Wednesday, June 12, 2024

'Gulzar' Dehlvi: Imam-e-Urdu

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 12 June 2024 Since my mother tongue is Dari (Afghan variant of Persian) and I mostly converse in Urdu in India as the masses, even classes, don't understand Dari or Persian, people often mistake me for a Muslim. Even my signature is in Persian. This often makes me wonder why a language is associated with a specific community or religion? Recently, when I quoted an Urdu couplet of Gulzar Dehlvi, a learned friend of mine who understands Urdu, asked me, Ye Sher Kis Ka Hai? I told him that Anand Mohan Zutshi 'Gulzar' Dehlvi wrote it. Flabbergasted, he didn't know that 'Gulzar' Dehlvi's actual name was Anand Mohan Zutshi. June 12 is his 4th death anniversary. A true-blue Delhite, 'Gulzar' Dehlvi was a poet par excellence who once said, "Dars-e-Urdu Zabaan Deta Hoon/ Ahle-Iimaan Pe Jaan Deta Hoon/ Main Ajab Hoon Imaam Urdu Ka/ But-Kade Mein Azaan Deta Hoon" (I teach Urdu language/ I'm faithful to the believers/ I'm a strange custodian of Urdu/ I recite an Azaan- the call to prayer- at a temple). A Kashmiri, his father, grandfather and uncles were scholars, poets and connoisseurs of Urdu, Persian and Arabic. 'Gulzar' Dehlvi himself knew quite a few languages and was a polyglot. His command of Urdu, Persian and English was admirable but he admitted, "Go Kai Zabanon Se Rahi Nisbat Meri/ Dil Ko Bhaati Rahi Urdu Hi" (Though I was associated with many languages, it was Urdu that appealed to me the most). His poetry was intellectual poetry (Zehni Shayari). Just an example will prove this, "Mir Ke Baad Ghalib-o-Iqbal / Ik Sada, Ik Sadi Mein Guzri Hai" (Mir, Ghalib, Iqbal/ Three centuries, three voices). I remember my Pakistani friend Arshia Jameel cherry-picking this couplet of 'Gulzar' Dehlvi for her M Phil in Urdu poetry. One of his couplets is really thought-stirring: Jahan Insaaniyat Vahshat Ke Haathon Zabh Hoti Hai/ Jahan Tazleel Hai Jeena, Wahan Behtar Hai Mar Jaana (Where humanity is slaughtered at the hands of extremism/extremity/ Where existence is indignity, it's better to die). He was a master of Qita (a brief poem of four lines like a Rubai): Zindagi Tere Qadam Se Hai/ Zeest Ka Lutf Tere Gham Se Hai/ Mujh Ko Firdaus Ki Zaroorat Kya/ Meri Jannat Toh Tere Dam Se Hai (Life exists because of your presence/ The joy of life is associated with your pain/ Why should I long for paradise/ My heaven is because of you). His romanticism had a sensual appeal: Hum Se Poochho Toh Zulm Behtar Hai/ Inn Haseenon Ki Meharbani Se/ Aur Bhi Kya Qayamat Aayegi/ Poochhna Hai Teri Jawani Se (If you ask me, I'll say, torture is better than the grace of these damsels/ Let's see, if a greater doom/condemnation comes/ I need to ask your youthfulness). In these times, when Urdu is pigeonholed into a specific community, people like 'Gulzar' Dehlvi with a 'Hindu' name may give a glimmer of hope. In his own words, "Aashna Hoon Zubaan-e-Urdu Ki Rag-Rag Se / Maine Sirf Padhi Nahin, Parastish Ki Hai Iss Zabaan Ki" (I'm thoroughly acquainted with Urdu/ I didn't just read it, I worshipped it). We need to adore Urdu for its survival. ----- 'Gulzar' Dehlvi Breathed His Last On June 12, 2020. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. 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

Monday, June 10, 2024

Sufi-Shaivite Woman Mystic Lal Ded/Lalla Arifa Who Inspired Rishi-Sufi Saint Shaikh-Ul-Alam

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam 10 June 2024 Shaping the Collective Spiritual Consciousness in Kashmir! Significantly, it was the Sufi-Shaivite woman mystic—Lalla Arifa—who rendered deep experiences of Shah-e-Hamadan who introduced Sufism to the Valley of Kashmir and greatly influenced her spiritual journey and mystical thoughts, into local poetry in Kashmiri language called, Vakh. The Vakhs of Lalleshwari (Lall’e Vakh) and Sheikh Shruki (The sayings of Sheikh Ul Aalam) unravel limitless devotion, illumination and spiritual ecstasy (wajd) in the search for a deeper personal relationship with the Divine. This rich oral tradition of Divine Union (wisal-e-ilahi) birthed by Shah-e-Hamadan and imbibed by Lalla Arifa and later her disciples like Nund-Rishi has shaped the collective spiritual consciousness of Kashmir ……. Sufi-Shaivite woman mystic—Lalla Arifa ------ One of the key preceptors of Rishi-Sufi mysticism in Kashmir was the celebrated female Sufi poet Lalla Arifa—more popularly known as Lal Ded, and Lal Diddi and Lalleshwari. For around seven centuries, Lalla Arifa has been venerated both by Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir and is indisputably regarded a proponent of a plural ethos in the valley. Born in a brahmin family in 1335 AD near Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, she renounced her domestic material life at the age of 24 after she suffered cruelty from her mother-in-law. Hence, she chose to be a devotee of the Shaivite saint Siddha Srikantha, who was also called Sed Bayu. She learnt from him high moral truths and thus practiced Yoga philosophy. It is narrated that in her rebellious renouncement of domestic life, Lalla turned into a celibate mystic. However, she encountered Sufism when she met Shah-e-Hamadan—thefirst and foremost Sufi Muslim mystic of the highest stature in Kashmir who came from Central Asia after Bulbul Shah RA—Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, also called Ameer-e-Kabir and Syyedus Sadaat (head of the Prophet’s progeny in Kashmir) as envisaged by Allama Iqbal, himself a Kashmiri-origin Muslim philosopher whose ancestors came from among the Kashmiri Brahmins. After meeting Shah-e-Hamadan, Lalded who used to live a naked life, reportedly gave up celibacy and began to wear a proper dress. Asked why, she said she had seen ‘a man for the first time’! Famously known as Nund-Rishi by Hindus and Sheikh-ul-Alam by Muslims, the prominent Kashmiri Rishi-Sufi mystic of the 14th century, Sultan ul Arifin Nooruddin Noorani gave the first direct reference to Lalla in his Vakhas (Kashmiri verses): Admaanpora Chai Tem Lalia Yem Gali Gali Amrit Chau Soa Saain Autar Te Lalie Theith War Mai Detam Dewao Translation: That Lalla from Padmaanpora (Pampore), did drink nectar tumbler after tumbler. She was a saint and she did bring up a saint, O’ God, give me her vision and knowledge. Here, it is noteworthy that Nund-Rishi Nooruddin Noorani or Nooruddin Wali himself was the biggest adherent and one of the closest disciples of Lalla Arifa. He greatly benefitted from her wisdom right from his childhood, as she happened to be not only his spiritual but also a foster mother. Thus, she suckled Nund- Rishi a lot of divine drink and spiritual nectar from her blessed breast. As a result, much like the Lalla, NundRishi also etched the essence of Rishi-Sufi wisdom into the hearts and minds of Kashmiris preserving their local and cultural ethos. In fact, he extracted the nectar of the Qur’aninto his poetry, and therefore his Kashmiri Kalaam—Kalaam-e-Sheikhul A’alam—is called the ‘Kashmiri Qur’an’ and ‘Qur’an-e-Sani’. Significantly, it was the Sufi-Shaivite lady—Lalla Arifa—who rendered deep experiences of Shah-e-Hamadan who brought Sufism to the Valley of Kashmir and greatly influenced her spiritual journey and mystical thoughts, into local poetry in Kashmiri language called, Vakh. The Vakhs of Lalleshwari (Lall’e Vakh) and Sheikh Shruki (The sayings of Sheikh Ul Aalam) unravel limitless devotion, illumination and spiritual ecstasy (wajd) in the search for a deeper personal relationship with the Divine. This rich oral tradition of Divine Union (wisal-e-ilahi) birthed by Shah-e-Hamadan and imbibed by Lalla Arifa and later her disciples like Nund-Rishihas shaped the collective spiritual consciousness of Kashmir.She says in her Vakhas (Kashmiri poetry): Yi Yi Karu’m Suy Artsun Yi Rasini Vichoarum Thi Mantar Yihay Lagamo Dhahas Partsun Suy Parasivun Tanthar (Whatever work I did, became worship of the Lord. Whatever word I uttered became a prayer; Whatever my body experienced became the Sadhana/devotion of Saiva Tantra, illumining my path to Parmasiva/Supreme Being). At the same time, Lalla’s poetry came crashing down on the parasitic forms of ritualism and false religiosity. She strongly believed in the Divine but equally discarded the priestly class. One of her verses reads: It covers your shame, keeps you from shivering. Grass and water are all the food it asks. Who taught you, priest-man, to feed this breathing thing to your thing of stone? In fact, the Saivite-Sufi mystics like Lalla and Rishi-Sufi saints such as Shaikh-ul-Alam strengthened unity in diversity in Kashmir’s plural society for centuries. While Shaikh was an ardent believer in Tawheed (Oneness of God and Oneness of Mankind), Lalla was a follower of the monotheistic Shaivism known as Turka Shastra. Albeit the difference in their spiritual disciplines, both believed in one Creator, loved all His creations, dismissed violent religious extremism, practised self-introspection and rejected all dogmatic and retrogressive ideologies. This was the result of an elevating experience of spiritual enlightenment. Prominent historian Azam Dedmari writes in his book, Waaqea’at-e-Kashmir (Events in Kashmir): Lalla was buried in a tomb in the premises of the Sufi shrine of Baba Naseebuddin Gazi — a disciple of Sultan-ul-Arifeen Sheikh Hamza Makhdumi. But the common Kashmiri people told this writer that her dead body was not found out as she was claimed by both Muslims and Hindus just as Sufi mystics like Sant Kabir. This can be further corroborated by the popular Kashmiri folk Sufi songs which have been written about her in abundance! ------ A Regular Columnist with, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Indo-Islamic scholar, Sufi poet and English-Arabic-Urdu-Hindi writer with a background in a leading Sufi Islamic seminary in India. He is currently serving as Head of International Affairs at Voice for Peace & Justice, Jammu & 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

Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan Misused for Extortion

By New Age Islam Staff Writer 10 June 2024 Clerics of Pakistan Are Against Any Reforms In Existing Blasphemy Laws. 1. Main Points: 1. Last month a wealthy Christian was beaten up by angry mob allegedly for blasphemy. 2. Last September, angry mob attacked houses and churches of Christians in Jaranwala allegedly for blasphemy. 3. A religio-political organisation is involved in extortion with the help of 2. flawed blasphemy laws. ------- In Pakistan, mob violence against minorities over accusations of blasphemy is common and widespread. Statistics show that thousands of cases of blasphemy have been registered against religious minorities in the last ten years. The main reason for lynching or mob violence against minorities is the extremist interpretation of Islam which presents all non-Muslim communities as infidels and enemies of Islam. Another reason is the flawed concept of blasphemy. Third, the idea that a person who is accused of blasphemy should be summarily killed has been circulated among the Muslims not only by small time mullahs but also by renowned and popular scholars of Islam. According to them, even Muslims should be killed for blasphemy. These ulema coined and popularised the slogan, "Gustakh-E-Rasool Ki Ek Saza, Sar Tan Se Juda.” (Those insulting the prophet deserve only one punishment and that is beheading. " The slogan suggests that while dealing with cases of blasphemy, law and judiciary have no place. The people will be the judge. But only an extremist interpretation of the Quran or a flawed concept of blasphemy is not the only factor behind the recurrent violence against the minorities. A secret report of the Punjab police revealed that blasphemy laws were systematically misused for extortion from the minorities including Christians. The report revealed that a political- religious organisation of Pakistan runs an organised extortion racket using the blasphemy laws against the minorities. The religious organisation has its team of extortionists in every district of Pakistan. Their modus operandi is that they demand money from well to do members of the minority community and threaten them with slapping blasphemy charges on non - compliance. If the person refuses to pay, an allegation of burning or desecrating the Quran or insulting the prophet is made against him. Then a member of the extortion team goes to the nearby mosque and announces the 'crime' on the loudspeaker and provokes the Muslims to punish the 'enemy of Islam'. Last month, Navid Masih, a Christian of Mujahid Colony of Sargodha in Pakistan was accused of desecrating the Quran. Some pages of the Quran were found scattered in the street near Navid's house. Someone spread the rumour that Navid Masih had thrown the pages on the road though no one saw him doing so. Then someone went to the mosque and made the announcement of the desecration of the Quran on the loudspeaker. Soon an angry mob gathered outside Navid Masih's home and beat all the members of his family and set his house on fire. In one video, some rioters are seen shouting "Labbaik, Labbaik" hinting at the involvement of a religious organisation mentioned in the police report involved in extortion --- a clear hint that the allegation was made for not paying money to the organisation. It would go without saying that Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan is an extremist sunni organisation of Pakistan. It was also known from reports that prior to the attack, Navid Masih had an altercation with a local Muslim over some issue. The Muslim man had walked away saying that he would teach him a lesson. The next day, pages of the Quran were found scattered near his house. Navid Masih also ran a shoe factory near his house where mostly Christians worked. The mob set his factory also on fire. The incident seems to be a fall out of an altercation over extortion threat. The extortion angle in mob violence against minorities is not discussed in media in Pakistan but the Punjab police report has raised the curtains from an important aspect of the so called religious organisations of Pakistan. For them blasphemy laws in Pakistan are a tool of extortion from hapless minorities. Last September, a Muslim accused a Christian of Jaranwala of burning the Quran and instigated the Muslims to punish Christians. He also announced the false incident on the loudspeaker from the mosque. Subsequently, angry mobs attacked houses of Christians and churches in the town. Later, the allegation was proved false and the representatives of Muslims collective apologised to the Christianity for the violence. A few years ago, a Pakistan court had proposed to the Nawaz, Sharif government to include the provision of punishment to those making false allegations of blasphemy in the blasphemy law. But the Nawaz Sharif government ignored the proposal. Later, his successor Imran Khan's government also put the proposal in the back burner. The reason was that the clerics and the religious organisations, particularly the one in question, opposed the proposal. Though these clerics very well know that Islam denounces rumour mongering and making false charges against any one. It also denounces bearing of false witness against anyone. Still, they oppose reforms in blasphemy laws, one, for extortion and, two, for settling personal scores with political, financial or religious opponents. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws are also misused by Muslims against Muslims for settling personal scores. And most of the charges prove to be falae. If making false allegations of blasphemy is also made punishable, the main cause of mob violence against innocent people will be rooted out and both tje Muslims and non-Muslims will live in peace. But the clergy in Pakistan does not want reforms either in blasphemy laws or in society. Many innocent imams, professors, students, clerics have been killed or jailed for alleged blasphemy though majority of them are Muslims. Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor was killed by his own bodyguard for demanding the repeal of the blasphemy laws because the Quran does not prescribe any physical punishment to those speaking ill of the prophet, the Quran or Islam despite condemning it in the harshest words. It means, blasphemy should be condemned but should not be made a crime deserving life sentence. To conclude, the Punjab police report should be an eye opener for the clerics and government of Pakistan and compel them to bring reforms in blasphemy laws by including punishment also for those making false allegations of blasphemy and misusing it for extortion 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, June 8, 2024

Combating Terrorists and Extremists Is Mandatory for Pakistan

By Asad Mufti Translated from Urdu by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam 8 June 2024 The End of Terrorism in Pakistan Is Necessary! Main Points 1. Asif Ali Zardari, has announced that fighting against terrorists and extremists is essential for Pakistan. 2. Indian Foreign Minister emphasizes the need to prevent terrorism and anti-India activities before improving the relationship with Pakistan. 3. Pakistani community adheres to moderation and religious tolerance, similar to the Indian community 4. India became increasingly secular after partition thanks to the legalization of moderate traditions, democracy, tolerance, and secularism. 5. Sufis and Dervishes have significantly shaped the cultural landscape of both nations. 6. Forceful methods should not be used to protect fundamental principles of religion. 7. Pakistani religious leaders have reinterpreted the concept of Jihad to serve their own agendas, leading to the world viewing Jihad as terrorism. 8. Extremism is a symptom of a disease that includes adopting one's opinions as absolute truths and forcing them on others. -------- The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, has declared that combating terrorists and extremists is mandatory for Pakistan. The terrorist groups undoubtedly possess a specific political goal they aim to achieve by imposing their will on us and gaining control by means of violence. However, my administration will prevent them from pursuing such actions. Conversely, the Indian Foreign Minister has reiterated in a recent interview that the primary focus must be to prevent terrorism and anti-India activities before any advancement can occur in the relationship between the two countries. It is imperative to take action against the terrorist groups in Pakistan that carry out activities inside India. My issue is that, as I am sitting here in Amsterdam, Netherlands, I realise that all we had was a dream, and all that remains is hope, I am waiting for a genuine friendship to blossom between the two nations. The state of law and order in Pakistan is well-known to all. The measures India has implemented to enhance ties with Pakistan are designed to achieve genuine peace and safety across the subcontinent. This is the position Asif Zardari has expressed, emphasizing his reputation for fostering friendships, peace, and unity between India and Pakistan. President Asif Zardari is fundamentally an optimistic individual, and I genuinely believe that his assessment of terrorists is entirely accurate. Our history demonstrates that no issue has ever been resolved in this place by force, hostility, or dictatorship, and even when it has, the solution may not be permanent. The employment of propaganda, cold war and pointless confrontation have not benefited Pakistan or India in any way. The vast majority of people in both nations believe that neither Pakistan nor India have gained anything from this unnecessary dispute or the sixty years of propaganda and rivalry between them. I believe that the Pakistani community also adheres to principles of moderation and religious tolerance, similar to that of the Indian community. However, it is worth noting that following the partition, India became increasingly secular compared to Pakistan, thanks to the legalization of moderate traditions, democracy, tolerance, and secularism. It is undeniable that Sufis and Dervishes have significantly shaped the cultural landscape of both nations. If not now, then perhaps in the future, the radicalism present here must die. If the roots of an extremist plant are not in the ground, they will never grow into a tree. This radicalism, whether it stems from religious beliefs or societal issues, is completely unacceptable. Individuals who provoke violence or fear for political gains and aim at specific groups are engaging in total terrorism. Such behaviours must be denounced from every aspect of society, every social class, and in all locales; politics and violence are incompatible and have no place together. Many immature individuals, including my fellow writers, hold the mistaken view that the fundamental principles of religion can only be protected by using forceful methods. This idea is completely wrong. There might indeed be some truth in what others say. Not every conversation you have is bad, and not every one of theirs is either. I consider extremism to be a symptom rather than a disease. Symptoms of the disease include adopting one's opinions as absolute truths and forcing them on other people. These days, some Pakistani religious leaders have reinterpreted the concept of Jihad to better serve their own agendas, and the phrase is being used in a way that has led to the world viewing Jihad as terrorism. Although the majority of people believe that terrorists are not religious—thus, are they communists? —terrorists are undoubtedly inspired by radicalism, ideology, and religion. Ultimately, I wish to convey to those in power that if they genuinely want to fight extremism and terrorism, they need to realize that if these extremists, terrorists, combatants, militants, libertarians, Fedayeen, and others are not addressed promptly, the country will face even more problems. If the country keeps facing these issues, chaos will ensue, and chaos can lead to events beyond anyone's wildest imagination. Maybe this entire setting is reflected in this poem I wrote. Aadhi Sadi Guzar Gayi Baaligh Na Ho Saka Aye Kishwar-E-Haseen, Teri Qismat Kharab Hai [A half-century gone by, Yet still you remain a minor, Oh lovely country, oh my, You're having terrible luck, no finer.] ------ Urdu Article: The End of Terrorism Is Necessary! !دہشت گردی کا خاتمہ ضروری 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

Shauq Baharaichi: Remembering A Forgotten Poet On His 140th Year

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 8 June 2024 Barbaad Gulistaan Karne Ko Bas Ek Hi Ulloo Kaafi Tha Har Shaakh Pe Ulloo Baitha Hai, Anjaam-E-Gulistaan Kya Hoga (One owl is enough to destroy the entire garden/ Now when owls are perched on every branch, what will be the fate of the garden?) Shauq Baharaichi ------ Most of us have come across this very popular couplet but hardly anyone is aware as to who penned it? Shauq Baharaichi wrote it. June 6 was his 140th birth anniversary. He was born on June 6, 1884. But hardly any Hindi or Urdu daily paid homage to him. Famous for satire and humour, Shauq was also famous for Fil-Badeeh (extemporaneous) poetry. His real name was Riyasat Hussain Rizvi. Shauq was Shel Silverstein and Edward Lear of India. Just read this couplet of Shauq Saheb, "Bas Iss Liye Rahbar Pe Nahin Mujh Ko Bharosa/ Buddhu Hai Woh Khud Raah Bhatak Jaaye Toh Kya Ho" (I don't rely on my guide/ He's a fool, he himself may get lost). One more couplet of Shauq Bahraichi is often quoted, "Safha-e-Dil Pe Nazar Aate Hain Ab Daagh Hi Daagh/ God Daala Kisi Kambakht Ne Saara Kaaghaz " (Only scars are visible on the page of heart/ Someone seems to have tattooed the entire page). This couplet will make you laugh, "Kis Tarah Jaata Koi Manzil-E-Maqsood Ki Taraf/ Koi Ikka, Koi Taanga, Koi Rickshaw Na Mila" (How can one reach the goal? / There was no Tonga, buggy or rickshaw). Or this one, "Ik Woh Zaalim Hi Nahin Mujh Pe Jafa Karta Hai/ Aasmaan Bhi Isi Chakkar Mein Raha Karta Hai" (She's not the one who dislikes and ditches me/ Providence also does the same to me). This one takes the cake, "Jab Bhi Woh Baithte Hain Likhne Ko Iqraar-e-Wafa/ Gaon Bhar Mein Nahin Milta Kahin Purza Kaaghaz" (Whenever she sits to write the acceptance of love/ Alas, there's no piece of paper anywhere). Now read this truly sarcastic couplet of Shauq, "Ab Khuda Ke Liye Rakh Hum Pe Karam Ae Naaseh/ Hain Pareshaan Teri Bakvaas Se Hum Ae Naaseh (Oh preacher, for heaven's sake, have mercy on us/ We've had enough of your drivel) and this one is so perennially true, "Hazaron Chahne Wale Hain Un Ke/ Kam Un Ki Income Nahin Hai " (He has many admirers/ He earns a lot). Though it's like a typical back-of-the-truck / auto rickshaw poetry such as Log Poochhenge Kaise Hain / Jab Tak Aap Ke Paas Paise Hain, it's ever-relevant. He wrote philosophical couplets as well. This one must be mentioned, "Maine Yoon Dil Ko Banaya Aaina/ Aina-Gar Ko Bhi Hairat Ho Gayee" (I've converted my heart into such a mirror/ Even a mirror-maker was astonished). He saw the vicissitudes of life and wrote tellingly, "Shayari Se Jo Logon Ko Hansate Hain / Apni Zindagi Mein Aksar Gham Khaate Hain" (Those who amuse people with their poetry/ Are often at the receiving end of life). He lived in abject penury throughout his life. His witty use of English words lent a dash of humour to his poetry. Let me end my tribute to him with this couplet which he wrote when someone said that Shauq didn't write besides humour, "Vaiz, Ye Gulistaan, Ye Baharein, Ye Ghataaein/ Saaghar Koi Aise Mein Khanak Jaaye Toh Kya Ho" (Oh, the religious moralist, this garden, spring and clouds/ What will happen if a goblet clinks here?). This is indeed a tragedy that we know almost nothing of such a fine poet. But then, who cares for poets and poetry in these philistine times with plebeian tastes? ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. 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 Divine Chorus Director: A Better Model for Understanding the Relationship between God and Humanity

By Adis Duderija, New Age Islam 7 June 2024 The Relationship Between God and Humanity Is Inherently Unpredictable Due to The Inherent Freedom of Individuals. Just as Actors in A Play Bring Their Own Interpretations and Contributions to The Performance, Human Beings Possess Their Own Aesthetic Sensibilities and Freedoms That Shape Their Actions and Decisions ------- Art has long been used as a metaphor to explore and understand the nature of the divine. However, when contemplating God’s relationship with human beings, it is important to consider the complexities of interaction and the dynamic nature of creation. In this regard, the symbol of a chorus director or a director of a theatrical performance offers a more compelling model for understanding God’s role compared to that of a painter or a poet. This is what Daniel Dombrowski one of the leading process thinkers in the world today argues in his book on Process Mysticism. By recognizing the inherent freedom and aesthetic sensibilities of human beings, we can delve into the profound concept of unity-in-diversity and the transformative nature of mystical experiences. The Chorus Director: Orchestrating Human Drama In a theatrical performance, the chorus director plays a pivotal role in guiding the actors, shaping the narrative, and coordinating the overall artistic vision. Similarly, when we view God as a chorus director, we acknowledge that God interacts with human beings who possess their own agency, aesthetic sensibilities, and freedoms. Unlike a painter or a poet who creates in isolation, God’s creative process involves working with free beings, each with their unique perspectives and choices. The relationship between God and humanity is inherently unpredictable due to the inherent freedom of individuals. Just as actors in a play bring their own interpretations and contributions to the performance, human beings possess their own aesthetic sensibilities and freedoms that shape their actions and decisions. This unpredictability adds depth and richness to the human drama, as it allows for the exploration of various possibilities and outcomes. Mystical Experience: Unity-in-Diversity Mystical experiences often involve a profound sense of unity or connection with the divine. However, this unity does not negate or obliterate the individuality of the mystic. Rather, it involves the joint assertion of unity and the preservation of personal identity. Here, the dipolar aesthetic principle of unity-in-diversity comes into play. The mystical journey is one of transformation and transfiguration. The mystic is not lost but undergoes a profound change, where the individual’s self is enhanced and elevated through the union with the divine. This transformative process allows for the harmonization of personal identity with the larger cosmic reality, creating a tapestry woven with diverse threads. Embracing the Divine Paradox The concept of God as a chorus director allows us to embrace the divine paradox inherent in the human experience. It acknowledges the coexistence of unity and diversity, recognizing that both are essential aspects of the creative process. Just as a chorus director guides and brings together a diverse group of voices to create a harmonious performance, God orchestrates the individual lives and choices of human beings to create a greater whole. This understanding encourages us to embrace the diversity and individuality of all beings, recognizing that each contributes to the grand symphony of life. It invites us to appreciate the unique perspectives and choices of others while acknowledging our interconnectedness. In contemplating the relationship between God and humanity, it is essential to move beyond simplistic metaphors and embrace a more nuanced understanding. Viewing God as a chorus director or a director of a theatrical performance offers a powerful model that takes into account the complex interplay between freedom, aesthetics, and unity-in-diversity. By recognising the individual agency and aesthetic sensibilities of human beings, we can appreciate the unpredictable nature of the human drama. Furthermore, understanding mystical experiences as a fusion of unity and personal identity allows us to appreciate the transformative power of divine connection. As we navigate the complexities of existence, let us embrace the role of both artist and actor, recognizing our own agency and creative potential. In doing so, we can participate in the grand symphony of life, guided by the supreme artist, the chorus director who weaves our individual stories into a tapestry of unity-in-diversity. ------- Please checkout Dr. Adis Duderija’s personal website and his recent ebook on critical-progressive Islam: ---- A decades old patron of New Age Islam, Dr Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science; Senior Fellow Centre for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, Griffith University | Nathan | Queensland | Australia. His forthcoming books are (co-edited)- Shame, Modesty, and Honora in Islam and Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide (Springer) 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

Eighty Years of Safdar Aah Sitapuri's Iconic 'Dil Jalta Hai Toh Jalne De'

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 7 June 2024 "Jo Taar Se Nikli Hai Woh Dhun Sab Ne Suni Hai/ Jo Saaz Pe Guzri Hai Woh Kis Dil Ko Pata Hai " (The tune emanating from the strings has enthralled all / But who cares for the fate of the instrument?). Sahir Ludhianavi wrote these immortal lines for the song, "Ashkon Ne Jo Paaya Hai” for the film, Chaandi ki Deewaar (1964). Talat Mahmood sang it soulfully. This couplet articulates the dismal fate of the creator of an immortal creation. Though the great Sahir always got the acknowledgement for his fabulous poetry and lyrics, not many poet-lyricists got the recognition they deserved. Safdar Aah Sitapuri was one of them. Does this name ring a bell? Perhaps not. While his song "Dil Jalta Hai Toh Jalne De Aansoo Na Baha" (Film: Pahli Nazar, composer: Anil Biswas, 1945) was immortalised by Mukesh, he (Sitapuri) remained in oblivion. Safdar Aah Sitapuri ---- Though the movie hit the marquee in 1945, Aah Sitapuri wrote this Ghazal in 1944 and it appeared in an Urdu Roznaamcha, Vatan, published from Lahore. Initially, the director and producer Mazhar Khan didn't want to use this for his movie. But as luck would have it, the song was not only retained, it got Mukesh a strong foothold in Bombay. A few years ago, a Pakistani film critic Anwar Azeem wrote in an Urdu daily that this song was initially offered to Rafi, This is factually wrong. First of all, Anil Biswas never liked Rafi's voice and used him just for four rather forgettable songs just the way composer Naushad Ali used Kishore's voice for only one song. We all have our biases and we often make a fetish of our idiosyncrasies. That apart, Rafi's voice didn't evolve as a perfect singing voice till 1949 when he sang that song of the songs, "Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki Na Jaane" (Film: Dulari). Sitapuri was preferred only by Anil Biswas. He didn't get many films. He wrote many Nazms. A few like, Tumhari Yaad, Ibne-e-Aadam Ka Azm and Pesh-Rau-Pesh-E-Nazar are indeed notable. One incomplete Ghazal Dukhti Rag is popular among the connoisseurs of Urdu poetry. There's a couplet in it, "Aankhein Khuli Theen Un Ke Intazaar Mein/ Khuli Hi Raheen Iktarfa Pyaar Mein” (Eyes were wide open waiting for her/ They remained open in an unrequited love). I received one more couplet of Aah Sitapuri from a retired professor friend of mine who taught Urdu at Allahabad University: Koi Aa Ke Ise Buhaar De/ Gard-Aalood Ho Gayee Hai Qabr Meri (Let someone come and dust it off/ My tomb is soiled with dust). He lamented in an interview in 1979 that no one remembered that he penned the song, Dil Jalta Hai Toh Jalne De. He breathed his last in 1980; unsung and completely forgotten. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. 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, June 6, 2024

Makhdoom Sahib and His Gham-e-Ishq-e-Ilahi—The Pain Of Divine Love That Can Heal Humanity In Kashmir!

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam 6 June 2024 Aie Aatish-e-Furqat Dil Ha Kebab Karda Sailab-e-Ishtiyaqat Jaan Ha Kharab Karda! (O the fire of separation! You have turned my heart into a painful piece of flesh like roasted meat/ Kebab. O flood of desires, you have spoiled my life!) ----- Makhdoom Salih ---- Recently, I paid a long-cherished visit to the Astana (shrine) of Kashmir’s prominent Rishi-Sufi mystic Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom—popularly known as Makhdoom Sahib—and sometimes also venerated as Sultan-ul-A’rifin (king of the Realised Ones). He is greatly revered in the Valley as the “Beloved of the World'' (Mahbub-ul-A’alam). His shrine exhumed deep serenity and solace that overwhelmed me on a Friday after the Juma’a prayer followed by a congregational traditional Kashmiri Zikr/Dhikr and Salawaat-O-Salaam. Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom R.A was, as a matter of fact, the main proponent of the prominent Central Asian Sufi Silsila or Order in Kashmir—Suhrawardiyya. Originally, he belonged to the local historical Chandravanshi Rajput family of the Kashmir region. Born in a village near Sopore in Baramulla district, he spent his childhood in the ancient Kashmiri mystical milieu and was deeply inspired by the profound influence, teachings and traditions of the previous Rishi-Sufi Masters such as Nund Rishi Nooruddin Noorani commonly known as Sheikhul Aalamin Jammu and Kashmir. In the footsteps of Nund Rishi and Shah-e-Hamdan Ameer Kabir Hazrat Meer Ali Hamadani, Hamza Makhdoom RA also initiated a spiritual hospice (Khanqah) in the graceful valley which took care of the poor and the destitute in terms of their spiritual and material needs. His shrine is on top of the Hari Parbat (Koh-e-Maran), commanding a majestic view of the most beautiful part of Srinagar. The Spiritual King of Kashmir and the 16th century Sufi Sage of the undivided Valley Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom—popularly known as Makhdoom Sahib—affectionately called “Mahbub-ul-A’alam” (Beloved of the World) is greatly revered today by both Kashmiri Muslims and non-Muslims (mainly Kashmiri Pundits) alike, precisely because of his deeper personal relationship with the Divine and the pain of separation in this worldly life that he endured in this Eternal, Ultimate and Unconditional Love—Ishq-e-Haqiqi. Historians tell us that Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom’s family consisted of the descendants of Kangra’s Rajput rulers, through Ramchandra — the commander-in-chief in the army of Raja Suhadev, the last Hindu ruler of Kashmir, and minister in the court of Rinchen Shah, the Buddhist ruler who became first ‘Muslim king of Kashmir’. Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom’s spiritual genealogy as well as his family lineage can be traced back to an intellectual legacy (Werasat) and an ethics-based spirituality (Tariqat). In his early childhood, his father Usman Raina, himself an acclaimed A’alim (scholar) taught him and then enrolled him in a local Maktab at his village. Later, his grandfather, Reti Raina, took him to Srinagar, where he studied the classical Islamic sciences — Quran, Hadith, Kalam (philosophy), Fiqh (jurisprudence) and Tasawwuf or Sufism at Dar al-Shifa in Srinagar. Over there, the young Hamza Makhdoom acquired the classical knowledge and esoteric experience accumulated from the 14 different Sufi branches. However, towards his later life, he was immensely immersed in the Suhrawardi Silsila (Sufi order) and thus he introduced a newer spiritual tradition in the same Sufi Order in Kashmir popularly known as “Silsila Mahbubiyya” which is named after his lofty title or Laqab (epithet) “Mahbub-ul-A’alam (Beloved of the World). This is precisely why I look up to Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom R.A as the first of his kind Suhrawardi saint in the Valley. Significantly, Hamza Makhdoom RA also strengthened the common grounds for spiritual coexistence between the Hindu-Rishi and Muslim-Sufi traditions in Kashmir. More notably, Hamza Makhdoom laid greater emphasis on his perennial spiritual practice Zikr-e-Qalb (inward divine remembrance and invocations of Allah). He did not like the idea of outward flaunting of Zikr as it was prevailing in his times in Kashmir’s neo-Sufi society and, therefore, he exhorted Sufi Sim’a or the mystical music of Kashmiri origin only within the prescribed limits. Tellingly, he is also known for questioning the prevailing social customs and several superstitions like the blind faith in ghosts and the misplaced veneration and fear of the spirits (Muwakkils). Similarly, he did not reconcile with the idea of non-Suhrawardi orders about the seclusion and renunciation of worldly life. He strongly believed in the Prophetic tradition of “La Rahbaniyyah Fil Islam” (There is no asceticism in Islam) and therefore he contested it on solid theological grounds. Once, he asserted that even spiritual seclusion or renunciation does not imply going naked or forsaking worldly responsibilities. His idea of renunciation or detachment from the world (Tark-e-Dunya) was one in which a seeker becomes more sincere on his/her path to the extent that he/she doesn’t allow worldly and material affluences and mundane matters to turn into an obstacle in their path towards the ultimate destination and spiritual liberation. Hamza Makhdoom RA was one of the rarest Rishi-Sufis in the Valley who were sociable and accessible to one and all. Prior to him, the Sufi mystics in the Valley did not like to create noticeable social connections with the commoners. But Hamza Makhdoom established a stronger social Sufi network at all levels. No wonder then, he became “Mahbub-ul-A’alam” (Beloved of the World) in the truest sense of the meaning. It is quite astonishing to note that Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom RA left this temporary world for his eternal heavenly abode at the young age of only 35 years while he had lost all his teeth, and most of his hair had turned white. He would reportedly say in his Kashmiri Vakhya/Kalaam as translated below: “Gham-e-Ishq-e-Ilahi—the pain of divine love has turned me old” Today, once again, Kashmir needs to nurture this divine pain to heal the wounds of its war-torn people, especially when a growing section of the society including youth, children and women are away from the deep-rooted Rishi-Sufism. On the contrary, they are plagued with the scourges of drug addiction, emotional and psychological setbacks and mental health issues caused by the various complex situations and strenuous factors. Faced with these serious setbacks, the current Kashmiri generation has adopted a dangerous route to vent out their pent-up anger and frustrations—drug addiction. Regrettably, the influx of drugs into the region is an attempt to corrupt and degenerate the Kashmiri youth at the hands of drug peddlers, who will subsequently destabilise Kashmir through illicit means, and will further fuel the fire of narco-terrorism coming from across the borders. At this critical juncture, if anything can save the new Kashmiri Generation and provide the real panacea for their ills, it is the pain of divine love as enunciated by Hamza Makhdoom RA. It is in the Rishi-Sufi mystical tradition of the valley itself where the solution lies to this acute problem. Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi rightly said: “In problem lies the solution”. It has been relayed in “Dastoor-us-Salikeen” (Constitution of the Seekers): One day Makhdoom Sahib was in his hospice (Khanqah). All of sudden, he emerged out of his room and walked along a mountain where a man of white beard appeared on his face with a noble-looking group of Awliya-e-Kiram who welcomed him and introduced him to Sheikh Najmuddin Kubrawi (R.A)—the founder of Silsilah Kubrawiyah in Central Asia who hailed from Khwarezm. Thus, besides being a Suhrawardi-Sufi sage, Hamza Makhdoom was also initiated into the Sufi order and the principles of Kubrawiyah-Hamadaniyah which prevailed in the valley of Kashmir. It was founded by Hazrat Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani (R.A.), popularly known as Shah-e-Hamadan (king of Hamadan) and Ameer-e- Kabir. As a prominent proponent of Silsilah Kubrawiyah, Shah-e-Hamdan travelled to various parts of the world around three times mainly in Central, West and South Asia. He met and interacted with around 1400 Sufi Divines of his days who granted him Ijazah (special spiritual permission to guide others on the path). Reportedly, Shah-e-Hamadan stayed in Srinagar in 783/1381 but in 785/1384 he went back to Central Asia in Khatlan, a province of Tajikistan today where he is buried. It was Sultan-Ul- Arifeen Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom (R.A) who preserved and promulgated the Silsilah Kubrawiyah-Hamadaniyah along with the Suhrawardi-Sufi Order in Kashmir. Besides his holy shrine, I have also seen the grave of Baba Dawood Khaki (R.A)— the most favourite disciple of Hamza Makhdoom (R.A) who is known as “Imam-e-Azam Abu Hanifa of Kashmir” as he mastered Fiqh-e-Hanafi, the most tolerant school of Islamic jurisprudence which he promoted in the valley. Dawood Khaki writes that Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom (R.A) was bestowed with the divine illuminations of Khashaf-i-Quloob (opening of the hearts), Khashaf-i-Quboor (opening of the graves) and Khashaf-i-Israr (Opening of the Secrets). Hazrat Hamza Makhdoom finally met his Lord in the Hijri year984 during the reign of Sultan Ali Shah Kochak. Thousands of Hindu-Muslim Kashmiris throng the shrine of this Rishi-Sufi Sage in Srinagar. ------ A Regular Columnist with, Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an Indo-Islamic scholar, Sufi poet and English-Arabic-Urdu-Hindi writer with a background in a leading Sufi Islamic seminary in India. He is currently serving as Head of International Affairs at Voice for Peace & Justice, Jammu & 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

Insight into Iraqi Geopolitics: Six Days with Sayyid Salih al-Hakim

By Dr. John Andrew Morrow, New Age Islam 6 June 2024 I recently returned from a scholarly and spiritual pilgrimage to Iraq which was sponsored by both the Dalil and Hussainiyyah foundations. Soon after my arrival, and shortly after my two presentations at the First International Conference on Iraq’s Heritage and Antiquities on Sunday, November 27, 2018, I was placed in the gracious hands of ‘Allamah Sayyid Salih al-Hakim. ‘Allamah Sayyid Salih al-Hakim. ----- For those who might be unfamiliar with his name, Sayyid Salih belongs to one of the prominent Twelver Shiite scholarly families. Direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad through the line of Hasan al-Muthanna, they are closely related to the Idrisids, the Zaydi Shiites who ruled over Morocco from the seventh to the eight to the tenth century. With over fifty martyrs from the time of Saddam Husayn to the present, the Hakim family has shed both blood and ink in the defence of Islam. Sayyid Salih was born in 1959. His father was Ayatullah Mahdi Baqir al-Hakim (1939-2009). His grandfather was Grand Ayatullah Muhsin al-Hakim (1889-1970), a pre-eminent Religious Author and Source of Emulation. His uncle is Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Sa‘id al-Hakim, the second most senior Shiite scholar in Iraq after Ayatullah ‘Ali al-Sistani. Sayyid Salih al-Hakim commenced his seminary studies in 1976. Due to political and religious persecution, he was forced into exile, studying in both Damascus, Syria, and, finally, in Qum, Iran, where he studied from 1980 until 1990. He was then placed in charge of the religious affairs of the Shiite Muslims who resided in Scandinavian countries. After the fall of Saddam Husayn’s regime, Sayyid Salih returned to Najaf, Iraq, to help rebuild the Office of Grand Ayatullah Sa‘id al-Hakim. Upon his instructions, he established the Kalima Centre for Dialogue and Cooperation in 2007, which is supervised by Ayatullah Riyadh al-Hakim, the oldest son of the Source of Emulation. Since then, Sayyid Salih al-Hakim has been a prominent figure in inter-religious dialogue in the Middle East and Western Europe. When offered the option of joining a delegation of scholars from around the world to visit the major historical and archaeological sites in Iraq or being the guest of ‘Allamah al-Hakim, the choice was clear: the company of a scholar came first. I therefore had the honour and the privilege to spend a full six days with the Sayyid. We lived together We ate together. We travelled together. We attended an inter-religious conference together which featured representatives from all the faith communities in Iraq: Sabeans, Mandeans, Zoroastrians, Yezidis, Christians, Sunnis, and Shiites. We visited Imam ‘Ali and Imam Husayn together. We attended advanced lectures at the Najaf Seminary together. We prayed together. And we discussed, at length, together. One of the issues that I addressed with Sayyid al-Salih was the most obvious one: the relative security and stability that reigned in the country. “With the election of Trump, US policy changed,” explained Sayyid al-Salih. “They stopped funding ISIS. The Turks followed suit and cut off their logistical support. With the collapse of ISIS, and the experience they had under their rule, Sunni leaders were forced to reconsider their position.” The actual security situation stood in sharp contrast to the description portrayed by both the Western corporate media and the US State Department. “Why,” I asked the Sayyid, “does the Western world insist on lying about Iraq?” As the Sayyid explained, it was not only the West, but also Iran, that was intent on falsely representing the situation in Iraq: The United States does not want a strong Iraq nor does Iran. Any strong and independent Arab or Muslim state is viewed as a threat to Israel. The Iranian government would like Iraq to remain a failed state. If it were a stable, prosperous, democratic, diverse, and pluralistic state, which respected human rights, Iraq would become a focal point and source of inspiration for other Arabs and Muslims. So long as Iraq remains a failed state, the Iranians can proclaim: “Look what you get for supporting the Americans! Look at what the West has to offer!” They wish to present themselves as the only alternative available to Muslims. Since the role of Iran is intricately intertwined with the theory of Wilayat Al-Faqih, the rule of the jurist, I asked the Sayyid where he stood on the subject: We do not accept the theory of Wilayat Al-Faqih. We are men of religion, not men of politics. The role of Muslim scholars is not to rule. The role of Muslim scholars is to advise rulers. That way, if and when politicians make mistakes, they bear the burden and the blame, and the image of Islam and religious scholars does not suffer. The situation in Iran is so bad when it comes to anti-clerical sentiments that many scholars, like myself, refuse to wear the turban when we travel there. As a result of the actions of the Iranian government, the majority of Iranians hate clerics. The turban has become a symbol of an oppressive system. Imam Khomeini himself did not want turbans in the government. As far as we are concerned, the role of religious scholars is three-fold: 1) teaching and interpreting the religion; 2) providing charitable services; and 3) providing spiritual counselling to people. It is not our place to intervene politically. Our role is limited to general guidance. Our function is advisory. For example, although we refuse to rule politically, we, religious scholars, helped write the Iraqi Constitution, to ensure that it was in accord with Islamic principles. I mentioned to Sayyid Salih al-Hakim that there were many Shiite Muslim scholars in the West who believed that anyone who rejected Wilayat Al-Faqih was as infidel. He responded as follows: The scholars in question live in the West. They only visit Iran occasionally, for brief periods, and are always surrounded by supporters of Wilayat Al-Faqih. They are disconnected from reality. If they lived in Iran for any considerable length of time, they would flee the country and reject the theory of Wilayat Al-Faqih. Although we did not agree with Wilayat Al-Faqih, we were more reserved in our criticism during the time of Khomeini. He limited himself to offering guidance. Khamenei, however, is a dictator. He has turned Iran into a dictatorship. What is the point of having all those elected politicians if a single man has absolute control over the entire government and all of its branches? Not only is the Shiite Seminary of Najaf opposed to Political Shiism, it is opposed to all other forms of Political Islam as well. As Sayyid Salih al-Hakim expressed, We do not believe in Political Islam. We believe in Religious Islam. Muslims scholars should not run society nor should they run from society. They should be neither Islamists nor Sufis. They should live among the people, interact with the people, and gently guide them along the straight path of Islam. We do not force women to wear hijab in Iraq nor should we. We should inspire them to wear hijab. We are not like the Islamists in Iran who refuse to speak or sit with women who do not wear Hijab or who wear “bad hijab.” In Iraq, thanks to the influence of Muslim clerics, we have created a culture of hijab without recurring to compulsion. After all, “there is no compulsion in Islam” (2:256). Look what happened at the Zaydis. Originally, they were a school of thought. They focused so much on politics that they ended up being Hanafi in jurisprudence. The Sayyid also voiced concern over Iranian government interference in the Qum Seminary: It is imperative that the Hawzah or religious seminary remain independent from political authority. The Iranian government, however, wishes to control it. This is unacceptable. Over one thousand jurists in Qum have publicly voiced their opposition to such efforts. Considering its opposition to Wilayat Al-Faqih, I wondered about the relations between the Najaf Seminary and the Iranians. According to the Sayyid, they were cordial: Although we do not agree with Wilayat Al-Faqih, we are not the enemies of those believe in it. The Americans would like us to be anti-Iranian; however, the Religious Authorities refuse to adopt such a stance. Iran is a powerful country. It is good for Shiism. We wish to have good relations with both Iran and the United States. The Americans, however, tell us that “you are either with us or you are against us.” This we cannot accept. Not only is the Najaf Seminary opposed to Wilayat Al-Faqih, they also object to Iran’s foreign policy. When asked about Iran’s foreign policy in the region, and whether it was viewed as constructive or destructive, the Sayyid had this to say: The problem with Iran’s foreign policy is that it is imperialistic. They act like the Soviet Union that supported revolutionaries all around the world. What business does Iran have supporting militias in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen? “Islam is peace,” I keep reminding the Iranians, “not war.” Iran should focus on building up its country first and foremost rather than meddling in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations and trying to topple governments. The Turks have made the same mistake. Erdogan helped build up Turkey’s economy. He made it a prosperous and powerful nation. This was good and he should have stopped there. Then, however, he started to support ISIS in Syria. He had imperial ambitions. He wanted to start rebuilding the Ottoman Empire. Iran’s policy in Iraq has also been imperialistic. They wanted to impose their will. They wanted us to be subservient to them. They acted as masters and expected us to act like slaves. The Iranians wanted to keep the Popular Militias under their control and create an equivalent of the Hizbullah in Iraq. This would have weakened the central government. Thanks to people like Muqtada al-Sadr, [a militant nationalist who believes in Iraq for Iraqis], the Iranians got the message. Now, the Iranians have changed their policy. Now, whatever the Iranians do in Iraq, they do such with respect. Finally, I asked the Sayyid whether he believed that Iran’s attitude towards the United States was productive or counter-productive? The Sayyid was as honest, frank, and forthcoming as always: “Why do you hate the United States so much?” I constantly ask Iranians officials. “They started it,” they reply. “The United States is the most powerful country in the world both economically and militarily,” I remind them. “If you come into conflict with them, you will surely lose. You should not pick fights that you cannot possibly win.” “Rather than antagonize the United States,” I tell them, “you should try to mend relations with them. You should seek to co-exist.” During the six days that I spent with His Eminence, Ayatullah Sayyid Salih al-Hakim, it became evident that he embodied a large number of ethical qualities. Pious, polite, courteous, confident, learned, articulate, open-minded, and out-spoken, his social and diplomatic skills, when dealing with political and religious leaders from diverse backgrounds, was most impressive. More than a gregarious host, he treated me like his son for a week. As I said to the Sayyid before I left for the airport, prior to his prolific prayers for me, and having me pass under the Qur’an: “By Allah! You have been like a father to me. May Allah give you the best of health and may Allah grant you the garden of Paradise.” ---- Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong to the subject of the interview and do not necessarily reflect those of the author. -------- Dr. John Andrew Morrow is Native North American a proud member of the Métis Nation. After taking his Shahadah at the age of 16, he became both an academic and a Muslim ‘Alim. He has authored over thirty peer-reviewed books and over one hundred scholarly articles. His most influential work to date is The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World. His websites include and His videos and lectures can be found on The Covenants of the Prophet Channel on YouTube: . His Facebook accounts include @johnandrewmorrow and @covenantsoftheprophet. He can be followed on Twitter @drjamorrow. - See more 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

Should an Ascetic Join Politics?

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 6 June 2024 Ajay Mohan Singh Bisht alias Yogi Adityanath and his party's shellacking in UP has again engendered the debate: Whether Yogis, Sannyasis, monks and ascetics should join politics in the first place? When Laotse, the great sage, was surreptitiously leaving the kingdom, as he got disillusioned with his life in the court of the king, he was caught by the king's guards. They brought him back to the court. The king was extremely fond of Laotse and he venerated him. The learned king said, " I won't stop you from leaving my court and kingdom as I understand that you feel suffocated here. You can leave but I've a request. Please jot down a few pieces of advice for me and the people of this kingdom and then go happily." Laotse gave 20 tips for a blissful and hassle-free existence and left the kingdom. His first advice was: "Never force a monk to be involved in kingly and worldly duties. A monk should also refrain from participating in public affairs. " First of all, it was BJP's serious mistake to engage monks, Sadhus, Sadhvis, Babas, Gurus, godmen and god-women in political affairs. These Babas, Yogis and Sadhus should also have declined the requests to join politics. But who doesn't like power? Yogi Adityanath may not have been openly interested in the pelf but he was power-hungry and was ruthless to the bone, an attribute which is unbecoming of an ascetic or a 'saintly' person. He was also rabidly vindictive, whereas an ascetic is always forgiving by nature. Ascetics and monks hardly talk. But our Yogi was inherently motormouth and foul-mouthed. For seven years since 2017, he ruled like a mafia don and ironically declared that he was there to eliminate the mafia! He himself got eliminated! Since BJP refers to Sanatan and its scriptures at the drop of a hat, let's see what the scriptures of Hinduism advise on this count: First of all, one who has renounced should not live in his native place. After he has renounced, he has to start living in another place. How is that possible for a king and in today's political context, a leader or a politician? A sage should leave his native land right after he has renounced. He should live far away from his own, like a thief just released from jail (Maitreni Upanishad 115) Secondly, he has to be on the move always, he is not allowed to stay in a particular place for around 8 months of a year. Only during the rainy season is he allowed to stay in a particular place. Obviously, such a lifestyle can't be followed by a king or a politician. An ascetic shall wander alone for eight months;" says the Aruni (8), "he shall keep a fixed residence during the entire rainy season or during just two months of it." Thirdly, Sannyasi has renounced everything. He can't own anything. Even for securing food he has to beg. But on the other hand, a king or a politician will own so many things. He also can't go begging for food. The things that a Sannyasi is allowed to carry/own are very few: A pot, a drinking cup, a sling, a tripod, a pair of shoes, a patched garment against the cold, a loincloth, a water strainer, a bathing cloth, and an outer garment: an ascetic should avoid anything else other than these Laghu Sannyasa (21) Let him sleep on a river bank or in a temple. Let him not afflict his body with extremes of pleasure or of pain. Let him bathe, drink, and cleanse himself with water that is purified. When he is praised let him not rejoice, nor curse others when he is reviled. (But criticise Yogi. You'll face the music very next moment) Moreover, a Sannyasi cannot indulge in several matters which are unavoidable for a king, for e.g law enforcement etc etc: "An ascetic's mind is inevitably perturbed if he behaves with women foolishly in these four ways. When his mind is perturbed he will perish. "Craving, anger, falsehood, deceit, greed, delusion, likes and dislikes, fine arts, the work of interpretation, desire, passion, possessions, egotism, selfishness, the practice of medicine, law enforcement, atonement, travel abroad, and the use of mantras, medicines, poisons, and blessings: all these are forbidden to him. Practising them will cause his downfall. Narada Parivrajaka. Upanishad. You cannot eat the cake and have it too. If you're a monk, live like a monk. Nowadays, too many 'holy' people are into politics. One hopes that Yogi's downfall will make other overambitious monks chary of joining politics lest the same deplorable fate should befall them. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. 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

A Mystical Reading of Ghalib’s Verse - Why this Universe?

By Subzar Ahmad 6 June 2024 This Is No Ordinary Rust, However, for in The Lexicon of Urdu and Persian Poetry, “Zangār” Also Signifies the Colour Green, Thus Harmoniously Blending the Ideas of Aging and Vitality. But Ghalib’s Genius Doesn’t Stop at This Dual Meaning; He Goes Further to Liken This Green-Rust to The Tarnish On the Back of a Mirror, An Essential Component That Enables the Mirror to Reflect. ------ لطافت بے کثافت جلوہ پیدا کر نہیں سکتی چمن زنگار ہے آئینۂ باد بہاری کا Latāfat Be Kasāfat Jalwa Paidā Kar Nahīn Saktī Chaman Zangār Hai Ā‘Īna-E Bād-E Bahārī Kā The ineffable requires the tangible to manifest. The garden is the patina on the vernal wind’s mirror (Mirza Ghalib) In the rich tapestry of Sufi poetry, where each thread is a symbol and each knot a philosophical concept, few verses capture the interplay between the divine and the mundane as elegantly as those of Mirza Ghalib. His couplet, “Chaman Zangār Hai Ā’īna-E Bād-E Bahārī Kā” (The garden is the patina on the vernal wind’s mirror), is a masterpiece of mystical imagery, inviting us to contemplate the very nature of existence through the lens of Sufi metaphysics. At first glance, the verse presents a paradoxical image: a garden, typically seen as vibrant and alive, is described as “Zangār”—a term that evokes notions of rust, decay, or the patina that forms on aged metal. This is no ordinary rust, however, for in the lexicon of Urdu and Persian poetry, “Zangār” also signifies the colour green, thus harmoniously blending the ideas of aging and vitality. But Ghalib’s genius doesn’t stop at this dual meaning; he goes further to liken this green-rust to the tarnish on the back of a mirror, an essential component that enables the mirror to reflect. The mirror in question is no ordinary looking glass but the “Bād-e Bahārī” or the spring breeze. In the poetic tradition, this vernal wind is more than a meteorological phenomenon; it is a metaphor for any force that rejuvenates, that breathes new life into the withered and dormant. The garden, then, is not merely a collection of plants but a symbol of the entire phenomenal world—every object, every being, every event that we perceive through our senses. To fully appreciate the depth of Ghalib’s imagery, we must turn to the Sufi philosophy that underpins it, particularly the thought of Ibn al-Arabi, one of the most influential figures in Islamic mysticism. Central to Ibn al-Arabi’s metaphysics is the concept of “Nafas al-Rahman,” or the Breath of the Merciful. This is not breath in any physical sense but rather the fundamental animating force that brings all things into existence. According to Ibn al-Arabi, before the universe came into being, all potential forms of existence resided within God’s knowledge as eternal archetypes, known as “A’yān Thābitah.” These archetypes are not mere ideas but are as eternal and inseparable from God’s essence as His knowledge itself. When God wishes to bring any of these potentials into actual existence, He addresses them with the divine command “Be!” (Kun). At this moment, the creative potential moves from the realm of divine knowledge into the realm of manifest reality, carried on the “Nafas al-Rahman.” Thus, in Ibn al-Arabi’s view, every atom, every star, every thought, and every emotion in our universe is a manifestation of these divine archetypes, given tangible form by the Breath of the Merciful. But why would the infinite, ineffable divine choose to manifest in finite, perceivable forms? Here, Ibn al-Arabi offers a profound insight: the perceptible forms of the universe serve as mirrors in which divine attributes can reflect and, in a sense, observe themselves. This concept of the universe as a mirror for divine attributes brings us back to Ghalib’s couplet. Just as a mirror requires a layer of reflective material on its back to function, the divine attributes require a “tarnish” of perceivable form to reflect themselves. In Ghalib’s metaphor, the spring breeze—standing in for the Nafas al-Rahman—is the mirror, while the garden—representing all perceivable phenomena—is the patina that allows this mirror to reflect. But there’s a further layer to this analogy. In traditional mirror-making, the reflective backing often contains silver or other precious metals. Over time, this backing oxidizes, forming a patina that, far from diminishing the mirror’s function, actually enhances its reflective properties. Similarly, in Ghalib’s verse, the garden’s “Zangār” is not a flaw but an essential feature, enabling the mirror of divine breath to reflect itself. This interpretation harmonizes beautifully with another of Ibn al-Arabi’s ideas: that every external object is an outward reflection of the infinite creative possibilities inherent in the divine essence. Just as God’s knowledge and His eternal archetypes are inseparable from His being, every perceivable form in our universe is an externalization of these archetypes. In other words, what we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell are not mere illusions or shadows but are, in their very tangibility, reflections of divine reality. Ghalib’s verse thus becomes a poetic exposition of a fundamental question in Sufi metaphysics: Are the phenomena we perceive merely mirrors that passively reflect divine attributes, or are they themselves embodiments of the divine, albeit in dense, perceivable form? Through his rich imagery, Ghalib aligns himself with Ibn al-Arabi’s perspective: every phenomenon in our universe, from the grandest galaxy to the tiniest grain of sand, is at its core the Nafas al-Rahman, the divine breath that has chosen to adopt tangible form. In this light, Ghalib’s couplet transcends mere poetic beauty to become a profound philosophical statement. The garden’s “Zangār” is not just an aesthetic feature but the very medium through which the divine breath—like the spring breeze—makes itself known. Every leaf, every petal, every grain of soil is a letter in the divine language, a brushstroke in the cosmic canvas where God’s attributes paint themselves into visibility. This interpretation invites us to see the world around us not as a veil that obscures the divine but as a text that reveals it. The rustling leaves, the blooming flowers, the very ground beneath our feet—all are not distractions from spiritual truth but are themselves tokens of that truth, made tangible so that we might perceive them. In Ghalib’s mystical vision, affirmed by Ibn al-Arabi’s metaphysics, the physical world is neither an illusion to be transcended nor a temptation to be shunned. Rather, it is a divine gift, a mirror crafted with the patina of material form, reflecting the ineffable beauty of its Maker. In an age often characterized by disenchantment, where the sacred and the secular are sharply divided, Ghalib’s verse offers a powerful counterpoint. It suggests that the boundary between the divine and the mundane is not a wall but a mirror. Every object, every experience becomes an opportunity for divine encounter. The garden is no mere backdrop for our human dramas but is itself a protagonist in the grand narrative of divine self-revelation. To walk through a garden after reading Ghalib’s verse is to walk through a living scripture, where each blade of grass is a verse and each gust of wind a recitation. In this sacred text, rust and green, decay and life, mirror and reflection all coalesce into a unified whole. Here, the ineffable divine doesn’t merely speak to us; it becomes visible, using the “Zangār” of material existence as its chosen medium. In Ghalib’s mystical landscape, illuminated by Ibn al-Arabi’s thought, the entirety of creation becomes one vast, shimmering mirror, its patina of physical forms enabling the divine breath to gaze upon its own boundless beauty. ----- Source: A Mystical Reading of Ghalib’s Verse | Why this Universe? 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, June 5, 2024

Islamic Liberation Theology: The Perspective of Hamid Dabashi

By Grace Mubashir, New Age Islam 5 June 2024 When Muslims Across The World Lose Hope, This Book Presents Shining Thoughts For Muslims Worldwide. The Combination Of Political Salience And Theoretical Force Makes Islamic Liberation Theology A Cornerstone Of A Whole New Generation Of Thinking About Political Islamism And A Compelling Read For Anyone Interested In Contemporary Islam ------- Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire Hardcover by Hamid Dabashi Print length: 320 pages Language: English Publisher: Routledge Publication date: 13 May 2008 ------ Although the concept of liberation theology is deep in the Christian community, it has not taken root in the Muslim community. Among the Muslims themselves, the minority ``Shia'' is less studied. This descending order exists only in the case of the English term 'Liberation Theology'. Ideas almost similar to what we are dealing with today under this name are active in the Muslim community. Hamid Dabashi's 'Islamic Liberation Theology: Defending Empire' explores the potential for translation between this activism and the modern term 'liberation theology'. A professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York City, Dabashi is already well-known as the author of more than twenty internationally acclaimed books. The chapters include Resisting Imperialism, The End of Islamic Ideology, Blindness and Insight, Islam and Globalization, 'Shia' Suffering Drama, Liberation Religious Justice, and Malcolm X. The book spans over three hundred pages, with seven chapters titled beginning with a voluminous introduction and ending with an equally voluminous and erudite conclusion. In the first two chapters, which are complementary in nature, the essence of the subject is clearly written. Although some chapters are supplementary in nature, they are essential to ensure the integrity of the book. Culture is what differentiates humans from animals. Exploitation and handling are not ethical issues in the animal world. According to 'Charles Darwin's' principle of natural determination, handouts are natural in 'survival of the fittest'. Humans did not become cultured all at once. Man, having experimented with various forms of the social system, recognized the defects of each and moved towards a better one. Meanwhile, religion has appeared in various guises. First, religion has come as a solution to man's thought dilemmas such as existential crisis. Many of the consequences of religion becoming a way to lighten the burden of the mind can be found in Marx's famous statement, "Religion is an opium that hypnotizes man." In this way, the priesthood came into the picture to take advantage of the commercial potential of the increasing popularity of religion and God. God had no small place not only in man's spiritual life but also in his material life. It was a place that provided the belief that God will reward you if you do good and punish you if you do injustice to fellow human beings. Gradually the depth and breadth of space became less and less and the belief that if one did not question the inequalities of material life one would get a better life in reincarnation or the afterlife gained popularity. Religion literally became an opium that hypnotizes people with the belief that the cause of suffering in life is the sins of the past life, and if you experience the results of karma, you will get a good life in the next life. Although Marxist-Leninist thought rejects mechanistic materialism, the movements and regimes that emerged around the world with the dream of 'communism' were not far from mechanistic materialism at the practical level. Moreover, tyranny is at the head of socialist governments. It is in this context that 'liberation theology' emerges as a messiah. It was an experiment in combining the egalitarian vision advanced by the socialist-communist movements with the spirituality of religion, and distinctive Christianity. Another significance is that regions like 'Latin America' served as sources of this thought. For a long time, the priesthood served as an exploitative power and allied itself with other exploitative powers of the time. Even movements that were progressive in some respects were not so in all respects. The 'Protestant movement' which railed against the priesthood did not oppose the monarchy. This was also the case with the 'Mu'tazilites' who rose up against scriptural extremism in Islamic history. Important among the reasons why religion did not oppose the exploitative forces was the social background of those who came forward as its spokesmen and interpreters. The lessons taught by the barbarians who stuck to the upper classes were accepted as the official lessons of the religion. Because the grievances of marginalized groups were beyond the experiences of the priesthood, they were not included in the considerations of religion. Among people living in the same geographical background, there can be two types of readings, be it about religion or anything else. But with the advent of 'colonialism', 'geography' also intervenes in such reading varieties. Hamid Dabashi's book can be described as a critical analysis of this interaction. The book title 'Islamic Liberation Theology: Against Empire' is open to such a variety of interpretations. Against the Empire can also be read as 'against the Islamic Empire'. So, it can be said that the content of the book is the conflict between 'Islamic Liberation Theology' and 'Islamic Empire'. If geographical variation in the reading of the Bible and capital made regions like 'Latin America' hotbeds of liberation theology, this kind of variation in the reading of Islam by 'Islamists' was long before that. It is the scientific analysis of this contradiction that makes Dabashi's book original. Prominent among these contradictions was the 'West versus Islam' dichotomy. There are historical and contemporary reasons why the views of the Islamic thinkers who led the movements from the late 19th century onwards were connected to geography. The invasions of exploration since the capture of 'Constantinople' by the Turks are prominent for historical reasons. The Turks who captured 'Constantinople' were Muslims by religion. Moreover, Muslims had a large presence in the populations of Afro-Asian lands conquered and plundered by Europeans, and in the vanguard of the resistance movements that arose there. Therefore, 'Islam' became synonymous with the East in 'East against the West'. Dabashi recognizes that this reduced Islam as an ideal code. This has happened to many other religious philosophies. The division between Christendom and Paganism is well known. 'Dabashi' examines the developments in the Sunni and Shia communities since the 19th century and assesses how they failed. Instead of 'Islam against the West', he counts the 'Iranian Revolution', which emerged with the slogan 'Islam against the East and the West', as one of the failures. Meanwhile, the benefits of such advances are not lost. The author assesses almost all the movements that took place in the Muslim world during the colonial period, moving away from sectarian prejudices as much as possible. Even Jamaluddin Afghani's 'Pan-Islamism' became virtually non-Pan when the movements inspired by it in Egypt and the Indo-Pak subcontinent became somewhat narrower in worldview. The most progressive aspect of Afghani's thought was that he emphasized the need for the unity of Muslim and non-Muslim populations for the success of anti-colonial struggles in Egypt and India. But the fact is that the dual concept of Islam and the West still exists there. It was natural at that time when empires and empires were not completely lost. Two world wars took place after his death. A significant problem with the movements inspired by his ideas was that they imitated communist movements to a greater extent in appearance. That too was natural. The socialist revolution in Russia was triumphant in the same year that World War I ended, when the Caliphate, nominally under the leadership of Turkey, was crushed by the ``Sunni faction'', the majority of Muslims, as part of the global community. Later we see the growing socialist slums fighting against the American slums under the leadership of the Soviet Union. When this was translated into the Muslim context, the concept of Islam was asserted against the West. Moreover, there were many in the Muslim world who saw a new saviour in the Soviet Union. This is the psychology behind the active participation of Muslims, including religious scholars, in the process of building the communist movement in South Asia. But they did not reinterpret Islam according to the new situation. But it was the movements of 'Banna' and 'Abul A'la' who, though with many changes, had a lasting resonance in Egypt and the Indo-Pak subcontinent. However the rejection of 'Wahhabi' ideas from Saudi Arabia has adversely affected all of them ideologically. Religion is a veil in Afro-Asian countries. Its beneficiaries are many. Religion was one of the strategies that American imperialism invented to deal with the rise of socialist slums under the leadership of the Soviet Union. For this, they used God as common to all religions. Recently, the Saudi government has clarified that it was on the instructions of the United States that it tried to send the 'Wahhabi brand of Islam' to other countries. The Saudi regime needed religion to control the people. The Saudi government informed the people that they are people of religion and that religious dictatorship reigns in their country by capturing some poor people from somewhere every week and throwing them to death! Among the Wahhabis, there was a group of religious extremists who did not fall for these dramas. It was they who launched the failed revolution in 1979. The Saudi government was able to resist and defeat it. But in the Iranian revolution of the same year, another dictator, 'Shah', who had the same American bias, fell. The reason is that while the Saudi king played a religious man, the Shah played a 'progressive' in Iran. American imperialism thus understood the power of religion in containing popular anger. The 'Wahhabi brand of Islam' was adopted as a shield to protect not only from the communist threat but also from the revolutionary-Islamic threat from Iran. The third chapter 'Blindness and Insight' sheds more light on the philosophical aspects of the subject. The fourth chapter, 'Islam and Globalization', traces precisely the dynamics of the post-Cold War era when capital powers gained momentum. The chapters on 'Shia' history provide insights into many matters that are generally unknown to Indian readers. 'Malcolm X; The chapter 'A Muslim Revolutionary' points to many issues which have been neglected by the mainstream and the Muslim mainstream. Moreover, Malcolm X's life is presented as a solution to the dichotomy of 'Islam versus the West'. Against Oppression "Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire" by Hamid Dabashi presents a compelling and scholarly examination of the intersection between Islamic thought and liberation theology, set against the backdrop of global imperialism and colonialism. Dabashi's work is both an academic and a passionate discourse, challenging dominant narratives that marginalize Islamic perspectives within the broader spectrum of liberation theologies. He meticulously critiques the socio-political structures that perpetuate oppression, arguing that true liberation is inherently linked to cultural and religious identity. Drawing parallels with Christian liberation theology, Dabashi posits that Islamic liberation theology serves as a critical framework for resisting oppression and advocating for social justice. He delves into historical and contemporary instances of resistance, highlighting the role of Islamic principles in fostering resilience and hope among oppressed communities. His analysis is rich with references to historical events, theological debates, and contemporary geopolitical issues, offering a nuanced understanding of how Islamic thought can contribute to global discourses on justice and liberation. Dabashi also engages with the works of influential Islamic thinkers and activists, emphasizing the dynamic and evolving nature of Islamic liberation theology. This book is a rigorous intellectual endeavour that challenges readers to reconsider preconceived notions about Islam and its role in contemporary struggles for justice. Through a blend of theoretical analysis and practical examples, Dabashi illustrates the transformative potential of an Islamic liberation theology that is deeply rooted in the principles of justice, equality, and human dignity. His writing is both accessible and profound, making complex ideas understandable without oversimplifying them. Overall, "Islamic Liberation Theology: Resisting the Empire" is a vital contribution to the fields of theology, political science, and Middle Eastern studies, offering a powerful vision of how Islamic thought can inspire and sustain movements for liberation and social justice in a world still grappling with the legacies of empire and colonialism. ----- A regular columnist for, Mubashir V.P is a PhD scholar in Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia and freelance journalist. 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

Did The World Not Know About Gandhi Till The Film On Him Was Released?

By Ram Puniyani for New Age Islam 5 June 2024 "In The Last 75 Years, Wasn't It Our Responsibility To Make Mahatma Gandhi Known Across The World? Forgive Me, But Nobody Knew Mahatma Gandhi '' Till The Film On Him Was Released In 1982 ------- In an interview to ABP on 29th May, Prime Minister Modi stated that "In the last 75 years, wasn't it our responsibility to make Mahatma Gandhi known across the world? Forgive me, but nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi '' till the film on him was released in 1982. When he was saying this the ABP persons interviewing him had stony expressions. They did not react to this elementary falsehood being dished out by the PM. The aim of this statement towards the fag end of the prolonged campaign for General Elections is not hard to guess. Illustration: Pariplab Chakarborty ----- Severe criticism of his ten year regime on issues of employment, rising prices, plight of farmers, paper leaks, Agni veer scheme etc. was getting traction. How to divert the attention from these core issues of people was his major concern. This outpouring on Mahatma Gandhi served another function apart from distracting attention from people's issues; it targeted Nehru and earlier Congress regimes for ignoring the popularization of Gandhi on the global arena. More than criticism of Nehru-earlier Congress regimes, actually it shows Modi’s ignorance about the life and works of Gandhi, his international prestige and his role in being the lighthouse for major figures of the World. It shows Modi’s ignorance about Gandhi’s influence on global politics from the decade of 1930s itself, much before Richard Attenborough came out with this biopic on him, based on the biography written by Luis Fisher. With Gandhi’s struggles in South Africa he came to be recognized as a major leader against apartheid. With his coming to India and leading the Champaran movement for farmers, his friend Charlie Andrews spread to the World the unique nature of Champaran Satyagrah. His unique tool of Satyagrah based on truth and non-violence began to draw the attention of the World towards the problems of the weak and exploited. Later other movements launched by him; Civil disobedience and Salt March; were widely covered in the global media. The attention paid to him was mainly a source of inspiration for the struggle for justice and the involvement of people around the concerns of the society. His lifework and messages spread with lightning speed on the global scale. On one hand; the British rulers intensified the repression in India and on the other those respecting peace, justice and non violence started noticing Gandhi’s contribution to principles of humanism at Global level. While Modi may not know the real contribution of Gandhi and his great popularity in the World since that time; he needs to know that the English Newspaper, “The Burlington Hawk-Eye”, Sunday Morning September 20, 1931, carried a full page feature on him, “Most Talked about man in the World”. The renowned American magazine, Time, carried him on the Cover as ‘Man of the year in 1931’ and on two other occasions he was on the cover of this coveted magazine. Similarly Time’s companion magazine Life also carried a feature on him. The global personalities contributing to the process of peace and justice through their works and ideas started getting attracted to him. The major scientist Albert Einstein wrote in 1939, “I believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil,” He said of Gandhi that “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Sir Charles Chaplin, inspired by Gandhi’s movement, ensured a meeting with him and the reflection of Gandhi’s values is very much there in his films, ‘Modern Times’ and ‘The Great Dictator’. In the latter Chaplin contrasts Gandhi with Hitler. Similarly French dramatist Roman Rollain in the French edition of Young India wrote, “"If (Jesus) Christ was the Prince of Peace, Gandhi is no less worthy of this noble title." Two of the major activists of the twentieth Century, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela drew the inspiration and direction for the path of their struggle from Gandhi. In an article for Hindustan times in 1959 King wrote, “I came to see at a very early stage that a synthesis of Gandhi’s method of non-violence and the Christian ethic of love is the best weapon available to Negroes for this struggle for freedom and human dignity” And finally the massive and prolonged struggles of Nelson Mandela had the underlying values derived from Gandhi’s life and teachings. He lauded “Mahatma Gandhi combined ethics and morality with a steely resolve that refused to compromise with the oppressor, the British Empire.” Modi should just know that today there are a large number of Universities in the World where Gandhian studies are a part of their curricula. There are many schools trying to teach his values. Nearly 80 global cities have Gandhi Streets and Gandhi statues installed in their prominent places. As far as films are concerned our own Films Division had come out with a documentary film, made by Vithalbhai Jhaveri much before Attenborough. As a matter of fact Attenborough saw this film twice and advised the lead actor of the film, Ben Kingsley to watch it to understand Gandhi’s mannerisms etc. As for the Modi allegation that the previous regimes did not do anything to popularize Gandhi in the World, even in the making of Attenborough film, Indian Government through National Films Development Corporation contributed a major sum for making this film. For Mr. Modi’s information, the Attenborough film is dedicated amongst others to Nehru also. It was Nehru who advised him not to present Gandhi as a superhuman being, but as the one with all his weaknesses and strengths as he led the nation. Gandhi’s international reputation is not due to films but films have been made due to his fame and reputation. The number of books written on and about him is an astounding number. As the election campaign has come to a halt, on the pretext of this diversionary statement on Gandhi, we can revisit the father of the Nation, whose teachings on harmony and peace are far more relevant today than when he preached and practiced those. ----- Ram Puniyani is president of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. 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

An Ideal Husband from an Islamic Perspective

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 5 June 2024 Islamic Perspective on Husbandhood Main Points: 1. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasized the importance of treating his family well and showing good manners. 2. The Prophet's life is a guiding beacon for men, demonstrating kindness, love, affection, cheerfulness, forgiveness, and respect for family. 3. The worst individual is the one who causes trouble in his family. 4. Husband and wife are a source of comfort for each other, as stated in the Holy Quran. 5. An ideal husband should be caring, loving, morally good, forgiving, and compassionate, as these are the teachings of the Prophetic teachings. ------ What does it mean to be a husband from an Islamic perspective? Is it merely his job to provide his family with food, housing, and clothing, or does he have additional responsibilities? In this article, we'll look at what an ideal husband should be from an Islamic perspective. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The best among you is the one who is the best to his family, and I am the best from you to my family.” This hadith was narrated by Hazrat Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) (Jami Tirmidhi 3921) Hazrat Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best of you are those who are best to women.” (Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihayn 7407) Ahl means "family" in Arabic, which encompasses blood relations, spouses, children, friends, loved ones, and peer groups. According to the hadiths cited above, the best person is the one who treats his family with kindness and respect. Although Islam instructs Muslims to treat all members of society with goodness and grace, this hadith concentrates on the family since being a decent family member, especially with one's wife, is difficult and deserves praise. Allah Almighty states in the Holy Quran: “And deal with them (women) kindly.” (4:19) Hazrat Abdullah Bin Abbas clarified that this verse is about those who despise their wives and misbehave with them. Throughout the verse, Allah Almighty commands men to treat women well. This verse serves as a reminder to people who abuse their spouse. This verse is not intended to condemn crimes against women solely during the Jahiliyyah period, but rather to teach how to interact with women of all ages. Today, our society also needs to reform in this regard. Harassing spouses, forcing them to waive the Mehr, not paying their rights, causing mental pain, sometimes having the lady sit in her parents' house and sometimes keeping her in her own house and preventing the conversation, scolding in front of others, and so on have become quite widespread. The poor wife follows her husband, who moves on like a pharaoh. Several sorts of cruelty take place in homes. May Allah Almighty make people aware of this verse of the Qur'an and prohibit them from participating in wrongdoing. Furthermore, in view of the Quranic tet, those who claim that Islam imposes severe limits on women must acknowledge that Islam either causes hardship to women or defends them from suffering. The Quran explicitly instructs men to treat their women with kindness, to make their acts and appearance appealing to them to the best of their ability, and to treat them in the same way that they wish to be treated. According to Hadith studies, some prophetic instructions for treating women are as follows: 1. When you eat, feed your wife, and when you dress, clothe her as well. Do not strike her in the face, do not speak ill of her, and if you must [temporarily] split from her, do so in the house. [Sunan Abi Dawud: 2142) 2. The worst individual is the one who causes difficulty in his family. "How does he trouble [them]?" was the question. He (peace be upon him) responded, "When he enters the house, the wife becomes terrified, the children flee, and the houseworkers become apprehensive. When he leaves the house, the wife rejoices, and the other family members breathe a sigh of relief.”[Al-Mujam al-Awsaṭ: 8798] 3. The most ideal believer is the one who has the best morals and is the gentlest with his family. [Jami Tirmidhi: 2621] The blessed life of the Final Prophet (peace be upon him) serves as a guiding beacon for us in this regard. He (peace be upon him) would welcome people to Islam, meet with delegations, attend funerals, visit the ill, and assist the needy. Despite his various obligations and responsibilities, the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was gentle and sympathetic with his blessed wife, exchanging smiles, listening to their problems, and caring for them. After Asr Salah, he would pay them a visit to inquire about their health. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would not disturb his family at night after returning from a journey, preferring to see them in the morning or evening. [Sahih Muslim: 4962] All of this indicates that men should be kind to their wives, speak well of them, show them love and affection, be jovial and casual with them, forgive their transgressions, abstain from conflict, uphold their honour, and make every effort to prevent arguments, show generosity towards them, and show respect for their families. Islam instructs women to treat their husbands like role models, just as it encourage men to be ideal husbands. To demonstrate good character to her spouse, a woman should really care for him, avoid arguments with him, respect his wishes that align with Islam, and speak to him with deference. She ought to protect his dignity and possessions while he is away. She should be full of patience and forbearance, and she ought to be appreciative of his kindness. Her moral qualities ought to inspire reverence for her husband's relatives and loved ones, and she ought to politely inquire about them. She should be happy to see him and support his legitimate work. It is also important to note that women are allowed to work in contemporary society since a stable family needs two or more sources of income to live comfortably. They contribute significantly to the advancement of society and offer a range of services. Nonetheless, a woman is not compelled to work if she so chooses because, according to Islam, it is not her duty. Because of this freedom, women are able to contribute to the advancement of society. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had a deep affection for his wife. Regretfully, our peculiar idea of masculinity dictates that a man who loves his wife and dedicates his life to her needs to be mocked by friends and family for being a womaniser. Thus, this is incorrect from an Islamic perspective. Wife and husband offer solace to one another. That's what the Holy Quran says: “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (30:21) It is important for husbands to forgive their spouses as much as they can because mistakes are inevitable. Men should call out their wives' mistakes and encourage them to make the required corrections when their spouses make mistakes. By demonstrating forgiveness and genuine effort to find a loving solution, things can be made easier. Above all, a woman desires a man's attention. No matter how busy he is, he must find time to devote himself entirely to his wife. A woman can surely get by on less money when her spouse provides for her full-time. If he overlooks his spouse in favour of earning more money, family life may suffer. In summary, an ideal husband should be kind, loving, morally upright, forgiving, and compassionate. These are the lessons of prophecy as well. These habits, if embraced by our cultures, will be the cure to the all too common family dissolution that occurs in our communities. ------ Kaniz Fatma is a classic Islamic scholar and a regular columnist for New Age Islam. 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