Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Safeguarding Brunei’s Young Generation against Extremism

Safeguarding Brunei’s Young Generation against Extremism

The Brunei Times
January 26 2015
We have to thank Allah the Almighty that our country has been free from any acts of terrorism and that none of our youths have ever been involved in such acts of violence.
However, this blessing shouldn't make us complacent and ease our vigilance against any unexpected possibilities, especially after our country has been identified as a transit point used by militant recruits to evade detection on their journey to war zones in Syria or Iraq.
Given that many youths from neighbouring countries have been found to be joining various groups fighting in those countries in the name of jihad, it’s high time for us to boost efforts to safeguard our innocent youths, especially those studying overseas.
Without close supervision and guidance from the relevant authorities, they could be left susceptible to such an influence and acts of religious extremism.
We have no choice but to protect our young generation from any misconstrued perceptions that some people have regarding Islam that have given rise to misguided teachings and have resulted in extremism among some Muslims.
Caring so much for his subjects, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has on many occasions reminded us about the need to protect our young generation from deviant teachings and other uninvited elements that could lead them astray into liberal, secular and extremist understandings of Islam.
In a Titah to mark Maulid ur Rasul (Prophet Muhammad's birthday), His Majesty stressed that government policies and educational content should not deviate "even slightly" from the national philosophy of Malay Muslim Monarchy (MIB).
He warned the nation of the influence of "uninvited elements" that threatened to corrupt the society because like a virus, a harmful element is not easy to control.
It can infect anything; it can contaminate religious beliefs, education and culture.
In a Titah before fellow leaders from Asia and Europe during the 10th Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM) Meeting in Milan, Italy, His Majesty made it clear that the sultanate does not stand for terrorism, and called on regional and international partners to work in combating its roots.
He stressed that Brunei strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms, and totally rejects extremism and radicalism.
Efforts and programmes like the recent seminar on social ills organised by the MIB Supreme Council and the Academy of Brunei Studies also need to be enhanced and extended to a wider audience so as to make more people, youths in particular, aware of the risks and grave consequences that misguided and deviant teachings could have on them.
They should be constantly reminded about the importance of maintaining their Aqeedah (faith) amid the recent occurrences and rapid changes of this globalised age.
Echoing the term used by a lecturer from Malaysia's National Defence University at the seminar, we need to maintain and improve the nation’s dual education system.
This unique education system - a combination of religious knowledge and mainstream subjects - has been proven to be "remarkable" as it has resulted in people who are progressive, leading to a functional modern Muslim state.
Calling it a success story, the associate professor urged Brunei to share the secret of its success as a "functional modern Muslim state" as part of ASEAN's counter-terrorism strategy.
Dubbing the system in the Sultanate as "maybe" the only example of a very comprehensive religious education system, he said a good Islamic education system is needed to stamp out extremism in ASEAN countries with a Muslim majority.
One way of safeguarding our youth from extremism is by teaching them about the fine line between moderation and extremism. Extremism is going to either extreme: one side makes the lawful unlawful and the other end makes the unlawful lawful.
We need to note here that Islam is not about black and white. Indeed, there are very clear matters that don’t require questioning, while other issues are more ambiguous.
These uncertainties are causing division among some Muslims while creating confusion for others. Also on a daily basis, I receive questions from readers, many of which are misconceptions about interpreting Islamic concepts, Quran and Hadith.
If we follow the true teachings of Islam, which are based on the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad Sallal ahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam, we will never go astray.
Never did Allah's Messenger Sallal ahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam make a choice between two things but adopt the easier one compared to the difficult one. Islam is a moderate religion, the religion of the middle course.
However, Muslims are of different temperaments. Allah says in His Book: "And thus, We have made you a medium (just) nation (Ummatan Wasata) that you may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Apostle may be a bearer of witness to you…" (Al-Baqarah, 2:143)
Abul Aala Al-Maududi, a famous scholar who interpreted the Quran, says regarding the above verse: "The word 'Ummatan Wasata' is so comprehensive in meaning that no English word can correctly convey its full meaning. It is a righteous and noble community which doesn't go beyond pro-per limits but follows the middle course and deals out justice evenly to the nations of the world as an impartial judge and bases all its relations with other nations on truth and justice."
Muslims deserve this title when they follow Allah's commandments the way shown by Prophet Muhammad Sallal ahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam, who was moderate in all affairs.
Allah Subhan hu wa Ta’ala told us to be moderate, and the way to do this is explained to us by our Prophet Sallal ahu 'Alayhi wa Sallam in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah: "The religion (of Islam) is ease, and whoever makes the religion a rigour, it will overpower him. So follow a middle course; if you can't do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (from Allah) at morning and at dusk and some part of night."
Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/26/safeguarding-our-young-generation-against-extremism.html#sthash.NyUgULZB.dpuf

Was Turkey Christian in 1999 or in 2005?

Was Turkey Christian in 1999 or in 2005?


By Serkan Demirtaş
January/28/2015
With the fatal Charlie Hebdo attack boosting and expanding the scope of ongoing discussions about growing Islamophobia on the European continent, we have started to hear more of a religious-based rhetoric from senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
It’s correct and natural for a country like Turkey, with around five million of its citizens residing on the continent, to urge European countries to adopt policies to fight against all sorts of discrimination, including Islamophobia, and to call on them to avoid hate speech against Muslims.
Prime Minister Davutoğlu’s attendance at the massive anti-terror march in Paris was right and meaningful to this end, along with his denouncements of the attack that was carried out by a group of extremist terrorists’ claiming that they killed cartoonists in the name of God.
Since then, however, it has become obvious that the government and President Erdoğan have begun to use this sour incident and its consequences for their domestic political interests through strong language - mostly bashing the West. In their daily, long and comprehensive statements, both Erdoğan and Davutoğlu devote much space to religion-related issues, with plenty of calls for the Islamic world to unite against Western dominance.
Davutoğlu recently said a new public relations campaign would be launched across the world, with the contribution of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), to fight against Islamophobia. Turkey is making Islamophobia into an issue on the international platform with such initiatives - not as the leader of an Islamic world with a population of 1.5 billion people, but as the only Islamic country that still has strong institutional bonds with the Western world, particularly the EU.
It was good to hear from Davutoğlu about his government’s determination to join the EU one way or another in the future, but it was equally weird to hear from Erdoğan that Turkey represented a test for the EU to show whether or not it is a "Christian club." For Erdoğan, if Turkey is excluded from the EU then it will be because of its Muslim nature. But as he said, “It is not important whether they accept us or not. We keep up with our work. We are testing Europe. Will Europe be able to digest and accept Turkey, whose people are Muslims? If you oppose Islamophobia, then you must admit Turkey into the EU.”
This may be a good point for a politician like Erdoğan, who sees the world and world affairs only through a religious prism, without paying attention to simple realities. Turkey’s long journey to EU membership began in the early 1960s with the signing of the Ankara Agreement, which set the legal framework for proposed Turkish membership. As an immature democracy, Turkey could not well improve its ties with the EU until the late 1990s because of - three "full" and one "half" - coup d’états between 1960 and 1999.
Turkey entered into the Customs Union in 1996 and three years later the EU pledged Turkey the status of full membership candidacy. Turkey was not a Christian country at that time. In December 2004, the EU decided to begin full membership negotiations with Turkey on Oct. 3, 2005, after the Erdoğan-led ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had undertaken a series of reform packages for the democratization of the country.
On Oct. 3, 2005, negotiations were launched, in a historical achievement for Turkey, which was still a Muslim country. It was that same Muslim Turkey which opened and provisionally closed the chapter on Science and Research a year later. An additional 13 chapters would subsequently be opened, although a good many of the remaining chapters are under the blockage of the European Commission by Cyprus or France, (citing the Cyprus problem). Still, when the 13 chapters were opened, Turkey was a Muslim country.
So, if Turkey was able to advance the negotiation process in the period between 2005 and 2010, it was because of its improvement in adopting democratic norms through reform packages - not because of the EU’s tolerance toward a Muslim country. 
The point that Erdoğan and other Turkish officials neglect to see is that the test is not one-sided. The test that Turkish leadership has been undertaking is for democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Instead of giving European leaders a test, Turkish officials should better focus on fulfilling their promises to the Turkish people to democratize the country.
Source: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/was-turkey-christian-in-1999-or-in-2005.aspx?pageID=449&nID=77530&NewsCatID=429

The Story of Akbar’s Church

The Story of Akbar’s Church

By Arjun Kumar
January 27, 2015
To all visitors, Agra is a Mughal city with the Taj Mahal as its focal point. Visiting the city to see a facet that is not Mughal may sound a bit like sacrilege. Not quite. Especially when the structure in question happens to be a church built during the reign of the Mughals. The city of Agra, while bearing ample evidence of having once been the Mughal imperial capital, also has a Christian face that is somewhat obscure.
The most significant Christian building in the city bears the somewhat enigmatic name of ‘Akbar’s church’. The story of this church dates back to February 18, 1580, on which date a delegation of three Jesuit priests reached Agra for an audience with Emperor Akbar. Portuguese Fathers Rodolfe Aquauiua, Antoine de Monserrate and Francois Henriques had made the long and difficult journey from Goa to Agra. Basis historical accounts, Akbar’s curiosity about different religions had caused him to invite priests from Goa. The enthusiasm of the holy fathers was high as they felt Akbar himself would convert, which would open the entire country to conversion.
 









While the priests were received with respect by the emperor, he never converted. The emperor often held debates between the priests and indigenous religious scholars at court. Father Monserrate moved on, but the faith preached by these early Jesuits left behind its mark in Agra. Merchants and travelers from France, Portugal, Holland and Italy etc, flocked to the imperial capital. Conversion to Christianity among locals also took place, adding to the numbers. Over time, Akbar granted land near an existing Armenian settlement for the first church to come up. This is the site where the ‘Akbar’s church’, originally built in 1598, stands today.
According to the historian RV Smith, the festival of Christmas would see the Emperor and his nobles come to the church in the morning, followed by ladies of the harem and young princes in the evening. It is in this period of religious experimentation that the first Nativity plays in India were staged, with Europeans playing a part within, often with the Emperor as the audience. The practices begun in Akbar’s reign continued in that of Jahangir. Gradually the play grew in scale and became better organized, with rehearsals taking place in an area called Phulatti. The acme was reached in 1610, when three of Jahangir’s nephews were baptized in the church.
Shah Jahan’s conflict with the Portuguese halted imperial patronage temporarily. Along with many of the defeated Portuguese, Jesuit fathers were also persecuted. Their release in 1635 was subject to the church being pulled down, which was done – only to be reconstructed in 1636 at the same site. The next blip in the life of the church came when Ahmad Shah Abdali’s troops ransacked the place. In 1769, however, it found another patron in the form of the European adventurer Walter Reinhardt, who helped to rebuild and extend the church. His wife, later known as Begum Samru, was probably baptized in this church.
 










Rapid increase in the congregation led to the construction of a new church in 1848. This building, standing close to Akbar’s church and dominating what is now a large complex of church buildings is the imposing Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. Possessing a Baroque exterior at its front, the cathedral from within resembles a magnified version of Akbar’s Church with the same curved ceiling effect, the difference between the two places of worship being the altar. The cathedral today serves as the seat of the Catholic establishment in Agra.










Protestant churches also began to be built at the same time. The oldest of these is the Church of St. John in the Wilderness, located in Sikandra. Also called Mission Church, it also has a Mughal era connect, albeit an indirect one. In the colonial era, the church precincts encompassed large swathes of the land around, including the nearby tomb of Akbar’s consort, Mariam Zamani. Around 1838, missionaries began an orphanage and school within the tomb building, for children orphaned in a terrible famine in the North West Frontier and undivided Punjab. A strange intertwining of Church history with Mughal heritage!
Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/HiddenHeritage/the-story-of-akbars-church/

Still On Islam and Threat to Peace (1)

Still On Islam and Threat to Peace (1)

By Patrick Dele Cole
19 January 2015
I HAVE read the Quran over seven times, page by page.  As I have been at pains to point out, education is universal and every culture, religion, group contribute to its gigantic trough. Islam, the Arabs, Shintos, Confucius have done their bit by contributing their wisdom into this pot.  I do not claim to be an Islamic scholar and my piece was not about the doctrines of Islam.  It was about world politics, which I know many Islamists are unable to differentiate from Islamic ideology.  This is not about a doctrinaire commitment to one religion or the other or to the West as I have been condemned to be. The Pope has his problems and good luck to him.
There are 28 wars in the world today. 26 are or concern Islam, or Islamists – either the Islamists are persecuted or there must be another explanation for there to be so many wars in Islamic areas.  In any case the question of persecution cannot arise as most of these wars are in Islamic countries where one group of Moslems are trying to wipe out another group.
Some accuse me of not understanding Islam, having a little knowledge of the religion, of not reading the commentaries as well as the doctrines as contained in the Quran.  I am the first to accept that I learn every day even from the misguided personal attacks or apologists for a failure of an otherwise powerful tonic of human and heavenly endeavour – Islam.  I have never praised the West or Christianity.  The failure of Christianity and the West in several theatres of human endeavour is self-evident. If the conquistadors were blood thirsty and bestial, that is not an attribute of Christianity, it was a human failure and tragedy, and strongly condemnable.
If a group of hoodlums, without any human conscience could seize 276 girls at a school in Chibok in the name of Islam, all those who profess that religion have one of two options – dissociate Islam from that action or by their silence acquiesce that the religion actually supports violence against such soft targets. It is the silence of a majority of Moslems that leads to the conclusion or to the suspicion that they, deep down, believe these unwarranted bestial attacks of innocents are justifiable.  The commandment of God, Allah, is “thou shall not kill”.  In his commandment there are no if or buts.  If a Moslem in the name of the religion beheads Sergeant Rigby, even if obviously both perverts are descended from Nigerian parentage, there is nothing but condemnation for their act.
The reality of what faces us is clear – the majority of those killed by Moslems are their fellow Moslems in Syria, Iraq, in Pakistan.  If the Taliban in the name of some perversion of Islam can go to a school and kill 145 Moslem Pakistani school children, the answer to their evil is an earth shattering “No. you are evil”.  If one Moslem in the name of this same perversion of Islam can in Sydney, Australia, hold 17 people hostage and display a sign of Islam in his demented action, I do not need my good Islamic friends’ consent to point out unadulterated evil where it is so glaring. If Hitler killed six million Jews in an attempt to wipe out the Jewish race, he committed genocide and war crimes.  No, none would call what he did Christian: he may have been a Catholic but his religion did not encourage his atrocity.  The allies who fought Hitler were also Christian but they did not go to war in the name of Christianity.  It seems incredibly puerile to even discuss Hitler’s evil in the name of any religion. So the Atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were Christian bombs!!  Incredible!!! 
The Holy Book of Quran has plenty to attract people of all faiths. What has gone wrong is that people, radicalized, by commentaries on the Quran, in the name of Islam, are killing themselves and children.  Islamic states are refusing to allow Moslem women marry non-Muslims; sometimes the parents of such women have killed the women rather than allow such marriage. If my detractor’s argument is that you cannot judge Islam by the action of the “extremists”– I have no argument against that. But when extremists are allowed to rule whole countries, imposing inhuman treatment on all dissenters, then true Moslems must not only condemn such actions, they themselves must take action against their own extremists.
There have been many killings in the U.S. by obviously mad people in schools, in cinemas, etc.  No one of good conscience has ever had anything to say but to condemn the action of these mad men.  If those who killed Sergeant Rigby by butchering him to death in the streets of London are condemned as despicable unhinged Moslems, I have no problem with that.  But to accuse me of lack of sympathy or understanding of Islam because I bemoan actions perpetrated in the name of Islam by radicalized Islamists is to be blinded by the proverbial beam in one’s eyes.  (Remove the beam from your eyes before you can see clearly to remove the mucus in your neighbour’s eye).
Radical Islamists in their misguided mission seized seven planes; deliberately crashed them in the Pentagon, World Trade Centre, etc. The killing of thousands of people remains an act of unmatched human cruelty exceeded only by Hitler and Rwandan genocide.  In Iraq, the ISIS were asking people to quote verses in the Quran and failure to do so meant death.
Someone has whispered to me that the bombings in the U.S. and in Europe – rail stations, underground transports – were strategic or tactical manoeuvres – in a war not dissimilar to the ones used against the British by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in its war of independence, or indeed by sympathizers of the Allies in the underground movements attempting to tumble the German forces in France and elsewhere during the Second World War. But what demented radicalized Moslems have done far outstrips consideration of strategy or tactics. What strategy do you have to kill children and women? Is it to strengthen the resolve of the rest of Islam? The children in Pakistan were killed by seven suicide bombers who went into the school to unleash mayhem.
When people talk about tactics and strategy – they in fact mean that whatever they have done could be justified by claiming that they engage the attention of the enemy. Islam now fully has the attention of the world. What does Islam want???
In the context of Nigeria the Boko Haram has declared its objectives to be nothing less than the annihilation of the nation, Nigeria, to be replaced by an Islamic Caliphate State.  It is still hazy about what it means as a state because we have many Islamic states in the world – Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, etc.  What will happen to non-Moslems in such a Nigerian Boko Haram state?  Will they follow the Chibok experience – convert our women and marry them to Moslems?  In India it was religion that divided India and Pakistan – where we had the unworkable agreement of East Pakistan and West Pakistan – leading to the eventual creation of Bangladesh. 
In an Islamic Nigerian nation under Boko Haram, what would happen to large chunks of the Middle Belt, and most of the South?  Is the recipe of Boko Haram the creation of parts of the North into an Islamic State? Would they yield in negotiations to breaking up Nigeria or do they still need the oil of the Niger Delta?  If the proposition is a Northern Islamic State, there may be several takers, although I will oppose it. It is like a child who sees chocolate and gauges itself on it until it is sick. The South needs the North as much as the North needs the South. But as at today, Mr. President’s writ does not run in 33% of Nigeria.  That is a serious problem, which the elections will not solve.  But rather exacerbate.
But Moslems must seriously ask themselves what they want?  There is, whether they like it or not, a world order, to which nations fit. That order cannot allow the discriminate killing of people who happen not to agree with your way of thinking. I am told that the critics who have inundated the press on my views are doctrinaire and therefore illogical, beyond reasoning. I have no intention to call anybody names.  We started from the simple premise of looking at realities. 
There are wars all over the world; nearly all of them are Islamic.  If the boundaries put in place by Europeans in 1919 are the problems then we are dealing with nationalistic issues.  If that is the case, how many nations, given the ethnic diversity of Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Libya are you going to create? They may all be Moslems but their record in killing one another does not show brotherly goodwill.  So are we dealing with the problem of ethnic diversity masquerading as religion?  Libya has been broken up to ethnic warlords, an outcome the Western world have been well advised to leave alone in its stupidity in attacking and killing Ghadaffi.  Iraq had both ethnic and religious divisions which the wars have made more truculent.  Saudi Arabia, Syria etc, is a polyglot of ethnic diversity; so is Pakistan.  Indeed the only glue keeping these countries together was Islam but even that has come un-stock because of the Sunni/Shia dissent.
• To be continued tomorrow
 Dr. Patrick Dele Cole (OFR), a former Nigeria’s Ambassador, wrote from Lagos.
Source: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/editorial-opinion/columnist/194429-cole-still-on-islam-and-threat-to-peace-1

Damocles Had His Sword; the Married Women of Pakistan Have the Threat of Divorce  

Damocles Had His Sword; the Married Women of Pakistan Have the Threat of Divorce


By Rafia Zakaria
January 28, 2015
DAMOCLES had his sword; the married women of Pakistan have the threat of divorce. Truth be told, the analogy is not perfectly accurate. The moral of the anecdote of Damocles, who was a courtier in the court of Dionysius, a Sicilian king, is that the powerful are not lucky as they seem, for they face the tremendous burden of great responsibility.
To teach his courtier the lesson, the king told Damocles that he could be in his shoes for a day. To ensure that he learned a lesson, he arranged for a giant sword to be suspended over the throne where Damocles would sit. Unsurprisingly, Damocles was eager to get out of the situation, and happy to conclude that being a king was not so lucky after all.
The married women of Pakistan are hardly kings, never even for a day, nor does the realm of the family offer them any particular position of relative power. They do, however, have a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. As has been adequately chronicled in the histrionics of many a soap opera and in the family lore of nearly every community in the country, the vocal utterance of three Talaqs can destroy lives and families.
In arguments and fights and the tussle of personal relations, which are necessarily invoked by marital relationships, it represents a death knell, a repudiation of a woman as a wife, a consequent relegation of her to her parents’ home and often to the margins of social and communal existence. In the contested game of intimate relations, the divorce threat, one or two utterances of ‘I divorce you’, is the nuclear option; the pause after the second and before the third is the moment of reckoning for the woman, who must beg and plead and recant. The inequality is ingrained; only the men of Pakistan may avail themselves of the option of divorcing their spouses by uttering three sentences.
The Council of Islamic Ideology could simply have asked for the provisions of the family laws to be better enforced.
Into this unbalanced scale of marital power relations comes the Council of Islamic Ideology. Describing its duty as the Islamisation of Pakistan’s laws, the CII in recent months has issued pronouncements that have validated the marriage of female minors by their male guardians, declared the use of DNA evidence in rape cases impermissible, etc.
On Jan 21, 2014, Maulana Sheerani, chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, spoke to the media following the adjournment of the CII’s convening. He announced that the CII was recommending that the verbal pronouncement of triple talaq by husbands be made a criminal offence punishable by law. The chairman prefaced the announcement that this particular decision had been made because the Council of Islamic Ideology was concerned about the rising divorce rates in the country. According to Dr Tahir Ashrafi, another member of the CII, the divorce rate in Pakistan “has risen by 150 to 200pc”.
As various newspaper editorials and commentators have pointed out, the CII’s pronouncement further exacerbates the confusion regarding how marriages can be terminated.
First, according to the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, vocal utterances of divorce are not legally valid. Following the utterance, the ordinance requires that the husband uttering the statements provide notice to the local union council or district registration office.
Following the provision of this notice, a copy is then provided to the wife. After this, a notice is provided from the authorities to both the husband and the wife, giving them the opportunity to attempt reconciliation. If there is no reconciliation for 90 days following the initial registration of the notice, then the divorce is confirmed and enacted.
Given these legal realities, instead of issuing a statement asking for the criminalisation of verbal pronouncements of divorce, the CII could simply have asked for the provisions of the family laws to be better enforced and practised. Such a move is necessitated by the problems that have arisen in recent years owing to men not registering divorces and women (who believe themselves divorced) being accused of adultery or fornication under the Zina and Hudood Ordinances of 1979.
In previous debates on the divorce registration issue, Pakistani clerics have been unwilling to ask for enforcement of the registration requirements because they do not want to abridge the unilateral male right of divorce. Undoubtedly, they hold this position because they know that the provisions of the ordinance are designed to create a balance of power in the marital relationship. This last point is somehow repugnant to them.
What feminist activism has been unable to accomplish in Pakistan, urbanisation and demographic changes may enable instead. While there is no verification of the cited statistic of an increase in divorce rates, it can be considered to represent (if true) the reality of a changing society where marriage is no longer as inviolable as it used to be.
The decimation of family and tribal structures from employment- and conflict-generated migration can easily be hypothesised as a contributor to this change. In the wake of this transformation, an institution like the CII is forced to choose between its implicit aversion to arguments for gender equality and the problem of rising divorce rates. If the family is to be protected as a unit, then those who can most easily destroy it (in this case Pakistani men) must be stopped from doing so.
As stated, this is in reality a vacuous turn; the legislative provisions of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961 envisaged decades ago what the CII has thought of now. Perhaps, in light of this knowledge, the venerable members of the CII may consider the proposition that if the family is to be protected, one way to do it could be to ensure that its two pillars, the husband and the wife, have equal power to be in the relationship and hence twice the commitment to sustain it.
Rafia Zakaria is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.
Source: http://www.dawn.com/news/1159881/the-threat-of-divorce

Facing Gender Segregated Upbringing as a Female Muslim Med Student

Facing Gender Segregated Upbringing as a Female Muslim Med Student


By Fariha Siddiqui
January 23, 2015
I just want to start off by saying that my parents are pretty open-minded (relatively speaking, of course) for being Pakistani immigrants living in America. They always pushed my sisters and me towards attaining the highest education possible, not because it was something that they wanted, but because they knew we would be settling if we didn’t. They let all of us dorm when we headed off to college, even though we were the first to do so in my extended family.
When my older sister entered medical school, aunties would tell my mother that her daughter would be “old” (an astonishing 26 years old!) before she would be done with her education and in a place to settle down (that means marriage, of course). My mother waved away all the negative chit-chat and she held her stance that girls should study as much as they can if they want to make something of themselves. That resolve of her’s only became stronger when I entered medical school a year later, giving me the courage to travel more than 1,000 miles away to go to my dream school.
Despite how progressive my Pakistani parents were, they were, alas, Pakistani parents and therefore, the one constant, forbidden fruit in our lives was, and still is, boys.
Being a Muslim girl, I was naturally told to stay away from anyone of the XY karyo type.  Growing up, I was never allowed to have a guy friend, and having a boyfriend was—needless to say—digging my own grave.
But I do have guy friends. Some of them are my closest friends, but this is not information that I would necessarily share with my parents.  They live in a bubble where they assume that their daughter’s co-ed class is actually 100 percent female and that if a random guy were to so much as walk on the same side of the street as me, I give him an evil glare until he runs far away.  Hey, if that’s what helps them sleep at night, so be it.
I was mostly fine with this part of my upbringing, but something changed when I entered medical school. You see, as a medical student, my studies weren’t just passively reading a few PowerPoint slides and regurgitating them on an exam. I had to learn how to interact and touch patients as well—figuratively and quite literally. I still remember the day I had to do my first physical exam on a male patient.
To this day, my mother thinks that the cadaver I dissected in anatomy lab was a female. The thought of telling her that I learned my anatomy from regularly studying a naked male corpse doesn’t seem like something she would want to hear.
However, I had been dreading the moment when I would actually have to touch a male patient. To anybody else, this trepidation from a girl in her early 20s may sound silly, especially since I was sure my parents knew that I would have to do this as an essential part of my career. What was I so afraid of? It was natural to feel a little nervous when dealing with a patient of the opposite sex for the first time. I’m sure that patients felt similarly when they had a doctor of the opposite sex.  At least, that’s what I kept telling myself as I nervously knocked on the hospital room’s door.
He was a young man, probably just a few years older than me. When I entered the examination room, he already had taken his shirt off.  I could feel my stomach clench as I palpated his chest, not because I was unsure of my technique, but because I had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind wondering if my mother would be okay with this. For that reason, I could tell that my movements were a little imprecise: I should’ve pressed a little harder to better feel his lymph nodes; I should’ve taken my time when feeling for the movements of his diaphragm as he took a deep breath; I should’ve not been so afraid to reach under his ribs and feel for his liver; I should’ve been doing my job better, but I just couldn’t. I was a medical student, but I was also a Muslim girl.
No housewife training or acceptance letter in the world tells you what type of awkwardness being both of those together brings.
Overtime, as I saw more and more patient exposure, I eventually shed that awkwardness. It took a while, but I had to remind myself that I was just doing a job; it’s what my parents sent me thousands of miles away to do, and darn it, I would learn how to do that job well.
I am yet to discuss these fears with my mother. Sometimes, I think she would laugh at me for being so silly; other times, I wonder if she’d tell me to gently refuse anytime my attending tells me to do an exam on a male patient. At this point, I’m really not sure how that conversation will go, but maybe I will share that story with another time.
 Fariha Siddiqui is a New Jersey girl currently living in Orlando, Florida, where she attends medical school.  One of her favorite hobbies is writing, especially about her Pakistani culture and what it means to balance Pakistani roots in an American society.  In her free time, she loves binge-watching romantic comedies and sitcoms.
Source: http://www.altmuslimah.com/2015/01/female-medical/

The meaning of Zikr in the holy Quran قرآن کریم میں ذکر کا مفہوم

The meaning of Zikr in the holy Quran قرآن کریم میں ذکر کا مفہوم

آفتاب احمد ، نیو ایج اسلام
28 جنوری، 2015
ومن اعرض عن ذکری فانّ لہ معیشتہً ضنکاً و نحشرہ یوم القیامتہِاعمیٰ ۔ قال رب لم حشرتنی اعمی و قد کنت بصیراً۔قال کذلک آتتک ئایتنا فنسیتہا۔ وکذالک الیوم تنسیٰ۔ وکذالک نجزی من اسرف ولم یومن بآیٰت ربہ ۔و لعزاب الآخرۃ اشد و ابقیٰ ۔(طٰہٰ: 124۔
ترجمہ :اور جو بھی میری یاد سے غافل ہوتاہے اسے ایک پریشان کن زندگی عطا ہوگی اور ہم اسے قیامت کے دن اندھا اٹھاینگے۔وہ کہے گا، اے میرے رب، تونے مجھے اندھا کیوں اٹھایا جبکہ میں آنکھ والا تھا۔خدا کہے گا کہ تیرے پاس میری نشانیاں آئی تھیں مگر تونے انہیں نظر انداز کیا پس آج کے دن تو بھی نظر انداز کیا جائے گا۔اور ہم حد سے گذرنے والے کواللہ کی نشانیوں پر ایمان نہ لانے والوں کو ایسا ہی بدلہ دیتے ہیں۔ اور آخرت کا عذاب زیادہ شدید اور دیر پا ہے۔
مندرجہ بالا سورۃ کے اندرخدا ذکر سے اعراض کی سزا کے بطور معیشت کی تنگی کی بشارت دیتے ہیں اور یہ بھی کہ قیامت کے دغ  ایسے افراد کو اندھا اٹھایاجائیگا۔
سوال یہ  ہے کہ ذکر سے کیا مراد ہے، صوفیہ کے اوراد و اذکار، مجموعی طور پر وحی الہٰی یا محض قرآن کریم؟۔ قرآن کریم نے بعض لفظ ایسے جامع استعمال کئے ہیں جسکی مختلف تشریحات ممکن ہیں،یہاں ذکر سے اعراض کی جو سزا سنائی گئی ہے اسے سن کر مومن کا دل کانپ اٹھتاہے اور وہ سوچنے لگتاہے کہ یہ کون سا ذکر ہے جس سے غفلت پر اتنی سخت سزا دنیا و آخرت میں دی جائے گی۔سورہ  انبیا  میں بھی کئی جگہ ذکر کا لفظ استعمال کیاگیاہے۔
مایاتیہم من ذکر من ربہم محدث الا ستمعوہ وہم یلعبون۔2
وما ارسلنا قبلک الا رجالا نوحی الیہم فسئلو اہل الذکر ان کنتم لا تعلمون۔7
ولقد آتینا موسی و ہارون الفرقان و ضیائً و ذکری ً للمتقین۔48
و ہذاذکر مبارک انزلنہ ۔50
اوپر کی تمام آیتوں سے یہ واضح ہے کہ ذکر سے مراد وحی الہی ہے۔ دوسری آیت سے یہ ظاہر ہے کہ تمام انبیا اہل ذکر تھے یعنی انہیں وحی الہی عطا ہوئی تھی۔یعنی ذکر عموی طور پر کلام الہی کے لئے استعمال کیاگیاہے۔قرآن میں ذکر سے مراد خصوصیت کے ساتھ قرآن کریم بھی لیاگیاہے۔
یہاں یہ نکتہ قابل ذکر ہے کہ قرآن میں ذکر سے مراد قرآن کریم بھی ہے  اور قرآن سے پہلے نازل ہونے والے آسمانی صحیفے بھی ہیں اور ان سب کے لئے عذاب کی تنبیہ نازل کی گئی جو اس کے منکر ہوئے۔
سورہ بقرہ کے اندر قرآن کریم کو سرچشمہ ہدایت قرار دیاگیا ہے اور ان لوگوں کے لئے جو بما انزل الیک  (قرآن کریم ) پر اور بما انزل من قبلک (گزشتہ انبیا کی وحی ) دونوں پر ایمان لائے ہیں انعامات کا وعدہ کیاگیا ہے۔
دراصل قرآن کریم کے عہد کے انسانوں کو پچھلی نبوتوں اور وحی الہی پہ ایمان لانا ضروری قراردیاگیا تو عہد قرآن کے عہد قبل کے انسانوں کو قرآن کریم کی طرف رجوع کیاگیا۔ اس طرح مسلمان  زبور ، توریت اور انجیل سے رشتہ استوار کریں اور عہد نبوی سے قبل کی امتیں حضرت محمد ؐ اور انکی کتاب قرآن کریم سے رشتہ استوار کریں۔ صرف اسی صورت میں وحی الہی  کی مطلقیت قائم رہ سکتی ہے۔ لہٰذا ، ذکر سے مراد مطلق وحی الہی ہے اور عبارت محولہ بالا کے اندر جو تہدید اور عذاب ہے وہ مطلق وحی الہی سے اعراض کرنے والوں سے متعلق ہے۔
دین کی روایت ابنیا کے آغاز سے انجام تک پھیلی ہوئی ہیں ۔ قرآن ، زبور ، انجیل اور توریت سب دین کی مقدس کتابیں ہیں اور تمام ابنیا دین کے بنیادی پتھر۔ ان رسولوں کے مدارج اللہ کے یہا ں الگ الگ ہیں اور ان مقدس کتابوں کے مقامات بھی الگ الگ ہیں لیکن ہمیں حکم دیا گیا ہے کہ ہم کسی  رسول کو چھوٹا اور کسی رسول کو بڑا نہ سمجھیں  اور تمام کتاب دین کا احترام کریں۔ اس نقطہ نظر سے اعراض ذکر سے اعراض کے ہم معنی ہوگا اور لازماً ایسے اشخاص کی زندگی میں معیشت کی تنگی در آئیگی اور قیامت کے روز اندھا  اٹھا ئے جائینگے ۔
مولینا ابوالکلام آزاد نے اپنی تفسیرمیں اس رائے کا اظہار کیا کہ دین دو تین نہیں بلکہ صرف ایک ہے۔ تمام انبیا ملکر حلقہ دین مکمل کرتے ہیں اور تما م مقدس وحی الہی سے دین کی تعمیر مکمل ہوتی ہے۔ ایسی صورت میں قرآن کریم کو بما انزل امن قبلک  سے الگ کرنا یا قرآن سے قبل کی وحی الہی کو قرآن سے الگ کرکے پڑھنا رسولوں کے درمیان تفریق قائم رکھنا اور ملتوں کے درمیان  دیوار قائم کرنا تصور دین کو مجروح کرکے رکھ دیگا۔
دراصل تمام انبیا‘ان کی مقدس روایتیں ، تمام کتب مقدسہ اور انکی ہدایتیں ہماری مقدس میراث دین ہیں۔ ان میں سے کسی  رسول کی تنقیص اور کسی کتاب دین سے اعراض وحی الہی سے اعراض ہے اور اسی مجموعی وراثت دین کو ذکر سے تعبیر کیا گیاہے۔
دنیا کے اندر معیشتت کی تنگی میں مبتلا اور میدان حشر میں ٹھوکریں کھاتے ہوئے یہ لوگ وہی ہونگے جنہوں نے آیات ربانی کو بھلائے رکھا اور ذکر سے اعراض کیا۔ وہ میدان حشرمیں جہاں ہر امتی بے یار و مددگار اپنے اپنے رسولوں کا پتہ پوچھ رہا ہوگا اور آنکھیں رکھنے کے باوجود اندھوں کی طرح بھٹک رہاہوگا وہاں ذکر سے اعراض کرنے والے اندھوں کی رہنمائی کون کرےگا۔ حشر کے میدان کا یہ اندھا پن بہت کریہہ عذاب ہے۔ اللہ ہمیں ذکر کا عرفان  بخشے۔ آمین!
URL:

Muslim Extremism Is the Legitimate Daughter of Arab Dictatorships  

Muslim Extremism Is the Legitimate Daughter of Arab Dictatorships


By Khalid Amayreh
January 27, 2015
Today, tyrannical Arab regimes are effectively presenting two stark choices to tens of millions of disillusioned Arab youths from Bahrain to Casablanca: Either they come to terms with the repressive but triumphant police-state fascism, or join the ranks of IS, al-Qaeda or similar violent groups. This is precisely the dilemma behind the outbreak of Islamist violence in the Middle East in recent years.
Arab masses had hoped that the so-called Arab Spring would bring about the long-awaited democratic transformation which most Arabs had been longing for ever since the end of the direct colonialist era in the 1940s and 1950s.
However, the free slaughter of revolutionary forces, as in the Rabaa Square in Cairo and in Syria, as well as the ostensible proclivity of most western countries to revert to the old days of embracing criminal Arab tyrants, convinced Arab youths of the utter futility of counting on western democracy for effecting reforms in the Arab region.
Many people in the Arab world  simply became convinced that the West, to which most dictatorial Arab regimes are more or less answerable, would never ever allow the "wrong" forces, however popular they may be,  to reach power in Arab capitals.
Indeed, the shocking absence of any morally meaningful reactions to the genocidal mayhem at Rabaa more than two years ago, seemed to vindicate this view.
Even today, after thousands have lost their lives, thousands tortured and abused, tens of thousands detained on concocted charges, and hundreds sentenced to death by farcical courts, the west is yet to decide how to act in this regard.
Indeed, thanks to the bloody coup against the democratically elected President Muhammed Mursi, most Arab youths have lost every spectre of faith in democracy. In fact, belief in brute force has already replaced faith in democracy among most Arabs. This does explain the fact that many more Arab youths have come to admire violent organizations such as IS and Qaeda.
One can also dare speculate that thousands of young people would swell the ranks of these violent groups if the gates of peaceful reforms remained hermetically shut off in their faces as is the case in Egypt, where article 74 of the Sissi constitution outlaws any political party based on Islam. In other words, one has to adopt a secular or atheistic ideology in order to qualify for political participation.
This draconian law really raises a lot of eyebrows, especially in light of the fact that 96% of Egypt's 90 million population adhere to Islam. In other words, 96% of the people of Egypt are effectively barred from taking part in political life because of their religion. Unfortunately, western circles have paid little attention to this issue.
 As a long-time observer of radical Islamist groups I am thoroughly convinced that the exacerbation of dictatorship in most Arab states is the most premier reason for the so-called "Islamist terror in the West."
That is why any genuine treatment of Islamist violence, especially in the West, must necessarily include a pro-active, preferably collective, European stance against Arab tyrants who deny their masses basic human rights and civil liberties.
Don't you ever believe those who would tell you that violent Islamists attacks on western targets, in the West itself and abroad, are attributed to their fanatic ideology or because they detest western freedoms and lifestyles.
I do sincerely believe that the West would cut the occurrences of acts of terror by violent Islamists by 90% if it stopped its wanton support for criminal anti-Islamic regimes in the Arab world. These criminal regimes simply push these misguided young men to desperation and violence.
Israel Is Factor
Yes, Israel is a factor in generating anti-western sentiments in the Arab-Islamic world. However, the deepening of official Arab tyranny, which failed and continue to fail Arab masses in every conceivable sphere, is by far the main factor behind the desperation and frustration now overwhelming millions of Arab youths.
These youths are watching Israel murder Palestinian children by the hundreds and escape with impunity. They also watch the Nazi-like entity decapitate any remaining chances for establishing a viable Palestinian state by expanding Jewish settlements in every part and corner of the West Bank.
This occurs as Arab regimes continue to display utter impotence vis-à-vis Israeli insolence and arrogance of power, while unrelentingly tormenting and decimating their own people for crying out for liberty.
Arab youths also watch the security apparatuses in their respective countries brutally swoop on any expression of freedom and democracy while western capitals keep repeating the same stale platitudes, which we heard ad nauseam for many decades.
A last word, I sincerely believe the security measures being taken by some western governments will eventually be proven inadequate. In the final analysis, security in Paris and London and elsewhere in the West is increasingly affected by the status of human rights and civil liberties in certain Arab capitals.
Khalid Amayreh is a Palestinian journalist living in occupied Palestine
Source: http://www.milligazette.com/news/11610-muslim-extremism-is-the-legitimate-daughter-of-arab-dictatorships

Ali Khamenei: How And On The Basis Of Which Values Has Islam Established the Greatest Scientific and Intellectual Civilization and Raised the Most Distinguished Scientists and Intellectuals

Ali Khamenei: How And On The Basis Of Which Values Has Islam Established the Greatest Scientific and Intellectual Civilization and Raised the Most Distinguished Scientists and Intellectuals

Islam and Prejudice
By Ali Khamenei
24 January 2015











For Ali Khamenei, the Press campaign against Islam, currently reactivated after the attacks in France, is based on fiction and leads to violence. In this text – a long way from the idea people in the West may have of the Supreme Guide of the Islamic Revolution – he calls on the young people of Europe and North America not to convert, but to avoid being manipulated.
The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.
I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.
I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.
Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.
The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.
By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?
You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.
My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.
I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.
Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?
Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?
I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.
Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this pre-planned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.
Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.
Ali Khamenei is the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution.
http://www.voltairenet.org/article186510.html