Monday, June 18, 2018

The Exigency of Muslim Reform

By Syed N Asad, New Age Islam
17 June 2018
 In most of the Muslim communities debate always centres around whether a rational and practical approach to the practice of Islam is required or even possible. We confront different opinions on this question. For example, most Muslims who adhere to the rules of traditional Sharia are convinced that there can never be reform because they see Islam as a complete and perfect way of life that is unalterable. There are others who may not be devout practitioners yet are opposed to reform because they believe that any attempt to reform translates into acquiescing to the demands of the West. For them, this is a societal defeat for the Muslim civilization.
There are others still who consider the word reform to be problematic because for them it implies an emulation of Christian and Jewish reform movements.  Muslims of this category think that a Muslim reform movement will take away from the significance of Islam as the only natural and pure religion, with no human intervention over time.
 However, the question of whether reform can or cannot take place in Muslim society has already been answered through historical development. A large number of Muslims who live in developed nations, or in large urban centres in Muslim countries, and have access to information and resources have already changed the practice of their faith. Most Muslims in this situation don’t pray five times a day without guilt. Most Muslim women do not wear the “Hijab.” Most Muslims, if given a choice, do not abstain from Riba (interest on loans). It is common for Muslim women to work outside the home as a choice.
Muslim reform is not only inevitable, but it has also been occurring naturally. It is up to us to recognize this and acknowledge that most of the changes are for the good of the society. The reform that has taken place in Muslim communities is in part due to the influence of dominant western culture. Muslims’ need for contemporary education and improvement of the economy has a major influence to adjust to norms of other societies.   It includes social reforms (such as discouraging polygamy, or child marriages), educational reforms (a study of modern subjects, women’s education) or legal reforms (such as banning of Sharia laws on the punishment of theft or adultery). However, these reforms have produced mixed results and some discontent among Muslims because these changes were not Sharia-based.
The modern fundamentalist movements such as the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, Jamaat-e-Islami in South Asia and the Ikhwaan-ul-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt arose because of the widespread dissatisfaction due to deviation from the Sharia principles.
Muslims who think of themselves as “progressive” identify with the changes that have already occurred but believe that it is too risky to go any further. Their main emphasis is to differentiate themselves from orthodox Muslims who decry the changes that have taken place. The “progressive” Muslims rationalize the changes they have accepted by giving new meanings to the rules of sharia. They would say, for example, that Muslim women can work outside the home because women have equal rights in Islam.
 For Islam to continue to thrive in the world, the sharia has to be made consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have to recognize that only those teachings that contribute to personal growth, resourcefulness, freedom, and adjustment to different groups of people with ultimate achievement of happiness represent the real purpose and essence of Islam. If, on the other hand, Islamic teachings that contribute to the reduction of human potential, to discontentment, unhappiness, and lack of productivity, are false, regardless of how famous the scholar who conveys these ideas.
 We ought to question the authenticity of religious teachers and scholars if their own lives are desolate, discontented and banal. An honest teacher of Islam has to be a mentor, who has learned to solve problems in his/her own life meaningfully and can relate and share his own experiences with the followers. 
Furthermore, Islamic history has to be re-evaluated with objective methods of Historiography, so a false glorification of ancient figures no longer misleads people. The fundamental idea that will help Muslims is that the change is an inevitable part of life. Islam became a global religion because the way Prophet Muhammad taught its principles made his contemporaries into enlightened and empowered people. They became more just in their dealings with others, valued learning, welcomed strangers, discarded superstitions, removed ethnic and racial barriers, gave greater rights to oppressed classes such as women and slaves, their worship was direct and charismatic, and as a result of this dynamism their influence spread all over the known world. Reform means recognizing that the universal empowering teachings of Islam can be expressed successfully according to the maxims of every age.
Several advantages will come from pro-active reform. Muslims can re-interpret teachings in the Quran and Hadith in ways that empower and enlighten themselves and others around them in the modern era. If this type of reform is realized, Muslims will be able to uplift themselves without being alienated from their core values.
Dr Syed N. Asad, MD, FACP served as a vice-president and a treasurer on the executive board of IMANA (Islamic Medical Association of North America) and  a physician at Senior Friendship Health Centre, Naples, Florida. He graduated from high school in Hyderabad, India, with high honours; attended Osmania University Medical School; and completed his medical training in the United States. He taught medicine and nephrology at a New York state university for nearly twenty years before opening an independent practice.


The Importance of Zikr

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
15 June 2018
The remembrance and utterance of the name of the Creator of the Universe is prescribed in all the religions of the world. The Psalms, the Torah, the Bible and the oldest scriptures of the world --- the Vedas – sing hosanna to the Divine Creator. The tradition of uttering the name of God is also found in other religions like Manichaeism which was in vogue in Iran in the ancient times. The prophet of Manichaeism was Mani. Many modern folk religions like Sikhism, Nath Panth, Kabir Panth and Vaishnavism etc give importance to remembrance of God, rather remembrance and utterance of the name of God forms the basic practice of these religions. In these religions, remembrance alone is considered the means of salvation. Therefore, remembrance of God is the true means of attaining union with God.
The Quran attachment so much importance to Zikr that it appears that Zikr or remembrance is also a fundamental pillar of Islam though Zikr is not mentioned as one of the five pillar of Islam. Any time for remembrance is also not prescribed as is done in the case of Namaz or prayers. However, the importance of Zikr can be gauged in some verses of the Quran.
“O ye who believe! Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do this often; And glorify Him morning and evening. “(Al Ahzab: 41-42)
This universe is the creation of God and the entire universe sings His praise all the time, whether it be the mountains, plants or birds or insects. They all praise God and prostrates before Him in their own way and human beings do not understand their prayers.
“The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet ye understand not how they declare His glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbear, Most Forgiving! “(Bani Israel: 44)
Mountains and birds used to praise God along with Prophet David. Another verse of the Quran says that everything on earth praises God in its own way.
“Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And Allah knows well all that they do. “(Al Nur: 41)
Since God has created this universe and He is the Absolute Authority, He deservedly wishes that the entire universe should sing hosanna to Him and acknowledge His greatness and His blessings and bounties showered on man and all the beings on earth and in the heavens.
One gift of remembrance is that it clears man’s heart of the mischief of Satan and man’s conscience is purified. A pure heart free of satanic mischief leads man to live a pious life full of purpose and spirit of humanity. God’s remembrance also saves man from egotism, self-conceit and arrogance which are a hindrance in his union with God. That is the reason, Sufis and saints found solace in Zikr (remembrance) and mysticism or Sufism became synonymous with Zikr. Zikr is the quintessential part of Sufism or mysticism. Zikr is done in two ways--- aloud and silently. In Arabic, they are called Zikr-e-Khafi and Zikr-e-Jali. In Sanskrit they are called Jap and Samadhi.
According to intensity and depth, Zikr also named according to the degree of absorption and intensity. The highest degree of Zikr is called Sultan ul Azkar in which the whole body sings praise to God all the times, even during sleep. The heart always remains aware of the existence of God and such a person becomes very soft hearted. A verse in the Quran hints at this kind of Zikr:
“Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah's praises. “(Al Zumar: 23)
The following verse also enjoins on man to sing God’s praise abundantly:
“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. “(Al Ahzab: 21)
The Sufis found justification for Sufism in the following verse:
“But keep in remembrance the name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him whole-heartedly.”(Al Muzammil:8)
Islam does not approve of life of celibacy but at the same time it prevents Muslims from being attached to the material life on earth. Leaving everything and coming towards God means preferring the remembrance of God and holding on to the laws of Shariah fast so as not to get swayed by earthly desires. The Sufis adopted the practice of service to the mankind and loving remembrance of God.
One gift of remembrance of God is also that it makes the heart soft and pure which accepts the enjoinments of God with delight and so man fears God and does not disobey His injunctions. He is free of earthly desires.

Is Violence the Only Way Out क्या हिंसा ही अंतिम रास्ता है?

मुश्ताकुल हक़ अहमद सिकंदर, न्यू एज इस्लाम
8 मई 2018
पिछले एक दहाई के दौरान कश्मीर में प्रतिरोध के एक आला कार के तौर पर बन्दुक के इस्तेमाल की परंपरा को एक नया रुझान हासिल हुआ हैl प्रतिरोध के एक सक्रीय काम करने के तरीके के तौर पर बंदूक का इस्तेमाल साम्राज्य विरोधी विभिन्न संघर्ष का हिस्सा रहा हैl हिंसा मानव इतिहास का एक आवश्यक अंग हैl मर्किसिज्म सहित विभिन्न दृष्टिकोणों में हिंसा परिवर्तन का मूल कारण रहा हैl दूसरी तरफ इतिहास ने हिंसक संघर्ष की सीमित सफलताओं का भी मुशाहेदा किया हैl इसके अलावा अब रियासत, फ़ौज और लड़ाकों की प्रकृति भी बदल चुकी है और अब राज्य ने हिंसा के इस्तेमाल का अंतिम औचित्य हासिल कर लिया हैl रियासती और गैर रियासती तत्वों के जरिये हिंसा के इस्तेमाल के बारे में कानूनी बहस में उलझे बिना इस हकीकत को स्वीकार कर लिया जाना चाहिए कि कश्मीर में हिंदुस्तानी उग्रवादियों के खिलाफ प्रतिरोध के तरीके कार के तौर पर हिंसा को काफी लोकप्रियता हासिल हुई हैl
जम्मू व कश्मीर में बंदूक का इस्तेमाल कोई नई बात नहीं हैl राज्य और सरकार सहित विभिन्न जामातें और संगठन अपने उद्देश्य को हासिल करने के लिए इसका इस्तेमाल करती आ रही हैंl 1931 से ही सशस्त्र बागी जमातें कश्मीर की राजनीति का हिस्सा रही हैंl डोगरा सशस्त्र जमातों नें १९४७ में जब की पुरे उपमहाद्वीप भारत में आग लगी हुई थीl लगभग तीन हज़ार मुसलामानों को क़त्ल किया थाl 1947 से ले कर अब तक कई सशस्त्र संगठन हिंसा के इस्तेमाल से हुकूमत को ताखत और ताराज करने और अपने राजनीतिक उद्देश्यों को हासिल करने की कोशिश कर चुकी हैंl 1990 के दश्स्क तक यह गिरोह कुछ नवयुवकों तक ही सीमित थे और वह अपने मतलुबा नतीजे हासिल करने में नाकाम थेl लेकिन 1990 के बाद से यहाँ पाकिस्तान की मौजूदगी की वजह से नौजवानों की एक नस्ल इस सशस्त्र विद्रोह का हिस्सा बन चुकी थीl बड़े पैमाने पर सशस्त्र उग्रवाद का परिणाम क्रूर अत्याचार की सूरत में ज़ाहिर हुआ जिसकी वजह से आज कश्मीर दुनिया की सबसे बड़ी ऐसी रियासत बन चुकी है जहां फौजियों की मौजूदगी सबसे बड़े पैमाने पर हैl
हालांकि पाकिस्तान से सशस्त्र और आर्थिक सहायता प्राप्त यह सशस्त्र विद्रोह केवल अपने पहले चरण में वैचारिक दुविधा का शिकार रही है लेकिन सशस्त्र बागियों के बीच आज़ाद कश्मीर के दृष्टिकोण या इसके इस्लामी पाकिस्तान का हिस्सा बनने के हवाले से वैचारिक दुविधा का परिणाम विद्रोहियों के बीच आपसी जंग व जिदाल की सूरत में ज़ाहिर हुआl यह बगावत एक लम्बे समय तक जारी रही और सशस्त्र रियासती बागी गलत कामों में लिप्त रहेl इसके नतीजे में इंसानी हुकुक की खिलाफवर्जीयों में ज़बरदस्त इजाफा हुआ जिसकी वजह से कश्मीरी बाशिंदों ने रियासत (हिन्दुस्तान) से और दूरियाँ बना लींl
साल 2008 कश्मीर की समकालीन इतिहास में एक नया मोड़ साबित हुआl तथाकथित आबादयाती परिवर्तन और अपने विशेष और अलग पहचान पर हमले के खिलाफ आन्दोलन में हज़ारों नागरिक सदकों पर निकल आए थे इसलिए की यह सरजमीं श्री अमरनाथ श्राइन बोर्ड (SASB) को स्थानांतरित कर दी गई थीl इस शोरिश ने कश्मीर और जम्मुं के बीच एक साम्प्रदायिक और क्षेत्रीय बंटवारे की बुनियाद डाल दीबड़े पैमाने पर इस शोरिश के बाद वादी कश्मीर को जम्मू के हिंदुत्वा तत्वों की जानिब से साम्प्रदायिक झड़प और आर्थिक घेराव का सामना करना पड़ाl 2008 के अमरनाथ ज़मीन हंगामे के दौरान यह मामला काफी ज़ोरों पर था की कश्मीरी प्रतिरोध अब अहिंसक हो चुकी हैl मैंने यह कयास किया, लिखा और कहा कि ऐसा कोई मामला नहीं है क्योंकि उग्रवाद के उरूज के दौर में भी बड़े पैमाने पर अहिंसक अवामी विरोध प्रदर्शन किए गए थे जो कि बगावत नहीं थी, और हिंसक संघर्ष एक अहिंसक संघर्ष में परिवर्तित हो चुकी हैl इसलिए की हिंसक और अहिंसक दृष्टिकोण के लिए ऐसी शिक्षा व प्राशिक्षण की जरूरत होती है जो उसे बनाए रखे और उसके पायदार लक्ष्यों के प्राप्ति के लिए उसे अमली तहरीक में बदल सकेl
2010 की शोरिश के बाद कि जिसमें 130 नवयुवक हालाक हुए थेl बुरहान वाणी के उरूज से मेरा कयास और गुमान सहीह साबित हो गयाl लेकिन इस सशस्त्र बगावत का यह नया सिलसिला जिसमें या तो पाकिस्तान का दखल काफी सीमित है या बिलकुल ही नहीं है और पहले के मुकाबले में यह काफी घातक भी हैl लेकिन इस मंजर नामे में भी वैचारिक दुविधा ग़ालिब और बिलकुल स्पष्ट हैl इसका मुशाहेदा इस हकीकत की रौशनी में किया जा सकता है की उग्रवादियों के दो गिरोह बराबर असंगत लक्ष्यों के प्राप्ति के लिए आपस में ही बरसरे पैकार हैंl इस से पहले के उलट कि जब दुविधा ऐसे दो गिरोहों के बीच थी जिनमें से एक पाकिस्तान के साथ कश्मीर का इल्हाक चाहता था जबकि दुसरा गिरोह आज़ाद कश्मीर के लिए लड़ रहा थाl अब विचारों की लड़ाई उन गिरोहों के बीच है जिनमें एक पाकिस्तान के साथ कश्मीर का इल्हाक चाहता है जबकि दुसरा गिरोह यहाँ इस्लामी रियासत कायम करना चाहता हैl
अब इस्लामी रियासत का विचार कोई नया नहीं रहाl 1990 ई० में अक्सर पाकिस्तान नवाज़ उग्रवादी संगठनों ने पाकिस्तान के साथ कश्मीर के इलहाक के बाद अपना उद्देश्य इस्लामी रियासत कायम करना ज़ाहिर कर दिया हैl लेकिन 11/9 के घटनाओं ने उन संगठनों के विचार परिवर्तित कर दिया है और इस अचानक परिवर्तन के लिए पाकिस्तान की सरकारी नीति भी जिम्मेदार हैl आइएस आइएस और अलकायदा जैसी इस्लाम परस्त उग्रवादी तहरीकों के उरूज के बाद कश्मीर में इस्लामी रियासत कायम करने की बात एक बार फिर मरकजी हैसियत इख्तियार कर चुकी हैl और उसका नेतृत्व अंसार गजवतुल हिन्द नामी तहरीक कर रही है जिसकी कयादत ज़ाकिर मुसा कर रहा हैl जब दारुल कुफ्र करार देने की बात आती है तो यह भारत और पाकिस्तान दोनों को एक ही पल्ले में रखते हैंl वह हुकूमत हिन्द और उन दुसरे बागी गिरोहों के खिलाफ हिंसा का प्रदर्शन करते हैं जो पाकिस्तान के इशारे पर लड़ रहे हैं, हालांकि एक दुसरे की निंदा में प्रेस रिलीज़ जारी करने के अलावा उनके दरमियान दाखली तौर पर परस्पर मुठभेड़ की ऐसी कोई रिपोर्ट नहीं हैl
सोशल मीडिया ने जवानों की नई नस्ल को प्रभावित करने और उन्हें अतिवादी बनाने में एक मजबूत किरदार अदा किया हैl बागी और उनके हमदर्द हिंसा, मौत और शहादत को कदर की निगाह से देख रहे हैं और इससे लुत्फ़ अन्दोज़ हो रहे हैं, बावजूद इस हकीकत के की मुठभेड़ के एक आला कार के तौर पर हिंसा से काफी सीमित सफलता हासिल हुई हैl उन्हें खुश होने के बजाए हकीकत और अमली परिणाम की रौशनी में अपना विश्लेषण करना चाहिएl अधिकतर नौजवान तथ्यों को समझने से कासिर हैं क्योंकि वह जज्बाती बन चुके हैंl हिंसक मुठभेड़ के प्रति ज़बरदस्त हमदर्दी की अपनी वजूहात हैं जिनमें अवामी जगहों पर जरूरत से अधिक फ़ौज की मौजूदगी, इख्तिलाफ राय के प्रति असहिष्णुता और हर बात पर सशस्त्र प्रतिक्रिया भी शामिल हैl
मौत और हिंसा का बदतरीन सिलसिला टूटना जरुरी हैl इसकी शुरुआत हुकूमत से ही होती है जिसे अपनी सशस्त्र सेना पर लगाम कसने की जरुरत है इसलिए की कई बार नौजवान को बगावत पर भड़काने के लिए सशस्त्र सेना ही जिम्मेदार होती हैंl इसके बाद प्रतिरोध करने वाले नेताओं और सिविल सोसाइटी के ऊपर भी युवाओं को या समझाने की जिम्मेदारी आयद होती है की हिंसा के अलावा भी ऐसे सैंकड़ों तरीके और अभियान हैं जिनके जरिये वह दुनिया भर में अपनी आवाज़ पहुंचा सकते हैंl यह अहिंसक तरीके सभ्य प्रतिरोध का एक हिस्सा हैं जो विभिन्न मामलों और समाजी से लेकर सियासी तक विभिन्न संघर्षों में सफल साबित हो चुके हैंl लेकिन इन तरीकों के साथ युवाओं तक पहुच हासिल करना एक ऐसा काम है जिसके लिए काफी पसीना बहाने और सब्र व तहम्मुल को दुगना करने की जरूरत हैl
सभ्य प्रतिरोध एक सुस्त रफ़्तार अमल है लेकिन इससे इंसानी सरमाया बचता है और लम्बे समय के लिए सफल साबित होता हैl इसकी शुरुआत व्यक्तिगत परिवर्तन, और लगातार नज्म व ज़ब्त और तरबियत के जरिये अहिंसक जज्बे के फरोग से होती हैl इस नज्म व जब्त का आगाज़ चीजों को पढने और मामलों को समझने से होता है, फिर उन उसूलों को अपने ज़ेहन व दिमाग में जज़्ब करने और इसके बाद उन्हें ज़मीन पर लागू करने की जरूरत होती हैl अगर हम एक समाज की हैसियत से सब्र की कीमत अदा करने के लिए तैयार नहीं है, और अगर हम इसके लिए कड़ी मेहनत नहीं करते हैं तो इसमें कोई दो राय नहीं है की हमारे युवाओं ने जिस रस्ते को चुना है उससे सामूहिक आत्मघाती औ तबाही हमारा मुकद्दर बनने वाली हैl

Humility (Khusu) and Modesty (Tawadu) in Islam- A Source of Attaining Divine Pleasure and Maintaining Peace

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam
14 June 2018
The Arabic words ‘khusu’ and ‘tawadu’ literally mean humility and modesty. Both signify the state or quality of being humble. The virtue of humility or modesty is the opposite of arrogance, pride and haughtiness. Arrogance is an evil act in which a person praises himself instead of Allah, or he considers himself superior to others. Humility involves the idea that we are powerless and whatever we have is because of Our Lord Almighty and that we all human beings should not boast to one another. 
The humble are praised in the Quran. Allah Almighty says, “And the servants of the Most Gracious who walk upon the earth humbly, and when the ignorant address them [harshly] they answer, “Peace”. (Good –bye)” (25:63)
Walking humbly in this verse is interpreted to mean with tranquillity and forbearance (Tafsir Razi). This refers not only to walking but also to the general conduct of one’s life. (Tafsir Qurtubi)
Allah Almighty loves people who are “humble towards believers” (5:54)
Allah the Most High also says, “Prosperous are the believers who in their prayers are humble” (23:1–2)
And those endued with knowledge have been described with al-Khusu meaning humble submission, as Allah Almighty says, “Say, "Believe in it or do not believe. Indeed, those who were given knowledge before it - when it is recited to them, they fall upon their faces in prostration, And they say, "Exalted is our Lord! Indeed, the promise of our Lord has been fulfilled. And they fall upon their faces weeping, and the Qur'an increases them in humble submission.” (17:107-109).
It is reported that the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone asked if that person was proud who likes that his clothes and shoes to be neat and smart. The Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty (This statement means that good clothing and shoes do not denote pride”. Thereafter the beloved Prophet added saying, “pride means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.” (Sahih Muslim)
The foundation of humility and modesty is soft-heartedness. When the heart has humility, it is followed by the humility of all limbs and bones, since they all follow the heart, as the beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed in the body there is a piece of flesh, if it is sound then the whole body is sound; and if it be corrupt, then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart” (Sahih Bukhari)
Humility means submission to the will of Allah, while submissiveness is surrender to Allah’s will and abandoning resistance to decree of Allah. When the heart stands before Allah Almighty with full concentration, it signifies humility. Sahl b. Abdallah al-Tustari said: “Satan cannot come near the person whose heart is humble.” Muhammad b. Ali al-Tirmidhi said, “Being humble means that the flames of your passion have been extinguished and the vapours of your breast have subsided, while the light of glorification of Allah has come to shine in your heart. [At this point,] a man’s passion dies, his heart is given [a new] life, and his limbs surrender themselves to humility.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 190)
It is reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to feed [his] camel, sweep [his] house, mend [his] sandals, patch [his] clothes, milk [his] sheep, eat with [his] servant and help him grind, when he [the servant] got tired. He was not embarrassed to carry his goods from the bazaar to his family. He would shake hands with both the rich and the poor; he was the first to greet people; he would not scorn any meal of which he was invited to partake, even if this was unripe and dry dates. He made do with free supplies [of provision], he was gentle of character, generous of nature, pleasant of company; his face was cheerful, he smiled much, without laughing and showed [his] sadness without frowning; he was humble without being self-effacing, generous without being extravagant; his heart was gentle, he was compassionate to every Muslim; he would never eat his fill and he would never stretch his hand to a thing that he desired.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 163)
It is reported that Al-Fudayl b. Iyad said, “Whosoever considers himself to be important has no share of modesty.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 163)
Al-Fudayl Iyad also said: “Allah Almighty revealed to the mountains: ‘I will speak to a prophet upon one of you!’ The mountains raised themselves high in their pride. Only Mount Sinai remained modest. Therefore Allah the Most High spoke to the Prophet Moses – peace be upon him – upon it due to its modesty.” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 163)
Someone asked Hadrat Junayd about modesty. He answered, “Being compassionate and gentle toward your [fellow] creatures” (Risala Qushairyyah, p. 164)
Allah loves humility in a person. Perfect belief [Iman] will dictate to a person that he should show appreciation for all Allah’s bounties and behave humbly towards all mankind. Allah does not love the person who has pride and haughtiness, as Allah Almighty says,
 “I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right…” (7:146)
The arrogant people are deprived of the blessing of Allah and thereby they spend their life disputing about the signs of Allah. Allah Almighty says,
 “Those who dispute regarding the signs of Allah without any proof having come to them; how very disgusting this is, in the sight of Allah and in the sight of the believers! This is how Allah seals the entire heart of every haughty, rebellious person.” (40:35).
Allah Almighty says,
 “And you will see on the Day of Resurrection the fabricators of lies against Allah, with their faces blackened; is not the destination of the haughty in hell?” (39:60).
 Allah Almighty also says,
 “It will be said, ‘Enter the gates of hell to remain in it forever’; so what a wretched destination for the haughty!”(39:72)
The Quran says,
“Verily, Allah does not love those who are proud and boastful.” (4:36)
The Quran also says,
 “Those who turn away from My service out of pride will soon enter Hell being disgraced.” (40:60)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, He who has an atom of pride in him will not enter paradise. A proud man cannot love for others what he loves for himself as there is pride in him. He cannot give up hatred as there is pride in him. He cannot stand on truth as there is pride in him. He cannot control anger as he has got pride in him. He cannot accept admonitions as there is pride in him. He is not safe from accusations of the people as there is pride in him. The worst thing in self-conceit is to receive no benefit from learning, not to recognize truth and not to follow it. Allah Almighty says,
“Enter the door of Hell and live therein. How bad is the place of the proud” (37:72) (Ihyaul Ulum vol 3, p. 252-253)
Standing on the pulpit, Hadrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) once said, “Oh, people! Adopt humility because I have heard the holy Prophet (peace be upon him) say that Allah elevates the rank of the person who humbles himself for Allah. He will appear low in his own eyes, but high in the estimation of others. Allah will humiliate the person who is haughty. He will appear high in his own eyes, but will be more disgraced than a pig in the eyes of the others (Mishkat p.434)
The afore-mentioned Quranic verses and Ahadith signify the importance of humility and condemnation of pride. Pride eliminates our spiritual virtues whereas humility develops our spiritual perfection, sense of humanness and consequently becomes a source of establishing peace and tranquillity—and thus a source of attaining pleasure of Allah.
A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is a Classical Islamic scholar with a Sufi background and English-Arabic-Urdu Writer and Translator.

The Left-Liberals, Muslim Leadership and the State, Sadly: A Reply to Harsh Mander and Ramchandra Guha

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
22 March 2018
Recently, the editorial pages of the Indian Express witnessed a debate on the Muslim situation by two very well-known and respected minds of India. Harsh Mander (Sonia, Sadly) lamented that even the Congress had abandoned the Muslims politically, although much of his analysis veered around how the RSS’ and BJP’s majoritarian agenda have almost reduced the Muslims to the status of second class citizens. Guha’s rejoinder (‘Liberals, Sadly’) reminded Mander that in large measures the Muslim present is the result of lack of an enlightened and liberal leadership within the Muslim community. Both arguments are valid and important but the reality of the Muslim condition today is perhaps more complicated: one in which not just the right-wing Hindu nationalism but also the liberals and the left must be brought within the ambit of discussion.
But first things first. One of the measures of the political power of any community is its ability to represent itself. Minorities (women, Muslims, Dalits, tribals) have always been represented by others and have always possessed a subordinated consciousness. Over the years, some minorities have been successful in challenging these representations by launching powerful counter-narratives. The debate between Mander and Guha is a stark reminder that the Muslim minority has yet to come to a position of self-representation. It still needs others to represent its agonies, its fears and its failures. This is not to suggest that Muslims should be written about only others but just to serve as a reminder that the community is yet to find a voice of its own. 
The sense of alienation among Muslims has been sensitively captured by Mander. However, a direct linkage of this alienation to the politics of RSS BJP is too simplistic to say the least. In large measures, this is also the result of political practices by the Left Liberal forces. Take for example the Shah Bano case. The government of the day decided to appease the conservative Mullahs and bypass a Supreme Court judgment. This was bound to have a reaction from the majority community. Today, when right wing Hindu forces argue that no law in the country can stop them from building a Ram temple at Ayodhya, let us not forget that similar statements of superiority of faith were made by leading Muslim politicians during the Shah Bano affair. If Muslims had the audacity to claim in Parliament that Sharia was above the Constitution without the fear of being condemned, who can stop Hindus from making similar statements? Contrary to what Mander seems to suggest, Muslims must be wary of their own leadership for they have made the community vulnerable to Hindutva baiting.
And it is not just the Congress of yesteryears which succumbed to an obscurantist Muslim leadership. The left has not been far behind. One just has to remember how Taslima Nasreen was hounded out from West Bengal when the left was in power. After ruling for more than two decades, the left failed to develop a liberal Muslim leadership which believed in freedom of expression. This begs the question whether they were interested in developing such a leadership within Muslims in the first place. Muslim pauperization in West Bengal was unparalleled and yet we hardly saw any criticism of the West Bengal government on this front. To make matters worse, the left front government was put across as a viable model of progressive secularism. For the ordinary Muslim on the street, there is hardly anything to choose between dying in communal violence and dying daily of hunger and despair. Having systematically divested the Muslims of any share in political power, the left in Bengal fell back to appeasing the Mullahs in the hope that this will keep the community within their fold. How different is this from the strategic Mullah appeasement practiced by the Congress?
One can go even further. It is not just political parties but also civil society actors who have a different way of thinking when it comes to Muslims. Consider the Right to Education (RTE) Act, in itself a revolutionary idea of extending substantial rights to children of this country. But then madrasas where made exempt from the provisions of the RTE. This created a unique situation which continues to persist even today: that whereas Hindu children now have modern education as a fundamental right, the same is denied to Lakhs of Muslim children studying in madrasas. There was not even a whimper of protest from civil society actors, including, I might add, from Mander himself. This exemption was again granted for fear of alienating the Mullahs who control these madrasas. There is a distinct way of looking at Muslims in this country. The common sense is that Muslims are controlled by Mullahs who are considered as leaders of the community. This common sense is not just limited to the RSS BJP but also present in other so called secular parties including the left. And in many ways, left liberalism as it has been practiced in this country, has been complicit in producing this common sense about Muslims. The Muslim always gets identified primarily through her religious identity.
A liberal and enlightened leadership is important for any community, more so for the Indian Muslims. Guha is absolutely right that without such a leadership, the community will continue to be dictated by the Mullahs and used by different political parties for their own electoral ends. However, it is equally true that for liberalism to take root in any community, the state has to play a supportive role. From Ram Mohan Roy to the reformists movements in North, colonial and the post-colonial state extended support to the nascent currents of liberalism within the Hindu community. Without the enlightened state under a liberal Nehru and Ambedkar, reform of Hindu law would not have been possible. In fact, during the Hindu code bill debate, the state itself became the reformer of Hinduism. However, the Nehruvian state did not extend its reformist zeal to the Muslim community. Instead, we had a new theory: that reformist voices should come from within the Muslim community. For seventy odd years, both the liberals and left have steadfastly stuck to this position. The problem with this formulation is pretty obvious: that the structures of power within the Muslim community inhibit any possibility of reform. Both the political and the religious hegemons within the Muslim community actively work to subvert any process of reform as their authority flows from the maintenance of status quo.
But then perhaps the Muslim leadership cannot be blamed entirely. They have probably learnt their lessons: that the needs of the Muslim community only get fulfilled when demands are couched in religious rather than secular terms. Thus Muslims are more likely to get Urdu medium schools rather than English ones because through a series of strategic politics, Urdu has become an important religious marker of the community. Similarly, demands for modernising madrasas are more likely to get approval rather than a demand to by-pass the madrasa system by establishing good quality schools in Muslim areas. Muslim leadership is only complicit to the extent that it willingly plays along a pre-fixed agenda of the Indian state. The fine print of Muslim condition today cannot be read without any reference to the nature of the Indian state. 
Arshad Alam is a columnist with

How China and the Call to Caliphate Are Re-Writing the Script in Kashmir

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
02 April 2018
Since the killing of Burhan Wani, Kashmir has seen a fresh wave of militancy. What marked out the post Burhan agitation in the valley was increasing participation of common people from all strata, particularly youth. The funerals of militants today have been attended not just by the local village community but also by armed militants. Some of these militants are masked, and have indulged in sloganeering eulogizing the Islamic state. Zakir Musa, the current face of the IS in the valley, is a much remembered name amongst such sloganeering. Despite the state media telling us that militancy is under control in the valley, latest figures tell us that more number of youths have joined the ranks of militants over the past three years.
The simple common sense is that if more militants are being killed then this is only possible when more youths are joining the ranks of the militants. What has also happened over the years is that local people have been preventing the security forces from carrying out successful operations. Thus it will be safe to say that over the years, militancy has been become more broad based and is now having popular support. Whatever the famed TV commentators have been saying every night, serious security watchers must be worried at the prospect of deepening support for the militants.
Over the years, the ground has shifted from the organizations like the Hurriyat and we see a new language of radical Islam being spoken in the valley. The Ghzawat Ansar al Hind has been arguing for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate which is certainly new to the valley in terms of its political aspiration. Religion has always been a part of the militancy, but Islam always operated within the hegemonic trope of nation-state.
Organizations like the Hizbul Mujahidin have always had Islam as their cornerstone, but they were clear that their future lay with Pakistan. Supported by the Jamat e Islami, the option for the majority of the militants was either joining Pakistan or proclaiming independence. The nation state was therefore the endpoint of their struggle.
 What we are witnessing now is perhaps more troubling: there is no conception of the nation-state in this new breed of militancy. All struggles are for establishing the glory of Islam. Pakistan is no longer the ideal: rather the idea is to establish the rule of true Islam in Pakistan also. It is no wonder then that for this new crop of Islamic militants, leaders of the Hurriyat are seen as posing obstacles to the path of establishing Islamic caliphate. Zakir Musa’s open threat to behead those who talk in terms of nation state was only a pointer of things to come. The popularity of this youth icon threatens the established status quo of the security paradigm in the valley.
There is yet another entrant to the politics of the valley. China is now an international player ranked next only to America. Moreover it is an established hegemon within much of Asia. Its security footprint is seen from Maldives to Pakistan to Bangladesh. Of course, the Indian state cannot be oblivious to its presence.
Today, through the CPEC, the security concerns of Pakistan and China vis a vis Kashmir have become one. Attacking the interests of Pakistan now automatically becomes attacking the interests of China. As a regional player, China is looking at an increasing role in South Asia and Kashmir situation provides it with a ripe opportunity to intervene in the region. All hegemons like to intervene, and there is no reason to believe why China would not like to do so. Already, the Chinese position on Kashmir and groups like Jaish e Muhammad is very different not just from the Indian position, but also from large sections of the international community. It is the recognition of growing power of China and its willingness to intervene in Kashmir which has prompted New Delhi to go for certain conciliatory measures.
 The cancellation of the talk by Dalai Lama in New Delhi was one such example of trying to please Beijing. Over the past months, the Indian position on Doklam has also undergone significant changes. Gone is the chest thumping which New Delhi had become used to in the last four years. Now the response on Doklam has been much more subdued and diplomatic. Far from telling the Indian public that New Delhi is ready to face any challenge from China, what we are witnessing can only be called as subservience to China. Kashmir must be weighing heavily on the mind of Indian security establishment as well the realization that the sinister use of Kashmir to leverage Indians to vote in a particular way will eventually backfire.
The sudden release of Geelani therefore is not so sudden. It must be seen within the backdrop of the changing nature of militancy and the increasing role of China in the valley. Freeing Geelani from house arrest might have a number of results.
First, he might be used to control the youth on the streets of Kashmir who are increasingly becoming restive of the Indian position.
Secondly, it gives an impression that something is happening on the ground: that New Delhi is seriously considering the option of talking to the separatists in the valley. This will ward off some of the international criticism which India has faced recently on Kashmir due to its reluctance to engage in a dialogue process. It might also be designed to offset the increasing role of China in the region through initiating some confidence building measures. If Geelani can be released without much pre-condition, then it is to be expected that young boys who are behind bars just for throwing stones would be free very soon.
However, New Delhi must realise that this time, its efforts must be serious and sincere. Many a times, we have seen New Delhi making overtures to the valley and announcing a slew of measures to win back the confidence of the people. However, as soon as there is a semblance of normalcy in the valley, New Delhi goes back to its old ways of neglecting the aspirations of the valley. This mistake should not be repeated. So far, New Delhi has been successfully repelling the militants of the valley and their handlers across the border. The situation has now changed. China’s subversive potential far outweighs that of Pakistan and for this reason alone, India must tread the path of retaining Kashmir within its ambit of influence very carefully.
Arshad Alam is a columnist     

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Jinnah Redux in AMU; This Time as a Farce

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
12 June 2018
Aligarh Muslim University is in the news again. This time for punishing three of its students for consuming beer! The facts of the case seem to like this: three AMU students along with a common friend decide to have a good time by having beer. During the month of Ramzan, when members of Muslim community abstain from food and drink, this group not just decided to break this taboo but also ‘dared’ to advertise this through the social network site Facebook.
The pictures drew wide condemnation, particularly within the AMU fraternity. Some students, particularly those who thought that there was a political career to be made out of this, filed an FIR against these three students. The AMU establishment has so far been silent but the students have been suspended from various cultural clubs of the university to which they belonged. The FIR became news and there was backlash against these students on the social media, particularly from the Muslim community. Some of the posts actually suggested that they should be treated as apostates and hence were liable to be killed. Understandably so, the all three students are in hiding, have switched off their phones and have de-activated their social media accounts. Under tremendous pressure, they find themselves without any support from the wider liberal establishment. Friends suddenly have turned into foes and what is worse, they have had a loss of face within the local community to which they belonged.
Few weeks back, the AMU community passionately defended Jinnah’s portrait on the walls of its student union. However, instead of taking the issue of Jinnah’s culpability within partition frontally, they prevaricated and instead concentrated their energy on the police violence which followed the protest by right wing Hindu groups. The point that one is trying to make is that they should have categorically stated the obvious: that Jinnah cannot be held solely responsible for India’s partition. In power at that time were three players: Congress, the Muslim League and the British. All three therefore must be held responsible for partition for if they had wanted to prevent it, it could have been done.
Instead the AMU community went off on a tangent: digging into history to prove that Hindu right wing also held similar views and therefore should be blamed for partition. The point remains that as compared to the dominant powers, the Hindu right wing groups were a minor force at that time and therefore cannot be held responsible for partition.
Every crisis presents an opportunity. The AMU community lost an opportunity to dispassionately debate Jinnah’s place in modern Indian history. But then, we all know that Jinnah’s obstinacy was legendary. Not satisfied with the way AMU treated him, his ghost has now come back in the form of the present crisis. Jinnah loved his wine and must be eager to see whether AMU turns its present beer crisis into a dialogic opportunity of new engagements.
The response of AMU authorities so far has been downright farcical. In punishing these students by removing them from various cultural clubs they have turned the idea of culture upside down. More importantly, it  refuses to learn any lessons from its past mistakes.
Many years ago, there was Professor Siras who died in mysterious circumstances after AMU initiated disciplinary action against him for the simple reason that he was gay. Instead of throwing out students who had deliberately and criminally intimidated Professor Siras, AMU authorities started preaching morality lessons to a teacher who was marginalised in more than one ways.
Something similar seems to be happening now. The very failure of the AMU authorities to condemn the fanatic behaviour of a section of students will be taken as an affirmation. In keeping silent, AMU establishment today is complicit in threatening and silencing three of its own students. If under tremendous pressure they contemplate suicide or are nearly lynched after coming back to campus, AMU authorities will be solely responsible to allow such a thing to happen.
That a fair share of Muslims enjoy their drink is no secret. There are many within AMU who do so. There are those who give up drinking during Ramzan. There are those who don’t. And then there are those who fast during the day but enjoy their drinks in the evening! I am sure that those who are protesting against the irreligious and ‘indecent’ behaviour of these young adults know this very well. Then what single out these three students? It seems that the greater part of the problem is not drinking but being open about it. In other words, these students are being punished not so much for drinking but for not being discreet about it. AMU needs to decide whether it wants to create a culture where hypocrisy is rewarded and honesty punished.
The larger issue of course is about space for dissent and difference which should be provided by all communities, more so by a university like AMU. As an important institution within the Muslim society, AMU should be at the forefront for the struggle in favour of free speech and freedom of being. For after all, it is the minority communities and those at the margins who are at the receiving end when freedom of speech is curtailed. History has taught us that it is in the interest of minorities themselves that they should be the champions of personal liberty and choice. Instead what we see is quite the obverse.
Muslim society is increasingly convinced that it needs to police the behaviour of its members. Certainly one cannot hope for freedom and democracy within the wider society without championing these values within one’s own community. What is more worrisome is the Muslim anxiety to define itself solely as a theological community. If theology starts marking the boundaries of behaviour, the language of rights becomes the first casualty and the communities only stultify further. 
There are enough problems which AMU should worry about. A few students drinking beer and showing it off during Ramzan should be the least of its worries.
Arshad Alam is a columnist     

Home’s Not Permanent Here

By Roshan Shah, New Age Islam
09 June 2018
There is no other like the Lord—there is no equal to Him. He embellishes this world and the world hereafter, and He gives us our permanent home there. He rescues us from the world-ocean; never again do we have to run the cycle of reincarnation.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 136)
Tira had been living in the city for over a decade. In this period, he had changed houses half a dozen times.
Tira was tired of shifting every now and then. He didn’t want to continue living as a tenant in someone else’s house. As a tenant, you never knew when your landlord might ask you to vacate.
Tira really wanted to have his own house. “How I wish I could have a place which I’d never have to leave!”, he would think.
One day, Tira was with his friend Boki and was telling him about how fed up he was of being a tenant and how we wished he could have a permanent home of his own (Of late, this had become almost his only topic of conversation).
“You say you don’t want to be a tenant,” Boki interrupted Tira. “But do you realize that you have absolutely no choice in the matter? You just have to be a tenant till the time you die!”
“What do you mean?” asked Tira, startled.
“The fact of the matter is that we—all of us—are just tenants in this world. We reside here for a while—maybe 70 or 80 years or whatever—and then our ‘lease’ expires and we have to vacate the world. And then off we go we don’t know where! That makes us like temporary tenants here, doesn’t it? Some people’s ‘tenancy’ may be for just a few years. Others are longer-term tenants, but they’re tenants all the same!”
“Hmmm...I never thought of it like that before,” Tira murmured.
“Okay, you didn’t, but you could do that now!” Boki laughed. “It also means that people who own a house actually aren’t owners of it in the absolute sense—because God is the actual owner of everything. Whether it’s a palace or a hovel, they have to vacate it one day, when God calls them back. So, from that point of view they are temporary tenants too.”
 “This is really interesting!” Tira remarked.
“And we’re tenants in another way,” Boki went on.
“How?” Tira asked. He was finding what Boki was saying really fascinating.
“We’re tenants of our bodies as well. Our bodies are houses that we temporarily occupy, for the period we’ve been allotted on Earth. Then, one day, God orders that we must exit our bodies and move on elsewhere,” Boki explained. “If you consider this, you’ll realise that every creature on Earth is just a tenant, temporarily inhabiting a body that itself is temporary.”
“My goodness! Boki, what you say makes real sense!” Tira remarked.
“I don’t say you shouldn’t look for a place you can call your own,” Boki explained to his friend. “But do remember that there’s no place on Earth that can be ours for all time, our permanent home that we’ll never ever have to quit. It’s good to be aware that even if we have a house that we call ours, we’ll always be tenants in the sense I’ve explained as long as we are in this world,” Boki said.
The two friends fell silent as they reflected on the words they had exchanged.
After a while Boki spoke again. ”So, the next time someone asks you for your ‘permanent address’, you tell them what they want to know but you could also tell them that there’s really no permanent address for anyone in this world in the ultimate sense and that we’re—all of us—just temporary residents here, for just a while,” he said.
“Boki, I didn’t know you were so wise!” Tira exclaimed.
Neither the kings, nor their subjects, nor the leaders shall remain. The shops, the cities and the streets shall eventually disintegrate, by the Hukam of the Lord’s Command. Those solid and beautiful mansions—the fools think that they belong to them. The treasure-houses, filled with wealth, shall be emptied out in an instant. The horses, chariots, camels and elephants, with all their decorations; the gardens, lands, houses, tents, soft beds and satin pavilions—Oh, where are those things, which they believe to be their own?
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 141)