these societies toward modernity. Surprisingly, the Internet challenged all these factors and therefore can contribute significantly to reforming Islam.
First, many Muslims can now express their opinions about religious issues without fear for their lives. They can simply critique the traditional teaching and provide alternative interpretations anonymously and remotely without fear on the Internet. This encouraged many reformers to speak out and forced the recipients of their views to listen without being able to harm them physically. The Internet basically changed the ‘war within Islam’ from a physical one (where the reformer could be killed)-to an intellectual one where reformers are relatively safe and able to continue their mission. This option was not available before the Internet era when reformers were physically threatened. In fact, the reformers can now communicate together to become more powerful and even find a larger audience.
Second, the internet has allowed an exchange of ideas with the Non Muslim world as well. This has enriched the thinking process in Muslim communities and bypassed the barriers that have been created by the radicals to prevent such exposure from happening. Now Muslims can listen to different views and ideas from other parts of the world. 
 
Muslim women in the Internet era can no longer be imprisoned by man. They can communicate more freely with others even with men. They can take the Hijab off and send their photo without the Hijab to whoever they want. The physical barriers on Muslim women were simply shattered by the Internet.
The internet can certainly be used by the radicals to promote radical views. However, the net outcome of using the internet is more likely to be positive than negative as it overcome most -if not all- the obstacles of reformation in Islam that existed in the past. Using the internet to promote reformation and modernity within Islam rather than extremism is our next challenge and goal to modernize the Muslim world. This form of e-Reformation can change the future of our world and can determine the future of Islam.

President Obama’s 4 June 2009 speech from Cairo was historic; President Obama’s ability to turn a new page with the Islamic world is a great endeavor. It is important to take inventory of the points made that should be applauded. First, president Obama insisted that if the Muslim world expects respect from the US, that such respect must be reciprocated. Second, president Obama explained to the Muslim world that the negative image surrounding Islam was not conjured up by random individuals in the West but instead was caused by violent acts conducted by radical Muslims and as a result of human rights abuses in many parts of the Muslim world. president Obama maintained that the fact that relationship with Israel is unshakable, clarified to the Muslim world that he is a Christian motivated by Christian ideals and American principles, and sent an unambiguous message to Islamist groups that upholding human rights is not a political ploy to gain recognition, but rather that human rights are universal values that cross the boundaries of any ethnicity or religion. Indeed, president Obama did well in taking a firm stand and in communicating his administration’s policies and goals.  Hi speech also encouraged critical thinking among young Muslims.

However, president Obama’s speech was also wrought with inherent inconsistencies. While the President has high caliber policy advisors who clearly helped him craft a highly relevant and effective speech, the advice he received about using certain Islamic concepts in his speech led him down the wrong path. The Islamic examples used in his speech were anecdotes that actually promote concepts of Islamist supremacy! It is unfair to expect that president Obama would know the deep theological meanings and symbolism associated with the selected examples. Each of the examples chosen could be seen as a clear admission by the US President of inferiority, weakness and ultimately submission to Islam.
The first instance of misguidance was when president Obama referred to support for the collection of zakat by charitable Islamic organizations. There is a difference between paying zakat directly to poor and needy people at an individual level (which is permissible in Islam) and collecting it by a ‘collector’. Paying zakat (a type of religious monetary contribution) to disadvantaged people does not need the support of the US government and does not imply any kind of threat to US national security. However, government facilitation of the collection of zakat -as an obligatory tax on Muslims -on such a grand scale forms the basic foundation of an Islamic Caliphate where Non Muslims do not enjoy equal rights with Muslims. This goes to the heart of Islamic supremacy and should not be confused with offering respect, tolerance or political correctness. Indeed, the first war in Islam after the death of the prophet Mohamed was about the issue of ‘collecting’ zakat. Some Muslims refused to pay it to a collector after the death of the prophet and insisted that they pay it directly to people in need. Abu-Bakr Al-Sedeek, the first Caliph, considered these people “apostates” for refusing to give him the zakat and thus declared a war to kill them (“Harb Al-Murtadeen” or War on the Apostates). Paying zakat at the individual level instead of giving it to a collector threatened the concept of the Islamic state (or Cailphate) as it would have deprived Islamic leaders from the funds necessary to build a state.
  • Is president Obama aware that institutionalizing zakat as a tax can plant the seed for a religious war inside the US?
  • Is he willing to support a homegrown group of people such that they gain the financial solidarity to initiate an Islamic state within the United States?
If every one of the estimated 6 million Muslims in the US paid $1000 of zakat annually to the sick and the poor, could be 6 billion dollars per year given to help the needy. But, if the same yearly $6 billion were collected by a handful of Islamic charities, these organizations would gain tremendous power to initiate a true Caliphate and to implement Sharia Laws in different parts of the world. Sharia law discriminates between Muslims and Non Muslims. Hence, one must ask why these particular examples were specifically chosen? What is the true vision of those who suggested using them? It is important here to clarify that zakat is not considered charitable by any measure but instead it is an obligatory deed for all Muslims. The optional paying to the needy does need a collector and is usually called saddaka, not zakat.
President Obama’s second fault was in repeating his support for the rights of Muslim women to wear the hijab. The hijab, according to Islamic Sharia law and according to mainstream approved Islamic teaching- is a way to distinguish between free and pious women from slave women whom were forbidden from wearing it. The intention of the hijab as described by mainstream Islamic sources was to protect free or  ’covered’ women from sexual harassment. In fact, the second Islamic Caliphate, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab used to beat slave women if they attempted to cover their bodies to emulate the free ones. 
 
The third mistake president Obama made on this front was in mentioning the story of Israa. Muslims believe that the prophet Mohamed led the prayer with other prophets in Jerusalem. This is a classical example used by many Muslims to prove superiority of Islam and Mohamed above all other prophets as he -according to this story- was the Imam (leader of the prayer) above all the other prophets during this prayer. Is it just a coincidence that ALL three Islamic examples crafted into the President’s speech promote concepts of Islamic supremacy?
There are tons of other examples in Islam that could have conveyed exactly the same powerful message without promoting a superiority related issue. For example, President Obama could have promoted the rights of Muslims to pray or to fast in Ramadan and the rights of Muslim women to have equal recognition. These examples are important issues that do not necessarily bow in the face of the concept of superiority.
In conclusion, president Obama’s speech to the Muslim world was very successful on several fronts, however it was extremely unwise in selecting examples that promote superiority of Muslims above others thereby contradicting the president’s view that “any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail.”

An invitation to attend a lecture by Dr. Hamid: A Scientific Approach to Radical Islam

You are cordially invited to attend a lecture on “A Scientific Approach to Radical Islam”

By Tawfik Hamid

WHERE: Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 2nd floor (main) conference room

WHO: Tawfik Hamid, M.D. Senior Fellow and Chair for the Study of Islamic Radicalism

WHEN: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 – (2 – 4 pm) NOTE: RSVP is required, acceptances only please. Please send name and affiliation. For further information and registration, please contact: rsvp@potomacinstitute.org or call 703-525-0770.

WHAT: Since the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., there has been much discussion on the issues of Radical Islam. Some of these approaches were emotionally driven, others were religiously based. Because of the sensitivity of dealing with religious issues many experts adopted a “politically correct” approach to the problem. In many circumstances, theses approaches were criticized for being biased either toward or against Islam. In this lecture, Dr. Tawfik Hamid will discuss: The need for a scientific approach to understand and deal with Islamic Radicalism. How to apply basic scientific approaches, analogy, logic, and philosophy to Radical Islam. New ways for approaching and understanding Radical Islam in a non-emotional, honest, and scientific manner. Following the lecture, there will also be a Q&A session with Dr. Hamid to further discuss these topics.

ABOUT DR. HAMID: Dr. Hamid is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Aiman Al-Zawaherri who became later on the second in command of Al-Queda. Some twenty-five years ago, he recognized the threat of Radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. Dr. Hamid provides a fresh and theologically valid interpretation for the Quran to counterbalance the radical teaching. Read his full bio here: http://www.potomacinstitute.org/aboutus/staff/hamid.html

www.TawfikHamid.com  

On Friday night June 26th, the E Street Cinema in Washington, DC hosted a packed showing of the film, “The Stoning of Soraya M.” The suffering of the woman portrayed in the movie is based on the story of an actual stoning that took place in Iran in 1986, as described in Freidoune Sahebjam’s book “The Stoning of Soraya M.”

This extraordinary movie must raise many questions in the collective conscience of mankind.

The first question is: Does the Muslim world expect that non-Muslims -after watching such punishment- believe that “Islam is the religion that gave women their rights?” [a sentiment shared by many Muslims]

The second question is: If Islam is truly against the stoning of adulteress, where are the approved Sharia (Islamic law) books that clearly and explicitly say that stoning is obsolete? Further, where are the voices within the Muslim world and Islamic organizations in the West that stand against such inhumane punishment?

To date, all main Islamic schools of jurisprudence -with no single exception -approve stoning for adultery. The difference in views within Islamic Sharia law about stoning is not about the punishment itself but rather over nuances which include the size of stones required for a proper stoning.

If modern Islamic theology continues its support of the stoning of women, Muslims must not expect anything but criticism of their religion. Historically, stoning is mentioned in the Bible; however, both Jewish and Christian scholars unambiguously agree that it cannot be applied anymore. Currently, the stoning of women for the crime of adultery is practiced almost exclusively in the Islamic world.

Instead of providing lectures about how Islam is “tolerant” and “peaceful,” Islamic scholars and organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] and the Islamic Society of North America [ISNA] must be clear on their stance against such barbaric practices. If these organizations refuse to stand boldly against stoning, it will be difficult for them to speak against their critics and the “Islamophobic” community. In fact, developing a phobia of a system of law that promotes the stoning of human beings until death is the most normal reaction of any sane individual.

This movie –in my view- is the most powerful weapon in the war against Radical Islam. The reason is simple. Peaceful Muslims with a conscience only have three possible responses to the film.

First – to reject stoning; a fundamental concept in the Sunna of prophet Mohamed (his acts and deeds) and adopt only the Quran. Stoning as a punishment for adultery is only mentioned in the former. This response can shake the foundations of the entire religion of Islam as the Sunna plays an integral part. The main pillar of Islam (Emad Aldeen) or the five prayers has never been described in the Quran itself and is only mentioned in the Sunna. In fact, the Quran only calls for prayer three times a day [see Quran Sura 11 :verse 115]. Rejecting parts of the Sunna such as stoning to avoid the criticism of Islam will subsequently cast doubt on the only source for the main pillar of Islam, the five prayers.

Second – selective use of the Sunna; this will demonstrate to many Muslims that the Prophet Mohamed is not “the perfect role model” for mankind. This –by itself- can shake another major foundation of the religion which requires Muslims to follow the footsteps of the Prophet. This presents a Catch-22 for many Islamic scholars who are now faced with the reality of what they currently promote and teach in mainstream Islam.

Third – proving that stoning exists in the Quran; Islamic scholars may try to teach Muslims that stoning had been mentioned in as a verse in the Quran that was later abrogated -only from the writings of the Quran- but remained a valid law. This Islamic theological concept is established in “Al-Bukhari” and “Muslim”, the most authentic Hadith books in Islam. [See Minjaj Al-Muslim by Al-Jaza’iry, a lecturer in the Nobel Prophet Masjid; Vol (2) page 506] Such books do quote the verse that existed in the early Quran, but was not included in the final version. This too can raise doubts in the mind of many Muslims about the authenticity and accuracy of the available Quran.

In conclusion, this movie will produce nothing short of an earthquake in current Islamic theology. On one hand, accepting the act of stoning will make many Muslims unable to defend Islam as a religion of peace or one that gave women their rights. On the other hand, rejecting this barbaric punishment can raise doubts about following the Prophet as the “perfect role model” and will create distrust in the authenticity of the Sunna and/or the Quran. In both situations, Islamic theology will be shaken.

Some apologists might say that the stoning depicted in this movie did not conform with Sharia Law as there were only two witnesses who testified while Sharia Law requires four. This should not in any way discredit the reality that Islamic Sharia still promotes the stoning of women to death if they commit adultery. Rather, the question that must be asked is: Does having four witnesses make the stoning in any way a humane form of punishment?

Today, many women living in countries controlled by Sharia Law such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, as well as regions under the Taliban have been murdered by stoning. Such terrorism against women must end. I urge you to encourage others to see this film, which is currently playing in select theatres across the United States.

To find out more about the film online, visit their website at: http://www.thestoning.com

www.TawfikHamid.com

After the president of the United States gave his speech to the Muslim world, it is important to evaluate how the Muslim world and its leaders will respond. Their response must be in actions and not just in words.

President Obama insisted on “mutual respect” in the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. In any mutual relationship, both sides have to contribute.

Let us examine some questions related to the concept of “mutual respect:”

Question #1: President Obama bowed to king Abdulla of Saudi Arabia as a sign of respect. Is the Saudi king ready to do the same to the President of the United States in order to show “mutual respect?”

Question #2: President Obama gave the king of Saudi Arabia a gift on which a Quranic verse is written. Will the Saudi king reciprocate the gesture by giving the President a gift on which a verse from the Bible is written?

(In my opinion, President Obama should have given the king a gift from the United States. An icon of the Statue of Liberty would have been ideal. The symbolism of the American monument would have sent a necessary message to the king and the people of Saudi Arabia.)

 Question #3: In the same way the United States respects the rights of Non-Muslims who convert to Islam; will the Muslim world respect the rights of Muslims who convert to other faiths?

Question #4: Will the Muslim world defend the rights of women who do not wear the hijab just as the United States defended the rights of Muslim women who do wear the hijab in the United States?

Question #5: Is the Muslim world ready to fight negative stereotyping of Non-Muslims (particularly the Jews) to reciprocate President Obama’s offer to fight stereotyping of Muslims in the United States? 

A “mutual” relationship between the United States and the Muslim world can only be accomplished if the Muslim world answers the above questions in a positive manner.

www.TawfikHamid.com  

For decades the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated Islamic groups such as Hamas used the expression “Islam is the solution” as their slogan. They used it in a way to convince Muslims that Islam will bring solutions to all their problems. Many young Muslims became attracted to Islamism because they believed that using Islam in politics and implementing Sharia would bring a solution to the problems they face in their societies. The economic success of Saudi Arabia, which implements Sharia Law, and the success of early Muslims in building a huge powerful Islamic empire, were two powerful examples that attracted many of our young Muslims, myself included, to this “Islamic Solution”. Failure of many Islamic societies to succeed in several fields, including economic state, has fueled the feeling that adopting the Islamic solution is the only answer for our problems.

The Iranian Revolution was seen by many Muslims as a proof that Islam is the solution. On the contrary, the failure of the Iranian regime in bringing prosperity to its people can debunk this concept. The recent demonstrations against the Iranian regime are clear evidence that Islam is NOT the solution, as the government has not brought success and true justice to its people. not having brought success and true justice to its people.

The Muslim world also needs to look to other failures of the Islamic systems and regimes. Sharia laws have been implemented in Sudan, parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, parts of Nigeria, and in Somalia. This has not brought wealth and prosperity to people as many Muslims expected. On the contrary it has brought poverty and misery to their populations. The best evidence for this is that we see tens of thousands of young Muslims applying to immigrate the West but we do not see many of them trying to immigrate to Somalia or Taliban-controlled areas!

The Muslim world must face the reality that Islamic and Sharia-based solutions for countries have failed to bring prosperity to people in most parts where they have been implemented. The media has a role to play in showing the failure of many Islamic systems in several parts of the world. The Muslim world must wake up from its dream that applying Sharia will solve all their problems and recognize the reality that “Islam is NOT the Solution”.