Friday, October 22, 2021

Terrorism Is A Result Of Current Salafism, And Hence We Should Reform It Because All Laws Are Not Appropriate In All Circumstances: Sheikh Kalbani

Reforming Salafism Is Essential To Curb Terrorism Main Points 1. The ideological origin of ISIS is Salafism 2. Terrorist ideology may impact our children if we neglect our responsibility of not imparting them the proper guidance 3. Declaring a Muslim a Kaafir and an apostate in order to justify his assassination has become cancer against which no one dares to speak out. 4. Sheikh Kalbani: Certain things are incompatible with our current situation. As a result, we should adapt our approach and attitude to the needs of the time, and recognise that all rules are not suited for all situations. ..... By New Age Islam Staff Writer 22 October 2021 Sheikh Kalbani ------- When you declare that the terrorism that is taking place in the name of Islam is based on Wahhabism or Salafism, some people will assume you are saying this because you are not a Wahhabi. They will blame you for inciting sectarianism. However, dear readers! This isn't the case at all. While denouncing Wahhabism and Salafism, Sheikh Kalbani, a well-known preacher from the same sect and former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, remarked that terrorism is, of course, a product of Wahhabism and Salafism. During an interview, he explained how terrorism is an offspring of Salafism, adding that Daesh follows the same Salafist methodology as Saudi Arabia, with only minor variances in how those who violate the Sharia are punished. On January 22, 2016, Sheikh Kalbani triumphantly announced on MBC-TV in Dubai that ISIS (Daesh) shares the same essential principles as he and his fellow Muslims. He rejects the (insulting) claim made by Western media that the Islamic State was established by "foreign intelligence." He comes to the conclusion that foreign intelligence services do not create anything; rather, they make use of what already exists. ISIS adheres to Salafism, which is originated in Saudi Arabia, according to the preacher. Sheikh Adel Kalbani stresses that no other Islamic party, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Qutbism, Sufism, and Ash'ari, is capable of such better ideas. Everyone gets his "inspiration" from "our books" — the Saudi Salafi doctrines and books. ISIS, according to the cleric, is the consequence of Islamic revivalism rather than foreign interventions in Syria, Iraq, Libya, or Tunisia. Here is the full interview: Media anchor: Sheikh Adel Kalbani, do you believe ISIS is a result of Islamic revivalism? Sheikh Kalbani: There is no doubt about this. No doubt. Media anchor: in another occasion, you said that ISIS is an offshoot of Salafism. How is that? Sheikh Kalbani: Look, some brothers say it was created by intelligence agencies, but intelligence agencies do not create new things. They exploit what already exists. So they exploited who was adopting this thought, and ISIS had adopted Salafist thought. It is not the Muslim Brotherhood’s thought, Qutbism, Sufism, or Ash’ari thought. They draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, from our principles. Who criticizes them the most do not criticizes their thought, but their actions. We do not criticize the thought on which it is based, such as the concept of apostasy (Murtad). Why don’t we explain this, and establish who is to determine the punishment, and so on? Instead, we discuss the way people are executed, saying that it is brutal that it ruins our image in front of the world: if we execute them in a way that does not show us in a bad light, then that’s fine. Therefore, the ideological origin is Salafism. Intelligence agencies and other countries might have taken advantage of this, helping ISIS to develop, providing them with weapons and ammunition, and directing them. No doubt, those behind them take advantage of this, but they exploited our own principles, which can be found in our books, among us. We follow the same thought but apply it in a refined way. You know, if someone contravenes...when some journalists were killed, it was a result of specific fatwas. Even with some scholars, they were punished and then blood was shed, according to Salafist fatwas, and not outside the Salafist framework. < Senior Saudi Imam of Mecca: ISIS Ideology Comes From Our Books, Our Principles; We Follow the Same Thought - Salafism In his Arabic essays published in Al-Riyad, Sheikh Kalbani denounced the roots accessible in the Salafi stream that justify the slaughter of their opponents, as well as the clerics and community that dared not step out to refute them. Instead of rejecting and denouncing any new thought, Kalbani suggested that clerics must take their heads out of the sand and move with the spirit of the times. Following are the translated versions of his two writings, as well as a summary of some of the key points presented in them. .... Is Terrorism A Salafi Product? Sheikh ‘Aadel Al-Kalbani Whenever we watch the nets of temptation snatching our young people, and its threads pulling them into an abyss from which they only emerge with blood-soaked fangs, we remark, regretfully biting our fingers, "Where did this come from?" And how did they fall into it, as if we hadn't been able to do anything previously? They have strayed primarily as a result of our neglect. By our neglect, I mean the neglect of the parents’ generation as well as the neglect of the honourable members of society such as clerics, teachers, preachers, jurisprudents, and sociologists who are directly involved in that society. The words, the books, the sermons, the dramas, and all the artistic creativity and the essential link [to the audience] that these people present in all the media, whether print, radio, or television, [allow them] to monitor the ideas of the young people and to participate in balancing them. I exclude [of course] that tiniest of minorities whose throat is parched from warning about the extremism of the Salafis Yes, this is the plant that has sprouted in the garbage dump of those who excessively pass judgment on others and pretend to represent Salafism. How gravely they have accused others of apostasy, of deviating from the right path, of heresy, and of licentiousness – as if the arena lies open before them and there is nobody to condemn them and no judge to punish them. Furthermore, they are received with feigned respect and admiration, and opportunities have been opened to them to plant in the minds of our young people that this one has gone astray and that one is an infidel and the other one is lax in religion. Even the greatest of clerics, past and present, are not spared their arrows. They spread the principles of Islam in a twisted manner that makes them incomprehensible or distorted, and preserve things that negate Islam. They measure the judge, the educated, and the student, and even the simple folk by what they [i.e. these extremists] have learned by heart [but] do not understand, and think that they are entitled to rule that the above mentioned are apostates and to call down upon them the punishments of Allah that are no longer implemented and [by so doing, they think that they will] restore the glory and splendour of monotheism. “This group thinks that no one but itself and its supporters is the source of good and the defenders of monotheism – because [its members] imbibed with their mothers’ milk [the view] that all Muslims worldwide do not understand [monotheism] and that they are not worshipping only Allah but are polytheists who worship graves… and that there are no just clerics besides their own clerics and their disciples. [They think that] only a cleric whom they love, whom they heed and obey, and on whose say they reject or validate [others] – only he holds the truth and acts in accordance with the ways of[Islam’s] just forefathers… They spread out and multiply, and publicly call for following in the footsteps of some sheikh and for accepting his words in full. They have begun to classify people, preachers, and clerics – [for example,] this sheikh shouldn’t be listened to because he is more loathsome than the Jews and the Christians, and that fatwa deviates [from the right path], so it is forbidden to pray behind anyone who adopts it, or to sit with him, eat with him or respect him. They have begun… to separate the young people from the clerics who understand the result of [this activity by them] and what difficulties they are going to cause the nation. Actually, there is no connection between the path of these extremists and the [true] path of the Salafis – which is tolerance, compassion, and gentleness, and in which there is no place for extremism and [religious] fanaticism. [Salafism] is a path that spreads love, brotherhood, and acceptance of the other among Muslims and coexistence with non-Muslims. But the thing is to understand it and to implement it – and not [just to] pretend [to do so] – in a way that is compatible with the deep roots of the past and with the demands of the present. [However,] what is needed is a perception for reforming ideas, not admonitions, reproof, reactions and word-sparing that deal with the symptom and ignore the disease! There is still enough time to rehabilitate [these ideas], ideologically and practically, and to prevent society from splitting into sects and groups that throng after dignitaries who are enveloped in an aura of immunity [to sin and error] and sanctity, with each group thinking that it has the right to guide the nation and recruit its young people. “A plant is always like its roots. If we want a good, fruitful plant, it is incumbent upon everyone to care for its roots, its water sources, the spread of its branches, and the fertility of the earth [from which it grows], and to protect it from ideas and viruses that turn its fruit and seeds to poison from which the generations sip and on which the young people grow up; from [these seeds] sprouts a plant that has in it no place for compassion and to whom love and friendship are totally alien.” “We Remain Trapped In the Dungeons of the Very Distant Past”; We Should “Rely On the Past as A Foundation” For Building the Present And Future, Not Destroying Them …… The Chains of the Past Sheikh ‘Aadel Al-Kalbani We never stop elevating the past at any cost, so much so that it has taken over our lives and thwarted our management of our present, and I do not know what it will do to our future. We claim that the past is the perception, the deeds, and the outlook of the forefathers [of Islam], to the point where if a catastrophe happens to one of us, he hastens to seek a solution for his catastrophe in a book written hundreds of years ago! And then we shout loudly, ‘Islam is compatible with every time and every place [!]’ “What is very strange is that we remain trapped in the dungeons of the very distant past, chewing over the words of Malik [bin Anas], may the peace of Allah be upon him, ‘The last of this Ummah will not be successful unless they follow the same [pattern] that was successful in the hands of its first ones,’ and think that what it means is that we must remain in the first century of the era of the mission [of the Prophet Muhammad], in the same style of life, and in the same patterns and knowledge that he had. “From these words [of Malik bin Anas] I do not understand that our past [must] control our present and constrain our future; rather, I understand that [the past] is what caused the Prophet’s honourable Companions to change their perception, and brought about their wonderful transition from the caves of darkness and straying into the light of truth. What improved the situation of the first generation [of Islam] was not preserving the heritage of the forefathers and the ideas of the previous generations, but the complete opposite. The first generation [of Islam] abandoned the [pattern] of blind imitation, and with the descent [of Quran 96:1] ‘Recite in the name of your Lord,’ the use of the mind began, after it was neglected for many centuries; the wagon of change began to move and to shift the bitter reality full of oppression, backwardness, and idolatry with lofty and clear rational truths. They [the members of the first generation] opened their eyes to what had [always] been in front of them, but which the fog of imitating what their forefathers did had prevented them from seeing… until the honoured Quran arrived and removed this fog and enabled them to see what they had been blind to, and to distinguish what they had not noticed [before]. In the same spirit, I want the past to free us from the yoke of the backwards present – not drag us towards it. I want our past to make us see reality as it is, and for us to rely on it in the areas of development and culture, and for us to emerge from it with momentum towards the horizons of the future and with an enlightened perception. This [should be done] under the direction of the two revelations [the Koran and the Sunna] – and not by means of the opinions of people who have invested most of their efforts in studying that era [of early Islam]. “We should rely on the past as a foundation from which we head out to the future and to the building of the present; this is better than turning the past into [something] that binds our hands and arouses among us rivalry, conflict, and opinions for which we fight and as a result of which we weaken and splinter. Had we done this [from the outset], we would be sitting on the throne of the pinnacle of culture. We must acknowledge that our past contains things that are not compatible with our present. The religious collapse of the West happened only after it became fully aware of the depth of the yawning chasm between the scientific knowledge that serves the culture that the human mind has attained and the religious beliefs and laws set out by the church, which included beliefs that had been distorted or misunderstood, or were not appropriate for every time. From among those who call for absolute adherence to the past there has emerged a young generation that defends and fights for opinions and ways that are devoid of the [the correct] Islamic concepts and religious views that can guide the Ummah in the right direction. This gang, that has granted itself the right to banish minds, has not grasped the situation of the Ummah, and has not managed to adapt to [today’s reality]; therefore its path is to subdue the other or to accuse him of apostasy and of deviating from the right path. [These people] can be found in all walks of life, preventing men of insight from advancing and catching up to the present and anyone who criticizes them and points out their mistakes is accused of being Khawarij – an accusation tailored for such [critics]. Anyone who talks about women’s rights is deviating from the right path and is loathsome and is lax in religion. Anyone who expresses a wise opinion that has been covered up and ignored because it contradicts their Salafism is going against the vast majority of the people… and so on… What is strange is that these radical extremists who accuse their opponents of heresy and of apostasy acknowledge neither the stagnation of their own perception and ideas nor the worthlessness of their religious law and thus do not recognize that they have left seeds that are today inflicting suffering and torment on the Ummah.” ...... Important Points Drawn From the Two Articles of Sheikh Kalbani In the articles above, Sheikh Kalbani has brought forward some excellent points and facts. He states that the terrorist ideology may impact our children if we neglect our responsibility of not imparting them the proper teachings of Islam. And we'll have no choice but to bite our fingers regrettably if that happens. Our academics, instructors, and preachers too have a responsibility to properly educate the children of the Muslim community so that they are not misled by terror doctrines. Sheikh Kalbani wants to say that we have an ideology in which our people issue Takfiri fatwas, as well as the ideology of declaring a Muslim an apostate or Mushrik, on the basis of which everyone rises up and issues a fatwa of disbelief and apostasy on his opponent, justifying his murder and assuming that he has a free hand to kill whomever he wants and leave whomever he wants. Declaring a Muslim a Kaafir and an apostate in order to justify his assassination has become cancer against which no one dares to speak out. On the contrary, our youngsters are taught that such and such a person is a Kaafir, that such and such a person is a polytheist, that such and such a person is an apostate, and that even our great scholars are not immune to this Takfiri fatwa. It's a pity that Islamic ideals and beliefs are being perverted. These terrorist Takfiri groups consider themselves to be supporters of the truth and most ardent defenders and proponents of monotheism. They want to instil in our children's minds that only they are true believers, while the rest of the Muslims are grave worshipers, polytheists, or apostates, and therefore they should be killed, and that only their scholars and Ulama are devout, while the others are not. They regard themselves as pious Salaf followers, whereas the rest are considered traitors to the pious Salaf. . If we do not put an end to such beliefs and philosophies, we will continue to see carnage and murder. In reality, there is no link between such Takfiri gangs and actual Salaf adherents. Compassion, brotherhood, peace and security, and forgiveness are central to the Salaf way of life. The way of the Salaf genuinely teaches to live with fairness, peace and tranquillity with both Muslims and non-Muslims. Kalbani believes that the “Salafists” must cease preaching Takfiri ideology which justifies the killing of Muslims and other people. Only if we succeed in this will we be able to claim to be true Salafists. He wishes to emphasise that the current Salafist ideology is diametrically opposed to Salaf teachings. One of the most important arguments made by Kalbani in his second piece is that certain things are incompatible with our current situation. As a result, we should adapt our approach and attitude to the needs of the time, and recognise that all rules are not suited for all situations. All of these tasks should be done with the help of our intelligence and logical reasoning. 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, October 21, 2021

Celebration of Eid Milad un Nabi – An Act Permissible in Its Essence

By Kaniz Fatma, New Age Islam 21 October 2021 Celebrating the Prophet's Birthday Is Permissible In Islam; Hence No Fatwas Declaring Impermissibility Should Be Issued Main Points: 1. Answering the objection that you commemorate the birth of the Holy Prophet on this day but why don't you mourn his death on this day? 2. The followers of Ibn Abdul Wahab and Deobandi scholars hold that celebrating Eid Milad-un-Nabi on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal is bid'at. 3. Previously, the ulema of Deoband and Jamaat-e-Islami refused to participate in Eid Milad-un-Nabi processions. They have now begun to take part in the Mildaun Nabi parade. 4. According to the Qur'an, Sunnah and legal theorists and jurists, the original rule for all acts and things which are not mentioned by the text is permissibility. 5. Therefore, holding meetings to narrate the virtues and biography of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and other celebrities of Islam and expressing happiness on their birthdays are permissible. ----- The day before Yesterday Eid Milad-un-Nabi was celebrated with happiness all across the world. On the other hand, some Wahhabi-minded social media users were seen objecting to the celebration of Milad-un-Nabi and quoting fatwas against the Milad. They believe that commemorating Miladun Nabi is one of the worst innovations [bidat-e-sayyeah]. It's quite surprising when someone says anything like that and this shows that they don’t follow the divine command which urges the believers to ponder and think. The objection is frequently raised that the Holy Prophet's birthday is on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, and according to some traditions, it is also the day of his death. You commemorate the birth of the Holy Prophet on this day. Why don't you mourn his death on this day? The answer is that Islam commands us to rejoice over and thank for a blessing and forbids us from mourning the loss of a blessing. Then why should we sorrow and mourn? The second response is that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is still alive. He was once a resident of Dar-ul-Taklif but currently resides in Dar-ul-Jaza and Paradise. The Ummah’s actions are presented to him. When his Ummah commits good things, he thanks and praises Allah Almighty, and when they do wrong, he requests pardon for his Ummah. He answers to visitors’ greetings and asks prayers for those seeking intercession, and he is engrossed in the observation of God Almighty's characteristics, and his ranks and degrees continue to rise every minute. What is the use of mourning when the beloved Prophet himself has stated that both his life and death are beneficial to his Ummah? (Al-Wafaa Bi Ahwaale Mustafa, p. 5) Mufti Muhammad Shafi Deobandi [d.1396 Hijri] writes: “Christians celebrate Eid Milad on the birthday of Jesus (peace be upon him). As a result, some Muslims commemorate the birth of the Holy Prophet with Eid Milad-un-Nabi (peace be upon him). On that day, they organize processions in the bazaars, practice various superstitions, and light the lamp at night as a form of worship. This has no basis in the conduct of Ummah’s companions, Sahaba and Salafs.” (Ma'arif-ul-Quran, Vol 3, p.35, Idaratul Ma’arif, 1397) In response to a query during an interview, Syed Abul-A'la Maududi (d. 1399 AH) replied, "First and foremost, you should have questioned if there is a concept of Eid Milad-un-Nabi in Islam or not." This event, which is said to be commemorating the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), is not truly Islamic. In Islam, there is no proof of this. This day was not even commemorated by the Companions. Alas! This is celebrated on the pattern of Diwali and Dussehra. Millions of rupees are wasted on this day. (Weekly Qandil, Lahore, July 7, 2013) As evidenced by the above-mentioned quotation, followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab and Deobandi scholars create the idea that commemorating Eid Milad-un-Nabi on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal is not the method of Ahl-e-Sunnat but their invention [bid'at]. However, this is not an accurate viewpoint. Muslims, on the other hand, have traditionally celebrated the Prophet's (peace be upon him) birth in the month of Rabi al-Awwal. Allama Ahmad Qastalani (d. 911 AH) writes: In the month of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) birth, Muslims have traditionally hosted meetings and invitations, and on the nights of this month, they offer various sorts of alms, express happiness, and do additional good actions. They tell the story of the Prophet's birth (peace be upon him). On that day, they receive blessings. It has been observed that by celebrating Milad-e-Sharif, a person receives what he desires. May Allah Almighty bestow His blessings on whoever made the Mubarak Eid on the evenings of the month of the Prophet’s birthday. (Al-Mawaahib al-Ladunniyyah, vol.1, p.78, Beirut 1416 AH) Allama Jalaluddin Suyuti has written that in the thirteenth century this sort of celebration [on the day of Miladun Nabi) was not organized, but this is a beautiful innovation. Allama Ibn al-Hajj al-Maliki has rejected the denials that some worldly people have added to this process, stating that more good deeds should be done in this month and that charity, alms, and other acts of worship should be increased. And this is a praiseworthy deed as a celebration. Allama Ibn Katheer has written in his history that the king of Erbil, Malik Muzaffar Abu Saeed (d. 630 AH) was the first to hold a Milad-un-Nabi ceremony. He was a very brave scholar, wise, virtuous, and pious king. He used to spend three hundred dinars to arrange a great feast. (Al-Mawaahib al-Ladunniyyah, vol.1, p.139, Beirut 1416 AH) Previously, the ulema of Deoband and Jamaat-e-Islami refused to participate in Eid Milad-un-Nabi processions. They have now begun to take part in the Mildaun Nabi parade, and the great scholars of Sipah-e-Sahaba have begun to commemorate the birthdays of Hazrat Abu Bakr, Hazrat Umar, and Hazrat Uthman. On certain days, they hold processions and demand that the government grants them a public holiday. According to the Qur'an, Sunnah and legal theorists and jurists, the original rule for all acts and things which are not mentioned by the text is permissibility. All things are originally impermissible. That is the things or acts concerning which there is no foundational text (nass), the original rule for them is its impermissibility. The rule is that everything that did not exist in the time of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the time of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), but later came into existence out of necessity would be examined to see as to whether or not that thing is in consistence with the Qur'an and Sunnah. If it contradicts the Quran and Sunnah, it will surely be declared unlawful, forbidden, and misguided. And if it does not contradict any rules of the Quran and Sunnah, then it will be deemed lawful and permissible. To consider it misguidance or forbidden will be tantamount to contradicting the Islamic system of law and deviating from the Islamic system of permissible (halal) and forbidden (haram). Therefore, holding meetings to narrate the virtues and biography of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and other celebrities of Islam and expressing happiness on their birthdays, paying charity and alms, sending the reward of the acts of worship to the Holy Prophet, sending peace and blessings individually and collectively, reciting the complete Qur'an in the Taraweeh congregation, building large mosques, establishing libraries, writing surah and verse numbers on the Quran, constructing Mihrabs and Minbars in mosques, holding meetings for preaching and admonition, taking out processions in the days of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions, and establishing meetings for their remembrance, holding annual meetings of religious seminaries, teaching hadith and completing Bukhari, and many additional religious things that convey the religion's motto and glory are acceptable. These actions are permitted in their core, notwithstanding the fact that Islamic Sharia has neither forbidden nor mandated them. They should, however, be recognised neither as obligatory (Farz) and compulsory (Wajib), nor as banned (haram) and condemned (Makruh). When legal conduct is elevated to the position of an obligatory, the door to bid’at is opened. When God, Almighty, sent peace on the prophet Yahya's birthday and death day, it was especially significant permissibility of a birthday celebration. God the Almighty declares: "The peace is on Him (the prophet, Yahya) the day when he was born and the day when he will die and the day when he will be raised alive." (Sura Al-Maryam, Verse 15) God Almighty opened the road for Yahya's Mawlid (PBUH) by providing him peace. It's the same approach that today's majority of Muslims use to Mawlid celebrations. According to the Quran, the prophet Jesus (PBUH) celebrated his own birthday in the same way: "And the same peace on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I would be raised alive." (Sura Al Maryam, Verse 33) Milad al-Nabi is commemorated in many ways around the world. Sweets are distributed, stages are set up, and young people dress up and take out rallies reciting songs of peace and blessing upon the Prophet (PBUH). The celebration is celebrated with fanfare. There is a friendly environment, with individuals exchanging gifts and offering food to the poor and needy. Thousands of people pray in mosques decked with lights to commemorate the day. Though celebrations are held differently in different parts of the world, the main goal is to reflect on the prophet's life and his teachings. The Qur'an mentions the prophet's birthday in a higher level, closer to the heavenly realm, where God Almighty remarked, "Indeed, there has come to you Light and a clear Book from Allah." [5:15] According to widely accepted Quranic exegetes, the "Light" described here is the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), whose birth is thought to mark the beginning of a new cycle in human history and the source of the Divine message of Islam and the Noble Qur'an. Allah says in the Quran, “Isa, the son of Maryam (Jesus, the son of Mary) said: ‘O Allah, our Lord, send down to us from heaven the table spread (with bounties) so that (the day of its descent) becomes (‘Id) a festival day for us, and for our predecessors (as well as) successors, and that (spread table) comes as a sign from You, and provide us with sustenance, and You are the Best Sustainer.’ (Surah Maidah: 114) For individuals living in the age of the prophet Jesus (pbuh), his predecessors, and successors, the day the celestial table dropped is celebrated as Eid. The exegetes of the Quran have commented on this, noting that the Eid for his successors means for all humans who will arrive till the end of time. An Eid was held to celebrate a divine feast. So, what about the arrival or birthday celebration of someone who will be a blessing to all mankind? The following verses also demonstrate that the Mawlid celebration is permissible: “But call to mind the blessing of Allah upon you when you were enemies (one to another). Then He created the bond of love amongst your hearts, and by His blessing, you became brothers” (3:103) God Almighty said: “O Children of Ya‘qub (Jacob)! Recall those favours that I bestowed upon you, and that I exalted you above all the people (of your age)”. (2:47) God Almighty said: “Say: ‘(All this) is due to the bounty and mercy of Allah (bestowed upon you through raising Muhammad [blessings and peace be upon him] as the exalted Messenger). So the Muslims should rejoice over it. This is far better than (all that affluence and wealth) that they amass.’ (Surah Yunus: 58) God Almighty commands us to enjoy his grace and mercy in the passages above. God means the prophet Muhammad by grace, bounty, mercy, and favour (pbuh). We understand that each of Allah Almighty's favours is huge compassion for us. Our very being is a gift from Allah Almighty. The coming of the prophet is God Almighty's greatest mercy and favour to us, thus we should rejoice in the Mawlid observance. When asked why fasting on Monday, Allah's Messenger stated in a Hadith reported by Abu Qatada Ansari, "It is (the day) when I was born and revelation was given down to me." (Muslim, Book 6, No. 2606) The Prophet fasted on the day of his birth out of gratitude, according to this Hadith. Fasting is a type of worship; therefore one can fast or hold meetings, and feed the destitute in obedience to God Almighty. How can it be impressible to commemorate the birth of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) when there is no wrong in commemorating the birth of a normal man? Despite this, fatwas of shirk and bid'ah are issued quickly whenever the Prophet's birthday is observed. This is very wrong and therefore this should come to an end. 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, October 20, 2021

The Murder of Lakhbir Singh; the Sikhs Need to Speak Up

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 20 October 2021 The Politics around the Blasphemy Laws in Punjab Has Contributed To the Enactment of Such Horror Main Points 1. Lakhbir Singh was killed by Nihang Sikhs at the Singhu border. 2. His limbs were cut off as religious punishment; he was accused of committing sacrilege and blasphemy. 3. The near silence on the issue within the Sikh majority is worrying. 4. If the politics around blasphemy laws had been called out in the Punjab, the Nihangs and other violence prone groups wouldn’t have felt so emboldened. ----- Lakhbir Singh (left), cremation (right), images via Indian Express ----- His wrist cut off, the man in excruciating pain is lying on the ground, trying to say something to turbaned Sikhs surrounding him. These men all seem normal humans; they must be having families and loved ones. But not one of them had the humanity to take the brutalized man lying on the ground to hospital. Not one had any empathy for a fellow human; not one had any remorse for what they had done to another man. We are told that Sikhism is a religion of love and brotherhood. In large measures, its followers have demonstrated it during natural calamities and pandemics like COVID-19. It is as if helping others is the prime motto of their religion. But we saw a very different practice of Sikhism at the Singhu border, where farmers are protesting to repeal certain farm laws. A particular sect of the Sikhs, the Nihangs, are also part of this protest. The Nihangs accused a daily wager, Lakhbir Singh, of committing blasphemy by carrying a holy book to an ‘unclean place’ and eventually punished the man by cutting the opposite sides of his limbs. Lakhbir would later die due to loss of blood and a couple of Nihangs would admit to killing him and surrender to the police. These surrendered men were absolutely certain that they had acted out of pure religious conviction and were garlanded by fellow Sikhs as champions and protectors of Sikhism. If we have to give an example of how religion corrupts the soul, the killing of Lakhbir checks all the boxes. Police personnel with accused Nihang Singh for his alleged involvement in the murder of Lakhbir Singh, who was killed at a farmers' agitation site in Delhi, during a media briefing in Amritsar, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (PTI Photo) ----- A gruesome murder, when imbued with a ‘higher purpose, becomes a religious calling. We have seen this in the Christian crusades, Muslim jihad and Hindu rage to ‘avenge 800 years of oppression’. Lakhbir was lynched, his almost lifeless body put on display, hung from a police barricade. A Dalit farm labourer, his kind should have been the natural ally of the farmers as both depend on each other. Religion broke that solidarity; the severed hand becoming the symbol of much that is awful in Indian society. Whenever the word Dalit is mentioned, analysts spin it in such a fashion that the social group becomes a synonym of progressivism. Dalits are expected to resist Brahmanical hegemony simply because they are Dalits. But social reality does not present itself in neat binaries. Lakhbir Singh’s killers are Dalits themselves. But they are so taken over by religious zeal that they ended up killing a fellow Dalit without any remorse or guilt. I refrain from commenting on other religious traditions in the belief that it is up to the respective practitioners of the particular faith to raise their voice against such horrific practices. It is unfortunate that the murder of Lakhbir Singh in the name of blasphemy hasn’t been resoundingly condemned by members of the Sikh community. And I am not talking of political parties who have their reasons (unjustified, in my view) to remain silent on such issues. Even the voices of civil society within the Sikh community were few and far in between and filled with lots of caveats. A murder must be called out without any ifs and buts, else it will only embolden the killers. If one is calling the murder ‘unfortunate’ but at the same time not taking a position against blasphemy, it only means that one is missing the woods for the trees. The sad truth is that the Sikh majority has not only remained silent on the issue of blasphemy but have in fact demanded that it be written into a law. The Punjab blasphemy bill of 2018 had proposed a 10-year sentence to anyone who was ‘guilty of sacrilege’ to the texts of any religion and gave huge powers the police to initiate criminal proceedings. Irrespective of whether it gets enacted into a law or not, the idea itself was pernicious and had everything to do with appeal to religious passions. The Congress government and even the opposition Akalis were united in the need to have such a law. What constitutes sacrilege was loosely defined leaving many of the sects within Punjab vulnerable to this proposed draconian law. But more importantly, it told us that the government itself was promoting obscurantism and religious intolerance by becoming champions of faith. Such a law was being demanded by extreme religious groups for many decades and in placating them, the government was indirectly promoting their cause. The actions of the Nihangs at Singhu can only be understood properly if we relate it to religious politics that has been happening in the state of Punjab. Condemning the Nihangs but not speaking a word against the regressive politics of Congress and the Akalis is plain hypocrisy designed to obfuscate rather than to have any meaningful discussion on the issue. It is said that Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was hailed as “Hindu ka Guru; Musalman ka Peer” (A Guru of the Hindu; and of Muslim, a Peer). The Sikh faith, in large measures, is a testament to tolerance and non-violence. By killing Lakhbir, these zealot Sikhs have forgotten that original message of their faith. ------ Arshad Alam is a columnist. 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

Impeccable Relevance of Prophet Muhammad in the Here and Hereafter

By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam 20 October 2021 Complete Understanding of the Divinity of Prophet Muhammad Pbuh Is Beyond the Wisdom, Intellect and Knowledge of Mankind Main Points: 1. Prophet Muhammad Pbuh‘s life and his teachings have been a torch-bearer for the human being. 2. Prophet Muhammad Pbuh was respected and revered by all, be it the Christian kings, monks or respected leaders, like Monk Bahira, Waraqa ibn Nawfal or King Negus etc. 3. The continuity of Allah’s religion was completed on the ‘Seal of Prophets’, Prophet Muhammad Pbuh. 4. Islam was established with the revelation of the Holy Quran on Prophet Muhammad Pbuh. ------ A True Vicegerent of Allah Complete understanding of the Divinity of Prophet Muhammad Pbuh is beyond the wisdom, intellect and knowledge of mankind. His life and his teachings have been a torch-bearer for the human being. He lived during the most difficult times surrounded among his enemies for most of his life. He never lost his cool. He maintained his nature of justice and honesty, culture and respect with all those he met, irrespective of religion, race or position of the concerned person. He was respected and revered by all be it the Christian kings, monks or respected leaders, like Monk Bahira, Waraqa ibn Nawfal or King Negus etc. Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa Pbuh was born when the Arabian Peninsula was under the darkness of ignorance (Age of Jahiliya). During those dark times, the highest level of inhumane treatment was meted on the women, the poor and the slaves. The age of darkness was illuminated with the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The light of his being on the earth spread all around and the darkness of the age of Jahiliya disappeared. Allah the Most Compassionate revealed the word ‘vicegerent’ for the first time when He informed the angels of the formation of the world and the birth of human beings. Allah the All-Knower says in the Holy Quran: And (remember) as your Lord said to the Angels, "Surely I am making in the earth a successor." (Al-Baqarah: 30) — Dr Ghali And addressing the people of the worlds, Allah, the Exalted says in the Holy Quran: You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah… (Al-Ahzab: 21) Allah knew the truest of His vicegerents in the world will be the holiest of everything that Allah created. Allah, the Most Gracious created human beings and sent His messengers from among them. The continuity of Allah’s religion was completed on the ‘Seal of Prophets’, Prophet Muhammad Pbuh and Islam was established with the revelation of the Holy Quran on him. A Complete Human Being – Prophet Muhammad Pbuh Prophet Muhammad Pbuh lived his life according to the commandments of the Holy Quran, word by word. He possessed divine attributes of love, compassion brotherhood, Inclusiveness, patience, honesty, justice and tolerance. The truth remains that no human being can count or describe the positivities of Prophet Muhammad Pbuh. He was sent on the earth as the only 'perfect man'. All others cannot even come closer to perfection. Muhammad Pbuh's perfectness of personality impressed people of his age as well as people of different ages and classes. Scholars, philosophers and politicians of repute, all accepted the perfectness of his personality. All praised and revered him as a man of the utmost simplicity, culture and true to his words. He lived a life that only a 'perfect personality' can live. He never left his simplicity and cultured way of speech, even during the harshest and the toughest of times, in his behaviour with all and sundry. All even among his enemies respected his impeccable judgement. Here are the sayings of some of the world fame scholars, all non-Muslims that throw some light on the life of the revered Prophet Muhammad Pbuh, as understanding and describing all his attributes is beyond human being’s wisdom, intellect and knowledge: "Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him." (D.C. Sharma, The Prophets of the East, Calcutta 1935, page 122) "Perfect model for human life." (K.S Ramakrishna Rao, an Indian Professor of Philosophy) Encyclopaedia Britannica "Muhammad was a shining example to his people. His character was pure and stainless. His house, his dress, his food - they were characterized by a rare simplicity. (Dr. Gustav Well in "History of Islamic Peoples") "Muhammad is the most successful of all Prophets and religious personalities.".... he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the secular and religious levels..... (Michael Hart in "The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in the History," New York, 1978., p. 330) He was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. (Sir Bernard Shaw) He was the most faithful protector, the Sweetest and most agreeable in conversation. Those who saw him were suddenly filled with reverence, those who came near him loved him; they who described him would say, "I have never seen his like either before or after." He was of great taciturnity, but when he spoke it was with emphasis and deliberation, and no one could forget what he said... (Lane Poole in 'Speeches and Table Talk of the Prophet Muhammad’) Quranic Ayat Describing Prophet Muhammad Pbuh The divine attributes that Allah’s apostle Prophet Muhammad Pbuh was embedded with are impossible for a common human being to even carry for a moment. Allah the Exalted and All-Knower knew what it means to be His ‘Seal of Prophets’ of all the prophets of the universe, so Prophet Muhammad Pbuh was born with all the positive essence that a personality like him needed. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. (Al-Ma’idah: 32) - Sahih International Allah showed great kindness to the believers when He sent a Messenger to them from among themselves to recite His Signs to them, purify them and teach them the Book and Wisdom, even though before that they were clearly misguided. (Al `Imran: 164) Those who pledge their allegiance to you pledge allegiance to Allah. Allah`s hand is over their hands. Those who break their pledge only break it against themselves. But as for those who fulfil the contract they have made with Allah, We will give them an immense reward. (Al-Fatah: 8-10) "Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah." (An-Nisa`: 80) ....Those who believe in him, honour and help him, and follow the Light that has been sent down with him are successful. (Al-A`raf: 157) You should accept whatever the Messenger gives you and abandon whatever he tells you to abandon. Have Taqwa of Allah... (Al-Hashr: 7) O you who believe, respond to Allah and to the Messenger when He calls you to what will bring you to life.... (Al-Anfal: 24) Furthermore, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was sent as, ‘mercy to people of the worlds’: وَمَاۤ اَرۡسَلۡنٰكَ اِلَّا رَحۡمَةً لِّـلۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds. (Al-Anbiya: 107) ‘As a mercy to the worlds ‘means a being who was not meant to be a saviour of just Muslims but to everyone who preceded him or superseded him. Prophet Muhammad Pbuh’s being ‘mercy to the world’ is acknowledged by all who studied his life and his teachings. Let us rejoice and celebrate Eid e Milad un Nabi with prayers to Allah for peace and tranquillity for the entire humanity that is facing horrific times, for one reason or the other. And Allah Knows the Best. ------- Arman Neyazi is a columnist with URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Yes, There Are 2.0 Billion Islams

By Junaid Jahangir, New Age Islam 19 October 2021 With My Grasp of the Islamic Texts and Understanding of the Islamic Ethos, I Try To Learn Why Young Muslims Downplay the Diversity of Islam Main Points: 1. No two Muslims think alike, perhaps this is an illustration of Qur’anic verse 31:27. 2. But of all the grossly prejudiced and uneducated opinions, the one that repeatedly stands out is that there is only one Islam. 3. I could pontificate the difference between “Islam” as a state of security with the Divine and “Islam” as a religion unique to the teachings of Muhammad (upon whom be peace). 4. Ikhtilaf is Rahma (difference of opinion is mercy). ------ Praying to the West By Omar Mouallem Simon and Schuster Canada pg. xvii, 384, CAN $34.99, Hardcover, ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1501199141 ----- Why Omar’s book? I mentioned in my 2019 Tedx talk on LGBTQ Muslims in Islam that there were 1.6 billion Muslims in the whole wide world and by extension there were 1.6 billion Islams. It brought out the strange bedfellows that I have become accustomed to hearing from: Muslim homophobes and xenophobic Islamophobes. What unites them is their intense fear of the marginalized other, to the extent that they take it upon themselves to explode with snarky and inane comments. Often, such comments exude a sense of supreme self-importance, which is usually reflective of their underlying self-esteem and identity issues. These comments include the tropes that being LGBTQ and Muslim are absolute or binary choices, or that Muslims are practicing Taqiyya (dissimulation). Additionally, if the commenter is Pakistani, then the prejudice against Ahmadis trumps that against “the gays”, as I had included Ahmadis in my list of Muslims in the Tedx talk. But of all the grossly prejudiced and uneducated opinions, the one that repeatedly stands out is that there is only one Islam. I don’t bother with Islamophobes, as I neither have the capacity nor the interest to reach out to people, whose view of Islam is cardboard unidimensional. I am an overworked middle-aged instructor and I’ve had my share of fiery debates in my youth. At this stage of my life, I am not interested in corresponding with anyone with a sense of self-entitlement. I guess I am learning from the younger millennial and Gen Z crowd that I don’t owe that kind of emotional labour to anyone. Although, as a teacher shrouded in privilege in the ivory tower and with my grasp of the Islamic texts and understanding of the Islamic ethos, I try to learn why young Muslims downplay the diversity of Islam. Often my search leads to their profiles that reek of videogames and popular culture but who otherwise are quite rigid when it comes to Islam. I am not sure if I can reach out to this crowd that imbibes its Islam from YouTube celebrity cult speakers like Nouman Ali Khan, Zakir Naik, Mufti Menk, or Mohammed Hijab amongst others. And this is why I am extremely appreciative of Omar Mouallem’s newly released book Praying to the West: How Muslims Shaped the Americas, especially when he writes that, “the Prophet democratized the Muslim clergy while stressing their fallibility. If any man can be an imam, and none of us are to be worshipped, then imams are not to be worshipped” (p. 84). From here on I will refer to him as Omar instead of Mouallem, as I know him well and I wish to personalize this review. The Pluralism of Primordial Islam On my part, I could pontificate the difference between “Islam” as a state of security with the Divine and “Islam” as a religion unique to the teachings of Muhammad (upon whom be peace). The latter is a post Muhammad development for the constitution of Medina was clear that the Ummah Vahida (single community) comprised not just of Muslims, but Jews, Christians, and those that were part of the fledgling Medinese community. Indeed, Rabbi Muhayriq died fighting side by side with Muslims at the Battle of Uhud and the Prophet’s armour was with Avi Scham at the time of his death. The later anti-Semitic texts are also a post Muhammad development, when zealous converts brought their prejudice to Islam, which is why we see the superimposition of a Roman massacre of Jews on to what later became known as the massacre of the Banu Qurayzah. The work of Imam Mohamad Jebara is worth reading on such issues, as is Mohammad N. Miraly’s master’s thesis, The Ethic of Pluralism in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s Medina. In short, primordial Islam upheld pluralism with a multiplicity of paths and salvific exclusivity was a later development. And this is precisely why there are multiple Islams with infinite permutations and combinations of theological positions on multiple issues. No two Muslims think alike. Perhaps this is an illustration of Qur’anic verse 31:27 that reads, “If all the trees in the earth were pens and the ocean, with seven more oceans, were ink, still these could not suffice to record all the Words of God.” And this is why I mentioned in my Tedx talk that I can only speak for myself, in stark contrast to many young Muslims, who are quick to use the royal “we” pronoun to speak for an entirety of 2.0 billion Muslims. Come to think of it, the differences at times are so magnified that Barelvis and Deobandis have historically passed takfir (excommunication) on each other in the Indian subcontinent. Within Shia Islam itself there are multiple denominations like the Ithna Asharis, Zaydis, Ismailis, Bohras, and there are further subdivisions even within these subgroups such as the Bohras, who further split based on the Syedna they choose to follow. And this difference is not just on obscure theological differences, but it has important implications for issues like female genital circumcision/ mutilation that the Bohras practice in contrast to the majoritarian Islamic position, save perhaps for Bohra activists and progressive Dawoodi Bohras, as exemplified by the late Asghar Ali Engineer (d. 2013). Returning to Omar’s book, it rests on telling the stories of everyday Muslims affiliated with 13 mosques in the Americas. Putting aside those with the attention span of a gnat, who do not read beyond titles, such powerful stories have immense potential to reach out to others. Stories have the ability to cut through cultures and racial lines, where academic work is of limited scope. Indeed, as Rumi is sometimes quoted, “Love alone cuts arguments short, rescuing us from words and debates.” And Omar’s book shows why Islam is not a monolith, far better than any academic work possibly could to the general population at large. The Umpteen Muslim Apologies I find Omar’s book important, as like other Muslims, he seems tired to be called out to apologize on behalf of 2.0 billion Muslims. I should know for I compiled a blog post in October 2014 titled, Muslims Stand against ISIS, Too, which pales in comparison to the Muslim condemnation database painstakingly compiled by the much older Sheila Musaji in the U.S. While Musaji and I did what we thought was best back in the age of ISIS, a younger Omar teaches us well in a changed world that, “it’s neither mine nor any practicing Muslim’s responsibility to do public relations for a billion autonomous individuals with whom we may share little in common” (p. 161). This is significant, as the same communal scrutiny is starkly absent when it comes to Hindu and Buddhist communities in the West. Omar writes that, “millions of Muslims across the Pacific” have been “terrorized for their religion by mobs of Hindu and Buddhist extremists”, referring to the genocide of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and Muslims under a far-right Modi government in India (p. 318). Omar notes that the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims in China has been recognized, as Jewish communities across the world have “dedicated the cause of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 to Uyghur genocide” (p. 319). However, the main thrust of his entire book project is to “debunk the myth of a monolithic Islam”, as there is difference of opinion among Muslims and such “clashes cover cultural and generational values, gender roles, [and] theological preferences” (p. xv, 118). Nothing could be truer than what he writes, as even on the issue of the Uyghur genocide where the West has taken a position, albeit for strategic purposes to contain China instead of a genuine regard for human rights, there are educated Pakistani Muslims who reject the plight of the Uyghurs. Indeed, as the country is heavily reliant on Chinese benefactors, some Pakistanis view the Uyghur plight as concocted and based on fake news. Similarly, there has been nary a peep from otherwise hardline Pakistani clerics either. However, positions based on financial interests are not unique to Pakistani Muslims, as Omar points out about mosque board members in Dearborn, Michigan that, “most of them are successful Lebanese businessmen, who might have voted Republican in 2016 if the candidate wasn’t a lunatic” (p. 108). New Atheism and Post Modernism While Omar offers a snapshot of the diversity in Islam through 13 different mosques, he also raises important points in the book that pertain to the modern age and the jargon that is wielded in contemporary life. He mentions that his “devotion to disbelief had become another type of zeal and blind faith. It was an ego trip with none of the spiritual nourishment” (p. 4). I distinctly recall this phenomenon among some of my young students in the mid-2000s when the late Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins were at the height of the new atheist movement. The God Delusion by Dawkins was published in 2006 and God is Not Great by Hitchens came out in 2007. I recall smart young men enamoured by the lure of new atheism posturing aggressively. Personally, I can’t stand aggressive approaches and I withdrew from one of the young men. But Islamic teachings are clear that everything in this world is ephemeral, for even the Nimrods and Pharaohs of their times despite all the privilege of wealth, rank, and power, must eventually fade away. This is what I think has happened to new atheism. Indeed, one of the obituaries of Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong, who passed away recently, states that: “Spong claimed that he was making Christianity relevant for a new generation who could not believe in the supernatural, modernity was ending and post modernity was starting. His rationalism became passe ... The supernatural did not die, younger generations went in search for it elsewhere.” I do, however, feel that the aggressive posturing of new atheism has been replaced by that of social critical theory involving race, gender, and sexual orientation. There is an uncompromising purity politics at play that is projected based on victimhood and imposed on the pain of humiliation. The same dynamics were at play when new atheists argued they were oppressed by religion and shamed others into intellectual submission. Aggressive call outs and shaming are perhaps why writer and activist Frances Lee wrote a powerful column in 2017 titled, Excommunicate me from the Church of Social Justice: An Activists Plea for Change. Similarly, queer Muslim author Irshad Manji published the book, Don’t Label Me: An Incredible Conversation for Divided Times in 2019, where she wrote that, “A lot of people who think of themselves as marginalized actually wield power. And a lot of the time, they’re unconscious that they’re wielding it. As a result, power’s exercised poorly, even destructively” (p. 189). I mention this because of the immense lateral violence that has been inflicted even in a community as marginalized as LGBTQ Muslims, who have not yet been affirmed in mainstream Muslim spaces. It has left me disillusioned, for I could deal with homophobic Muslims and western Islamophobes, but I simply found the Gheebah (backbiting) and the aggressive posturing within the community unconscionable and I withdrew from all LGBTQ related work. Additionally, notwithstanding my own personal beliefs, I have remained close and truthful to the Islamic texts. I am not sure if the importation of critical theory in Islam would be seen akin to the introduction of Greek philosophy in Islam or another foreign influence. Regardless, if time has taught me anything it is the temporal nature of entities, ideologies, and phenomena. Anti-Colonialism and Islamism Another significant point Omar raises is that “pan-Islamism emerged as a coherent anticolonial idea” (p. 16). This is important to note, as a lot of resistance to change within Muslim communities arises from the marriage between Islamist and anti-colonial ideologies. When academics like Joseph Massad, author of the book, Desiring Arabs, suggest that the plight of sexual minorities in Arab countries is compounded by western LGBTQ rights groups that have foreign social constructs alien to Arab identities, it feeds into the anti-western narrative of the Islamists and provides more fodder for their homophobic narrative. However, the position taken by academics like Massad ignores the fact that many educated sexual minorities in Arab and Muslim countries have already adopted such identities. This is akin to other aspects of culture where youth follow Hollywood trends, invest in bodybuilding, take shirtless selfies, adopt some western mannerisms and use jargon that emanates from social critical theory on race, gender, and sexual orientation. In other words, if such phenomena are not considered blameworthy by such academics then why must LGBTQ identities be singled out? Additionally, while academics like Massad blame western LGBTQ groups, I have never seen them offer an alternative to address the plight of Arab sexual minorities or voice concerns against their incarceration, torture, humiliating invasive medical exams, or other human rights abuses. Thus, as long as the anti-colonial and Islamist narratives boost each other, productive change in Muslim societies would remain impeded. Racism and Extremism When Omar showcases the diversity of Islam, he does not limit himself to the positive aspects but also highlights the negative aspects. For instance, he does not shy away from mentioning the anti-Blackness in Muslim and Arab societies and goes against the grain of a post racial Muslim society narrative to mention that “Arab nations are responsible for selling about 9.5 million sub-Saharan Africans into bondage, not far from the 12.5 million sold to Greater America” (p. 20). In another instance, he writes that, “Black converts like Abu Bakr found inspiration in Islam’s nonracial egalitarianism but quickly learned it was more theory than practice” (p. 46). However, I also don’t find Omar jumping on unidimensional bandwagons mindlessly. So, for instance, where he critiques Muslims for anti-Blackness, he does not shy away from highlighting the racially supremacist position of groups like the Nation of Islam, as he writes, “the imam turned them away, wanting nothing of their Black power screed. Islam should erase colour, not emphasize it” (p. 51). This approach reminds me of the Prophet’s teaching that a White is not superior to a Black, and a Black is not superior to a White. Indeed, the saying goes in both directions. Continuing with the negative aspects, Omar also highlights the root cause of extremism, when he writes that, “propaganda might stir hatred, poverty and alienation might incentivize the move, and gang violence might desensitize a person to genocide, but puritanical thought precedes all” (p. 37). This is why I have noted the exiled Islamic scholar from Pakistan, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, emphasize the significance of a counter narrative to that of the Taliban. Although, developing such counter narratives is important, I would also emphasize what Omar writes elsewhere that the “disenfranchised recruited by radical Islamists [were] promised a sense of belonging” (p. 11). Thus, for me, it boils down to identity thumping, be it new atheism, social critical theory, and taken to the extreme, both white extremism and its counterpart Islamist extremism. Each one of these approaches rests on purity politics, and Omar eloquently points out that, “the pursuit of perfection, or purity, primes Muslims for extremist groups that want to exploit their good intentions” (p. 48). Thus, Omar cautions us against purity and perhaps teaches us to embrace our humanity that is fraught with flaws. We simply cannot expect people to be perfect in ticking all boxes against racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, and the multiple other “isms” out there in our rapidly changing world. Indeed, this reminds me of the Hadith that reads, “if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin, and they would seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would forgive them.” Headscarves and Women Maintaining his thrust against purity and uniformity of thought, he writes on the hijab that has been politicized by Islamophobes and Islamists alike. He mentions from his mother that, “when she was a girl, it was more a marker of old age than piety, and it was not compulsory in public opinion” (p. 41). Indeed, I have found this to be true in my time through the 80s, as I grew up in Dubai. Diversity of practice among Muslim women was the norm and each choice was well respected. This is in stark contrast to the aggressive and polarized narrative today where zealots believe in having the last word on the issue. Omar mentions how “Islamization rapidly transformed the Arab world into a more conservative place” and how in Edmonton, the “second-wave immigrants pressured the mosque’s board” to the point that “a green curtain suddenly appeared in the prayer hall to separate the genders” (p. 130). I also recall going to the Al Rashid mosque open house in Edmonton to witness how the original women founders of the mosque did not wear headscarves and wondered how Muslim markers of identity have shifted across time. Indeed, Omar writes that “a group photo of the founders shows all the women in the downstairs hall wearing their hair openly, with fascinators, skirts, and other styles of the time” (p. 132). This also points to another shift in Muslim position across space and time, for growing up in the 80s, I learned that taking photographs was prohibited. I still recall a senior Pakistani figure in Edmonton two decades ago, who refused to have photographs taken, as he deemed them forbidden. All of this belies the shallow position of a singular and stagnant Islam. Omar is deeply appreciative of the role played by Muslim women in the preservation of Muslim heritage and history, as in the case of the pioneering women who worked hard to build the first mosque in Edmonton and then the later generation of accomplished women who worked hard to save it from obscurity. He correctly points out that Muslim traditions are preserved by women, as he mentions about North Dakota that, “second and third-generation Syrian men married local Christians. Since spirituality is usually nurtured by mothers, more of their children went to church than mosque” (p. 137). This is a significant point, as my article “Muslim Women Can Marry Outside the Faith” received backlash, just as the one titled, “5 Muslim Scholars On The Permissibility Of Not Wearing The Headscarf”, based on conservative theological grounds that allows Muslim men to marry outside the faith but not women. However, notwithstanding theological diversity on the permissibility of interfaith marriages, Omar’s careful observation makes it clear that any supposed prohibition would be more pressing for Muslim men than Muslim women. Islamophobia and Identity Omar’s writing makes it clear that for many folks, Islam is not about rituals or rigid practice, but rather about identity. This should be noted by Islamophobes for the more they rail against Islam, the stronger it becomes. Indeed, as I’ve noted in my own line of work in Economics, sometimes you get the opposite of what you want, as people respond to incentives. So, for instance, when seat belt laws were first introduced, they led to an increased incidence of accidents, as people felt safer and drove faster. The same applies to COVID-19 when double vaccinated folks started taking more risks with social interaction compared to the partially vaccinated crowd. Therefore, I am not surprised when Omar writes about Islamic identity that, “Trump’s presidency had an unexpected effect … She’d long stopped practicing her faith and was conflicted about identifying as Muslim. She now covets it not for its spiritualism but its iconoclastic meaning” (p. 105). He expresses similar sentiments for his own identity that, “despite lacking Islam’s most rudimentary beliefs, I’ve become protective of my religious roots and feel rebellious when I declare myself Muslim in the face of bigots or zealots” (p. 105). Reading Omar’s book is a pleasure for he does not present unidimensional portrayals of the people he interviews. He is honest in his search and offers a human picture of a person, both the good and the bad. This is in line with his orientation against purity. So, for instance, in interviewing Imam Qazwini, he mentions about the “imam’s “dangerous, hateful” and “toxic” 2015 past statements regarding same-sex marriage” and his infamous kissing picture with George W. Bush (p. 115). However, he also tempers his critique by mentioning how thinly spread the Imams are, as “in addition to being preachers, teachers, funeral home directors, youth counsellors, marriage counsellors, and divorce counsellors, they were public figures burdened by interfaith, cultural and political responsibilities” and therefore “how could anyone spread so thinly keep his judgment intact? Regardless, their mistakes were made in good-faith belief in what was best for their fellow Americans” (p. 116). It is this human approach towards his interviewees that endears Omar’s writing to me, as I find this approach far more meaningful and effective than the purity politics of social justice activists. Breaking Binaries and Lateral Violence Omar rejects the binary between Islam and the West, as he writes that, “there’s an assumption that Muslim and American values are incompatible, that you can’t have one without the other” and that “western liberalism and Islam can adapt to each other” (p. 117, 189). This is important to recognize, and I believe that we need to back off from defensive confrontational approaches and reject binary options. Though, I would add that the binary is also upheld by Muslims who grew up in the West and continue to nurture their identity issues by holding on to a very rigid practice of Islam. I wrote about this very phenomena in an article titled, “The Problem in Islam is not Accented Uncles but Fluent Young Muslims.” There are young Muslims who railed against the Study Qur’an, a translation and commentary of the Qur'an, based on the charge that it promotes perennialism, a philosophy of religion that views each of the world's religions as sharing a single universal truth. Such people, who grew up in the west with the privilege of being educated in reputed western universities, uphold salvific exclusivism and rail against the affirmation of LGBTQ Muslims in Islam by adopting hardline approaches that they don’t want the “Kuffar” (disbelievers) to like Muslims. Indeed, I have found some graduate students and young academics to be quite judgmental and aggressive in their approach, which confirms my viewpoint that sometimes education only cements and magnifies one’s prejudice and bigotry. Notwithstanding young conservative Muslim academics and speakers, the binary between Islam and the West needs to be broken. For the sake of a better world, we need to draw people together instead of rending them apart. This is why I was quite pleased to read Omar write that, “when I’ve seen Islamophobia flare up in Alberta, non-Muslims tend to rally around victims even before other Muslims” and that when a mosque windows were smashed and “Go-Home” was spray painted, “by mid-afternoon, residents had replaced the windows, repainted the walls, and decorated the exterior with signs like “You are Home” and “Love Your Neighbour” (p. 140). I have experienced this generosity in my line of work on LGBTQ Muslims in Islam as well. I was operating on a tight budget of CAN $5000 to invite Samar Habib, Scott Kugle, Imam Daayiee Abdullah and my co-author Dr. Hussein Abdullatif to the Allah Loves Us All Symposium in 2017. That barely covered their airfares, but I quickly found so many volunteers in the interfaith communities that volunteered to pick up the speakers from the airport, show them around the city, and drive them back on the day of their departure. My friend, Murray Billet, even hosted the speakers in his apartment for a fine dinner and invited notable members of the local LGBTQ community. It is because of such generosity, and because of the need to keep people united in divided times, that I took a firm stand against social justice activists, who caused divisiveness based on their purity politics. I wrote an article cautioning against lateral violence, but my viewpoint fell on deaf ears. Some of them aggressively lashed out at me, and I withdrew from all community related work, just as I had distanced myself from new atheists, a decade earlier. Though, I’ll say this, that now more than ever, we need to work together, as imperfect human beings instead of demanding perfection aggressively. This is why I was particularly impressed with Omar’s portrayal of Sobia Siddiqui in Houston. Omar writes that she “wasn’t an apologist for racists. But she wasn’t an “all-or-nothing” progressive warrior either,” and that “she resisted rhetorical generalizations about conservative voters, seeing such judgments as no less prejudiced than those to which Muslims are routinely subjected” (p. 155, 156). I am not interested in reaching out to hateful xenophobes out of some noble savage or Uncle Tom sensibility, but I want to remain ever gentle with my friends, whose worldview may not match with mine. This outlook is perhaps based on verse 48:29 that believers are firm with the ungrateful wretched but compassionate with one another. It is true that extremist Muslims demarcate between Muslims and non-Muslims, but based on primordial Islam, this really is about the Ummah Vahida (single community), people that are united in common humanity through Sabr (patience) and Shukr (gratitude), versus those who remain ungrateful wretches, whose worldview inflicts divisiveness against that Tawhid (Oneness). Omar correctly points out that, “embracing western notions of an equal society, assimilating to workplaces, and meriting elite jobs doesn’t make one “good” any more than praying five times daily” (p. 165). Indeed, many of us have witnessed people who follow rituals religiously but who engage in ethical crimes like tax evasion, lie for financial gains and cheat to get ahead. Similarly, prizing financial consultancy jobs over janitorial services is problematic in a world where financialisation of the economy has stoked inequality but the latter remains an essential service through the pandemic. Similarly, in terms of equality, my own position is similar to that of Rabbi Emeritus Gershom Barnard, who wrote in an article, now removed from the internet, that “my ultimate commitment is not to inclusiveness, to egalitarianism, to participation, to pluralism, or to any of those good things. It is to God and to Torah.” Likewise, I support the affirmation of LGBTQ Muslims not because of egalitarianism and certainly not due to the post-modern development of queer theory, but because of Islamic values that hardship begets facility, that Allah has imbued people with desires and offers a legal contract through which they are regulated, that Allah creates whatsoever He wills, and that Allah loves us all. The Aga Khan Omar is critical of the Aga Khan, even as he recognizes the tremendous development work by the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. He is concerned that, “he placates the powerful and panders to them to advance his causes” (p. 171). In the context of the Syrian refugee crisis, Omar mentions the Aga Khan’s silence with the Harper government in Canada. He writes that he “did expect him to acknowledge the worst refugee crisis since World War II. He did not. He instead spoke about Islam and Canada’s shared values of inclusiveness, higher learning, and meritocracy” (p. 171). This is significant, as even autocrats speak of tolerance and peace in the same breath, as they sanction genocide and murder. The Indian Prime Minister Modi is a prime example of such demagogues. However, Omar’s critique of the Aga Khan is also relevant to mainstream Sunni Muslim leaders, as many Muslims have criticized Shaykh Hamza Yusuf for backing the U.A.E. regime despite its complicity in the human rights violations in Yemen. Additionally, Omar critiques the Aga Khan for being expediently silent on LGBTQ issues in Islam. He mentions that liberal Ismailis feel that “the imam’s refusal to take any official position in support of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights undermines his commitment to modernism and social justice” (p. 181). Omar opines that this could be due to the “fear of losing the allegiance” of Ismailis in conservative Muslim countries (p. 181). However, this self-preservation is not unique to the Aga Khan, for many Sunni academics and community leaders, who otherwise talk of compassion or Rumi, also talk in “feel good” generalities instead of challenging the Muslim community at large to overcome intense homophobia that is rampant in Muslim spaces. Indeed, where celebrity Shaykhs hold a tempered position against LGBTQ affirmation, their followers are quite often scathing and horrifying in their demeanour. I do know that when Dr. Shabir Ally offered a nuanced review of our book, Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions, his YouTube review received many scathing remarks out of ignorance and spite. Similarly, my own experience of the freezing silence by the local leaders from the Ahmadiyyah community that otherwise upholds its “Love for All, Hatred for None” slogan, allows me to add a qualifier, “except for gays.” What Is Faith? A question Omar asks in the book is whether he has a place in Islam as an atheist. One answer he receives is that “having a Muslim background – based not in spirituality but history, politics, culture, family – was legitimate enough for Muslim identity” (p. 312). Indeed, there are people who have identified as atheist Muslims like Ali Rizvi. However, many Muslims find the approach of ex-Muslims caustic and aggressive, much like the new atheists and “all or nothing” progressive activists. But Omar does get effective answers to this question from many people, especially when he mentions that, “faith as a feeling one has in life to always work out for the best. Faith in people to do the right thing. Faith in myself and my abilities. Faith that everything has meaning. Islam poured the foundations of this faith” (p. 188). Indeed, for several Muslims belief is not about an old man in the sky keeping a naughty or nice list. Instead, their belief rests on Tawakkul (trust in Providence) that no matter the tribulations in life, everything will eventually turn out well, that Allah does not let someone’s efforts go waste that one trusts in no other worldly power like wealth, fame, or connections, except for the Divine mystery that Muslims call Allah. This faith is etched in the Muslim testimonial, La Ilaha Illallah (there is no god but God), which frees Muslims from depending on clerics, leaders, or the largesse of kith and kin for Allah alone is enough. It is this faith that Omar finds in the survivor of the 2017 Quebec Mosque massacre, Aymen Derbali, who was paralyzed after being shot seven times trying to protect his fellow worshippers. Despite going through hell, he mentions “there’s no safe place in the world … only in Canada would there be so much national solidarity against racism” and that “I just think I’m miraculous to be alive. I accept this destiny” (p. 230, 237). Reading Derbali’s words overwhelmed me, for I have found so many people in this life who become bitter and adopt a caustic attitude for much lesser reasons. Indeed, one question that I have asked myself is that how come many Syrian refugees, who have seen war and death, get back on their feet to live life with patience and gratitude, whereas I find others consumed by drugs, alcohol, or unrestrained sexual activity to cope with the stressors of modern life. I know the social justice crowd would chide here against comparing oppressions, but sometimes I really find that the social justice narrative rests on ghuluw (exaggeration). I simply admire the immense faith Muslims like Derbali have to continue living their lives at peace and with gratitude. Omar also finds such faith in Mexico, as he mentions about Ibrahim Chechev, who converted to Islam that “changes in Ibrahim’s personality started to show. He became courteous, compassionate, and forgiving” (p. 251). He finds it in Inuvik, where Muslims “deliver food to elders at their homes for free if they can’t come to the food bank themselves” (p. 278). Omar finds that it is not about praying or fasting but charity, which is done Fi Sabilillah (without any worldly expectation), as “preaching Islam was not the Inuvik Muslim Association’s kind of Dawah. Rather, they teach Islam by trying to be model citizens” (p. 289, 290). He finds it in Imam Daayiee Abdullah, who “presided over Janazah of a man who succumbed to AIDs-related illness” when no one else would lead the funeral prayers given the stigma (p. 303). Finally, he found it within himself, as he writes that “there’s no hatred that can’t be healed, no anger that can’t be reconciled, no act that can’t be forgiven, when you submit to something bigger than yourself. Islam was my framework for the radical forgiveness required of me” (p. 314). Respectability Politics In interviewing Zied Kallel in Quebec, Omar finds that “his ideas smacked of respectability politics” for he wanted Muslims to have talk shows, debates, artistic works, and engage in community works to dispel Canadian stereotypes against Muslims (p. 240). While Omar correctly points out that “nobody should have to condemn terrorists, let alone prove they’re not one, to comfort the ignorant” (p. 24), this approach works in utopia. Doing nothing, expecting others to educate themselves, is not an option. After all, if as Muslims we expect Hindus to push against the far-right government in India or the Burmese to speak up against the atrocities inflicted on the Rohingyas, then some in the Muslim community will have to push against the Islamist supremacists, as Omar points out that, “members of a Muslim student’s association failed to control radical voices in the group. In Friday sermons, the group’s president … advocated stoning and whipping violators of sharia and decried democracy as incompatible with Islam” (p. 240). It is easy to find characters, who grew up in the West, speak fluently and charismatically, obtained degrees from reputed universities, and who end up supporting extremist positions through their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. I think what Omar has done by writing his book is what Kallel would strongly support. It is this approach of sharing stories through an artistic medium to show that Muslims “are no better or worse than everyone else, but equally accountable and influential” that brings people together and further serves to bolster Muslim community safety and interests (p. 274). Otherwise, adopting an aggressive social justice activist approach that rests on demanding others to get their act together may serve to alienate those sitting on the fence regarding Muslims. Indeed, the Qur’anic approach rests on calling others with the best of manners and with wisdom (16:125). Omar finds this approach in Inuvik through Abdalla Mustafa Mohamed when he mentions that “if you treat people well, they treat you well. If you make charity, you won’t make enemies” (p. 290). This isn’t about respectability politics to ingratiate oneself to others for people see through hypocrisy. This is about walking one’s own path and staying true to one’s values. Additionally, I have noted the exaggerated narrative against “respectability politics” when rampant sexual activity without any legal contract is upheld as a rebellious rejection of heteronormative norms, an approach that clearly flouts the principles of Islam. Muslim LGBTQ activist, Omar Sarwar, has written an excellent article titled Rethinking Casual Sex, where he goes against the grain of the mainstream LGBTQ narrative. In short, I would prefer Muslims to continue with their values and approach, as Anthony Quinn’s Omar Mukhtar eloquently expresses about the Italians in the movie, Lion of the Desert, that, “they are not our teachers.” What Did I Learn? Omar’s book taught me that the Hadith often used in vitriol against LGBTQ Muslims that “Islam began as something strange and it will return to being strange” is always selectively quoted, as they do not read the next part that “blessed are the strangers” (p. 245). This only confirms how homophobic Muslims cherry pick their texts and verses without taking into account the language, nuance and context. I learned that while some Muslims “had a bootstrap mentality and believed that free supplies would “spoil” the needy, allowing them to waste more money on drinking and gambling,” other Muslims like Abdalla felt that “alcoholism [and] addiction” were symptoms of a larger problem based on “lack of education [and] lack of opportunity,” which were also found in third world countries like Sudan (p. 289). I found this really interesting, as it allows us to understand why some Muslims would vote conservative for a smaller government and others for the left parties for a larger government. I also learned that even though “the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America … issued a fatwa permitting [Muslims in Inuvik] to fast and pray on the Meccan clock”, there were those who deemed it a cop out and were willing to fast longer or even go for 22 hours straight. Many years ago, I came across the late Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah’s (d. 2002) ijtihad (independent reasoning) that Muslims could fast based on Meccan timing, as I found that the local Edmontonian community was equating hardship with piety. I knew that asr (undue hardship) is abth (useless), found Usama Hasan’s article that confirmed the same, and wrote an article titled, Undue Hardship is Not Piety. Based on my knowledge of the Islamic ethos, I mentioned that the Prophet selected the easier of two equally valid positions, that Islam is about the Tariq Al Wasat (the middle path) and based on my reading of the jurist Shatibi (d. 1388), when Allah offers a facility, He wants it to be used. Yet, my article was met with scathing remarks from some Muslims in Edmonton, who equate hardship with piety, which is more of a Christian notion than a Muslim one that rests on Yusr (facility). In short, just as homophobic Muslims are guilty of cherry picking, zealot Muslims are guilty of importing foreign ideas into Islam. Finally, Omar mentions that I am somewhat of an outlier among “mostly loud-and-liberal or out-and-proud activists” (p. 302). He is correct about the fact that my approach, as that of my co-author Dr. Hussein Abdullatif is conservative, and he is equally right that change in Muslim communities on the LGBTQ front will happen through “teachers, social workers, and parents who hold sway over the congregation” (p. 303). This is consistent with Behnam Sadeghi’s work The Logic of Law Making in Islam, that change in Islam comes about because of social pressures and that hermeneutical accommodation is an after fact. I agree with Omar’ assessment of myself despite the differing worldviews we may have perhaps based on our age gap. However, based on a weak Hadith, Ikhtilaf is Rahma (difference of opinion is mercy), and despite any differences, I am glad he put in so much effort in getting his book out, which is sorely needed in our divided times. His book clearly shows that he has successfully met his objective of showcasing that Islam is not a monolith and that Muslims are no better or worse than everyone else. Indeed, it is writers like him along with artists, performers, entertainers and others, whose individual and collective efforts will bring down the prejudice against Muslims slowly but surely. In essence, defying the caricature of both Islamists and Islamophobes, Omar’s book allows me to emphatically say, yes, there are 2.0 billion Islams. ------ Junaid Jahangir is an Assistant Professor of Economics at MacEwan University. He is the co-author of Islamic Law and Muslim Same-Sex Unions. With Dr. Hussein Abdullatif, a paediatric endocrinologist in Alabama, he has co-authored several academic papers on the issue of same-sex unions in Islam. He contributed this article to Image Source: 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, October 18, 2021

Religious Supremacist Attitude, Bigotry and Rigidity – Curse for the Humanity

By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam 18 October 2021 Religions Are Inclined To Establish A Cohesive And Inclusive Society Main Points: 1. Religion means a morally sound system consisting of mutual respect and acceptability among the people of all faiths. 2. Religious lessons are the carriers of nobility, gentleness and self-control. 3. People who are responsible for the division in society can be anything but religious. 4. Political ideologies, philosophies and cultural diversity do not divide societies, hence, religion is used for petty gains of the powers that be. ------ Religion Means a Cohesive Society Religions are inclined to establish a cohesive and inclusive society. Religions do not teach immorality. Religion means a morally sound system consisting of mutual respect and acceptability among the people of all faiths. Religious lessons are the carriers of nobility, gentleness and self-control. Religions cannot have the traits of hatred, anger, enmity and jealousy. People who are responsible for the division in society can be anything but religious. Political ideologies, philosophies and cultural diversity do not divide societies, hence, religion is used for petty gains of the powers that be. Humanity is passing through the most trying times since the inception of this world. Human beings have faced innumerable environmental and man-made eventualities that have created a havoc of the most devastating nature. These trying times came and were triumphed by the inclusive mentality of people together. Most recently, the world has been and is still in the grip of the pandemic, Covid-19, but human beings fought together and have almost won over it. These trying times were overcome because they were visible to the open eyes. People knew who the enemy is and what is its nature so these were tamed. An open Bible sits on a map. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons ----- Religious Supremacist Bigotry and Religious Rigidity Dangerous than all the tsunamis and pandemics is the 'religious bigotry'. We all know the enemy that has taken the world on the brink of collapse but we are not acknowledging it. We cannot fight the invisible enemy. World nations are not acknowledging the enemy because they wish other nations to take the blame for religious bigotry spread all over the world. For developed nations, it is easy to find faults in the developing or undeveloped nations. So, this they are doing. They are unable to understand that religious bigotry will not eat one nation but will take the world to task. Muslim nations are blamed for religious bigotry as if all others are divinely pious. If it is accepted that Muslim nations are responsible for such a dangerous situation created by religious bigotry why have they failed to sustain it with all the instruments under their control? If religious bigotry is the handiwork of the terrorist organisations, why are they provided time to sustain, be stronger and then brutally crush human beings. Some many such questions and queries need to be answered by the world powers that matter. Blame games are of no use for the safety of humanity being crushed under the yoke of religious bigotry. Those responsible for the religious bigotry must be brought to book without any distinction or favour. Religions are blamed for religious bigotry because of the immoral acts of their followers. As the individual is judged according to his behaviour in society, religion is judged according to the behaviour of its followers. This is not humane to blame religion for the degrading humanity as it is a religion that has created human being and has created it with the positive essence of brotherhood and inclusivity embedded with a spiritual leaning towards fellow beings. Religious Lessons on Bigotry and Rigidity In the Quranic Verses ... do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors. (Al-Baqarah: 190) - Sahih International ...and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors. (Al-Maidah: 87) — Mufti Taqi Usmani “… Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” — (Al-Mumtahanah, 60:8) There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. - (Al-Baqarah:356) “and do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidoon (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupt)” (Al-Qasas:77) Lo! Allah enjoineth justice and kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbiddeth lewdness and abomination and wickedness. He exhorteth you in order that ye may take heed. (An-Nahl: 90) - M. Pickthall “Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do” (Al-Maa’idah:8) Truly, Allah is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him), and those who are Muhsinoon (good-doers)” (An-Nahl:125-128) “Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that which Allah instructs you. Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.” — (An-Nisa, 4:58) Biblical Verses Denouncing Bigotry and Rigidity My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. - James 2:1-26 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. - Matthew 6:12 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23 .....“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. ... - Matthew 5:1-48 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? .....Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ... - Psalm 2:1-12 Prophet Muhammad Pbuh’s Traditions Denouncing Bigotry and Rigidity Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever has arrogance in his heart equal to an atom’s weight shall not enter Paradise.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 65) The Prophet told us that Allah says, “O My slaves, I have forbidden Zulm (injustice, wrongdoing, unfairness) to Myself and I have made it haram (illegal) among you, so do not wrong one another.” (Hadith Qudsi — Narrated by Muslim, 2577) Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah, Most High, has removed from you the pride of the pre-Islamic period and its boasting in ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. You are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust. Let the people cease to boast about their ancestors. They are merely fuel in hell-fire (Jahannam), or they will certainly be of less account with Allah than the beetle which rolls dung with its nose.” ( Sunan Abi Dawud — Narrated by Abu Hurairah] Among the traits of Jahiliya (Days of Ignorance) that the Prophet strictly warned us about, one of them is about defaming others on the basis of their lineage. (Sahih Muslim) Prophet Muhammad said, “Beware of injustice, for injustice will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection.” (Musnad Aḥmad 9361- Narrated by Abu Hurairah) Prophet Muhammad said, “Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah.” (Sahih Bukhari 4090) One of the Prophet’s Hadith narrates: “There are seven categories of people whom God will shelter under the shade of His throne on the Day when there will be no shade except this.” [One of them mentioned is] the just leader. (Source: Sahih Muslim) All the above-mentioned verses from the Abrahamic religions and the traditions of the Apostle of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) advocate peace, tranquillity and inclusiveness among the people of the world. These verses do not talk to their followers inclusively but address all the people. These verses denounce every kind of rigidity and force in society. The verses mentioned above are social philosophies. A treasure of wisdom, intellect and logic is there for the people who understand it. In all the religions of the world, Islam is the only one that is highly misunderstood and transformed into a phobia. Muslims are shown in a demonic light. Quranic verses advocate peace and denounce transgression of every kind. There is no place for rigidity and force, therefore, only those who transgress or force their superiority should be nailed and not the religion, as a whole. Demonising Islam is pinning down a large number of world citizens. This demonisation of the religion and its followers is used to justify the terror that terrorists unleash. To contain terrorism world will have to contain Islamophobic traits, crept into the mindset of many so that terrorists do not find an excuse for their inhuman and barbaric terror activities. Down with all kinds of religious supremacism, bigotry and religious rigidity being advocated by the evil powers should be the mantra for the world to create an atmosphere of a just and inclusive society. Following tradition should be enough to awaken especially the concerned Muslims and generally all concerned who for their petty gains scare their fellow human being and make their lives difficult to live. “Give glad tidings, and do not scare people away. Make things easy, and do not make things difficult”. - Hazrat Prophet Muhammad Pbuh (Abu Dawud) And Allah Knows the Best. ------- Arman Neyazi is a columnist with 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

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Targeting Hindus in Bangladesh Must Stop

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam 17 October 2021 Puja Pandals Have Been Attacked With Odious Regularity In Bangladesh; Putting A Question Mark On The Secular Credentials Of The Republic Main Points 1. The attack on the Hindu minority is not a one-off; rather it has been occurring regularly. 2. The scale and pattern of the attacks makes it clear that it was not spontaneous; the Jamat e Islami and its students’ wing are suspected to be behind this planned attack. 3. The media is not helping by not naming the Islamist forces behind the attack. 4. The saving grace has been the civil society in Bangladesh who still nurture the foundational dream of secularism and pluralism. ---- During the closing days of Durga Puja, Pandals and temples in various towns were attacked in Bangladesh. The most severe of these attacks took place in the town of Cumilla but violence, arson and death were reported from many other towns having Hindu population. The country has nearly 9 percent Hindu population which has been in decline since many years. This is not the first time that the beleaguered minority has come under attack; such attacks on their lives, properties and symbols have been taking place with odious regularity. < It is a matter of great relief that prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued a stern warning to the perpetrators of violence stating in no uncertain terms that they will be ‘hunted down’ and punished. However, in the same statement, she also expected that ‘nothing happens in India which could influence any situation in Bangladesh affecting our Hindu community here.’ The import of this latter assertion is unclear to say the least. Was she hinting that as long as Muslims are safe in India, Hindus will be safe in Bangladesh? Isn’t this the same hostage theory that was floated during the partition of the subcontinent by some very communal leaders? As head of an independent republic, she should focus on restoring order in her own country rather than looking for excuses elsewhere. The Indian government, on the other hand, is right to raise the issue of protection of Hindus in Bangladesh. But then, it is rather rich coming from the very same government that looks the other way when Muslim lives and properties are destroyed in India. Do we still have the moral authority to question what is happening in Bangladesh when mosques get demolished here in India in full public view and no one is held responsible for it? The reason which was given for the attack in Bangladesh is that the Muslim holy book Quran was allegedly desecrated in one of the Pandals. This simply defies common sense. Why would a religious minority, which is under attack for some years now, do such a thing? Moreover, the pattern of the attack and the fact that it spread in such a short time, all point towards an organized attempt to foment trouble and target the minority population. The attacks do not seem to be the result of spontaneous reaction; rather it has all the hallmarks of a pre-mediated coercive action. The involvement of Jamat e Islami, particularly its student wing the Islami Chhatra Shibir, seems to be more than plausible. The Islamist group has an axe to grind with the government. Sheikh Hasina has put them on notice ever since she came to power, and the courts have handed down death sentences to many of the important Jamatis for their murderous and pro-Pakistan involvement in the Bangladesh liberation war. As such, this party, having political ambitions, would try their best to destabilize the country to bring a bad name to the government. Representational image. | Photo: Commons ----- But the attack raises a larger question of the change in religious mood of Bangladesh. The newest member of South Asian countries, the country was founded on secular principles by Mujibur Rahman. And yet, we see a marked shift in terms of performative religiosity and demands to make Islam the state religion from many quarters. In the wake of this transition, religious groups have gained upper hand by forcing their agenda on the government. The Hasina government has resisted some of these moves but she has also given in to other demands. For example, she gave in to the demands of removing the ‘statue of justice’ as well as looked the other way when secular and atheist bloggers were being regularly assassinated by the Islamist right wing. It is this dithering that has emboldened some of these groups who now have the temerity to openly vandalize temples and idols of minority community. The government cannot absolve itself of its complicity. The media did a commendable job in highlighting these attacks. But curiously enough, it refused to name the perpetrators of the violence. The headlines used ‘goons’, ‘vandals’, ‘miscreants’, etc. to describe those who indulged in the arson. By not saying unambiguously that this was the handiwork of the Muslim right, it is not helping the cause; rather only obfuscating the problem. The evil needs to be named and only then can we find a solution to tackle it. Most Muslims, including the liberal ones, are rather coy in admitting that such violence is justified in the name of Islam. By not calling out such pernicious readings of Islam, they are not attacking the root cause of the problem, allowing it to fester and infect the whole society. It is heartening to note that the civil society of Bangladesh, particularly its youth have roundly condemned the targeted attacks on Puja Pandals and temples. Many student bodies remained vigilant against any such attacks in their areas by being on guard in and around such spaces. Members of civil society even took out a march to condemn the attacks and soundly denounced some Muslim groups accused of fomenting trouble. It is such acts of empathy that assure us that the founding vision of Bangladesh is still alive in the country; that there are enough voices within the Muslim majority who want a secular and plural Bangladesh. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the majorities of India and Pakistan, who have singularly failed to counter such attacks from the religious right in their respective countries. ---- Arshad Alam is a columnist with 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