Monday, February 6, 2023

Rahmatullah Kairanawi: Pioneer of Interfaith dialogues in the Indian Subcontinent and Educationist in the Modern Arab World

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 06 February 2023 Main Points · The soil of India has not given place to any Muslim ruler who has issued an order for forced religious conversion. · An Indian scholar named Rahmatullah Kairanawi was behind the remarkable educational revolutions that began in the Arabian nation a century and a half ago. · The famous book ‘Izharul Haq’ (Exposition of Truth) by Kairanawi is considered to be the first modern book written in the Indian Subcontinent on the objective comparative analysis of Islam and Christianity. · History records that Rahmatullah Kairanawi was very vocal and fought against the British and prepared the believers for it. · Madrasa Assawlatiyya was founded by Kairanawi that imparted religious education in a systematic manner and on the model of Dars-e Nizamiya which was prevalent in India. ... The city of Lucknow was nicknamed Cordova in India during the Mughal period. History records Cordova as an equation of knowledge. India has produced many Muslim scholars who are recognized by the world and have developed creative educational methods. Rahmatullah Kairanawi was a rare presence in these scholarly ranks. Rahmatullah Kairanawi was born in 1818 at the height of Mughal rule in India in a region called Kirana in Andhra Pradesh. Kairanawi belonged to a family of scholars and officials who held great political positions during the Mughal rule. His family line was traced back to the third Caliph Usman bin Affan. The sixth paternal grandfather, Abdul Aleem, was a court priest during the time of Mughal ruler Akbar. Kairanawi started studying religious education from his family teachers in the sixth grade and memorized the Quran at the age of 12. Apart from his mother tongue Urdu, he also acquired Arabic and Persian languages. Later, for further studies in Delhi and Lucknow, he entered the wide world of knowledge from Ustads like Imam Baksh Swahbani, Ustad Muhammad Hayat, and Mufti Saadullah who were masters in various branches of learning. He returned to his native place after his studies and established a madrasa in Kirana. Kairanawi also found his spiritual path through Chishti Tariqa. The final period of Mughal rule was the period when British dominance was becoming stronger. This was the beginning of a strong shift towards civil law starting with the East India Company. The Christian British sought ways to spread their religion along with campaigns to seize power. Priests from Britain were specially brought to India and religious propaganda programs were activated. Although the Mughal rulers were Muslims, the majority of the people living in the areas they ruled were Hindus, and it is considered a sign of the religious pluralism of those rulers. The soil of India has not given place to any Muslim ruler who has issued an order for forced religious conversion. It is in this situation that colonial Christianity enters India, where Christians were a very minority, with a new propaganda mission. The Muslim scholars were the biggest setback for the Christian priests who tried to be active by spreading the religion in different ways and organizing debates with the priests of other religions. Rahmatullah Kairanawi is also in the limelight through dialogue with Christian priests. Kairanawi's debate with Christian priests in 1854 is very famous. Pastor Barnabas challenged the Muslim scholars with the Bible in front of him. Pfender was a German Christian priest who filled such debate venues. He himself wrote a book called ‘Meesanul Haq’ (The Balance of the Right). This book, which is critical of Islamic issues, was the sourcebook of the Christian religious priests in the discussion forums. The reflections of the said book are well used to take advantage of the deep ignorance and weakness of faith in the believers evident, albeit in a small way. A wave of sympathy and a cooperative spirit have always been tried by Christian clergy to influence weak believers in India. The East India Company's disguised religious propaganda must not have been identified with this wave of sympathy, which tried to impose faith by force in colonial India. Although many reasons are given for the First War of Independence in 1857, it is generally believed that the motivation of the participants in the revolt was to defend the efforts of the English East India Company to impose Christianity and its laws in India. The sepoy mutiny itself arose from the thought that Indian Muslims and Hindus who were in the company's army would have to accept Christianity by force and later it evolved into a major rebellion. The large number of Muslim scholars who were killed and fled to other countries after the riots were the answers to the fact that Muslim scholars came forward to strongly defend these religious propagandas ideologically. History records that Rahmatullah Kairanawi was very vocal and fought against the British and prepared the believers for it. By portraying the struggle against the British as a religious war and those who died in it were given the status of martyrs, all the Muslim majority areas joined the anti-British struggle. After the mutiny, the British army came in search of the scholars who had led such movements. Many were killed, many were imprisoned, and many were exiled. Many people left the country by themselves. Rahmatullah Kairanawi was also on the wanted list by the British. From there he strategically crossed to Bombay and then sailed to Arabia. He landed in Yemen. History began to pay attention to Kairanawi when he came to Saudi Arabia from Yemen. At that time Arabia, Mecca, and Medina were all under the Ottoman Caliphate. Lessons led by many scholars were held in Masjid al-Haram under Allama Ahmad bin Saini Dahlan, who was the then Imam of Masjid al-Haram and Mufti of the Shafi Madhhab. Allama Saini Dahlan soon recognized Kairanawi's erudition, talent, and perfection. He was also given permission to conduct such lectures. For Kairanawi, this teaching job at Masjid-ul-Haram was the world's greatest recognition of his efforts. It is very proud that an Indian has been selected among the world's Muslim scholars for his depth of knowledge, ability, and perfection. ‘Izharul Haq’ The famous book ‘Izharul Haq’ (Exposition of Truth) is Kairnawi's masterpiece. This is a book written by Kairanawi in response to the book ‘Meesanul Haq’ by the Christian priest Pfander and exposed its hollow arguments of Christian religious superiority and argued for brotherhood among Abrahamic religions. ‘Izharul Haq’ comes out when he was a teacher in Masjidul Haram. The writings prepared in Urdu were later extensively prepared in Arabic on the instructions of Allama Saini Dahlan. This book was published in 1864 in six volumes in Turkish, Urdu, and English. It was also translated into Gujarati languages. This book, which presents in detail strong evidence against false claims in Christianity, became world-famous through various debates with Christians. The fact that this great book is still an active presence in dialogues with Christians today adds to its reputation. This book is considered to be the first modern book written in the Indian Subcontinent on the objective comparative analysis of Islam and Christianity. While he explores the difference, the author makes ample references to the similarities between both religions. He had written this book in response to the allegations made by certain Christian missionaries against Islam. Christine Schirrmacher describes the book saying: ''The Demonstration of the Truth' (izhar al-haqq) served as a summary of all possible charges against Christianity and was therefore used after Kairnawi’s death as a sort of encyclopaedia since Kairanawi extended the material of former polemicists like 'Ali Tabari, Ibn Hazm or Ibn Taymiyya to a great extent.'' ‘Madrasa Assoulatiya’ It was only natural for Rahmatullah Kairanawi, who had studied and taught in the famous Nizamiyya curriculum, that he wanted systematicity in the teaching style and curriculum that followed in Mecca. The result of this thought was ‘Madrasa Assoulatiya’, which has moulded thousands of scholars from many parts of the world for nearly a century and a half and is still standing tall in Makkah. The founder of this great enterprise was Kairanawi. During this period, religious education institutions were held only in Masjid-ul-Haram and a few recognized individual-centred religious learning centres. These centres of learning did not function according to a strictly unified syllabus or curriculum system. The traditional method was followed. This madrasa was established in 1868. ‘Madrasa Assawlatiyya’ was an institution that began with the blessing of the ‘Masjidul Haram’ to impart religious education in a systematic manner. This madrasa was also started on the model of Dars-e Nizamiya which was prevalent in India. The Madrasah that Rahmatullah Kairanawi started in a small way in preparation for imparting religious education mainly to his own countrymen and those from other countries who came to Makkah later turned into a great. There was an incident behind the name of the Madrasah as ‘Saulatiyyah Madrasa’. The said incident took place in 1873. When a rich woman named ‘Saulat-unnisa’, a native of Kolkata, came to Mecca for Hajj, she wanted to build a building for the Indian pilgrims at her own expense. With this desire, they approached Rahmatullah Kairanawi. The woman came to Kairanawi through a relative who had studied in his school. When they expressed their wish, Kairanawi said, 'It is more important for us to build a madrasa building than to accommodate pilgrims. We can spend this money on the Madrasa'. And they agreed to it. With the money given by that majesty, he bought land in the vicinity of the Haram and built a new building for the madrasa on that land. After completing the work in one year, the prominent leaders and scholars of Makkah were invited and inaugurated in a celebratory manner. The students who were studying in the madrasa were shifted to the new building. ‘Madrasa Assaulatiyya’ was named in honour of that lady. Apart from India, students from many parts of the world like Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. have entered the society as the offspring of ‘Madrasa Assoulatiyya’. Great scholars respected by the world and those who have proved their ability in other fields are the progeny of this Madrasah. Husayn bin Ali, who established the government in Hijaz, Hasan bin Muhammad Al Mushatw, the world-famous Maliki scholar, and Ustad Ahmad bin Ibrahim, who was a poet, are some of the prominent ones. Abdul Wahab Hazrat, the founder of Vellore Baqiyat Salihat, was a disciple of Rahmatullah Kairanawi. The Vellore Bakhiyat Swalihat is still held on the Darse Nizamiya model. It is highly promising that this madrasah remained the same even when modern Saudi Arabia came into existence. To be able to exist without losing one's identity even when all that is incompatible with it is something to be proud of. Moreover, King Abdul Aziz, the founder and first ruler of modern Saudi Arabia, visited this madrasa and after understanding the systematization, arrangement, and syllabus integration, he said, 'Saulatiyya Madrasa is the Azhar University of my country'. It was only after the formation of modern Saudi Arabia that a curriculum was developed and educational institutions based on it, whether religious or physical, became widespread in Arabia. Only a few institutions like the ‘Saulatiyya Madrasa’ existed till then. In the fact that an Indian scholar named Rahmatullah Kairanawi was behind the remarkable educational revolutions that began in the Arabian nation a century and a half ago. Rahmatullah Kairanawi left this world on the holy Friday morning of Ramadan 1891. He died at the age of 73. He passed away in Makkah and was buried alongside of Umm al-Mu'minin Khadija (RA). He died at the age of 73. ... URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Debunking Islamophobic and Jihadi Myths about 26 Wartime Verses: Part 6 on Verse 5:14

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 06 February 2023 Removing Misconceptions about 26 Wartime Verses of the Quran  This verse 5:14 refers to the conflicts and divides within Christianity.  There were originally three Christian sects, Fisturyah, Yaqubiyah, and Malkaiyah.  Nowhere in verse 5:14 does it state that Muslims must despise Christians or followers of the Book. --- This part will attempt to debunk Islamophobic myths about the Quranic verse 5:14. Allah Azzawajal says in this verse: “And from those who say, "We are Christians" We took their covenant, but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded. So We caused among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. And Allah is going to inform them about what they used to do.” (5:14) Some people seem to think that the aforementioned verse, which they don't understand the context of, promotes hatred of all Christians and leads to radicalism. However, when we examine this verse, we see exactly the contrary of what they assert. In fact, this verse refers to the conflicts and divides within Christianity. This happened because they failed to maintain unity by forgetting a lot of the knowledge they had been instructed to remember. This verse does not ask Muslims to hate Christians. Instead, in one place, the Quran says, “...and nearest among them in love to the believers with you find those who say, “We are Christians” because among these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world and they are not arrogant” (5:82) Verse 5:14 discusses conflict and division among Christians. To provide its explanation, I must cite some well-known Quranic commentators in order to help the readers grasp the verse and then draw important conclusions from them. The author of Tafsir al-Jalaalain writes under the commentary of this verse: “And We made a covenant with those who claim to be Christians (this is semantically related to [what follows]), just as We did with the Jews and the Children of Israel. However, they have forgotten some of the things that were brought to their attention in the Gospel in relation to faith and other issues, and they [also] broke the covenant. Therefore, because of their divisions and divergent ideologies—each sect accusing the other of unbelief—, We have incited, We have produced, animosity and hatred among them until the Day of Resurrection. God will undoubtedly inform them of what they did in the afterlife and punish them for it.” The author of Tafsir Maariful Quran writes under the commentary of verse 5:14: Verse, 5:13, dealt with the breach of trust by Jews and their penalty for it. Verse 5:14 refers to Christians. In this verse, the punishment described for Christians is mutual dissension. Since they betrayed their trust, this will endure until the Last Day. Looking at the contemporary scene, one may have doubts about Christians who seem to be united. The answer is that the present statement covers genuine Christians, observing and abiding. As for those who have moved away from their own religion turning into non-conformist, secular, or atheistic individuals or groups, they are, for all practical purposes, out of the list of Christians - even though, they may count them as Christians among the nationalities of a country. If among such people, that religious dissension and mutual hostility does not exist, it would not be contrary to this verse - because the conflict was based on religion, once the religion is not there, conflict too would not be there. As said earlier, this verse describes people who profess and practice the religion of Christianity - and their division is well-known. There were originally three Christian sects, according to a brief quotation from Taysir in the marginal notes of commentator al-Baydawi, which is provided below: 1. Fisturyah (Nestorians) who took Sayyidna ` Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him) as the son of God. 2. Yaqubiyah (Jacobites) who believed in Sayyidna ` Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him) himself as one with God. 3. Malkaiyah (Malkites) who believed in Sayyidna ` Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him) as one of the Trinity. And it goes without saying that in the presence of such major divisions in matters of belief, mutual malice is inevitable. (End of quote) Nearly all of Tafsir's best-selling books provide the same information. That is, Allah Almighty describes the bad activities and actions of the Christians, as well as their repulsive traits, in this verse after explaining the Jews' violation of the covenant and unpleasant characteristics. The Jews made a vow to Allah Almighty that they would obey His commands and have faith in Allah, His Prophets, and Messengers. But they broke their promise. In addition to killing countless prophets who followed Moses [peace be upon them], they also rejected them. The Torah described the virtues and characteristics of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), but they misinterpreted what the Torah said. According to the Torah, Jews were commanded to believe in the last prophet when he was sent, but they rejected him. In addition to their denial, they spread a web of secret intrigues against the Holy Prophet. Mufti Badruddoja Razvi writes, “In verse 5:14, Allah Almighty says that the Christians, like Jews, entered into a covenant with Allah that they would believe in Allah and His Messenger and would not avoid doing good deeds. One of the interpretative statements is that Allah Almighty promised them in the Gospel that they would believe in the last Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]. But, like the Jews, they disregarded this covenant and pursued their own desires. This resulted in “enmity and hatred among them”, which alludes to factionalism or sectarianism within the Christian community or to hatred between the Jews and Christians. That is, Allah created enmity within the Christian community till the Day of Resurrection or hatred between the Jews and the Christians. This resulted in “animosity and hatred among them,” a reference to sectarianism or factionalism within the Christian community, or to hatred between Jews and Christians. That is, Allah created animosity inside the Christian community, or hatred between Jews and Christians, until the Day of Resurrection. And at the end of the verse, Allah Almighty made a strong promise to them and said, “And Allah will soon inform them of what they were doing”. That is, ‘we will punish them severely for violating this covenant and for forgetting the advice.’ And Allah has pointed out at the beginning of the verse [And from those who say, "We are Christians"] that they will happily call themselves Christians (Ansarullah) which has nothing to do with reality. Because if these people had been truthful in their claim, they would have remained steadfast in obedience to Allah Almighty and obedience to His commands and would not forget the covenant made with Him, but they disregarded this pact.” [See, The Verses of Jihad in Quran Meaning, Reason of Revelation, Context, and Background – Concluding Part 16, published on] The conclusion is that nowhere in verse 5:14 does it state that Muslims must despise Christians or followers of the Book. -------- Kaniz Fatma is a classic Islamic scholar and a regular columnist for New Age Islam. ------------- URL of Part 5: URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Need to Reassess Composite Nationalism

By Asad Mirza, New Age Islam 06 February 2023 Composite Nationalism as espoused by Hussain Ahmad Madani in the early 20th century holds validity even today also, besides becoming more relevant and giving a new interpretation to nationalism. ... Husain Ahmad Madani was a traditional Islamic scholar and a political activist, as well as an advocate of both a unified global Islamic polity and an Indian nation-state democracy, in which Muslims and non-Muslims were to consider one another as equal members of the same nation; and each of these aspects is demonstrated in his seminal work Muttaḥida Qaumiyyat Aur Islām (Composite Nationalism and Islam) published in 1938. It provides an analysis of the Islamic intellectual tradition from someone considered to be a conservative and which can be seen to accommodate a secular governmental order for a Muslim minority. Barbara D. Metcalf in the introduction to the book had said, ‘The assumption that a scholar like him was motivated by some “hermetic” Islam is thus misplaced,’ and he was ‘one of the most important Muslim figures in the history of twentieth-century South Asia’. Madani, as a traditional Islamic scholar, clothes his vision in terms of an Islamic consciousness; in other words, it is not merely Muslim consciousness - i.e. the thoughts of someone who happens to be Muslim - but it is set forth as being scripturally coherent and faithful. He argued that Indian Muslims and non-Muslims possess a ‘united nationalism’ (Muttaḥida Qaumiyyat). Madani’s discussion of Qaumiyyat or nationalism can be seen as keeping with the age in which he lived, described as one in which ‘nationalism [was] without doubt the most influential of the world’s political creeds during much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’. Within the context of the many debates surrounding notions of nation, nationalism, nation-state, citizenship, culture, multiculturalism, etc., Madani’s work provides an argument for how Muslim minorities can be fully integrated and socially cohesive, without being considered disloyal to their faith or their compatriots. Madani’s Theory of United Nationalism Written in the final days of the British Raj, Madani’s theory of united nationalism was ostensibly composed in response to misgivings that poet Allama Iqbal expressed about united nationalism, in which he saw - to use Madani’s characterization – of united nationalism as ‘unethical’ and ‘un-Islamic’ for ‘Indian Muslims’. As a result, Madani’s response was to fit with the main aims of his life, which were: the removal of British rule from India through a uniting of the various religious groups in India. Towards these goals, one can understand certain points regarding Madani’s theory, which he always contends is in conformity with the principles of Islamic law: namely, Muslim and non-Muslim Indians are one Qaumor nation, and must unite against their common foe; Islam is the final religion of truth, for the whole of mankind, and it provides the strongest bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood that humans can attain; Muslim minorities can accept living under secular political law, but their ‘personal law’ must be safeguarded under such a government. Madani builds his case – by citing the ‘Madinah Pact’ and using the Arabic language, the Holy Qur’an, and the Prophet’s teachings –explaining the notion of nationalism or Qaumiyyat as comprising communities or aqwām. Ultimately, although Madani does not directly address the complexities of race, his urge for Indian unity between Muslims and non-Muslims can be used for a call for greater togetherness amongst races, cultures or ethnicities (as one chooses to define such ‘groupings’). Yet Madani’s sense of not losing one’s own identity in such a social enterprise entails retaining the notion of Islam’s finality and acknowledging that greater bonds of brotherhood exist between Muslims. He wrote, “By united nationalism, I mean here ‘nationalism’, the foundation of which was laid down by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Madinah. That is to say that the residents of India as Indian, as a nation united (having religious and cultural diversity), should become one solid nation and should wage war against the alien power that has usurped the natural rights of the citizens of this great country. “It is incumbent upon every Indian to fight against such a barbaric regime and break the shackles of this slavery. In this regard, one should not hinder another’s religion; rather, all nations (or communities) residing in India are free to follow their religions and moral values and act as per their respective religious traditions. While maintaining peace and tranquillity, they should also publicize their ideology. Indeed, they should all follow their respective culture, and promote and protect their own personal law. Neither should a minority interfere in the personal affairs of other minorities or the majority nor should the majority strive to absorb the minority in itself.” In summation, it is apparent that Muslims can form a nation with non-Muslims and it is neither an undue interference in religious affairs nor is it against the spirit of common welfare that Islamic law envisages. So a Muslim, while (faithfully) observing his religion, can join hands with non-Muslims and can become a nation as they have lived earlier. Further, it becomes obvious that Madani’s interpretation of Qaumiyyat, or nationalism, was not applicable only during that time, but it is relevant even more, today also. It would be more prudent if the current dispensation can try to include the interpretation of nationalism as espoused by other thinkers also, including Madani, in their own theory of nationalism. Only this act would be able to provide a more sustainable and growth-oriented approach to tackling many ills confronting our nation, today. Besides promoting this interpretation of nationalism, not only India will be able to handle many of its current issues but will also be able to influence the global narrative of the concept, and thus be really seen as a ‘Vishwa Guru’. ... Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He can be contacted on ---------- URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Saturday, February 4, 2023

ISIS or Jihadi Brides: Villains or Victims?

By Lucas White, New Age Islam 04 February 2023 How the current media portrayal of ‘ISIS Brides’ continues to reproduce harmful Islamophobic stereotypes concerning Muslim women Main points discussed in the paper: · Who are these ‘ISIS brides’ or ‘Jihadi brides’ · Muslim Women and Islamophobia · Separating the Muslims from the Villains and Victims ... “It was hugs and tears and it was a very, very emotional moment. It is hard to put into words exactly what you are feeling at that point in time, but intense joy” Kamalle Dubboussy told SBS news after seeing his daughter and grandchildren for the first time in years. But far from being a light-hearted story about a family reunion, this is yet another story exploring the contentious topic surrounding Australia’s position on the repatriation of so-called ‘ISIS brides’ or ‘Jihadi brides’ and their children. As of late 2022, 4 women and 13 children have arrived back from Syria, continuing the ongoing divide of opinions on whether these women pose a threat to the wider Australian community or are themselves, victims of human trafficking, with many now claiming to have been tricked into travelling to Syria. Regardless of where you, a concerned and/or compassionate Australian, stand on the matter, the issue is that the portrayal of these women as either ‘dangerous Muslim jihadi brides’ or as another example of females victimised by Islam, will continue to reinforce negative stereotypes of the Muslim woman in a country where they already experience the majority of Islamophobic incidents. Who are these ‘ISIS brides’ or ‘Jihadi brides’ In June 2014, Islamist extremists seized control of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, before moving south and threatening Baghdad. These militants, known as the Islamic State (ISIS) declared an Islamic state or caliphate and claimed total theological and political authority over the world’s Muslim population. ISIS then capitalised on the weakened political and military hold in Syria and quickly established a foothold throughout the region. But far from being just another conflict in the Middle East for us Westerners to once again happily ignore, the reach of ISIS was able to extend around the globe and recruit western fighters from even as far as the sunny shores of Australia. Though most western recruits were young men in their mid-twenties, roughly 18% of those who left were women. In fact, of the total 41,490 foreign ISIS affiliates in Iraq and Syria between 2013 and 2018, 4761 were women. These women have been portrayed sensationally in the media in the following years as young women who have absconded their lives in the West to join the killing fields of Iraq and Syria. Either as willing Jihadist contributors who wish to be included in the building of a new caliphate, or as duped or trafficked victims of the Islamic State and Islam’s ‘supposed misogynistic’ nature. This brings us back to the portrayal of these women in Australia and how depicting these women as either the ‘villains’ or ‘victims’ of Islam, is only going to further reproduce Islamophobic stereotypes that continue to plague Muslim women in this country. Negative and unbalanced reporting by the media is widely viewed to have led to an increase in Islamophobia incidents towards Australian Muslims. This is exacerbated further when these media depictions are repeated and reinforced in the everyday rhetoric of the Australian public due to either ignorance or apathy towards Australian Muslims. Now I can’t tell you whether these women pose a threat to Australia or not after repatriation from Syria. There is cause for concern about the actions and motivations of current female jihadists in displacement camps in Syria. With some radicalised women going as far as murder to uphold the ISIS ideologies and norms within the camps. However, I can tell you that these women are not on trial for being female Muslims. Something the media’s portrayal seems to constantly forget. It’s the media’s, intentionally or otherwise, inability to separate the accused with their religion that has the potential to continue to support and reproduce harmful Islamophobic stereotypes of Muslim women in Australia. It is therefore the role of the average western viewer to both recognise and remember that these representations are potentially harmful. Muslim Women and Islamophobia Unfortunately, in Australia, many Muslim women are victims of Islamophobia. This isn’t to say that Islamophobia doesn’t affect male Muslims (it does), but women within the Australian Islamic community seem to be especially susceptible to it. Many Muslim women face what can be described as a ‘triple penalty’ because they are women, from an ethnic minority, as well as being Muslim. Additionally, women in head coverings are often the main target for abuse as their religious clothing renders them visible in public to be identified as ‘Muslim’. Furthermore, there seems to have emerged a dual image in western eyes of Muslim women, neither of which is helpful in combating Islamophobia in Australia. On one side of the binary, we have Australian public discussions focused on Muslim women as victims (of Islamic misogyny or racial violence), forced to wear head coverings as a form of oppression. On the other side, especially since the fall of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the figure of the veiled Muslim woman has increasingly come to signify a threat, no longer a helpless victim but a villain, and a willing conspirator in extremist atrocities. Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t some women who are victims of a misogynistic interpretation of Islam, or that there isn’t a threat in the West from radicalised Muslims, either male or female. However, the Muslim population is extremely diverse, and it is the portrayal of so-called ‘ISIS Brides’ in the media as being either one or the other of these extremes that is the problem, especially as these women are commonly depicted in full religious clothing. This is a concern as women wearing religious dress are already far more likely to be victims of Islamophobia. Again, it is not for me to say if these 4 women that have recently been repatriated to Australia from Syria are guilty or not. Though more responsible and nuanced reporting of their current situation should be considered to distance these women from law-abiding, peaceful, Australian Muslim women. Minimising any potential influence on increasing incidents of Islamophobia. Separating the Muslims from the Villains and Victims With returning ‘ISIS brides’ currently making headlines, and with roughly 40 Australian women and children in Syrian displacement camps yet to be repatriated, it seems like both the media portrayal and public discourse surrounding these women is here to stay for a while and with it increasing public focus on Muslim women. However, it does give the media and the Australian public an opportunity in changing how we associate these women within the context of the wider Muslim community. The two factors in this situation influencing Islamophobia are the long-held western belief that Muslim women are either victims of Islam or are themselves Islamic villains, and the tendency for the Western media to produce negative or unbalanced reporting on Muslims. The first thing that needs to be done is an emphasis to separate religion from the suspected crimes. “But ISIS is Islamic extremists!” I can imagine some of you protesting, “Islam is an integral element in these stories!” Well, yes and no. If these women were willing contributors to the atrocities committed by ISIS, it is important that both the media and the Australian public recognise and promote the fact that these are/were radicalised extremists and do not represent most Muslims. Additionally, if they are the unfortunate victims of human trafficking, or have been tricked, then it should be made clear that they are not victims of Islam, but victims of crimes committed by radicalised extremists. The language used is extremely important in dispelling any potential Islamophobic connotations these stories have on the wider female Muslim community. Even the terminology of “ISIS Bride” or “Jihadi Bride” is unhelpful as it associates these crimes specifically to gender, further painting a picture of Muslim women being integrally linked with the atrocities of ISIS in Syria and the growing feelings of public concern for safety in Australia that repatriation of potential extremists entails. If the media can recognise the potential benefits of changing how they represent repatriated women and children, I would hope that it would go some ways to limiting any potential increases in Islamophobia against Muslim women in our communities, and as such help to dispel the long-held binary view of Muslim women as being either stereotypical victims or villains of Islam in the Australian public discourse. It is also vitally important that we as everyday Australian citizens understand this binary view exists and actively try, either in our own minds or in the conversations we have with our friends and family to dispel such stereotypes. Whether or not you, as a concerned and/or compassionate Australian, think that these so-called ‘ISIS brides’ should be welcomed back, it is important that we all continue to recognise and promote media and public discourses that dispel Islamophobia and continue to make sure that Muslim women, in general, feel welcomed and appreciated in this country. ..... Lucas White is a current Bachelor of Education student. He is one of the students of Dr. Adis Duderija who hopes to promote cultural tolerance and understanding among students of all backgrounds in Australia by working as a teacher. --------- URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Atheists want to make this world a more rational and conflict-free place to live in

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 04 February 2023 When some brain-dead fanatic in Pakistan urges his fellow Muslims to hold Quran in one hand, and atom bomb in the other, should an atheist keep mum? ... "Atheists are ok as long as they mind their own business but if they turn against religion, and then they are generally speaking, beyond reasoning. They have burnt their boats and cannot look back but at the same time, they are not at peace with themselves. They have a need to continually run down religion to suppress their lack of conviction in their position. Atheists who attack religion are fighting their own demons. Enemies of religion will meet a bad end in the Hereafter after ruining their lives in this world also by waging a constant war against religion. They stand to lose in both worlds." Once Turan Dursun, a celebrated Turkish ex-Muslim and an avowed atheist got a letter from an Imam, who wrote almost the same things which I've quoted above. By the way, Turan Dursun (1934 – September 4th, 1990) was a Turkish Shia Islamic scholar and writer. His work, which is influenced by the 9th-century Persian sceptic philosopher Ibn al-Rawandi, heavily criticizes Islam and the founders of its major branches. Turan Dursun, originally a Ja'fari Muslim, first worked as an Islamic cleric before becoming an atheist during his study of the history of monotheistic religions. Turan Dursun wrote a number of books about religion, which included interpretations of Islamic texts. He was an open critic of religion and was frequently threatened by Islamic fundamentalists. He was eventually assassinated on September 4th, 1990; outside his home in Istanbul. After this event, his books sold tens of thousands of copies in Turkey. Dursun gave a classic reply to that Imam. I've translated that from Turkish: 'An atheist's perception of the world, esp. of the spiritual world, is unimpeded by religion and god. He sees the world in its stark nakedness and is not influenced by any esoteric belief. His atheism is a cerebral decision which he considers a triumph of reason over brainless servility. When he's able to see through the nefarious designs of all religions and understand the futility of faith, he makes it the mission of his life to fighting against religions, not just Islam, and their dogmas. It, therefore, must be his lifetime goal to purge this world of religions, scriptures and their fictional gods. I'm doing this for mankind which is in a state of deep slumber. I'm jolting it out of its stupor.' That he was eventually killed by Muslim zealots doesn't mitigate the impact of his words. When some brain-dead fanatic in Pakistan urges his fellow Muslims to hold Quran in one hand, and atom bomb in the other, should an atheist keep mum? An atheist is an indefatigable crusader who debunks all religious shibboleths and declares fearlessly like Josh Malihabadi, "Bashar ke zehan pe qarnon se jo musallat hain / Badal raha hoon gumanon mein un yaqeenon ko” (I'm turning those blind beliefs into doubts that have engulfed mankind for aeons). There's no dilemma of decision an atheist suffers from. Here I'm not talking about fashionable schoolboy atheism. That's a fad and a neo-intellectual idiosyncrasy. I'm talking about the 11th-century Arab atheist Al-Ma'ari's non-belief who famously said, " The human race is divided into two: One, man intelligent without religion, the second, religious without intellect." Atheists don't fight their own demons. They aren’t beset by nagging doubts. They militate against the demons, dogmas and obscurantism religions are saddled with. They're not indolent lotus-eaters to dwell upon Hereafter, Thereafter and all that putrid bilge. Atheists and apatheists believe in this life, in this world and in this existence. Nonbelievers don't require crutches of faith and god. They believe in themselves and exhort people to use their brains. To encapsulate, atheists want to make this world a more rational, righteous and conflict-free place to live in. .. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Friday, February 3, 2023

Meeting a Salafi Maulana

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam 03 February 2023 Discussions with a Salafi Maulana Regarding a Range of Religious Issues Main Points · Most of Maulanas have done more disservice than contribute to the cause of Islam. · Salafis mostly believe that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) displayed a flowing beard and shaving or trimming the beard is not allowed in Islam. · The Salafis started with the noble cause of ending the division among the Ummah, but ultimately they fell prey to sectarianism themselves in the process of uniting the Ummah. · Islam was spread in Kashmir due to the efforts of Sufis, who are opposed vehemently by Salafis. .... I have always been wary about maulanas. Most of them have done more disservice than contribute to the cause of Islam. It so happened that I visited a friend whose father had passed away to offer my condolences. There I happened to meet a Maulana, whose flowing beard and trimmed moustache gave me an indication that he belonged to the Salafi sect. It is indeed quite interesting to know that from the length of beards, one can just know the sect of Muslims. Salafis mostly believe that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) displayed a flowing beard and shaving or trimming the beard is not allowed in Islam. In my teenage years, I read a book by Mukhtar Ahmad Salafi who edited the monthly Al Balagh and publishing house Al Darus ul Salfia, titled Daadhi Kye Masail Quran wa Sunnat Ki Roshni Mey (The contours of Beard in the light of Quran and Sunnah). The whole argument of the text was that all Prophets, his companions, scholars, sages and friends of Allah displayed beards, so it was sinful and haram to trim the beard. This book certainly had a huge impact on my impressionable mind. I had a boyish face then, but I made a firm resolve about not trimming and shaving my beard once it grew. So I displayed a long beard in my high school and college days and even now I never have a clean shave. This book made me question the piety and religiosity of those Muslims who did not display beards, so whenever I heard someone talking or preaching about Islam, I grew angry at the fact that he had no right to speak or talk or preach about Islam, as he is without a beard. Beard became synonymous for me with religiosity. Later I came to relate beards with sects, long ones associated with Salafis, short ones with Jamaat e Islami, dishevelled with Barelwis and dyed ones with Deobandis. Later these sects even divided the colours; green for Barelwis, white for Deobandis, and black for Salafis. It is so interesting food for thought. Among Shias, black is reserved for the Syeds and white for Non-Syeds and no Shia can question this division and segregation. Later with more reading, comprehension and understanding of the spirit of Islam, I overcame this exoteric display of bearded identity. I understood the fact that salvation did not depend on beards and Allah will not give a scale to angels to measure the length of beards and then admit Muslims to heaven. So Islam demands something else that will help us inherit the Jannah. Later on, when the conversation started I came to know that he is a teacher in a local Salafi madrasa and was a writer too, besides translating and writing exegesis of the Quran in vernacular Kashmiri. I enquired from him about the need of translating the Quran into Kashmiri when already a translation that is attributed to the late Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah is existent. Although I added that it is alleged that Hanafi Sopori had translated it into Kashmiri and given it to Mirwaiz to proofread and have a look at it, but then out of deception and sheer injustice he got it published in his own name. He said no, it was not Hanafi Sopori, but some other person residing in the outskirts of Srinagar, Narbal who was a Hanafi scholar and handed his translation to Mirwaiz. When Mirwaiz was exiled from Kashmir, he took this translation with him and there was a breakdown of communication between the two parts of Kashmir. So he waited till the original scholar and translator died and then got it published in his own name. But even those who are aware of this intellectual plagiarism maintain silence given the reverence for the Mirwaiz family among Kashmiris. As I am acquainted with the Salafi Manhaj, I enquired further from the Salafi scholar about the division of Ummah. As usual, he ranted against the Taqleed (blind following) of four Imams. But I rebutted him with the fact that Salafi or Ahle Hadith although they are not a monolith too is a sect now. They did start with the noble cause of ending the division among the Ummah, but ultimately they fell prey to sectarianism themselves in the process of uniting the Ummah. So ultimately, they ended up dividing the Ummah more instead of uniting it. Further, I questioned him about visiting the shrines and hospices, as it is a common practice in Kashmir. Also, Islam was spread in Kashmir due to the efforts of Sufis, who are opposed vehemently by Salafis. He admitted that visiting graves is allowed in Islam but requesting and praying to the dead person is not, I agreed with the difference that praying to the dead person can happen even in our daily prayers. I do regularly visit shrines, but I do not pray to the dead, but ask Allah to help me attain the qualities that will make me a good, pious Muslim like them. Then the question shifted to the companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) known as Sahabas. He said we cannot question Sahabas and I did not agree with him as Sahabas are not a monolith. There are categories among them and only some of them were on the right path, when the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) left this world as subsequent events unfolded. I asked about the battle of Siffin between Caliph Ali (RA) and the rebel leader Ameer Mu'awiya(RA). He grew angry at my calling Mu'awiya(RA) a rebel, although numerous hadiths specify his crimes against Muslims and the family of the Prophet (Ahle Bayt). To escape he quoted the Fitnah of Abdullah ibn Sabah. To me, that is escapism and ludicrous. If we admit that a person or his network was so vital to sabotage the whole community of pious companions, the Sahabas and Tabeen then we have to admit that there was something wrong with their training and they were not as righteous as they have been rendered by Salafis and other sects. If we stop offering them all the reverence as if they are innocent and without sin (Masoom) only then we can understand the real plagues afflicting Muslims. What Salafis do is opt for escapism saying we should not criticize the tussle among Sahabas, but then only one group is on the correct path (Haqq) and that is of Caliph Imam Ali (RA), not anyone else. There are no two views on it. Prophet (pbuh) asked us to revere his family (Ahle Bayt) more than Sahabas, but Salafis undermine the Ahle Bayt and try to push the status of some rebel companions like Mawiya (RA) more than Imam Ali (RA). That qualifies them as Nasibiyees. This trend is because Mu'awiya (RA) and then his progeny used money, material and men to construct and spread wrong Hadith concocted by them and attributed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to perpetuate their oppressive rule. Even now the Arab dictators and monarchs through Petrodollars are helping to perpetuate the myth about the reverence of Mu'awiya(RA) to justify their dictatorial rule as Mu'awiya(RA) was the first monarch and dictator in Islam. So the Salafi Maulanas failed to answer or rebut my views about the crimes of Ummayads and its founder against Ahle Bayt. Salafism stands for spreading monarchy, dictatorship and a monolith version of Islam among Muslims and is doomed to fail. .. Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir and can be reached at ---------- URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

We learn from everyone

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 03 February 2023 Har shakhs ek mudarris hai aur ye duniya ek darsgaah (Every individual is a teacher and the world is a school) -Intizaar Hussain Har din ek naye falsafe ka aaghaaz hai aur har vaqi'a ek nayee simt ki jaanib ishara (Every day is a beginning to a new philosophy and every event is a pointer to a new direction). Qurratulain Hyder ... One of the lines that are inscribed on the palimpsest of my heart and mind is: Not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever.........sometimes they're only there long enough to teach you the lesson that you needed to learn. Very precious words, I must say. We meet people, learn from them, and they too learn from us and when the lessons are imbibed and well-learned, the association is all-over. Every relationship is mutually beneficial, though initially, it may seem destructive. At the same time, every meeting in life also has a purpose. Don't associate it with destiny or quirks of fate. I've experienced that you meet an individual with an objective even though you and that person are unaware of it. The waves of the sea strike against the rocks and ebb back. Every day, every hour and every moment altogether new waves strike never to come again. But the wetness of every wave gets embossed on the rocks. We all unconsciously wait for new people to come into our lives and when they come, we also unconsciously want them to leave us. It's a very strange feeling but here lies the truth of life. The human mind always works in an ironical manner. 'Kisi ko paakar bhi aksar ye gumaan hota hai ke jaise rahe gayee ho baaqi koi kami phir bhi' (In spite of meeting someone in life/ There lies a rueful feeling of still to find someone). Obviously, better. And this never-satisfying quest makes us meet different people in the sojourn of life. Years ago, someone told me that none of us could ever find a person complete in every respect. He was right. That we never get someone completely measuring up to our yardsticks keeps us alive and going. It's good that all those we meet come in parts. And all aspects, parts and dimensions of different individuals constitute a person's attitude towards life. Buddha's dictum is very appropriate that you never learn all from one master. You need a master to learn different facets of life. I fully agree with him. I'm yet to come across a person in life, who can be the epitome of perfection. In fact, one doesn't have to be perfect because the very idea of perfection or completeness is intangible and improbable. At every juncture of life, I came across people, who could teach me something new irrespective of their social status and standing. Years ago, at a market in Herat (Afghanistan), a cobbler gave me certain very simple tips on how to retain the shine of leather shoes. I never found those tips even in the Bata, Czech's manual. Likewise, one of my female friends admitted long ago that she learnt something from me that she couldn't learn from her string of male friends. Every boyfriend taught her something new and unique and eased out of her life. Life's like that. You constantly come across new masters and new teachers and once they inculcate the lesson, they move out of your life. So, be open to welcoming new ones. Remember, Ek musalsal sabaq hai ye hayaat (Life's an eternal lesson). ... URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Book Burning Culture Is Reprehensible, but It Has Deeper Psychological Roots and Ramifications

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 02 February 2023 Main Points 1. Those who're burning scriptures are going to the extreme end of the spectrum. 2. Some idiots among the Muslims concocted a term Islamophobic for those who criticise Islam. 3. It's the ambiguity of Quranic verses that birthed a Talibani Muslim who detonated himself in a mosque in Peshawar, killing more than 100 devout Muslims. ... While I categorically condemn the incineration of scriptures (Quran in Sweden and photocopies of a controversial chaupai from Tulsidas' Ramcharitmanas in Vrindavan) as a sign of violent and seemingly unnecessary protest, I must say that this is a sign of tectonic shift that's slowly taking place in our collective attitude to religions and scriptures. I'm not bringing in god here. Those who're burning scriptures are going to the extreme end of the spectrum. But the question arises, why's this happening? The person who burned the copy of Quran may have been an atheist as Sweden, Denmark, Scandinavian countries and Holland are predominantly faithless countries. But the simmering anger of a protestor that culminated in the burning of Quran in the western hemisphere and almost similar incident of burning a few caste-oriented chaupai from a revered book in Hindi (Ramcharitmanas is in Avadhi) send the same underlying message that it's time to rectify these so-called holier-than-thou books which have been brewing differences, gender bias, violence and all sorts of negativity right from the beginning. It's the ambiguity of Quranic verses that birthed a Talibani Muslim who detonated himself in a mosque in Peshawar, killing more than 100 devout Muslims. The man, who blew himself up, also read the same Quran. But he massacred his own brethren. Some idiots among the Muslims concocted a term Islamophobic for those who criticise Islam. But here, a Muslim is blowing himself up to kill his fellow Muslims. Is he an Islamophobic or a violent misanthrope? Sunnis are killing Shias and vice versa. All these pathological people are reading the same Quran but may be drawing different inferences? And why are they drawing different inferences? Because, the very book is so damn obscure that it can be a chalice of poison to many and a pot of nectar to a few devout ones. So, what's the need of such a useless scripture that's so interpretative? Shelve it, if burning is a disgusting act. We must re-evaluate our holy books and expurgate those references and passages that are offensive and universally irrelevant. All books are fraught with objectionable utterances. Remove them for the survival of mankind. There's nothing irreverent about defying the validity and supremacy of all scriptures. Since humans wrote them, humans have the right to edit them as well. ... URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Dargah Khwaja Gharib Nawaz and Golden Temple

By Dr. Ghulam Zarqani Translated by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam Main Points  The surrounds of Khawaja Gharib Nawaz need to be properly managed because they are not as picturesque as those around the Golden Temple.  The administrators and custodians of Khawaja Gharib Nawaz's shrine can foster a calm, reverent, and spiritual environment from which a methodical movement of reformation can be launched in the framework of the current era if they choose to do so. ..... Let's begin by introducing the narrator of the incident. Before the Isha prayer, maybe eleven or twelve years ago, a man entered our institution and said that it was his birthday and that he wanted to offer some money to aid in the construction of the mosque. I indicated the donation jar with my finger. He placed some cash inside before turning to face the other way. I asked him to pray and leave because the congregation for the Isha prayer would soon stand up. He made it clear that he did not know how to pray because he was an Ismaili and not a Muslim. I gave it some thinking before I went up to him and introduced myself. Since he had already arrived at the mosque, I also told him to mimic the Isha prayer behind us. He stood behind the prayer line-ups to my satisfaction. I had assumed that he would have returned following the congregation of the prayer. But as I turned around at that point, I was even more shocked to see him waiting for me in a mosque corner. After I had finished Sunnah, Witr, and Nawafil prayers, he approached and remarked, “I felt a joy in Sajdah, which I cannot describe.” I responded by saying, “Guess how much serenity, pleasure, and satisfaction will be achieved in prostration after becoming a Muslim if you have really achieved so much pleasure in prostration before entering the circle of Islam.” He was unable to answer at the moment, but two or three days later he returned and told me he wished to embrace Islam. I immediately taught him the kalima, and he entered into the fold of Islam. He currently performs five-time prayers daily and actively contributes to the upkeep of the Islamic faith. By the way, this fellow informed me yesterday that one of his close Ismaili friends just returned from a trip to India. Along with his elderly mother and other family members, his Ismaili friend also travelled to various towns and stopped at the Golden Temple in Punjab. In his own words, he describes what transpired to him subsequently as follows: “We were all surprised at how well-maintained and clean the place was when we all arrived near the Golden Temple as scheduled. Street traffic was likewise moving smoothly, and people were walking respectably. The volunteers who had been waiting there promptly rushed forward to provide aid as soon as we arrived at the Golden Temple grounds and asked to be given the opportunity to serve. Then they carefully removed my elderly mother from the vehicle. Before entering the temple, a colleague fixed the wheelchair, took off her shoes, and put on her socks. They kept us close. When we reached a hall, they pointed to some Sikh trinkets placed on the table in front and said, "Whatever you choose; you can take it from us free so that it will remain a memento of your journey.” However, nowhere did they even let me touch the wheelchair. “I gratefully took one thing with me. When I got back, I questioned why there weren't any beggars like there were at other pilgrimage sites, dargahs, and tourist attractions in India”. He responded that it is forbidden for beggars to approach four or five streets near the Golden Temple.” According to the narrator, those people went straight from Punjab to Ajmer Sharif to pay a visit to Sultan-ul-Hind Khawaja Gharib Nawaz. He further says: We were shocked to see how unclean the surroundings of the dargah were and how many beggars were standing along the roadside. The car door soon became difficult to open as our car approached Buland Darwaza. The beggars were jostling for position as they brought the bowl to our mouths. Anyway, I finally succeeded in removing the wheelchair after much effort, placed the mother inside, and then exited. Despite the fact that I went a long time without seeing any volunteers, a few well-dressed people did offer to help with the pilgrimage. I took one of them along. When he wanted to tell me something or take me somewhere, I was shocked to see beggars approaching. As we neared the gate of the holy shrine, we saw some people seeking donations to help pay for the Langar and Fatiha recitations. Once inside the shrine, we came across another gentleman who begged me to put something in the bowl while wearing a corner of the sheet on his head. When we got back from our visit, the well-dressed person we had met also turned to me in order to seek the offering.” The narrator then addressed me and stated, "Dr. Sahib, our Ismaili friends are shocked. They are asking me why Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, who is credited with spreading Islam over the Indian subcontinent, is not receiving justice for the world-famous Dargah that bears his name. How important are the ideals of purity, preservation, and service to humanity in a religion that is built on illusion? One should have been captivated by the spirituality and light of Islam after arriving at the threshold of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. But isn't it shocking that instead of this circumstance, we feel like we are always being grabbed and scratched? Were they the teachings and messages of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (may Allah be pleased with him)?” I'm at a loss for words now that these perceptions are being shared with us by a non-Muslim, yet they are true. I am confident that if the administrators and custodians of Khawaj Gharib Nawaz's shrine can foster a calm, reverent, and spiritual environment from which a methodical worldwide movement of preaching, guiding, and reformation can be launched in the framework of the current era if they choose to do so. If it does, it won't come as a surprise. ......... Read it in Urdu: Dargah Khwaja Gharib Nawaz and Golden Temple درگاہ خواجہ غریب نواز اور گولڈن ٹیمپل URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Mosques, Dawah and Non-Muslims

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam 01 February 2023 Overcome prejudices and Islamphobia by preaching in Mosques Main Points 1. In the first generation of Muslims when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was guiding Muslim affairs, mosques occupied the central space. 2. Most of the masjid committees comprise people most of whom have no religious training or knowledge, but they do dictate to Imams how he should respect and bow down to their views. 3. If the mosques open up their doors to various activities and get involved in community affairs, the sectarianism that has rendered most mosques as Masjid e Zaraar’s can be overcome. ... Mosques are central to any Muslim society. If few Muslims inhabit a certain area, the first thing they construct is a mosque, given its essence and centrality in the Islamic weltanschauung. If the locality is dominated by Muslims then few mosques will crop up because sectarian Muslims need separate mosques for their prayers as prayers in a mosque belonging to a different sect and Imam are not considered valid. So in every locality dominated by Muslims, mosques are a constant feature validating the identity and piety of Muslims inhabiting the area. Localities take pride in constructing mosques worth millions and compete with each other, while the fact of the matter is that except for Friday's noon prayers, mosques remain empty with very little presence of Muslims who attend them regularly five times every day. In the first generation of Muslims when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was guiding Muslim affairs, mosques occupied the central space. The affairs of the Muslims revolved around the masjid only and there was only one central mosque around which the affairs of all Muslims did revolve. The hypocrites among the Muslims did exist and they tried to construct a different mosque that was known as Masjid e Zaraar. It was demolished on the orders of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), as it had the power to undermine the authority of the Prophet and was a place where conspiracies against Muslims would be hatched. So a principle can be derived from this demolition that if a mosque has become controversial and where conspiracies against Muslims are hatched it can be demolished. So what should be the fate of the Takfeeri mosques that are present in every nook and cranny of Muslim localities and are dividing the Muslims on basis of sects, and schools of thought by brewing and churning hatred against each other? It should be food for thought for those who call themselves Ulama e Haqq (The righteous Ulama). Another principle that can be derived from the Prophetic mosque is the fact that only one central mosque is to be allowed for Muslims. But now for pragmatic reasons, like space, population and distance a number of small mosques can be constructed but that should not lead to division among Muslims. We are also a witness to growing demands for inclusive mosques. There are whole programs and campaigns being run for rendering mosques inclusive, so what are inclusive mosques? They are mosques where women, LGBTQI and non-Muslims are welcome. In most mosques even Muslim women and transgender are not permitted to join, other minorities and non-Muslims are banned. The best experience of living in Islam in practice ritually can be gained from mosques. But when they are shrouded in mystery everything becomes suspicious. Like shrines and hospices of saints, mosques too should adopt the policy of welcoming all. Also, masjids certainly have the mandate to run and operate the Baitul Maals. They can collect charity, Zakah and other donations from rich Muslims and utilize them for the welfare of the poor. As Islamic State has the prerogative of collecting these mandatory funds (Zakah) from the rich, but as it is nonexistent, masjids can play a great role in mitigating the monetary sufferings of the poor. They should help the poor of the locality as it is incumbent that the first right over charity is of relatives and neighbours. Also, this fund needs to improve the salary of Imams who are the most exploited lot among Muslims. For keeping the masjids operative daily five times, they are being paid peanuts. They have dedicated their whole lives to the cause of Islam, but Muslims are not even able to help them meet their day-to-day needs. We must also appreciate their vigorous efforts about keeping Islam alive through mosques. It is not less than a miracle that it is because of these Imams that every day for five times the masjids are operational, attending to the ritualistic needs of Muslims. But they are not paid for their services. Also, these Imams are expandable and at the whims of the masjid committees, they can be expelled at any time without any warning. Most of the masjid committees comprise people who are retired, big businessmen, old people or men of influence. Most of them have no religious training or knowledge, but they do dictate to Imams how he should respect and bow down to their views. So a trained Imam has to follow the untrained, religiously illiterate and many times corrupt members of the masjid committees, which are the biggest catastrophe. It is one of the reasons why Imams fail to play a positive role in society. The big masjids also are a living manifestation of the great role that religion can play in the Muslim community. But lavish masjids also represent the sorry state of affairs when in the same locality poor cannot afford decent meals, housing and medical care. So the spirit of Islam is hurt by the construction of numerous mosques, as it believes in taking care of the poor and downtrodden more, than constructing mosques in every lane. Also, the guidance and social role that masjids used to play now have retrograded to a large extent as sermons, Ulama and Islamic guidance are freely available through books and on the internet. Now, most Maulanas and Mullahs try to reach out to their audiences through YouTube video lectures. Also, the monetary institution of helping the poor has been undertaken by NGOs and other welfare trusts. But in spite of these aspects, the role of masjids in Dawah and helping non-Muslims understand Islam, as well as Bridging the Divide among people cannot be undermined. Masjids if rendered inclusive certainly will help in removing stereotypes about Islam. There should be a library and community Hall associated with each masjid where different activities can be undertaken. If the mosques open up their doors to various activities and get involved in community affairs, the sectarianism that has rendered most mosques as Masjid e Zaraar’s can be overcome. It can certainly grant Muslims a new way to reach out to non-Muslims as well as to the other Muslims against whom walls of hatred have been created, thanks to sectarian preachers. Also, women and other communities who never had the opportunity to experience how praying inside a mosque looks like would certainly love to repeat the experience. Also, we will not need debaters to denounce non-Muslims, but these mosques will help them overcome prejudices and Islamophobia. ... Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir and can be reached at --------- URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Will the gullible Indians learn a lesson from Asaram's conviction and life imprisonment?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 01 February 2023 "I need no master, nor do I look for evolution, Evolved I'm already, none I hanker after" Omar Khayyam, translated by the author "I'm no one's spiritual guide. For, I'm an eternal seeker." From ' Divan-e-Shams-e-Tabrizi ' (Shams said this to Rumi when the latter asked for spiritual guidance) "Justajoo-e-irfaan mein aql-e-saleem ko hi peer-o-murshid samajh........." (In search of self-realization, consider your prudence as your guide) (Allama Iqbal, never had a master though he considered Rumi his Ruhani Ustaad, a spiritual master) "Your spiritual treasure is within you. It's immanent." -A Sufi saying "Be not a musk-deer You're already a seer" ... Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu has been sentenced to life term in a 2013 rape case (Photo: File) ------- An Indian court has sentenced a self-styled spiritual guru to life imprisonment for raping one of his devotees. Asaram was found guilty of assaulting the woman several times between 2001 and 2006 at his ashram in the western state of Gujarat. This puts a question mark on the genuineness of all spiritual masters because many of them do not have a spotless history. Nearly a millennium ago, Jalaluddin Rumi said so prophetically in Pahalavi, Nee ast ustaadam,tasawwuf ighlaaf, choon rast naazif mee nam darkaar — ‘We need no spiritual masters; we need spiritually evolved souls, who don’t teach and preach’. The last clause is of cardinal importance: ‘who don’t teach and preach’. The proliferation of spiritual masters with their teachings and preaching has made the entire shebang of spirituality somewhat shady and suspicious. Of course, there are real masters as well, among the fake ones. But they get eclipsed by a legion of phoney babas and fly-by-night operators. J Krishnamurti, when asked by someone in the audience, to show the light, the path, too benighted souls like himself, responded, “First of all, stop calling yourself a benighted soul and after that, stop calling me a guru. I’m not a guru and no one’s my follower.” With this, he ended the discourse for the day. There’s an Uzbeki adage that states: Taa sarf ul aadim,ul-fazim naavard — ‘Make no one your guru and you’ll never be disenchanted or duped’. We’re all basically spiritual beings and even those who are atheists and apatheists among us, are spiritual, because, to be spiritual, one needs no god or any other esoteric power. Even an atheist can be spiritually enlightened and highly evolved. The Buddha, Mahavira, Yagyvalakya, Lopamudra, and Descartes among others were atheists. But they were spiritually streets ahead of their theist peers. When we seek gurus, we tend to forget the very basic fact that we all carry the effulgence of spirituality in our individual existence. Apna hi but bana, apne hi but pe lot ja/Tere dil-o-dimagh pe dairo-haram ka baar kyon — ‘Make your own idol carved out of your inner Self and genuflect before that/ Why should you have the encumbrances of god, shrines and scriptures?’ The truly realised are never interested in becoming gurus. In the words of Rene Descartes, “To be a ‘spiritual’ master is to be doomed.” Osho, despite his great fan following, often felt that the tag of a master actually imprisoned him. His free spirit got incarcerated. Ramana Maharshi would politely tell all visitors not to call him a guru. “Even a guru is forever a disciple” was his classic refrain. Nowadays, we tend to be drawn to those who can play at the gallery and speak spiritual inanities couched in recondite language. This is not spirituality and neither are these people gurus or masters. In one of his Persian poems, Fariduddin Attar described the qualities of a spiritual guru: Ta vizdam (this word in archaic Persian gave the word ‘wisdom’ to English) fin-naaz ustif, il-abraa in mazeef /Ta queif ul-baatin inhaaz murzin — ‘A real spiritual master has an aura and you immediately recognise him with that sparkling glow. He doesn’t have to blow his own trumpet’. Finally, Sartre ended the debate so succinctly by saying, “A real master has no followers, no home, no property and no social accessories. His own life is a lesson in spirituality. He’s a living enlightenment.” Coming from a lifelong atheist and existentialist like Jean-Paul Sartre, these words have their own significance in today’s spiritually murky and dubious world. All said and done, the million-dollar question remains: Despite all this, will our credulous masses learn a lesson? I'm afraid it seems improbable. Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared in The Times of India's supplement Speaking Tree, now defunct, on Sept. 1, 2017. ---- URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Knowing About the Prophet

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 31 January 2023 The Sira And Hadis Literature Have Shown To Be Fabricated, So How Do We Know About The Early Islamic Community Main Points: 1. The extant Sira and Hadis were written down much after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. 2. Yet most of what we know about him and the early Islamic community comes through this literature as the Quran does not tell us much. 3. Scholars have shown this post-Quranic material to be contradictory and at times plain fabrications. 4. How then do we then reconstruct the historicity of the early Islamic community, including the career of Prophet Muhammad? ------- The traditional Islamic narrative about Prophet Muhammad tells us in minute details about his birth, youth, his prophethood, his marriages and wars and his ultimate death in 632 AD. But the sources for much of this information are Islamic literature itself. They do not cite or rely upon a single source which is outside of the Muslim tradition. They do not even pose the obvious methodological question whether there is any reference being made to an Arabian prophet in Christian, Jewish or other sources. In other words, they refer to only Muslim sources and that too uncritically, as if they represent the kernel truth. Today, we know that the arrival of an Arabian Prophet was noticed by non-Muslim sources and they referred to it much earlier than some Islamic commentators. Information about the Prophet is found in Sira (biographical) and Hadis literature, which were written much after the death of the prophet. One of the earliest such biographies was written by Ibn Ishaq roughly between 761-767, which is more than hundred years after the death of the Prophet. What is troubling is that no copy of this Sira exists and we know about it only through the another Sira by one of his students, Ibn Hisham, who probably wrote it in the early 9th century. What is more, Ibn Hisham informs us that he excluded those parts of the original work, which might be offensive to the readers. Thus, we cannot be sure about the actual contents of the first biography of the Prophet. Roughly three to four generations would have passed when these presumably oral information about the Prophet would have been complied in the book known as the Sira. But we know that after the passage of such a long time, we can never be certain about the authenticity of received information. The second source of information about the life of Prophet comes from the Hadis literature which was compiled even later. Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim were compiled around 850s which is more than 200 years after the death of the prophet. What is intriguing is that all these writers lived outside the Hejaz, the birth place of Islam. They came from cities in present day Iraq and Uzbekistan, much removed from Mecca and Medina. It will be quite fanciful to believe that whatever they have written about the life of the Prophet is true. This is reflected in quite many contradictory narrations about the Prophet which are contained in these Hadis collections. Consider the length of the Prophet’s stay at Mecca, a crucial point if one is interested in early Islamic history. Bukhari tells us that he stayed in Mecca for 10 years (SB 7:72:787) but another narration in the same collection puts it at 13 years (SB 5:58:242). Imam Muslim however, says that the prophet stayed in Mecca for 15 years (SM 30:5809). Similarly, this literature is not even sure of the age at which the Prophet died; marking it variously as 60, 63 and even 65. The key point here is not to argue which of these is true but since they contradict each other, they all cannot be true, although it is possible that they all can be wrong. The important point is that we should realize that our insistence on using this material as sources of history is nothing but fallacious. The compilers themselves were aware of the fictitious nature of many such oral narrations and they themselves pruned away many thousands from their texts. Still many fanciful and contradictory accounts of the Prophet’s life remain within these collections, such as the ones cited above. Moreover, the purpose of these Hadis collections was not really to establish historical accuracy but to clarify legal and ritual matters. There was much internal debate about the authenticity of these reports and some of these texts like the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim would only get canonical status much later in the 11th century. Academic scholarship on early Islam has always recognized the problem of historical reconstruction from traditional Islamic literature. Decades earlier, Ignaz Goldhizer and Joseph Schacht had pointed out the unreliability of Hadis narrations for purposes of historical writing. Wael B. Hallaq similarly stated that “we have good reasons to believe that Prophetic reports were fabricated at a later stage in Islamic history and that they were gradually projected back to the Prophet”. F. E. Peters in his book Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians argues that “the great bulk of the Hadis, sound or otherwise, appear to be forgeries and there is no reliable of determining which, if any, might be authentic historical reports from or about Muhammad”. Even some Muslim scholars have been confounded by this problem. Abdullah Saeed, in his Reading the Quran in the Twenty First Century clearly writes that “there are significant problems in relying on the use of Hadis and other traditions when attempting to understand certain aspects of the Prophet’s life or to understand what was happening in the earliest Muslim communities. Given the level of fabrication of Hadis that occurred in the first and second centuries of Islam, and the difficulties associated with the biographical material collated by Muslims in relation to the Prophet, the question of authenticity of such material remains an important question in contemporary Islamic scholarship”. Under these circumstances, how sure can we be about the received knowledge about the Prophet? Can we reliably know about the historical Muhammad? Questions such as these led scholars like Patricia Crone and Michael Cook to argue in their book Hagarism that the traditional Islamic literature should be rejected in toto as it has become so layered that nothing of value about early Islam can be discerned from it. But it is primarily through such literature that Muhammad has been reconstructed in fine detail. Thankfully, there is now some consensus in the academia that the Quran became stable much early in Islamic history. Even revisionist historians like Crone and Cook later accepted that “…we can reasonably be sure that the Quran is a collection of utterances that he (Prophet Muhammad) made in the belief that they had been revealed to him by God. The book may not preserve all the messages he claimed to have received, and he is not responsible for the arrangement in which we have them. They were collected after his death-how long after is controversial. But that he uttered all or most of them is difficult to doubt”. Fred Donner, the author of Muhammad and the Believers: The Origins of Islam concurs: “we seem…. to be dealing with a Quran that is the product of the earliest stages in the life of the community in western Arabia. The fact that the Quran text dates to the earliest phase of the movement inaugurated by Muhammad means that the historian can use it”. However, questions regarding the historical reconstruction of the Prophet and early Islamic history will remain. In terms of the personhood of Muhammad and the early Islamic community, the Quran has very little to say. What we know of his activities and those of his early companions have all come to us through the Sira and Hadis collections. What can only be termed as an inverted reasoning, the traditional Islamic method seeks to fill the gap in the Quran by seeking explanations from the Sira and Hadis, which were composed much later! Does this mean that the possibility of retrieving the historical Prophet Muhammad and his early Islamic community has been lost forever? ------ A regular contributor to, Arshad Alam is a writer and researcher on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Ulema e Suu (Charlatan Religious Scholars)

By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam 31 January 2023 The Biggest Curse That These Ulema E Suu Create Is The Division Among Muslims In The Name Of Islam. So They Interpret Islam As Enshrined By Their Elders (Akabirs) Not As Interpreted By Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) And His Companions. ----- A tradition reported by Imam Ali (RA) narrates Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) saying, “Soon there will dawn an age upon mankind when nothing will remain of the Quran, but its text. Their mosques will be beautifully adorned structures, but devoid of guidance. Their Ulema will be the worst (of creation) under the canopy of the sky. Fitnah will emerge from them and Fitnah will return to them.” (Bayhaqi) So who are the Ulema e Suu? Maulanas, mullahs and Ulema will not discuss this theme as most of them fall in this category, as current Fitnahs are emerging and ending with them. First of all we need to understand this fact that most of these Ulema are not scholars of Islam, but represent a category or sect within Islam. So you have Deobandi, Barelvi, Salafi, and Sufi scholars. All of them are ready to defend their own sects than Islam when it comes to explaining and interpreting Islam. They have out of pragmatic reasons created few forums and joint ventures under the banner of unity. But these are a façade to save their images, otherwise every scholar of each sect considers the different one as deviated, even infidel. So these types of forums are just to safeguard their own vested interests not Islam. But whenever they come together and decry about Islam being in danger, it is basically their own vested interests that are in danger and they want to maintain their grip over the community and the desire of being considered as the representatives of Islam, hence blow the trumpet about Islam being in danger. The biggest curse that these Ulema e Suu create is the division among Muslims in the name of Islam. So they interpret Islam as enshrined by their elders (Akabirs) not as interpreted by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions. Hence they give precedence to their elders instead of Prophet (pbuh) and his companions. So they are indulging in shirk (polytheism) by elevating position of their Ulema more than that of Prophet (pbuh). They will not openly do it but throwing away the sayings of Quran and Prophet (pbuh) and accepting those of their scholars is worst form of unseen (Khafi) shirk. Then for their own reasons they will use the pulpit that is available freely to them to reinforce sectarianism among the masses. They label each other as the agents of devil and anti Islamic forces, thus creating the divide among the people. So people driven by this zeal are destroying each other in clashes, fighting and even snapping relationships, whereas these Ulema e Suu then are seen on the stages of unity conferences, thus inviting Muslims towards artificial unity while themselves stealing the show. The sectarian defense of their own sects is being conducted under the banner of Islam. The Ulama e Suu think they are doing a great service to Islam by reinforcing and perpetuating sectarianism, whereas in reality they are raging the fires of Fitnah. So any mullah who is raging the fires of Fitnah through sectarianism should be considered to be part of the Ulema e Suu. Also most of these sectarian mullahs act as parasites on the body of Islam. For a few thousand rupees they can go to any extent. They siphon off most of the charity given as Zakah by the Muslims. This charity could be used for diverse purpose and the compartmentalization of Zakah as enshrined in Quran under different heads is antagonistic to what sectarian mullahs are explaining. Under no head can Zakah, Sadaqat be given to Ulema as they are supposed to earn their own living and be financially independent. There they do not follow Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Shafaiee or Ahmad bin Hanbal or Imam Taimiyyah. So this rendering of Islam subservient to the personal interests is another glaring example of Ulema e Suu. Misusing and exploiting religion for the vested economic and interests of fame is a manifest characteristic of Ulema e Suu. Also clandestinely they will take directions from the official policy of their sects, that are based in Deoband, Bareilly, Saudi or Iran. What their official policy dictates they would be more than happy to express and articulate it camouflaging it as Islam, although most of the times it goes against Islam. Islam for them is a tool to blind people into their submission, not of God and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). So Islam does not need saving from its unknown enemies but these Ulema e Suu are its biggest enemies, since its inception, as they are eating up its vitals as termites, while masquerading as the real scholars of Islam (Ulema e Haqq). We have to be very cautious about the Ulema, we take and understand Islam from. If it is a bunch of Ulema e Suu, then we should not fall prey into their trap as they will inculcate among us the hatred for the other Muslims and all good things of life. Islam is quite great to be in danger and we should not let these sectarian guys play God and making us believe in sectarianism and undertaking Takfir. They may shoo down this Prophetic saying about Ulema e Suu, but we who believe in it should propagate it. This fact should also be kept in mind that Islam does not believe in clergy system and monopoly of knowledge with a certain group of people. It has always believed in democratization of spaces and knowledge. So anyone who has got the requisite understanding of religion can lead prayers, interpret Islam and articulate viewpoints/opinions about Islam. The power and authority granted to Ulema e Suu, needs to be returned to genuine scholars whom they day in and our label as agents, liberals and soldiers of enemies of Islam. Now these all labels should be imposed and returned back to these Ulema e Suu, who are the real enemies of genuine Islamic reform and revivalism. ----- A New Age Islam columnist, M.H.A. Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

The Hijab: Beyond Oppression and Liberation

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 31 January 2023 Reviewing the Book “The Islamic Veil: Beginners Guide” by Elizabeth Bucar Main Points · The Islamic Veil: Beginners Guide" is a book that examines the possibilities and impossibilities of the approaches in the light of new academic research. · The book consists of eight chapters containing debates related to the hijab and fashion. · The author discusses the hijab, veil, khimar, jilbab, and niqab, which represent the clothing of Muslim women living in different situations, and the turban and face covering used by Muslim men of the Tuareg tribe in Morocco. · In this book, Elizabeth Bucar adopted the word, Islamic Veil, taking into account the Muslim dress as a whole, including women and men. · For ease of understanding, the word "Hijab" is used in this article to refer to the head covering of Muslim women in India. .... Hijab helps Muslim women who choose hijab in situations where Muslims are in the minority, to stop their social, religious and gender differences. But it is my personal experience that if a woman wears a “hijab” in a “secular” place like Indian Universities, she is subjected to secular moral policing as either a “Kashmiri/traitor” or “oppressed by religious tradition”. In his book “The Islamic Veil: Beginners Guide” the author Elizabeth Bucar puts forward some subtle observations. Muslim woman's dress is widely discussed in the world today. The secularists leading this discussion are evaluating the role of the Muslim woman as a product of oppression, anarchism and irrationality. At the same time, this is understood as a religious problem within the Muslim community. Moreover, in modern times, as a response to secularism, a way of seeing Muslim women's clothing as a liberating agenda has also developed from the religious side. Unlike these two, many academic studies are now coming out related to the perception of Muslim women's clothing in different geographical-social-political-cultural environments. In such a religious and secular environment, “The Islamic Veil: Beginners Guide", published by Oneworld Publications in 2012, is a book that examines the possibilities and impossibilities of the approaches in the light of new academic research. The author is Elizabeth Bucar, an assistant professor in religious studies at North Eastern University in the United States. Her earlier Iran-focused studies of Muslim women and sexuality have been well noted. Her works on ethics, precepts, law, colonialism, education, work, and personality have provided a new structure to academic studies. The book consists of eight chapters containing debates related to the hijab and fashion. Throughout the book, the English word "Islamic Veil" is used for Islamic dress. She discusses the hijab, veil, khimar, jilbab, and niqab, which represent the clothing of Muslim women living in different situations, and the turban and face covering used by Muslim men of the Tuareg tribe in Morocco. In this book, Elizabeth Bucar adopted the word, Islamic Veil, taking into account the Muslim dress as a whole, including women and men. For ease of understanding, the word "Hijab" is used in this article to refer to the head covering of Muslim women in India. Three main reasons led Bucar to write this book. One) The role of the Muslim woman is in the first place in the debates related to women's freedom in the world today. That is why this issue needs to be subjected to serious debate. 2) An attempt to highlight the different approaches Muslim women take towards clothing. Bucar observes that Muslim women in the same situation still need to learn how to approach Islamic dress in different ways. In 2004, she spoke to women leaders of organizations fighting for women's political rights in Iran. Not one of them spoke of the Islamic State's compulsory dress code for Muslim women in Iran as a rights issue. Moreover, they adopted a very "conventional" dress code. But unlike them, Bucar observes that young women in the city who are interested in modern fashion are speaking out against the government's mandated dress code. 3) In the mainstream debates, there are very one-sided discussions regarding the perception of Muslim women's clothing. They reduce Muslim women's dress to an agenda of religious fundamentalism. This is a debate that does not consider what the Muslim woman says about herself and her dress. In these debates, secular male-female feminists and Muslim men often argue about what constitutes a "Muslim woman." Through this, a religious and social entity called "Muslim woman" is forgotten and rendered invisible. Although many field studies have been conducted to investigate what Muslim woman says about herself, it does not receive enough attention. Instead, the Muslim woman is relegated to being a product of wishful thinking shared by secular feminism and Muslim men. Hijab-related debates/controversies arise as a historical situation with the colonial conquests that took place in the Islamic world. Colonialism as a political practice and Orientalism as part of began to talk about Muslim dress. Bucar argues that the debates about clothing and Muslim women's clothing that we see today are formed when liberal feminism as part of elite women's rights politics in Euro-America surrendered to these agendas. Colonialism and sartorial rights of Muslim women The role played by Islam in the struggles and defences against the occupation in Muslim-majority countries was a major setback for the colonial powers. The colonial powers justified their invasion by saying that we do not want the land of the Muslims but that they should somehow be reformed and become good people. Saving the Muslim woman from the violent and sexually addicted Muslim man comes first in this reform agenda. Thus, "keeping the head open" was taken up as women’s emancipation agenda. But they never asked what the Muslim woman who had to be subjected to this reform would say about herself. In this way, women in the colonies became nothing more than a reception site for colonial reform agendas. The hijab has thus pervaded the Western imagination as a cultural symbol justifying colonial transcendence. Certainly, Muslim women's choices have lived in various forms in the Western imagination at different times. The ideas about Muslim women in the Romantic period were different from the Renaissance period. There is another side to this. Men in colonies who resisted colonial encroachment began to consider women's head coverings as a defence against colonial agendas. They said their culture was women sitting at home. In this way, the burden of culture literally fell on women's heads. This made it easier for men in the colonies to adopt modern clothes and live without the burden of culture, while women in colonized societies became the bearers of culture. So women's clothing in the colonies became part of the conflict between the colonial powers and the colonized men. A particular reading suggests that women in colonized societies were reduced to mere “objects” or “reasons” for men to fight in this struggle. A classic example of this is Algeria, which was a French colony. During the colonial period in Algeria, the French saw the hijab as resistance to their cultural assimilation agenda. Algerians, on the other hand, resisted imperialist domination. This is not to say that these two approaches are the same. Nor is it derogatory in the sense that those who fought against colonialism are oppressors of women. Orientalism Orientalism first defined the East as Islamic and distinct from the Christian West. It ignored other religions and cultures of the East and propagated that Islam was the common characteristic of the East. They propagated that Islam can only be understood through Quran and Hadith and their interpretation is still correct. They argued that Islam is only a text and that the practice of Muslims should not be accepted. Thus, they made people believe that hijab is only seen and understood through Islamic principles and the whole world is accepting it in that single way. Thus, erasing the various socio-historical backgrounds of the hijab, its distinctiveness is denied. Second, Islam is a fundamentalist ideology. They argued that the actions of Muslims should be reformed as they are backward. In that, they undertook the historic task of saving a Muslim woman from the hands of a Muslim man as soon as possible. Thus, the wearing of the hijab was judged as a low and degenerate practice and redefined the female condition by making the white Western woman's dress a symbol of global women's clothing freedom. Liberal Feminism: Liberal feminist debates are formed in Euro-American countries against gender discrimination and oppression. Liberal upper-class/white women's arguments, which saw all women's issues as one, failed to understand women's issues from different social backgrounds. These are also reflected in discussions related to Muslim women's clothing. Moreover, the influence of the colonial Orientalist discourses mentioned earlier continues to be very evident in such women's arguments. Liberal feminism views Muslim women's clothing in two ways. The first group argues that Muslim women are intelligent and capable, but Muslim men oppress them by wearing the hijab. The second section argues; women who self-select hijab are judged as unintelligent and brainwashed idiots. Liberal feminism reduces Muslim women to either oppressed victims or less capable of thinking, less fortunate human beings. This book deals not only with perceptions of Muslim women's dress created by colonialism, orientalism and liberal feminism. She also analyses the representation of Muslim women in the public sphere in great detail. They investigate how Muslim women's clothing is represented in the fields of employment, education and other time and country conditions and what are its problems. Most discussions about the representation of the hijab seem to be trapped in two approaches: hijab-liberating or hijab-repressive. Such a dichotomy often fails to fully explain the dilemmas posed by Muslim women's clothing. In the first half of the twentieth century, many social scientists hypothesized that the increasing privatization of religion in the modern world would lead to a decline in the use of religious symbols in the public sphere. But in contrast to this, the use of the hijab increased in the 1980s and 90s, observes Egyptian Islamic feminist and feminist historian Laila Ahmed. Hijab women who entered the public sphere in this way were generally educated young women from the upper class. They saw the hijab as a gateway from the religious family context into the public sphere. Working outside while wearing a hijab was allowed in some families. In such a situation, Muslim women started wearing hijabs to be model housewives and good workers. Wearing the hijab was read as belonging to the family and religion, as well as facilitating employment outside the home. They mainly overcome two arguments through hijab. One is the secular argument that hijab is a hindrance to women's progress. Two, the specific Islamic approach that women's place is in the world. Through these two observations, Elizabeth Bucar makes very clear the social presence of the Muslim woman who wears the hijab and her agency in society. This approach also challenges the dichotomy of the Hijab being either oppressive or liberating. They see the hijab as a garment that changes women's lives from within the religion/family, in contrast to these oppressive/liberating hijabs. Workplace conditions that have generally been described as secularly “liberating” have regulated, influenced, and constructed the hijab in many ways. For example, capitalist economic growth in Muslim countries such as Egypt opened many job opportunities. Thus, the Muslim national governments of the post-colonial era promised education and employment to all citizens. Thus, many women started working in various industries and jobs under the government. This created a female working class. There were private capitalists whose men had rams. This is how the government and private capitalists built women's labour forces. Whether or not to wear a hijab around the shoulders is only a reason to protect the interests of male bosses. In short, the secular reading that the workplace as a public space is liberating is highly problematic. The capitalist economic system that controlled the public sphere accepted women in low-wage jobs to their advantage, wearing or not wearing the hijab. This women's emancipation that took place in Egypt was really a “liberation" from the "fences" of religion in the capitalist order. Second, the book criticizes the use of the hijab in some secular state settings as a cause of discrimination and promotion of barriers. It is mainly contributed to areas where Muslims are in the minority. There are Muslim women who have lost their jobs for not wearing hijab. Secular law courts have ruled that this is an Arab dress and does not violate religious freedom. Thus, they were forced to choose between faith and life, between work and religion. This shows that the secular public sphere "controlled" the access of women in its own way as well as religion. The modernization that took place in the Muslim world gave great importance to education. The consideration given to the education of girls is noteworthy. As many feminist studies argue, modernizing women is highly problematic. For example, what consumer citizenship really does through education is part of a government agenda. Because of that, modern governments have forced some clothes to protect their interests within the market interest and some have been banned (for example, check the actions of secular governments in countries like Egypt and Turkey). In a social structure where religion plays a central role, the hijab is seen as a "veil". Religiously speaking, Islam has commanded believers (male and female) to acquire knowledge. But the males and females are also determined to be careful with each other when they grow old. This has led some Muslim communities to assume that the spaces of men and women are different. Some considered the hijab as a “cover” to educate in the modern context. Thus, women were admitted to schools by wearing hijabs. Here the hijab gave the woman the opportunity to gain knowledge in a “restricted” way. But beyond this, by denying entry to a girl who does not wear a hijab, governments like Saudi rule that such women are not entitled to study in the said Muslim countries in any way. Hijab and Religious/Secular Regimes Regimes have mandated hijab as part of their unique politics. Iran's American-British-backed autocrat Riza Shah Pahlavi banned the hijab in 1938. Women wearing it were ordered to be arrested if they left the city. The 1979 revolution against the Shah forced the hijab in retaliation. We were able to see that France, Turkey and Belgium, which are said to be democratic secular countries, are also banning the hijab. Visibility of Hijab: The representation of the hijab is its “visibility” in the background of the conflict between the secular state concept and the visibility of religious symbols (specifically the hijab) in the public sphere. In other words, the secular administration began to assume that the use of religious symbols in secular public spaces was a threat to the status quo of the nation's “secular structure”. Such secularism has reduced religion to a mere belief in private space. The 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the Palestinian Intifada and the events of 9/11 were read as the arrival of Islamic statehood on a global scale. This has worried Western secular nations. Around the same time, girls wearing the hijab began to appear in public places (especially schools) as part of the Muslim migration to the West. This has led to the hijab being easily read as an Islamic religious symbol and thus an adjunct to political Islam. Thus, many secular governments have banned the hijab in schools and public spaces. This led to conflict between hijabi women and the secular regime. In situations where the hijab is banned in schools, Muslim women have argued that the concept of hijab should be protected under religious freedom. In this way, the secular government expelled the Muslim women who covered their heads from the schools by justifying their side of the liberal women's arguments. Here, secular colleges give freedom to anyone to study without any “mask”. But they form "restrictions" so that a Muslim woman can wear the clothes she wants to be seen in college. Briefly, Bucar shows that there are specific “regulations” around women's bodies and clothing in both religious and secular contexts and that the approach of one as liberating and the other as oppressive is problematic. This book debunks the dominant view that Muslim veiling is caused by women and that it is due to a repressed female identity. In some special situations, Muslim men also forget their heads. For example, the men of the Tuareg Muslim tribe in Morocco forget their heads and faces. Moreover, even women who wear hijab suggest that there are many reasons that motivate them to do so. Hijab as a choice has many interesting historical contexts. Hijab was seen by Egyptian secular feminist 'Huda Sharavi' as a defence against imperial power during British colonialism. Later, when the country became independent, the hijab was abandoned. At the same time, Islamist women who were fighting against French colonialism in Algeria ditched the hijab and disguised themselves as European women to smuggle weapons through the French checkpoints. Thus, women use hijab as a choice in many ways. Those are areas of study that require a lot of close reading and special contextualization. Relevance of the book: Hijab has many meanings in many situations. It cannot be simplified in the sense of either liberation or oppression. Sometimes a personal choice can be surrender in a structural sense in another situation. Conversely, an apparent capitulation may also create a large opening in a structural sense. Or as 'Saba Mahmud' observes, oppression/liberation can be another way of working/living that makes them irrelevant. Discussions about the hijab are often framed through the lens of liberation/oppression. Only the hijab, the garment of the oppressed woman, and the Muslim woman standing with her face down in a single way are seen in such analyses. Elizabeth Bucar tries to say that 'the hijab is part of a symbolic system that produces multiple meanings. The prevalence of hijab in different socio-cultural political contexts is quite different. Even Muslim women living in the same social environment (same houses/offices/workplaces/educational institutions/streets/places of worship) have different opinions about the hijab. Thus, this book tells us that the hijab is not an issue that can be easily manipulated by comment, but a very micro-political garment. This book underlines that the modern-secular logic that the hijab can be easily defined does not take into account the extremely pluralistic approach of the Islamic community on this issue. From medieval male Islamic scholars to Islamic feminists Amina Wadud, and Laila Ahmad, this book shows that they hold different opinions about the hijab and that these define Muslims as a group in many ways. Moreover, this book demonstrates that the secular rationale for policing the hijab is not entirely immune to colonial-orientalist stereotypes about Muslims. ... URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism